Friday, August 29, 2014

5 Terrifying Facts from the Leaked UN Climate Report - Mother Jones

A massive "ice island" breaks free from the Petermann Glacier in Greenland in 2012. (Credit: Rex Features/AP) Click to enlarge.
This week, a big report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was leaked before publication, and it confirmed, yet again, the grim--dire, frightful--reality the we face if we don't slash our global greenhouse gas emissions, and slash them fast.

This "Synthesis Report," to be released in November following a UN conference in Copenhagen, is still subject to revision.  It is intended to summarize three previous UN climate publications and to "provide an integrated view" to the world's governments of the risks they face from runaway carbon pollution, along with possible policy solutions.

As expected, the document contains a lot of what had already been reported after the three underpinning reports were released at global summits over the past year.  It's a long list of problems: sea level rise resulting in coastal flooding, crippling heat waves and multidecade droughts, torrential downpours, widespread food shortages, species extinction, pest outbreaks, economic damage, and exacerbated civil conflicts and poverty.

But in general, the 127-page leaked report provides starker language than the previous three, framing the crisis as a series of "irreversible" ecological and economic catastrophes that will occur if swift action is not taken.

Here are five particularly grim--depressing, distressing, upsetting, worrying, unpleasant--takeaways from the report.
  1. Our efforts to combat climate change have been grossly inadequate.
  2. Keeping global warming below the internationally agreed upon 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (above preindustrial levels) is going to be very hard.
  3. We'll probably see nearly ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean before mid-century.
  4. Dangerous sea level rise will very likely impact 70 percent of the world's coastlines by the end of the century.
  5. Even if we act now, there's a real risk of "abrupt and irreversible" changes.
5 Terrifying Facts from the Leaked UN Climate Report - Mother Jones

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