Published On: Wed, Apr 2nd, 2014

UN warns of “overwhelming” Climate Change Impact

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The impact of global warming is probably “severe, pervasive and irreversible”, according to a report by United Nations.

Scientists and officials meeting in Japan published the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impact of climate change in the world.

UN climate panellists say their report provides overwhelming evidence of the scale and magnitude of these effects. Natural systems are currently bearing the worst part, but scientists fear a growing impact on humans. Our health, homes, food and security are threatened by increasingly higher temperatures, the report says.

This report, was agreed after nearly a week of intense discussions in Yokohama, and it is the second in a series of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this year, which outlines the causes, effects and solutions for global warming.

This document is a summary for politicians and governments of the world that highlights the fact that the amount of scientific evidence on the impact of global warming has almost doubled from the previous report in 2007.


“Severe, widespread and irreversible”
A UN report issued on March 2014 indicates that the risks of climate change have increased the strength and number of storms and weather phenomena.

Whether from melting glaciers or heating the permafrost of the coldest regions, the summary highlights the fact that in all the continents and oceans, climate changes have impacted natural and human systems over the past decades.

The report says literally: “the growing magnitude of warming increase the likelihood of sever, widespread and irreversible impacts.”

“We thought we knew this was going to happen, but we now have strong evidence that it is happening right now and it is real,” says Dr. Saleemul Huq, lead author of one of the chapters.

The report details significant short -term impacts to natural systems in the next 20 to 30 years, it also details five reasons for concern current events regarding global warming. These include threats to unique ecosystems such as coral reefs and ice of the Arctic Ocean, where the risks go up to “very high” with an increase of 2° C in temperature.

The document also outlines the impact on the oceans and freshwater systems . The oceans will become more acidic, threatening corals and many species they harbor. Animals, plants and other species are beginning to move to higher ground or to the poles, as the mercury rises. Humans are also increasingly affected as the century progresses.

Estimated impact after temperatures increase 3ºC. (Photo by

Estimated impact after temperatures increase 3ºC. (Photo by

Dietary Risk

Food security is highlighted as an area of ​​significant concern. Crops of corn, rice and wheat will be impacted in the year 2050, when they will show losses of more than 25 % in one-tenth of the projections.

After 2050, the risk of more severe impacts increases, as the rise and fall of these cycles will affect many regions. At the same time, it will raise the demand for food from a 9 billion estimated population.

Many species of fish, a crucial source of food for many people, also will move to warmer waters. In some parts of the tropics and Antarctica, potential fishing could decline by more than 50%.

“This is a conservative assessment,” said Professor Neil Adger from University of Exeter (United Kingdom), another author of the IPCC.

“In this projection, the risks are directly related to the people’s way of living; impacts on crops, water availability, and particularly extreme events will affect the global lifestyle.”

People will be affected by flooding and heat-related mortality.

The report warns of new risks, including the threat to those who work outdoors, such as farmers and construction workers. There is concern about migration linked to climate change as well as conflicts and national security. While it is likely that the poorest countries will suffer more in a short-term, the most developed economies will not escape these threats.

It does not matter how rich you are.

“The rich will have to worry about climate change too, for example, what we are seeing in the UK, with the floods a few months ago, we had storms in the U.S. and drought in California,” says Huq .

“These are billionaire events for which the rich will have to pay in order not to suffer the effects of global warming and climate change, but there is a limit to what anybody can afford.”

Good news?

“But not all are bad news, I think really the breakthrough in this report is the new idea of thinking about the management of climate change as an administrative problem,” says Dr. Chris Field, cochairman of the group that develop this report.

“Climate change is really important but we have plenty of tools to effectively deal with it, we just need to be smart about it.”

The document makes a much greater emphasis on adapting climate impacts. The problem, as always, is who pays the bill. “It depends on the IPCC to define it,” says Dr. Jose Morengo, Brazilian government official who was at the talks.

“The report provides the scientific basis and an account of the different problems, and with this information is now relatively easier to turn to the climate negotiations in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and start to determine who will pay for this adaptation.”



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