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Urgent action needed to avoid climate disaster, key UN report warns

Monday - 08/10/2018 13:18
Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, an international panel of scientists reported Sunday.
© AFP Photo/Mario Hoppmann/European Geosciences Union | A September 13, 2016, handout photo provided by the European Geosciences Union shows a polar bear testing the strength of thin sea ice in the Arctic.
© AFP Photo/Mario Hoppmann/European Geosciences Union | A September 13, 2016, handout photo provided by the European Geosciences Union shows a polar bear testing the strength of thin sea ice in the Arctic.

But they provide little hope the world will rise to the challenge.

The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its gloomy report at a meeting in Incheon, South Korea.

In the 728-page document, the U.N. organization detailed how Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world’s leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (a half degree Celsius) from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C). Among other things:

  • Half as many people would suffer from lack of water.
  • There would be fewer deaths and illnesses from heat, smog and infectious diseases.
  • Seas would rise nearly 4 inches (0.1 meters) less.
  • Half as many animals with back bones and plants would lose the majority of their habitats.
  • There would be substantially fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts.
  • The West Antarctic ice sheet might not kick into irreversible melting.
  • And it just may be enough to save most of the world’s coral reefs from dying.

“For some people this is a life-or-death situation without a doubt,” said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, a lead author on the report.

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