Science

The UN warns climate change is 'accelerating' and we must reduce our emissions

In a major report from The UN released on Monday, the organisation made it clear that climate change is screwing up the planet—more so than ever—and that human-caused emissions are the significant factor. Here are some headline statements from report:

It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.

The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)

NPR wrote their own response to the report, highlighting the human activities to blame:

Despite the disastrous descriptions of our hotter Earth, the new report also makes clear that it is not too late to curb global warming. The more humans reduce emissions this decade, the more livable Earth will be for the rest of this century and for many centuries to come.

One of the big questions posed by world leaders is whether it’s still possible to meet the targets set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement. That agreement seeks to limit global warming to well under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and ideally keep it below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F). Earth is already about 1 degree Celsius hotter than it was in the late 1800s.

Most of the biggest economies in the world are not on track to meet those temperature targets because they continue to rely too heavily on fossil fuels for electricity, transportation and industry — including most polluting fuels such as coal. That includes the U.S., which has cut emissions very slowly in recent years.

It’s important to emphasise that pointing blame at individuals is counter-productive and inaccurate. Many of the things we do in our lives may contribute to the climate change crisis but they are done under the unyielding force of capitalism. We can do our utmost to cut back on certain things and change our behaviours, and that is strongly recommended, but major corporations and the richest people in the world do little to nothing to improve the situation and don’t get the criticism that poor people do. And those poor people are mostly Black and Brown, another point that needs to be addressed.

Pouring scorn on nations like Brazil and India, two nations who have been ravaged by colonialism and are currently under oppressive right-wing governments, is easy for the white elite who refuse to face their fronts. We all have to play our parts but the demands for change by the media and governing bodies are unbalanced.

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