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Risks of global warming already here – IPCC

Risks of global warming already here – IPCC

Apr 3, 2014

A report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on 31 March 2014 says the world is “ill-prepared” for the many new threats of global warming, including the melting of the Arctic, coral reef destruction and the depletion of fresh water and its affect on food supplies.

Chris Field, the US professor who co-chaired the 309 scientists drafting the report, said that climate change is not a “thing of the future”, but has already brought widespread changes with destructive consequences.

The IPCC highlighted key risks that endanger health and lives around the globe, including coastal flooding and storm surges made worse by rising sea levels; the impact on communications, health services and power networks by infrastructure damage due to extreme weather; and the effects of both floods and droughts on crop depletion.

The report is designed to guide global lawmakers as they devise policies to reduce heat-trapping emissions and make their infrastructure, agriculture and people more resilient to a warmer world. It aims to influence climate treaty talks among 194 nations that are working to devise an agreement next year to rein in global warming.

The researchers documented how climate change affects everything from retreating glaciers in East Africa, the Alps, the Rockies and the Andes to the bleaching of corals in the Caribbean Sea and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Mussel-beds and migratory patterns for salmon are changing off the US West Coast, grapes are maturing faster in Australasia and birds are flying to Europe earlier in the year.

On releasing the report, Prof Field says the IPCC is a “bell tower,” attempting to allow the world to “climb up to a high point so that it can see far and clearly into the future and to let people make smart decisions for their own purposes to use science to build a better world.”

Dealing with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability of climate change, this study is the second of three Summaries for Policymakers the panel is preparing in its most comprehensive assessment of climate science, an exercise it last carried out in 2007.

Download the report here [PDF]

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