The UN's big report on climate change is out, and it's basically a devastating, last-ditch warning to the planet that at this point without a global climate change plan, "irreversible" damage to our ecosystems will occur putting hundreds of millions of people at risk of climate-related disasters.
The gathering risks of climate change are so profound they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report.
Despite rising efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the overall global situation is growing more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said here on Sunday.
Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.
“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,” the report declared.
In the starkest language it has ever used, the expert panel made clear how far society remains from having any serious policy to limit global warming.
Doing so would require finding a way to leave the vast majority of the world’s reserves of fossil fuels in the ground, or alternatively, developing methods to capture and bury the emissions resulting from their use, the group said.
If governments are to meet their own stated goal of limiting the warming of the planet to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial level, they must restrict emissions from additional fossil-fuel burning to about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, the panel said.
At current growth rates, that budget is likely to be exhausted in something like 30 years. Yet energy companies have already booked coal and petroleum reserves equal to several times that amount, and they are spending some $600 billion a year to find more. Utilities and oil companies are still building coal-fired power plants and refineries, and governments are spending another $600 billion directly subsidizing the consumption of fossil fuels.
- We're screwed.
- No, seriously, we're screwed big time.
- Fossil fuels have to be replaced.
- The multibillion dollar energy giants will never allow that to happen
- See point 1.
And they will hate us for what we did to them.