The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases three 'working groups' in its overall climate assessment. The first focusing on physical sciences and model projections and the second focusing on impacts, such as low streamflows or increased tropical storm activity. Both of these having been released earlier this year. The third, which was released last week, focuses on mitigation strategies.
Scientists now anticipate a 3 degrees Celsius increase in overall global temperatures by the turn of the century. Increasing frequency of natural disasters and forever altered ecosystems are expected as a result.
Steve Running, a professor at University of Montana-Missoula and a former contributor to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning IPCC 4th assessment, explains why the most recent report was alarming, "In the 2007 report, we were careful to describe probable outcomes — we think temperatures are going to continue to rise at a certain rate. In the 6th assessment, they are talking about virtual certainty. They are saying these are unquestioned trends that we have now been measuring."
New laws and policies since the last IPCC assessment led to progress with respect to the rate of global temperature rise. Despite that, greenhouse gas emissions continue to climb at concerning rates. Costs for implementing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, have reached all-time lows. Now more than ever is the time to take action in reducing reliance on coal. Steve explains, "We need to encourage our energy companies to be generating more wind and solar power. They need to be pushed to do that or they will just keep burning coal."
The report focuses on the consequences of our actions not solutions to the problem. It is up to us to join hands in addressing the issue. "It is not a spring, this is a marathon. The world is not going to end in 5 years, the world is not going to end when we hit 1.5 degrees of warming. This is something where it is to our collective, long-term benefit to just get on a new path in society," explained Running.
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