Political Science Department Chair Gives Insight on Recent Climate Change Report

A United Nations report says climate issues will get worse if greenhouse-gas emissions continue.

Aerial photo of campus quadThe climate is changing rapidly, and it may be too late to prevent changes to the air and water around us.

Manhattan College political science chair and professor Pamela Chasek, Ph.D., is the editor of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. Chasek also edited an Earth Negotiations Bulletin report on the Summary for Policymakers of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which says things are poised to get worse if greenhouse-gas emissions continue.

The report had a few critical takeaways: 

  • Human influence has warmed the climate system;
  • Widespread and rapid changes in the climate have occurred;
  • The scale of these recent changes is unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years;
  • With further global warming, every region is projected to experience changes, with extremes, such as heavy precipitation, becoming greater in frequency and intensity.

“The report provides a story of the climate from the past to the future, and this story is alarming,” Chasek said. “Unless there are deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, the international targets of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during this century. We can still do something to head off this catastrophe: reaching at least net-zero carbon dioxide emissions and strong reductions in other greenhouse gases.”

Manhattan College’s Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability is undergoing an evaluation of sustainability on campus using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System framework from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

“Colleges and universities like ours can help reach the net-zero target by shifting to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels,” Chasek added. “We can also reduce the carbon footprint of products purchased by buying food and other materials locally, and reduce our waste.”

The IPCC report was compiled by more than 200 scientists, and references over 14,000 peer-reviewed publications, is the part of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report since 1990. Each of these reports undergoes an exhaustive and intensive review process by experts and governments, involving three stages: a first review by experts, a second review by experts and governments, and a third review by governments.

By Pete McHugh