|Some have given up on keeping a habitable planet. But, the UN says there's still time to act:
The most sophisticated, comprehensive and succinct scientific account of the accelerating impacts of human activity on the world around us, from warming and rising oceans to the growing toll of heat stroke, was published Sunday by a United Nations panel. The picture that emerged from the 116-page synthesis of three blockbuster climate change reports was alarming. "The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen," it reminds us, warning that warming caused by carbon dioxide pollution "is effectively irreversible."
But the report was not an ode to a dying world. The synthesis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) fifth assessment since 1990 was brimming with advice and guidance. It quantified and explained difficult measures that governments and industry would need to take to prevent the disastrous levels of warming that would be assured if the globe's current fuel-burning and forest-felling trajectory remains unchanged.
"We have the means to limit climate change and build a better future," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during a press conference as the IPCC released the report Sunday. "We must act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid increasingly disruptive outcomes."
Scientists and international delegates spent the past week meeting in Copenhagen crafting and fine-tuning the report, which synthesized the findings from more than 30,000 scientific papers.
It comes at a critical time, with nations preparing to convene for climate treaty talks in Lima, Peru, next month. Those talks will be a prelude to negotiations in Paris a year later, when the first global climate treaty since the Kyoto Protocol is due to be finalized, promising to shape humanity's future for countless generations to come.