Leaked IPCC report: Impacts of climate change may be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”

Emissions are growing, and our window to act is getting smaller

Topics: IPCC, Climate Change, greenhouse-gas emissions, United Nations, Global Warming, ,

The world’s top climate scientists agree that we’re losing the fight against climate change, report the New York Times and Bloomberg News, who got their hands on a leaked draft of a forthcoming report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The impacts of man-made climate change are already being felt around the world, it reportedly says, and “without additional mitigation, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally.”

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reduction in snow and ice, and in global mean-sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the draft report, which is subject to change before its official publication on Nov. 2, currently says. “The risk of abrupt and irreversible change increases as the magnitude of the warming increases.”

Feel like you’ve heard it before? That’s because the report is meant to “summarize and restate” the reports already released by the IPCC: like the one from last September that found scientists believe, with 95 percent certainty, that human activities are contributing to climate change, the one from March that concluded that “nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” the one from April that warned that drastic, global measures must be taken to lower our emissions before it’s too late. But this one, according to the Times, uses “blunter, more forceful language” to highlight just how drastic the risks are.



So if you weren’t paying attention before, now’s the time. “Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases cease,” the report finds. Still, we could conceivably limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels if we act quickly — within the next couple of decades, or, more pointedly, next month, when world leaders gather in New York to start planning for a potential global agreement to limit emissions. Delaying action will only intensify the risks, Bloomberg adds, as well as raise the cost of eventual action. Putting off mitigation until 2030, for example, would increase costs 44 percent through 2050. Continued warming, meanwhile, will most likely “slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing poverty traps and create new ones, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.”

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...