An alarming new IPCC report released this morning confirms, with “unequivocal” certainty, that the climate change causing the devastating phenomena hammering the globe is driven by human-sourced greenhouse gas pollution. While some impacts of climate change are now locked in due to past inaction, it also shows humanity can avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change with dramatic action.
“This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet,” António Guterres, the UN secretary general, warned: “[This report] is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.” Climate change, the report confirms, is fueling heat waves, intensifying droughts, stoking wildfire weather, supercharging tropical cyclones, increasing extreme rainfall, and driving coastal flooding. These disasters, exacerbated by the 2°F (1.1°C) of warming that has already occurred, represent the real-time cost of political inaction on climate change.
The report also underlines the imperative of limiting warming to 2.7°F (1.5°C), warning of skyrocketing impacts as temperatures continue to rise — extreme heat waves will occur 14 times as often than they did in the past if warming rises to 3.6°F (2°C), for example. It remains possible to stabilize global average temperature below 1.5°C. Doing so, however, will require strict, rapid, and sustained reductions in carbon and methane pollution.
“It’s now become actually quite obvious to people what is happening, because we see it with our own eyes,” Corinne Le Quéré, a professor of climate science at the University of East Anglia and a contributor to the report, told The Washington Post. “You don’t have to have a PhD. You don’t need to be a climate scientist. You just need to be a person who looks out the window.”
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