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videos | IST

If nothing is done, Earth could be warmer by 5 more degrees, IPCC report rings warning bell

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has sounded a warning. There is unimpeachable evidence that human activity is leading to warmer temperatures has already led since industrial revolution that is 1850 to 2020. The Earth has become warmer definitely by 1.09 degrees Celsius on an average because of human activity. The result, once in a decade, heavy rain events are now 1.3 times more likely, and 6.7% wetter, the report says. It also says that pre-1900 previously that is, once in a decade, droughts are now likely to happen twice in a decade perhaps or once in five, six years, the pace is accelerating under all scenarios, temperatures will rise. If it is business as usual, then the mean Earth temperature could be warmer by four to five degrees Celsius by the end of this century.
Even with net-zero addition to emissions by 2060, which is some kind of a goal, the Earth will still be warmer by 1.5 degrees Celsius and with every additional 0.5 degrees centigrade of global warming, heatwaves and droughts are likely to increase.
The IPCC or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is produced by hundreds of the world's top scientists and signed off by all the world's governments, so we just have to take it seriously.
Dr. Govinda Swami Bala, Professor, Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (CAOS), who is the contributing author and Dr. R Krishnan, scientist and executive director at the Centre for Climate Change Research Institute of Tropical Meteorology, he's a drafting author, and then we have policymakers or past policymakers Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, and Dr. Aruna Burgos, CEO, The Council for Energy Environment and Water.
The above eminent guest in conversation with CNBC-TV18’s Latha Venkatesh shared their view on what science is wanting, what economics wants, and what politics can deliver.
Talking about a brief takeaway from the report, Dr Bala said, the first message is that and it is indisputable that humans are responsible for the current climate change and the second message is that, you know, what is happening is really unprecedented – if you go back 1000s of years, the temperature on the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, we haven't seen for 1000s of years and that is another important message from this report.
“The report actually emphasises this time maybe rightly so, because we have seen several extreme events recently, you know, for example, temperature or a very high temperatures in the west coast of Canada. So, there is some momentum, also, particularly, there is a big emphasis on extreme events in this particular report, that is also because there is an underlying science, what is called an event attribution. Now, whenever an event happens, we can actually attribute – how much of it is really due to climate change, that science is really advanced.”
About the future, he said we all know that if we don't do anything then the planet could become warmer and right now we are talking about only 1.5 or two degrees. But if we do really nothing, you know, we could see additional warming about five degrees and that could be really catastrophic.
The report also talks about what we could do -- that is about net zero concept. In fact there is so much hype in the media about net zero, but as a personal view, what I would like to see is real zero and not net zero because net zero could be a game, could delay things, said Dr Gala.
He said, one of the key messages that IPCC is putting out is that reaching 1.5 degrees, for example, could be beyond reach, if we don't really do rapid and take largest de-escalations.
From an Indian angle, are there several hotspots that we should concentrate on? Regionally, what are we informed?
Krishnan said, “One thing is the regional focus is very strong, the regional messages are very strong. One of the innovations is an interactive Atlas, which is for the first time introduced and the assessment is very robust. For India, one of the things that has come out is that human attribution element is one of the very special aspects. For India, one of the important thing is the monsoon and we have clearly attributed in the last 50 years despite the increasing temperatures, there has been a decline in the monsoon precipitation over for many regions in South Asia decline in monsoon precipitation.”
“This is in the projection, this is in the future -- for the historical period, there has been a decrease and there is an attribution to the compensating effect of the aerosols of the Northern Hemisphere. This is for South Asia, also parts of East Asia and West Africa, there is a combined effect of both greenhouse gases and aerosols, “ said Krishnan, adding that in the future, what is projected is the mean precipitation will increase as well as the main monsoon precipitation, as well as the variability. So you will have very extremes in the precipitation variations year to year, complicated with timescales. As well as within the seasons, you can have extremes in the daily precipitation. So these are the big takeaways from the report.
For the full discussion, watch video