- The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a “terrifying warning about the consequences of inaction” on climate change.
- It’s not just ecosystems and the weather that are being affected by global warming: people are suffering and dying, experts say.
- In North America, human life, safety and livelihoods will be threatened by rising sea levels, severe storms and hurricanes, especially in coastal areas.
Life in some places on the planet is rapidly reaching the point where it will be too hot for the species that live there to survive, international climate experts said in a report on Monday.
“With climate change, parts of the planet will become uninhabitable,” said German scientist Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II, which produced the report published in Berlin. Germany.
The report assesses the scientific literature documenting the devastating effects of human-induced climate change on society and ecosystems around the world.
The group studied the vulnerability of people and ecosystems to climate change and how adaptation could help reduce risk, said Pörtner and co-chair Deborah Roberts of South Africa.
“Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread negative impacts and related loss and damage on nature and people, beyond natural climate variability” , says the report.
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Urgent action is needed to curb rising temperatures and limit the worsening impacts that climate change is already having on physical and mental health and well-being, the panel concluded. Some of the anticipated future impacts will not be avoided, but the authors stressed that early and significant actions could help avoid the worst.
Climate group founded in 1988
The IPCC was created by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization in 1988 to provide scientific assessments of climate change, its implications and risks.
The assessments, published every six to seven years, are intended to provide governments around the world with information to develop climate policies.
The IPCC is in the middle of its sixth assessment.
Monday’s report, prepared by 270 top scientists from 67 countries, builds on a report released last summer by the IPCC’s Working Group I, which grabbed headlines for its stark warning of a “code red for humanity”.
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A ‘stern warning’ on inaction
Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC, said Monday’s report is a “terrible warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a serious and growing threat to our well-being and a healthy planet. “.
The increase in heat waves, droughts and floods is already exceeding the tolerance thresholds of plants and animals, leading to mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals, according to the report.
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And it’s not just ecosystems and the weather that are being affected by global warming.
Human impacts are documented around the world, said Kristie Ebi, a University of Washington professor in the Department of Global Health and lead author of a chapter on health, wellness and communities.
People are dying from climate change
People are now suffering and dying from climate change, Ebi said. And, rising temperatures negatively affect pregnancy outcomes.
Sherilee Harper, lead author of the North American chapter and associate professor in the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health, said she was personally struck by the impact climate change is already having on ” physical and mental health of many Americans”.
The report highlights an “urgent need to accelerate adaptation,” said Adelle Thomas, senior Caribbean research associate at Climate Analytics and one of the authors of the report’s summary for policymakers and governments. a chapter on the main risks.
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Quick action needed
Several authors speaking on a call on Sunday were not hopeless, and the report outlines options for acting quickly to avoid the worst consequences.
There are multiple paths that communities, countries and the world can take to achieve climate-resilient development, but the need to act now is “urgent”, said Edward Carr, director of the international development department, of Community and Environment from Clark University and lead author. a chapter on climate-resilient development.
“The window for implementing system transitions is shrinking,” Carr said. “We have already ruled out some possible paths due to our past choices.”
Existing development patterns, combined with climate change, are driving the world away from sustainable development, Carr said.
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Some of the negative impacts already affecting well-being are accelerating and cannot be avoided, the authors said.
Americans in Danger
Even if global warming is limited to the 1.5°C target, human life, security and livelihoods in North America will be threatened by rising sea levels, severe storms and hurricanes, especially in coastal areas, the report said.
Increasingly intense storms, “combined with rising sea levels, will cause loss and damage, despite our best efforts to adapt,” Thomas said. “And unfortunately, these negative impacts of climate change are disproportionately affecting those least able to respond, the poorest and most vulnerable communities.”
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Without limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the risks to North Americans are expected to escalate rapidly, Harper said. This would lead to “irreversible changes in ecosystems, increasing damage to infrastructure and housing, and really strain economic sectors and disrupt livelihoods, mental health, physical health and safety.”
Delays in climate action caused by misinformation about the science of climate change have made the need for action even more urgent, Harper said. “This has led to growing uncertainty and slowed the recognition of risks.”
In remarks earlier in February, Pörtner concluded that the scientific evidence is unequivocal: “Climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet. livable future.