The first installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)—released in September--confirmed the overwhelming scientific consensus that the world is warming, largely due to human activities. The Working Group II (WGII) report, released today, takes this finding a step further: Not only is climate change happening, but every continent on earth is now experiencing its impacts.
Four major takeaways from the report showcase the impacts we’re already seeing, as well as those projected to occur if the world continues to warm. And more importantly, they reveal a critical message: As John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, put it, the report “underscores the need for immediate action in order to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.
1) Climate change now affects every part of the planet.
2) Climate change will increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather.
3) Meeting the scale of the challenge requires adaptation and mitigation.
4) Rapid and steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can reduce risks and costs—and the timing matters.