The world will continue to experience longer droughts, stronger storms and rising temperatures according to a report released by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Friday.
After meeting in Kampala, Uganda, the IPCC issued a 29-page summary of a forthcoming report that outlines to the world’s nations specific weather patterns and climate changes to expect, while urging leaders to begin planning for the events.
"We need to be worried," Maarten van Aalst, one of the study's lead authors, said to the AP. "And our response needs to anticipate disasters and reduce risk before they happen rather than wait until after they happen and clean up afterward.”
“Risk has already increased dramatically," Aalst said.
The IPCC report does not specify the cause of climate change. The U.N. however, who funds the IPCC, defines climate change as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere.”
The IPCC report did, however, attribute certain climate changes to humans. Greenhouse gasses caused by human consumption have lead to more record high temperatures, fewer low temperatures and an increase in coastal flooding.
That the report did not specify what other changes in the climate could be attributed to humans does not mean that humans aren’t responsible for many other effects of global warming.
The study highlighted potentially dangerous weather developments for specific regions of the world.
The U.S. and Caribbean was warned to expect hurricanes of greater force – higher wind speed, greater volume and larger mass. The increase in strength is due mainly to rising ocean levels.
The hurricanes are not expected to increase in quantity, and the panel found that there is not evidence to suggest that the number of annual hurricanes has increased over the last 50 years.
The IPCC recommends that U.S. and Caribbean governments update building codes and enact better warning systems.
The panel found that the most worldwide damage is not done by large storms, but by smaller instances of flooding. The increase in storms, along with rising sea levels, puts much of North America in danger of flood-related catastrophes.
Heat waves in Europe have increased over the last 50 years, and will increase in length, intensity and frequency the panel found.
The panel suggests that European leaders implement early-warning systems, recognize particularly vulnerable areas, inform the public about what to do in a heat wave and use social care networks to reach particularly vulnerable groups.
Droughts are expected to increase in large parts of Africa, while flooding is expected to increase in eastern Africa nations. The droughts could lead to further food insecurities – a problem that already plagues much of the continent.