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5th Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Mar 31, 2014

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered its 5th Assessment Report known as WGII AR5 on 31 March in Yokohama, Japan. The IPCC says report is compiled using “a substantially larger knowledge base of relevant scientific, technical, and socio-economic literature. Increased literature has facilitated comprehensive assessment across a broader set of topics and sectors, with expanded coverage of human systems, adaptation, and the ocean.”

The document acknowledges that climate change is taking place and in various places points at human activity as the sort of thing that looks likely to get the climate shifting. However, the report uses the following definition:

Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forces such as modulations of the solar cycles, volcanic eruptions, and persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use.”

The IPCC points out that its definition is rather different from that used by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which defines the term as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”

The Summary for Policymakers alone is 44 pages and the full report contains 1552 pages. The main features of the report are as follows:

The risks are:

  • Risk of death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states and other small islands, due to storm surges, coastal flooding, and sea-level rise.

  • Risk of severe ill-health and disrupted livelihoods for large urban populations due to inland flooding in some regions.

  • Systemic risks due to extreme weather events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services such as electricity, water supply, and health and emergency services

  • Risk of mortality and morbidity during periods of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban populations and those working outdoors in urban or rural areas.

  • Risk of food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes, particularly for poorer populations in urban and rural areas.

  • Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions.

  • Risk of loss of marine and coastal ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions, and services they provide for coastal livelihoods, especially for fishing communities in the tropics and the Arctic.

  • Risk of loss of terrestrial and inland water ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions, and services they provide for livelihoods.

In its authoritative report, United Nations climate panel for the first time connected hotter global temperatures to hotter global tempers. Top scientists are saying that climate change will complicate and worsen existing global security problems, such as
civil wars, strife between nations and refugees. 

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