'Code Red for Humanity' - The Latest IPCC Climate Change Report Warns of Serious Consequences
As the pandemic continues to afflict the world, we’re faced yet again with the looming threat of climate change. Though it has been studied for decades, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a new report that urges us to take the issue more seriously than ever before.
What is the IPCC?
The IPCC, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, defines itself as “the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.” It was established in 1988 jointly by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme.
It provides governments across the world with all the scientific information regarding climate change, both general and public policy specific. It currently has 195 members and thousands of contributors.
What does their new report say?
In its first report since 2018 on global warming, the IPCC has come to several conclusions. It talks about the stark reality of climate change being the most immediate threat to life on earth. It states that based on current policies, countries will fail to meet the goals set in the Paris Accord of 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5-2℃ above pre-industrial levels.
What is happening with climate change?
In short, a lot. A different study has found that by 2025, there is a 40% chance that at least one year will be 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels. This is thankfully only a temporary situation for now, but we will cross the limit permanently in a decade or two and reach a point of no return unless the governments of the world work together.
Why is a rise in temperature a global problem?
A temperature rise could mean the end of normalcy (however relative) on earth. Every coral reef system will disappear due to the temperature change, wiping out entire species of aquatic life with it. Several crops, including staple foods such as rice and maize, would become harder to grow and could cause global food shortages.
Melting ice sheets could change the composition of entire oceans and shift common fishing areas, making living conditions harder for a lot of marine animals, change the direction of currents, and inevitably, weather patterns and seasons.
What other problems do rising sea levels pose?
A study published on nature.com shows that the world is becoming more prone to floods as a result of global warming and that millions more will experience a flood for the first time due to rising water levels.
Around 90% of increased flooding was observed in South and South-East Asia. At least 17.9 million new people will be prone to floods by 2030, and at least 25 new countries will experience floods for the first time.
Greenland’s ice sheets are melting at record rates. And to add to that, 2020 was deemed “exceptionally hot” and concluded the warmest decade in history. Putting these together, it is evident that the more we allow ice caps to melt, the worse off our planet will be.
How much will it cost to stop climate change?
The annual average investments would total up to $2.4 trillion until at least 2035. Apart from the monetary costs, the changes would mean a huge blow to the oil and coal industries, as shifting away from such non-renewable sources is a key step towards combating climate change, and coal usage will be reduced to almost zero.
85% of all energy is to come from renewable sources. This would mean a collective, global requirement of at least 7 million km² of land for energy crops. To give some context, the entire landmass of Australia is 7.6 million km².
What can I do to stop climate change?
Apart from reducing your individual carbon footprint by recycling, using sustainable materials, reusing items, reducing resource wastage, switching to cleaner energy, and so on, hold your leaders accountable.
The government is largely responsible for ensuring that public policy focuses on combating climate change. You can write to your MP/ Governor/ Mayor/ any other local leader about the changes that need to be implemented or join or form organizations that can effectively lobby for change.
Ensure that limits are placed on large corporations (Did you know only 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the world’s carbon emissions?) and get your local leader to switch the major energy source of your locality to a cleaner one, which is incidentally also cheaper.
So, what is happening with climate change in 2021?
To sum it all up, the world is getting hotter, and with rising temperatures come rising sea levels. This leads to major changes in the number of flood-prone areas (and people), food supply, aquatic life, and even the schedule of seasons.
We don’t have a lot of time to solve it, and the governments of the world are to be held responsible. We need more green laws and policies, and also do our bit. The changes must be implemented fast since we might reach the point of no return as early as 2030, and while it doesn’t come cheap, it is undoubtedly the best investment for the future of the world.
Further reading on climate change from IYOPS
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Surabhi Paraki is a Journalism and Communications student at Jain University. She is also an activist and a content writer at the International Youths Organization for Peace and Sustainability.
Inputs and Edits by Sovena Ngeth.