Perhaps this year’s most important publication is by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Almost one hundred scientists from thirty-eight nations report that risks to long-term human survival are accelerating.
Almost every legitimate climate scientist is alarmed. However, the developed world’s political and business leaders largely disclaim need for extensive action until vague points in the future. They remain detached from scientific reality and dedicated to the pursuit of endless economic growth.
Yet growth primarily benefits the already privileged. Oxfam reported in 2020 that 2,153 billionaires controlled more wealth than almost five billion people. In the past two years, global wealth of the world’s ten wealthiest men doubled while vast numbers of people were newly submerged below the poverty line.
London based non-profit Positive Money asserts that now is the time to stop worshipping the false god of GDP and to stop prioritising economic growth:
These repercussions cannot be simply wished away as they are fundamental to the growth process itself. They are the very reason why growth has failed to alleviate global poverty or raise life satisfaction, and why it remains tightly coupled with destructive environmental impacts. If left to continue unabated, our mindless pursuit of economic growth will result in levels of climate and ecological breakdown that threaten the viability of life on earth.
IPCC scientists reviewed climate change impacts, human adaptations and non-climatic global trends, including:
- biodiversity loss,
- unsustainable consumption of natural resources,
- land and ecosystem degradation,
- expanding urbanization,
- social and economic inequalities.
The entire IPCC report, thousands of pages in length, will be read by few outside of academia. But conclusions jump out that should cause Canadians to demand immediate policy changes.
Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people, beyond natural climate variability… The rise in weather and climate extremes has led to some irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt.
Climate change has caused substantial damages, and increasingly irreversible losses, in terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal and open ocean marine ecosystems.
Widespread deterioration of ecosystem structure and function, resilience and natural adaptive capacity, as well as shifts in seasonal timing have occurred due to climate change, with adverse socioeconomic consequences.
Some losses are already irreversible, such as the first species extinctions driven by climate change. Other impacts are approaching irreversibility.
Climate change including increases in frequency and intensity of extremes have reduced food and water security.
Ocean warming and ocean acidification have adversely affected food production from shellfish aquaculture and fisheries.
Climate change has adversely affected physical health of people globally and mental health of people in the assessed regions.
Degradation and destruction of ecosystems by humans increases the vulnerability of people.
Unsustainable land-use and land cover change, unsustainable use of natural resources, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, pollution, and their interactions, adversely affect the capacities of ecosystems, societies, communities and individuals to adapt to climate change.
Loss of ecosystems and their services has cascading and long-term impacts on people globally.
Climate change impacts and risks are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to manage. Multiple climate hazards will occur simultaneously, and multiple climatic and non-climatic risks will interact, resulting in compounding overall risk and risks cascading across sectors and regions.
Multiple risks interact, generating new sources of vulnerability to climate hazards, and compounding overall risk.
Weather and climate extremes are causing economic and societal impacts across national boundaries with increasing transboundary risks projected across the water, energy and food sectors.
The IPCC report warns that human adaptation may moderate effects of climate change but maladaptation and adverse side effects of “solutions” such as bioenergy and hydrogen derived from fossil fuels increase risks.
IPPC notes that climate change is already affecting nations too poor to adapt or change problematic conditions. But in a relatively short time period, people and places in more developed countries will suffer dangerous effects.
2021 gave British Columbia a costly taste of what lies ahead. Ignore the warnings and we face greater disasters.
Categories: Climate Change