From destructive floods and hurricanes to wildfire and heatwaves, the black swan events in the climate crisis are rapidly increasing. Yet, there seems to be little focus on driving sustainability and addressing the main cause: climate change as the top priority. But the new report by the UN scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a UN body for assessing the science related to climate change has rung alarm bells for the catastrophe we are heading towards. It has tagged climate change as widespread, rapid and intensifying - just the right adjectives to highlight the current situation.
The IPCC report focuses on humanity’s damage on the climate and the warnings signs for ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases on the earth’s temperature in no more than only a decade. Some impacts of climate change are already visible, while some much worse ones are expected real soon if the issue of climate change continues to be ignored both at collective as well as individual country level.
The gist of the report is that the global warming is much faster with new estimates that global temperature could reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming in the next 20 years. There is no country or region safe from human induced global warming and every region is facing increasing changes. It is not just about the rise in temperature which will intensify heatwaves and longer hot seasons, but also intensifying water cycle causing extreme rainfall, floods and draughts in some regions; rise in sea levels in coastal areas around the world; glacial melting; and marine heatwaves and ocean acidification.
The IPCC report sings a somber song, but there is no surprise element in the scientific evidence as it has been there for decades, warning of climate change and global warming. What has been lacking all these years is the collective discourse and action to address the humanity crisis. The IPCC report finding could also be taken to mean that global warming will continue until carbon dioxide pollution stops and its emissions are reduced to zero.
Another recent report by World Bank also weighs in on human toll of climate change and the findings are scary and deplorable: over 200 million people could face forced displacement within their own countries by 2050 due to climate change. for context, that is equal to the entire population of Pakistan.
Amid all the bad news in the grand IPCC report, it might seem that there is no turning back. However, scientists and researchers are cautioning against fatalism and pessimism; and that not all is lost. Yes, it’s a daunting task, but significantly slashing the global greenhouse emissions can minimize the devastating future that lies ahead.
The report came just a few weeks ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26 being held in November 2021 – giving just enough material to the countries to revisit their plans and stance on climate change catastrophe. What does the IPCC projections mean for Pakistan? This will be a key discussion point in the soon to be published interview with Mr. Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General at WWF – Pakistan.