The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released their latest and updated report about climate change yesterday. Admittedly I haven’t read much in detail, having just skimmed over the headline and summary documents, but I find it bleak reading.
The primary take-out, and one which every climate change justice group worth it’s salt is talking about, is that it is “now 95 percent likely that human spewed heat-trapping gases — rather than natural variability — are the main cause of climate change.” (quote via: The Atlantic). I’m sure the climate change skeptics out there are fuming at this statement and trying desperately to discount this news and confuse the public as they’re so good at doing, but here’s a brilliant excerpt from the Climate Reality Project that I find completely indisputable.
What makes the number stand out is that it doesn’t come from flag-burning protesters in the streets, climate advocates, or professional provocateurs with an agenda. It comes from climate scientists. Who, by their nature, are quite a conservative bunch when it comes to conclusions—especially collective conclusions. Unlike statements from oil companies and Glenn Beck, their work has to hold up to public scrutiny and reflect the truth to the very best of their knowledge. After all, their reputations and careers, and integrity are on the line.
Then there’s the fact that the report’s findings reflect the unanimous agreement of hundreds and hundreds of scientists and government officials, many with vastly different political ideologies and world views. Think about this: when was the last time you could get even 20 people in a room to agree on anything more complicated than the color of traffic lights?
That such a large, diverse, and risk-averse group is able to state with 95 percent certainty that we are causing climate change tells you everything about the fundamental reality of the crisis.
It’s not like the findings in the report are new to those of us who actively follow these types of stories and the organisations campaigning for change, it just reinforces what we know to be true already. It gives us further information, confirmation and a bit of comfort that we’re not exactly out on a limb here by complaining about the idea that our government wants to install yet another coal-fired power plant. (More info on that here).
The thing that makes me feel bleak about it all however is because I know that there a so very many people in the world, some my friends and family included, who won’t read this report, not even the headline points. They probably won’t even read any news articles that might happen to make it to South African online news sites (because it’s doubtful it will make mainstream news media at all!) because they don’t think this issue affects them nor that it will affect their children in the future.
And because of that, they won’t make changes to the way they live their lives, they won’t push for change, and they will just bitch and moan when the weather gets out of hand, or when their electricity/petrol/water gets expensive.
For the few of you who are interested, you can find more information and downloads, including the summary report and headlines here: www.climatechange2013.org
Also, I discovered a very clever website with a very simple explanation of the climate change ‘issue’ – perfect for those who just need to understand the basics, but underpinned by the the science should someone wish to delve further. Check it out here: http://theconsensusproject.com