Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year End Review: Climate Change is Already Here and Left Unchecked it will get Far Worse

There have been a number of reports in 2014 that show that climate change is not only a concern for future generations it is with us here and now. A slew of studies from economists, government agencies, scientific bodies, and business coalitions have all indicated that climate change is a current day reality and we must act now to stave off the worst impacts.

The definitive compendium of climate science was issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Without hyperbole, thousands of pages in the UN's fifth climate assessment report made the scientific case for global warming convincingly and irrefutably clear. It documents the effects of climate change in the present and it warns of an "impending climate catastrophe," the Synthesis Report also said "We have a little time before the window of opportunity to stay within 2 degrees C of warming closes."

A number of other reports rendered the science of climate change in language that all but the willfully ignorant can understand.

A report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) made three simple points that everyone can follow. First it said that "Climate change is happening here and now," and the risks of irreversible, highly damaging impacts are high. It added that the sooner we act, the lower the cost.

An 840 page report, the US National Climate Assessment, was deliberately written in simple and accessible language. It bluntly stated that climate change "has moved firmly into the present." The report went on to say, climate change's assorted harms "are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond." If we fail the act the situation will get far worse. The report's co-author Henry Jacoby, co-director of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology singled out the energy sector and fossil fuels in particular saying that if we do not curtail the emissions emanating from the energy sector, we are "on the pathway to more damage and danger." He also said, "one of the things this report tries to do is...explain to the person on the street that this is happening now and it’s going to get worse."

The report indicates that in 2011 and 2012 droughts and heat waves cost the farming industry $10 billion, it further projects that flooding alone may cost $325 billion by 2100.

The Risky Business Report stated that climate change is "already costing local economies billions" and explains how there will be hundreds of billions of additional costs if we fail to act. The report estimates that coastal storms could cost as much as $35 billion per year in the US alone. By 2050 the costs of flooding will be over 100 billion and by 2100, $507 billion worth of property will sink below sea level. It further states that in some places agricultural yields could decline by up to 70 percent.

Anything short of immediate action on climate change presents "risky business." As explained by Dr. Al Sommer, dean emeritus of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, "if we stay on the ‘business as usual’ path, things only get worse from there—we shouldn’t take that risk."

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