In Yokohama, Japan, today, the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its next report on climate impacts of human activities.
At a news conference this morning, the head of the UN panel asked “Why should the world pay attention to this report?” He then answered his own question: “”Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.” Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization, reinforced the conclusion:
Thirty years ago, the previous generation maybe was damaging our atmosphere, [and] the Earth, out of ignorance. Now, ignorance is no longer a good excuse. We know—therefore, we have the information to make decisions and to act upon this information.
The first part of the UN report, which came out last fall, said that climate change is “unequivocal.” It is expected to continue and intensify. The panel of experts found it “extremely likely” (95% certain) that human influence has aggravated many of our climate problems in the past 50 years or so.
Today’s report is the second in a series of four 2013-2014 IPCC assessments. The results in a nutshell, from Suzanne Goldenberg, senior environment reporter at The Guardian:
- Food threat exists.
- Human security threatened.
- Consequences will fall unequally.
- No-one is safe.
- It’s hard, but not hopeless.
For more detail, see “The IPCC’s Blockbuster 5th Climate Assessment” in today’s PlanetSave.
The first part of the UN report, which came out last fall, characterized climate change as “unequivocal.” The global warming trend is expected to continue and intensify. The panel also said it is “extremely likely” (95% certain) that human influence has caused much of the global warming we have observed since 1950.
Today’s report is the second in a series of four 2013-2014 IPCC assessments. Over 12,000 scientific publications, comments from over 1,700 expert and government reviewers, and more than 50,000 review comments went into this report. It tells us that because climate risks multiply exponentially as global temperature and carbon concentrations rise, we need to work out adaptation strategies and lower our carbon emissions to avoid catastrophe.
Co-chair Chris Field showed a brief slide presentation at the conference. He also succinctly described adaptation and mitigation costs, which Goldenberg calls “one of the really tricky sections of the report” because the results so far do not even permit a complex “apples-to-oranges” type of comparison.
An interesting question, repeated twice, came from a reporter at The Economist: what about “the pause” some people have noticed in a few recent climate events? Both Field and Jarraud emphasized:
“There is no pause.”
Some of the results are complicated, but the overall trand is undeniable and extends to every human society on earth.
You can see the entire news conference in English online or read a 29-page summary of the conclusions.