Addressing the issue of climate change has become a top priority around the globe; world leaders are finally beginning to wake up to the reality that drastic changes need to be made if significant temperature increases by the end of the century are to be avoided. However, according to a report released by the World Bank on Sunday, it may all be too little too late.
‘Turn Down The Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal’ is the latest of three reports, which focuses on the risks of climate change to development in three of the Word Bank regions; Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and parts of Europe and Central Asia (ECA). While the report accentuates the immediacy of serious action required to prevent the world warming by 2°C, or 4°C in the more extreme scenarios, it concedes the fact that past and projected emissions from power plants, factories and cars have almost certainly committed the globe to an average temperature rise of almost 1.5 °C above pre-industrial times by 2050.
The realities of a warmer world will be felt on a global scale, with Brazilian soybean production, for example, estimated to undergo a 30-70% decline in conjunction with a warming of 2°C. Heat extremes, food security, and social vulnerability are just some of the factors that will be strongly influenced by a warmer world, with the poor and underprivileged, and the elderly and youngest members of our society being among those most at risk. Negative impact on crop yields and widespread bleaching of coral reefs are cited as consequences of the current 0.8°C increase in temperature, and the report highlights the fact that a substantial part of the West Antarctic ice sheet, containing about one meter of sea-level rise equivalent in ice, is now in irreversible, unstable retreat.
While the worst impacts of global warming could be avoided by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the take-home message of this latest report is undoubtedly that ‘…the time to act is now’.
The full report is available for download on the World Bank website.
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