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Environment

What's this IPCC I've been hearing so much about and why does it matter?

Part 1 of our series about the link between Climate Change and Global Citizenship

What’s the IPCC?

In 1988 the United Nations tasked a panel with an important mission: To provide accurate and up to date information about the potential impact of climate change to policy makers around the globe. Thus the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was born.

Today, the IPCC is considered the foremost, trusted authority on all things climate change.

With the help of tens of thousands of scientists from around the world, the IPCC examines and analyses scientific reports on climate change in order to create its own massive report every 6 or so years.

To be clear, the IPCC does not conduct its own research. Instead, the panel is tasked with combing through tens of thousands of existing reports, some of which are contradictory, and trying to paint a clear picture of what impact climate change will have on the global community. Once scientists have reached verifiable conclusions, a report is released.

On Monday, March 31, 2014 the IPCC published its latest report.

Until now, the worst effects of climate change have been felt primarily by the developing world, but according to the latest update, the more severe impacts of climate change are already being felt in the global north.

Many of us will recognize the proliferation of extreme weather events: Hurricane Sandy which hit the east coast of the United States and the recent flooding in the UK and Western Europe being just two examples.

Additionally, while it's widely recognized that climate change is responsible for extreme weather changes, the new report indicates that the global food supply is being affectedas well. Crops like wheat and maize are struggling to grow to their full potential, and food prices are rising. This will be an especially worrying problem for Africa, as evidenced in the chart below.

Photo: World Resources Institute

Over the next few weeks, we'll be exploring different perspectives about how climate change will affect the fight to end extreme poverty. Click the button to get updated about when the next installment of the climate series is published and to learn more about how to take action. 

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Christina Nuñez