U.N. Panel Reaffirms That Climate Change Is “Irreversible”

Illustration for article titled U.N. Panel Reaffirms That Climate Change Is “Irreversible”

The U.N. panel charged with a five-year mission to assess global climate change and provide a necessary course of action in order to stem its negative effects finally released a Synthesis Report detailing their findings in stark black-and-white. The news was all pretty doom and gloom.

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"Human influence on the climate system is clear," says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), "recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems." By 2100, IPCC has "high confidence" that high temperature and humidity will completely compromise farming and even the ability to work outdoors in certain areas. Ocean acidification will continue to wreck havoc on marine life, and even if we abandoned fossil fuels tomorrow, these warming effects would still affect the planet for centuries.

The Synthesis Report is the final piece of IPCC's fifth assessment of climate change and combines all the knowledge gathered from the group's recent studies looking at the cause, impact, and possible solutions to our slowly warming world. The document itself serves as a 116-page compendium of how energy consumption is altering the planet.

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In many ways, this five-year mission has come to many of the same conclusions discussed in the fourth assessment in 2007, only this time the authors are much more forthright about the necessity of a worldwide solution. Despite this very intense and depressing report, The Guardian notes that reports like these often "err on the side of understatement," meaning what's actually happening is probably even more alarming that what's being reported.

Of course, fossil fuels are the dastardly villain in this dystopian climate change tale, contributing to 78 percent of total greenhouse gasses from 1970 to 2010. The IPCC panel sets a deadline that fossil fuel should be "phased out by 2100," or at the very least, no systems should be in place that don't use carbon capture and storage, a method of snatching waste carbon and depositing it underground.

The 40-page condensed version, a no-bullshit breakdown of the seriousness of these issues, was created for policymakers six weeks before a climate meeting in Peru that will set the stage for the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. That meeting, almost a year away, has the explicit goal to create legal and universal agreement on what needs to be done to help curb damage caused by our warming world.

This specific focus on the political challenges in the IPCC report signifies that the climate change debate has shifted stages. This is no longer a scientific question. The Synthesis Report lays out clearly what is happening and what needs to happen. Scientists now pass the baton to politicians to figure out how we'll be able to reach these alternative energy goals.

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You can read the full report, and all its dismaying details, on IPCC's website.

Image by Jeff Swenson/Getty Images

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DISCUSSION

c'mon, man- yes, that it's happening is irrefutable- but that we are causing it is laughable at best. We're still coming out of an ice age- and to say that man is the cause of climate change is like saying dinosaur farts caused the ice age. Look., I'm all for keepin' the place clean'n tidy, and not fouling the air- but we as a species are realistically short-term. The planet will heal from the myriad of paper cuts we've inflicted upon it, and in a few hundred thousand years, all will be well again.

We just won't be around to enjoy it (or fuck it up again).

I love the egocentric idiots that look at the BILLIONS of years this ball of dirt has been around, the hundreds of millions of years that life has been in existence here, and look at the tens of thousands of years that man has wandered around and think "this is ALL our doing!".

Yes- the planet is warming and becoming less hospitable to us- but the proof already exists that the planet is reverting to true form as evidenced by geological samples- we can dig a few hundred feet and see what the climate was like a few million years ago, and the reality is not pretty- the place was f'n hostile.

Before the rock hit, the average temperature was somewhere around 30 degrees warmer, the atmosphere had 7 times the CO2 levels the worst day in Beijing has, and weather patterns rarely included snow- there were no polar ice caps.

But it seems there's no profitability in these facts- you can't make money off of guilty spending when the cause is natural- Mother Nature ain't got a checkbook.

So I challenge anyone who thinks humanity has caused all of this to look around at who is making these claims, and how they are making money off it it- then look at the climatological data readily available in any good geological survey that goes back beyond the ice-age to see what kind of place the dinosaurs lived in.

G'head- I'll wait

This planet is barely thru ONE THIRD of it's lifespan- what we as a species have enjoyed as "climate" is nothing like the norm that the Earth would have been like before we got hit with a rock some 1.5 million (+/-) years ago.

The Earth will be fine- we, however... we're toast.