Change needed to slow further disaster, new climate report says

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 08/09/2021, 3:24 PM

(NATIONAL) A new report from the United Nations says the world is on the fast-track to warming-induced devastation, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The new research, considered to be the most comprehensive report on climate change to date, is the product of the 14th session of Working Group I and 54th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  

The full report’s thirteen chapters were broken down into a 42-page summary for policymakers

Its authors were direct as to the current state of the climate, reporting that “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.”

Evidence to support those findings include:

“The likely range of total human-caused global surface temperature increase from 1850–1900 to 2010–2019 is 0.8°C to 1.3°C, with a best estimate of 1.07°C.”

“Human influence is very likely the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea ice area between 1979–1988 and 2010–2019.”

“It is virtually certain that the global upper ocean (0–700 m) has warmed since the 1970s and 

extremely likely that human influence is the main driver.”

Researchers found ocean warming is responsible for 91% of heating in the climate system, with land warming, ice loss and atmospheric warming making up the rest. 

They also said this heating is already influencing weather and climate extremes and strength around the world, such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones. 

And as global temperatures continue to increase, so will the environment extremes. 

Diagrams like that on page 24 of the report show how much more likely certain events like extreme temperatures and drought are to occur with rising temperatures. 

The report said it is likely that at least one large explosive volcanic eruption will happen during this century, which would reduce global surface temperature and precipitation for up to a few years, “therefore temporarily and partially mask human-caused climate change.” 

Other than that brief possible reprieve from global warming’s effects, it’s up to political and corporate leadership to take action. 

Researchers said as it stands, our increase in surface temperature could be reversed with global net negative CO2 emissions, though other climate changes would continue for decades or even millennia. And if global net negative CO2 emissions are not achieved, extreme events resulting from global warming will only get worse.   

The report said global net negative CO2 emissions can be achieved by partnering zero emissions with anthropogenic CO2 removal (CDR). Methods of CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) include converting land into forests, enhanced weathering, ocean fertilization, and carbon capturing and storage. 


This story has no comments yet