The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released summaries of its latest report on Climate Change: “Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.”
This is the fifth report and conclusions have firmed up since the previous one in 2007. The panel considers that warming will probably breach the 2 degrees C threshold, which is generally thought to be the difference between acceptable and dangerous. Qin Dahe, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I, said “Observations of changes in the climate system are based on multiple lines of independent evidence. Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased”.
The actual report won’t be finalised till next year, but will be enormous and comprehensive, comprising more than 2500 pages of text, based on millions of observations and citing 9200 scientific publications by thousands of scientists.
According to the Working Group I Co-Chair, Thomas Stocker, “global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is projected to be likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 in all but the lowest scenario considered and likely to exceed 2°C for the two high scenarios”. He added, “heat waves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. As the Earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions”.
Those who do not accept the science will not be convinced. It is often quoted that there has been “no warming for the past 17 years”. This isn’t quite true, while the land surface warming trend has had a plateauing effect (though not stopped completely), the IPCC put this down to volcanic eruptions, the downturn of the 11 year solar cycle and that the oceans absorbed some of the heat. Nevertheless, ice has retreated all over the world, the oceans continued to acidify, sea levels rose, and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increased. Climate variability is such that the warming should not be expected to be a straight diagonal upward line, but be quite unstable. Nevertheless, the trend is clear, and a large part of it is down to human fossil fuel emissions, and secondarily changes in land use, that is deforestation.
The main effects will be felt in Africa, Asia and Australia, often by the poorest and most vulnerable, but the UK and other nearby countries will not be immune, judging by the unexpected floods and droughts which have happened in the past few years. There has also been new evidence from other investigations that climate change, and the starvation it brings are a factor in wars, revolutions and refugee migration – to find better places to live. For example, the eruptions in the Middle East recently were partly driven by the high prices of staple foods like bread.
“Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Thomas Stocker.
In response to the report, the world’s governments will be coming together to negotiate about emissions reduction, which will culminate in the successor to the Kyoto agreement in Paris in 2015.
This report is a further proof that global warming and other climate change effects is caused by human activities. Therefore, humans have to change their lifestyle and reduce the effects that we are having on the environment or risk turning the world into a much harsher place to live than it is now.
—About Akinwande Akinsiku—
Akinwande Akinsiku is a young innovative and visionary green spiralist who hails from Ondo State in Nigeria. He is a graduate of Micro-Biology from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso. He is passionate about improving the global impact of man on the environment and is striving towards becoming a very successful entrepreneur in the environmental industry. His twitter handle is @AAkinsiku and can be contacted via email@example.com.