A devastating new report entitled ’10 New Insights in Climate Science,’ has been presented at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid.
The publication, created by Future Earth and The Earth League, outlines advances in scientific understanding of the drivers, effects, and impacts of climate change, as well as societal responses, over the last year, summarising recent Earth-system science, policy, public health, and economic research.
“The key insight from the latest climate science is that the Paris climate target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, is a planetary boundary we pass at our own peril, putting all future generations at risk,” says Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-author of the report. “Earth observations show that big systems with known tipping points are already now, at 1°C warming, on the move toward potentially irreversible change, such as accelerated melting of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, drying of rainforests, and thawing of Arctic permafrost.”
The report contains the following chapters:
- The world is not on track
- Climate change is faster and stronger than expected
- Climate change leaves no mountain summit behind
- Forests are under threat, with global consequences
- Weather Extremes – a “new normal” in 2019
- Biodiversity – threatened guardian of Earth’s resilience
- Climate change threatens food security and the health of hundreds of millions
- Most vulnerable and poor hardest hit by climate change
- Equity and equality pivotal to successful climate change mitigation and adaptation
- Time may have come for social tipping points on climate action
Each of these chapters have been reviewed by some of the world’s leading scientists to provide a trustworthy, accurate, and unbiased summary of the latest climate science. The report is being delivered in light of two vital reports in 2019 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change and Land and Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. Additionally, the landmark ‘United in Science‘ paper was released in September 2019.
The report goes into detail regarding the continuing growth of the fossil fuel industry despite increasing drivers of reduced emissions, the fact that we are not on the road to reaching The Paris Agreement and the potential for socio-economic instability due to growing concern and unrest within the general public.
Unsurprisingly, it outlines how global heating and sea level rise is accelerating and that a global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels could be reached already in the year 2030, instead of 2040 as is the mean projection of IPCC. It also highlights the devastation already caused by humans to essential carbon sinks, from glaciers, permafrost and sea ice to forests, coral reefs and biodiversity. Extreme weather events and patterns, once considered rare occurrences, have become normal in terms of their frequency and intensity. This has caused alarmingly high human and material cost.
“During the past year we have seen a more frequent occurrence of extreme events at more geographical locations with a larger range of impacts,” said Peter Schlosser at Global Futures Laboratory, ASU, and co-chair of The Earth League. “Early extreme temperatures in the Arctic were followed by heat waves in Europe, wildfires in Alaska, California and Australia, the death of glaciers in Iceland and Switzerland and the recent flooding of Venice.”
Crucially, the report also examines the human elements of the climate emergency, especially the dire need for social justice, equity and equality in the face of climate change. It states: “Failure to address and adapt to climate change will have disastrous consequences for hundreds of millions of people, mainly the very poorest, and will hinder development in developing countries. While all of us will be affected by climate change, the poor are more vulnerable to drought, flooding, high temperatures, and other natural disasters with low capacity to adapt.” Undernutrition will be the greatest health risk of climate change with declining agricultural productivity, while inevitable declines in global fish stocks will place additional pressure on this resource, on which millions rely.
“The more we learn about the changing climate, the more we understand the severity of the threats we face,” said Amy Luers, Executive Director of Future Earth. “The pace and scale of climate changes underway threaten our ability to achieve many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We must prioritise immediate action: climate mitigation, particularly among the biggest emitters, and adaptation, particularly among the most vulnerable.”
To read the full report, ’10 New Insights in Climate Science 2019′, click here.
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