IPCC Panel Paints Dark Picture on Climate

  • The UN's latest climate study says poor nations will be hit the worst. Image: United Nations

April 4, 2014

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out with a dire report this week.

A 2013 IPCC study found that humans are making the planet hotter. The most recent report, “Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” focused on the effects of all this warming.

More than 300 scientists analyzed over 12,000 scientific studies to write the report. Their conclusion? No one can escape the inevitabilities of climate change.

“We live in a world where impacts of climate change that have already occurred, are widespread and consequential,” said Stanford’s Chris Field, one of the study’s lead authors, at a press conference in Japan last weekend. “We see impacts from equators to poles from the coasts to the mountains. There’s no question we live in a world that’s already been altered by climate change.”

Extreme weather like droughts and floods, melting ice sheets, and rising seas have already been well-documented and linked to climate change.

The UN panel found that global warming is already having a human impact. Rajendra Pauchari, the IPCC chairman, says in the future, it will hurt farmers, especially poor ones.

“There are negative impacts on crop yields, particularly in the lower latitudes. And this has seriously impacts for food security, for livelihoods,” Pauchari said. “This would be a severe challenge for some of the poorest communities and poorest regions in the world.”

Scientists are already seeing that climate-driven factors like flooding and droughts may be holding back our ability to increase crop yields.

All this could lead to greater inequality, and conflict, as countries struggle over shrinking resources. “The very social stability of human systems could be at stake,” Pauchari said.

What will it take to keep climate change from becoming irreversible and its impacts even more extreme? The answer, according to news reports of another UN draft report , rich countries like the U.S. will have to cut their carbon output in half by the year 2030.

Scientists hope these stark warnings could spur action when the UN convenes a climate summit in New York this fall.