IPCC: climate change widespread, rapid and intensifying

The Report of the 6th assessment by the IPCC of global warming and how it affects the world is out and it’s a massive wake-up call.

The report says Earth will reach a temperature rise of about 1.5oC within a decade and 4oC this century.  Australia has already warmed 1.4oC since 2010 and in the region of the East Australia Current, the ocean is warming four times faster than the global average.

Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas, and oceans. For example:
Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
Changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels have been clearly linked to human influence. These changes affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century.
For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.

The IPCC has come up with five different global warming scenarios, each depending on how much carbon dioxide we have emitted.

Global warming stays below 2℃ during this century only if carbon dioxide emissions reach net-zero around or after 2050.

It is possible to make this happen, even at this late stage, but only if we act decisively and fast.  However, according to the IPCC, sea-level rise and glacier melt are now virtually irreversible and there is no doubt that humans are to blame.

Global concentrations of COare higher and rising faster than at any time in the last 2 million years and 85% of these emissions are from burning fossil fuels – the other 15% from deforestation and land degradation. 

There is little in this report that was not already predicted – hot extremes, fire weather, floods and droughts, increased ocean temperatures causing the mass death of marine life and algal blooms. Sea level rises have accelerated to 3.7mm a year. Global warming of 2oC will mean sea level rises of 2-6 meters over 2,000 years.

The report predicts permafrost releases of CO2 at 66 billion tonnes for each degree of temperature increase.

It is possible to stabilise the climate but surface temperatures will continue to increase until at least 2050 under all emissions scenarios considered in the report.  To get Earth back to below 1.5℃ warming, CO₂ would need to be removed from the atmosphere using negative emissions technologies or nature-based solutions.

What chance of Australia getting on board with serious action? Right now it’s zero. Neither of the major parties is prepared to take the action needed.

Partly to blame is the Murdoch press. Rohan Dean on Sky News yesterday called the IPCC a climate cult and predicted the report would be climate hysteria. Get ready for a veritable deluge of terrifying, apocalyptic doomsday-laden headlines.’

Murdoch, with control of so much of the world’s media, will doubtless keep on opposing climate action, refuse to accept the science and keep on dividing the nation and much of the world. Kevin Rudd is right – politicians are frightened of the Murdoch empire and this is dangerous for humanity and the planet.

Photo top by Agustín Lautaro on Unsplash

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