I’ve been following the IPCC reports on climate change since they first began and my fear has been how the worst case scenarios are becoming the only scenarios.
The IPCC is an incredibly conservative body who only publish science that everyone agrees with and this (along with them not including methane release from permafrost and from the ocean floor) has been one of the great criticisms of the panel, so when they come out with a damning report as serious as their latest one, complacency, climate denial and apathy are no longer options.
Keeping future global warming within 1.5C demands ‘truly heroic’ effort
A hard-hitting report warning the world has merely a decade to make unprecedented efforts to keep future warming within another 1.5C should end “magical thinking” about climate change, a Kiwi contributor says.
The 1.5C Global Warming Report, released today by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), estimates temperatures have already risen 1C higher than above pre-industrial averages, with the planet heating up at a rate of about 0.2C each decade.
We have 10 years left to make enormous changes to keep the planet at only a 1.5degree increase, and even if we are able to do that, the planet will be damaged in ways that can’t be healed for centuries and will make parts of the planet difficult for societies to function in.
Even the difference between what another 1.5C and 2C would bring was “earth-shattering”, said Professor Jim Salinger, a former IPCC lead author.
“For example, coral reefs would decline by 70 to 90 per cent with global warming of 1.5C, whereas virtually all would be lost with 2C,” he said.
“With a global average temperature rise by 2C above pre-industrial values, then around 400,000 of the species that we know could go extinct, the numbers for 1.5C would probably be about a third to half this number.”
The report was “unequivocal” that climate change was already transforming the planet, through extreme weather, sea level rise and impacts on coral reefs and Arctic sea ice.
Without unprecedented cuts to emissions now, the world would have fewer opportunities to develop sustainably, and be forced to rely increasingly on unproven, risky and possibly socially undesirable technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere in the future, Hayward said.
“But to avoid climate warming above 1.5C, we have to scale up action in unprecedented ways across all sectors of our economy and everyday life, over the next 10 years.”
10 years. We have 10 years left.