by Mia Clement (she/they) - originally written for The Oxford Blue - original article here
On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment report, addressing the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system, bringing together climate scientists from across the globe and the latest advances in climate science to warn of the imminent and dire risk of climate change.
This Report responds to the invitation for IPCC ‘… to provide a Special Report in 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways’ contained in the Decision of the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to adopt the Paris Agreement. This Summary for Policymakers (SPM) presents the key findings of the Special Report, based on the assessment of the available scientific, technical and socio-economic literature relevant to global warming of 1.5°C and for the comparison between global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
The Report, produced by hundreds of the world’s top scientists and signed off by all the world’s governments, concludes that it could get far worse if the slim chance remaining to avert heating above 1.5°C is not immediately grasped. The scientific language of the report is cold and clear, it cannot mask the heat and chaos that global warming is unleashing on the world. We have already caused 1°C of heating, getting perilously close to the 1.5°C danger limit agreed in the Paris climate deal. The Report is clear there are no cliff-edges to the climate crisis. Each tonne of carbon pumped out increases the impacts and risks of extreme heat, floods and droughts and so every tonne of carbon matters. It will never be too late to act, the report shows. Instead, the real question is how bad will it get and what can we do next?
The authors conclude that it is “unequivocal” that humans have warmed the planet, causing “widespread and rapid” changes to Earth’s oceans, ice and land surface. They warn that the present state of many parts of the climate system is “unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years”.
Many of these changes – particularly to the oceans, ice sheets and global sea levels – are “irreversible”, the authors say. Abrupt changes and “tipping points” – such as rapid Antarctic ice sheet melt and forest dieback – “cannot be ruled out”. One of the key developments since the IPCC’s last assessment report in 2013-14 is the strengthening of the links between human-caused warming and increasingly severe extreme weather, the authors say. This is now “an established fact”, they write.
To read the full article go to The Oxford Blue website here
"We need justice. We need action.” Greta Thunberg voiced the opinions of multitudes of activists, scientists, environmentalists and more as she tweeted her opinion on the IPCC report and its global reaction. “The new IPCC report contains no real surprises. It confirms what we already know from thousands of previous studies and reports – that we are in an emergency. It’s a solid (but cautious) summary of the current best available science.“