Act Now - The message from science
The need to act now
Climate change is a complex problem that affects the entire world. The world's leading scientists agree that global warming is happening.
Since 1997 the world has witnessed the ten hottest years on record. June 2009 global land and sea temperatures were the second hottest month on record and July 2009 recorded the highest global sea temperatures.
Scientists predict this will be the warmest decade in recorded history. The evidence suggests temperatures will continue to rise. If emissions peak by 2015 and decrease rapidly thereafter there is an equal chance that global temperatures will rise two degrees Celsius.
We must act urgently to reduce emissions in order to help stop damaging climate change.
Two degrees of catastrophic consequences
A two degree Celsius rise in temperature may not sound like a lot but when you put this two degree rise on a global scale the consequences are catastrophic.
Two degrees could push us over the tipping point. A tipping point that would be caused by the release of massive amounts of greenhouse gases that are currently trapped by ice and oceans and the tundra regions. The impact of a two degree rise would see:
- 20 to 30 per cent of the earth’s living species risk extinction.
- More severe weather events causing more intense cyclones, floods, storms droughts and wild fires.
- Increased costs of maintaining and replacing infrastructure (CSIRO research shows road maintenance costs will rise by roughly 17 per cent).
- The impact of rising sea levels and ocean acidification.
- Greater health risks from tropical diseases such as malaria, and cholera.
- The displacement of whole societies that become climate change refugees, as droughts and rising sea levels force people out of their homes.
- Changes in agricultural yields.
- Ongoing retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice.
- Change in the amount and geographic distribution of precipitation (probably including expansion of subtropical deserts).
The IPCC predictions are for warmer weather to come. They have been warning us for a long time and more recently in the IPCC Fourth Assement report.
The IPCC publicly recorded their concerns suggesting the human influence on global warming in 1995. The basic science underpinning our understanding of global warming has been known since the landmark work of Svante Arrhenius in 1896.
We must act now to stop the advent of damaging climate change. Reducing carbon emissions today will be less costly to society than dealing with the above consequences.
Read how you can do your best to reduce carbon emissions.