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A comprehensive report on climate change, which was compiled by over 2,500 leading researchers, states with high confidence “that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.”
Findings include that temperatures are likely the highest in 1,300 years, glaciers and sea-ice is melting, and as intense rainfall increases in some regions, drought-like conditions persist elsewhere.
Most dramatically, the researchers detail that with the current levels of green house gases in the atmosphere, even if the use of all factories and cars ended, sea levels would rise to an average of 4.6 feet globally.
In response to the report, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remarked that some the “treasures of our planet” are being “threatened by humanity’s own hand.” He then said that “slowing—and reversing—these threats are the defining challenge of our age.”
Included in the report was a climate forecast for the regions around the world if current green house gas emissions persist:
By 2020, 75 to 250 million Africans will be experiencing severe drought. Crop yields are expected to decline up to 50% by the same year.
Asia will experience an increase in flooding by 2050 for sea-side villages and those living along rivers, bringing about elevated death rates due to diarrheal diseases.
Australia and New Zealand are expected to see dramatic loss of biodiversity in the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland Wet Tropics by 2020. Coastal development is also projected to exacerbate risks of rising sea levels, intensity and frequency of storms, causing coastal flooding.
Europe is also expected to see increases in flooding, both coastal and inland. Mountains are projected to lose 60% of their glacier cover by 2080, causing dramatic species loss.
North America will continue to experience heat waves. Warming in the Western mountains will lead to decreased snow pack, increased winter flooding and decreased summer water supplies.