The next big report from the world’s leading climate scientists is on impacts, it’s due the end of March, and it isn’t pretty. As the AP summarized, starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease are likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change.
The latest IPCC climate change impacts report reinforces what we already knew: that climate change is already having a detrimental impact on us and our environment, whether we’re talking about food, water, land, national security, or the health of the ecosystems we so critically depend on. The report also makes clear that what we’ve seen is only the tip of the veritable iceberg. If we continue with business as usual fossil fuel emission in the decades ahead, the report shows, the resulting warming and change in climate will inflict far more dangerous and potentially irreversible impacts on us and the planet.
The good news is that a world in which humans slash carbon pollution ASAP has substantially lower impacts than one in which emissions remain high.
Field noted that, “There’s really a big, big difference between what those worlds look like,” said Field.
You can see that in the top figure, which is from the September IPCC report on “The Physical Science Basis.” The window for achieving the RCP2.6 scenario — which is am atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide of about 421 parts per million — is closing fast, but not yet shut. It has modest overall warming compared to the devastating RCP 8.5 scenario, about 936 ppm CO2, which is where we are headed on our current do-little path.