A draft report from the International Panel on Climate Change warns the devastating impacts of climate change will “reshape” life on the planet within 30 years, even if society acts now to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.
Species extinction, more widespread disease, unliveable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas—these and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and bound to become painfully obvious before a child born today turns 30. The choices societies make now will determine whether our species thrives or simply survives as the 21st century unfolds, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says in a draft report seen exclusively by AFP.
"Life on Earth can recover from a drastic climate shift by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems," it says."Humans cannot."
The challenges it highlights are systemic, woven into the very fabric of daily life. They are also deeply unfair: those least responsible for global warming will suffer disproportionately, the report makes clear. And it shows that even as we spew record amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are undermining the capacity of forests and oceans to absorb them, turning our greatest natural allies in the fight against warming into enemies. It warns that previous major climate shocks dramatically altered the environment and wiped outmost species, raising the question of whether humanity is sowing the seeds of its own demise.
"Even at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, conditions will change beyond many organisms' ability to adapt," the report notes.
The 4000 page report was provided to AFP and is not due for release until next year, after the November UNFCCC annual Conference of the Parties in Glasgow.
(See also Looming climate impacts: 10 takeaways from draft UN report)