UN: No One on Planet Will Avoid Climate Woes
'Pervasive' impacts include hit to food security
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2014 4:25 AM CDT
Updated Mar 31, 2014 7:51 AM CDT
Droughts caused by climate change will hurt crop yields in the years ahead, the IPCC warns.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – There was no mincing of words in what is the second of three reports on climate change to come from a UN group: Climate change is going to have "severe, pervasive, and irreversible" effects on the world in the decades to come, reads the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is the work of some 2,000 experts and 309 lead authors, reports the Independent. Many of those authors are trotting out similar lines: Nobody on the planet will escape its effects, they warn. "No place in the world is immune from them," said one; "nobody on this planet is going to be untouched," said another.

The report found that the evidence in favor of climate change is overwhelming (as one scientist puts it, "we're not talking about hypothetical events"), and governments need to act to mitigate the "increasingly clear" threats before time runs out, reports the New York Times. "Ignorance is no longer a good excuse," said the chief of the World Meteorological Organization, who described the report as the "most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline." Along with hits to public health, the potential for battles over land and resources, and possible mass migrations, food security was highlighted as a major concern, the BBC reports. Crop yields and fish catches are expected to drop in many regions as climate change takes hold, researchers warn. (One country that's particularly threatened: Bangladesh.)

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Showing 3 of 308 comments
Glenn McGrew II
Apr 3, 2014 12:57 AM CDT
In 2007, I started researching climate change. After a few months of intense research, I came to realize that we were in serious trouble, but I also realized two other things. 1) Carbon dioxide is just the tip of the iceberg, and 2) I needed to learn a lot more about what we're doing to the planet that gives us life and sustenance. I wrote about CO2-driven climate change, including a prediction about what the future is going to bring us because of it. I didn't release it to the public because of my realizations. Even now, that report remains unpublished because I realized that there's been so much negative news about climate change that people are becoming disheartened and giving up trying to fix the problems. More importantly, I realized that we need solutions and fast to give people a way to take concrete action, and that our problems had to do with more than just climate change. So, I did a lot more research, communicated with experts worldwide, and observed our behavior. Here are a few things I noticed. 1) Climate change is a natural cycle (often referred to as the Milankovitch cycle) that is heavily influenced by natural factors over which we have NO control, such as the Earth's orbit and what happens in the Sun. No matter what we do, climate change WILL happen. 2) Mathematics and Physics both teach us something about human activities. - Math shows us that any change to the values of parts of an equation about climate change results in a change in the answer. Therefore, changes caused by humans (heat, water vapor (steam, clouds), methane (farts, a product of decomposition), carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas and NOS for racing) production, deforestation, water, air and land pollution, overfishing, architecture and more all have an impact on climate change. - Physics shows us that every system is connected to every other system (because, unlike an experiment which is isolated from the world, we live in a complex system of systems), and that means that what we damage in one system will cause changes in other systems. - For example, dark roofs and heat absorbing construction materials cause cities to be hotter than the countryside (called the urban heatsink effect). Forest destruction causes less CO2 to be absorbed and less oxygen to be produced, as well as causing erosion that washes the all-important topsoil into the water. Water pollution kills off aquatic sources of food, increases algae blooms which reduces oxygen from the water, increase the temperature and acidity of our oceans which kills off plankton (the number one producer of oxygen) and corals (which are the aquatic equivalent of rainforests), and stunts the growth of bones and shells as well as promoting the growth of anaerobic bacteria - the same ones that caused the Great Die-off 250 million years ago, and so on. In other words, although it is mostly a natural event, it is influenced by input from all the world's systems - of which we are one and have influence over many others. 3) Some changes (scientists like to call them factors or forcings) cause regular results, but others can produce exponential results. Allowing the permafrost to melt is going to cause a lot more methane to be released, for example, and that will be bad because it is far more powerful than CO2. 4) Since everything is connected, the changes to systems can cause feedback loops, which will accelerate certain events. A feedback loop is where forcings cause enough of certain types of changes that it feeds back into the system, accelerating the changes. 5) We have not and are not behaving sensibly. Our economic, financial, political, cultural, religious and other systems that affect and determine our behavior are not working to cause the changes in us that are needed to slow down what is happening. Conspicuous consumerism and planned obsolescence are still rampant and the economists still scream "GROW!" in reference to spending and population, which means we need an ever-increasing amount of resources in a system that only has limited resources. The richest nations continue to use the most and waste the most, preferring to sate their own gluttony rather than spread the wealth, and the ultra-wealthy are, in general, not doing anything substantial to make amends for the ddamage their companies cause, change the way their companies do business, and our governments are so busy with political in-fighting and paying back their masters that their impact is limited and often quickly offset or destroyed by bills that place business needs above everything, including the planet we depend upon. This subject alone is so severe and problematic that it makes me wonder if it is even possible for humans to overcome their own past and behavioral patterns to save the planet and thus themselves. We may be the most intelligent and technologically advanced species on the planet, but we consciously behave worse than mindless parasites and diseases that destroy their hosts, like ebola. Are there exceptional people? Of course, but there are far more who fit the profile than not. 6) The problem is far bigger than climate change. Everything we do has an impact on the world around us and, sadly, much of that is destructive. We have a long history of going into ecosystems and irrevocably changing, if not destroying, them. For example, we wantonly overhunt creatures, often for pleasure (like aphrodisiacs or just because we want to kill something) or fake medication, decimating their populations and causing extinctions, especially if the creatures prey on us or compete with us. We cannot continue this way and think that we, our children, or theirs will not pay the price. We are already paying the price in so many ways. I live on a mountainside and in the two years I've been here, the temperature has risen 6 degrees celsius - the first 3 degrees happened in the first 6 months in a sudden jump. I have tried to figure out how to stop what we are doing to the planet, but I find myself stuck again and again on #5: human nature. The solutions I think up keep coming back to this reality. It is why communism failed, why democracies around the world are riddled with corruption, why the US behaves so abusively, why human rights atrocities continue to affect millions, perhaps billions, each year, why religions are used to promote war, discrimination, child abuse, torture, and more, and on and on. There are so many things we could all be doing right now to save the world, the ecosystems on it and, as a result, ourselves. From composting and recycling, to buying better quality products and insisting that companies have a serious obligation to society and the environment. It would take a serious change in our lifestyles - especially those who have some money or live in a wealthy nation - but the alternative is apocalyptic. We can either ALL make voluntary changes now and learn to work together and be a better species, or face the consequences of our foolishness later on. There are, of course, other choices but I think you'll agree they are far less pleasant. 1) Worldwide indoctrination or brainwashing of everyone to ensure that we change, combined with reproductive conservatism (one baby per family, unless you adopt). 2) A global dictatorship that prioritizes the health of the planet over everything else - business, religion, religio-sociocultural beliefs and rules, etc. 3) The use of plagues to drastically reduce our presence on the planet. This will have unintended consequences for other lifeforms, of course, and the environment because of the amount of methane and CO2 (among other things) that will be produced, and how difficult it is to contain/control a plague. Of course, prioritizing wealthy nations would have a greater immediate impact since they use and waste the most. 4) The use of poison and other chemical agents. This would, unfortunately, have the effects of #3, as well as what it would do to food and water sources that might otherwise be usable, as well as arable land. Oh, wait, I forgot, we've already been doing that for a very long time, but the pace of death is very slow at this time. 5) The use of warfare. Of course, once started, this would be even worse than #3 because it would cause #3 and it would cause far more pollution and destruction of living creatures, edifices and natural places. Again, the nations/peoples that do the most damage would need to be primary targets. Morbidly unpleasant, don't you think? Let's take the solutions we have now and make all the positive changes we have because this isn't just about us, our offspring and our legacy - it's about the whole planet. Or, would you prefer to kill off all the species that are going to die because of us anyways, just so that they won't suffer because of our selfishness? Please, join me and unite to save the planet. Be responsible. By working together to change our own habits and forcing governments and businesses to stop behaving badly, we can save the future for everyone and everything!
shebby777
Apr 1, 2014 1:28 PM CDT
Climate what? Too much heat? Too many clouds? Too much rain? Climate what? Nothing mentioned as to what type of climate change. Ooo! They, however, only identified the scientists as meteorologists, not including climatologists. Why? The collective idea behind this comment is "How hot the sun?" Stop and think: What's their agenda?
FarmerMichael
Apr 1, 2014 1:06 AM CDT
Thank you, carbon (and methane) producers out there. In just ten years, you have made my land more valuable, as one could only get good pinot noir going here up to 700 feet in elevation in 2000. Now, thanks to global warming, that has gone up to 900 feet, which adds more of my land into the "good to go" zone. And check out how the line that banks will lend for corn production is going further north each year. Canada and Russia love global warming, as they benefit on farming results. Deniers don't look at real evidence. It is all around.