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Action Alert: Given Typhoon #Haiyan, UN Must Fully Assess Climate Change Risk and Feedbacks

Typhoon Haiyan, believed to be the biggest storm on record to make landfall, clearly demonstrates the risk posed by extreme super storms intensified by abrupt climate change. Yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the United Nations science body that assesses the state of climate science – is failing to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment that takes into account amplifying positive feedbacks and worst case scenarios. Without such a transparent and comprehensive climate risk assessment, that is free of government interference, the world finds it difficult to assess climate risk and is unlikely to embrace urgent emissions cuts, protect and restore ecosystems, and implement a global carbon tax. Demand such reforms at the IPCC.

By Climate Ark, a project of EcoInternet - November 10, 2013

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“The IPCC working group did not mean to provide a risk assessment of future climate change impacts and so it did not.” —Anders Levermann, Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research, lead author of the sea level chapter for the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report.


The IPCC synthesizes useful climate science, but has failed to produce a comprehensive global risk assessment of the threat posed by climate change. Most shockingly, the potential for massive climate change feedbacks from such impacts as rainforest dieback and changed Arctic albedo have not been fully investigated. While a leaked draft of the forthcoming IPCC report mentions risks posed to health, economic growth, crops, and water supplies, a fuller risk assessment that includes climate feedbacks and worst case scenarios is still lacking.

IPCC reports omit numerous amplifying feedbacks, including the Arctic albedo feedback and emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide under rapid Arctic warming. Other feedbacks not being accounted for include release of methane hydrates, and rainforest and boreal forest die-back. Thus the risk of runway climate change is not being systematically assessed.

The Typhoon Haiyan super storm, coming in quick succession after Hurricane Sandy and widespread evident climate weirding, illustrates clearly that, intensified by abrupt climate change, extreme weather is surging and may already be runaway and past the tipping point (meaning it is growing exponentially and can’t be stopped). Please demand governments meeting in Warsaw to discuss climate policy instruct the IPCC to do a comprehensive climate change risk assessment – in an open, transparent manner that is updated annually – which includes climate feedbacks and assesses worst case scenarios.

Faced with a global ecological emergency, IPCC science compilations must occur more frequently (now every 5 years) and not be heavily edited by governments which are controlled by the oil oligarchy. Also demand immediate international agreement upon differentiated but shared emissions cuts that phase out fossil fuels and upon funding to protect and restore intact natural ecosystems, both achieved through a hefty global carbon tax. Otherwise, the future awaiting all of us will look like the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

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