UN warns of devastating impact of climate change

On Wednesday, the United Nations released its annual World Climate Report, warning that continuing climate change could have a “very worrying” impact on the globe. The report was meant to be a stark warning…

UN warns of devastating impact of climate change

On Wednesday, the United Nations released its annual World Climate Report, warning that continuing climate change could have a “very worrying” impact on the globe.

The report was meant to be a stark warning of the unprecedented threat the planet faces in the wake of human activity. The study explained that rising temperatures could endanger life on Earth, particularly in regions already threatened by climate change.

Temperatures are expected to rise at a far faster rate in the coming years. The annual “man-made global warming hiatus” is over, and a trend of acceleration is now well established.

Researchers predict that even during the 2020s, global temperatures will rise by at least 4.5 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, according to the report. In the 2030s, average global temperatures could rise 5.1 C (9.2 F). Temperatures are expected to begin a rapid rise starting in 2036.

As the researchers showed, these warming rates come dangerously close to the threshold where warming can trigger dangerous changes in the world. In the first half of the next century, temperatures will likely reach levels many scientists believe would lead to runaway climate change.

Rising waters, the costs of sea level rise

A recent study by the National Research Council estimates that sea level rise over the next century will cost the US alone upwards of $350 billion. In terms of additional losses due to additional storm damage, the costs climb to $95 billion.

For the US, these estimates do not include damages in Hawaii, which is experiencing the largest rise in sea level due to thermal expansion.

Changes in precipitation

The average global precipitation forecast for the year 2020 is not likely to decrease, though the melting Arctic is likely to further impact precipitation.

This year, summer precipitation was below average in the southwestern United States, north and east of the Rocky Mountains, as well as in east and southeast Kansas. By comparison, this past winter was more than five inches above normal in most of North Dakota, South Dakota, western Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, Wisconsin, western Illinois, and northwest Ohio, as well as central Maine.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that between 1991 and 2015, the Arctic decreased by 5.1 degrees Fahrenheit and warmed by 3.7 degrees F.

The report notes that these changes have other severe impacts. For example, in 2016 the Arctic lost one-third of its ice cover. According to NASA’s Arctic website, this allowed temperatures to rise 3.5 degrees F, bringing most coastal sea ice in the Arctic area north of Barrow, Alaska, into a sea ice-free state for the first time ever in modern history.

The United Nations report concluded that many impacts of warming and climate change are already apparent.

Climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies said “people are already impacted” in areas such as parts of Texas, Florida, the Caribbean and the Pacific Northwest.

“The people who are most at risk are low-lying small island states, coastal low-lying island states, the Americas and East Asia, and many islands in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Oceans,” Schmidt said.

Dangerous pathogens and human migration

In the next few decades, more than 20% of the Amazon basin is expected to become habitable by sea level rise and sea level pressure, giving organisms, from small insects to tropical fish, an easier route to the ocean.

Farmers could switch cultivation patterns to more aquatic lands, which would require significant adaptation efforts. Fresh water resources could become more difficult to obtain, while crop yields are expected to decrease.

While killer diseases, like Ebola, are not predicted to increase, the authors of the UN report warn of an increased risk of severe events that will further strain resources.

Looking further ahead, warmer climates could potentially host significant changes to the dynamics of diseases. In particular, higher temperatures could add a tougher, more potent form of malaria to the warmer climate and potentially introduce diseases such as Rift Valley fever.

The worst threats to the planet

Temperature increases are expected to make many regions even more vulnerable to violent conflict, particularly those along the borders of high-consequence regions.

In Syria, 50 million people are at risk from famine because of drought, and this could spread to the rest of the Middle East. The number of refugees and internally displaced people globally is expected to rise to more than 200 million by 2050, contributing to a humanitarian crisis.

In the Maldives, extreme weather events are expected to cause the

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