Posted 5 months ago
Climate change is changing Earth in ways that are "unprecedented" in thousands — and in some cases, hundreds of thousands — of years, according to a blistering report released by the United Nations. In recent years, the world has seen record-breaking temperatures, raging wildfires and devastating flooding.
Some papers studied by the panel show that some of the changes humans are inadvertently making to the climate will not be reversed for hundreds or maybe thousands of years. The report is the most comprehensive assessment from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2013 and provides the strongest case yet for human-caused global warming, saying it's "unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land."
And sadly, for the future of this planet, the report found that things are getting worse. Addressing the problem has been heavily hindered by politics around the world and as a result we are seeing these long predicted problems come to fruition. "It has been clear for decades that the Earth's climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed," Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of the IPCC's Working Group I, said in a statement.
The assessment, which includes a look at the future risks and impacts of climate change, typically represents consensus within the scientific community. More than 230 authors contributed to the latest report.
The assessment comes less than three months before world leaders are set to convene from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, for the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference. Countries are expected to set forth ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 2030, and the IPCC's findings will likely feature prominently in the discussions. The report states that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have caused global warming at a rate not seen in at least the past 2,000 years. It's estimated that human-caused climate change is responsible for approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming since 1850-1900, the earliest period with reliable measurements of global surface temperatures, the authors wrote.
What's more, the report found that global temperatures are expected to exceed 2 degrees Celsius of warming this century "unless deep reductions in [carbon dioxide] and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades."
"This report is a reality check," Masson-Delmotte said in the statement. "We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare."
Climate scientists have warned that the increase in average global temperatures should be limited to under 2 degrees Celsius in order to avoid the most devastating effects of global warming. The 2-degree benchmark was set by climate negotiators in Copenhagen in 2009, but studies have increasingly found that the target may already be out of reach.
The new IPCC assessment goes further than any of the group's previous reports in linking human-caused climate change with increases in extreme weather events around the world.
"It is virtually certain that hot extremes (including heat waves) have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions since the 1950s, while cold extremes (including cold waves) have become less frequent and less severe," the authors wrote, adding that human-caused global warming is the "main driver" of those changes.
The report also details how the increasing ocean and surface temperatures will cause myriad physical changes in climate — including drought, heat waves, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding — in different regions of the planet.
The assessment is part of the IPCC's latest summary on climate change, called the Sixth Assessment Report or AR6, that will be published next year. The full report consists of four sections: the Working Group I report on the science of climate change; the Working Group II report on the vulnerabilities and socioeconomic impacts; the Working Group III report on possible ways to mitigate climate change; and the Synthesis Report, which reviews the findings from all the working groups and integrates relevant information for policymakers.
Topic: World News
Tags: United Nations Climate Change