Is the world ill-prepared for risks from climate change? Reuters

The effects of climate change are currently being felt in all continents and across all oceans, exposing the Earth to severe environmental threats, a new report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, said on Monday. It concluded that the world is ill-prepared to face the impacts of global warming.

The report, titled "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability," provides details about the impacts that climate change has had up until now, the future risks associated with it, and the opportunities to reduce risks from a changing climate. According to the report, the risks will be difficult to manage as warming reaches relatively high levels.

“We live in an era of man-made climate change,” Vicente Barros, co-chair of Working Group II, said in a statement. “In many cases, we are not prepared for the climate-related risks that we already face. Investments in better preparation can pay dividends both for the present and for the future.”

According to the report, observed impacts of climate change have already affected agriculture, human health, ecosystems on land and in the oceans, water supplies, and people’s livelihoods. The striking feature of these impacts is that they are occurring in every corner of the world -- “from the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents and from the wealthiest countries to the poorest.”

The IPCC report, which is designed to guide policymakers worldwide to develop strategies to fight climate change and make their infrastructure more resilient to a warmer world, aims at influencing climate treaty talks among the 194 countries that are working to devise an agreement next year to curb global warming, Bloomberg reported.

The report said that in many regions, changing rainfall or melting snow and ice are affecting water resources' quantity and quality. Many terrestrial, freshwater and marine species have also shifted their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns and species interactions due to steady climate change.

In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. IPCC

According to the report, the impacts of recent climate-related calamities, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones and wildfires, have led to “alteration of ecosystems, disruption of food production and water supply, damage to infrastructure and … human well-being.”

Here are some of the significant projected future impacts of climate change, highlighted by the report:

- Risk of death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states and other small islands, due to storm surges, coastal flooding and sea-level rise.

- Risk of mortality and morbidity during periods of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban populations and those working outdoors in urban or rural areas.

- Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions.

- Risk of loss of marine and coastal ecosystems, biodiversity, and such ecosystems' goods, functions and services they provide for coastal livelihoods, especially for fishing communities in the tropics and the Arctic.

“Understanding that climate change is a challenge in managing risk opens a wide range of opportunities for integrating adaptation with economic and social development and with initiatives to limit future warming,” Chris Field, co-chair of Working Group II, said in the statement. “We definitely face challenges, but understanding those challenges and tackling them creatively can make climate-change adaptation an important way to help build a more vibrant world in the near term and beyond.”

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