from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

The Long-Awaited Climate Emergency Is Now

The most sobering message in the IPCC report is that we are on a course to transform the planet profoundly, even if we alter our ways.
Sebastiao Baldi Silva Junior attempts to put out a fire on a ranch in the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland, in Pocone, Mato Grosso state in Brazil on August 26, 2020.
Sebastiao Baldi Silva Junior attempts to put out a fire on a ranch in the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland, in Pocone, Mato Grosso state in Brazil on August 26, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

In my weekly column for World Politics Review, I write about the dire takeaways from the recent IPCC report on the state of Earth’s climate.

The most recent assessment report on the state of climate science, released last week by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, or IPCC, eliminates any remaining shred of doubt about the anthropogenic origins of global warming, calling the evidence of human activity’s responsibility “unequivocal.” The report also identifies how quickly humanity needs to slash emissions to avoid catastrophe, given the accumulated stock of greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere. Under any conceivable scenario, average temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come. The magnitude of that rise is up to us. Unfortunately, the window to prevent massive dislocation and suffering is closing fast.

More on:

Climate Change

Global Governance

Paris Climate Agreement

Energy and Climate Security

Pollution

The long-anticipated assessment report is the sixth issued since 1990 and the first since 2014. It draws on inputs from and reflects the judgments of 234 scientists as well as more than 14,000 research papers on the anthropogenic drivers of climate change and the likely impacts of global warming. It concludes that, thanks to human activity, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are higher than at any point in the last 2 million years, while average global temperatures have increased about 1.1 degrees Celsius since the start of the Industrial Revolution. “The scale of recent changes across the climate system” is “unprecedented,” the authors write. The many environmental impacts include the retreat of glaciers and Arctic sea ice, the ongoing warming and acidification of the world’s oceans, a poleward shift of the Earth’s climatic zones, and increased incidence of extreme weather events like “heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones.” 

Read the full World Politics Review article here.

More on:

Climate Change

Global Governance

Paris Climate Agreement

Energy and Climate Security

Pollution