It is indisputable that human activity is the origin of global warming. This warming is also happening faster than expected, it’s spreading to every corner of the planet, whether it’s on land, in the oceans or in the air, and the effects are increasing. Global warming of 1.5°C is inevitable. Those are the conclusions of the latest hotly anticipated climate report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the United Nations Climate Panel.
For the report, the scientists analyzed more than 14,000 international climate studies published over the past eight years. The conclusion is that some changes in climate and their consequences are “inevitable and irreversible”. Scientists say the climate is changing on a scale not seen for thousands of years in recent years. The last decade was probably the warmest period of the past 125,000 years, and humans are “unequivocally” responsible for this.
The term “unambiguously” is an important semantic shift from the previous report. “In 2013, an IPCC report asserted that human impact on global warming was ‘highly likely,’ as climatologist and Belgian representative to the IPCC Jean-Pascal van Ypersel (UCLouvain) asserts. Now it’s so obvious that we don’t worry about the possibilities anymore. This is a historical development.”
I really don’t see any place on earth that would be safe. There is no place to hide.
The report also shows how much additional greenhouse gases the atmosphere can handle before the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of increasing global warming by up to 1.5 degrees over the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900 is possible. The agreement aims to keep global warming below 2°C and, if possible, 1.5°C.
Scientists have warned that an increase in global warming could have serious consequences for humanity. The report states that the goal of not allowing the Earth’s temperature to rise by more than 1.5 degrees by 2030 is no longer achievable. This is ten years earlier than the Commission itself had previously estimated.
The carbon dioxide concentration reached its highest level in at least two million years.
“It’s a guarantee that things are only going to get worse,” says co-author and climate researcher Linda Mearns. “I really don’t see any place on earth that would be safe. There is no place to hide.” Only drastic measures, such as a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, can prevent us from having to deal with harsh weather conditions. The United Nations wrote in the report “The Red Symbol of Humanity”. The results should be a fatal blow to coal, oil and gas, says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a first response.
Almost no effect on the sun and volcanoes
Carbon dioxide concentrations reached their highest levels in at least 2 million years, while methane and nitrogen oxides reached their highest levels in at least 800,000 years. These increased concentrations ‘probably’ contributed to a warming of 1 to 2 °C, while other anthropogenic factors, especially aerosols, simultaneously contributed to an estimated cooling between 0 and 1 °C. The Sun’s influence and volcanic activity were estimated in the report at -0.1 to +0.1 °C only.
“Human activity has warmed the climate to its highest level in at least 2,000 years,” the report said eight years later than the previous year. Greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are leading to ocean acidification, melting glaciers and sea ice, rising average sea levels (+0.2m between 1911 and 2018), more extreme weather events such as heat waves, hurricanes and droughts, and an average increase in precipitation rains.
Based on the studies, five scenarios have been developed, each showing a different future, depending on when and to what extent greenhouse gas reduction begins. Politicians can use these scenarios to make choices. Only in the best-case scenario could global warming be limited to 1.6 degrees by 2050, then 1.4 degrees in the long term.
Mapping regional results
For the first time, the impact on the planet has been mapped regionally by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. After all, climate change does not appear the same everywhere. Some areas get warmer and drier, others more humid. A website is presented alongside the report where people can search for data about their specific region.
This time the report also discusses extreme weather such as heat waves and severe storms and their consequences in the form of wildfires and floods. The economic and social consequences of extreme weather are relatively greater than those caused by other manifestations of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report examines the predictions of severe weather and the natural mechanisms that can lead to extreme weather events.
Fever has been confirmed, several organs are affected and the patient’s deterioration is likely to accelerate if he fails to break his carbon addiction.
“The new IPCC report describes the diagnosis of ‘doctors of the planet’ and climate scientists in more detail and with more emphasis than their predecessors,” emphasizes van Ypersel. “It confirms previous diagnoses: fever is certain, many organs are affected, and the deterioration in the patient’s health is likely to accelerate if he fails to break his carbon addiction.”
So the Belgian climate scientist insists that the report is subject to a comprehensive study by policy makers. In it they will read that extreme conditions, such as those experienced by Belgium in recent weeks, will become even more robust if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced quickly and sharply. They will also read that, unfortunately, some changes are becoming inevitable, and that we will need to better arm ourselves against these shocks while reducing our emissions.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established by the United Nations in 1988 and has since issued five climate reports. Monday’s report is part of a larger report due next year. The IPCC is made up of representatives from 195 countries who commission experts and scientists to conduct the analyses. The report was preceded by weeks of coverage of deadly floods, heat waves and massive wildfires in parts of Europe. The major international climate summit will take place in Glasgow next November, COP26. This meeting is seen as the most important climate summit since the Paris Climate Conference in 2015
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