UN Report: Climate Change Already Decimating Life, Worst to Come

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Common Dreams

UN Report: Climate Change Already Decimating Life, Worst to Come

Much-anticipated IPCC report release highlights risk of climate change related disasters to food and human security

by
Lauren McCauley, staff writer

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” was the message of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in a voluminous new report published Monday.

The statement was made by Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, speaking at a press conference in Yokohama, Japan on the release of Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability by Working Group II of the IPCC.

The objective of the report, the second in a series of three, is to "consider the vulnerability and exposure of human and natural systems, the observed impacts and future risks of climate change, and the potential for and limits to adaptation," according to report authors.

The effects of climate change are already among us from melting sea ice to droughts and severe storms. However, the authors note, with imminent threat to global food stocks and human security, the worst is yet to come.

"The findings make an increasingly detailed picture of how climate change – in tandem with existing fault lines such as poverty and inequality – poses a much more direct threat to life and livelihood," according to the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg, writing about the report. The report highlights how already visible impacts of climate change—such as killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in Australia, and deadly floods in Pakistan—will lead increasingly to humanitarian crises around the world.

Further, Goldenberg reports, the report "struck out on relatively new ground by drawing a clear line connecting climate change to food scarcity, and conflict."

According to the report, climate change has already had an impact on global food supply with global crop yields, particularly wheat, in decline. The future, Goldenberg writes, "looks even more grim," with dramatic estimated drops in corn production as well.

Couched in the vernacular of risk and risk management, the report concludes that responding to the changing climate is a matter of "making choices about risks in a changing world."

“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”

In a more direct warning to world leaders—who have been slow to make any significant changes despite the growing threat of climate change—Pachauri added, “The one message that comes out of this is the world has to adapt and the world has to mitigate.”

A three-year joint effort by more than 300 scientists, the much-anticipated release is considered the definitive account on the state of climate science. Nearly 500 experts and government officials signed off on the wording of 2,600-page report.

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