No one knows how much warming is "safe". What we do know is that climate change is already harming people and ecosystems. Its reality can be seen in melting glaciers, disintegrating polar ice, thawing permafrost, changing monsoon patterns, rising sea levels, changing ecosystems and fatal heat waves.

Scientists are not the only ones talking about these changes. From the apple growers in Himachal to the farmers in Vidharbha and those living in disappearing islands in the Sunderbans are already struggling with the impacts of climate change.

But this is just the beginning. We need to act to avoid catastrophic climate change. While not all regional effects are known yet, here are some likely future effects if we allow current trends to continue.

Relatively likely and early effects of small to moderate warming:

  • Rise in sea level due to melting glaciers and the thermal expansion of the oceans as global temperature increases.

  • Massive release of greenhouse gases from melting permafrost and dying forests.

  • A high risk of more extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and floods. The global incidence of drought has already doubled over the past 30 years.

  • Severe regional impacts. Example: In Europe river flooding will increase and in coastal areas the risk of flooding, erosion and wetland loss will increase substantially.

  • Natural systems, including glaciers, coral reefs, mangroves, Arctic ecosystems, alpine ecosystems, Boreal forests, tropical forests, prairie wetlands and native grasslands, will be severely threatened.

  •  The existing risks of species extinction and biodiversity loss will increase.

  • The greatest impacts will be on the poorer countries least able to protect themselves from rising sea levels. There will be spread of disease and declines in agricultural production in the developing countries of Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

  •  At all scales of climate change, developing countries will suffer the most.

Longer term catastrophic effects if warming continues:

  • Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting. Unless checked, warming from emissions may trigger the irreversible meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet in the coming decades, which would add up to a seven meters rise in sea-level over some centuries. New evidence showing the rate of ice discharge from parts of the Antarctic means that it is also facing a risk of meltdown.

  • The slowing, shifting or shutting down of the Atlantic Gulf stream current is having dramatic effects in Europe, disrupting the global ocean circulation system.

  • Catastrophic releases of methane from the oceans are leading to rapid increases in methane in the atmosphere and the consequent warming.

Never before has humanity been forced to grapple with such an immense environmental crisis. If we do not take urgent and immediate action to stop global warming, the damage could become irreversible.

The latest updates

 

What is the IPCC saying and what does it mean?

Publication | September 27, 2013 at 16:54

Background briefing accompanying the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) AR5 WG1 launch.

How coal mining is trashing tigerland

Publication | August 1, 2012 at 16:35

This report makes the case that the biggest threat to the long term survival of the Royal Bengal Tiger in its largest contiguous landscape- Central India- has been overlooked by the Indian government and its administrative machinery. That threat...

Smart Energy Access report

Publication | May 15, 2012 at 16:07

Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. The energy shortage is most acute among India’s rural poor and in states such as Bihar, where more than 80% of the population still live in the rural...

Indian Guide to Greener Electronics version 11

Publication | November 9, 2011 at 11:00

Greenpeace released a new and upgraded version of its Guide to Greener Electronics wherein Wipro retains the top slot followed by HCL Infosystem in the Indian version. The international version ranks the IT manufacturing company HP at the top...

Make IT Green

Publication | April 2, 2010 at 12:53

Cloud Computing and its contribution to Climate Change.

Still Waiting - Report on Energy Injustice

Publication | November 17, 2009 at 4:30

Monsoon Wager

Publication | June 3, 2009 at 3:30

Greenpeace Cool IT Challenge Company Scorecard

Publication | May 27, 2009 at 15:03

The Greenpeace Cool IT Challenge scores how much IT companies are doing to help tackle climate change. It has been calculated that IT companies can help cut projected global greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 15 percent by 2020.

100 months to prevent climate chaos

Publication | November 15, 2007 at 11:32

I n India the lighting sector accounts for 28% of all the residential electricity consumption, the majority of which is taken up by inefficient lighting options despite more efficient alternatives existing. This is not only a huge waste of...

Hiding behind the poor presentation

Publication | November 13, 2007 at 4:30

The powerpoint presentation accompanying the release of Hiding behind the poor, a report from Greenpeace on climate injustice

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