From the poles to the tropics, the earth’s climate and ecosystems are already being shaped by the atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gases and face inevitable, possibly profound, alteration, the world’s leading scientific panel on climate change said Friday.
In its most detailed portrait of the effects of climate change driven by human activities, the panel predicted widening droughts in southern Europe and the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the American Southwest and Mexico, and flooding that could imperil low-lying islands and the crowded river deltas of southern Asia. It stressed that many of the regions facing the greatest risks were among the world’s poorest.
And it said that while limits on smokestack and tailpipe emissions could lower the long-term risks, vulnerable regions must adjust promptly to shifting weather patterns, climatic and coastal hazards, and rising seas.
Without such adaptations, it said, a rise of 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century could lead to the inundation of coasts and islands inhabited by hundreds of millions of people. But if steady investments are made in seawalls and other coastal protections, vulnerability could be sharply reduced...
“The warnings are clear about the scale of the projected changes to the planet,” said Bill Hare, an author of the report and a visiting scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “Essentially there’s going to be a mass extinction within the next 100 years unless climate change is limited,” added Dr. Hare, who previously worked for Greenpeace.
“These impacts have been known for many years, and are now seen with greater clarity in this report,” he said. “That clarity is perhaps the last warning we’re going to get before we actually have to report in the next I.P.C.C. review that we’re seeing the disaster unfolding.”
It's nice to read that the political pushback is not coming from the US this time, although it would be nicer still if we were marshalling the same level of resources to do something about climate change as we have squandered on the Iraq war.