Climate crisis ‘unequivocally’ caused by humans, UN report says – Totally Vegan Buzz

Climate crisis ‘unequivocally’ caused by humans, UN report says

Brazil's Amazon is up in flames again with more than 29,307 fires recorded in August
Image: Pedarilhosbr / shutterstock.com

“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

Human-induced climate change has caused ‘unprecedented’ and ‘irreversible’ damage to the environment, scientists warn.

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, humans are “unequivocally” responsible for the rapid changes in the climate, including sea level rises, melting polar ice and glaciers, heatwaves, floods and droughts.

Moreover, if the world continues on its current trajectory, temperatures will cross the 1.5 C limit (goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement) in the 2030s, which is sooner than previously predicted.

This is IPCC’s most comprehensive assessment to date, drawing on more than 14,000 scientific studies. It was prepared by 234 scientists from 65 countries and took eight years to complete.

It says that humans’ rampant consumption and greenhouse emissions have already pushed the average global temperature up 1.1C since the 19th century.

The numbers are reaching their highest in over 100,000 years, and the effects are evident with wildfires ravaging Greece and Turkey, deadly floods wreaking havoc in China and Germany, heatwaves baking the United States and other adverse weather events across the world.

‘Ecosystems deteriorating more rapidly than ever’

UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) chair Robert Watson said: “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.

“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

Moreover, some cascading effects of global warming have already been locked in. For example, rapidly eroding ice sheets, rising sea levels and changes in the oceans as they lose oxygen and become more acidic are some “irreversible” changes that will stay on for centuries to come.

Limiting rising temperatures is urgent because, in the report’s worst-case scenario, the world could be around 3.3 °C hotter than now by the end of the century. Also, seas could rise up to 2m by the end of this century and up to 5m by 2150.

Need to ‘slow down those changes’

According to the report, we only stand a chance if world leaders commit to a shared global target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil, and gas and preserve the earth’s natural carbon sinks—oceans, forests, soils, and permafrost. Moreover, economies will have to quickly transition themselves toward renewable energy sources like solar and wind, and energy conservation.

IPCC co-author Tamsin Edwards is a climate scientist at King’s College London. He said: “We are now committed to some aspects of climate change, some of which are irreversible for hundreds to thousands of years.

“But the more we limit warming, the more we can avoid or slow down those changes.”

Report co-author Claudia Tebaldi, a scientist at the U.S. Pacific Northwest National Lab said: “Anything we can do to limit, to slow down, is going to pay off.

“And if we cannot get to 1.5, it’s probably going to be painful, but it’s better not to give up.”

COP26

The UN report comes just three months before the Glasgow 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, aka COP26 in November where leaders from197 countries will convene to discuss steps to limit climate change and its effects.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the report a “code red for humanity”.

“The alarm bells are deafening,” he said in a statement.

 “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it a ‘wake-up call’ and said: “We know what must be done to limit global warming – consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline.”

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