• Polymath Weekly

2021 IPCC report is ‘code red for humanity,’ the UN says

Updated: Aug 13, 2021

The latest eruptions of deadly floods, wildfires and other abnormal changes in weather across the globe showed just how close and dire the effects of climate change are.


What is the IPCC?


IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a United Nations agency. Its task is to provide objective scientific information that helps to understand human-caused climate change and its environmental, political, and economic effects.


Why does the IPCC release reports?


Every 6-7 years, IPCC releases a report to provide an insight into the causes of climate change, its impacts and how we can reduce its risks. This article discusses the report the IPCC has published on August 9th, 2021.


Some of 2021 IPCC report's key predictions and observations:

  • Since 1850, the last five years have been the hottest

  • Compared to 1901-1971, the recent rate of sea-level rise had almost tripled

  • Wildfires (as seen in Turkey, Greece and Siberia this summer), heatwaves (like the ones that have taken place in the UK recently), heavy rainfalls and droughts have been occurring more often and have become more intense since the 1950s

  • No matter what happens, a 1.5C increase will be reached by 2040. If carbon dioxide emissions aren't reduced in the next few years, this will happen even earlier

  • The global surface temperature was about 1C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than that of 1850-1900


Floods like those that swept Europe this July are one of the consequences of climate change [Image Credit: BBC]

Why is it important to keep warming below 1.5C?


The consequences of failing to stay below the 1.5C rise in average Earth's temperature include but are not limited to:

How are the authorities addressing the situation?


The authors of the 2021 IPCC report are calling political leaders to act fast and with great effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This is because heavy emission of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide become trapped in the Earth's atmosphere and slow down the rate of heat loss from the Earth, which creates a warming effect.




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