A morbid United Nations’ report on climate change has given policymakers an inside look into what could be a catastrophic climate crisis by as soon as 2040.
In the report, issued Monday, scientists describe a harrowing tale of increased food shortages, wildfires and the end of coral reefs, a critical resource for the habitation of many marine animals.
World leaders could reverse the damage (to the tune of trillions of dollars), but that would depend largely on whether lawmakers want to invest in the cause.
“Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” an IPCC press release reads. “With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.”
Key points in the report include maintaining the current global temperature at 1.5ºC. A rise to 2ºC could completely wipe out ecosystems and impact human health.
The report further revealed that global warming has already had an effect in regions across the world. More than half of the Earth acquired by land is experiencing higher than normal temps.
“Twenty-40% of the global human population live in regions that, by the decade 2006-2015, had already experienced warming of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial in at least one season.”
One contributing factor to higher temps includes carbon emissions. Although the report says that emissions would not be the sole contributor to temperatures above 1.5°C, the future rates of emission reductions will determine whether temps rise.
“The overarching context of this report is this: human influence has become a principal agent of change on the planet,” adding that “the spread of fossil-fuel-based material consumption and changing lifestyles is a major driver of global resource use, and the main contributor to rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”