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Global climate crisis and the IPCC's sixth assessment report- statistics & facts

Based on the findings of the latest edition of the IPCC's assessment report, the key indicators for climate change are worsening almost exponentially on a wide geographic scale and at a faster pace than previously expected. In recent years, the world has endured record-breaking temperatures, raging wildfires, torrential rains, and flooding with devastating consequences in many inhabited regions across the globe. The adverse effects of global warming are increasingly apparent with each passing year. The cliché that the impact of global warming is only happening in distant lands, with impacts such as melting ice caps and the endangerment of animals like polar bears, no longer holds up. Despite the scientific evidence of global warming becoming increasingly irrefutable with improved climate models and predictions, it remains to this day that effective action against climate change on a global scale has not occurred to any meaningful extent.

Why the IPCC report matters

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. The long-awaited report released by IPCC in August 2021 is the sixth assessment of its kind since the formation of the panel in 1988. The report is prepared by evaluating scientific studies over the years from hundreds of researchers involved in various disciplines, and states the findings' confidence levels.

Working group 1, which deals with climate change's scientific principles, has warned that under the examined scenarios that Earth is likely to reach the crucial 1.5 degrees Celcius warming limit in the early 2040s. Anthropogenic emissions undoubtedly and unequivocally drive global warming, and its significant effect on climate change is inevitable. The projected changes in extreme weather, temperature, and precipitation are more extensive in frequency and intensity and increase further with every additional minor increment in temperature. The report once again confirms that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for the approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming that has occurred since 1850-1900. Additionally, unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, limiting warming to close to 1.5 degrees Celsius or even two degrees Celsius will be beyond reach in the following decades. The Earth’s natural carbon sinks will fail to regulate CO2 emissions as the proportion of CO2 emissions taken up by land and oceans in the scenarios with intermediate and higher emissions was nearly 50 percent and below. Based on historical data, the rate of annual mean sea level rise reported is alarming. Moreover, the report reiterates the evidence that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary driver of climate change, despite the emissions of other greenhouse gases and air pollutants which are also increasing and affecting the climate.

All hope is not lost

Though the findings of the IPCC’s sixth assessment are dire, limiting the Earth’s warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius can be possible with the help of innovative solutions and global cooperation for emission reductions and carbon sequestration. The timely release of this report based on scientific evidence provides humanity an opportunity to rethink the future. The summary for policymakers provides accurate information that is backed by scientific data about climate change ahead of the crucial international summit in Glasgow, Scotland, set to take place in November 2021.

The future of the “Earthizens” depends on the decisions made today. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is achievable and must go hand in hand with protecting biological diversity, ecosystems, and sustainable development.

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