Over the past few months, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a series of reports containing stern warnings about global warming. The panel's scientists have clearly stated that climate change is here, it's creating a long list of harms and risks, and governments need to act on greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst impacts.
But the latest document, sent yesterday to governments across the world, says it may already be too late to avoid serious impacts. According to reports in major media outlets, the panel's draft synthesis report — which combines the previous assessments into one comprehensive volume — warns that the global trend of rising average temperatures may be irreversible. An Associated Press article
includes this excerpt:
"Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems," the report says.
The draft also says that the planet may be "nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable," which could mean a sea level rise of up to 23 feet, says
a report in the New York Times
. The document also says that grain production has decreased by "several percentage points" due to global warming, the Times says.
The draft also says that companies and governments have found reserves of fossil fuels that are four times larger than could be safely burned "if global warming is to be kept to a tolerable level," reports the Times.
In short, the report repeats a lot of what previous assessments already said. Basically, governments across the planet have ignored warnings about climate change for decades, and now they need to prepare for serious shifts that'll impact agriculture, public health, and people's safety, among other things.
And to really avoid the absolute worst impacts of global warming and climate shifts, governments still need to aggressively rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Some climate action activists have said that next year's UN climate treaty talks in Paris may be the last chance for countries to take broad, meaningful steps to address emissions.