New IPCC Report Serves as a Call to Action
Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first part of its highly-anticipated Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on climate change. The report—considered the world’s most authoritative scientific assessment of climate change—confirmed and built upon what many of us already knew: climate change is real, it’s happening right now, and we are virtually certain that humans are the primary cause. In this case, “virtually certain” means 95% certainty or more, equivalent to the scientific certainty that smoking cigarettes is harmful to human health.
Aside from this heightened certainty, one thing stands out about the report. The impacts of human-caused climate change are incredibly pervasive. The report shows that global temperatures are rising, sea level rise is accelerating, the rate of arctic sea ice melting has doubled, and the ocean is acidifying. Climate change affects everyone, and it demands collective action.
On a larger scale, many of us are aware of the changes that need to be made: an immediate shift towards clean, renewable energy, an end to fossil fuel subsidies, and government investment in energy efficient technologies. Climate change demands something of us as individuals, too. It demands that we contact our elected officials, urging them to act on this threat. It demands that reduce our personal dependence on fossil fuels by consuming only the energy that we need. And it demands that we educate others about climate change and what can be done to stop it. That’s what Earth Day has always been about—individuals coming together to take action on behalf of the environment. The threat of climate change—made very clear in the new IPCC report—will require that the collective action that defines Earth Day be replicated on every other day of the year. Let’s get to work.