Tag Archives: IPCC

Focus on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change today published the trailer for a the video of its fifth report, to be released at an international climate meeting in Lima next month. Its message: “We either continue on the path that we are on and possibly face catastrophic climate change, or we listen to the voice of science, and act accordingly. That’s really our choice.”

 

Here are related stories on F&O:

How does the IPCC know climate change is happening? In Expert Witness, by Mark Maslin, November 4, 2014

 Climate change challenges the very way we organise our society. It needs to be seen within the context of the other great challenges of the 21st century: global poverty, population growth, environmental degradation, and global security. To meet these challenges we must change some of the basic rules of our society to allow us to adopt a much more global and long-term approach and in doing so develop a solution that can benefit everyone.

Verbatim: Climate change to cause food shortages, mass extinctions, flooding, Verbatim excerpts with summary by Deborah Jones, November 2, 2014

Climate change caused by humans will result in food shortages, mass extinctions and flooding, warns the world body of climate experts in its most comprehensive report yet, signed in Bonn on November 2, 2014. It says the science is now 95 per cent conclusive, that today’s climate change is unprecedented, and warns that the world must act, together and immediately, on adaptation and mitigation. It says some changes are already inevitable and the risk of not acting is extreme: “Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, 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.”

Also read: F&O ‘s Natural Security columnist Chris Wood; Tzeporah Berman in The Pointy End, on finding hope in environmental activism and on The Ugly Oil Sands Debate;  “expert witnesses” Brad Allenby On Geoengineering: a case for sophisticated thinking and Bradley J. Cardinale on Biodiversity in the Anthropocene; and An Argument for Carbon Divestment, by Desmond Tutu.

A selection of the wide range of reactions to the fifth IPCC report elsewhere on the Internet: 

In Hong Kong spiritual and religious leaders held an interfaith forum on November 3, reported the South China Morning Post. They are part of the international Our Voices movement launched this spring. The organization urges people to sign a petition asking world leaders to act on climate change, which it calls a moral issue as “a humanitarian and development emergency, and it’s already affecting many vulnerable communities … According to rigoruosly verified IPCC reports, it’s going to get unimaginably worse.”

 In Copenhagen, debate began over the future of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “After a six-year scientific marathon that involved about 4,000 authors, contributors and reviewers and 30,000 climate studies, the U.N.’s expert panel on climate change has published its latest assessment on global warming. Now many wonder what’s next,” reported the Associated Press (via Washington Post) in Future of UN climate body debated. 

Stewart Wallis, executive director of the New Economics Foundation, called for a new approach in attempts to overhaul the economic system.  “We and many other civil society organisations have been much better at saying what is wrong with the current system than providing a positive new story about how we can flourish while living within planetary ecological limits,” he wrote in An economic system that supports people and planet is still possible, in the British Guardian.

An editorial in The National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates stopped barely short of climate denial in reacting to the IPCC report. In an editorial headlined Climate needs a careful response, it advocated full speed ahead but, with a nod to climate change, by alternative energy means: “The answer to the climate-change dilemma lies in a measured approach. We need to make practical changes such as those underway in the UAE, which is introducing nuclear and solar power and other sustainable technologies, but we must also do much more research. The need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is acknowledged, but so too is the reality that only they can service immediate global energy needs. And one interpretation of eliminating greenhouse emissions altogether would mean eliminating all animal life, including humans.”

In Canada a group of independent policy analysts, economists, business people and former politicians today launched an organization called Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission. It says it aims to “to align Canada’s economic and environmental aspirations. We believe this is both possible and critical for our country’s continuing prosperity.” The commission’s first report, identifying a set of policy targets that are extremely contentious in a country that is one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers, and which famously pulled out of the Kyoto Accord:  

  • Road-congestion pricing
  • Municipal user fees.
  • Carbon pricing.
  • Subsidy reform.
  • Air-pollution pricing.
  • Water pollution pricing.
  • Water use pricing.
  • Catastrophic risk pricing.

In the United States, where today’s mid-term elections will determine control of the Senate, Republican Senator Jim Inhofe called the IPCC ” a front for the environmental left” in a statement responding to its fifth report. Inhofe, senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has said he will lead the committee if the Republicans control the American Senate after today. An excerpt of his statement:

“The idea that our advanced industrialized economy would ever have zero carbon emissions is beyond extreme and further proof that the IPCC is nothing more than a front for the environmental left. It comes as no surprise that the IPCC is again advocating for the implementation of extreme climate change regulations that will cripple the global economy and send energy prices skyrocketing. The United States is in the midst of an energy renaissance that has the potential to bring about American energy independence, which would strengthen our national security and energy reliability for generations into the future. At a time of economic instability and increased threats to American interests, the IPCC’s report is little more than high hopes from the environmental left.”

U.S. Republican Senator Jim Inhofe in March, 2014. Photo By Glenn Fawcett, U.S. Department of Defence, public domain

U.S. Republican Senator Jim Inhofe in March, 2014. Photo By Glenn Fawcett, U.S. Department of Defence, public domain

Climate denial is a common and popular position in the United States where, for example, Fox News last week gave one of America’s most prominent deniers a “warm welcome,” reported Media Matters:

“The October 28 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File featured John Coleman, co-founder of The Weather Channel, allowing him to promote his belief that “man-made global climate change is a myth.” During the segment, Coleman falsely claimed that the scientific consensus that human activities drive climate change is based on “bad, bad science” and repeated the falsehoods that an increase in Arctic ice disproves global warming and that polar bears are doing just fine. He also blamed Al Gore for making it difficult for a climate skeptic to “get on TV….

“For years, Coleman has been connected to the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by fossil-fuel interests, and its promotion of climate change denial. Coleman was featured at a Heartland Institute climate conference in July of this year.

 

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IPCC report sounds loudest alarm yet on climate change impacts

Climate change caused by humans will result in food shortages, mass extinctions and flooding, warns the world body of climate experts, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its most comprehensive report yet.

The report, signed in Bonn today, says the science is now 95 per cent conclusive, that today’s climate change is unprecedented, and warns that the world must act, together and immediately, on adaptation and mitigation. It says some changes are already inevitable and the risk of not acting is extreme: “Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, 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.”

F&O provides a brief  introduction and summary, and verbatim excerpts from the IPCC’s latest, sobering, report and warning. … read (free*): Verbatim: Climate change to cause food shortages, mass extinctions, flooding.

 

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Subscribe for free to Frontlines by entering your address in the form on the right (we won’t share your address), or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Desmond Tutu on climate change, Keystone, and divestment

512px-Archbishop-Tutu-medium

Desmond Tutu

Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has launched a campaign to persuade people to divest themselves of holdings in the fossil fuel industry and, specifically, to stop construction of the Keystone pipeline from Canada’s oil sands through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico.

“Twenty-five years ago people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change,” he writes in an essay published here, in F&O’s Loose Leaf salon. “It was an “environmental issue” of intense interest to environmentalists and leftists and conspiracy theorists, but not much use to us. Today, we have no excuse. None. Knowledge of climate change is no longer limited to the scientific community and environmental activist fringes. No more can it be dismissed as science fiction; we are already feeling the effects.”

Tutu’s campaign was launched prior to the release of the next big report, on Sunday in Berlin, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This report, the third in a series, will recommend ways to mitigate climate change – and is expected to warn the world is running out of time to do so. Earlier IPCC reports were issued last fall from Sweden on the science of climate change, and on March 31 from Japan on the existing worldwide impact of climate change. Sunday’s release, of which Reuters reported seeing a leaked draft early this week, “outlines ways to cut emissions and boost low-carbon energy, which includes renewables such as wind, hydro- and solar power, nuclear power and “clean” fossil fuels, whose carbon emissions are captured and buried,” said Reuters.

But the IPCC can only assess scientific findings and issue reports — it will be up to the public and the world’s governments to respond. And that is where Tutu comes in. An excerpt of his commentary:

This week, scientists and public representatives gathered in Berlin are weighing up radical options for  curbing carbon emissions contained in the third report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The bottom line, a draft of the report warns, is that we have 15 years to take the necessary steps to affordably reduce emissions to attain the targeted 2°C over pre-industrial times. The horse may not have already bolted, but it’s well on its way through the stable door.

Who can stop it? Well, we can, you and I. And it is not just that we can stop it, we have a responsibility to do so. We have a responsibility to persuade the powerful and the wealthy to stop the juggernaut of earthly destruction. It is a responsibility that begins with God commanding the first human inhabitants of the Garden of Eden, “to till it and keep it.” To “keep” it; not to abuse it, not to destroy it.

This is why, no matter where you live, the fact that the United States is even debating whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is so appalling ….

Desmond Tutu’s essay, An Argument for Carbon Divestment, is here, published on F&O with permission.

 

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Climate change: the Pointy End of Hope

Tzeporah Berman

Tzeporah Berman

The effects of human-caused climate change are already evident on all continents and waters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its latest report March 31. The report is, undeniably, grim: agriculture, human health, water and land-based ecosystems, water supplies, and some livelihoods are already affected. There is much we don’t know, it said. Surprises are in store, it warned. Some analysts forecast wars, famine and massive destruction.

But the report also held out hope: there are opportunities to take action — challenging opportunities.  Canadian environmental activist Tzeporah Berman is an expert on facing such challenges, with experience gleaned from years on the front lines as co-director of Greenpeace International’s Global Climate and Energy Program, Executive Director and Co-founder of PowerUp Canada and Co-founder and Campaign Director of ForestEthics. An excerpt of her essay, The Pointy End:

The most heartbreaking question I get, and I get it all the time––at the end of my speeches, or from people calling in when I’m being interviewed on the radio––is “Do we have a chance?”

Sometimes people ask in other ways.

“Can we really do something about global warming?”

“Do you really think it’s possible to move away from fossil fuels?”

And, “Is it too late?”

I always give the answer many people don’t believe, but I still do. Yes, I think we do have a chance. We can win this fight. But there’s a catch: only if we live every moment intentionally. Only if we organize.

 The Pointy End, an essay by Tzeporah Berman, is republished in F&O’s Expert Witness section with permission, from her book, This Crazy Time: Living Our Environmental Challenge.

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In the far north, the future is here

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Lance Lesack, a Simon Fraser University geographer, solved the climate mystery in the Mackenzie River delta.

The biggest world news has concerned the release of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning that climate change is already experienced worldwide. But what instead drew the attention of Natural Security columnist Chris Wood was a research paper that has received little attention.

It’s focused on the Mackenzie River delta in the Canadian Arctic, a “vast, lake-studded river delta that is the northern nursery for millions of migratory birds and the primary source of biological nutrients to the Beaufort Sea.”

Notes Wood:  forecasters have warned of catastrophe should the Mackenzie warm, as has been predicted, by 5-6oC by the end of the century.

But what staggering new research shows is, it already has reached such temperatures.

Log in to read Wood’s column: The End of the Century is Now, in Northern Canada. (Subscription or day pass required*)

Chris Wood’s Natural Security page is here.

 

*Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O serves and is entirely funded by readers who buy a subscription or a $1 site day pass. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes.

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Food, water, health, livelihoods already hit by climate change: IPCC

The effects of human-caused climate change are already evident on all continents and waters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said today in a massive report, in the panel’s most plain language yet.

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK, Alaska. Photo by Deborah Jones © 2009

Alaskan glacier. Deborah Jones © 2009

Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability warned of “pervasive risks” depending on the amount of future climate change — but said opportunities still exist for “effective responses,” albeit challenging ones.

Climate change has already hit agriculture, human health, water and land-based ecosystems, water supplies, and some people’s livelihoods, said the IPCC. It said the effects are evident everywhere on earth “from the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the wealthiest countries to the poorest.”

The world is ill-prepared for climate risks, warned the massive report, prepared and reviewed by nearly 2500 experts from 70 countries. It identified risks to people, industries, and ecosystems, from a lack of preparedness and exposure to climate-related hazards. It also said unpredictable surprises are in store for the world.

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Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, Photo credit: IPCC

And the report placed the blame for climate change firmly on humans. “We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of the group that produced the report, in a statement.

Adaptation to date focuses on reacting to past events rather than preparing for a different future, said group co-chair, Chris Field — but suggested the experience gained provides a starting point for more ambitious adaptations.

Field said opportunities exist to adapt economically and socially, if the challenges are understood. “Tackling them creatively can make climate-change adaptation an important way to help build a more vibrant world.”

The IPCC was set up in 1988 to assess the science related to climate change by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme. The report was released March 31 by a working group meeting in Yokohama, Japan.

— Deborah Jones

Further reading:
F&O columnist Chris Wood on climate change effects in Canada’s North, The End of the Century is Now (subscription)
F&O’s Expert Witness series republishes Tzeporah Berman’s book excerpt, The Pointy End, on finding hope in the climate campaign (public access)
The March 31, 2014 IPCC press release is here: http://ipcc.ch/pdf/ar5/pr_wg2/140330_pr_wgII_spm_en.pdf
A draft copy of the report summary is here: http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/images/uploads/IPCC_WG2AR5_SPM_Approved.pdf
The video below, provided by the IPCC, is of the news conference announcing the report.

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