2013-09-23 - IPCC report on Climate Change

This week, scientists will issue their starkest warning yet about the dangers of global warming. In a report to be presented in Stockholm on Monday, they will say that the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have now led to a warming of the entire globe, including land surfaces, oceans and the atmosphere.

According to the new report, humanity has emitted about half a trillion tonnes of carbon by burning fossil fuels over the past 250 years, a process that has caused atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to rise by 40%.

This is has led to an increase in extreme weather events in many regions, including heatwaves and storms, while ice sheets are dwindling at an alarming rate.

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that, over the next few decades, humanity is on course to raise global temperatures by more than 2C compared with pre-industrial levels. Such a rise could trigger the release of plumes of the greenhouse gas methane from the thawing Arctic tundra, while the polar ice caps, which reflect solar radiation back into space, could disappear.
Although the report does not say so, Earth would probably then be facing a runaway greenhouse effect.

In an article for the Observer, economist and climate change expert Lord Stern calls on governments to end their dithering about fossil fuels and start working to create a global low-carbon economy to curtail global warming. Governments, he states, must decide what "kind of world we want to present to our children and grandchildren".

While highly technological solutions to the problem of runaway climate change have been suggested, they get short shrift in the new report. "We have to face up to the prospect of weaning ourselves off our addiction to oil and coal," said one report author. "It is as simple as that."

Now, faced with this ever growing body of evidence, we feel compelled to ask if it’s time for our cities to redouble our efforts to transition to a Low Carbon Economy. Liverpool has taken some encouraging steps so far, but we should not shy away from our obligations to future generations.

Precis of an article published in the Observer here

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