August 28, 2014
Dire Warnings From Leaked UN Report On Climate Change
Eric Hopton for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Bloomberg News has obtained a leaked copy of a United Nations report that predicts “severe, irreversible and unpredictable impacts for people and ecosystems” as a result of global warming. The document lays the blame for climate change on human activity and in particular on the effects of fossil fuel emissions.
The leaked paper comes from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Bloomberg reporter Alex Morales describes the document as “the most important document produced by the UN about global warming, summarizing hundreds of papers.” Morales also says the report brings together the best scientific data and analysis from around the world and is designed to inform the UN effort to gain agreement on fuel emission and climate change policy from over 190 member states.
The report makes for gloomy reading. “Without additional mitigation, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally,” says the IPCC.
Although the report was dated August 25, it is only a draft at this stage and, according to Bloomberg’s source, who has official access to the document, the final report is due in November this year.
The report states that global temperatures have already seen a rise of 0.85 of a degree (Celsius) since 1880. Those nations which have signed up to the UN’s own target for limiting warming have agreed on an aim to restrict warming to 2 degrees above pre-industrialization levels. The IPCC predicts that a rise of 2.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels could result in economic losses of around 2.5 percent of global income. The panel acknowledges that the estimates are “incomplete” and have limitations.
The paper also points out that tackling climate change brings its own economic cost. The cost of keeping temperature rises within the 2 percent target could “lead to losses in global consumption of 1.7 percent in 2030, 3.4 percent in 2050, and 4.8 percent in 2010.” The IPCC nevertheless stresses that the long term impact of warming above the target is far more serious than the cost of mitigation.
The 127 page document warns of some of the dangers of climate change including reduced crop production, melting ice, rising sea levels, increases in ocean acidity and more pervasive heatwaves. It appears that the UN is pulling no punches and, as Bloomberg's Morales points out, the document uses the word “risk” more than 350 times.
Several potentially devastating consequences of warming are given by the IPCC. Should Greenland’s ice cap melt, for instance, sea levels could rise by as much as 23 feet. The impact would be enormous with cities like Bangkok and Miami, as well as many low-lying island nations, being under threat - though the report acknowledges that this could take up to a thousand years. A rise of 4.8 degrees this century could, however, lead to sea levels rising by 10 feet above the rises already seen.
Emissions are already so high that damage to the environment is inevitable but, says the IPCC, delaying action to prevent further damage could prove even more costly. Putting off action until 2030 could mean the costs of mitigation rising by 44 percent.
The IPCC does give some recognition to the beliefs of climate skeptics and accepts that some of the temperature rises already observed may be due to natural fluctuations. Nevertheless, this is a bleak report and a stark warning.
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