Landmark UN Report Blames Humans For Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has this morning a landmark report which places the blame for climate change squarely at the feet of humankind.

The much-anticipated report, a summary of which was made public this morning, claims that it is "extremely likely"—with 95 percent certainty, in fact—that most global warming is manmade. That means that the UN is making it known to the world that it is an agreement with what the majority of climate scientists have been saying for years: we, humans, are to blame for ever-increasing temperature of the planet.

The report has been compiled by 259 scientists from 39 countries and, while it doesn't make use of new research, it brings together the entirety of our current understanding of climate science. All in, then, it's hard to argue with its conclusions. The report explains:

"It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period."

The report is currently being discussed in a press conference taking place in Stockholm. So far, Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, has explained that the last decade was the warmest on record, the culmination of a trend that has been observed since the 50s. The report echoes that sentiment:

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased."

The warming is largely a result of the changing concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Their levels have now reached all-time highs, not observed in the previous 800,000 years, the report explains. CO2 emissions increased 40 percent since pre-industrial times alone.

In turn, temperatures and sea levels have risen, and forecasts predict that—if nothing is done—we can expect a 2°C temperature rise by the end of the century. That may sounds like a modest increase, but a 2°C is broadly accepted to be the temperature rise above which it's considered that climate change will permanently damage the global environment.

The UN has agreed to create a plan to combat climate change by 2015. If the report is anything to go by, we desperately need it. [IPCC, Guardian]

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