Landmark U.N. report says some climate effects permanent, still time to avoid others

The burned out remains of the Pioneer Cafe off Main Street is seen in the downtown area of Greenville, Calif., on Friday, destroyed by the Dixie Fire. Monday's IPCC report says events like wildfires and droughts are being driven by warmer temperatures. Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI

Aug. 9 (UPI) — A landmark report released on Monday cautions that global temperatures worldwide will probably surpass a level in about a decade that experts and officials have been trying to avert.

The nearly 4,000-page assessment was released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. It’s the panel’s sixth climate report and the first since 2013.

According to the report, human influence on the climate is “unequivocal” affecting the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere — but says there’s still a chance to avoid the worst-case scenario.

The report said the world is seeing the effects of climate change, including longer heat waves, heavy precipitation, more frequent and sustained droughts and stronger tropical cyclones — and that it’s “widespread, rapid and intensifying.”

“Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered,” the report states.

“Global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.”

The report adds that the warmer climate will “intensify” very wet and very dry weather swings, climate events and seasons, but noted the “location and frequency of these events depends on projected changes in regional atmospheric circulation, including monsoons and mid-latitude storm tracks.”

The lengthy study said although many of the effects of climate change are permanent, there’s still a chance to avoid other worst-case changes.

Limiting human impact, it said, would require cutting carbon emissions to “at least net zero” and making “strong reductions” in other greenhouse gas emissions.

“The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years,” the panel said in a statement.

“Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.”

“This report is a reality check. We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate,” said IPCC Working Group Co-Chairwoman Valerie Masson-Delmotte.

“Today’s … report is a code red for humanity,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.”

“The evidence is irrefutable: Greenhouse gas emissions are choking our planet and placing billions of people in danger,” he added in a tweet. “We must act decisively now to avert a climate catastrophe.”


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