Only a few days after the Midwest Governors Association and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm announced new plans to address global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report on Saturday that concludes that global warming is caused by humans and that immediate action is necessary to address climate change. The report argues that there are stronger “reasons for concern” than previously thought as significant effects from global warming–including impacts on humans and non-humans–may happen at lower temperatures than previously believed. The report was signed by 130 nations including the United States.
Some key points from the report include:
20 per cent to 30 percent of the plant and animal species assessed are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if global average temperatures exceed 1.5 degree Celsius to 2.5 degree Celsius over late 20th century levels.
Increases in sea surface temperatures of about one-three degrees C are projected to result in more “frequent coral bleaching events and widespread mortality.”
Concern that in “many semi-arid areas, for example the Mediterranean basin, western United States, southern Africa and northeast Brazil, will suffer a decrease in water resources due to climate change.”
Concern that the Greenland and possibly Antarctic ice sheets may mean that the rate of ice loss will increase above previous forecasts
Concern over the likelihood of “irreversible” impacts. If temperature increases exceed about 3.5 degrees Celsius between 40% and 70% of the species assessed might be at increased risk of extinction.
Unlike three previous reports that were released by the IPCC, this report was not “diluted” as were previous reports from the IPCC. Nevertheless, there has been significant criticism of the IPCC center around the fact that its scientific consensus might minimize the potential impacts of climate change (1, 2). Among these criticisms are that the IPCC’s relying on a data set that ends in 2005.
Just in case folks think that this is old news, there is still considerable misinformation out there. Some of it is due to the influence of the oil industry who has funded “climate change skeptics” (including Grand Rapids’ Acton Institute) who have sought to cause “confusion” over global warming. Such confusion can often lead to absurdity, as seen in a column published in Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) Lanthorn student newspaper titled “Global Warming has become Annoying:”
“There is no doubt that advances in society have created more pollution and increased the ability to become more wasteful, but is this to blame for the climatic change?
Personally, I find thousands of years of evidence from scientists saying otherwise hard to ignore. Science has shown plenty of proof that this is nothing more than the Earth’s natural course.”