A United Nations-backed report on climate change released on Wednesday is intensifying alarm about the world’s warming climate. More than 100 scientists spent the last three years looking at the impact of climate change on the Earth’s oceans and the ice locked around the North and South Poles.
The broad conclusion seems to be that these vital stores of water on our planet can’t take it any more, and the consequences for humanity are severe.
Much of the Earth’s warming has been absorbed by its oceans, but according to this report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tipping points are being reached. Some of the more severe consequences of climate change can no longer be avoided.
Ice in Greenland and Antarctica, and in mountain glaciers around the world is continuing to melt at accelerating rates. The sea level rise which is a result, around the world already threatens coastal populations. In the worst case predictions, as many as a billion people could be affected.
While the world’s oceans get deeper, they are also getting warmer, and warmer water means bigger, more violent storms reaching land masses.
The report indicates that satellite data show “marine heatwaves (periods of extremely high ocean surface temperatures) have very likely doubled in frequency from 1982 to 2016 and that they have also become longer-lasting, more intense and more extensive.”
The scientists said “between 84% and 90% of marine heatwaves that occurred between 2006 and 2015 can be attributed to anthropogenic (human-caused) warming.”
“Extreme sea level events, such as surges from tropical cyclones, that are currently historically rare (for example today’s hundred-year event) will become common by 2100 under all emissions scenarios due to increasing global mean sea level rise,” the report states.
And the more we continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the more catastrophic those effects may be. The authors of the report say humanity is in a race between the speed of climate change, and our capacity to react to it, and we’re losing.
It’s no longer a question of if or when the consequences will hit us, the report warns, but how bad they will be.