A recently released report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that humanity needs to step up immediately to resolve the havoc currently being wrought by climate change.

The report, the findings of one of the first major reviews on climate change since 2013, warns that human activity, particularly industrial initiatives, has altered the climate in numerous ways, several of which have been deemed irreversible.

IPCC’s findings were made public barely three months before COP26. The UN Climate Change Conference convenes in Glasgow, Scotland, this November.

“Humans are Warming the Planet”

Climate change has altered weather patterns in various parts of the globe, causing floods as well as tremendous heatwaves. The forest fires that are currently raging in Greece and parts of the United States are among the incidents made worse by the intolerable summer heat.

British scientist Ed Hakwins of the University of Reading has pointedly stated that “humans are warming the planet,” a sentiment shared by Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization.

“The atmosphere has been exposed to ‘doping,'” Taalas said, comparing the current situation to that of athletes. “We have observed more climate extremes than ever before.”

According to the report, surface temperatures throughout the world have been rising rapidly since 1970, notably faster than any other time in the past 2,000 years. As a result, climate extremes are now being experienced on a global level.

If not kept in check, these extremes will lead to widespread drought and famine, an alarming rise in sea levels, as well as more intense storm patterns.

A ray of hope

But scientists are quick to point out that all is not lost – if humanity takes immediate action. So there is still a silver lining yet to the climate crisis, but only if member nations act swiftly. 

According to UN secretary-general António Guterres, a combined effort among all member nations is necessary in order to avert further climate catastrophe. “I count on all [governments and industries] to ensure the success of the coming COP26,” he said in a formal statement. “There is no time for delay or room for excuses.”

The authors behind the IPCC study further stated that a reversal in the rise of temperatures might occur if, by 2030, countries can cut carbon emissions by half and reach net-zero by 2050. The net zero goal calls for a drastic reduction of greenhouse gases through the use of clean technology, the prudent disposal of waste via carbon capture and storage, and planting more trees to absorb carbon residue in the air.

For his part, report co-author Piers Forster of the University of Leeds said that the team initially thought that temperatures would continue to rise even after the world achieved its net-zero goal. But he has since become more optimistic.

Forster explains: “If we are able to achieve net zero greenhouse gases, we should eventually be able to reverse some of that temperature increase and get some cooling.”