iChange Finalists at the UNFCCC Conference
June 14 2013
Video Blog by Connor Botkin and Marco Arena, Connect4Climate iChange Competition Finalists. They report on the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Bonn, June 2013.
What Is Climate Change
"The science is unequivocal that humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes are already being observed: global mean warming is 0.8°C above pre industrial levels; oceans have warmed by 0.09°C since the 1950s and are acidifying; sea levels rose by about 20 cm since pre-industrial times and are now rising at 3.2 cm per decade; an exceptional number of extreme heat waves occurred in the last decade; major food crop growing areas are increasingly affected by drought."
- Dr. Jim Yong Kim
President, World Bank Group
Observed Impacts and Changes to the Climate System
The unequivocal effects of greenhouse gas emission–induced change on the climate system, reported by IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) in 2007, have continued to intensify, more or less unabated:
The concentration of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), has continued to increase from its preindustrial concentration of approximately 278 parts per million (ppm) to over 391 ppm in September 2012, with the rate of rise now at 1.8 ppm per year.
The present CO2 concentration is higher than paleoclimatic and geologic evidence indicates has occurred at any time in the last 15 million years.
Emissions of CO2 are, at present, about 35,000 million metric tons per year (including land-use change) and, absent further policies, are projected to rise to 41,000 million metric tons of CO2 per year in 2020.
Global mean temperature has continued to increase and is now about 0.8°C above preindustrial levels.
Temperatures have been increasing and impacts are already being felt. Oceans have contineud to warm and have risen by 15 - 20 cm over the 20th century and continue to rise at 3.2 cm per decade. The warming of the atmosphere and oceans is leading to an accelerating loss of ice from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and this melting could add substantially to sea-level rise in the future.
The effects of global warming are also leading to observed changes in many other climate and environmental aspects of the Earth system. The last decade has seen an exceptional number of extreme heat waves around the world with consequential severe impacts. An example of a recent extreme heat wave is the Russian heat wave of 2010, which had very significant adverse consequences. Preliminary estimates for the 2010 heat wave in Russia put the death toll at 55,000, annual crop failure at about 25 percent, burned areas at more than 1 million hectares, and economic losses at about US$15 billion (1 percent gross domestic product (GDP)).
The area of the Earth’s land surface affected by drought has also likely increased substantially over the last 50 years, somewhat faster than projected by climate models. The 2012 drought in the United States impacted about 80 percent of agricultural land, making it the most severe drought since the 1950s. Negative effects of higher temperatures have been observed on agricultural production, with recent studies indicating that since the 1980s global maize and wheat production may have been reduced significantly compared to a case without climate change.
"I got it wrong on climate change - it's far, far worse"
- Lord Nicholas Stern
Climate Change Economist
A 4° World?
"Despite the global community’s best intentions to keep global warming below a 2°C increase above pre-industrial climate, higher levels of warming are increasingly likely. Scientists agree that countries’ current United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change emission pledges and commitments would most likely result in 3.5 to 4°C warming. And the longer those pledges remain unmet, the more likely a 4°C world becomes."
- Dr. Jim Yong Kim
President, World Bank Group
While the global community has committed itself to holding warming below 2°C to prevent “dangerous” climate change, and Small Island Developing states (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have identified global warming of 1.5°C as warming above which there would be serious threats to their own development and, in some cases, survival, the sum total of current policies—in place and pledged—will very likely lead to warming far in excess of these levels. Indeed, present emission trends put the world plausibly on a path toward 4°C warming within the century.
A world in which warming reaches 4°C above preindustrial levels, would be one of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions, with serious impacts on human systems, ecosystems, and associated services.
Warming of 4°C can still be avoided: numerous studies show that there are technically and economically feasible emissions pathways to hold warming likely below 2°C. Thus the level of impacts that developing countries and the rest of the world experience will be a result of government, private sector, and civil society decisions and choices, including, unfortunately, inaction.
"We can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgement of science and act before it's too late."
- Barack Obama
In the words of the Masai: "The World Has Malaria"
- Video made by Max Thabiso Edkins
Special Prize Winner of the C4C 2011 competition