Public opinion consistently shows that about 60-70% of Americans are concerned about climate change, and that support for climate interventions, such as tougher clean energy policies, continues to rise (Climate Advocacy Lab 2021). Yet April’s Pew Research Center polls revealed that 81% of American adults rarely or never talk about climate change in their daily lives and 74% say they have never committed to taking climate action (Climate Advocacy Lab 2021). In recent weeks, the journalist Jorge Ramos from Univisión asked me if we are in time to stop climate change or if we should prepare to face the serious changes that we are already seeing in the United States and the world. I told him about the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published on August 9. The IPCC was created in 1988 to assess scientific, technical, and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its causes, possible effects, and response strategies. Participants in the IPCC come from all member countries of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations. The IPCC report is extremely important because it presents the most detailed and comprehensive evidence, observations, and assessment of changes in the Earth’s climate in all regions and in the climate system.
Among the most important findings of the report, it presents that we continue with the accelerated warming of the planet. The report concludes that currently the goal of avoiding the 1.5-2 °C rise is unattainable unless greenhouse gasesare reduced immediately, rapidly and on a large scale. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are responsible for the warming of approximately 1.1 °C from 1850-1900, and the average global temperature in the next 20 years is suspected of reaching or exceeding 1.5 °C (IPCC 2021). The rise in temperature is triggering the rise in sea level which will cause severe flooding and mass migration as large numbers of the world’s population live on the coasts. The report says that all regions of the world will be affected. Many of the characteristics of climate change depend directly on the level of global warming, often what people experience is very different from that world average. For example, warming on the earth’s surface is higher than the global average and, particularly in the Arctic, warming is more than double (IPCC 2021). Other effects that we will see are increased heat waves, the extension of warm seasons and less prolonged cold seasons, while with a global warming of 2 °C extreme heat events would reach critical points for agriculture and health more frequently. Other important findings: increased intensity of rainfall and associated floods, as well as more intense droughts are expected in many regions; rising sea levels will contribute to coastal erosion, its frequency and severity, especially in low-lying areas.
The extreme events related to sea level that occurred every 100 years could be registered with an annual frequency by the end of this century; the melting of permafrost, as well as the loss of seasonal snow cover, the melting of glaciers and the loss of Arctic Sea ice and their effects will be intensified. Other effects currently observed and increasing are ocean acidification, loss of life related to extreme climatic events, damage and loss of property, damage to natural resources, serious effects on food security, effects on the economy and increased threat to indigenous peoples and disadvantaged groups in the world. On the other hand, we must not lose hope. Many times, crises are opportunities to evolve and create new mitigation and adaptation strategies. According to Hoesung Lee, President of the IPCC “ The innovations and advances in climatology reflected in this report are a great input for negotiations and decision-making on climate.” Many ask what we can do as individuals to deal with climate change.
Here are some suggestions:
- Change the light bulbs to LED or energy efficient ones, if you are not in the room turn off the light, turn off and disconnect electronics or electrical appliances when not in use - Grow your own vegetables either in your yard or in baskets - Eliminate the use of pesticides or dangerous chemicals - Reduce the purchase and consumption of plastic - Support efforts to conserve and protect health and the environment - Use public transport or bicycle - Plant a tree - Avoid consumerism (think before you buy) - Reduce or eliminate meat consumption - Reduce, reuse, and recycle - Support just transition and renewable energy efforts - Demand from the government measures for mitigation, adaptation, and economic resources for the most affected
Important figures from the first part of the report: - 234 authors from 66 countries - 31 coordinating authors - 167 main authors - 36 review editors - 517 contributing authors
More than 14,000 references cited A total of 78,007 comments made by governments and experts ------------------------- Dr. Samarys Seguinot Medina is a Boricua, Environmental Health Director at ACAT and a resident of Anchorage, Alaska.
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