IPCC Picture

If you were busy this past week out jogging in your leather Fendi pants or falling asleep to the dulcet tones of Ted Cruz, you may have missed the release of the fifth climate assessment report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Between chemical weapons in Syria, an impending government shutdown, and the recent finale of Breaking Bad and all it entails, you might wonder why just another survey on global warming really matters.

However, the IPCC climate assessment is a big deal. The panel only releases a report every four or five years, after careful consideration of data and input from hundreds of scientists. The scientific community generally regards the content of each report as the leading consensus on climate change, and the most recent findings are certainly troubling. The IPCC upgraded the probability of anthropogenic (human-caused) warming over the past 50 years from “very likely,” to “extremely likely,” stating the current amalgamation of scientific data has proven warming trends to be “unequivocal.”

Some highlights from the 300 page report include:

–          Temperature increases of 1.5° to 4° C by the end of the 21st century

–          An accelerated rate of the warming trend – we won’t just be getting hotter, but hotter faster

–          Data indicating ocean warming accounts for over 90% of energy accumulation. This is bad because ocean warming means higher sea levels, since water expands as it gets warmer. Rising sea levels have the potential to displace millions of men and women living in lowland areas from Louisiana to Bangladesh, and also won’t do much for property values on your beach house

–          A pattern of wet regions getting more rain, while dry regions get less

This isn’t to say the IPCC has the final word on all things climate-related. In their last major report, the IPCC published wildly inaccurate projections on glacial melting. Furthermore, widespread support should never be mistaken for irrefutable truth. However, the IPCC report is significant enough to garner close attention and careful consideration.

Do you think the IPCC report is deserving of national attention? How should the findings of the report factor into our priorities as a nation?

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