IPCC Report Predicts A Dark Future For The Planet
31 March, 2014
Global temperature change - From IPCC AR5 WGII SPM.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II report published today in Yokohoma, Japan paint a dark future for global humanity and other species on earth. It predicts violent conflicts, food shortages and infrastructure damage in the coming decades, while a growing number of animals and marine species will face increased risk of extinction. The report was compiled by more than 300 authors from 70 different countries with contributions from thousands of global experts.
The report is the first of its kind to examine rising temperatures as a series of comprehensive global risks caused by increasingly perilous levels of carbon dioxide emitted by traffic, power stations and other fossil-fuel burners as well as methane from deforestation and farming.
Launching the report in Yokohama, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said: “Why should the world pay attention to this report? We have assessed impacts as they are happening, impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and oceans.
“I’d like to emphasise that in view of these impacts and those projected in the future, nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.”
Vicente Barros, a leading Argentine-born climate change expert and a co-chair of the report, added: “We live in an era of man-made climate change. In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”
Extreme weather patterns, including a higher risk of flooding, were cited as a growing consequence of rising greenhouse gas emissions, with Europe, Asia and small island states highlighted as being vulnerable, while droughts were also forecast to become more common.
Urban communities would also face “many global risks”, as a result of growing issues related to heatwaves, extreme rainfall, flooding, landslides, air pollution drought and water shortages, it warned.
The growing scarcity of freshwater sources and shrinking crop yields would lead to violent conflict, such as civil wars, the report warns, alongside the displacement of numerous communities, referred to as “climate refugees” by Dr Pachauri.
“We have reasons to believe that if the world doesn’t do anything [...] and the extent of climate change continues to increase, then the very social stability of human systems could be at stake,” he said.
A “large fraction” of animals and marine creatures also faced an increased risk of extinction over the coming decades if global warming continued as projected, according to the report.
Rising carbon dioxide concentrations were forecast to acidify oceans, destroying coral reefs and threatening shelled marine creatures, impacting communities reliant on the sea as a food source.
However, scientists behind the report also stated that by taking immediate steps to reduce carbon emissions over the coming decades, there could be a reduction in potential consequences by the end of the century.
Summary of projected changes in crop yields, due to climate change over the 21st century. Yellow indicates studies that project crop yield decreases, blue indicates studies projecting increases. From IPCC AR5 WGII SPM.
The report discusses the risk associated with food insecurity due to more intense droughts, floods, and heat waves in a warmer world, especially for poorer countries. .
The report also discusses risks associated with water insecurity, due for example to shrinking of glaciers that act as key water resources for various regions around the world, and through changing precipitation patterns. As a result of these types of changes, the IPCC also anticipates that violent conflicts like civil wars will become more common.
The number of people exposed to river floods is projected to increase with the level of warming over the remainder of the century. Sea-level rise will also cause submergence, flooding, and erosion of coastal regions and low-lying areas. And ocean acidification poses significant risk for marine ecosystems; coral reefs in particular.
The general risk of species extinctions rises as the planet warms. More climate change means that suitable climates for species shift. The faster these climate zones shift, the more species will be unable to track and adapt to those changes.
The report also estimates that global surface warming of approximately 2°C above current temperatures may lead to global income losses of 0.2 to 2.0 percent. However,
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