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Editorial: Climate catastrophe is already here. What will it take for the world to act?

A new United Nations report blares dire warnings of the escalating effects of climate change: Our planet is no longer on the brink of catastrophe; the catastrophe is well underway. How we respond now will determine how horrific things get for nature and humanity.

In a sweeping assessment released Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists from across the globe found that climate change is causing “dangerous and widespread disruption” to billions of people and the natural world. These effects are coming faster and harder than expected, outpacing our efforts and ability to adapt.

The burning of fossil fuels and other human activity have already warmed Earth by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels. Such activity has worsened wildfires, droughts, air pollution and heat waves; caused animals to go extinct and trees to die en masse; swallowed up coastal habitat; reduced crop yields; increased hunger and shrunk glaciers and other critical water supplies. Any further delay to act “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all,” a 35-page summary of the panel’s findings concludes.

These hard truths should jolt world leaders into immediate action to end the use of fossil fuels and to pour money into protecting communities and ecosystems from the impacts we have already unleashed and those that are yet to come. But, tragically, that seems unlikely. Against a backdrop of global instability and continuing pandemic, this report’s horrific implications will soon fade from the headlines, even as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine clearly illustrates the risks of dependence on Russian oil and gas. It is, after all, only the latest of many alarming reports from scientists over the decades that have largely gone unheeded.

From https://www.latimes.com/

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