Ns News Online Desk: Many of the impacts of global warming are now simply “irreversible” according to the UN’s latest assessment. But the authors of a new report say that there is still a brief window of time to avoid the very worst.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that humans and nature are being pushed beyond their abilities to adapt.
Over 40% of the world’s population are “highly vulnerable” to climate, the somber study finds. But there’s hope that if the rise in temperatures is kept below 1.5C, it would reduce projected losses.
Just four months on from COP26, where world leaders committed themselves to rapid action on climate change, this new UN study shows the scale of their task.
“Our report clearly indicates that places where people live and work may cease to exist, that ecosystems and species that we’ve all grown up with and that are central to our cultures and inform our languages may disappear,” said Prof Debra Roberts, co-chair of the IPCC.
“So this is really a key moment. Our report points out very clearly, this is the decade of action, if we are going to turn things around.” This report from the IPCC is the second of three reviews from the world’s foremost body of climate researchers.
Last August, the first instalment highlighted the scale of the effect that humans were having on the climate system.
This new report looks at the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change. It gives the clearest indication to date of how a warmer world is affecting all the living things on Earth. The report is a stark account of the fierce consequences that the world is already experiencing, like growing numbers of people dying from heat.
But the authors say that there is still a brief window of time to avoid the very worst. “One of the things that I think is really, really clear in the report is that yes, things are bad, but actually, the future depends on us, not the climate,” said Dr Helen Adams, a lead author on the report from King’s College, London.
The report shows that extreme weather events linked to climate change like floods and heatwaves are hitting humans and other species much harder than previous assessments indicated. The new study says that these impacts are already going beyond the ability of many people to cope.
While everyone is affected, some are being hit much harder. This outcome very much depends on where you live.
Between 2010 and 2020, 15 times more people died from floods, droughts and storms in very vulnerable regions including parts of Africa, South Asia and Central and South America, than in other parts of the world.
Nature is already seeing dramatic impacts at the current level of warming. Coral reefs are being bleached and dying from rising temperatures, while many trees are succumbing to drought.