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IPCC report warns of future climate change risks, but is spun by contrarians

The latest IPCC report predicts future food and water supply insecurities, calls for both mitigation and adaptation

[Image: IPCC-011.jpg]The opening session of IPCC meeting in Yokohama. Photograph: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just published its latest Working Group II report detailing impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability associated with climate change. The picture it paints with respect to the consequences of continued climate change is rather bleak.
For example, the report discusses the risk associated with food insecurity due to more intense droughts, floods, and heat waves in a warmer world, especially for poorer countries. This contradicts the claims of climate contrarians like Matt Ridley, who have tried to claim that rising carbon dioxide levels are good for crops.
While rising carbon dioxide levels have led to 'global greening' in past decades and improved agricultural technology has increased crop yields, research has indicated that both of these trends are already beginning to reverse. While plants like carbon dioxide, they don't like heat waves, droughts, and floods. Likewise, economist Richard Tol has argued that farmers can adapt to climate change, but adaptation has its costs and its limits. In fact, the IPCC summary report notes that most studies project a decline in crop yields starting in 2030, even as global food demand continues to rise.
[Image: SPM.7.jpg]Summary of projected changes in crop yields, due to climate change over the 21st century. Yellow indicates studies that project crop yield decreases, blue indicates studies projecting increases. From IPCC AR5 WGII SPM.The report also discusses risks associated with water insecurity, due for example to shrinking of glaciers that act as key water resources for various regions around the world, and through changing precipitation patterns. As a result of these types of changes, the IPCC also anticipates that violent conflicts like civil wars will become more common.
The number of people exposed to river floods is projected to increase with the level of warming over the remainder of the century. Sea-level rise will also cause submergence, flooding, and erosion of coastal regions and low-lying areas. And ocean acidification poses significant risk for marine ecosystems; coral reefs in particular.
The general risk of species extinctions rises as the planet warms. Moreclimate change means that suitable climates for species shift. The faster these climate zones shift, the more species will be unable to track and adapt to those changes.
"Many species will be unable to track suitable climates under mid- and high-range rates of climate change (i.e., RCP4.5, 6.0, and 8.5) during the 21st century (medium confidence). Lower rates of change (i.e., RCP2.6) will pose fewer problems."
The report also estimates that global surface warming of approximately 2°C above current temperatures may lead to global income losses of 0.2 to 2.0 percent. However,
"Losses are more likely than not to be greater, rather than smaller, than this range ... few quantitative estimates have been completed for additional warming around 3°C or above."
Even in the IPCC's most aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reductions scenario, we only limit global warming to around 1°C above current temperatures. In a business-as-usual scenario, temperatures warm about another 4°C yet we have difficultly estimating the costs of warming exceeding another 2°C. In other words, failing to curb human-caused global warming poses major risks to the global economy.
[Image: IPCC_AR5_temp_rise.jpg]Nevertheless, there will be a certain amount of climate change that we won't be able to avoid, and the IPCC report notes that adaptation to those changes is also critically important. However, we first need to accept the scientific reality of human-caused climate change in order to plan for what's to come.
As a notable counter-example, the state of North Carolina recently introduced a bill that would require state coastal planning to ignore all new scientific research with regards to sea-level rise. Obviously we can't adapt to threats if we deny their existence. However, the IPCC report notes that many governments are already beginning to take steps to adapt to climate change impacts in their regions.
The good news is that the IPCC reports that many of these climate risks can be reduced by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and thus avoiding the worst climate change scenarios. The IPCC states with high confidence that risks associated with reduced agricultural yields, water scarcity, inundation of coastal infrastructure from sea-level rise, and adverse impacts from heat waves, floods, and droughts can be reduced by cutting human greenhouse gas emissions.
In the end it all boils down to risk management. The stronger our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the lower the risk of extreme climate impacts. The higher our emissions, the larger climate changes we'll face, which also means more expensive adaptation, more species extinctions, more food and water insecurities, more income losses, more conflicts, and so forth.
Contrarians have tried to spin the conclusions of the report to incorrectly argue that it would be cheaper to try and adapt to climate change and pay the costs of climate damages. In reality the report says no such thing. The IPCC simply tells us that even if we manage to prevent the highest risk scenarios, climate change costs will still be high, and we can't even grasp how high climate damage costs will be in the highest risk scenarios. As Chris Field, Co-Chair of Working Group II noted,
"With high levels of warming that result from continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions, risks will be challenging to manage, and even serious, sustained investments in adaptation will face limits"
We're committed to a certain amount of climate change, and as glaciologist Lonnie Thompson famously put it, "The only question is how much we will mitigate, adapt, and suffer". The latest IPCC report confirms that minimizing adaptation and suffering through risk management by reducing human greenhouse gas emissions is a no-brainer.

You can download the whole report - or portions of it
Greg Burnham would be happy to know that a bill is going to Congress to disallow discussion of man-made climate change.

The republicans got it to this point by successfully passing anti-global warming bills in redneck states like North Carolina and Virginia. Typical bastions of rural ignorance and representatives like Strom Thurmond etc.

The republicans continue to be a backwards embarrassment to America.
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Consensus: 97% of climate scientists agree

[Image: Temp_anomaly.jpg]Temperature data from four international science institutions. All show rapid warming in the past few decades and that the last decade has been the warmest on record.

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Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities,1and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.


  • Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations

    "Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver." (2009)2

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    American Association for the Advancement of Science

    "The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society." (2006)3

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    American Chemical Society

    "Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem." (2004)4

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    American Geophysical Union

    "Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes." (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013)5

  • [Image: AMA-emblem-with-canvas-border.jpg?1357664102]

    American Medical Association

    "Our AMA ... supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant." (2013)6

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    American Meteorological Society

    "It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide." (2012)7

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    American Physical Society

    "The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now." (2007)8

  • [Image: GSA-emblem-with-canvass-border.jpg?1356043718]

    The Geological Society of America

    "The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse‐gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s." (2006; revised 2010)9


  • International academies: Joint statement

    "Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world's climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001)." (2005, 11 international science academies)10

  • [Image: USNAS-emblem-with-canvass-border_133x75.jpg?1357246150]

    U.S. National Academy of Sciences

    "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." (2005)11


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    U.S. Global Change Research Program

    "The global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping gases. Human 'fingerprints' also have been identified in many other aspects of the climate system, including changes in ocean heat content, precipitation, atmospheric moisture, and Arctic sea ice." (2009, 13 U.S. government departments and agencies)12


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    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level."13

    "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely* due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."14

    *IPCC defines very likely' as greater than 90 percent probability of occurrence.



IPCC reports consensus on emerging climate change risks

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The consequences of human-driven global climate change as this century progresses will be wide-ranging. Yet public discussion has focused narrowly on a largely spurious debate about the basic science of climate change.

Source The Conversation
UPDATED 9:10 AM - 31 MAR 2014

By Anthony McMichael, Australian National University; Colin Butler, University of Canberra, and Helen Louise Berry, University of Canberra
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Impacts volume of the Fifth Assessment Report will be released today. Here, three contributors to the health chapter explain the ideas and evidence behind the report.

The consequences of human-driven global climate change as this century progresses will be wide-ranging. Yet public discussion has focused narrowly on a largely spurious debate about the basic science and on the risks to property, iconic species and ecosystems, jobs, the GDP and the economics of taking action versus taking our chances.
Missing from the discussion is the threat climate change poses to Earth's life-support system from declines in regional food yields, freshwater shortage, damage to settlements from extreme weather events and loss of habitable, especially coastal, land. The list goes on: changes in infectious disease patterns and the mental health consequences of trauma, loss, displacement and resource conflict.
In short, human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to well-being, health and perhaps even to human survival.

[Image: 93nwctw9-1395705664.jpg]Extreme weather events have contributed to a rise in global food prices.'Palm Trees, Wind and Ocean' by Brooke/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

The human health chapter in the second ("Impacts") volume of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report concludes that the scientific evidence of many current and future risks to health has strengthened in recent years. The chapter, as in all IPCC reports, reviews all existing scientific evidence and is subject to external peer-review.
During at least the next few decades, the chapter states, climate change will mainly affect human health, disease and death by exacerbating pre-existing health problems. The largest impacts will occur in poorer and vulnerable populations and communities where climate-sensitive illnesses such as under-nutrition and diarrhoeal disease are already high thus widening further the world's health disparities.
Currently, the worldwide burden of ill-health clearly attributable to climate change is relatively small compared with other major blights on health such as from poverty, poor sanitation and exposure to tobacco.
Even so, in this early stage of human-driven climate change researchers in many countries have reported that rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns have, variously, increased heat-related illnesses and deaths, altered the distribution of some water-borne infectious diseases and the insect transmitters (vectors) of some diseases (such as malaria), and have reduced food yields in some already food-insecure populations.
Less certainly, extreme weather events, influenced in part by climate change, are likely to have contributed to the recent rise in global food prices.

[Image: r9xvy6rf-1395705158.jpg]Climate change may render some regions uninhabitable. Shutterstock

The chapter discusses three impact categories in particular:
  • under-nutrition and impaired child development due to reduced food yields
  • injuries, hospitalisations and deaths due to intense heat waves, fires and other weather disasters and
  • shifts in the seasonal duration and spatial range of infectious diseases.
There is also mounting evidence of the adverse health consequences of workplace exposure to heat extremes, including reduced work capacity and productivity.
Looking ahead to 2100, for which some modelled scenarios now project an average global warming of 4 degrees Celsius, the report foresees that in such conditions people won't be able to cope, let alone work productively, in the hottest parts of the year. And that's assuming social and economic institutions and processes are still intact. Some regions may become uninhabitable.
Impacts on mental health could be similarly extreme, further limiting our collective capacity to cope, recover and adapt.
Overall, while limited health gains from climate change may occur in some regions, the health chapter concludes from the evidence that harmful impacts will greatly outweigh benefits. The impacts of climate change will also undermine hard-won gains achieved through social development programs, impeding progress in the world's poorest countries.
The world community has dithered for two decades over climate change since it rose to prominence during the 1992 Earth Summit. As valuable time to reduce the risks (mitigation) has been squandered, the need to also focus on managing risk (adaptation) has increased. But excessive reliance on adaptation carries its own risks including fooling ourselves that we don't need immediate and aggressive mitigation.

[Image: 7yyb3sxz-1395706053.jpg]Public health programs can help manage the effects of climate change.Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CC BY

The health chapter concludes that the most immediate effective way to manage health risks is through programs that introduce or improve basic public health measures. It also notes the need to boost human rights-based access to family planning.
As climate change proceeds, additional climate-specific measures (such as enhanced surveillance, early warning systems and climate-proofed building design) will be needed to protect population health, even in high-income settings. Recent extreme events such as the severe heat waves and fires in Australia in 2009-2014 and in Russia in 2010 underscore this need.
The chapter offers some cheer in stressing that the near-term and relatively localised health "co-benefits"from reducing greenhouse emissions (mitigation) could be very large. Reducing emissions of methane and black carbon, for example, may avoid more than two million deaths per year.
Other mitigation actions likely to improve physical health, social connectedness and mental health include:
  • encouraging communities to be more active via improved public transport and reduced car reliance
  • reducing exposures to temperature extremes with well-insulated energy-efficient housing and
  • promoting healthier diets through the transformation of food production and processing systems.

[Image: d99f3r3b-1395705292.jpg]Impacts of climate change on mental health limit our capacity to cope, recover and adapt. Tim Caynes, CC BY-NC

In economic terms, the IPCC chapter judges that the health co-benefits from reducing emissions would be extremely cost-beneficial. They would, for example, be one thousand times greater than the economic co-benefits to agricultural yields from reduced exposures to short-lived, crop-damaging, airborne climate pollutants.
Overall, the up-front costs of reducing emissions could be substantially offset by early and extremely large health (and other) benefits.
Of course, none of this matters if human well-being, health and survival mean little to us. In that case we can emit all we like, then suffer, dwindle or even die out as a species and leave this planet to recover and thrive without us. One way or another we will then emit less.
We have a closing window of time in which to do something about global climate change.
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If climate and ecosystem change and destruction - including: destruction of species, famines, violent storm killing millions, forced migrations, starvation, wars due to climate change, water shortages, depletion of sea and land animals and plants, disruptions of crops and Natural system [and one could easily go I do in my courses] doesn't scare you......then go back to sticking your head in the dirt, like an ostrich. Its called reality and some reality is not easy for many to take - so they take the easy road - called the cognitive dissonance is too great for their fragile sensibilities. Strange to me that many who can face that JFK assassination and 911 were false-flag coup d'etats are afraid to look into the SCIENCE of global climate change - caused by humans - all too many humans - a plague on the planet - a species out of balance. Anyway, the deniers are in good company with the oil companies, the large multinationals, the Koch Bros. and many others of that ilk. Enjoy the denial while it lasts................not long.
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Seems like the science is right there.
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Da professor is in da house!!:Clown: