Climate Research: New IPCC Report Sounds “Red Alert”
By Brian Wagenaar
In a comprehensive, 3,000 page report released Monday, August 9th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Science, or IPCC, laid out the impacts of human activities on our climate in great detail. The IPCC is a body of the United Nations, and a collaboration between hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists. This report, the sixth of its kind (and the first since 2013), examined the physical science behind climate change, and looked at the many impacts that the current, human-altered climate composition has had, and will have, on the earth’s natural and human systems.
The report discusses various global warming scenarios and their impact on regions. Here in Delta County and the North Fork Valley, our region has warmed about twice the global average, nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The impacts of climate change can be seen all around us in strings of 100+ degree days, or in the real pain that has been inflicted upon our vital agricultural producers by water shortages. There is little doubt left: Climate change has come home to the North Fork Valley.
The report hammered home several key points:
- Humans are without any doubt to blame for climate change, and global average temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius (or nearly 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since the 19th century, and are now higher than they have been in over 100,000 years
- The climate crisis is already here, and the 1.5 degrees Celsius benchmark set by the Paris Agreement in 2015 will very likely be overrun within the next 10 years on the basis of prior emissions
- Methane emissions, largely created via natural gas production, coal mining, landfills, and livestock grazing, threaten to undermine efforts to cut carbon emissions by trapping massive amounts of heat in the atmosphere.
- Our Earth’s shared water resources will continue to experience increased unpredictability, with some areas receiving punishing rains and others falling into (or staying in) prolonged drought conditions
- Other extreme weather events like prolonged heat waves, hurricanes, landslides, wildfires, and more will continue to increase in severity and frequency, putting human and animal communities at enhanced risk
- Our natural carbon allies, mainly soils and oceans, have absorbed about 56% of all emitted greenhouse gases (GHGs), but these natural carbon “sinks” are showing signs of reaching their breaking point
- All the above said, working swiftly to slash our emissions will pay HUGE dividends in the form of reduced impacts to human society, infrastructure, and natural systems over time. More on this below.
That last point is perhaps the most important. Here in the North Fork Valley, our region has warmed about twice the natural average, nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The impacts of climate change can be seen all around us in strings of 90+ degree days, or in the real pain that has been inflicted upon our vital agricultural producers by water shortages. There is little doubt left: Climate change has come home to the North Fork Valley.
North Fork Valley: Part of the Solution
There is hope in nearly every direction we look. We are blessed to have tremendous community resources at our disposal, including a variety of amazing nonprofits:.
- Solar Energy International (SEI) is a worldwide leader in solar technology and education, and is working tirelessly to ensure that a future free of fossil fuels is not only possible, but prosperous.
- The Valley Organic Growers Association (VOGA) is working to provide food education and to expand regional sustainable agriculture to provide healthy, delicious food for our community while reducing GHG emissions and giving back to the land.
- Groundwork is a newer nonprofit that is looking to be a leader in shifting our current systems from extractive, unjust, and damaging towards a future that is inclusive, regenerative, and sustainable over the long haul. Their research into innovative agricultural practices, fellowships to train the next generation of sustainability leaders, and community education will ideally serve as a beacon for a successful transition to a cleaner, greener North Fork Valley.
There are so many more amazing individuals and organizations working to solve the climate crisis from different angles and disciplines.
It is easy to get depressed amidst the onslaught of heartbreaking information around climate change, yet it is so important to know that we are not alone in this fight. Millions of Americans, and people around the world, are giving everything they have to transform our world not just for the purpose of burning less fossil fuels, but also to create more equitable, resilient, and thriving communities.
You can read the IPCC Report itself HERE
You can read Democracy Now’s article on the report HERE
And you can read why this IPCC report was different from previous ones in The Guardian HERE
Additionally, you can read The Atlantic’s story on why you should care HERE