The United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released, in previous years, three detailed reports analyzing the causes and effects of climate change.
While the reports in themselves are extensive and exhaustive, covering every possible aspect of climate change, not every regulator and legislator has the time to pore through thousands of pages of the IPCC AR5 Report. On the other hand, a summary might make a good afternoon read, and if you were to read the 127-page draft of the summary, you’d find three words used a number of times: “climate change” and “risk.” If you could distill the message in the IPCC AR5 report to a single word, perhaps that word would be “risk.” Indeed, over the 127 pages of the summary document, the word “risk” appears 351 times, some 2.8 times per page. The final draft won’t be released until October 31, after scientists have a chance to go over it at least one more time.
So, what’s the risk? Climate change, according to the summary and all research preceding, puts every single human being on the planet at risk, as well as many animal species. Everything single facet of human life, such as fresh water availability, food production, extreme weather, and rising sea levels, to name a very few. The only problem is that we’re not anywhere near on track curbing the climate change, because we are somehow unwilling or unable to make the immediate and drastic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions.
On the other hand, a question comes up. University of Alabama and Huntsville’s John Christy says “Humans are clever. We shall adapt to whatever happens.” Most climate change scientists agree that the climate is changing and human activity is the principle cause, and most agree that this will have a significant impact on our way of life. Still, is this something we can adapt to? Perhaps an illustration: When a foreign body invades the human body, one of three things happens – 1) body kills invader, 2) invader kills body, or 3) body learns to live with invader. Here’s hoping for a solid option three.
Photo credit: Cherrylynx