(CN) – Earth will see three feet in sea-level rises by 2100 unless we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, a Wednesday report from the United Nations forecasts.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its findings two days after teen climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a passionate address at the U.N.’s climate action summit in New York, calling out members for focusing on “money and fairytales of eternal economic growth” when the planet is at “the beginning of a mass extinction.”
The report effectively echoes Thunberg’s words, urging leaders to take urgent action against the crisis. With 104 authors from 36 countries, it details the latest scientific literature on the ocean and cryosphere’s reaction to global warming, referencing close to 7,000 publications.
“The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people,” Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC said in a statement Wednesday. “But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways — for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”
Wednesday’s report pushes global leaders to drastically reduce their carbon emissions now to make life more manageable later on. It emphasizes that rising sea levels could soon make some island nations uninhabitable.
According to the analysis, a warmer ocean and fewer icebergs are expected to lessen marine animal and fish populations, weaken ocean currents, and foster ocean temperatures that fuel high-level hurricanes and powerful El Niño storms.
The world is 71% covered in ocean, with ice and snow covering another 10%, but the ocean absorbs around 90% of the heat produced by carbon pollution, according to the report.
“The world’s oceans and cryosphere have been ‘taking the heat’ for climate change for decades,” said Ko Barrett, vice chair of the IPCC. “The consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe.”
The report estimates that the ocean is currently rising at one-seventh of an inch per year. At the same time, Arctic June snow cover has decreased by 1 million square miles since 1967.
However, the scientists emphasized that this report should trigger action, rather than resignation to an unfortunate fate.
“The more decisively and the earlier we act, the more able we will be to address unavoidable changes, manage risks, improve our lives and achieve sustainability for ecosystems and people around the world,” Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, said, “today and in the future.”