by Joe Macri
Earlier this year, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. The full report, clocking in at a mere 3,949 pages, is an extensive assessment of the current evidence on the physical science of climate change. Luckily, the Summary for Policymakers is a much more manageable 39 pages and is conveniently linked below. Please take some time to read through this important document.
The summary provides some sobering assessments. For example, the IPCC concludes with high confidence that “it would take several centuries to millennia for global mean sea level to reverse course even under large net negative CO2 emissions,” (Section D.1.6). In other words, there are effects of climate change that we will not avoid and we must learn to adapt to that future. But the summary provides hope as well. “By the end of the century, scenarios with very-low and low GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions would strongly limit the change of several CIDs [climate impact-drivers], such as the increase in the frequency of extreme sea level events, heavy precipitation and pluvial flooding, and exceedance of dangerous heatthresholds, while limiting the number of regions where such exceedances occur, relative to higher GHG emissions scenarios,” (Section D.2.4).
We are all called to do our part to protect this gift we have been given. As Pope Francis articulated in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’, “All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” Psalm 24:1 tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Remember, we are stewards for the next generationand the generations to come.
Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers