Early August, the United Nations (UN) released a report on climate change, based upon the first major scientific assessment since 2014. It is issued by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change.
The report conveys a clear warning about the world being dangerously close to runaway warming, – and that humans are undoubtedly to blame.
"The alarm bells are deafening" says U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement. "This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet."
Already, greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere are high enough to guarantee climate disruption for decades if not centuries, scientists warn in the report. That is on top of the deadly heatwaves, powerful hurricanes and other weather extremes that are happening now and are likely to become more severe.
Drawing on more than 14,000 scientific studies, the report gives the most comprehensive and detailed picture yet of how climate change is altering the natural world – and what still could be ahead.
Scientists warn that warming more than 1.5 Celsius above the preindustrial average could trigger runaway climate change with catastrophic impacts, such as heat so intense that crops fail or people die just from being outdoors. Apparently, the Earth has not been that warm since the Pliocene Epoch roughly 3 million years ago – when the first ancestors to humans were appearing and oceans were 25 meters higher than today
The 1.1 Degree C warming already recorded appears enough to unleash disastrous weather. This year, heatwaves killed hundreds in the Pacific Northwest and smashed records around the world. Wildfires fueled by heat and drought are sweeping away entire towns in the U.S. West, releasing record emissions from Siberian forests, and driving Greeks to flee their lands by ferry.
According to the report, it is too late to prevent these particular changes, some of which are considered irreversible, and that the best the world can do is to slow them down so that countries have more time to prepare and adapt. A vital question raised now is how many more irreversible changes can be avoided and how.
Boosting the development of renewable energy is clearly a factor in this context, and entails major challenges and opportunities, not least for us in the electro technical industry.
* This blog is edited by Trond Sollie