David Suzuki: IPCC report shows action on climate change is critical

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      The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released the first of four chapters of its Fifth Assessment Report. It shows scientists are more certain now than in 2007 when the Fourth Assessment was released that humans are largely responsible for global warming—mainly by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests—and that it’s getting worse and poses a serious threat to humanity. It contains hints of optimism, though, and shows addressing the problem creates opportunities.

      The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and UN Environment Programme at the request of member governments. For the recent study, hundreds of scientists and experts worldwide combed through the latest peer-reviewed scientific literature and other relevant materials to assess “the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its causes, potential impacts and response strategies.”

      Scientists are cautious. That’s the nature of science; information changes, and it’s difficult to account for all interrelated factors in any phenomenon, especially one as complicated as global climate. When they say something is “extremely likely” or 95 percent certain—as the latest report does regarding human contributions to climate change—that’s as close to certainty as science usually gets. Evidence for climate change itself is “unequivocal”.

      According to the latest installment, which cites 9,200 scientific publications in 2,200 pages, “It is extremely likely that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.” It also concludes oceans have warmed, snow and ice have diminished, sea levels have risen and extreme weather events have become more common.

      The report also dismisses the notion, spread by climate change deniers, that global warming has stopped. It has slowed slightly in recent years, scientists say, because of natural weather variations and other possible factors, including increases in volcanic ash, changes in solar cycles and, as a new scientific study suggests, oceans absorbing more heat.

      An increase in global average temperatures greater than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would result in further melting of glaciers and Arctic ice, continued rising sea levels, more frequent and extreme weather events, difficulties for global agriculture, and changes in plant and animal life, including extinctions. The report says we’ll likely exceed that threshold this century unless we choose to act.

      This means a strong, concerted global effort to combat climate change is necessary to protect the health of our economies, communities, children, and future. That will cost us, but far less than doing nothing. Although governments of almost 200 countries agreed global average temperature increases must be kept below two degress Celsius to avoid catastrophic warming, we are on track for the “worst case scenario” outlined by the first assessment report in 1990. Research indicates it’s possible to limit warming below that threshold if far-reaching action is taken. We can’t let skeptics sidetrack us with distortions and cherry-picking aimed at creating the illusion the science is still not in.

      The reasons to act go beyond averting the worst impacts of climate change. Fossil fuels are an incredibly valuable resource that can be used for making everything from medical supplies to computer keyboards. Wastefully burning them to propel solo drivers in cars and SUVs will ensure we run out sooner rather than later.

      Working with other nations to meet science-based targets to cut global warming pollution and create clean, renewable energy solutions would allow us to use our remaining fossil fuel reserves more wisely and create lasting jobs and economic opportunities. That’s why the David Suzuki Foundation is working with the Trottier Energy Futures Project to identify clean-energy opportunities for Canada.

      Shifting to cleaner energy sources would also reduce pollution and the environmental damage that comes with extracting coal, oil, and gas. That would improve the health of people, communities and ecosystems, and reduce both health-care costs and dollars spent replacing services nature already provides with expensive infrastructure.

      The IPCC report gathers the best science from around the world. It’s clear: There’s no time to delay. The first chapter examines the current science of climate change, the second will look at impacts and the third will consider strategies to deal with the problem. A report synthesizing the three chapters will be released in 2014. We must take it seriously.

      Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Communications Manager Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

      Comments

      9 Comments

      Lee

      Oct 1, 2013 at 8:40pm

      Your message is seen by so many people, while the scientists from Geochange.org is not. Who controls the media?

      DavidNutzuki

      Oct 2, 2013 at 5:36pm

      Deny this
      Science has only agreed it could happen and have never said it will be an inevitable crisis so why are YOU saying it WILL be?
      Find us one single IPCC warning that says anything more than "could be".
      If this were a crisis they would have said it was eventual and unavoidable not thirty years of "maybe". Science can silence the deniers by saying it WILL be a crisis now.

      Ben Sili

      Oct 2, 2013 at 9:12pm

      oh David, tune it down after your melt down down under!

      Diogenes

      Oct 3, 2013 at 1:15am

      On page 75 of the Club of Rome's 1990 publication entitled The First Global Revolution, the organization outlined how they would manufacture ecological scares in order to manipulate the public into accepting the imposition of a dictatorial world government run by them. “In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill…. All these dangers are caused by human intervention… The real enemy, then, is humanity itself,” states the report. You can find it on scribd and read it for yourself.

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      "We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have...each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest." - Stephen H. Schneider, Discover Magazine (October, 1989, p. 45-48)

      "I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are," Gore said in the May 9, 2006 Grist Magazine.”… it is all right and even necessary for scientists to exaggerate...´Wolves deceive their prey, don´t they?´ one said to me recently."

      Sir John Houghton, the first chairman of the IPCC, wrote in 1994 that “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.”

      “No matter if the science of global warming is all phony… climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world, said Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment. (Stewart, Christine. Calgary Herald, December 14, 1998)

      Lee

      Oct 3, 2013 at 9:10am

      Every person of planet Earth should listen to the JFK speeches. He described where the USA should be in 50 years which would be now. His plans for world development and peace died with him. I don't need to say here who the empire is that killed him as it is well known, but just like 911 it is bad to question the story given to us. The environmental movement comes from the same place and the grand daddy is the WWF. It is insanity how a so called intelligent person can support a negative economic growth ideology when the cost is human suffering and genicide.

      Al Bore

      Oct 4, 2013 at 2:41am

      There wouldn't be any doubt or denial-ism if science just agreed a crisis WILL happen instead of agreeing for 30 years that it only COULD happen.
      We need science to end this costly debate now and give us a real warning for a real crisis otherwise CO2 mitigation is impossible.
      It doesn't help when news editors say a crisis WILL happen when science has never said it.

      donna deneault

      Oct 6, 2013 at 10:36am

      I donate to all the organizations that strive to protect our environment and educate us on climate change. The only way Harper is going to listen, is if ALL of you join together with your thousands of supporters in one enormous effort. To mention a few: Suzuki Foundation, Council of Canadians, Green Peace, Environmental Defence, Ecojustice, Dogwood Initiative...and on and on...

      Lee

      Oct 6, 2013 at 10:35pm

      Hi Donna, if we all submitt to all the environmental groups you speak of what is to become of the people? When fusion is a reality we will be synthesizing what we need out of common water and dirt. There is no limit to progress when a species is capable through technology to create resources that never existed before. We all need to realize this before falling prey to this suicidal negative economic growth ideology. The Geochange Journal with there first and second reports has accurately correlated the suns energy flux with climate change, extreme weather events, floods, and even earthquakes. Try and find these reports on the internet and you will begin to understand the censorship going on for the actual science on climate change.