The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a summary report for policymakers over the weekend – a prelude to its much anticipated Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) to be released in February 2012. As can be expected, the summary report had some sobering news about the state of the world’s climate.
According to the IPCC, climate change will lead to an increase in extreme weather events around the world. This means we can expect more severe droughts, heavier rainfall, more intense storms, and longer heat waves.
In typical IPCC fashion, the report detailed levels of confidence attributed to various climate statements. For instance, the SREX report stated that: “It is very likely that mean sea level rise will contribute to upward trends in extreme coastal high water levels in the future” and that it is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will increase in the 21st century over many areas of the globe.”
Already, more extreme weather events have become increasingly apparent in recent years, including the Texas heat wave of 2011 and the Moscow heat wave of 2010. In fact, the link between climate change and more extreme weather was recently the subject of a paper coauthored by James Hansen.
However, the report also cautioned that countries should brace for the economic and social implications of more extreme weather. Developing countries in particular will be hard hit by extreme weather, and a lack of proper disaster planning and foresight could have serious implications for poor populations around the world.
But even the developed world is not exempt from the economic costs associated with climate change and more extreme weather. For instance, insurance companies are already attempting to calculate the risks associated with an increasingly unpredictable planet.
What are your thoughts on the latest SREX report from the IPCC? Do you think it will encourage governments to take stronger action on curbing greenhouse gas emissions at the upcoming climate talks in Durban?
Image CC licensed by Corinne Cavallo