Whole world to experience climate chaos

Whole world to experience climate chaos

Date: 2 April 2014

The whole world is set to experience climate chaos according to a new report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC). The IPCC has this week released it’s Fifth Assessment Report; Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. The report confirms that climate change is happening and that humans are driving it.

The report identifies impacts which have already been experienced; negative shocks on people living in poverty, negative impacts on water resources and quality, changing rainfall patterns, melting snow and glaciers affecting water resources and quality and negative impacts on crop yields and farming, in particular steady declines in maize and wheat yields in temperate regions.

The degree to which countries and communities across the world experience climate change will vary greatly and the poor will be the hardest hit. However, the nature of the changes to our weather system will be similar across the globe. In many cases what differentiates one country from another is the ability to respond and adapt to extreme weather.

The Guardian this week featured an article on the Philippines, a country that is very susceptible to climate change, especially in the aftermath of super-typhoon Haiyan. The typhoon is estimated to cost the country, which is already poor, $36bn. Even after receiving approximately $5m from the World Bank to study adaptation to climate change, the country would not be able to cope with another extreme weather event like Haiyan. The Philippine government’s climate change commissioner Yeb Sano said “We are not ready, the challenge is too huge. I cannot imagine what would happen if a typhoon the strength of Yolanda hit Manila or the second city, Cebu.” The effects on countries in Europe which are generally economically more developed, may be less extreme but are still significant.

Differences are also to be found in the global south’s and the global north’s historical contributions to climate change. The world’s richer countries years of investment in fossil fuels have allowed them to develop, so they are better equipped to deal with rising global temperatures and the chaos that may ensue. Countries in the global south, often those which our colonial ancestors exploited, are now left disadvantaged in coping with the unpredictable and chaotic weather to come.

For a future free from starvation and other devastating effects of climate change, governments of rich countries most responsible for causing the problem need to do a lot more. They must act to pull out of fossil fuels, including investments by the private sector banks, who plow billions into dirty energy every year.