The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report describes a grim future unless climate change is slowed and then stopped. The IPCC is a United Nations body responsible for summarizing the scientific knowledge on climate change. The new report was issued April 6th 2007.
Subtitled “Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” it centres on the outcomes of unchecked climate change. The bulk of those outcomes point to very serious environmental, social and economic disruption across the planet, with poorer regions apt to suffer the most.
The IPCC highlights these outcomes:
* Drought-affected areas of the world will expand.
* Heavy precipitation events will increase, enhancing flood risks in many regions.
* Water supplies globally will be sharply reduced due to declines in glaciers and snow cover and increased evaporation of water from higher surface temperatures. Water shortages could affect 1 billion people by 2020.
* Rising sea levels will put many millions of people at risk of flooding and displacement.
* Malnutrition, diarrhoeal disease, and death from heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts will increase.
* Poorer regions will be at greatest risk, as climate change outcomes combined with stressors such as poverty, unequal access to resources, food insecurity, conflict, and the incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS will drastically increase the population’s vulnerability.
A key summary of the report states: “Unmitigated climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt.” In clear language, this means that unless we step up and take action to slow climate change, the earth will no longer sustain human civilization.
CUPE’s National Environment Committee has focused its work on climate change. The committee is helping to develop new documents aimed at climate change mitigation in the workplace. CUPE members will be equipped with information to take action on climate change at work, helping to redirect our society to a more stable environmental future. The latest IPCC report shows there is urgent work to be done and that this work must start now.