Tonight, the Perpetual Notion Machine continues the analysis of the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report. Our guest is Jonathan Patz, who studies the environmental health effects from climate change on the population in the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences at UW-Madison. He is also director of the Global Health Institute.
The IPCC was formed by the United Nations as a committee to inform national governments about the science and potential impacts of climate change. The first report came out in 1990, and successive reports have been issued about every 5 to 6 years. The last report came out in 2014, and this report is the sixth assessment. When asked about what changes have occurred from the first IPCC report, Jonathan first confirms the advances and improvements in climate science. Early on, the scientific results were speculated. But as the science research as improved, so has the proof of the results. A main criteria of climate change is the increase in atmospheric temperature. The reports always compare the current temperature with those of pre-industrial levels around the mid to late 1800’s. This report indicates we have hit 1.5 degrees C since pre-industrial levels. And there has been a slow, but steady increase in temperature since the first report in 1990. But, according to Jonathan, the biggest change in this report is the certainty. Because the science is so exact and accurate, this report asserts that climate change and its impacts are “unequivocal”!
One impact, that the scientists say could NOT have happened at any time but for climate change, is the heat dome that occurred over a large part of the Northwest, including British Columbia, Canada. Jonathan says that Portland, Oregon, reached 116 degrees F. The temperature has never been that high in Portland’s history.
For a general summary of the report, check out this article from United Nations News.
Here’s another article from the World Resources Institute on 5 Findings from the IPCC’s Report.
And finally, to learn more on what Wisconsin needs to do, check out the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI).