Things are not looking good.
Ring The Alarm
It's not over just yet, the United Nations' climate watchdog group said in its latest anxiety-inspiring report, but things are looking very, very bad.
As the Associated Press notes in its write-up of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, officials with the international body say they're sounding the alarm bells before it's finally too late.
"Humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said when announcing the latest IPCC report. "Our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once."
Guterres and the UN are calling specifically on richer countries to aim for net zero emissions by 2040 and for developing countries to try to get there by 2050, which is roughly 10 years earlier on both counts than prior target estimates — while also acknowledging that at current levels of mitigation and adaptation policy, those targets likely won't be met.
They even put a numerical value on it: if the world warms more than 1.5 degrees Celsius/2.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the next decade, all hell may well break loose.
If our leaders can't, don't, or refuse to reach these goals, the consequences will, as the report warns, be dire: water shortages will become widespread as heatwaves and droughts become more common and longer; there will be massive famine; and infectious disease rates will skyrocket.
In addition to the zero emissions targets, the UN has set what will likely be an even more unlikely goal: for rich countries to stop using coal by 2030, and for poorer ones to do so by 2040.
While these targets seem ambitious given the coal industry's chokehold on the world, they nonetheless represent what could perhaps be the last out for humanity from the climate crisis we've created.
Indeed, as IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said in the livestreamed press conference announcing the report, we are at a "critical moment in history."
"The [choices] we make now and in the next few years will reverberate around the world for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years," Lee added — and we can't lie, that's a pretty scary thought.
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