Climate inaction = inexcusable

21 Jul 2009

The most up-to-date report on climate science notes that global temperatures, sea levels, and frequency of extreme weather events are all increasing beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our contemporary society and economy have developed. That doesn’t bode well for the future of global economies and of civilization itself, nor on the ecosystems that our civilization depends on, unless global societies rise to meet the challenge of climate change.

The report, based on a scientific congress held in Copenhagen in March, is an attempt to update the 2007 synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has already become outdated.

For instance, the IPCC report acknowledged a lack of understanding of the dynamic processes that cause polar ice to melt, so the report left those effects out and projected a sea level rise of up to 59 centimeters (23 inches) by 2100. New observations have nearly doubled that projection to one meter, or 39 inches, an increase that would threaten many islands, shorelines, and low-lying wetlands. The report also provides updates on our understanding of ocean surface temperatures and heat content, indicating that ocean warming is about 50% greater than the IPCC had reported. Further studies have shown that societies and ecosystems are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, and a global temperature rise of more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels will cause “major societal and environmental disruptions.”

To help mitigate these disruptions, the world must limit its greenhouse gas emissions by heavily promoting energy efficiency while shifting to low-carbon energy sources, such as renewable energy. The report also identifies the eastern half of the United States as one of two critical agriculture centers for the future of the world.

View the full report at:

US Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy