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Climate Change will Cause Irreversible Impacts If Action is Not Taken: IPCC Report

Jan 04, 2015 05:03 PM EST
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Leonardo DiCaprio delivers passionate speech to combat climate change

Climate change is undoubtedly upon us, and it will cause irreversible impacts on both the environment and world economies if action is not immediately taken, warns a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The effects of climate change have already been felt over recent decades around the world and across oceans. As a result of warming temperatures, ocean acidification is destroying the world's corals, which are to face the worst bleaching in decades, Arctic ice is rapidly disappearing, extreme weather like heatwaves is becoming more common, and even Americans' health is at risk.

It is not enough to adapt to these drastic changes, according to the new report. Our planet must make significant and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to effectively prevent warming beyond warming 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit), because the more human activity disrupts the climate, the greater the risks.

"It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy," Youba Sokona, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, said in a statement. "But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change."

"Compared to the imminent risk of irreversible climate change impacts, the risks of mitigation are manageable," he added.

The new Synthesis Report, based on findings from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report produced by over 800 scientists, adds to the wealth of past research that says human activity is mainly to blame for climate change's effects. In order to meet the 2 degree Celsius goal - one that many say is quickly dwindling - researchers find that carbon emissions should drop by 40 to 70 percent worldwide between 2010 and 2050, and should be zero or below by 2100.

"We have the means to limit climate change," said R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC. "The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change."

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