Global Warming

UN global climate report restores hope, lays out roadmap

A new UN report on global climate change isn’t quite as dire as one it issued last October. That special report on warming of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) showed that the effects of climate change could become catastrophic by 2040, at least 10 years earlier than scientists had predicted. Another report in December by private energy consulting group Wood Mackenzie showed that it’s already too late to counter the worst effects of climate change.

The report lays out a roadmap for how to address critical problems, including air and water pollution, land and biodiversity degradation, and even antibiotic resistance.

It notes that water quality is getting worse, and that plastics are now found throughout every depth in all seven of the world’s major oceans.

It warns, however, that “Time is running out to prevent the irreversible and dangerous impacts of climate change.” In previous reports, UN climate scientists have identified 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit as the threshold at which global warming will endanger human and other life, as laid out in the Paris Climate Accord.

The latest report also warns of a “major species extinction event, compromising planetary integrity and Earth’s capacity to meet human needs” and notes that 29 percent of all land areas on the globe are already unsuitable for growing crops, and that deforestation is continuing. It notes progress, however, in the slowing rate of deforestation.

The report lays out plans to continue and expand such progress by involving community groups, scientists, academics, businesses, and authors to build the capacity to magnify change. It breaks down its findings into six major geographic areas, and notes that some regions will be especially hard-hit, including poorer regions of the world.

In North America, the report notes significant progress in energy usage and air quality, but says that high drinking-water quality is backsliding, and concerns of drought are growing. It also says that loss of biodiversity is a significant risk.

It points to stable or declining greenhouse-gas emissions in Europe, but says that higher emissions in Eastern and Southern Europe are offsetting that progress. Air quality is the largest concern in Europe, and the report says that “The region’s resource footprint is unsustainable, owing to its overuse of natural resources and its trading patterns with other regions. Ecological, societal and economic resilience will be negatively affected in coming decades by global megatrends that are largely outside the region’s direct control and influence.”

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Global Warming

Dire UN climate change report

Earth is sick with multiple and worsening environmental ills killing millions of people yearly, a new U.N. report says.

Climate change, a global major extinction of animals and plants, a human population soaring toward 10 billion, degraded land, polluted air, and plastics, pesticides and hormone-changing chemicals in the water are making the planet an increasing unhealthy place for people, says the scientific report issued once every few years.

The sixth Global Environment Outlook, released Wednesday at a U.N. conference in Nairobi, Kenya, concludes “unsustainable human activities globally have degraded the Earth’s ecosystems, endangering the ecological foundations of society.”

But the same document says changes in the way the world eats, buys things, gets its energy and handles its waste could help fix the problems.

The report details climate change impacts on human health, air, water, land and biodiversity. Almost all coastal cities and small island nations are increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rising seas and extreme weather.

A major species extinction event, compromising planetary integrity and Earth’s capacity to meet human needs, is unfolding,” the report says, listing threats to ecosystems, fisheries and other major systems. It notes conservationists are divided on whether Earth is in a sixth mass extinction.

People getting sick from diseases caused by antimicrobial resistant bacteria in water supplies could become a major cause of death worldwide by 2050, unless something can be done about it, the report says.

Land is getting less fertile and useful. The report says degradation “hot spots,” where it’s difficult to grow crops, now cover 29 percent of all land areas. The rate of deforestation has slowed but continues.

Global Warming

UN Climate Change Report Makes Absolutely Harrowing Predictions For The Near Future

The nations of the world have a narrow path to preventing global temperatures from overshooting the most ambitious target in the Paris Agreement on managing climate change, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations panel said in a new report.

However, it would take an effort the likes of which the planet has never seen.

The much-anticipated assessment by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a bleak picture of humanity’s odds of averting a potentially catastrophic rise in global temperatures. That increase leaves the world at greater risk of sea level rise, drought, extreme weather events and species extinction.

Climate scientists gathered in Incheon, South Korea this month to assess the world’s odds of achieving the tougher of two temperature targets in the Paris Agreement.

The agreement aims to mobilize nations to take action to prevent global temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100. But it also calls on countries to pursue measures that would cap that rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

More than 91 researchers and editors from 40 countries were involved in the report and the document cites more than 6,000 scientific references. The report describes the future, saying that by 2040, the world could likely see even more severe food shortages and wildfires around the world, along with the widespread death of coral reefs.

Much of the report focused on greenhouse gas emissions; the authors concluded that should emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will heat up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040. The result of this rise in temperature would be coastline flooding as well as worsening droughts and poverty.

The pledges nations made in the Paris agreement in 2015 are “clearly insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 in any way,” one of the study’s lead authors, Joerj Roeglj of the Imperial College in London, said.

To limit warming to the lower temperature goal, the world needs “rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use, the report said. Annual carbon dioxide pollution levels that are still rising now would have to drop by about half by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050. Emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, also will have to drop. Switching away rapidly from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to do this could be three to four times more expensive than the less ambitious goal, but it would clean the air of other pollutants. And that would have the side benefit of avoiding more than 100 million premature deaths through this century, the report said.

If immediate and drastic action is not taken it will take the planet into an unprecedented and potentially catastrophic climate future.