5 takeaways from the major new report on climate change from IPCC

Meteorologist Sarah Spivey answers some questions about the United Nation panel’s 6th climate assessment

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week released its sixth Assessment Report since the group’s founding in the 1980s.

The 3,500-page document, made public Monday, is the first report since 2014 by the IPCC, a United Nations panel that is generally considered the foremost authority on scientific research on climate change.

In the report, the IPCC unequivocally states that the global temperature is warming rapidly and that humans are the cause due to the large release of greenhouse gasses since the industrial revolution.

Meteorologist Sarah Spivey takes some time to answer a few questions about the report and what it means for our local community:

Who produced this report?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a group of over 230 scientists from more than 60 countries that works as a body of the United Nations. These scientists are experts in the fields of climatology, oceanography, meteorology and all kinds of earth sciences.

What are the main takeaways?

The first thing to know is that the IPCC takes on a serious tone with this latest report.

The scientists state that the rate of warming is much more dire and rapid than previously anticipated. We’ll be 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels sooner rather than later — more than likely by 2040. Above the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, major impacts to humankind from climate change are likely, such as sea rise, wildfires, droughts and intense hurricanes.

The critical 1.5°C warming threshold will be reached sooner rather than later. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

The report also states that, in the past decade, climate modeling has improved significantly, so confidence in a warming globe is very, very high.

The good news is that the modeling shows that it is not too late to avoid massive impacts from climate change. However, it is almost too late. Unless every nation reduces emissions in the next 10-20 years, major impacts will be felt.

China, the U.S., and India are the world’s largest greenhouse gas producers. And here in the United States, we have plans to reduce emissions, but no policies are in place.

Future warming depends on choices made today (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Additionally, scientists unequivocally state that climate change is caused by humans through greenhouse gas emissions. For these scientists, the data is overwhelming.

For the first time, they have also been able to directly link the intensity of single weather events like droughts and heavy rain to climate change, meaning that even though these weather events may have happened regardless of climate change, humans have influenced the intensity through greenhouse gas emissions.

Potential impacts from climate change in the United States by region. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

What needs to be done to avoid major impacts from climate change?

Reusable bags and water bottles, biking or carpooling, and conserving energy all help reduce our individual carbon footprint and create a greener world. However, in order for the impacts of climate change to be slowed, policy changes are necessary. Right now, that process is happening slowly -- if at all.

Here in Texas, we need solutions that benefit us economically as a good portion of our state’s economy is based in oil and gas, and we still need our oil and gas producers. That’s why, in the long term, the focus is on creating jobs and policies in renewables while maintaining a balance because of our need of oil and gas.

How can I view the IPCC’s 6th Climate Assessment for myself?

  • You can view the FULL REPORT here.
  • A summary of TOP HEADLINES can be found here.
  • Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be found here.

Find more coverage like this on KSAT.com/Climate.

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About the Author

Sarah Spivey is a San Antonio native who grew up watching KSAT. She has been a proud member of the KSAT Weather Authority Team since 2017. Sarah is a Clark High School and Texas A&M University graduate. She previously worked at KTEN News. When Sarah is not busy forecasting, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and cat, and playing music.

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