Living in the Light of IPCC5
The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been published just as I get to grips with becoming a grandmother for the first time. If my grandchild lives as long as my mother he will see the 22nd century, that key IPCC date 2100.
There’s nothing new, really, about the Fifth report by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. It’s happening; we are even more (95%) sure it’s our fault. If we stop pumping out the CO2 now it will take millennia to reverse the effects. When the full import of that knits up in me with the hopes and fears I have for a child yet unborn, suddenly it is a beacon, a light on a hill, a message sent across the world from one high place to another.
So what makes it so important? Basically it is the same messages as 2007 but we are more sure of it, a few figures revised up and down, some elements, like the slower than predicted temperature rise over the last 15 years, that puzzle scientists and provide a few straws for the climate change deniers. Ultimately what makes it so important is that 195 countries are part of the IPCC, that 113 countries sent representatives to agree what it would say and that the voice of every one of them was heard. Every government sent people it chose and respected and virtually every government worldwide subscribes to what the report says, including those like USA, China and India whose emission levels might make them wish to disown it.
The IPCC and the reports written are the first and so far the only truly effective worldwide response to the climate needs of our planet “our only home," as IPCC co chair Thomas Stocker said the day it was published. All our best but ultimately “not good enough” world efforts – the 1992 Climate Change Convention, 1997 Kyoto and the Copenhagan summit in 2009, have been based on an agreement to accept the findings of the IPCC.
In the light of IPCC5 I wonder to myself where I should be going. There are calls for a more powerful UN body to direct and co-ordinate worldwide efforts. Sounds like a good idea to me but I am certain sure I don’t know how little me can have any effect on that. Our government may be signed up to the report but that doesn’t make it willing to respond positively and effectively to what the report says or to take a leadership role in the world. Indeed judging by the blasé pronouncements of Owen Patterson our Secretary of State for environment, food and rural affairs some see doing nothing as a preferred option. I’ve done the Green Party thing but electorally, I know, climate change is not yet a reason to get the majority of voters to the polls – by the time that it is, much more harm will be done. We do our bit – speak truth to power, but it is only a small political voice so far.
Standing here in the midst of it, I conclude that the only worldwide movement I belong to and can do anything about is Transition. As Ann said in her blog, we need to talk, talk, talk, spread the message that IPCC5 states so clearly. There’s nothing new to do but certainly I could take my fears and anxieties for that little unborn child into action in Lancaster, revive the enthusiasm that has definitely been flagging and draw more people into that growing Transition circle of care for “our only home”.
Pictures: IPCC working group (IPCC) Resilience circles (Newbury Transition)