IPCC Report “A Damning Indictment of Failed Climate Leadership”

Protesters march with signs along Market Street during the San Francisco Youth Climate Strike. March 15, 2019 (Photo courtesy Marti Johnson, Wikimedia)

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second portion of their sixth assessment report. The report offers a look at the most up-to-date information available on the planet’s changing climate, and some scientists are calling it “the bleakest warning yet.”

According to the report, global temperatures are expected to rise between 1.5°C and 2°C during the 21st century, unless deep reductions in emissions occur in the coming decades. Rising temperatures will mean an increase in marine heatwaves, agricultural and ecological droughts, and an increase in the occurrence of intense hurricanes.

“Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe,” the report states. “The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.”

In Louisiana, the IPCC report projects that a 1.5°C increase in temperature would result in an additional 10 days per year with temperatures over 95°F. A temperature increase of 2°C pushes that number to 15-20 days per year. In addition, the state is expected to experience an increase in extreme precipitation and river flooding as well as more frequent strong tropical storms and hurricanes.

António Guterres, the UN secretary-general called the report “a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”

Understandably, the report has been largely overshadowed in the media by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, particularly as gas prices have soared to an average of $4.07 – just pennies away from the country’s all-time record average of $4.11 per gallon. Those prices are expected to continue rising as the conflict continues.

But that doesn’t mean that the climate crisis has been forgotten. In fact, President Joe Biden appeared prepared to use the crisis in Ukraine to push his climate agenda.

“The only way to protect US over the long term is to become energy independent,” said press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday. “That is why the President is so focused on deploying clean energy technologies that don’t require fossil fuels bought and sold on the global market, which will always be vulnerable to bad actors.”

In his State of the Union address, Biden continued to push his climate plan, saying that it would leave the average family with $500 in savings each year, lumping it in with his plan to fight inflation. That may be a move to win over Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), whose opposition killed the $1.7 trillion climate and economic bill last year. Manchin has said the national debt and concerns over inflation are his key concerns.

The IPCC report makes it clear that there is no time to waste.

“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred,” the report states. In a future where global temperatures continue to warm, the IPCC warns that “Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.”

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