Sea levels are rising, extreme weather patterns are becoming more common and the world is getting warmer. If we didn’t know it before, now we can be certain — global warming is a real threat and it is our fault, a new report from the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals.
The report is massive—penned by more than 800 authors from around the world—and is released every six years. This year, climate scientists are 95 percent confident that humans are responsible for global warming—an increase by five percent from 2007 and 29 percent from 2001, reports CNN.
But shouldn’t this conclusion be obvious by now? Did we really need yet another report to tell us again that global warming is predominately human-caused?
Probably not for those of us that believed it all along, but perhaps the IPCC’s new report will finally silence the deniers for good as its findings cannot be refuted. What’s more, maybe the world’s most developed countries, who release the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, will actually do something about it instead of just taking tiny steps in the guise of making sweeping reform.
In response to the report, the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, said in a statement (via The Guardian), “This is yet another wakeup call: those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire. Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or commonsense should be willing to even contemplate.”
IPCC’s new report draws the following conclusions, among others:
- Average temperatures have increased by about 0.6 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) since 1950 due to “unprecedented” levels of carbon dioxide and other emissions in the last 20,000 years.
- The worst-case scenario is that by 2100, temperatures could increase by nearly 3.7 degrees Celsius (6.6. degrees Fahrenheit).
- Oceans have warmed at a rate of 0.11 degrees Celsius (0.2 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 1970.
- Acidification in oceans has increased, threatening corals, shelled sea creatures and the ocean ecosystem, by 26 percent since the start of the industrial era.
- Cold days and nights have decreased and are increasingly replaced by warm temperatures, a trend that’s been happening since the 1950s. More extreme weather like floods, hurricanes and drought are also likely to increase.
- Sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets have declined since the 1970s and at a particularly accelerated rate since 1993.
- Sea levels have risen on average by 0.19 meters (7.5 inches) since 1901 and will rise with “virtual certainty” in the 21st century.
- More than half of global warming can be attributed to greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels.
Perhaps the most startling finding though is that even if the world halts greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, the effects of climate change are expected to continue for centuries, reports CNN.
According to NBC News, greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, are currently at an 800,000-year high.
Even though IPCC’s report shows that we are too late to stop the effects of climate change, that doesn’t mean we should sit back and continue with the same practices that have put us in this mess. If we do, we could be looking at much bigger problems from highly accelerated sea level rises to skyrocketing food prices, putting greater strains on us all and especially less developed nations.
To avoid even greater irreversible changes to our planet, we must take care of it right now because — as we often forget — we only have one planet, one place to call home.
Image source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr