Fact: latest IPCC report makes it clear there is no room for complacency

The IPCC’s just released Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) states bluntly “warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

The findings contained within the SPM’s brief 35 pages make for sobering but essential reading. So what to make of the IPCC’s latest report?

There is no room for complacency: the climate crisis is real. To ignore the findings of the latest IPCC report is to condemn future generations to a harsher world.

It would be a world of rising sea levels and average temperatures 4 degrees above mid-19th century levels. Consider the fact the Earth was lifted out of the last ice-age (or last glacial period to be precise) thanks to a 4 degree temperature increase.

Here are the facts for the realists and pragmatists who understand the need for action.

Fact: the planet in crisis 

The crisis engulfing the planet is elegantly explained within a single paragraph on page 3:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.

Take a moment to ponder the implications of those few sentences. Nearly every earth system is exhibiting unprecedented changes. This is a planetary crisis, and one of our making.

Fact: it is virtually certain the oceans have warmed, highest rate in 1400 years

The IPCC notes in the strongest possible terms the oceans have been warming at an alarming rate (page 5):

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010 (see Figure SPM.3), and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971. {3.2, Box 3.1}.

The also note on page 6:

There is medium confidence from reconstructions that over the past three decades, Arctic summer sea ice retreat was unprecedented and sea surface temperatures were anomalously high in at least the last 1,450 years…

Fact: Arctic ice is disappearing at an astonishing rate

Annual mean sea ice extent has declined at a rate of 3.5% to 4.1% per decade, however the rate of loss of summer sea ice is stunning:

The annual mean Arctic sea ice extent decreased over the period 1979–2012 with a rate that was very likely in the range 3.5 to 4.1% per decade (range of 0.45 to 0.51 million km2 per decade), and very likely in the range 9.4 to 13.6% per decade (range of 0.73 to 1.07 million km2 per decade) for the summer sea ice minimum (perennial sea ice).

Fact: sea level rise is unprecedented

There is good reason to be concerned about rising seas:

The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m.

The following graph spells it out:


A one meter rise in sea levels is more than enough to threaten most coastal cities and communities.

Fact: greenhouse gas concentrations highest in 800,000 years thanks to fossil fuel emissions

The SPM notes the unprecedented rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere thanks to human activities:

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification…

There can be no room for doubt or complacency.

The time for denial is well and truly over.

11 thoughts on “Fact: latest IPCC report makes it clear there is no room for complacency

  1. john byatt says:

    To have any chance of keeping warming below 2DegC we have to peak prior to 2020 and then drastically reduce emissions from there on, even then the RCP2.6 still gives a range .9 to 2.3 above 1880.

    as RC have said The IPCC statements form a kind of lowest common denominator on which many researchers can agree. The New York Times has given some examples for the IPCC “bending over backward to be scientifically conservative”. Despite or perhaps even because of this conservatism, IPCC reports are extremely valuable – as long as one is aware of it.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Indeed, I had a paragraph in there about their conservative/erring on the side of least drama approach but decided to save that for another post. Far from alarmist, the IPCC is as cautious as it gets.

      • john byatt says:

        Did you hear Hunt’s comment?

        we are committed to a 5% reduction by 2020

        FFS, did he even read it

        • Nick says:

          He’s not allowed to read it, as it shows COALition policy to be simply crap. Our leaders do not give a shit about their children or ours.

          Neither COALition or Labor had any intention whatsoever to take the reigns on climate. Instead, aware of the urgency of CC, they established plausible token policies [sufficient to addle the idiot media’s critical overview skills],and worked just about as fast as possible to enlarge the coal output of the country, before a political awareness of CC detail could reach critical mass.

          It’s about now, and next year….the future has no value. The added twist is that we are creating a coal glut as China is pulling back from coal in a big way.

  2. john byatt says:


    The RCPs were selected after a long a series of discussion with the integrated assessment modelling community. A large set of possible scenarios were whittled down to just four. For the convenience of the climate modelling community, they’re labelled with the expected anomaly in radiative forcing (in W/m²) by the year 2100, to give us the set {RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6, RCP8.5}. For comparison, the current total radiative forcing due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases is about 2W/m².

    good effin luck with that (RCP2.6)

  3. john byatt says:

    IT had to happen


    The government is to close the Bureau of Meteorology in an attempt to keep the weather off the front page of newspapers.
    “We will decide what weather you see and the manner in which you see it,” said the Prime Minister.
    It’s believed his concern is that the collection of weather data can be used for propaganda purposes by climate change alarmists.
    Instead a retired three star general will be responsible for analysing available weather data and revealing what he believes is appropriate from an operational perspective.
    Foxtel has reached a compromise deal whereby it can continue to offer its weather channel, but only broadcast reruns and avoid reference to extreme weather events.
    Graham Creed said he saw this coming and is about to launch a privately funded Meteorology Council, run by volunteers. Even so, any information will have to be approved by the general, who is believed to be in a coma. Or he might be in Cooma. The press office wasn’t able to elaborate.
    Government ministers will be prevented from talking about the weather unless it has been cleared through Tony Abbott’s press secretary.
    The first official government release describes yesterday’s weather as “lovely”. You’ll have to wait till tomorrow to see what today was like.

    • Gregory T says:

      Thanks John, for the levity. I guess we have to take it, where we can get it, before some government introduced, internet filter system, is put in train.

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