A Climate Disaster is Already Underway, United Nations Report Warns

Warming average temperatures have already caused irreversible changes to the earth’s climate. The Mediterranean basin is among the most affected areas.

Aug. 12, 2021
By Paolo DeAndreis

A new report from the United Nations agency on cli­mate change is pro­vok­ing reac­tions through­out the world.

According to the dozens of inter­na­tional sci­en­tists and experts at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is now proven that the warm­ing of the atmos­phere, ocean and land is hap­pen­ing, and human activ­i­ties cause them.

The (Mediterannean) basin cli­mate is unique, and it is chang­ing at a faster pace than else­where.- Gianmaria Sannino, cli­ma­tol­o­gist, European Climate Research Alliance

The report is a first step toward the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which is due next year and is steer­ing the polit­i­cal debate in many coun­tries. It demon­strates how Earth’s cli­mate has already been changed irre­versibly, such as the rise of sea level and the thin­ning of the ice sheets.

The evi­dence is irrefutable: green­house gas emis­sions are chok­ing our planet and plac­ing bil­lions of peo­ple in dan­ger,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres tweeted. Global heat­ing is affect­ing every region on Earth, with many of the changes becom­ing irre­versible. We must act deci­sively now to avert a cli­mate cat­a­stro­phe.”

See Also: Europe Introduces Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Half by 2030

Guterres added that this report serves as a code red for human­ity.”

According to the IPCC, human-induced cli­mate change already affects many weather and cli­mate extremes in every region across the globe.

Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heat­waves, heavy pre­cip­i­ta­tion, droughts and trop­i­cal cyclones and, in par­tic­u­lar, their attri­bu­tion to human influ­ence has strength­ened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5),” the report said.

While imme­di­ate coor­di­nated action could pre­vent the aver­age tem­per­a­ture from exceed­ing 1.5 ºC above pre-indus­trial data, tem­per­a­tures are already 1.1 ºC warmer, which is a level unseen since the most recent ice age 125,000 years ago, the report said.

Should noth­ing be done, tem­per­a­tures could con­tinue to rise in the fol­low­ing decades, between 2 ºC and 4 ºC, impair­ing human activ­i­ties and even the sus­tain­abil­ity of life in vast areas of the planet.

Dozens of coun­tries could even dis­ap­pear, accord­ing to Mohamed Nasheed, a for­mer Maldive pres­i­dent and coor­di­na­tor of the group of the so-called at-risk coun­tries.”

Satyendra Prasad, Fiji’s ambas­sador and per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to United Nations, defined the report as very alarm­ing.

It comes out exceed­ing where we all thought the esti­mates were,” Satyendra Prasad, Fiji’s ambas­sador and per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to United Nations, told the Guardian. It brings for­ward some of the cat­a­strophic sce­nar­ios that we have been think­ing about in the Pacific of sea-level rise, loss of low-lying lands and pos­si­ble loss of entire coun­tries within the cen­tury. The time­lines for these things will cer­tainly be brought much closer.”

According to the researchers, even a coor­di­nated global effort to cut emis­sions will prob­a­bly not be enough to stop the world from sur­pass­ing the 1.5 ºC thresh­old. Still, it could bring tem­per­a­tures down before the end of the cen­tury.

See Also: Climate Change News

We must treat cli­mate change as an imme­di­ate threat, just as we must treat the con­nected crises of nature and bio­di­ver­sity loss, and pol­lu­tion and waste, as imme­di­ate threats,” said Inger Andersen, IPCC’s exec­u­tive direc­tor.

According to the IPCC, cli­mate change is hap­pen­ing at a level and pace that the world has not seen for thou­sands of years.

The IPCC authors also under­lined how cli­mate warm­ing events, such as the abrupt change in ocean dynam­ics and cir­cu­la­tion, can not be ruled out even in the best sce­nario.

However, they also spec­i­fied that the most chal­leng­ing vari­able to tackle is how humans respond to cli­mate change threats when it comes to uncer­tain­ties in the cli­mate mod­el­ing pro­jec­tions.

We can’t wait to tackle the cli­mate cri­sis,” United States President Joe Biden said in response to the report. The signs are unmis­tak­able. The sci­ence is unde­ni­able. And the cost of inac­tion keeps mount­ing.”

Facing the cur­rent cri­sis gen­er­ated by some of the largest and dan­ger­ous wild­fires ever and by the severe drought, California Governor Gavin Newsom added that noth­ing about today’s IPCC report should come as a sur­prise. Even for those that ignored decades of dire warn­ings from cli­mate sci­en­tists, there is no deny­ing what’s right in front of us: a cli­mate cri­sis.”

According to sci­en­tists, many changes in the cli­mate sys­tem have become more sig­nif­i­cant in direct rela­tion to increas­ing global warm­ing.

They include increases in the fre­quency and inten­sity of hot extremes, marine heat­waves and heavy pre­cip­i­ta­tion, agri­cul­tural and eco­log­i­cal droughts in some regions and pro­por­tion of intense trop­i­cal cyclones, as well as reduc­tions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and per­mafrost,” the researchers wrote.

As glac­i­ers in the world retreat at an unseen pace, sea ice cov­er­age in the Arctic in the last 10 years dur­ing sum­mer­time has been lower than in the pre­vi­ous 1,000 years. Over the past 2,000 years, Earth’s sur­face tem­per­a­ture has not grown as quickly as it has since 1970.

The report fur­ther said that the record hot tem­per­a­tures recorded from 2011 to 2020 make the decade hottest of the past 6,500 years.

The Mediterranean Basin, the cra­dle of the olive tree and home to about 95 per­cent of the world’s olive oil pro­duc­tion, is among the areas des­tined to expe­ri­ence more sig­nif­i­cant impacts from cli­mate change.

The basin cli­mate is unique, and it is chang­ing at a faster pace than else­where,” Gianmaria Sannino, a cli­ma­tol­o­gist head­ing the sea level and cli­mate change lab at the European Climate Research Alliance, told Olive Oil Times. In the Mediterranean, the aver­age tem­per­a­ture has grown more than else­where, in the range of 1.2 ºC or 1.3 ºC.”

In the last 50 years, the tem­per­a­ture has increased on aver­age by 1 ºC in south­ern Spain,” Ignacio Lorite, a researcher at the Andalusian Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (IFAPA), told Olive Oil Times.

According to Lorite and other experts, olive grow­ers do not cur­rently have a sin­gle cli­mate-related issue that will most promi­nently trou­ble them.

The effect of cli­mate change on rain­fall is not yet obvi­ous,” he said. Although drought peri­ods have been iden­ti­fied dur­ing the last years, these events have been recur­rent in south­ern Spain for a long time.”

Still, Mediterranean Basin olives and agri­cul­ture could pay a high price to the heat­ing cli­mate.

Heatwaves in the area are going to hit more and more, and they are poised to last longer if no action should be taken to cur­tail the ris­ing tem­per­a­tures,” Sannino said.

In their 3,000-page report, the IPCC authors explained that car­bon diox­ide emis­sions were higher in 2019 than in the last two mil­lion years. In addi­tion, green­house gas emis­sions such as methane and nitro­gen diox­ide were also much higher than those in the pre­vi­ous 800,000 years.

Among the report’s find­ings is the pace of sea-level rise, which has been accel­er­at­ing in the past 3,000 years.

This report tells us that recent changes in the cli­mate are wide­spread, rapid and inten­si­fy­ing, unprece­dented in thou­sands of years,” Ko Barrett, the IPCC vice-chair and senior cli­mate advi­sor for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Los Angeles Times. The changes we expe­ri­ence will increase with fur­ther warm­ing.”

Since its first report in 1990, the IPCC has ben­e­fited from a grow­ing set of tools to mea­sure and ana­lyze both past and present cli­mate and map and model future change.

The sci­en­tists said in the report that they are work­ing with the IPCC to mea­sure tem­per­a­ture, clouds, winds, ice, snow, ocean cur­rents, sea level, soot and dust in the air and many other aspects of the cli­mate sys­tem.”

Satellite sys­tems have increased the depth of the analy­sis while his­tor­i­cal data, records and obser­va­tions are now inte­grated with the new mea­sure­ment tech­niques.

Ice cores, sed­i­ments, fos­sils and other new evi­dence from the dis­tant past have taught us much about how Earth’s cli­mate has changed through­out its his­tory,” the IPCC report said. While most cli­mate mod­els in 1990 focused on the atmos­phere, using highly sim­pli­fied rep­re­sen­ta­tions of oceans and land sur­faces, today’s Earth sys­tem sim­u­la­tions include detailed mod­els of oceans, ice, snow, veg­e­ta­tion and many other vari­ables.”

Guterres fur­ther empha­sized how the newly pub­lished report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis,” is to be con­sid­ered a tool to under­stand the dynam­ics of cli­mate change and its con­se­quences bet­ter. He hopes that the report will allow gov­ern­ments through­out the world to inform their poli­cies.

I count on gov­ern­ment lead­ers and all stake­hold­ers to ensure COP26 is a suc­cess,” he said, allud­ing to the upcom­ing COP26 sum­mit, which will take place in Glasgow, Scotland, start­ing October 31.





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