By Sophie Hu — Correspondent
A recent UN report has warned citizens worldwide that we are running out of time to adapt to climate change.
The report was published on February 28, 2022, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the United Nations whose role is to provide policymakers with scientific reports on climate change. Written by 270 scientists from 67 countries, the nearly 4,000-page report details the impacts of the rapidly accelerating climate change.
Here are the report’s main conclusions:
Climate change is detrimental to our health.
Changes in temperatures result in the deaths of millions of people every year. “In all regions, extreme heat events have resulted in human mortality and morbidity,” reported the IPCC.
The Lancet Planetary Health journal finds that climate change-linked extreme temperatures contribute to the loss of five million lives globally each year: about 9.4% of all deaths.
As temperatures increase flooding and water contamination, viruses causing diarrheal infections, which favor warm and wet environments, worsen the risk of diarrheal diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that in 2030, there will be about 50,000 child deaths from diarrheal diseases solely due to climate change.
A study by the WHO said that involuntary migration and wars over resources can cause mental health problems. “Mental health challenges are associated with increasing temperatures… trauma from weather and climate extreme events… and loss of livelihoods and culture.”
Climate change is expensive.
The effects of climate change, such as decreased crop yields, increases in natural disasters, water shortages, and property damage, are costly. Climate change will cost the world as much as $23 trillion per year by 2050, according to Swiss Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company. Dr. Solomon Hsiang, director of Global Policy Laboratory at the University of California, predicts that in the United States alone, adapting to the effects of climate change could cost over 4% of its GDP per year by 2100.
Vulnerability to these effects is higher in locations with governance challenges, limited access to basic services and resources, poverty, and violent conflict. In the past decade, human mortality from floods, droughts, and storms was 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions compared to regions with very low vulnerability.
The loss of ecosystems has enormous impacts on Indigenous peoples, who are entirely dependent on the environment to meet their basic needs.
We are running out of time to address climate change.
To prevent Earth from warming more than 1.5°C, the critical tipping point for climate change, carbon dioxide emissions need to decline by about 45% from current levels before 2030 and be completely stopped by 2050.
“The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all,” said the IPCC.
“As climate impacts worsen – and they will – scaling up investments will be essential for survival,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
“Delay means death,” added Guterres.