Rising global temperatures and climate change will lead to more of the kind of droughts that have struck Thailand, Cambodia,Vietnam and Indonesia in recent memory. Severe water shortage and damage to agriculture has affected millions.
"This is a glimpse into an apocalyptic future. The earth will be
transformed by human induced climate change, unless action is taken
soon and fast," said Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace International
Climate and Energy Campaigner. "What this report shows is that we
are simply running out of time."
Some of the reports key findings:
- It is likely that climate change will induce mass extinction of
species within 60-70 years. We have already seen the climate linked
extinction of some frog species but this is just the tip of the
iceberg. The scale of risk is larger than most of the five major
extinction events that have occurred in the earth's history.
- Over the next decades the number of people at risk of water
scarcity is likely to rise from tens of millions to billions.
Steadily decreasing water availability is projected for India and
other parts of South Asia and Africa: whilst the poorest parts of
the world are going to the hardest hit, wealthy countries such as
Australia and nations in Southern Europe are also on the front
- Reductions in food production capacity in the poorest parts of
the world are projected, bringing more hunger and misery and
undermining achievement of the millennium development goals.
Within a few decades it is likely that we will see climate change
induced wheat, maize and rice production drops in India and
- Increased drought and water scarcity are likely to lead to
growing problems of hunger and human dislocation in Africa in
- The loss of glaciers in Asia, Latin America and Europe are set
to cause major water supply problems for a large fraction of the
world's population, as well as a massive increase in glacial lake
outburst floods and other risks for those living in the glaciated
- Huge numbers of people will be at risk due to sea level rise,
storm surge and river flooding in the Asian Megadeltas such as the
Ganges-Brahmaputra (Bangladesh) and the Zhujiang (Pearl
- Warming of more than another degree could commit the world to
multi-metre sea level rise over several centuries from the partial
or total loss of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. Huge
coastal dislocation would result and could be triggered by
emissions made in the next several decades.
Politicians watering down the threat?
In a late night manoeuvre, after nearly 22 hours of negotiations
Saudi Arabia, China and Russia gutted a key figure in the IPCC
report on impacts, removing a graph of the warming effects of
fossil fuel emissions from a key summary table. The move was
described in an emotional statement to the Plenary by a senior
climate scientist as an "act of scientific vandalism". Without the
warming graph the table of impacts lacks a context to show when the
projected impacts would occur.
In another development China and Saudi Arabia forced the
weakening of a key finding on the effects of recent warming on
The original finding was that:
observational evidence from all continents and most oceans, there
is [very] high confidence that many natural systems, are being
affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature
China and Saudi Arabia insisted in the removal of "very"
although the confidence in the findings was more than 99.9
percent. The watered down conclusion was adopted over the top of
fundamental scientific objections by the scientists who authored
the IPCC report.
We believe that this was unprecedented in the history of the
IPCC since 1988, and was an ugly and damaging development. To our
knowledge there have been no similar acts in the history of the
It's not too late
Greenpeace is calling for global emissions to peak by 2020 and
fall rapidly thereafter ensuring at least a 50 percent reduction
globally from 1990 levels by the year 2050, and eliminate fossil
fuel emissions before the end of the 21st century.
"We still have options," said Tunmore. "There is still time for
an energy revolution that will dramatically transform our energy
system and create a carbon free economy, reducing greenhouse gas
emissions to a level that keeps the global average temperature
increase well below 2 degrees C, avoiding the most catastrophic
"The one option that is clearly no longer open to us after this
report is to continue to sit on our hands and do nothing."
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