September 7, 2014

Latest IPCC Report - with a one word summary and a choice

You may have heard that the latest draft report from UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been released. 
Here is a quick one word summary of the report. Irreversible. 
The catastrophic changes to our climate that we are voluntarily choosing to impose on our children — cannot plausibly be undone for hundreds of years or more.

Yes, we can still stop the worst — with virtually no impact on economic growth, as an earlier IPCC report from April made clear — but future generations will not be able reverse impact on our climate that we are too greedy or shortsighted to prevent through immediate action.
The report was leaked to the AP and others. That means we can see the unvarnished language.
The scientists want us to know that "currently observed impacts might already be considered dangerous", but it's the future we should be worrying about the most:
Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.
Translation: Continued inaction would be catastrophic and immoral.
The risk of abrupt and irreversible change increases as the magnitude of the warming increases.
Translation: The more we delay, the worse it can get.
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.
Translation: Future generations can't simply adapt to the ruined climate we are in the process of handing over to them. Either we start cutting carbon pollution ASAP or we should just stop pretending we are a rational, moral species.
But it is important to remember — "Irreversible Does Not Mean Unstoppable." The IPCC report makes it clear we can still stop the worst from happening, at a very low cost, but we have to start slashing emissions ASAP. Now. What are we waiting for? 

Humanity's choice (via IPCC): Aggressive climate action ASAP (left figure) minimizes future warming and costs a mere 0.06% of annual growth. Continued inaction (right figure) results in catastrophic and irreversible levels of warming, 9°F over much of U.S


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