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New IPCC report details global warming vulnerabilities, adaptation and mitigation

‘We have to transform the risk into a platform for action’

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High temperature records are outpacing record lows by ever-bigger margins.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Along with melting ice caps and rising seas, global warming fundamentally threatens the world’s food security, IPCC scientists said Sunday, describing how climate change is already affecting yields of key crops.

“What we see today is profound. Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“There will be negative impacts on crop yields with serious implications for food security in some of the poorest regions of the world,” Pachauri said during a live-streamed press conference summarizing the findings of the IPCC’s latest report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

Pachauri acknowledged that the severity of impacts will vary geographically, but explained that hundreds of millions of people will be as shrinking glaciers affect water availability downstream.

The report emphasizes adaptation and mitigation, but Pachauri warned that letting temperatures rise unchecked increases the risk of reaching climate tipping points that could lead to a sudden cascade of impacts.

The IPCC’s work represents the biggest global scientific effort ever and gives decision-makers valuable information, said  World Meteorological Secretary General Michel Jarraud.

“This is  the most solid evidence you can get … There’s a huge amount of information available,” Jarraud said. “Now we are at the the point where we have so much information we can’t say we’re ignorant. We have information to make decisions,” he said, adding that the latest IPCC effort includes many new examples of attributing extreme weather events to global warming.

Along with the gloom and doom, some of the speakers emphasized that the challenges of global warming also represent an opportunity for progress.

“We have to transform the risk into a platform for action,” said Chris Field, who chaired the group that assembled the impacts and vulnerabilities assessment. “We can combine sustainable development and climate change adaptation into a vision for a world that’s advancing … A better world,” Field said.

The new report is online at the IPCC website.

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