Last 10 years hotter than anytime in last 125,000 years. Too Late for 1.5 degrees. New IPCC report's dire conclusions.
IPCC, August 9, 2021: Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, released today. Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize.
For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows. At a temperature increase of almost 3°C by 2100, scientists warn, large parts of the planet become uninhabitable, entailing mass extinctions of species.
But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans.
The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate. Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions.
See the report's headlines
See report summary
See World Resources Institute's Five Key Takeaways
Politico Morning Energy, August 9, 2021: "The United Nations’ premier climate science panel is out with its sixth major report today, issuing a damning outlook directly linking global catastrophes to greenhouse gas emissions for the first time. The report comes with the backdrop of historic drought and fire in the American West, extreme rainfall in Germany and China, and heatwaves and wildfires plaguing Siberia, Greece and Turkey. The report contained no scenario where the world avoids surpassing 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming and the 2-degree warming target will be breached unless greenhouse gas emissions peak by mid-century, it said."
Bloomberg Green, August 9, 2021: "The last decade was hotter than any period in 125,000 years. Not only that but atmospheric CO₂ is now at a two million-year peak. Consuming fossil fuels has combined with agriculture to push methane and nitrous oxide—also greenhouse gases—to records for at least the last 800,000 years. All the greenhouse gases have elevated the global average temperature by about 1.1° Celsius above the late 19th century average. In fact, humans have already dumped enough greenhouse gas into the atmosphere to heat up the planet by 1.5°C—one of the goals set by the Paris Agreement—but fine-particle pollution from fossil fuels is masking it by providing a cooling effect.
Economist, August 9, 2021: "In terms of climate impacts, you ain’t seen nothing yet. That needs to be made true of action taken to constrain them, too."
The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC.