UN Declares Code Red for Humanity

Greenhouse Gases trap heat from the sun, causing global temperature rise || Photo by: Alice Mach

ICPP shares grim climate statistics

On Monday, Aug. 9 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their report on the current state of the Earth’s climate. The 42 page report shares various statistics that break down the “widespread and rapid” changes in the Earth’s atmosphere, cryosphere and biosphere. The report predicts a potentially grim future for Earth if something isn’t done about greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Even then, the IPCC predicts there will still be drastic changes to the climate over the next 30 years. These could take the form of heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, tropical cyclones, and other extreme weather events. 

The report begins with a damning statement from the IPCC stating that, “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land.” The report’s contents are in no way celebratory of human behavior from the last century. In fact, some changes such as rising sea levels were projected to be “irreversible for hundreds to thousands of years.” 

According to the report, the rise of the sea level has doubled since 2006, and the first two decades of the 21st century were 0.99°C hotter than the last two. The Earth’s surface has already warmed by 1.1°C. (roughly 2°F) since the 19th century due solely to human influence. CO2 emissions have continued to increase since 2011, reaching annual averages of 410 PPM (Particles per Million).  

Due to the sheer amount of CO2 that humans have already pumped into the atmosphere, climate conditions will continue to worsen over the next 30 years, causing major heatwaves, flooding, and droughts. Immediate reduction of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases could, however, still limit further damage to the climate and mitigate the worst of climate change’s effects. 

To UN Secretary-General António Guterres, this climate report is a, “code-red for humanity.” In a statement made on Aug. 9 Guterres says, “The internationally agreed upon threshold of 1.5°C is perilously close. We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5°C in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts and pursuing the most ambitious path.”   

A 2018 report on climate predictions for Colorado by The Western Water Assessment team—an applied research program based in Boulder—stated that statewide annual temperatures are projected to warm by at least 2.4-5.0°F by 2050. These statistics are relative to a 1971-2000 baseline under a “medium to low emissions scenario.” Similar to the ICPP report, surface temperatures will continue to rise despite any potential efforts to reduce emissions.  

Climate activist Gretta Thunberg stressed the importance of paying close attention to the UN report’s findings, though also expressed bleak expectations for world leaders and major corporations. She expects them to have their “big speeches” and “press releases” saying that they’re doing everything they can, while nothing actually gets done. “As it is now, nothing is changing, the only thing that’s changing is the climate.”

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