If you care about environmental issues, health issues, economic issues, or development issues – or if you just care about the future – then you should know about today’s report from Working Group I of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The IPCC provides the most comprehensive and authoritative scientific assessment on climate change.  Hundreds of climate scientists from around the world have evaluated the most up-to-date research on the physical science of climate change, and they are now more certain than ever that climate change is real and that it’s caused by human activities – mostly the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. 

We are already feeling the effects of climate change – from rising sea levels to more intense storms – and basic physics and chemistry tell us that temperatures will rise further because of the emissions we have already put into the atmosphere.

Now is the time to respond to this threat with force and urgency. Global leaders should listen to the science and take responsible steps to protect our air, land, and water for future generations.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”  The consequences of inaction are enormous: environmental degradation, pollution that threatens our health, economic losses from climate-related events, and setbacks in our development work.

On the other hand, confronting the climate crisis will have far-reaching benefits.  The UN Foundation’s Founder and Chairman Ted Turner believes climate change is one of humanity’s most serious problems, but he also believes that the response to climate change is one of our greatest opportunities. By moving to a low-carbon future, we can cut pollution, create new jobs and industries, and put our planet on a sustainable path.

There is reason for hope: The costs of clean energy technologies continue to drop; researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs are developing new products and finding new ways to save energy and reduce pollution; communities around the world, from New York City to small island nations, are taking action to prepare and respond to the climate challenge; and citizens around the world, especially young people, passionately care about this issue.

But given the size of the challenge, we need a greater response.  This global problem will require a global solution.

Each of us can help: We have the tools and technologies to make progress, but we must come together and build greater will for action.  Visit the new global online community at Climasphere.org to read more about the issue, and share what you learn with your friends and family.  Together, we can help build momentum for a global response to climate change that is equal to the challenge.  Future generations deserve no less.

Follow me on Twitter: @kathy_Calvin.