What does the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report have to do with you? Plenty, if you plan to live on Earth during the 21st century.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international organization founded in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO). IPCC prepares assessment reports to assist global policymakers in understanding climate change science, its risks, and possible response strategies. Thousands of scientific papers, reports, and publications are reviewed and distilled into a 3-part report that represents the diversity of IPCC’s 195 member countries.
To learn more about the IPCC and assessment report process, read Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Report Central.
IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)
Assessment reports are prepared by three IPCC Working Groups, each one focusing on a specific area. Each report is accompanied by a shorter Summary for Policymakers (SPM). After a review and revision process, the final draft reports are officially approved by the IPCC and released to the public. Subsequently, the final edited reports are published online and made available in print.
The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is being published during 2013 and 2014.
- Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis – by IPCC Working Group I (approved 09/30/13)
- Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability – by IPCC Working Group II (approved 03/31/14)
- Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change – by IPCC Working Group III (target approval April 2014)
- Synthesis Report AR5 – additional report by IPCC Core Writing Team (target approval October 2014)
IPCC AR5 Working Group I Report
To read and watch a video about the first installment by Working Group I, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, read Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Report Central.
IPCC AR5 Working Group II Report
Part two of IPCC AR5, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability by Working Group II, was just approved on Monday, March 31, 2014. So far, I’ve read the 44-page Summary for Policymakers (SPM) which is divided into three sections:
- Section A: Observed impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation in a complex and changing world
- Section B: Future risks and opportunities for adaption
- Section C: Managing future risks and building resilience
Working Group II assessed risks and potential adaptations related to freshwater resources, land and aquatic ecosystems, coastal and low-lying areas, food security and production, urban and rural areas, economic sectors and services, human health and security, and livelihoods and poverty.
Interestingly, at least I thought it was interesting; the SPM reinforced what I already understand and believe about climate change from a big picture perspective.
- Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that changes have already occurred on all continents and across all oceans; humans and natural systems are currently being impacted.
- Poor and disadvantaged people who already face many challenges are the most vulnerable to climate change and have the least ability to cope with its impacts.
- Recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires reveal humans have significant exposure and vulnerability to these types of events.
- Some local, regional, and national government entities are starting to develop and implement adaptation plans and policies.
- Responding to climate-related risks involves making decisions in a changing world, with uncertainty about the severity and timing of impacts.
The 12-minute video below gives viewers a good overview of climate change risk and our opportunity to build a more resilient human society.
IPCC AR5 Working Group III Report
Working Group III’s contribution to AR5, Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change is expected to be approved during the IPCC meeting being held in Berlin, Germany April 7th through 11th. The press conference is scheduled for Sunday, April 13, 2014, at 11:00 Berlin time. That’s 2:00 a.m. in California so I think I’ll wait for the video.
What Can You Do about Climate Change?
What can you do? For starters, become educated about climate change. IPCC’s assessment reports are a good jumping off point. Are you already knowledgeable about climate change? Then share what you know with your friends, family, and coworkers.
Human society’s diversity complicates our ability to understand and assess climate change risks and determine and take adaptation and mitigation actions. Each one of us views risks and benefits through our own filter of geography, culture, values, economic status, and experience. On the other hand, I believe our diversity enables us to envision a wide variety of creative, innovative, and feasible solutions. I am hopeful.
The choices we make and actions we take now will affect the risks of climate change throughout the 21st century and beyond. Truly we are all in this together.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Report Central
- President Obama’s Speech and Climate Action Plan
- The Third Planet: Operating Instructions, by David R. Brower
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (webpage)
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptations, and Vulnerability (webpage)
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) (webpage)
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC Press Conference, March 31, 2014 (video)
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC Press Release, March 31, 2014
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC Press Release, September 27, 2013
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Working Group II Fact Sheet