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You will most likely have read or heard about the seismic IPCC report on Climate Change which was published in August. Authored by 234 scientists from 66 countries the report confirms:
‘It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land', Peter Thorne, Irish Times. Influential voices were quick to urge the need for swift and significant action. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guerres said:
"The alarm bells are deafening and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.” He said the report “ must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet."
The cumulative effects of human impact on climate change have been devastating. Many of these changes to earth’s systems – particularly to the oceans, ice sheets and global sea levels – are “irreversible”, the authors say. Abrupt changes and “tipping points” – such as rapid Antarctic ice sheet melt and forest dieback – “cannot be ruled out” (carbon brief.org).
The IPCC issued a report in 2013-2014 that was notable for its muted tone. One of the key developments since that report is the strengthening of the links between human-caused warming and increasingly severe extreme weather, the authors say. This is now “an established fact”, they write. This most recent IPCC report in August was harder hitting. Bloomberg Green extracted key facts of the state of our climate and atmosphere:
The last decade was hotter than any period in 125,000 years;
Atmospheric CO2 is now at a two-million-year peak;
Emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, caused by fossil fuel consumption and emissions from agriculture, are at the highest for 800,000 years;
The increase in these green-house gases has raised the average global temperature by about 1.1 degree Celsius (above 1900 levels).
And, the consequences are now:
“We’re already experiencing climate change, including more frequent and more extreme weather events,”
IPCC author Prof Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading told a press briefing. He added that:
“the consequences will continue to get worse for every bit of warming, and for many of these consequences, there’s no going back” (carbonbrief.org).
According to the report future scenarios are not making for pretty reading. In almost all emissions scenarios, global warming is expected to hit 1.5C “in the early 2030s”, the report says. (carbon brief.org). Spirograph of the increase in temperature since 1850’s:-
According to climate scientist Dr Emily Shuckburgh: “This report is clear that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5C or even 2C will be beyond reach.” The report also provides clearer projections of the atmosphere’s likely response to industrial emissions - if emissions double vs preindustrial CO2 levels the likely range in temperature increase will be between 2.5- 4 degrees. The IPCC report is damning but also its implications are scary. While an increase in 1.5 degrees C may seem small or insignificant, the actual impact of such small changes on the balance of the planet’s ecosystems and weather are likely to be severe. See how artic ice has melted: http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/files/2016/06/icevol_2017.gif We have all been reading and watching the severe weather of 2021: heatwaves, heavy rain, floods, storms as well as sea level rises, and worsening forest fires. It will only get more extreme, more severe. The Guardian have created a a video that captures some of the extreme weather events that took place this summer.
Climate crisis: one month of flash floods, wildfires and heatwaves
The reports findings may appear overwhelming and for some the temptation may be to stick their head in the sand. However, there is much we can do. In the next newsletter we will focus on key initiatives we can take:
As leaders in business or part of any organization
As consumers and buyers of goods and services
How we act in our lives
We’d love to hear any feedback you may have, you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great weekend, GreenFridays4Future