THE UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first installment of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on August 9, the complete version of which is supposed to be released in 2022. This report is of the utmost importance and should be made known to all, as in effect, it is a warning to mankind.
This first installment is officially known as the IPCC Working Group 1 report or "Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis." According to IPCC Chairman Hoesung Lee, the report reflects "extraordinary efforts under exceptional circumstances"; he states further that "the innovations in this report and the advances in the climate science it reflects provide an invaluable input into climate negotiations and decision-making."
A long read but the main takeaways are:
1. Faster global warming. The chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next decade or so is more imminent and so are the effects. The global plan to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or even 2 degrees Celsius will be beyond reach at the rate humankind is going.
2. Every region is facing increasing changes, some more drastic than others. For example, warming over land is larger than the global average, and it is twice as much in the Arctic. Climate change is affecting countries in multifarious ways. For example, archipelagic countries, such as the Philippines and Maldives, stand to lose major portions of their land due to sea level rise. Countries as disparate as China, Italy and Germany are experiencing record rainfall and disastrous floods not seen in thousands of years. The changes are expected to multiply with little or no warning.
3. It is not just about temperature. Climate change includes wetness and dryness, wind patterns, snow, ice, erosion of coastal areas and even changes in oceanic patterns. Examples include more intense rainfall and resultant flooding or the opposite - drought in places that did not have them before, changes in the monsoon patterns, continued sea level rise where extreme sea level events previously occurring once every 100 years could occur yearly. Loss of glaciers and ice cover, permafrost thawing, marine heat waves, oceanic acidification, the destruction of marine ecosystems and the attendant losses to sea life and fisheries are also examples.
The Sixth Assessment Report will provide a more detailed regional assessment of climate change and will focus on useful information that will influence risk assessment, mitigation, adaptation and how to remain resilient in the face of all these.