World Not Ready for Climate Change, New Report Says

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Latest IPCC report outlines the risks of climate change—and the lack of readiness.

The world is not ready for climate change, which poses a number of serious risks, says the planet’s leading body of climate scientists.

On Monday morning in Yokohama, Japan, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a major report on the impacts of climate change, with the goal of spurring world leaders to act more decisively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report warns of serious impacts from changing climate on agriculture and human civilization and argues that governments are ill prepared for its effects.

The hundreds of scientists who wrote the report argue that world leaders have only a few years left to reduce carbon emissions enough to avoid catastrophic warming. At the same time, governments must step up efforts to protect vulnerable communities from increased natural hazards associated with climate change.

"Observed impacts of climate change are widespread and consequential," the scientists of the IPCC write in the report.

The new report show that "today's choices are going to significantly affect the risk that climate change will pose for the rest of the century," says Kelly Levin, a scientist who studies the impacts of climate change at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C.

"Crossing a Threshold"?

The new IPCC report warns that the world is close to missing a chance to limit the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a goal that world leaders had previously agreed was an important target. Beyond that point, "impacts will begin to be unacceptably severe," the authors wrote.

(Quiz: What You Don't Know About Climate Science.)

"There is potential for crossing a threshold that leads to large system changes, and that's a very unknown world that has severe consequences," Levin says. If the warming were to go beyond four degrees Celsius, she says, as predicted by some climate models, "we would see extensive changes in agriculture." Some areas where people currently live could also be rendered uninhabitable due to extreme shifts in temperature, amount of water, or sea level.

Even at the lower end of predictions, the report warns: "Climate change will lead to increased frequency, intensity and/or duration of extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, warm spells and heat events, drought, intense storm surges and associated sea-level rise."

Levin says the report may be a "wake-up call, letting people know that climate change is now everywhere and that impacts are already unfolding." She hopes the report will help fill in some details and serve as a call to action for international leaders to negotiate more aggressive attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

People Aren't Ready for Climate Change

The report from Working Group II further warns: "Impacts from recent extreme climatic events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and wildfires, demonstrate significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to climate variability (very high confidence). These experiences are consistent with a significant adaptation deficit in developing and developed countries for some sectors and regions."

Written By: Brian Clark Howard
continue to source article at news.nationalgeographic.com

22 COMMENTS

  1. There have been various reports on these important findings.

    Climate impacts ‘overwhelming’ – UN – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26810559

    The costs of inaction on climate change will be “catastrophic”, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26824943.

    Climate impacts report: Key findings – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26814742

    Exxon Mobil shrugs off climate change risk to profit – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26830555

    Exxon Mobil, the US’s largest oil and gas company, said in a new report that world climate policies are “highly unlikely” to stop it from producing and selling fossil fuels in the near future.

    The firm says its oil and gas reserves will not lose value as the world adapts to rising temperatures.

    “We believe producing these assets is essential to meeting growing energy demand worldwide, and in preventing consumers – especially those in the least developed and most vulnerable economies – from themselves becoming stranded in the global pursuit of higher living standards and greater economic opportunity,” Exxon said in the report.

  2. Preparedness won’t happen until world leaders accept the reality of climate change. I’m still baffled as to why the deniers in the US tend to be both Republican and Evangelical Christian. Perhaps because Republicans put industrial profits ahead of environmental concerns and fundamentalist Christians have a disdain for science.

    • In reply to #2 by Billions and Billions:

      Preparedness won’t happen until world leaders accept the reality of climate change. I’m still baffled as to why the deniers in the US tend to be both Republican and Evangelical Christian.

      Here is my hypothesis as to why that is: The Right Wing in the US has been working since at least the 60′s to create their own news sources and to also significantly dominate how the major corporate sources spin the news. They have been phenomenally successful at that.

      As an example of how successful you still have serious discussions on outlets that are supposed to be independent such as CNN on whether climate change is real and on whether creationism should be taught in science class besides evolution. That people treat this as a legitimate debate is a sign of how biased the US media already is. But then you have the places like Fox News and many other sources that really spin things to the right. And the problem is that more and more the politicians on the right just get their info from sources like Fox News. So they are essentially believing their own bullshit. That is why so many Republicans actually expected Romney to win in spite of the polls. It’s why so many Americans to this day still think that Iraq had WMDs and operational ties to Al Queda. It’s why they have insane ideas about women’s reproduction such as (this is real) put an aspirin between your legs and it’s why the Republicans and Evangelicals, who get most of their news from places like Fox, don’t believe the science of climate change.

      • In reply to #3 by Red Dog:

        It’s why they have insane ideas about women’s reproduction such as (this is real) put an aspirin between your legs

        This is a quite common joke in my country. But, it’s quite astonishing that someone would actually use it as a serious argument… I can only hope that this was a weird joke that somehow went wrong. The alternative, that someone is actually that stupid is quite disturbing.

        • In reply to #5 by Nunbeliever:

          In reply to #3 by Red Dog:

          It’s why they have insane ideas about women’s reproduction such as (this is real) put an aspirin between your legs

          This is a quite common joke in my country. But, it’s quite astonishing that someone would actually use it as a serious argument… I can only hope that this…

          I think he walked it back afterwards and said it was just a dumb joke but at the time of the interview it seemed like he was serious to me. Andrea Mitchel was interviewing him at the time and she has a lot of experience and you could tell even she was taken back by the statement.

          Regardless of this one example there are definitely cases where Republicans believe absolutely ridiculous things about women’s reproduction and on general topics of science. Things that if you took a middle school health class would get you an F. Here is another example, there are many more: US Congressman: Rape Victims’ Bodies ‘Shut Down’ Pregnancies Automatically, No Need For Abortion

          However, there is some good news, the US Congress is finally doing something about climate change. Yes, I’m kidding, well they are doing something but what they are doing is trying to pass a bill that prohibits government scientists from researching climate change.

          • In reply to #6 by Red Dog:

            To people in Europe (or at least to people in my country) USA is this strange enigma. So many inventions and so much technology have originated from USA. Even today USA is in many ways a forerunner with regard to science. Ironically the theory of evolution is one of these subjects. This has coined the phrase: “The best and the worst stems from USA”. I think this paradox is what people in Europe have the hardest time understanding. How is it that a country which has given us so many wonderful things at the same time can be filled with so many utterly irrational and ignorant people? I guess, I still don’t have a good answer to that question.

          • In reply to #9 by Nunbeliever:

            : “The best and the worst stems from USA”. >

            I’d like to second that. I regularly listen to podcasts from the US; Skepticon, An American Atheist and The Malcontents Gambit. These programs are excellent and as far as I know, the only ones out there. Somehow these programs can coexist with the a large proportion of the population being scientifically illiterate! I really can’t imagine why this should be the case.

      • In reply to #3 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #2 by Billions and Billions:

        Preparedness won’t happen until world leaders accept the reality of climate change. I’m still baffled as to why the deniers in the US tend to be both Republican and Evangelical Christian.

        Here is my hypothesis as to why that is: The Right Wing in the US has…

        I agree.

        I think it was the Nazis who maintained that if you tell a lie often enough you’ll end up believing it yourself.

        I think that that’s what’s happened over the last few decades with news outlets like Fox, only they’re not lying, they’re simply ignorant.

        The worst thing of all is that children are being deceived.

        I’m afraid that the proverbial has got to really hit the fan hard before the delusions and lies cease.

        Ah, happy daze.

        Oh, an item has just come on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme about the media presentation of evidence about global warming.

        The argument is that equal time should not be given to deniers because it gives the impression that they have equal status to climate scientists, and that it should be made clear that those who poo-poo the evidence are only expressing their personal opinion and have no expertise in the matter; in other words they are just lobbyists.

        And the example was sited of an interview I heard given by Professor David Hoskns and Nigel, Lord Lawson, in which the latter interjected as the former was explaining some scientific findings, and said that they weren’t scientific findings only speculation and guesswork.

        I’m glad that that ones been pinned down, because I found it hard to believe that Nigel Lawson was allowed to get away with what he said. In my opinion the interviewer wasn’t up to the job.

        The problem it seems to me is that generally speaking scientists don’t have the necessary communication skills, and their opponents do.

        Although I know of a few scientists who do have the requisite skills.

        I think it’s also true to say, that most people don’t want to hear the truth about the environment.

        S G

        • In reply to #12 by Stafford Gordon:

          he problem it seems to me is that generally speaking scientists don’t have the necessary communication skills, and their opponents do.

          I agree with everything else you said except that. I don’t think the problem has anything to do with the communication skills of scientists. The two problems I see, and they are just different sides of the same coin are:

          1) There is a well funded group of people who put out propaganda that is lies and half truths on the topic and

          2) The Main Stream Media (Fox, CNN, ABC, and to a lesser extent BBC, etc.) have an inherent corporate bias.

          The result of these two forces is that people who advocate for climate change are held to a much higher standard of evidence than those who argue against it. There are regular examples of the deniers getting caught telling lies and there is an obvious money trail from the fossil fuel industry to the deniers. Yet what do you see in the MSM? If a climate scientist mis-speaks if they find one email where a climate scientist makes a dumb joke or displays any hint of thinking about how to fund their next research project it’s reported as a major scandal. But on the other side news about how climate denial is funded or news exposing the lies of deniers is almost ignored, it’s so common place.

          And the media which should be reporting this as “here is a problem virtually all scientists agree on” report “both sides of the story” as if they are equal.

    • In reply to #2 by Billions and Billions:

      Preparedness won’t happen until world leaders accept the reality of climate change. I’m still baffled as to why the deniers in the US tend to be both Republican and Evangelical Christian. Perhaps because Republicans put industrial profits ahead of environmental concerns and fundamentalist Christian…

      Fundamentalist Christians think God is in charge and the bad stuff will only happen to those left behind at the Second Coming of Jesus. All of the “saved” will get to rejoice in ecstasies of schadenfreude up in heaven watching sinners suffer forever. Nice bunch, huh? As far as the Republicants go, they only care about squeezing every last dollar out of every last resource before they die – their motto may as well be “Fuck y’all – I’ve got mine.”

  3. Well, it would be a good start if our politicians and world leaders would acknowledge that AGW is real. It’s kind of hard to be ready for something that you don’t even know exists.

  4. So it appears that there’s a tipping point. Who knew? Well, hundreds of scientists apparently, scientists we trust for a myriad number of other reasons. Though it’s not quite the same (exact) science, no one sets up a hammock if scientists predict a major hurricane to make landfall near your home. They seek shelter.

    Clearly through a circuitous miasma of circumstances, some of which have already been mentioned, the end result of a report like this is not the equivalent of seeking shelter, instead it’s continued debate about the science that says there’s a hurricane coming! Incredible. Just desserts await us all.

    • In reply to #7 by Steven007:

      So it appears that there’s a tipping point. Who knew? Well, hundreds of scientists apparently, scientists we trust for a myriad number of other reasons. Though it’s not quite the same (exact) science, no one sets up a hammock if scientists predict a major hurricane to make landfall near your home. T…

      Sorry, they don’t. As the latest landslide clearly shows: stupidity in the face of evidence is very persistent.
      http://www.skepticblog.org/2014/04/02/oso-tragic-oso-foolish/

      • In reply to #22 by kraut:

        Sorry, they don’t. As the latest landslide clearly shows: stupidity in the face of evidence is very persistent. http://www.skepticblog.org/2014/04/02/oso-tragic-oso-foolish/

        Ah! Those “conspiring government scientists” who tell know-it-alls, things they don’t like to hear!

        In the case of Oso, Washington, Satterlee was particularly active in fighting the 2006 zoning law, whose primary intent was to prevent excessive building in the region, especially in hazardous zones below the landslide. His acts of defiance influenced his neighbors, who also ignored the law and the warnings of expert geologists. Instead, they chose to live in a clearly identifiable area of great hazard. Some of the victims of the slide, who knew about the risks and openly ignored expert advice, are no “innocents” who had no warning. Those who never heard of the risk, however, bear no blame for staying in a danger zone. In another ironic twist, Satterlee apparently paid the ultimate price for his defiance of experts: he and his family are among the missing and presumed dead.

        The sheeples following their false messiahs along the path to extinction!

        There was likewise a local group with media support, opposing the Mt. St. Helens evacuation just before the major eruption.

        http://seattletimes.com/special/helens/timeline.html

        March 31 – Cowlitz County Commissioners declare a state of emergency. Cabin owners start complaining about being kept from their retreats.

        The Longview Daily News quotes lodge owner Harry R. Truman as saying, “I think the whole damn thing is overexaggerated. . . Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens are my life. . . . You couldn’t pull me out with a mule team.”

        Some opposed the ban and returned to their homes for belongings but had fortunately left again before the explosion.

        Harry R. Truman, egged on by the anti-authority media, refused to leave, and is still in his cabin or mine tunnel under a deep layer of volcanic ash and under 300 feet of water at the bottom of the new lake, now the volcano has dammed the valley with debris – and he was correct – you “could not pull him out with a mule-team”!

  5. I wonder how we ( fossil fuel guzzlers), are viewed by the people of countries who have made a significant investment in renewable sources of energy? Do they see us as greedy, uncaring, wilfully ignorant and delusional? These people have chosen to pay slightly higher prices for commodities for the benefit of the planet.

  6. We are screwing ourselves, but when the climate catastrophes start piling up, the Christian (and Muslim, and Jewish…) right will claim it’s God’s wrath for same-sex marriage, abortion, etc.

  7. I have a family member who has the view that warming has been happening all along and humans are not responsible for its acceleration. I mentioned how there are statistics which show the rates have been increasing since the Industrial Revolution, but this seems to do no good. Of course he’s Republican and Catholic. He is actually very intelligent, but I really don’t know how to answer him. Is there any info from a reliable, objective, scientific study that cannot be disputed that you can share?

  8. Funny how things work. A carbon sequestration plant in Illinois awaits final permit; citizen comments are now open via EPA. I’ve no idea if CS is a sound practice. A genuine concern, small battle in the war against climate change?

    Also in the news – ‘Precision agriculture – big data’. Large companies (Monsato,…) offer info feed to farm equipment. (Seemingly) no mention of climate change – increased efficiency to feed a growing population – privacy concerns.

    Dizzying, I cannot discern the good / bad guy.

    • In reply to #17 by bluebird:

      Funny how things work. A carbon sequestration plant in Illinois awaits final permit; citizen comments are now open via EPA. I’ve no idea if CS is a sound practice. A genuine concern, small battle in the war against climate change?

      Also in the news – ‘Precision agriculture – big data’. Large com…

      I am highly skeptical of carbon sequestration. It seems to me like one of those faux technologies like “clean coal”. For starters I just have a hard time believing that sequestration can work on a large scale, it seems to me eventually, and probably fairly quickly, that carbon is going to make it’s way back into the atmosphere. What’s more it seems like stop gap solution. There are all sorts of problems with fossil fuels besides climate change anyway and not to mention they are all finite resources so we have to move beyond them eventually. I think focusing on alternative fuels: wind, solar, etc. is a much better approach.

      • In reply to #19 by Red Dog:

        faux technologies like “clean coal”

        Yes, iirc, one article’s version subgrouped coal sequestration and clean coal.

        Another(!) issue in southern Illinois concerns horizontal fracking. A lawyer friend, who has a vested interest, assured me fracking is ok, (blasts with water, etc.) Um, chemicals are used too? One county just voted; usual suspects of landowners rights, confusing ballot language, environmentalists, threats of lawsuits, and a partridge in a pear tree.

  9. Much of the world was ready to discuss the climate over 20 years ago at the Rio Summit and since then Kyoto is still echoing in the world’s ears….How much freaking time dya need to get ready….
    I’ve never listened to a Gov person….they have been distinctly uninterested and specifically dismissive in creating the delays, ignorance and anti propaganda about the climate changes witnessed for over 20 years minimum…….We cant say we weren’t warned in plenty of time….

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