Last week the United Nations’ climate change committee—known formally as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC—issued its sixth report on Climate Change. You’d pretty much have to be living under what’s left of the Ross Ice Shelf to have missed it, but What’s Good wanted to summarize it for those who may have been out of town, or temporarily in hiding from the stark picture it painted.
First, it’s helpful to understand just what the IPCC is and how the latest report fits into the reports that came before and those that will come after. This short video is worth a couple minutes of your time, but for those who want the nutshell version, the IPCC was created in 1988 with the sole purpose of reviewing existing scientific literature so that governments could respond with appropriate policies. It’s made up of thousands of scientists and other contributors from around the world with different academic training, who live in different parts of the world, and with many different points of view, among other variances like age, gender, experience level, etc. In other words: the IPCC is not made up of people who will automatically draw the same conclusions. That’s why it was particularly striking that in their latest report there was more consensus than we have seen in the group’s 33-year history.
What exactly did they agree on?
The planet is warmer than it has ever been—by about 2° F.
Humans, and their use of fossil fuels, have unequivocally contributed to the warming of our planet—and caused the planet to warm faster than we’ve seen in the past 2,000 years.
Climate changes are happening all over the world—no region is spared, but there are regional differences.
Human actions are causing dramatic and devastating climate events around the world, including extreme heat, rain, droughts, cyclones and more.
We know more than we ever have—climate science has grown and improved giving us more insights into our actions, and inactions.
We can stop the planet from getting hotter, and slow the growth of extreme climate events, but we need to act fast, and it is going to be hard.
Here's more information for anyone who wants to learn more:
If you like to watch and listen, head to YouTube for the press conference, which opens with a short video and then goes on to hear from co-chairs and others from the IPCC’S Working Group I, which deals with the physical science of climate change and who issued the latest report. Reports from Working Group II and III, socio-economic vulnerabilities and mitigation methods respectively, are forthcoming.
If you want to know more about the IPCC and what they’ve been up to for more than 30 years…
The IPCC has three working groups and a task force to address all aspects of climate change including the physical science behind climate, socio-economic implications of climate change, and how to mitigate climate change and its many impacts. The first big assessment was released in 1990; the report issued in August 2021 was the first of four to come out of the sixth assessment. They have put out a lot of supplementary information along the way. Check out this timeline to find out more.
Now that you know the latest, check out this companion blog post about how What's Good can help with your climate change overwhelm.
About Stephanie Bowen: After two successful careers —one in broadcast journalism, another as a communications and PR pro working in global health, development and rights — Stephanie is harnessing her love of story and strategic communications for positive impact with the consultancy practice, SHARE: Stories that Buzz. She is a contributor, sounding board, friend, and customer of What's Good.