The 2022 IPCC report tells us we are on track for irreversible damage due to climate change
The 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC), released this February, paints a daunting picture of the future of our planet. At this point in time, the planet and humanity are at its most vulnerable due to the climate crisis. The IPCC report shows the ongoing risks we are facing due to the climate crisis and how we may not be able to adapt for much longer. These climate-related risks continue to escalate at a global level. While some impacts are already too severe to act on, we all have the responsibility to take urgent action before our adaptation and mitigation options are completely exhausted.
We’ve known for a while now that in order to improve our role in the climate crisis, we must not elevate global temperatures by 1.5°C. However, even at an increase of 1.1°C (2°F), we are already seeing extreme events unfold, such as longer hurricane seasons, more forest fires, a risk to food security, and continued inequality and conflict in societies. These climate impacts are becoming irreversible with extinctions, loss of clean water, and changes to landscapes (to name a few). Instead of moving forward, we seem to be moving backward to a point of no return.
Socially speaking, the climate crisis exacerbates inequalities faced by vulnerable communities everywhere. More that 3.3 billion to 3.6 billion people live in countries with high vulnerability to climate impact, especially in Small Island Developing States, the Arctic, South Asia, Central and South America, and much of sub-Saharan Africa. Urban vulnerability leads to climate related immigration, displacement of peoples, and limited resources. Livelihoods are also challenged due to extreme weather conditions, which can lead to trauma and injury, risking mental and physical wellbeing.
Over 40% of the world’s population are highly vulnerable to climate. Adaptation is crucial at this point in time— no more soft action. There needs to be more policy, and above anything else, action and implementation of strategies that will protect people worldwide.
Assessed climate change adaptation approaches include: social programs that include equity and justice, ecosystem– based adaptation— and new technologies and infrastructure. Some communities are already experiencing hard limits to adaptation, where climate impacts are so severe that no existing adaptation measures can effectively prevent losses and damages. These losses and damages will only increase as global temperatures rise. There’s no other way to confront these consequences.
Every year we see how the world is changing right in front of us. The future looks alarming, but there is still hope. Even though our window is closing, we can still build resilience, move forward with adaptation efforts, help our communities, and address these climate change consequences. The future depends on us, not the climate. We need to demand urgent action and better representation to protect our home before time truly runs out. We need to demand better leadership, actual representation, and action. The evidence is there, the climate crisis is a threat to us all, we mustn’t keep ignoring it. We simply cannot afford to.