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Climate Change Latest Report Warns of Dangers

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The impacts of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible” a major report by the UN has warned

Sobering analysis from the IPCC, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has warned that the effects of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible” in their latest report, issued today. It says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans. The world, in many cases, is ill- prepared for risks from a changing climate. The report also concludes that there are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming.

Entitled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, it details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. The authors, editors and reviewers total 2474 experts from 70 countries, making this one of the most comprehensive scientific publications of all time. “We live in an era of man-made climate change,” said Vicente Barros, Co-Chair of Working Group II. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”

Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation said the report was based on more than 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies. He said this document was “the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline”. Undoubtedly the deniers will continue their faith-based objections to the evidence but it is clear that humanity is in for troubling times. Climate change, though impacting most heavily on the poorest people, will not spare developed nations, as the UK saw in the recent flooding.

Food security is highlighted as an area of significant concern. Crop yields for maize, rice and wheat suffer declines in the period up to 2050, with around a tenth of IPCC projections showing losses over 25%. Fish stocks will decline as the oceans change. One area that has surprised many commentators in the richer part of the world is that the arabica coffee bean (which produces the world’s best coffee) will suffer severely. Already coffee crops have been hit by climate change and rampaging pests. Leaf rust has already savaged recent harvests in the coffee heartlands of central America, with yields down 40% in 2013-14 compared to 2011-12. Coffee is a crop grown on marginal lands which seems extremely vulnerable to changes in temperature and moisture. If you thought £4 was expensive for a cup of coffee, what about it being £8 or £12?

The effects of climate change will include migration, conflict, and risks to food and energy production. The only optimistic note is that, “I think the really big breakthrough in this report is the new idea of thinking about managing climate change as a problem in managing risks,” said Dr Chris Field, one of the Co-Chairs of the report working group.

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