By Huck Fairman
The United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just issued its latest warning:
“The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC. “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future.”
What, more specifically, does that mean?
The floods, fires, extreme storms and weather are just a foretaste of what we can expect if global warming – heating – continues. What we do or do not do will determine the course of life on our planet.
The past 6 years are the hottest on record. We should be cutting emissions much faster. We cannot afford to wait 2, 5, 10 years.
The UN’s secretary general said that while he has seen many climate reports, he’s seen nothing like this latest one:
No inhabited region is escaping the impacts.
About half of the world’s population – 3.3-3.6 billion – live in highly vulnerable areas.
Millions face food shortages due to climate change.
Mass die-offs of species – vegetation, corals, animal and insect populations – are already underway.
A rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will lead to accelerating impacts that may become irreversible.
Coastal areas and islands face inundation.
Ecosystems are losing their ability to absorb carbon dioxide.
It is estimated that preserving half of the planet’s land will be necessary to restore ecosystems from the damage already in place.
Climate change threatens to destroy the foundations for food and water.
Population displacement and migration will follow.
What nations need to prepare are flood defenses, crop variation, improved resiliency of infrastructures, responses to resulting hunger, poverty and health issues.
Climate change is creating many changes locally and around the world. Nations, international organizations, private industry and businesses all need to join in ways to reduce emissions and respond to, and prepare for, the serious environmental changes that are already underway.