Communist or Third World plot to undermine Western economies and civilization, or the most ambitious effort in human history to forge a science-based policy framework to address a critical, increasingly pressing, global problem?
Views differ widely and debate and controversy persist, but the second installment of the United Nations (U.N.) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is clear in its conclusions: Driven by unprecedented greenhouse gas emissions from human sources, the costs and risks associated with rapid climate change are mounting, leaving the poorest and least well prepared most vulnerable.
Released in Yokohama, Japan March 31, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, IPCC Working Group II's (WG2) contribution to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report is the organization's clearest statement yet on the growing risks and dangers we are flirting with given the uninterrupted and unprecedented rise in anthropogenic carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.
The IPCC's Fifth Global Assessment of Climate Change
The second installment of the IPCC's AR5 brought together thousands of climate scientists from around the world and representatives from the 195 national governments and the E.U. who have ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in a long, arduous, transparent and open process not only to assess the risks and threats posed by climate change, but to identify and foster adoption of climate change-resistant pathways of sustainable development.
Justifiably reticent to link specific incidences of extreme weather with long-term climate change, 2013's record weather lends credibility and validity to the climate models IPCC scientists have been using and continue to develop and refine.
Not only did 2013 confirm the global warming trend and the linkage with anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions – tying with 2007 as the sixth warmest year on record – according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO), there were 43 separate billion-dollar economic loss events. That’s a lot more than the 10-year average of 28, according to Aon Benfield’s, Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report, 2013.
Following is a video of the IPCC press conference.
The following tables, contained in the AR5 WG2's “Summary for Policymakers,” present a summation of the key risks, climatic drivers, adaptation issues and prospects, risk and potential for adaptation and associated time frames for action.