Climate Crisis: UN Report Says Blue Planet is in "Serious Danger"

Cities including Shanghai, London, Istanbul, and New York could see regular flooding, the study says.
Chris Young

The latest of three UN reports on the effects of climate change is perhaps the most alarming and depressing yet.

The study, titled Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere, was carried out by more than 100 scientists from 36 different countries. It outlines the alarming rate at which the seas are warming and the predicted effect this will have, all the way to the year 2300.


Another climate warning

Ocean waters are warming, the world's sea ice is melting at an alarming rate, and some of the factors causing this may already be irreversible, the new UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report claims.

"The blue planet is in serious danger right now, suffering many insults from many different directions and it's our fault," Dr. Jean-Pierre Gattuso, a co-ordinating lead author of the report, told the BBC.

Humanity can still take action

While the report says that some factors, like rising sea-levels, might be irreversible by this point, governments can still take decisive action to ward off the worst of climate change.

The worst-case scenario is when action is not taken.

In this case, "there is a chance of a multi-meter sea-level rise within the next two to three centuries," Regine Hock, a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a coordinating lead author on chapter two of this IPCC report, told CNN. "That is very substantial."

Even if the worst of this is averted, the report says that a large amount of the 680 million people worldwide, who are living in low-lying coastal areas, will experience extreme flooding annually by 2050.

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The types of floods that would become an annual occurrence in this scenario would be akin to events that only used to happen once in a century.

The study says that big cities, including Shanghai, London, Istanbul, and New York will likely become severely threatened by rising sea levels.

There is still hope

There is still some hope, but only "if we reduce emissions sharply, consequences for people and their livelihoods will still be challenging, but potentially more manageable for those who are most vulnerable," said Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC.

Lee pointed to the recent climate protests, organized by young activists, as a positive step that is needed in order to pressure governments into action.

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