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New UN climate change report says just 12 years till life on earth hits point of no return — again

The U.N. has issued a dire report on climate change and how the U.N. says it will impact the world in just 12 years. (LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP/Getty Images)

Editor's note: The original version of this story erroneously stated that scientists concluded in a 2017 study published in Nature that there is no proof that global warming will cause catastrophic issues for Earth. The study, which examined the impact of increased CO2 levels on plant growth did not make such a conclusion. The erroneous paragraph has been removed.


According to an alarming new report by a U.N. panel of scientists, humans have just 12 years to get their ecological affairs in order before the environment — and climate change — hits a critical tipping point.

What's in this report?

The report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that humans have just 12 years to make huge leaps in innovations to reduce global warming to less extreme levels — or suffer major consequences, Vox reported.

The 700-page report, which was released Sunday, claims that the earth is headed for devastating effects of climate change, including deadly flooding, extreme drought, food shortages, the death of coral reefs, and more extreme weather events — such as deadly hurricanes — unless a major and comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is in place before 2030, according to Vox.

The report notes that the earth's surface has warmed about 1 degree Celsius since the pre-industrial period (prior to the Industrial Revolution). If emissions continue at this rate, according to scientists, the earth could see a further increase that would put total warming at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels sometime between 2030 and 2052. The 1.5-degree threshold is one environmentalist have long claimed should be the cap for worldwide warming, or else the planet will face catastrophic consequences.

According to the report, "Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1 degree Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels." (The precise number is likely between 0.8 and 1.2 degrees Celsius, the report states.)

The report adds that "[g]lobal warming is likely to reach [1.5 degrees Celsius] between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate."

Scientists like Andrew King — an academic at the University of Melbourne — told CNN that this is particularly concerning because it will exacerbate "heat waves and hot summers, greater sea level rise, and, for many parts of the world, worse droughts and rainfall extremes."

In order to save the earth, the IPCC claims that countries must take "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."

“The next few years are probably the most important in human history," Debra Roberts, IPCC co-chair, said.

Thelma Krug, IPCC vice-chair, added, “There were doubts if we would be able to differentiate impacts set at 1.5 C and that came so clearly. Even the scientists were surprised to see how much science was already there and how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2."

“[N]ow more than ever we know that every bit of warming matters," Krug said.

Anything else?

The international Paris accord climate agreement, from which President Donald Trump withdrew in June, set a goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

"The window on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C is closing rapidly and the current emissions pledges made by signatories to the Paris Agreement do not add up to us achieving that goal," King noted.

In a statement obtained by CNN, former Vice President Al Gore, who is also an ecological activist, said, "Today the world's leading scientific experts collectively reinforced what mother nature has made clear — that we need to undergo an urgent and rapid transformation to a global clean energy economy."

"Unfortunately, the Trump administration has become a rogue outlier in its shortsighted attempt to prop up the dirty fossil fuel industries of the past," Gore added. "The administration is in direct conflict with American businesses, states, cities and citizens leading the transformation."

What's the other side of all this?

An April 2017 study published in Nature reported that rising global temperatures during the 19th and 20th centuries could be linked to greater plant photosynthesis — which means warmer temperatures, longer growing seasons, and yes, more food.

According to the study, "the sum of all plant photosynthesis on Earth grew by 30 percent" over the 200 years the record reported.

Also, various studies have followed the fluctuating average temperature of the earth, and a study in August 2017 reported that the average climate was actually cooler then than it was when Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work in pushing climate change awareness.

In March, the Washington Times reported that the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Association fudged numbers to support the agenda of global warming.

You can read the full report here.

Marc Morano of Climate Depot also weighed in on the IPCC's new report, noting that climatologists have been warning that a critical tipping point has been right around the corner — since at least 1864, and time, and time, and time again from that point.

This piece has been updated.

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