In a first, IPCC to list impact of climate crisis on mental health

Climate scientists and national representatives met Monday for a two-week virtual conference to finalize the final section of the sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which, for the first time, is expected to also report on the mental health impacts of the climate crisis.

“Part of the mental health challenge is doomsday fears among the young generation. Therefore, we must be careful how we communicate the results of our science and if we talk about the collapse of the biosphere and the disappearance of humanity,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, during the ceremony of opening of the 55th session of the United Nations (UN)-backed body that compiles the latest scientific opinion on global warming

The report, which will have a summary for policymakers that the conference will review line by line, will cover the impacts of the climate crisis on the economy, food security, the biosphere, health and mental health. The summary will be published on February 28.

The IPCC in August last year published a comprehensive report on the basis of the physical science of climate change that influenced the Glasgow climate summit in November. The physics community was clear about what is happening so far and expected it to happen in the coming decades, especially about melting glaciers and rising sea levels, Taalas said.

“The increasing trend of disasters is expected to continue at least until the 2060s, and sea level rise will continue for much longer because we have already exceeded 420 ppm CO2 concentrations,” said the head of the meteorological agency. from the ONU. “If we have carbon removal technologies available, we could change that. So far that is not the case.”

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In 1980, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere hovered around 340 parts per million (ppm), according to the World Meteorological Organization.

The impacts of the climate crisis are visible and clearly understood by heads of state, and they did not question scientific information at the Glasgow conference, Taalas noted. “Africa, South Asia and the Pacific islands are very vulnerable when it comes to the impacts of climate change,” he said.

The current sixth cycle of the assessment report is the most ambitious in the IPCC’s history, said Hoesung Lee, chairman of the scientific body. Compared to its previous reports, the latest one will have more general and local information with a focus on natural, social and economic sciences, Lee said.

Over the next two weeks, policymakers from 196 countries and 270 scientists from 67 nations will discuss the Summary for Policymakers.

“The first IPCC Sixth Assessment Working Group report in 2021 quantified physical changes in past and future climate, due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The second report of the working group will elaborate on the impacts and risks due to these physical changes and point out ways to reduce these risks through adaptation,” Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said last week.

“South Asia, and particularly India, already faces heightened risks from increased extreme weather events, such as floods, landslides and droughts, cyclones, heat and cold waves, and rising sea levels. The dense population and low family income in the region will increase the vulnerability and risk we face,” Koll said. “Therefore, we urgently need to adopt adaptation measures to build a climate-resilient and disaster-proof country, but that will require immediate policies and actions.”

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