Share

Leaked Climate Change Report Predicts Violent, Poorer, Sicker Future

Seth Borenstein
Published: November 2, 2013

WASHINGTON -- Starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease already lead to human tragedies. They're likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report next March on how global warming is already affecting the way people live and what will happen in the future, including a worldwide drop in income. A leaked copy of a draft of the summary of the report appeared online Friday on a climate skeptic's website. Governments will spend the next few months making comments about the draft.

"We've seen a lot of impacts and they've had consequences," Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who heads the report, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "And we will see more in the future."

Cities, where most of the world now lives, have the highest vulnerability, as do the globe's poorest people.

(MORE: Landmark Climate Change Report Released)

"Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security and trigger new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger," the report says. "Climate change will exacerbate poverty in low- and lower-middle income countries and create new poverty pockets in upper-middle to high-income countries with increasing inequality."

The report says scientists have high confidence especially in what it calls certain "key risks":

-People dying from warming- and sea rise-related flooding, especially in big cities.

-Famine because of temperature and rain changes, especially for poorer nations.

-Farmers going broke because of lack of water.

-Infrastructure failures because of extreme weather.

-Dangerous and deadly heat waves worsening.

-Certain land and marine ecosystems failing.

"Human interface with the climate system is occurring and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems," the 29-page summary says.

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn't part of the international study team, said the report's summary confirmed what researchers have known for a long time: "Climate change threatens our health, land, food and water security."

The report details specific effects of warming and how countries and people can adapt to some of them. Field said experts paint a dramatic contrast of possible futures, but because countries can lessen some of the harms through reduced fossil fuel emissions and systems to cope with other changes, he said he doesn't find working on the report depressing.

"The reason I'm not depressed is because I see the difference between a world in which we don't do anything and a world in which we try hard to get our arms around the problem," he said.

MORE: NASA Images of Climate Change

The Ash Creek Fire seen here is one of some 27,000 fires which have destroyed nearly 2 million acres of the western U.S. since the start of 2012. Extremely dry conditions, stiff winds, unusually warm weather, and trees killed by outbreaks of pine bark beetles have provided ideal conditions for the blazes. (Credit: NASA)


Featured Blogs

People's Climate March Brings 311,000 to New York City

By Dr. Jeff Masters
September 22, 2014

The largest demonstration supporting climate change action in world history hit the streets of New York City yesterday, when the People's Climate March brought a crowd of 311,000 participants to Manhattan--more than triple pre-march estimates of 100,000.

Incredible Rainstorm in Southern France

By Christopher C. Burt
September 19, 2014

Torrential rainfall Tuesday through Thursday morning (September 16-18) in the Languedoc Region of southern France has resulted in flooding that has killed at least four people with two others still missing. The rainfall rates during the storm were phenomenal.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.