The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released the third of four reports that make up it’s Fifth Assessment Report on climate change, and the news is predictably dire, but includes a surprising ray of hope.
As the New York Times reported on March 31, the first two reports address the science and impacts of climate change. Their conclusions include that the ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.
These impacts will likely cause starvation, increases in poverty, and violent conflicts over water and food resources throughout the world. HRWC’s special issue on Climate Change describes probable impacts on our own Huron River watershed. These impacts include shifts in fish and other species that live in the watershed, increased intensity of storms, and snowfall decreases.
The third report (as reported in the New York Times) gives the world 15 years to significantly reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases and switch to alternative sources of energy. If reductions do not occur by then, it will be nearly impossible to stabilize the climate.
The reports do provide a ray of hope. The world is becoming more aware of the problem, and many governments and businesses are beginning to devise plans to adapt to coming changes. HRWC is working with communities, utilities, and scientists here in the watershed to develop strategies to increase our resilience to climate change.
But adapting to the changing climate will become nearly impossible if we don’t act to stem the continuing tide of greenhouse gas emissions.
What can you do?
Check out HRWC’s Saving Water Saves Energy page to find tips for your own energy and water use.
Encourage your state and federal Representatives and Senators to support climate change legislation, be it by requiring emission limits on power plants and cars, setting a price on carbon and other emissions to allow the free market to reduce climate change, or providing incentives for alternative energies.
And be sure to vote whenever you can, for candidates who acknowledge climate change and pledge to for climate change reduction policies!