Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year student.
The newest report on climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been dubbed “a code red for humanity” by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people in immediate danger,” he writes. This was a powerful remark.
What is the IPCC?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was founded in 1988, is the United Nations organisation in charge of reviewing climate change science. It was established to offer frequent scientific evaluations of climate change, its consequences, and potential future dangers to policymakers. Its assessment reports are an important part of international climate change talks. The IPCC’s work is divided into three expert working groups (WGs):
WGI, which evaluates the physical scientific foundation of climate change;
WGII, which evaluates the susceptibility of socio-economic and ecological systems to climate change;
and WGIII, which evaluates climate change mitigation measures.
WGI released its contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) — The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change — last week. Following that, WG2 and WG3 will publish their contributions, and a final complete AR6 is due next year.
Why is this report so significant?
This is the most thorough assessment on climate change to date, with the conclusion that ‘human activity has unmistakably warmed the atmosphere, oceans, and land.’ It is the result of 234 authors/scientists donating their time to evaluate thousands of scientific articles released each year and offer a thorough overview. Before it was released, this report was authorised by 195 countries. Regardless of conspiracy ideas, the study makes it unreasonable to deny the reality of climate change. According to the research, since 1850, each of the previous four decades has been warmer than the decade before it.
Climate change caused by humans is already affecting every location on the planet. Despite recent attempts by several countries to address the danger of carbon emissions and business promises to become carbon neutral, things are likely to worsen for the foreseeable future. Under all emission scenarios assessed by the IPCC, global surface temperature will continue to rise until at least the mid-century.
Is there any chance of things getting better?
According to scientists, a global disaster can be prevented if the world acts quickly. Deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions may be able to stabilise increasing temperatures. While the scientists are more optimistic that if we can reduce global emissions in half by 2030 and achieve net zero by the middle of this century, we can halt and maybe reverse the rise in temperatures, this study is more explicit and certain about the consequences of warming.
Why do we need to care?
Climate change will affect you and me, regardless of where we reside on the planet. Even if one lives in a carbon-neutral nation, the harshest consequences of climate change will still be felt. When it comes to global warming, unlike borders that can be guarded with an army, there is no such defence. As a result, unprecedented global cooperation is required.
Extreme weather patterns in every area of the world mentioned in the study have far-reaching implications for our lives and health. Drought and flood damage to agricultural and food production, as well as the economic and humanitarian implications, are equally as bad.
Not to mention the environmental effect.
The way the globe reacts will have an influence on global economies, job possibilities, and investment opportunities. Whether it’s the fossil fuel sector, renewable energy, food (meat and faux meat), or related subsidiary industries, the next decade will see a significant shift in how these industries adapt. Attempting to comprehend patterns early on might assist in making the right selections. The threat of climate change is grave. We may be insignificant actors on the global scale, but we may attempt to become more aware of the issue and contribute in whatever manner we can.
Key Points from the report:
The global surface temperature was 1.09 degrees Celsius higher between 2011 and 2020 than it was between 1850 and 1900.
In comparison to 1901-1971, the last five years have been the warmest on record since 1850.
Human impact is “extremely likely” (90 percent) to blame for the global retreat of glaciers and the loss of Arctic sea ice since the 1990s.
It is “virtually certain” that hot extremes, such as heatwaves, have increased in frequency and intensity since the 1950s, whereas cold extremes have decreased in frequency and severity.
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