IPCC report lands with a thud, and we have to wake up!
Like many others interested in the climate crisis I sat on the morning of the 9th of August 2021 and watched as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change, released Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. The report is the first of its three-part Sixth Assessment Report which is the biggest update on the state of climate science since the 5th Assessment Report in 2014.
The AR6 assessment will consist of three separate reports and The Physical Science Basis is the first detailing how greenhouse gases are causing unprecedented damage to the Earth’s climatic system. The report considers five scenarios from best-case to worst case depending on future emission.
The report concludes that the outlook is dire.
Under all five scenarios considered Earth is expected to hit the critical threshold of 1.5°C warming due to climate change within the next 20 years, regardless of how deeply global greenhouse gas emissions are cut. In the worst of five scenarios studied, the world faces a catastrophic 4.4°C average temperature rise by 2100.
The report also noted that climate impacts are already being seen and no region on Earth has escaped the impacts. The report has uncovered stronger evidence than ever before that extreme weather events such as heatwaves, heavy rainfall, droughts and hurricanes are becoming more frequent and more likely as a result of the climate crisis.
Finally, to emphasise a point many had believe, but some still choose to argue, the IPCC say humanity’s role in driving climate change is “unequivocal.”
As someone on Twitter commented, the report wasn’t written in all caps, but it could have been. The climate scientist of the IPCC – the foremost experts in climate science – have come together and warned the world that we are in big trouble. Every single one of us.
The report does say that it is still possible to take action to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis if we act quickly. It also notes that every degree of warming matters, so it’s essential that reductions in emissions must happen now.
I went to bed last night feeling depressed at the state of climate action. For decades scientists have warned of the threat, but government, world leaders and business leaders have either ignored them or gone in the opposite direction to do exactly what they were advised not to, all in the name of profit.
A small number of people have profited massively, and the Earth and all its people will suffer consequences. Future generations will face a world that looks radically different. This isn’t fair, but it is fact. So now we must act.
I woke up determined to do more. I will be writing letters to politicians in the UK this week demanding change. And I will write more letters in the coming weeks. I donated to climate advocacy groups, and I will be joining upcoming protests. I will be taking several other steps too, and hope others will do the same.
If we care about the subject, if we care about the Earth and all its people, we must act now. The IPCC report should make it clearer than ever – we have no more time to waste!