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The United Nations Final Warning on Climate Change: Act Now Before It’s Too Late, Part 1 of 2

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On today’s program, we’ll look at some of the IPCC’s 2023 Synthesis Report findings and learn why the UN is warning us that the climate “time bomb” is ticking. One of the Report’s most concerning findings regards the warming that has already occurred. The average global temperature is 1.1 degrees Celsius, higher than pre-industrial levels, and the world is warmer than at any other time in the past 125,000 years. The Report further warns that global temperatures will continue to rise and probably reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels within the next ten years.

Even at the current rise of 1.1 degrees Celsius, climate change is generating unprecedented disasters in recent human history. The UN estimates that even today, more than 3 billion people are vulnerable to its effects. Furthermore, at 1.1 degrees Celsius warming, we have reached the limit to which humans, plants, and animal-people can adapt. Any further temperature rise will result in increased displacement or death among humans and animal-people and the destruction of many ecosystems.

Another dangerous effect of climate change is rising sea levels. Arctic ice is at record-low levels, and the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are melting at unprecedented rates. As a result, sea levels currently are rising twice as fast as two decades ago, threatening many coastal cities and low-lying island nations. The IPCC Report states that climate change also affects global health. As global temperatures go up, an ever-increasing number of people die from heat stroke, while cases of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease, are also increasing.

The IPCC scientists stress that a rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is a dangerous threshold. The scientists warn that if we exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, climate change will likely be irreversible, and humanity’s very existence will be threatened. The Synthesis Report warns that every fraction of a degree of global temperature increase is critical to humanity's future.

To limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the Report states that we must stop any further increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by no later than 2025. We must then make “deep, rapid and sustained” reductions in GHG emissions, reducing them by 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035, relative to 2019 levels.

The Report makes several recommendations about how this can be achieved, including a rapid shift away from the use of fossil fuels, widespread adoption of renewable energy sources, a change to more sustainable agriculture, intensive reforestation, and, most importantly, a global shift to a plant-based diet. “This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once.”
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