Humanity Wholly Unprepared for Abrupt Climate Impacts, Warns Report
Hang on. Get Ready.
Those are at least two of the takeaways from a new report released by scientists in the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday which says the sudden impacts of climate change this century and beyond are inevitable but warn that far too little has been done to prepare for them.
“If you think about gradual change, you can see where the road is and where you’re going. With abrupt changes and effects, the road suddenly drops out from under you.” –Prof. Tony Barnosky
The report, , looks at the issue of abrupt changes in climate, weather patterns, and the impacts that can occur in a matter of years or decades, not the lengthier scenarios that climate scientists sometimes focus on. (The full report can be read online here).
“The most challenging changes are the abrupt ones,” said James White, professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder and chair of the report committee, at a press conference on Tuesday.
“The planet is going to be warmer than most species living on Earth today have seen it, including humans,” added Tony Barnosky, a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. “The pace of change is orders of magnitude higher than what species have experienced in the last tens of millions of years.”
As journalist Kate Sheppard reports:
These abrupt impacts, according to the report, have “the potential to severely affect the physical climate system, natural systems, or human systems.” Additionally, it is the way that these system changes are interconnected that the report focuses on.
“The reality is that the climate is changing,” said James W. C. White, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Colorado Boulder, who also contributed to the report. “It’s going to continue to happen, and it’s going to be part of everyday life for centuries to come — perhaps longer than that.”
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