What is the IPCC?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is made up of hundreds of the world's leading climate scientists. Their role is to update the world on the climate crisis, which helps inform government policymaking and decisions. These scientists review the research of thousands of experts over 5 to 7 years. Their work is published in four parts from August 2021 to October 2022.
Why Four Parts?
Each part of the report addresses a different area of the climate crisis:
Part one: Looks at how the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere are changing and their pattern for the future. It also decides whether human influence is the cause. You can find our Summary on part one here.
Part two: Looks at the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability of certain groups. We'll give you the summary below!
Part three: Addresses ways we can reduce emissions and mitigate climate change.
Part four: Is a combination of the above that will be published in October, ahead of the Cop27 UN climate summit in Egypt.
Summary of Part Two of the IPCC report:
Climate change is affecting us NOW: The extent and magnitude of climate change impacts are larger than estimated in previous assessments. It is reducing our ability to grow nutritious food, provide enough clean drinking water, which is affecting the health and livelihoods of people, planet and wildlife. There is new knowledge that climate change is to blame for the occurrence and severity of various severe weather events, (This might not seem like news to you but some people don't believe that it is linked, yikes!).
Heat is disrupting breeding cycles & moving habitats: Increasing heat and extreme weather is driving plants and animals on land and in the ocean towards the poles, to higher altitudes, and to deeper ocean waters. In the ocean, marine plants and animals including entire communities have shifted their distributions poleward at an average speed of 59km per decade due to increasing temperatures, ocean acidification and lower oxygen levels. Many species are reaching their tolerance and adaptability limit. Those struggling to adjust face a higher risk of extinction. This is altering the timing of crucial events such as breeding and flowering which flows on to affect food production and supply, coastal protection, and carbon sequestering and storage.
Increased disease: Changes in temperature, rainfall and extreme weather is increasing the frequency and spread of disease in wildlife, livestock and humans.
Water & food shortages: Roughly half of the population are experiencing water shortages at some point during the year due to climate change, and extreme weather events such as flooding and droughts. Scientists predict that 8% of todays farmland will become unusable even if the world keeps heating below 1.6C by 2100 (we are already at 1.1C). 183 million people are projected to go hungry by 2050
Logistical impacts: Lack of food and water is also linked to climate change's effect on supply chains, transport and networks. An example of this would be in the recent floods, food suppliers were not able to access homes due to landslides, transport trucks were unable to complete their delivery routes due to water over the roads, and farmers experienced severe damage to established crops.
Mental wellbeing: One in three people are exposed to deadly heat stress, which is predicted to increase to 50 - 75% by the end of the century. There is a huge risk to physical and mental wellbeing as hot temperatures reduce the time people can spend outdoors, and reduce the hours that outdoor workers can work. This has a flow on effect to income, the health of the economy and so on.
Our Children's Future: Children aged 10 and under in 2020 are projected to experience a nearly four-fold increase in extreme events if global warming is under 1.5C (yep! We said under). Work days will be significantly reduced for outside workers (by up to 250 days in certain regions) which will result in higher food prices and shortages. The heat will also impact the ability to grow, store, transport and distribute food. 40% of Africa's population is under 15, the report suggests that children in hotter climates like this will face impaired growth and development which is linked to lower cognitive and physical potential, due to malnutrition and food shortages.
The most important thing to take away from the above is that climate change will not just impact the environment, it also linked to severe social and economic changes. It's overwhelming, we feel it too! But it is so important to take this knowledge and use it as a force for good. Stay with us!
The Good news?!
Scientists express that taking action to significantly reduce emissions can still mitigate the worst impacts of climate change! So it's not time to lose hope, it's time to act.
Humans have caused this destruction, which also means we are capable of turning it around! Governments and businesses are the ones most capable of large scale changes, however, individuals still have an essential role in increasing the speed of action at higher levels.
Here are our five tips for making an impact at an individual level:
- Educate yourself and educate others. Knowledge is power, and even if you only get one person to make a change, you have already doubled your impact! Use your voice, talk about the positives you have experiences from living more sustainably. Whether it be chatting to your besties about it, sharing a post on social media (feel free to share ours at any time!), attending a protest or signing up to vote on election days, everything makes a difference!
- Reduce your footprint. Meat reduction, swapping to a renewable energy provider, sustainable superfund and bank, reducing food waste, learning how to recycle are all small, affordable and powerful ways to reduce your impact. You can access our free resource hub here, we share so many easy ways you can reduce your footprint.
- Vote with your money and only support companies that do the right thing for people and the planet. Send an important message to the economy about the type of world you want to live in! If we stop supporting wasteful products, companies will have no choice but to stop making them!
- Mindful purchasing: Combine number 3 with the following questions before you purchase anything:
Do I really need it?
How will I dispose of it?
Can I buy it second hand?
This process will save soo much money, waste and precious resources.
It's overwhelming, and we're not going to sugarcoat that. But we are the generations that can reverse the damage to achieve a healthier planet for our children and their future families and we think that's pretty powerful!
Feeling a lack of motivation and hope? Jump over to our Good News Blog to see some incredible actions from planet lovers across the globe fighting the climate crisis with you! We find it so empowering.
If you love reading, you can find the full IPCC report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability here.
Double your impact by sharing this blog with a fellow planet lover. We're in this together!
Ellie & the GFZ team xx