Record-setting wildfires, scorching weather, heavy rains and historic floods are continuously reported. It seems like the earth is giving us an urgent sign that it has reached its threshold. Especially this year, 2021, alongside the deadly pandemic, aberrant weather conditions rendered the global village to ponder the severity of climate change. To solve these problems, the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, succursal of the United Nations, unveiled their 6th Assessment Report. This year’s assessment was constructed by the Working Group 1, the Physical Science Basis, containing the up-to-date science research related to climate change.
The IPCC had its initiation in 1990, which consists of three Working Groups: 1) The Physical Science Basis, 2) Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability and 3) Mitigation of Climate Change. The assessment report is made public on six to seven years interval which is enough period of time to take a scrutiny on environmental shifts. The 6th Assessment Report, also known as 6AR in short, was progressed by the Working Group 1, with cooperation of 234 scientists from 66 countries made a contribution to the report. The report was publicized on 9th August, 2021 through an online conference in accordance with the pandemic circumstances. The 6AR includes the contents specifically focalizing on when the globe might pass the 1.5C° and 2C° warming levels which is detrimental to the overall biosphere. The media and public are showing huge attention ever than before to the 6AR as the climate change along with environmental problems are not the individuals’ sole problem but the assignment which must be addressed in cooperation.
The Summary of the 6th Assessment Report
First of all, the IPCC specified that “Humans are the unequivocal contribution to the climate emergency,” with the strongest statement ever. Human activity is surely affecting the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and ice. Primarily, the industrial activity is to be blamed. Humans caused greenhouse gas emissions: restlessly operated factories, bustling vehicles and mass livestock farming are the major contributing factors which releases methane and carbon dioxide.
The temperature of the global surface was 1.09C° higher in past decades. Past five years have been the hottest on record since 1850. The recent sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971. Human influence is 90% of the driving force of the retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic icebergs. It is certain that hot extremes including heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense while cold weather conditions have become less frequent and less severe.
◾ Changing state of the climate system
The level of CO2 trapped in the atmospheric heat is higher than it has been in two million years. The glaciers of the Artic reached their lowest point in 1,000 years. Sea levels are rising, flooding in coastal areas have doubled. Heat waves on land and ocean have become common.
◾ Human influence on the climate system
The researchers of the working group found that the primary production of atmospheric CO2 from the fossil fuels is the cause of the influence on climate system. Due to the climate change, every corner of the earth is extremely influenced by unprecedented and intense weather symptoms with more frequency.
◾ Future global climate: scenario-based projections and near-term information
The state of our earth is ‘reversible’. However, some of the changes that we are facing now can be slowed or even stopped if we successfully control the rise of the globe’s temperature.
The unmet attempts of decreasing carbon emission should be surely achieved. So, what can be done by us? To begin with, understanding the state of the climate emergency is important. Many of the global village are indifferent or show skeptical attitude toward these issues as they believe that the circumstance is ‘incorrigible’. However, in the live streaming of the 6th assessment report, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres mentioned that “The catastrophe can be averted if we cooperate forces. But as today’s report gives us a sobering certainty, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.”
The assessment report by the IPCC contains information that people mostly know. We already knew and were aware of the problems, but neglected them, which is a huge problem. We are running out of time, but not sure how much longer the earth can endure. If we don’t sustain the temperature below 1.5 C°, the worst scenario predicts the total increase by 4.5 C° by 2100 and there will be end of the earth consequences just like apocalyptic fictions. The report of the other working groups will be soon to be announced and the final synthesis of the report is expected to be finished by late 2022. The 7th Assessment Report will be held around 2032.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world stopped the operation of the factories, the carbon emission decreased drastically and there were surprising healthy environmental symptoms. We were not able to change the means of our lives, but we were not changing them. The action is stronger than words. Small changes make habits. We should walk, recycle and take more actions to prevent future worst scenario.
By Kim Chaiwon Editor-in-Chief