The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s massive new report, published early Monday morning, makes it absolutely clear that the climate crisis isn’t waiting for us in some far-off future; it’s here right now.
“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” the report says. “Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.”
We know what got us here: decades of greenhouse gas pollution, chiefly from the fossil fuel industry.
In case you don’t feel like combing through 4,000 pages, we’ve compiled five of the biggest takeaways from the report. If they leave you feeling downhearted, you’re not alone. But remember that the biggest factor in our climate future is how quickly we make changes.
“Every additional incremental of warming leads to ... extreme events becoming more severe and more frequent. And these extreme events, like heat waves, extreme precipitation events, droughts—these are the things that really impact society, infrastructure, ecosystems,” said Greg Flato, a senior scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada and report co-author. “They all go up with every increment of warming. The less warming we commit ourselves to, the less impact we commit ourselves to.”