Not only is climate change here to stay, but the worst is yet to come.
This is the basic takeaway from a sobering report issued yesterday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which concluded in no uncertain terms that global warming is dramatically affecting the health, economic prospects, and food security of billions of people around the world.
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impact of climate change,” said IPCC chairman Rejenda K. Pachauri.
Drawing on the analysis of 12,000 scholarly articles by scientists, the report was the second of three from the IPCC on the causes, consequences, and solutions to climate change. The first, released in September 2013, concluded with 95 percent certainty that human activity is the “dominant cause of climate change observed since the 1950s.”
In particular, this latest report, reflecting a growing body of research linking crop sensitivity with heat waves, connected the dots between climate change and food security for the poorest nations.
“Climate change is acting as a brake [on food production]. We need yield to grow to meet growing demand, but already climate change is slowing yields” of wheat and maize, Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor and an author of the report, told The Guardian. Other food could be affected too: Fish catches in some areas of the tropics are projected to fall by as much as 60 percent, according to the report.
The report, and the one to follow in April, set the stage for an international meeting in Paris on climate change in 2015, when representatives from world governments will aim to hammer out the details on a coordinated strategy to cut global carbon emissions.
"This report requires and requests that everyone accelerate and scale up efforts towards a low-carbon world and manage the risks of climate change," Christiana Figueres, the United Nations climate chief, told Reuters.
Michel Jarraud, the World Meteorological Organization’s secretary general, agreed: “Now we are at the point where there is so much information, so much evidence, that we can no longer plead ignorance.”