The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a panel of scientists put together by the United Nations, released a report today titled “The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.” In short, it’s a tough read.
The 45-page policymaker summary – abridged from the full 1170 page report – was a seemingly endless list of challenges our planet will face due to human caused climate change. It’s dense. A real “maggot gagger,” as Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Aregood would put it.
For those not ready to tackle the report, we suggest Brad Plumer’s summary in The New York Times.
A summary of the summary
While humans burn fossil fuels on land, the ocean is bearing the brunt of global warming. On page 10, the report states with high confidence that the global ocean has “taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system” and likely doubled its rate of warming since 1993. Since every living thing depends directly or indirectly on the oceans, the effects of its warming will be globally catastrophic.
Plumer conveys this notion quite well with a quote from Dan Laffoley of the International Union for Conservation of Nature:
“We are an ocean world, run and regulated by a single ocean, and we are pushing that life support system to its very limits through heating, deoxygenation and acidification.”
Look at the monster
While the report is tough to swallow, we suggest treating it like the monster in a horror movie. Movie monsters are at their scariest when they are lurking unseen, but after the initial shock of the reveal, they often lose their edge. Let’s treat climate change like that.
These reports and headlines are just the monster lurking in the bushes. Face this report head on. Read it. Let it scare you and let’s get to the part where we all gang up and fight this thing.