The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its newest climate report on Mar. 20, sounding the alarm to the world that we can still avoid the worst of the climate crisis — but only if we act now.
What did the report say?
The latest IPCC report — called the “AR6” or sixth assessment report — basically reviewed the state of our climate. It covered the latest science, solutions to the crisis, and projections for what the future will look like.
It found that unless swift action is taken to reduce our use of dirty energy sources like oil, gas, and coal, we will quickly — as early as the 2030s — overshoot the U.N.’s goal of limiting global overheating to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.5 degrees Celcius.
If humanity fails to stop this warming from shooting past this threshold, there will be devastating impacts, from more intense and frequent extreme weather events to food insecurity and an increase in diseases.
And the people who will suffer most, according to the report, will be those who contribute the least to the crisis — including the world’s younger generations.
But even without considering what the future will look like, the report underscored that the overheating of our planet has already caused widespread damage to human life.
Here are the big takeaways from the @IPCC_CH Synthesis Report released today.— Prof. Katharine Hayhoe (@KHayhoe) March 20, 2023
First, climate change has already caused widespread and substantial losses to almost every aspect of human life on this planet, and the impacts on future generations depend on the choices we make NOW. pic.twitter.com/Bgfl9nna8a
Yet, not all of the news out of the AR6 report — which many have described as a “final warning” to act — was bad. The sobering analysis provided important context and urgency, highlighting that we still can make a difference in fighting the climate crisis.
Essentially, we have the solutions to address this crisis, we just need to use them.
For one, as the price of clean energy around the world plummets, nations must rapidly install solar and wind farms to provide people with cheap energy that does not contribute to the Earth’s overheating.
But beyond swapping out dirty energy for clean, we must also protect our global forests, which help us absorb our excess carbon pollution and store it in the soil.
Protection of the Amazon rainforest, in particular, has been the focus of renewed attention as Brazil’s new President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, quickly makes strides to slow deforestation.
The AR6 report signaled that even apart from some of the aforementioned big-ticket solutions, there’s no shortage of ways for humanity to address the climate crisis, including the electrification of homes and buildings, the transformation of our food systems, and even the development of new technologies to help us pull pollution out of the air.
But perhaps the best part of these solutions is that as they cool down our planet, they’ll reduce our cost of living — making food and energy cheaper — while keeping our air and water cleaner.
António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the U.N., explained this eloquently in a press conference.
“The climate time bomb is ticking,” Guterres said. “But today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse [it] … we have never been better equipped to solve the climate challenge — but we must move into warp speed.”
Hoesung Lee, the chair of the IPCC, echoed this notion, stating in a briefing that “humanity has the know-how and the technology to tackle human-induced climate change. But not only that. They show that we have the capacity to build a much more prosperous, inclusive, and equitable society in this process.”
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