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Two degrees Fahrenheit. That increase is all it will take for the long-term effects of our rapidly-warming planet to wreak irrevocable havoc on our environment, affecting every individual and entity who has contributed to our current man-made climate crisis.

“We can expect a significant jump in extreme weather over the next 20 or 30 years,” said climate scientist Piers Forster of the University of Leeds. “Things are unfortunately likely to get worse than they are today.”

Today, in the midst of a summer marked by extreme heat waves and flooding, hundreds of international scientists and climate change experts released a fiery report, which culminated in a dire warning: our planet is in trouble.

The report, created by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a cooperation of scientists whose findings are endorsed by the world’s governments, ended with a rebuke to governments: we must make immediate changes worldwide, as we are running out of time to slow down our world’s climate crisis.

Even curbing carbon emissions from motor vehicles today wouldn’t slow down the climate change process enough to make much of a dent in the crisis. While nearly every United Nations member country signed on to the Paris Climate Accord in 2015, promising to focus on reducing emissions, the reality is that the target emissions increase limit is likely to be exceeded. 

And the changes are almost entirely man-made. “It is a statement of fact, we cannot be any more certain; it is unequivocal and indisputable that humans are warming the planet,” stated Prof Ed Hawkins, one of the report’s authors and a professor at the University of Reading, UK. 

Several countries, including the United States, have promised to make efforts to slow the changes. President Biden has vowed to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050, while China has promised to become carbon-neutral by 2060. It’s a start, according to climate crisis scientists, that can help slow — but not entirely stop — the process of climate change.

The IPCC report is the first of its kind since 2013, and predates another report, set for 2022, on the social effects of the climate crisis. The report arrives just before the COP26, a climate summit slated for later this year in Glasgow. 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...

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