The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made up of the world’s leading climate scientists, has now published all three sections of its landmark comprehensive review of climate science.
Yet the picture could already be even worse than the IPCC has presented. The IPCC data took in research papers published from 2014 up to last year, but since then the world has experienced even more extreme weather. The IPCC reports are regarded as cautious and conservative by many scientists, and the summary for policymakers that sets out the key messages of each working group are subject to inputs from governments that some regard as watering down.
Latest IPCC report offers key lessons for Australia but is anyone listening? The climate authority has warned it is now or never to cut emissions but will MPs on the campaign trail heed its warning?
Perhaps the message was too familiar. With the unofficial election campaign under way, and the prime minister mired in escalating allegations of bullying and duplicity, a major report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world’s most respected climate science body – quickly disappeared from the Australian news cycle this week.
Headlines told part of the story: it was “now or never” if the world was to limit global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The report suggests that threshold is already practically out of reach without using technology to suck carbon dioxide from the sky. Keeping heating below 2C, which would trigger damage several magnitudes worse than 1.5C, will require an “abrupt acceleration” of effort after 2030.
Featured Image: Scenarios in a mathematical model by en:Adam Franket al., 2018, which describes climate change due to GHG emissions by an advanced energy-intensive civilization. From left to right, top to bottom: Die-off: The world population reaches a peak and subsequently declines slowly until an equilibrium is attained. Population can decline by up to 90% after peaking; according to Frank, such a civilization “might well just descend into chaos.” Sustainability: Both the world population and average surface temperature rise and then level off. This scenario shows that civilizations can be stable in the long term. Collapse without resource change: A civilization makes no attempt to switch to less GHG-intensive energy and collapses due to runaway climate change, possibly going extinct. Collapse with resource change: A civilization transitions to less GHG-neutral energy, but collapses anyway due to triggering a tipping point in the climate system. / 3-01-2021 by LaundryPizza03 – Own work; adapted from a figure in Billings, 2018. / via Wikimedia Commons.
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