By 2050, many coastal megacities and small island nations will experience once-a-century weather catastrophes every year, even with an aggressive drawdown of greenhouse gas emissions, a major UN report said Wednesday.
The United Nations warned Wednesday that global warming is devastating oceans and Earth's frozen spaces in ways that directly threaten a large slice of humanity.
More than a billion people will, by mid-century, be living in areas prone to cyclones, large-scale flooding and other extreme weather events amplified by rising seas, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected.
“The oceans and the icy parts of the world are in big trouble and that means we're all in big trouble, too,” said one of the report's lead authors, Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. “The changes are accelerating.”
These changes will not just hurt the 71 percent of the world covered in oceans or the 10 percent covered in ice and snow, but it will harm people, plants, animals, food, societies, infrastructure and the global economy, according to the special report.
The oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the excess heat from carbon pollution in the air, as well as much of the carbon dioxide itself. The seas warm more slowly than the air but trap the heat longer with bigger side effects - and the report links these waters with Earth's snow and ice, called the cryosphere, because their futures are interconnected.
“The world's oceans and cryosphere have been taking the heat for climate change for decades. The consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe,” said Ko Barrett, vice chair of the IPCC and a deputy assistant administrator for research at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.