From Common Dreams:
A landmark United Nations climate report published Wednesday details the observed and anticipated future impacts of planet-heating emissions from human activity on the world's oceans and frozen zones—and warns of the emerging consequences for humanity, marine ecosystems, and the global environment.
The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) is a product of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N. body that assesses the latest science related to the human-caused climate crisis. It follows recent IPCC reports on the consequences of 1.5°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels and the necessity of reforming land use practices worldwide.
Although a draft of the SROCC leaked to the press last month, the final version was released Wednesday after the world governments approved its Summary for Policymakers (pdf) at a meeting in Monaco Tuesday. For the new report, more than 100 experts from 36 countries examined research on the ocean and cryosphere, which includes Greenland and Antarctica's ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, and areas of snow and permafrost as well as frozen lakes, rivers, and parts of the ocean.
The report presents projections for the future based on both low- and high-emissions scenarios, underscoring the urgent need for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by overhauling human practices, particularly the use of fossil fuels, on a global scale.
"We will only be able to keep global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels if we effect unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society, including energy, land and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure as well as industry," Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, said Wednesday. "The ambitious climate policies and emissions reductions required to deliver the Paris agreement will also protect the ocean and cryosphere—and ultimately sustain all life on Earth."
The SROCC features chapters on high mountain areas; polar regions; sea level rise and implications for low lying islands, coasts, and communities; changing ocean, marine ecosystems, and dependent communities; and extremes, abrupt changes, and managing risks.
"The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic, and the high mountains may seem far away to many people. But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways—for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and well-being, for culture and identity," noted IPCC chair Hoesung Lee. "If we reduce emissions sharply, consequences for people and their livelihoods will still be challenging, but potentially more manageable for those who are most vulnerable." . . .