Elizabeth Montiel-Alvarado, Campus Carrier staff writer
A new climate report was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), containing the latest climate science, the threats Earth is facing, and ways to limit further damage.
The IPCC is a scientific group formed by the United Nations to assess and monitor the science of climate change. In their latest sixth synthesis report, they warn that global average temperatures are expected to rise over 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and thus action must be taken immediately.
“Global [Green House Gas] emissions in 2030 implied by nationally determined contributions (NDCs) announced by October 2021 make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius during the 21st century and make it harder to limit warming below 2 degrees Celsius,” the IPCC said in their report.
Collectively, many scientists agree that limiting global temperatures to rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius is essential to avoid major climate impacts like drought, flooding and wildfires. Yet, as of 2023, the earth is 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer than it was in the late 1800s.
“Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming, with global surface temperature reaching 1.1 degrees Celsius above 1850–1900 in 2011–2020,” the IPCC said.
In turn, to change the earth’s current trajectory, the IPCC emphasizes the importance of switching to environmentally friendly solutions worldwide. Specifically, nations will have to invest billions in implementing clean energy and move away from fossil fuels.
“The amount of solar and wind power that is coming along is actually faster than predicted and now, especially in the United States, we are starting to run into different roadblocks like political authorization to build new transmission lines and things like that,” Zachary Taylor, associate professor of environmental science, said.
While the technology and equipment needed to transition to clean energy already exists, the government’s financial investments are the problem.
“I think it’s important to realize it’s a political challenge, not a technical challenge,” Taylor said.
Reducing fossil fuel production and switching to renewable energy would require more attention and enforcement from the government. Implementing these strategies also requires heavier investment.
With climate change, some of the communities most affected are developing countries and island nations. Despite their minimal impact on climate change, these areas suffer the most consequences.
“If you’re a subsistence farmer somewhere and climate change is in the way where it is difficult for you to consistently feed your family, that’s a real problem, especially because you did nothing to contribute to the problem,” Taylor said.
For many of these locations, climate change impacts include melting glaciers, droughts, famine, and rising sea levels. Due to the severity of some of these climate impacts, some communities are forced to relocate or become refugees. As climate change continues to affect the world, more communities will become vulnerable to its effects.
The issue of climate change is often viewed as one that individuals cannot contribute to. As the consequences will affect the younger generation, it is important to be informed and learn about ways individuals can become involved.
“Do anything you can to be a little more efficient, turn your lights off, use less water, all of that is fine but also advocate for those kinds of things whether that’s on campus or in your hometown,” Taylor said.
As students, many have the opportunity to voice their opinions. Simply becoming informed and spreading information can help fight against climate change and guarantee a cleaner, eco-friendly future.
“It would make me extra angry if I was a younger person seeing my planet injured by older people who are not really going to see the consequences,” Taylor said.