Posted by: r.m. | November 6, 2013

Leaked IPCC draft reveals catastrophic impacts of climate change…and UNEP report says we may be too late

From CommonDream’s article entitled “Climate Impacts Poised to Decimate Human and Earth Systems, says Leaked IPCC Draft

A draft of a global scientific review on how human and natural systems are expected to respond to the growing threat of climate change has been leaked and its contents—though not wholly unexpected to those who have followed climate science news in recent years—are nonetheless both alarming and devastating.

Titled, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, the leaked document is the draft version of the second installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest review of the global scientific consensus on the global warming and climate change.

[Yes, go that link {Climate Change 2014} and you can download the leaked draft]

Offered with varying degrees of scientific consensus and confidence, what follows is a partial list of the key impacts of climate change contained in the leaked IPCC draft assessment:

  • Climate change will reduce renewable surface water and groundwater resources significantly in most dry subtropical regions, exacerbating competition for water among sectors
  • A large fraction of terrestrial and freshwater species faces increased extinction risk under projected climate change during and beyond the 21st century, especially as climate change interacts with other pressures, such as habitat modification, over-exploitation, pollution, and invasive species
  • Due to sea-level rise throughout the 21st century and beyond, coastal systems and low-lying areas will increasingly experience adverse impacts such as submergence, coastal flooding, and coastal erosion
  • By 2100, due to climate change and development patterns and without adaptation, hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding and displaced due to land loss
  • Ocean acidification poses risks to ecosystems, especially polar ecosystems and coral reefs, associated with impacts on the physiology, behavior, and population dynamics of individual species
  • Without adaptation, local temperature increases of 1°C or more above preindustrial levels are projected to negatively impact yields for the major crops (wheat, rice, and maize) in tropical and temperate regions, although individual locations may benefit
  • Heat stress, extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, and drought and water scarcity pose risks in urban areas for people, assets, economies, and ecosystems, with risks amplified for those lacking essential infrastructure and services or living in exposed areas
  • Major future rural impacts will be felt in the near-term and beyond through impacts on water supply, food security, and agricultural incomes, including shifts in production of food and non-food crops in many areas of the world
  • Global mean temperature increase of 2.5°C above preindustrial levels may lead to global aggregate economic losses between 0.2 and 2.0% of income

[Note: I'm quite sure the above figure of economic losses is controversial and that it could quite easily be rated as higher than that figure.  What discount rate did they use? How was human life calculated? etc.]

  • Until mid-century, climate change will impact human health mainly by exacerbating health problems that already exist (very high confidence), and climate change throughout the 21st century will lead to increases in ill-health in many regions, as compared to a baseline without climate change
  • Climate change indirectly increases risks from violent conflict in the form of civil war, inter-group violence, and violent protests by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks
  • Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security, and trigger new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger

[But no worries. We can go back to focusing our energies on the latest pop song and whether this warlord or that warlord is better]

By the way, very little of what is predicted by this leaked IPCC draft is new.  Flannery spoke of it in his excellent book Weather Makers – as did so many other scientists.

So what are the world leaders doing about this catastrophe to come?

According to a new (and very unsurprising) report by UNEP, released yesterday, - “Should the global community not immediately embark on wide-ranging actions to narrow the greenhouse gas emissions gap, the chance of remaining on the least-cost path to keeping global temperature rise below 2°C this century will swiftly diminish and open the door to a host of challenges. … Even if nations meet their current climate pledges, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are likely to be 8 to 12 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level that would provide a likely chance of remaining on the least-cost pathway.”

Also not surprising. Climate change scientist Kevin Anderson said as much (and more), as did a few other climate change experts. They bemoaned that the goal of greenhouse gas reductions was itself too low (and even that wasn’t reached!)  So what did Anderson say we need? A REVOLUTION!

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  1. My heart rate significantly increased while reading these, somber but very real, predictions. The first thought that came to my mind was: why did this have to be leaked? Why wasn’t it (or at least the main and certain repercussions) instantly shared?
    Obviously it’s nothing new, but just reading the consequences on all levels introduces the feeling of inevitable doom! How petty do our problems feel right now! How inane do our conflicts seem compared to what’s coming! And yet, so many refuse to accept the evidence.
    It’s like there’s this giant “Danger” sign with an arrow in space, pointing towards our planet, and we don’t even care!
    But what do you expect of a species that is willing to self-destruct(and drag the entire planet along with it) in the name of greed, stupidity and God?!

  2. […] remember: as the conservative UNEP presented in a recent report, given how governments have been responding to the climate change crisis (i.e. with barely any […]

  3. This article portrays what would look more similar to a world end if we do not intervene quickly dropping our ignorance and not neglecting the central issue of climate change. Such a document needs not to be leaked but rather published so that we try to do something and if we fail to so then we can at least plan a way to minimize the losses and survive such tragedy once it happens.

  4. Jad Ghantous Biol207
    Something absolutely must be done to stop such an outrage of climate change. If just 1 degree is enough to affect major crops that constitute to most of our diet. Hundreds of millions of people will become climate change refugees, and oceans will acidify and that would surely affect aquatic systems and diversity. What more do we have to know for us to start acting to prevent more possibly underestimated environmental problems !!

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