Coral and Crops at Risk: UN Climate Report Paints Stark Picture

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its second of four expected reports on global climate change, outlining the affects it will have, has had, and what mitigating influence we can still have on future effects. The report is titled “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability” and is meant to educate policymakers on environmental policy that could still have an affect, as well as preparatory measures that can be taken ahead of negative affects still to come.

If you look around the world today, people, cities, business, and nations aren’t prepared for the climate-related risk we face now,” said Chris Field, U.S. professor who co-chaired the 309 scientists tasked with the production of the report, in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “The climate changes that have already occurred have been widespread and have really had consequences. It’s not the case that climate change is a thing of the future,” he warned.

The report, over 1.5 thousand pages long, lists changes that are being seen in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere (ice), sea level, carbon, and biogeochemical cycles, and discuss the likelihood of global warming being influenced by humans, as well as flatly stating its existence. The report also lists estimates for future changes; for example, that “global mean surface temperature change for the period 2016 – 2035 relative to 1986 – 2005 will likely be in the range of 0.3 degrees Celsius to 0.7 degrees Celsius” and that there will “variability” over time, and that the temperature change “will not be regionally uniform.” For atmospheric changes, such as the water cycle, the report foresees an increase in “contrast” between wet and dry regions and seasons.

The ocean temperature is predicted to warm, with ocean circulation affected as a result, while the air quality will likely worsen. “It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Nothern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease,” reads the report, continuing to address rising sea levels and effects all such changes could have. The emphasis, added by the report, relates to specially defined degrees of certainty regarding predictive studies, or understanding of data. Hunger, drought, coastal flooding, and extreme weather such as has already been seen are expected to result from changes in the coming years.  ”We live in an era of man-made climate change. In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face,” said Vicente Barros, co-chair of the report team.

“It is not just polar bears, coral reefs, and rainforests that are under threat: it is us,” said Kaisa Kosonen, political adviser to Greenpeace International, as she spoke at a press conference in Yokohama, where the report was debuted — according to Businessweek.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:

Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS