In March 2014, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report on climate change, which has been labelled a “call for action” by the chair of the IPCC as well as climate change scientists and governments around the globe.
The report highlights a number of serious threats to the world unless global emissions are drastically reduced. Here is a quick look at the five key areas that will face climate change-related consequences:
Global warming has already begun to adversely affect the global food supply due to its impact on crop yield. Crop yield increases have slowed down over the past few decades and some reports forecast sharper declines in the near future, especially when it comes to wheat and corn. The IPCC report warns that the negative consequences on crop yield will far outweigh any positives, leading to global food shortages and the danger of dramatic rise in food prices.
Climate change-driven food and water shortages could cause serious unrest and conflict. Increased migration, tussles between urban areas and the agricultural industry, and fights between farmers and ranchers over depleting resources are amongst the developments pointed out in the report. These factors will make it harder for governments to combat climate change.
The poor and the elderly in less developed countries will be more vulnerable to the adverse effects and the burden of global warming will be borne unequally by these at-risk populations. Climate change will further sharpen present-day inequalities, making poor parts of the world poorer still.
The report points out that no-one is beyond the impact of climate change. In one way or another (food, water, security, inequality, conflict), every community in every country will be affected. Society’s ability to adapt is limited and the only way to prevent possible global chaos is to take immediate measures to curtail global warming and deal with events that are already in motion to minimise the damage.
Lastly, the IPCC report points out that research on climate change has doubled since the last report in 2007, with thousands of new studies from scientists all over the world being studied and analysed in order to create this new report. This has led to a greater and more nuanced understanding of what we can do to effectively protect people from the serious consequences of climate change.