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What is the latest IPCC Report and what does it tell us?

If you’ve been on the internet or reading the news this week you’ve probably seen news stories about the new IPCC report that was just released. IPCC stands for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN body created in 1988 by UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) and the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) in order to provide political leaders worldwide with the latest scientific assessments on climate change. The report released on Monday by Working Group I of the IPCC is titled Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis and it has been approved by 195 member governments of the IPCC. 

What does the report say about climate change?

Human activities are contributing to global warming

According to the report there is evidence to support the theory that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have contributed to a faster global warming process. New estimates in the report regarding the possibility of crossing the global warming level of 1.5ºC in the next few decades show that unless our governments take ‘immediate, rapid and large-scale’ steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to even below 2ºC will be impossible.

Everywhere is being affected by climate change

The effects of global warming and climate change are far reaching and diverse. Warming over land is greater than the global average and ‘more than twice as high in the Atlantic.’ If global temperatures continue to rise we will see longer warm seasons, more heat waves, shorter cold seasons and eventually a reaching of critical threshold for both agriculture and health. For anyone concerned about the heat waves we saw this summer, this is understandably worrying news. 

Additionally temperature changes aren’t the only effects being seen

Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns, the rising sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding. Human activities have been linked to warming oceans, ocean acidification and reduced oxygen levels. The IPCC has developed an interactive Atlas that explores the regional effects of climate change more in-depth.

Human activity is going to determine the course of the future

Some of the changes that the report observed in climate change are irreversible over hundreds of years. Sea levels are going to continue to rise, and while reducing greenhouse gas emissions will produce quick improvements in air quality, it will take at least 20-30 years for global temperatures to stabilize. But recovery is possible. It will take time, effort and collaboration across national and international borders but it is within our power to start on the road to a better future. We cannot let this problem get worse before our governments decide to do better. 

This report demonstrates the ingenuity and advancement of climate change science,and the power of international cooperation. The point of the IPCC reports is to provide our governments and leaders with the information they need to protect us and our futures –we have to hold their feet to the fires and demand action. 

What can you do?

Call, write, email your elected officials and ask them what they are going to do to ensure we don’t let temperatures continue to rise, and how we are going to make a just and fair transition to renewables.

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