A draft copy of a leaked report on climate change has been made public this week. It is the most in-depth investigation into climate change caused by global warming that has ever been undertaken, and the results could spell doom for humanity. The findings are to be presented to the UN at the end of the month and they do not look good. The report states that the warming up of the Earth will result in mass migration, violence, increased health risks and malnutrition.
Information was gathered from thousands of peer-reviewed studies that were put together by a multitude of well-respected scientists. Predictions state that crops of rice, maize and wheat will drop as much as two percent by the end of the decade. That might not sound like much, but globally as populations increase, so does the demand for food. A decrease in crops will increase malnutrition in children by as much as one fifth. There are also pressures on health as the number of heat-waves increase, bringing fires on their heels as vegetation dries out. This in turn pushes up the number of airborne and water-borne diseases. Elevated levels of pollutants in the atmosphere will also cause increased cases of hay-fever and asthma.
By the end of the century, thousands of people will be displaced due to rising sea levels flooding coastal areas and either submerging the land or losing it to coastal erosion. Smaller island nations may disappear entirely. The vast number of refugees as a result could cause an increase in civil war and other types of violent conflict. As land becomes submerged due to global warming, boarders will be broken and changed which could also cause issues between nations.
As well as a irrevocable change in landscape, desert areas will notice a decrease in the renewable amount of fresh water available. This could cause competition for water, which again results in violence. Fresh water and land animals could face rapid extinction as their natural habitats disappear.
The report states that climate change is real and a direct result of humanity’s inhabitation of the Earth. It shows the hazards are extremely high and things could change very rapidly in the future. It spells out that the more time that passes before action is taken, the worse things will become. The executive director of Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo noted that the time to take action is now. There is a narrow window of around five to 10 years before the damage is irrevocable and humanity is doomed.
But what can be done? Naidoo is calling for an “energy revolution” that will see a limit placed on fossil fuel use to try to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. California and Texas topped a list of the ten best states in terms of clean energy jobs last year. Both states have extensive solar power stations. Now researchers are looking to space as a new area to collect solar energy. The United States Navy is creating a large solar panel or “sandwich” module that could capture enough solar energy to power a small city or a military base. The energy is transferred back to earth via radio signals. Although radio waves are most commonly thought of in terms of cell phones or television, they can also carry “usable amount of energy” notes spacecraft engineer, Paul Jaffe who is heading up the project.
So although the released report on climate change could spell doom, the end is not yet nigh. Probable steps are being taken towards a cleaner, better future. Doing nothing by sticking our heads in the sand like those who argue that climate change is false, or somehow part of God’s plan may not cost the present generation, but it lessens the chances of there ever being a future one.
By Sara Watson