Climate Change: Yes, It’s Getting Worse Fast and It Matters

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued its Summary for Policy Makers. Based on thousands of scientific studies since 2005 into the growing impacts of climate change, it concludes that key dangerous changes are already underway around the world, and will hurt the poor the most. You should read it, click here. Then demand action: Canada is one of the world’s worst climate polluters.

For a look at the headlines of tomorrow, major impacts that are now highly likely include:

i. Risk of death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states and other small islands, due to storm surges, coastal flooding, and sea-level rise.34 [RFC 1-5]
ii. Risk of severe ill-health and disrupted livelihoods for large urban populations due to inland flooding in some regions.35 [RFC 2 and 3]
iii. Systemic risks due to extreme weather events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services such as electricity, water supply, and health and emergency services.36 [RFC 2-4]
iv. Risk of mortality and morbidity during periods of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban populations and those working outdoors in urban or rural areas.37 [RFC 2 and 3]
v. Risk of food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes, particularly for poorer populations in urban and rural settings.38 [RFC 2-4]
vi. Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions.39 [RFC 2 and 3]
vii. Risk of loss of marine and coastal ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions, and services they provide for coastal livelihoods, especially for fishing communities in the tropics and the Arctic.40 [RFC 1, 2, and 4]
viii. Risk of loss of terrestrial and inland water ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions, and services they provide for livelihoods.41 [RFC 1, 3, and 4]

Identification of key risks was based on expert judgment using the following specific criteria: large magnitude, high probability, or irreversibility of impacts; timing of impacts; persistent vulnerability or exposure contributing to risks; or limited potential to reduce risks through adaptation or mitigation. Many key risks constitute particular challenges for the least developed countries and vulnerable communities, given their limited ability to cope.

    By Dianne Saxe, Ontario Environmental Lawyer

Reprinted with permission from the Environmental Law and Litigation Blog.

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