Sobering IPCC Report: “Warming is Unequivocal”

by Shannon Hall on April 4, 2014

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Climate change is now affecting every continent and ocean says the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international collaboration of more than 2,500 experts. If we don’t act soon to bring greenhouse gas emissions under control, the problems will only grow substantially worse. This isn’t a casual statement from a few fringe scientists: nearly 500 people had to sign off on the exact wording of the summary, including 66 expert authors, 271 officials from 115 countries, and 57 observers.

The report is the second of three installments of the IPCC’s fifth assessment of climate change. The first installment, released last year, covered the physical science of climate change. It stated with certainty that climate change is very real and that we are the cause. The new report focuses on the impacts of climate change and how to adapt to them. The third installment, which will come out in April, will focus on cutting greenhouse emissions.

Ice in the Arctic is collapsing, the oceans are rising, coral reefs are dying, fresh water supplies are diminishing, and the oceans are becoming more acidic, which is killing certain creatures and stunting the growth of others. Heat waves and heavy rains are escalating, food crops are being damaged, disease is spreading, human beings will be displaced due to flooding, animals are migrating toward the poles or going extinct, and the worst is yet to come.

The evidence the world is warming is indubitable.

And yet climate change deniers are still represented the world over. Most notably, the Heartland Institute weighed in on the report by focusing on the benefits of climate change. The group’s take on the matter reads like a crude April Fool’s joke.

A Wall Street Journal op-ed by Matt Ridley has also gained quite a bit of attention. An article in Climate Science Watch refers to his piece as “a laundry list of IPCC misrepresentations.” Ridley fails to cite the data presented in the latest report and even tries to claim that global warming will have net benefits.

From the sweeping opinion articles to the simple comments posted below online articles, the IPCC report is being tragically misinterpreted. One need only take a quick glance at the data to see that the world is warming and catastrophic effects are already occurring.

IPCC report

The data above clearly show the effects of climate change. Image Credit: IPCC 2013

Climate change is global. It will not only affect the poorest nations but the world. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC in a news conference presenting the report.

Yes this report is sobering. But it also provides an opportunity. We have the power, the intelligence, and the moral duty to protect our home planet. We cannot reverse the damage. We might not even be able to stop it. But we can minimize it. There is still time.

We can act across all scales — local to global — to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But first we must learn to adapt to a changing environment. Many governments are well past the state of acknowledging climate change and are in fact starting to find solutions.

“I think that dealing effectively with climate change is just going to be something great nations do,” said Christopher Field, co-chairman of the working group that wrote the report and an earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford.

The state of New York recently ordered an electric utility serving Manhattan and its surrounding suburbs, to spend $1 billion upgrading its system to prevent future damage from flooding and other weather disruptions. In a reaction to the blackouts caused by Hurricane Sandy and the acceptance that more extreme weather is to come, the company will raise flood walls, bury vital equipment and determine whether or not emerging climate risks will demand different actions.

Utility regulators across the States are discussing whether to follow New York’s lead.

While greenhouse gas emissions have begun to decline slightly in many countries, including the United States, those gains are being swamped by emissions from other countries such as China and India. We must make greater efforts to adapt or the warming planet will be inevitable.

“There is no question that we live in a world already altered by climate change,” said Field. The time for action is now.

About 

Shannon Hall is an aspiring science journalist and is an editorial intern at Sky & Telescope magazine. She holds two B.A.'s from Whitman College in physics-astronomy and philosophy, and an M.S. in astronomy from the University of Wyoming. This fall she will attend NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program.

FarAwayLongAgo April 4, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Another controversial political propaganda item from “climate policy today!”

Personally I’d prefer if this blog dedicated itself to space related issues. Universetoday very clearly signals that everyone who is interested in “the universe today” should leave this extremely political anti-space blog. Tiny little details like that the global temperature hasn’t increased at all during the last two decades, are grotesquely censored by this extremist anti-space politically controversial blog. I don’t understand why this blog always is anti-space extremist politically controverisal, but it is.

I’ve never read anything here which questions those who want to abolish space all launches because they claim that rockets destroy the climate. Never. Not even once. Total Gleichschaltung.

Aqua4U April 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

I have found the real cause for Global Warming! It’s simple really… it’s caused by those living in denial blowing hot air!

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 5:51 AM

They don’t destroy the climate. Shut up and go somewhere else then. You are wrong. Trolling sh!^…

mewo April 5, 2014 at 9:10 PM

Go find another blog if you don’t like this one. Nobody’s forcing you to post here.

TJT April 4, 2014 at 11:51 AM

I’m so sick of hearing about this climate change Knit wittery. The scheme has been promoted in one form or another for well over a century. It’s very simple. The whole thing is designed and presented for the sole purpose of separating the naive from their money and freedom to come and go as they please. Why do you think they pick subject matter that makes you look like a jerk if you argue against it. Who wouldn’t want to save the planet, the environment, The rain forest (steamy jungle), The wetlands (mosquito infested swamp)? 97% of all climate scientist agree……….. The 97% shuffled up to a planet sized trough of other peoples money. See it our way? Here’s your grant.

Aqua4U April 4, 2014 at 12:57 PM

“Knit wittery”? A pun wright? So who is the nitwit? You should learn how to spell it in case someone asks.

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 5:50 AM

Then stop coming to credible news sites and instead troll with the other morons.

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 6:12 AM

Ya, scientists all live high off the hog on all that grant money……. You REALLY don’t understand how science works on a painfully apparent and embarrassing way.

dangerdad April 4, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Why is a science site reporting on a political document?

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 5:52 AM

NASA also is a politically based organization so why do science sites write about…. Oh, wait…..

Beckler April 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Yes, we should simply ignore the consensus of the scientific community and the corresponding mass of evidence because numerous internet comment section and blog writers assure us everything is ok. LOL.

postman1 April 4, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Another politically biased op-ed? Come on, UT, stick to the science and astronomy. I hope you haven’t sold out to the global warming religion fanatics. That would be a sad ending to a formerly great site.

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 5:53 AM

Wow, you’re wrong. You can’t cherry-pick science like people do religion….

paul585 April 4, 2014 at 6:12 PM

This web site reports on a large number of environmental issues connected with our planet. Looking back at ourselves in other words, be it to forest fires, tsunami’s or smog. 9/11 articles were not simarlaly criticised. The complainers don’t seem to raise any “political” complaint over these. Climate and it’s effects are the very first thing you see when you look back from space. Please, this is a very serious issue and deserves more than just some kind of protocol debate of wether this article is in the right place in order to win the arguement. Or is it just another tactic to stop us talking about what could be the biggest issue facing mankind since the ice age? Why don’t you want us talking about it?

Aqua4U April 4, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Thank you for your words paul585. They are like a breath of fresh air! Remember fresh air?

Earlier, I wrote a couple of lengthy rebuttals to some of the above absurd comments. Then I realized, if someone had read all the evidence and STILL refused to accept the facts, then what good? So I went back and edited out most of what I had to say. Yeah, what good is arguing with a stick?

nigelq April 7, 2014 at 2:04 AM

There are two sides to this discussion, scientific and political. For the”average” person is has become too difficult to separate the two. Politicians, the media and those making money out of misery have blurred the lines so far that many people are confused or don’t care any more. There are many examples of bad policy based on lack of knowledge and/or bad understanding. I would carefully suggest that our overall ability to change the climate will be minimal at best. Our primary issue may well be to adapt. If bad policy forces civilisation into economic collapse, there is no hope.

mike01001 April 4, 2014 at 9:21 PM

How can these climate scientist (who are government funded) say what normal is based on the short time span humans have recorded Earths temperatures. All of their projections are based on computer modeling with the inputs to the models designed for the desired effect i.e. the sky is falling we are all doomed. Meanwhile the effects of forcing utilities to integrate wind and solar power by govt. fiat has had the effect of increased utility bills and they say we are still warming. Where does the insanity end?

jjasensio April 5, 2014 at 3:37 AM

Mike01001, sorry, but I could not avoid laughing at your comment: if you are a reader of this blog, I suppose that you think that we can study the history of the Universe. But you think that, as we live so short lives, we cannot study the history of the climate in the last hundreds or thousands of years while we are able to study the history on the Universe in the last billions of years. Do you really know what you are saying?

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 5:54 AM

How can NASA (who is government funded) get people and technology into space? SEPARATION OF SCIENCE AND POLITICAL STRUCTURES! …………really?………………

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 6:08 AM

Ice core samples to just BEGIN with non-modelled empirical evidence. And do you REALLY think that people from that many countries can agree so whole heartedly on a pack of purposefully construed lies? Are you aware in that case of the world’s governments cover-up of Bigfoot, Yeti, Chi chi and their ilk?

Pvt.Pantzov April 4, 2014 at 10:08 PM

wow… a clutch of climate change deniers materialized out of the woodwork. what are you guys doing here? are you sure you are at the right web site?

geckzilla April 5, 2014 at 1:57 AM

Please just remove these anti-science comments. Set a policy against and and moderate them freely. There is no other way to deal with it.

Pvt.Pantzov April 6, 2014 at 4:16 AM

i do not support climate change denial(ists), but this remains a sufficiently contentious enough issue that censoring dissenting opinions would be cowardly. as you can see, their arguments aren’t really worth worrying about to begin with.

jjasensio April 5, 2014 at 3:46 AM

I am absolutely stunned by seeing that, in a science related blog, so many people are fanatical deniers. The same science that is used to investigate the atmosphere of the planets, the death of starts, black holes, big ban, dark energy, etc, is the one that is being used to study the past, present and future of the atmosphere in the Earth and its climate. Why do they think that one use of this science is right and the other is not right?

There are of course many studies that are controversial and discussed, just see for example the “hints” of dark matter annihilation. It is much more speculative and yet, the only answer for it is that, if somebody is going to present another explanation, there will be with a theory that will have to be checked with the data. In most of the issues, data is accepted by everybody and to “destroy” a theory, data is used. Only in climate change it is not: political hate, insults, etc, are the arguments of most of the entries of people denying climate change. Why? What happens with them?

If you do not agree on the historical records of temperature, CO2 concentration, glacier melting, coral reefs dying, etc, present your data in a scientific form and convince the scientific community. Or point out the flaws of the studies and show that they invalidate the whole idea. You will have to work hard, but it is for sure good. If you do not want to reply science with science, play politics, but do not deny science if you do not have the arguments. But this attitude of politically motivated deniers seems to me that fanaticism is not exclusive of Taliban and similar people.

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 6:03 AM

HUZZAH! WELL stated! ;)

Jeffrey Boerst April 5, 2014 at 5:57 AM

“So , I was trolling around conservative blogs looking to see what I should think about Obamacare today and I came across your headline here and immediately knew the entire story was full of lies. Now I will complain that the people who actually read it are stupid……………………”

~ John Q. Moron

Forty April 5, 2014 at 12:31 PM

I’m always amused how many religious driven climate change denier people, which have obviously no clue about science, commentating on a scientific website when the topic is Earth’s climate.
Where are all this Koch founded “skeptics” when an article is about the climate on other planets. Don’t THEY™ lie to us about Venus or Jupiter climate?
Maybe there is no directive in the denial handbook about that.

walterreil April 5, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Sorry, but I must strongly disagree with the anti-climate science comments, which clearly demonstrate people who either wear blinders or bury their head in the sand, only seeing what they want to see, not seeing and caring about the world around them. I VERY MUCH support and encourage Universe Today’s sharing of important climate change and climate science news. I have been involved in space public education outreach for about 10 years and climate science outreach for about 6 years. Through Universe Today and other space information services, learning about space gives me a much better appreciation for our precious Earth and our vital need to protect our fragile planet from the impacts of humans, when those impacts are found to be very detrimental to our future. So, I offer my support of Universe Today in featuring climate science articles. Keep up your wonderful work educating the public about space and Earth. This is especially supportive of families and children. Thank you, Universe Today.

Forty April 6, 2014 at 3:35 PM

And for all the “this site should concentrate on space!!11!!” shouters:
Last time I checked that planet of ours was still in this thing called space, a planet amongst countless others. The one which we know most of, the one surrounded bay many man made satellites, which tell us a lot about of what’s going on on this planet. Like other one which surround other planets in our solar system tell us something about those neighbours. All possible because of that thing called SCIENCE. The thing with the logic and the rules, you know?

Wheels April 6, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Yet one more hysterical press release from the climate doom mongers. The climate of the planet is constantly changing due to a wide and complex range of factors. It’s still warming from the little ice age a few hundred years ago. The extent to which humans are contributing to climate change is not a subject beyond debate, much as the warmists would wish it. You can see the authoritarian impulses of the green true believers on display in these comments, with calls to shut down dissenting voices.
So by all means, investigate the climate with all available scientific tools, but don’t pretend for a moment that the policy preferences of the climate change fanatics are the same thing as “science.” Their carbon-rationing schemes, alternate energy fantasies and green boondoggles are public policies with real consequences for real people, and should be robustly debated. It wasn’t that long ago that the whole scientific community was fully behind mandates and subsidies for corn-based ethanol as a means to fight climate change. Here we are, a few years later, and food prices around the world are much higher in part due to that immoral policy of burning food for fuel, affecting poor people NOW far more than any projected rising sea levels in the future. And the benefits to the climate are pretty much zip.
The climate of Earth should be objectively studied, but when it moves into the realm of public policy and what to do about alleged human-induced climate change, there’s plenty of room for debate. Pointing to a computer simulation that purports to predict the climate 100 years from now and saying “See, shut up!” is not doing the cause of scientific inquiry many favors.

darkgoob April 17, 2014 at 3:30 AM

I went to Glacier National Park recently and well, had to wonder why it was called that. Want to know why? Because the glacier is more like an icicle now.

The sad part is you know you’re wrong, you just don’t like the type of people who would enact laws around this. You just don’t like the idea that we might live in a society where people act based on knowledge and reason. People like you denied the earth was round, denied gravity, denied relativity, denied evolution, and now this. Go on ignoring, but I hope you kill yourself instead.

postman1 April 7, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Isn’t it interesting that, whenever anyone dares to point out that true science is Never settled and that, even on the subject of AGW, there are prominent dissenters, they are Always attacked and bullied by the ‘armchair scientists’ in the comment section? Kind of like the Amen section, or the so called ‘koolaid’ drinkers, or possibly rabid dogs and fanatics. I would think that any ‘science’ which doesn’t want to allow dissent, is, in fact, not science at all, but a religion instead.
Merely my observations, but if some of you can’t see the obvious political bias in this article, you may need to remove those blinders.

paul585 April 8, 2014 at 5:32 AM

I find it both worrying and funny that the climate change deniers have effectively sidetracked the discussion from the IPCC report and the possible impacts on us and the actions we could as a society take to a protocol debate.
The fact is warming is happening. The earth has been warmer in the past – true. But where were sea levels? Somewhere between 40 and 70 metres higher than today. So thats bye bye New York, London, Tokyo, Venice, Florida, Bombay, Calcutta, Bangladesh, the enormous cities of the chinese coastal plain, etc etc. Where are these people going to go? Well in some places people are already voting with their feet.
New Zealand a nice empty little place, is already filling up with Chinese and Indians looking for somewhere safe to live. Oh, and I’ll tell you who else is buying there, American oil billionaires some of whom will be in the denial camp. Could it be they are hedging their bets and they don’t want all you schmucks putting up the prices till they’ve got control?
How easy you are manipulated.
I say all this because I have worked on the front line of Climate science for 10 years. The scientists by and large are the sanest most reasonable people you could meet. They are not businesses desperate to make profit and become millionaires through government funding. What a hope! By and large we are family people concerned with our children and grandchildrens future. There was plenty of weather and climate to go around before the theories of a warming climate started turning into fact.

We buy insurance to protect ourselves against risk what’s wrong with putting some effort into dealing with climate change? We are creatures of climate change after all, it was our ways of dealing with a changing climate that made us the most powerful animal on the planet. As long as the tundra doesn’t catch fire – which it might, we could do well out of it providing we do the right thing. Now when we’ve got so much more knowledge and capability to control things are we going to turn around and say “well it doesn’t fit out petroleum based business model so lets rubbish it and go on in the same old way? (Like horse traders tried with automobiles.)
Quite frankly most of these denier funders are old conservative guys who dont want to change and don’t give a hoot for humanity – only themselves. So all of you who believe climate change is fact let’s forget these loosers and move on with the evidence. The deniers will be proved wrong by events and consigned to the junk box of history. Like pagers!

postman1 April 8, 2014 at 2:06 PM

How long of a ‘pause’ will it take before the climate establishment drops the ‘denier’ name calling?

I imagine those ‘billionaires’ are doing what made them rich in the first place, buying cheap and selling high to those new emigrants. I might also suggest that, if you have a bit of cash lying around, you do the same. They aren’t making any new land and prices only go in one direction.

paul585 April 12, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Well I wouldn’t make any long term invstments in Florida! Or anywhere within 5 metres of the high tide mark for that matter.

darkgoob April 17, 2014 at 3:14 AM

Thanks for telling it like it is. The fact science is being mistaken for politics is truly sad, and speaks to the fact that education in the United States has failed, hard. Just reading these comments makes me sick. This is not an issue of politics… it’s an issue of pure ignorance vs. knowledge. Knowledge and understanding must win. It is the only war worth fighting.

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