In advance of the December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen on climate change, the UN Environmental Program released in September a 68 page Climate Change Science Compendium. Ban Ki-moon the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in the preface to the study, stated that:
“The science has become more irrevocable than ever: Climate change is happening. The evidence is all around us. And unless we act, we will see catastrophic consequences including rising sea levels, droughts and amine, and the loss of up to a third of the world’s plant and animal species.
We need a new global agreement to tackle climate change, and this must be based on the soundest, most robust and up-to-date science available
Through its overview of the latest definitive science, this Climate Change Science Compendium reaffirms the strong evidence outlined in the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report that climate change is continuing apace.
In fact, this report shows that climate change is accelerating at a much faster pace than was previously thought by scientists. New scientific evidence suggests important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major Earth systems and ecosystems, may already have been reached or even overtaken.
Climate change, more than any other challenge facing the world today, is a planetary crisis that will require strong, focused global action.
As pressures build for an internationally agreed response, we now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to come together and address climate change through a newly invigorated multilateralism. This will be our chance to put in place a climate change agreement that all nations can embrace – an agreement that is equitable, balanced and comprehensive.
This Climate Change Science Compendium is.a wake up call. The time for hesitation is over. We need the world to realize, once and for all, that the time to act is now and we must work together to address this monumental challenge. This is the moral challenge of our generation”
The Climate Change Science Compendium is broken down into 5 sections. The first section, called Earth Systems, gives an overview of the leadup to the current situation.
The second section, called Earth’s Ice, notes that “Accelerated shrinking of mountain glaciers on every continent, rapid reduction of Arctic sea-ice, disintegration of floating ice shelves, and increased melt rates of Earth’s three Ice Sheets—Greenland, West Antarctic, and East Antarctic—provide compelling evidence of our changing climate.”
The third section, entitled Earth’s Oceans, notes that “Over the last five decades, the world’s oceans have been subjected to fishery overharvesting, seafloor damage from bottom trawling, and habitat loss around margins from coastal development schemes. Climate change further threatens oceans with higher temperatures, increased acidification, and altered circulation and nutrient supplies.”
The fourth section, entitled Earth’s Ecosystems, states that “Since the compilation of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, serious and irreversible changes in Earth’s Ecosystems due to anthropogenic activities are increasingly recognized with greater confidence and better quantification of the processes.”
The last section, entitled Systems Management, states that “A variety of actions are under discussion to manage the challenge posed by climate change: Cutting emissions, reforestation, and geoengineering are a few. Current research suggests that some of the possible actions are not only important but necessary for any chance of success—but no single action is sufficient on its own.
The last section, entitled Systems Management, concludes that “A variety of actions are under discussion to manage the challenge posed by climate change: Cutting emissions, reforestation, and geoengineering are a few. Current research suggests that some of the possible actions are not
only important but necessary for any chance of success—but no single action is sufficient on its own.
The 2009 Climate Change Science Compendium is serious business. It needs to be taken seriously. It’s like the blinking red light going on in the car. Ignoring it because you’re tired of seeing it, isn’t going to make it go away. It’s a warning light. Ignore it long enough and it may just stop blinking. By then it’s too late because everything will have stopped running.