This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Blunt Talk From IPCC on Carbon and Climate Change

The UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just come out with its most blunt report to date about what the world needs to do to avoid climate disaster. BBC News has a summary:
...most of the world's electricity can - and must - be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050. If not, the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage. The UN said inaction would cost "much more" than taking the necessary action.
The IPCC's Synthesis Report was published on Sunday in Copenhagen, after a week of intense debate between scientists and government officials. It is intended to inform politicians engaged in attempts to deliver a new global treaty on climate by the end of 2015.
The Synthesis Report summarises three previous reports from the IPCC, which outlined the causes, the impacts and the potential solutions to climate change. It re-states many familiar positions:
  • Warming is "unequivocal" and the human influence on climate is clear
  • The period from 1983 to 2012, it says, was likely the warmest 30 year period of the last 1,400 years
  • Warming impacts are already being seen around the globe, in the acidification of the oceans, the melting of arctic ice and poorer crop yields in many parts
  • Without concerted action on carbon, temperatures will increase over the coming decades and could be almost 5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century
We seem to be in a classic "pay me now, or pay me a lot more later" situation. As a species, we tend to prefer to put things off until the disaster strikes. Will we continue down that path? The IPCC is clearly worried that we will.

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