The climate is changing, and not in ways that are likely to be beneficial. This is gist of forthcoming report suggesting that global warming could lead to global shortages of food and water.
A draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes multiple implications for civilization. The report also outlines a number of steps that society could take to adapt to climate change.
This draft also reports that some natural systems might experience “abrupt or drastic changes” with disastrous consequences. Arctic ecosystems, the Greenland ice sheet, the Amazon rainforest, and coral reefs are some examples of vulnerable natural systems.
The global economy is also at risk, by way of food shortages and other problems caused by climate change. A temperature increase of 2.5 C could cut global economic output by Climate change will hit growth. Warming of 2.5 C above pre-industrial levels could reduce global income from 0.2 percent to 2 percent a year. The global average temperature is already up by 0.8 C compared to the pre-industrial average.
The report will include options for adapting to climate change. The range of options described includes improved disaster planning, breeding drought-tolerant crops, water conservation measures, steps to save energy, and more use of insurance.
In addition to damage to natural systems, global warming could cause water and food shortages.
The latest report will face plenty of scrutiny, as the last report incorrectly projected that the Himalayan glaciers might be gone by 2035. The new report predicts a change somewhere between a 2 percent increase and a 29 percent decrease by 2035.
The IPCC will also need to address thousands of comments that came after the forthcoming report was linked to from a climate skeptic site.
Scientist and officials from more than 100 governments will collaborate to edit and approve the final report. That final report will be a key input into a 2015 UN summit in Paris intended to forge a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The new report is the second of three installments. The first part came out in September 2013. The third installment will focus on solutions to the problems caused by climate change, such as more use of renewable energy.
The report indicates that certain groups will suffer more than others. People in developing countries who live in low latitudes, in cities, and especially along the coast of Asia will be harder hit by global warming. Hundreds of millions of people on the Asian coasts will end up being displaced by rising sea levels and storms.
On Friday, economist and author Rupert Duvall said the world had moved on from dealing with global warming. He cited the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, 15 years of stable temperatures, and lack of participation by developing nations as reasons why the world has moved on.
In fact, many people in the big polluter nations are not that concerned about climate change. In that Pew Research Center survey of people in 39 nations, 40 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Chinese see climate change as a major threat.
Poll results aside, the IPCC report presents a case that global warming could lead to shortages of food and water, to severe degradation of some natural systems, and to massive disruption to life in coastal areas.
By Chester Davis