What are the key findings of the special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published a special report on the implications of a 1.5 degrees C rise in average global temperature.
Key Findings of the Report
- Climate change from human-induced causes is already taking place and is both accelerating and intensifying. Average global temperatures have risen about 1 degree C since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The harmful effects are visibly evident from the extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.
- Even if the temperature rise could be limited to the current level, the changes would not only continue but will intensify because of the strong feedback loops.
- Temperature rise, even of 1.5 degrees C, may result in catastrophic and irreversible changes. At 1.5 degrees C temperature rise, 70-90% of coral reefs across the world would die. At 2 degrees C rise, none would be left.
- Global warming so far may have led to the loss of over 40-50% of the coral reefs. The loss of corals affects the marine life as they provide habitat for fish. The loss of corals also makes coasts more vulnerable to wave erosion because they act as wave breakers. The loss of fish populations will have an impact on food security which in turn affects the human health.
- There are parts of the planet which are already past the 2 degrees C threshold. Places like Arctic temperature has risen by 3 degrees C. This has resulted in loss of ice at an alarming rate which in turn affects ocean currents, ocean chemistry and weather patterns.
- Once the ice begins to melt, they will release vast quantities of methane that lie locked in the ice. This would further fasten the pace of climate change.
The report highlights that the techno-optimism that leads us to believe that before disaster strikes, the wonders of technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing and geo-engineering will be able to find answers to the challenges of climate change. But this is delusion and there are no technical fixes to deal with the scale and rapidity of ecological change.