IPCC Report Warns Worst is Yet to Come
Justin Gillis, New York Times, March 30, 2014
In the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty, scientists warned that the consequences of climate change are likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.
The report -- Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability -- attempts to project how the effects will alter human society in coming decades. In particular, the report emphasized that the world’s food supply is at considerable risk — a threat that could have serious consequences for the poorest nations. It also cited the risk of death or injury on a widespread scale, probable damage to public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations.
The scientists emphasized that climate change is not just some problem of the distant future, but is happening now. For instance, in much of the American West, mountain snowpack is declining, threatening water supplies for the region, the scientists reported. And the snow that does fall is melting earlier in the year, which means there is less meltwater to ease the parched summers.
Yet despite a large and growing body of evidence for human-caused climate change, two decades of international efforts to limit greenhouse emissions have yielded little result, and it is not clear whether upcoming negotiations in New York this fall will be any different. While greenhouse gas emissions have begun to decline slightly in many wealthy countries, including the United States, those gains are being swamped by emissions from rising economic powers like China and India.