Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Signals ‘Code Red for Humanity’

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Signals ‘Code Red for Humanity’

At the most basic level, the IPCC’s report seeks to impart four urgent points regarding the global climate: It is warming almost everywhere; it is warming rapidly; the warming has reversed a long-term cooling; and it has not been this warm for a long time. (Who can blame the IPCC for breaking things down to a preschool level in a last-ditch effort to prevent further excuses for inaction?) According to the authors, human influence has warmed the planet to unprecedented temperatures over at least the last 2,000 years, and that gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide are mostly to blame.

The IPCC warns that if rapid change isn’t made, glaciers will continue to melt for centuries, and the ocean will become warmer and more acidic. Its report states that with every additional increment of global warming, changes in extremes will continue to become larger, and the effects we’ve already seen on ecological drought, heatwaves, and heavy precipitation will worsen. The Earth’s sea level has already risen faster since 1900 than over any century in the last 3,000 years, and Arctic sea ice mass is at its lowest since 1850. There isn’t a single inhabited area on Earth that hasn’t been negatively impacted by climate change.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Signals ‘Code Red for Humanity’

“It is a statement of fact, we cannot be any more certain; it is unequivocal and indisputable that humans are warming the planet,” says Professor Ed Hawkins, one of the authors of the report.

While the full report is available to the public, the IPCC’s website also includes links to frequently asked questions and a summary for policymakers, whom the authors hope will incorporate the analysis into future decision-making.

It’s important for humans to take responsibility for our negative impact on the environment, as the IPCC’s report reminds us again and again. That being said, not all of humanity is equally to blame for our climate disaster. Research has shown again and again that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70 percent of emissions quantified since climate change was first recognized. A Swinomish tribe who reduces vehicle use and hunts only for the food they need does significantly less harm than a community from a big city lost in consumerism.

Additionally, panic is useless without giving people something to do about it—so if you, too, are breathing into a paper bag right now, here are some ways to make a difference, as well as a few well-intentioned actions to avoid.

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