The United Nations’ (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their climate change report on Friday that they produce about every five to six years. The IPCC’s last report was published in 2007. The UN created the IPCC to assess the science, risks and impacts of global warming, and the IPCC is considered the world's leading authority on climate change.
A press release from the IPCC says, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.”
“Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850, reports the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group I assessment report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, approved on Friday by member governments of the IPCC in Stockholm, Sweden.”
Extremely likely is an upgrade from a previous report that said it was very likely that human intervention was spurring climate change. The IPCC defines extremely likely as 95–100% probability of an outcome or a result, and very likely as 90–100% probability.
The report's authors do not conduct original research for the assessments, so the IPCC reports are primarily summaries of the state of the field. The findings are based on the aggregated results of the most recent published and peer-reviewed climate change research with more than 600 researchers from 32 countries reviewing more than 9,000 peer-reviewed studies for this report. They produced 2,000 pages of scientific analysis and worked through 56,000 comments.
Friday’s report represents the first of four sections that ultimately make up the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, or AR5. Other parts of the report examine socioeconomic impacts and potential ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.
US Secretary of State John Kerry responded to the UN report with this statement:
"Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire. Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or common sense should be willing to even contemplate."
The bottom line is alarm bells should be going off as you read about this disturbing report. Each of us influences climate change and it should frighten you that some of its impacts are happening faster than originally expected. We need to do more to correct the problem. This massive and critical report points to long term implications if we do not embrace a sustainable, cleaner energy future posthaste.