With more certainty than ever, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined it is “extremely likely” that the earth’s warming since 1950 can be attributed to human causes. The report, titled “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis,” serves as the first of three papers that will comprise the IPCC’s comprehensive Fifth Assessment Report, prepared by some of the world’s most reputable and accomplished scientists. In accordance with acknowledged research within the scientific community, the IPCC shows that the world will increasingly experience extreme weather events, rises in sea levels and temperatures, and less predictable rainfall patterns.
The Assessment also concludes that we have exhausted over half of the earth’s available carbon (i.e., carbon allowance) – having released approximately 540 tons into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels – and we are on track to reach a trillion tons by the end of the century. If anthropogenic CO2 emissions reach one trillion tons, the average global temperature will exceed 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, an increase that scientists universally agree will cause extremely disruptive changes to the earth’s ecosystems, natural resources and to humanity.
Produced by the IPCC every few years, this assessment is the group’s most definitive and stark report yet in terms of its conclusions, leaving little room for doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or the role of the human activities in accelerating it. The report also includes for the first time a call to action, proposing an international “carbon cap” on industry fossil fuel emissions.
As farmers and California’s food security stand to be uniquely impacted by increased changes in climate conditions, the IPCC report speaks more than ever to the need for governments to invest public funds in agricultural mitigation and adaptation efforts. In order to prepare for more extreme and variable weather, agriculture must have the capacity to apply both short-term crisis management and long-term resilience to an uncertain climate future.