A panel of experts convened by the United Nations has offered the most comprehensive look yet at how climate change is affecting our homes, health, livelihoods and infrastructure. , as well as the natural systems on which they all depend.
The picture is not a fun picture. The report, approved by 195 governments, shows how widespread and severe the effects of human-caused global warming are worldwide – and how difficult it is for societies and ecosystems to be. How to manage if countries do not drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Any further delay in anticipated global actions will miss a brief and rapidly closing opportunity to secure a sustainable and livable future for the world,” the report said. everybody”.
Here are five key findings:
Climate hazards have become significantly worse over the past decade.
This group of experts, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, conducted the last major survey of the impacts of climate change in 2014. (The report gives a separate report last year on the physical dynamics of climate change.) Back to 2014that is report said there was “limited evidence” that countries needed more money to deal with the dangers than was allocated. The panel’s report said global warming has a “relatively small” effect on human health compared with other stressors.
Eight years later, it’s a different story.
The new report shows that climate change is not only adding to ecological threats such as wildfires, heat waves and rising sea levels, it is also displacing people from their homes and putting people at risk. for food and water supplies. It is taking a toll on people’s physical and mental health, with increasing rates of food and waterborne illnesses, respiratory failure from fire and natural disasters. And the funding shortfall to tackle all of this is “widening,” the new report says.
If warming is not slowed down, the hazards will multiply.
Not long ago, scientists suggested that the planet might not be affected by climate change if global warming did not exceed 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than the world’s temperature. 19th century.
Now it is clear that many of these harms will appear if warming is exceeded 1.5 degrees Celsiusas possible in next few decades. (Is at about 1.1 degrees Now.) And even if we pass 1.5 degrees Celsius but the temperature is lowered again after that, it could still lead to severe and irreversible damage, the new report says.
The report said that with 1.5 degrees of warming in the past, coastal, mountain and arctic regions could be irreparably affected. Increased wildfires, mass tree deaths, drying of marshes and thawing of permafrost can release more carbon dioxide into the air, making it even more difficult to halt global warming.
According to the report, if temperatures continue to rise above that level, all of these risks will increase and economic damage worldwide will increase in a “non-linear” manner. Many other animals are likely to become extinct. The report says mosquitoes will expand their range northward, putting billions of people at risk of dengue fever by the end of the century.
Societies are not doing enough to adapt and stay safe.
The report notes some success in correcting these new hazards, such as better early warning systems for disasters. However, much of humanity’s efforts have been “increased” and “increased,” according to that, and sometimes backfired.
Societies built sea walls to protect against rising tides, but that often pushed the risk of flooding ashore. They have worked to put out the wildfires, but some of them have ecological benefits.
“Transformative” changes are needed to protect human well-being, the report says, including stronger health and sanitation systems, stronger food supply chains, power grids, and more. more flexible and more forward-looking urban planning.
As warming continues, it will get harder and harder to deal with.
As global temperatures rise, ecosystems such as coral reefs, wetlands, rainforests and polar regions are facing the limits to which they can adjust, the report said.
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For some countries, the costs of maintaining the health, safety and well-being of their people are already too high, according to the report. And as warming continues, today’s effective measures to protect water supplies, promote agriculture and defend against climate-related harm will lose their effectiveness. For example, new plant varieties can be developed to withstand heat and drought, but only to such extent.
The report suggests that communities try to work with nature rather than against it – revitalizing wetlands to combat catastrophic flooding, increasing tree cover in cities to cool them down. – although this only works to an extent.
Poor countries face far greater challenges than rich countries.
Not only do developing countries have fewer resources to deal with climate shocks. They are also more vulnerable: Their infrastructure is often inadequate, social safety nets are weaker, and people’s livelihoods are more dependent on the natural world. The report found that between 2010 and 2020, floods, droughts and storms killed 15 times more people in developing countries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere than in rich nations. have the most.
Even in rich countries, there are huge disparities in the level of risk between different groups of people. In total, between 3.3 billion and 3.6 billion people – almost half of humanity – are “very vulnerable” to climate change today, the report said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/28/climate/climate-change-ipcc-report-takeaways.html 5 Findings from the United Nations Report on Climate Hazards