The media has been ablaze with the outpouring of reports, climate strikes & summits over the past week with a clear & explicit focus on the nature of climate change, climate action & how the science behind the climate crisis we are now experiencing, is being received.
The UN report released on Monday 23rd September, ‘United In Science’ as part of the UN Climate Action Summit & the subsequent IPCC ‘Special Report on the Ocean & Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ being released on Weds 25th Sept 2019; has revealed yet more stark predictions surrounding advancing Climate Change.
With the impassioned speech from Climate Activist Greta Thunberg & its accusatory tone aimed at the governments & policy makers of the world; the two reports released within days of each other, have drawn even more attention to the science behind anthropogenic & natural climate change influences.
The UN special report ‘United in Science’ written by the UN Science Advisory group is co-chaired by WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas & Leena Srivastava, former Vice Chancellor of TERI School of Advanced Studies.
It comprises highly recognized and respected natural and social scientists, with expertise in different aspects of climate change, including on mitigation and adaptation. (1) Contributing agencies for the special report included the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Global Atmosphere Watch, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Carbon Project, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Future Earth, Earth League and the Global Framework for Climate Services
The UN report ‘United in Science’ being released as part of the UN Climate in Action Summit, allowed the scientific evidence, to support the passionate displays seen globally at the Global Climate Strikes, which took place the week before.
The summary of the United in Science report focused on six explicit areas which were covered in great depth in the entire report.
- The Global Climate in 2015-2019 – World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
- Record Greenhouse Gas Concentrations in the Atmosphere – WMO Global Atmosphere Watch
- Global Carbon Budget – Global Carbon Project
- The emissions gap – where we are and where we need to be – United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- Climate Insights – Future Earth and Earth League
Each agency represented within the report has been able to explore & expand upon the data utilised. A precis of the report only touches on the very core of the reports message & identifies that:
- The period from 2015-2019 is on track to be the warmest of any equivalent period, since records began & is estimated to be 1.1° C above pre-industrialised times (1850-1900)
- It has been identified that arctic summer sea ice has decreased at a rate of approximately 12% per decade during the time period 1979-2018. Glacier mass loss, in the period 2015-2019, is the highest for any five year period ever recorded.
- Sea levels continue to rise (more details from the IPCC SROCC) at an exponential rate & sea acidity levels have been proven to have increased by a rate of 26% since the beginning of the industrial era.
- The levels of ‘long lived’ GHG’s CO2, CH4) & N2O have reached new record highs. The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained 400 parts per million CO2 was about 3-5 million years ago. In 2018, global CO2 concentration was 407.8 parts per million (ppm), 2.2 ppm higher than 2017. (1)
- To achieve net-zero emissions & to stabilise the climate, as agreed by The Paris Agreement, requires an acceleration in the use of non-carbon energy & a rapid reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
However, not all scientific minds agree with the stark revelations of the ‘United in Science’ report.
CLINTEL (The Climate Intelligence Foundation) having recently been founded in The Netherlands by professor Guus Berkhout & science journalist Marcel Crok calls for a wider range of voices to be heard in the climate debate.
In a letter penned to the Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres & Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, they have refuted the findings of the recent IPCC reports & debunked many of the scientific evidence presented therein.
The CLINTEL bold statement ‘There is no climate emergency’ is based on evidence being cited & gathered from 500 scientists & professionals. One of their more audacious claims that “The world has warmed at less than half the originally-predicted rate, & at less than half the rate to be expected on the basis of net anthropogenic forcing & radiative imbalance. It tells us that we are far from understanding climate change.” & that “CO2 is not a pollutant. It is essential to all life on Earth. Photosynthesis is a blessing. More CO2 is beneficial for nature, greening the Earth: additional CO2 in the air has promoted growth in global plant biomass. It is also good for agriculture, increasing the yields of crop worldwide.” (2) & in doing so, contradicting everything which has gone before & been accepted by international bodies.
The CLINTEL European Climate Declaration having been penned & signed for by international Professors as ambassadors for the data set being presented; close their letter with the statement “Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050” (2) creating a direct opposition to the ardent views being seen on global news feeds, adding more weight to a newly termed phrase ‘climate denier’
Therefore, when the IPCC SROCC report was published on Weds 25th Sept 2019, the evidence presented did add additional evidence to the ‘climate crisis’, refuting the CLINTEL opposition.
The IPCC report covering vast scientific data sets, has used far reaching scientific evidence to prove that “It is virtually certain that the global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system (high confidence). Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled (likely). Marine heatwaves have very likely doubled in frequency since 1982 and are increasing in intensity (very high confidence). By absorbing more CO2, the ocean has undergone increasing surface acidification (virtually certain). A loss of oxygen has occurred from the surface to 1000 m (medium confidence).” (3)
In addition the evidence regarding heightened sea levels is reported as “Global mean sea level (GMSL) is rising, with acceleration in recent decades due to increasing rates of ice loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets (very high confidence), as well as continued glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion. Increases in tropical cyclone winds and rainfall, and increases in extreme waves, combined with relative sea level rise, exacerbate extreme sea level events and coastal hazards (high confidence).” (3)
The report goes on to the cite that marine life in the oceans & cryosphere, have in some areas flourished & grown, but in other areas have had to change their geographical range and seasonal activities.
Regardless of which data you take on board, the science is there trying to make sense of the changing world we live on. We are striving to find ways to create a balance between the needs of Planet Earth & the human race which inhabits it; ensuring we & all the other species which inhabit planet Earth, can live long & healthy lives.
Written by Katy-Jane Mason on behalf of Dolphin N2