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Scientists weigh in on latest United Nations climate report

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 3:32 PM EDT
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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - This week, the United Nations released a new report showing many governments remain out of sync with the warning of climate scientists.

Here in Eastern North Carolina, experts say without everyone being on the same page, the impacts we’re already seeing from climate change could get worse.

The UN Environment Programme analysis showed 15 major fossil fuel-generating countries will produce roughly 110% more coal, oil, and gas in 2030 than what would be necessary to limit our warming to a critical 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In fact, the report shows the production would be 45% more than what would be consistent with reaching 2 degrees Celsius.

Scientists have long warned that keeping our warming to that threshold is crucial if we’re to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, and we are already seeing changes.

UNC Hydrology professor Dr. Antonia Sebastian says you can see how global warming and climate change are affecting the world just by looking at the United States.

”I think we are already seeing that the events that we previously saw infrequently are happening more frequently and in some cases are more extreme. I think when we think about flooding events, Hurricane Harvey is one that always comes to mind, some of the work that we did showed that climate change increased the intensity of the rain seen during Harvey or total volume of rain seen during Harvey by upwards of 20%.”

Dr. Antonia Sebastian, UNC hydrology professor

Sebastian further explained that other more recent hurricanes like Florence and others have shown similar findings. The heavier precipitation from these storms has been shown to be climate-driven and is something that unfortunately could get worse if action is not taken.

Sebastian and other scientists say they hope that as more and more data comes out to show how devastating the impacts of climate change are, paired with these more intense and devastating weather events, people will begin to take climate change more seriously.

”I would say that there is a growing awareness that some of the extremes that we’re experiencing are climate change-fueled or climate change-driven. Everything from the wildfires in the west to floods we’re seeing in the east,” said Sebastian.

These latest reports from the UN have been released leading up to the massive climate summit in Scotland that is set to begin late next week.

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