UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said climate change “is a humanitarian issue, a development issue, and an issue of security and stability.”

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is preparing a new assessment of the science of climate change.  These reports will be issued over the next 18 months. But here’s what we know today:

  • A new study says almost every scientific paper on global warming in the last 20 years – 97 percent! – agrees it is mainly caused by human activities, like using coal and oil for energy.
  • The most important contributor to global warming, carbon dioxide pollution, has reached levels the Earth has not experienced in three to five million years.
  • Already, extreme weather events (like storms, floods, and heat waves) have become more frequent and intense, along with rising temperatures and sea levels. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a $20 billion storm surge protection plan for that one city alone.
  • A new report from the International Energy Agency says we are headed toward an increase in global temperatures of 6.5 °F to 9.5 °F, most of it during the lives of young people alive today.

What can any of us do about this? At the UN Foundation, we are helping to get the facts out about climate change. Here’s another opportunity closer to home:

Seven years ago, the film An inconvenient Truth, featuring Vice President Al Gore, won an Oscar for bringing these facts to the forefront. Gore and the IPCC received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” Now An Inconvenient Truth is being released again.

The film’s website also features a discussion of “What We Know Now That We Didn’t Know Then” and 10 ways you can take action now.