On August 9, 2021 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) stating as "unequivocable" and "established fact" that "human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land." This is a departure from previous assessment reports that hedged on the overall influence of human action as it related to climate change. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement calling the report a "code red for humanity."
A listing of headline statements provides an overview of topic areas while a summary for policy makers provides a 42 page overview of the full 3949 page report. NPR and AP articles can read and/or listened as a primer for the full report.
Three major takeaways are summarized in this NPR article are:
- #1 Human are causing rapid and widespread warming
- #2 Extreme weather is on the rise and will keep getting worse
- #3 If humans cut emissions, the worst impacts are avoidable
When this report was published last week there were a few days of media coverage before our collective attention was diverted to the next news cycle event. Some of the media coverage I recall hearing included interviews with people of varying age ranges. A recent Pew Research Center survey gets at the heart of the sentiments expressed by the interviewees. An article about the survey leads off with the statement "Gen Z and Millennial social media users are more likely than older generations online to engage with climate change content on social media and to express a range of emotions when they see climate-related content there – including anxiety about the future and anger that not enough is being done."
The Pew Research Center information got me thinking about the legacy we will leave to future generations. The wide-ranging and varied impacts forecasted for our region emphasize that a focused effort is needed to adapt our way of life to the already changed and changing climate. Be it the economic impacts of increased food prices, utility rates, or limited recreational opportunities it seems like everyone will feel the effects. As a father of three small children I can't help but think about the world that is being left to them. Everyone, regardless of age or circumstances, need to resolve to reducing our carbon footprints and provide some hope for the future. .
I encourage all who are reading this blog to read the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) headlines and summary report, seek balanced analysis from reputable sources; then think of the different ways that you can make a difference. The Cuyahoga County Department of Sustainability and the Cleveland Office of Sustainability have many resources and ideas on how to begin making small changes. Similarly, Cuyahoga SWCD assisted in the development of the Cleveland Comprehensive Environmental Policy Platorm. This is a list of policy platform suggestions that elected officials and candidates should consider. Give them a read and begin advocating for the ones you believe are most important.
Blog author: Brent Eysenbach, Senior Program Manager - Stormwater & Technical Services