UN Issues a Grim Warning for Today's Children

Climate catastrophes on track to multiply in the next 20 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 28, 2022 6:17 AM CST
World Has a 'Brief and Rapidly Closing Window' to Save Itself
Bruce McDougal watches embers fly over his property as the Bond Fire burns through the Silverado community in Orange County, Calif., on Dec. 3, 2020. The United Nations on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, released a new report on climate change.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

(Newser) – Deadly with extreme weather now, climate change is about to get so much worse. It is likely going to make the world sicker, hungrier, poorer, gloomier, and way more dangerous in the next 18 years with an “unavoidable” increase in risks, a new United Nations science report says, per the AP. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said Monday if human-caused global warming isn’t limited to just another couple tenths of a degree, an Earth now struck regularly by deadly heat, fires, floods, and drought in future decades will degrade in 127 ways with some being “potentially irreversible.” Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe of the Nature Conservancy, who wasn't part of the latest report, calls it the “Your House is on Fire” report.

  • “The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health,” says the major report designed to guide world leaders in their efforts to curb climate change. Delaying cuts in heat-trapping carbon emissions and waiting on adapting to warming's impacts, it warns, “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”
  • Today’s children who may still be alive in the year 2100 are going to experience four times more climate extremes than they do now even with only a few more tenths of a degree of warming over today's heat. But if temperatures increase nearly 2 more degrees Celsius from now (3.4 degrees Fahrenheit) they would feel five times the floods, storms, drought, and heat waves, according to the collection of scientists at the IPCC.

  • With every tenth of a degree of warming, many more people die from heat stress, heart and lung problems from heat and air pollution, infectious diseases, illnesses from mosquitoes, and starvation, the authors say. The report lists mounting dangers to people, plants, animals, ecosystems, and economies, with people at risk in the millions and billions and potential damages in the trillions of dollars. The report highlights places becoming uninhabitable, the number of species dwindling, coral disappearing, ice shrinking, and rising and increasingly oxygen-depleted and acidic oceans.
  • Some of these risks can still be prevented or lessened with prompt action. “Today's IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.”
(Read more climate change stories.)

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