UN gives grave warning on climate change

Category:  News
Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 at 8:00 PM

The impacts of climate change were addressed by the United Nations’ (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a new report on Monday. The UN released this report after a recent panel on the effects of global warming.

To some, climate change seems like a far-away subject that doesn’t directly impact them. This report, however, claims that the world has only until 2030 to keep the global temperature at or below the 1.5 degrees Celsius increase (this increase is above the pre-industrial levels).

At the rate the Earth has been warming, the global temperature is projected to get 2 degrees Celsius warmer by 2030, which could bring catastrophic damages to the Earth as we know it, according to the report.

One finding from the report is that man-made emissions alone— such as greenhouse gases— are unlikely to cause global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

However, the panel described that impacts on human systems have already been observed from global warming.

With the rise of global temperatures, comes the rise of sea temperatures and levels. Cited were hurricanes are becoming more severe, wildfires becoming more common and storms becoming more prevalent. 

The difference between the global temperature rising 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2.0 degrees Celsius is bigger than expected from such a small decimal point, according to the report. Extreme droughts and lack of rain are estimated to be worse at 2.0 degrees. Sea level is also estimated to rise at least by 0.6 meters at 2.0 degrees, as well as 29 percent more loss of coral reefs, two times more loss of vertebrates and plants species and three times more loss of insect species.

In order to stop the global temperature from rising above 1.5 degree Celsius, the IPCC report said that there needs to be “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure, and industrial systems.”

Needing unprecedented changes in societal lifestyles seems impossible, but is needed in order to mitigate the global temperatures from something catastrophic to something livable, according to the UN report.

Things like building more forests, changing to more plant-based diets, and changes in human behavior and lifestyles are among the changes that could help slow the rise of the global temperature, according to the report. However, it also notes that some of these changes will need close surveillance, as some of them can result in negative effects in more vulnerable populations.

The report states that governments will need to invest in protecting its most poor and vulnerable populations. Food security, hunger and poverty are among some of the concerns with the mitigation process.

In order to seek changes in human lifestyles, the report notes that investments and policies need to happen.

To achieve keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees, emissions of carbon dioxide would need to decline by 45 percent by 2030. This decline would require great changes in industrial systems, the report says.

In 2017, United States President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement, which was adopted in 2015 by 125 other countries in order to help collectively combat the effects of climate change. However, the IPCC concluded that the Paris Agreement is not enough to combat global warming and that countries need to do more to combat the drastic warming.

The IPCC is made up of 195 members from member countries of the United Nations. These members meet in sessions to research further on climate change.

Set up in 1988, the IPCC was created in order to help provide regular assessments of the impact, risks, and possibilities of climate change. These assessments are conducted by hundreds of leading scientists from different countries that have expertise in specific areas.

Sarah Cacchione can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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