A Reality Check from the IPCC

Created by the UN and the Meteorological Organization in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC was created to provide the world’s policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change. Last week, the IPCC released its Sixth Assessment Report. 

Some highlights of the report include:

  • It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.
  • Global surface temperature was 1.09 °C higher in 2011–2020 than 1850–1900.
  • The atmospheric CO2 concentration is the highest it has been in at least 2 million years.
  • Sea levels have risen the fastest they have risen in at least 3,000 years.
  • The arctic sea ice area is at its lowest level in at least 1,000 years.
  • The retreat of the world’s glaciers is unprecedented in at least 2,000 years.
  • In the scenarios studied by the IPCC, there is a more than 50% chance that the 1.5 degrees C target is reached or crossed between 2021 and 2040 (with a central estimate of the early 2030s).
  • Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming.

Bishop John Arnold, chair of the Catholic International Development Charity in England said “The grim and disturbing findings of the … report only reinforce the message of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ — we must do everything we can, and now, to protect and defend Our Common Home.”

Back in 2019, Pope Francis warned us that the “effects on the climate will be catastrophic if we cross the threshold of 1.5ºC outlined in the Paris Agreement goal…Faced with a climate emergency, we must take action accordingly, in order to avoid perpetrating a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations.”

What can we do? We can contact our leaders and tell them to pass significant legislation on climate change (tinyurl.com/contact-your-leaders) now. Catholic Climate Covenant is also urging everyone to sign the Catholic Climate Petition at tinyurl.com/lsia-petition

Working together, we can help take care of our common home. 

Paul Litwin

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