The IPCC has just released its latest report where it concludes that human activity is primarily responsible for accelerating climate change, since it is greenhouse gas emissions (which are mainly released when they burn fossil fuels to generate energy) the main causes of it. But let’s go in parts.
What is the IPCC?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific body created in 1988 by the UN to provide the world with a clear view of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge about climate change.
This group of experts does not carry out research but analyzes the published scientific work and gathers the most up-to-date and reliable information on climate change, publishing a summary report with the available knowledge.
That is, the IPCC estimates the causes and consequences of climate change and gives updated predictions with confidence intervals (average and expected ranges) on climate change in the next 100-200 years.
In 2007, the IPCC received the Nobel Peace Prize for its work on knowledge about climate change.
What does the latest IPCC report tell us?
In this sixth report, prepared by 234 experts from 66 countries, he concludes that the acceleration of climate change is caused by CO2 and methane emitted by human activity.
The report, which includes a regional analysis, analyzes the growth of extreme events (heat waves, cold waves, floods and droughts) caused by the increase in temperature.
In short, it is a very reliable, analyzed and verified information, which summarizes the predictions well in different scenarios, since it is the best summary of the scientific knowledge existing today about climate change, since it is endorsed by thousands of scientific publications reviewed and integrated into this report.
Differences with previous climate changes
Main differences with previous climate changes, according to the IPCC
The climate has always changed but a warming like that of the last decades has not been seen in the last millennia. As experts indicate, “human influence has warmed the climate at an unprecedented rate for at least the last 2000 years.”
In other words, acceleration is affecting everyone, especially in recent decades.
The main CO2 emissions that cause climate change
Explanatory graph of the greenhouse effect according to the latest IPCC report
The greenhouse effect is mainly caused by excess CO.2 (Along with methane and nitrous oxide) in the atmosphere, which are the cause of an enormous amount of energy that, not being released into space, causes an increase in the energy retained on the planet (mainly in the oceans).
Could the situation be reversed if we reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere?
CMIP6 – Maximum of maximum temperatures (TXx) deg C – 1995-2014 – Annual (28 models)
The report is clear and specifies that “The deliberate elimination of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere could reverse some aspects of climate change. However, this will only happen if it results in a net reduction in the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, that is, if the deliberate absorptions are greater than emissions.” This would have a direct impact on “the increase in the temperature of the global surface, which would begin to reverse in a few years.”
However, we are also warned that, despite the fact that we manage to drastically reduce emissions “Other aspects of climate change would take decades (for example, the thaw of permafrost) or centuries (for example, the acidification of the depths of the ocean) to reverse, and some, such as sea level rise, would take centuries or millennia to change direction.”
Consequences of this acceleration of global warming
Among the direct consequences, in addition to the rise in average temperatures (which will continue to increase irretrievably until the middle of this century) are extreme weather phenomena.
The report also highlights that, even in the most optimistic scenarios, the Arctic will continue to heat up twice as fast as the planet’s average. This will cause Arctic sea ice (permafrost) to disappear at least once before 2050. A critical situation, since this ice contains an infinity of CO2 and methane accumulated and encapsulated for millennia. These are consequences that in some cases will be irreversible for centuries.
If you wish, you can consult this great interactive atlas developed by the IPCC, where an enormous amount of information is collected on the regional effects of the climate crisis and on the projections for the coming decades.