World not ready for climate change
The report warns of serious impacts from changing climate on agriculture and human civilization and argues that governments are ill prepared for its effects.
At the same time, governments must step up efforts to protect vulnerable communities from increased natural hazards associated with climate change.
“Observed impacts of climate change are widespread and consequential,” the scientists of the IPCC write in the report.
Beyond that point, “impacts will begin to be unacceptably severe,” the authors wrote.
Even at the lower end of predictions, the report warns: “Climate change will lead to increased frequency, intensity and/or duration of extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, warm spells and heat events, drought, intense storm surges and associated sea-level rise.”
She hopes the report will help fill in some details and serve as a call to action for international leaders to negotiate more aggressive attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
People Aren’t Ready for Climate Change
These experiences are consistent with a significant adaptation deficit in developing and developed countries for some sectors and regions.”
“We need more fast-acting institutions and early-warning systems. We are already committed to significant warming, so adaptation is a great necessity.”
Planners of infrastructure also need to pay more attention, she says.
For example, power plants will need to have enough water to function in places that are likely to get hotter and drier.
“Whether we pick a low-emission or high-emission pathway, we may not see changes immediately, but in terms of a century it is a drastically different world.”
Still, Levin says the “window hasn’t closed” on addressing climate change. There is still time to head off the most severe impact.
The new IPCC report should help show the way, she says.
“There’s a lot of evidence in the scientific literature that climate extremes can impact crops,” says Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University and one of the lead authors of the North American section of the document.
“In the US we have seen acute effects of severe heat on corn, cotton, and soy yields,” he adds.
“That kind of severe heat is likely to increase in response to continued global warming.”
Working Group I focused on the physical science behind climate change; its report was published in September, 2013.
Working Group II is releasing its report this week on the impacts of climate change and how people might adapt to them.
In April, Working Group III will address how governments can work to mitigate climate change.