AT 2,600 pages it’s hardly surprising that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change took three years to compile its latest report. My concern is whether anyone will spend the next three years reading it.
The report – officially titled “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” – is a catalogue of horrible things that could happen if emissions continue to rise and the climate continues to change. The panel’s chair Rajendra Pachauri said he hoped it would “jolt” people into action (the final report caused one author to remove his name because he claimed it was too alarmist).
My feeling is that it’s more likely to result in insomnia than inspiration. As discussed in our analysis on page 4, do people need reminding of the consequences of doing nothing to reduce our emissions?
Haven’t there been enough reports and science to showcase what might go wrong? And far too little action to ensure we’re at least prepared (adaptation) and at best limiting the impacts (mitigation)?
The IPCC certainly doesn’t think so. I can see where it’s coming from. Kind of. Political action on climate change has been laughable; our own coalition government is doing its best to join the likes of the US with watered-down commitments and the shelving of green policies because “they’re too expensive”. This confusion has given some businesses an excuse to plod along rather than pioneer on environmental issues.
A look back at Lord Stern’s groundbreaking review on the economics of climate change shows that if temperatures rise, then it’ll send economies into meltdown. That was published in 2006; so while I see the IPCC’s point it only seems to be labouring the same one as others have before. Climate change is shit scary; we need to cut emissions, and quick – the economic and environmental consequences don’t bear thinking about. Those are the facts. The science is undisputed. And for those who have suggested the whole thing is a ruse, fine. But I, for one, don’t want to take the risk.