U.N. global climate report shows severe impact on food security as Earth heats up

U.N. global climate report shows severe impact on food security
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, U.S President Joe Biden, center, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, right, are pictured at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Nov. 1, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. A U.N. global climate report Wednesday said climate change caused severe impacts on global food security as four climate change indicators set new records in 2021. Photo by Kiara Worth/COP26/UPI | License Photo

May 18 (UPI) — Climate change continued to heat up the Earth in 2021 as concentrations of greenhouse gases increased, sea-ice mass shrank and ocean levels rose, according to a new report from the United Nations World Meteorological Organization. Severe impacts on food security were felt worldwide.

The WMO State of the Global Climate In 2021 report said four key climate change indicators — greenhouse gases, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification — set new records in 2021.

Climate change impacts in 2021 included “loss and damages of more than $100 billion, as well as severe impacts on food security and humanitarian aspects due to high-impact weather and climate events,” the report said.

“This is yet another clear sign that human activities are causing planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean, and in the atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for sustainable development and ecosystems,” the World Meteorological Organization said in a statement.

In a video message and statement, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres criticized “the dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption” as he called for urgent action to jump-start the renewable energy transition.

Guterres called for action on five ways to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. They include shifting energy subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, tripling investments in renewable energy, improving global access to renewable energy components and raw materials, removing intellectual property rights barriers and sharing technology to make renewable energy technology available to all.

The report said 2015-2021 were the warmest seven years on record as drought affected many parts of the world, leading to lower crop production and water shortages while inflicting loss and damages of more than $100 billion.

Widespread “extreme to exceptional drought” covered most of western North America as it spread and intensified in 2021.

“Most of the excess energy that accumulates in the Earth system due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases is taken up by the ocean,” the report said. “The added energy warms the ocean, and the consequent thermal expansion of the water leads to sea-level rise, to which is added melting land ice.”

This process increases ocean acidity. All of these climate changes have “a broad range of impacts and interactions in the ocean and coastal areas of the planet,” according to the report.

Global climate indicators measured by this report “build a consistent picture of a warming world that touches all parts of the Earth system.”

These include concentrations of greenhouse gases, global annual mean surface temperature, global mean sea level, ocean heat content, ocean acidification, sea-ice extent and changes in mass of the ice sheets and glaciers.

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