Climate Change, Science

Climate Change Corner: Latest IPCC report says ‘hope for the future is fading fast’

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns if strict and urgent action isn’t taken, a “livable and sustainable” future is in doubt. 

The expansive and comprehensive report is based on 34,000 studies and documents from scientists all over the globe. It envisions a future in which people and the natural world will both be impacted by a warming Earth. Heatwaves, storms, droughts and wildfires are all going to become more likely if the rate of climate change continues. In a stark and serious statement, the head of the UN, António Guterres, said in reference to the conclusions of the report, “delay is death”.   

The report states the human cost of climate change is likely to be incredibly serious, and the issues for standards of living and climate change are likely to be intrinsically linked. If global warming rises by just 1.6 ℃, up to 8% of farmland would become untenable, thus leading to rising food crises and increased risk of famines. By 2050, 183 million more people are likely to be going hungry worldwide.  

The report has been described as “brutal”, highlighting a third of people are likely to be impacted by high heat stress if the rate of warming continues as it is in 2050. The effects are hard to imagine. Abnormal weather patterns will lead to even further disruption with flooding likely to become more and more intense as the years go on.  

In the UK particularly, rising sea levels and unnatural weather patterns may lead to flooding not seen in recent memory. Sewage works, seaports, and airports could be affected by flooding, leading to widespread disruption for the United Kingdom and devastating consequences for the economy. Increased sea levels, in particular, may spark doubts over the stability of coastal defences as erosion increases with the predicted rise. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) criticised the response from politicians in the country to the report and the threat of climate change. They stated: “The UK has the capacity and the resources to adapt but the government is simply not doing enough”.  

The IPCC report does make recommendations to point the fight against climate change in the right direction. Restoration of biodiverse spaces such as wetlands and forests, and a process of “re-greening” cities to cool them can help restore nature. The most important recommendation is to cut the number of emissions released into the atmosphere. Transitioning to sustainable fuels and renewable energy sources must be made a priority in order to prevent worsening climate change.  

While the natural world is likely to suffer, the report also focuses on those who are already more likely to be disadvantaged by inaction. The global south, Asia and Africa are far more likely to experience deadly consequences from a lack of response. The most vulnerable and low-income nations will be on the frontline of the climate crisis unless action is taken now to rectify the ongoing crisis. 

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George Barsted

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June 2022
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