A CRUCIAL report for life on planet Earth was released last month and given extensive positive world-wide media coverage.
That report – the fifth assessment by more than 800 scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – was exhaustively compiled and peer-reviewed.
More than half of the scientists involved had not been involved in the previous report in 2007, but came to the same conclusions.
In the intervening six years the certainty behind human-induced climate change has increased as the accuracy of the science improved and the evidence became undeniable.
Some of the key findings are:
●Global warming is ‘‘unequivocal’’, and since the 1950s it is 95per cent certain that human activities have been the dominant cause.
●Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels not seen for at least 800,000 years.
●Global temperatures are likely to rise by between 0.3 and 4.8 degrees by the end of the century, depending on carbon emissions.
●Sea levels are expected to rise a further 26 to 82centimetres by the end of the century.
●The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass over the past two decades. Glaciers have continued to melt and Arctic sea ice has plunged.
●The upper ocean has warmed from 1971 to 2010, with heat penetrating from the surface to the deep ocean.
But will the report be heeded this time or again set aside by world governments in the pursuit of unsustainable economic growth through the burning of finite fossil fuels?
If the fossil-fuel multinationals and the so-called climate sceptics have their way, the answer is the latter.
These people will deny the science no matter what and have influence far beyond their numbers.
Australian public opinion data shows that only about 8per cent of people deny climate change is happening but, interestingly, this same small minority believe half the population share their view.
No amount of political and economic ideology can change the laws of physics. The only thing open to this modern society is to use technology to bring us in line with these laws, and that is the challenge.
This is not to say the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process is ideal, with many scientists calling for a review of how the reporting is done and presented to the public.
But the IPCC in no way deserves the extreme criticism and venom thrown at it by vested interests and those in denial.
They claim, among many other things, that the IPCC overstates climate change and is alarmist, when recent observations prove the opposite is the case.
The IPCC does not take a hard position on climate change, it instead gives a range of scenarios that depend on how effective society becomes at reducing and stabilising greenhouse gas emissions.
Two more reports are to be released soon. Let us pray all three are digested and acted upon by the world’s governments, including ours, because the time for preventative action is fast disappearing.
Maryland resident Brian Purdue is an environmentalist and co-ordinator of the Green Corridor Coalition.