Quotes from Experts

IPCC Working Group II report: Quotes from contributors

On February 28, 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the second working group section of its latest report, AR6 Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. We asked the following questions to several contributors to the report. Reporters can use the video clips, audio, and comments below in news stories, with attribution to the scientist who made them.

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February 28, 2022


What is the most important take-home message you would like Americans to hear as this report is released?


Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D.

“The most important takeaway message from this report is that we are experiencing significant impacts today because of changing climate, and we expect those impacts to increase in the future because of future climate change. But there are ways that we can reduce future impacts by cutting our greenhouse gas emissions and by taking adaptation actions. So, for example, with respect to heat waves we can give people some warning about heat waves that they’re coming and provide them cooling stations that they can get to in the case that they don’t have air conditioning.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D. (coordinating lead author, North America chapter)
Professor, department of geography and geological sciences, University of Idaho

Tim Kohler, Ph.D.

“All organisms on the surface of the Earth—plants, animals, and people—are adapted to very specific climate conditions. What we are engaging in now is this unprecedented experiment in adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which are raising our temperatures already and are going to raise them much more dramatically. And the effect that that will have is to move the locations on the surface of the Earth that these plants and animals and people are adapted to. What happens when we do that is going to be sort of a little bit chaotic and a little bit hard to plan for.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Tim Kohler, Ph.D. (lead author, North America chapter)
Professor emeritus, archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, Washington State University

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D.

“This report finds that the impacts of climate change are here. In many cases they are worse than expected, and they’ve been hitting every area of the world.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D. (coordinating lead author, point of departure and key concepts chapter)
Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, RAND Corporation

Lisa Levin, Ph.D.

“This report makes it more clear than ever before that climate change is threatening human well-being and the habitability of the planet. It offers us a really clear message that climate impacts on people and nature are really tightly connected, and that climate will affect us both directly, through things like heat waves and wildfire and flooding, but also indirectly through the deterioration of nature, which will ultimately affect our food supply, our water, our shelter, and many more features. We know the more the temperature rises, the fewer mitigation and adaptation solutions that we are going to have available to us. And the report makes it also very clear that climate change is an emergency that we have on our hands now. It’s not background noise or something in the future. And that our window to tackle this problem is very rapidly closing. We need to take care of this now.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Lisa Levin, Ph.D. (review editor, ocean and coastal ecosystems and their services chapter)
Professor, biological oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

What does the new IPCC report tell us about climate change impacts and vulnerabilities in the U.S., in areas such as food, water, and health?


Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D.

“The report documents many impacts in the U.S. that span a range of conditions. Some examples of impacts that have already happened include heat waves that have caused crop damages and human deaths; we’ve seen in the western U.S. lots of additional wildfires and smoke related to that and health concerns about that; there are hotter droughts because of warming; there are floods because of heavy precipitation and severe storms; and we know that there’s expanding diseases associated with vectors like Lyme disease that are affecting more people. So we know that these have happened in the past, and the report indicates that they will intensify in the future with future warming.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D. (coordinating lead author, North America chapter)
Professor, department of geography and geological sciences, University of Idaho

Tim Kohler, Ph.D.

“Every portion of the United States is going to affected in some way by climate change. In the West it might be surface water, it might be irrigation water. Along the coasts it might be sea level rise, it might be decline or movement in fisheries. But there is no place that’s going to be immune, and so there’s no place that one can safely escape to, for example.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Tim Kohler, Ph.D. (lead author, North America chapter)
Professor emeritus, archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, Washington State University

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D.

“There’s a lot of looking at reduced snow pack, which has significantly disrupted water systems in a number of places; severe drought across much of the West, which is going to be significantly exacerbated by climate change. And then there’s flooding—climate change has been increasing flooding across many parts of the country. The general pattern with climate change is that there’s often more precipitation in those places where it tends to rain more, less precipitation in places where it tends to rain less, and climate change has been exacerbating those patterns across the country.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D. (coordinating lead author, point of departure and key concepts chapter)
Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, RAND Corporation

Lisa Levin, Ph.D.

“We know that in the U.S. water shortages are getting more severe, and that climate is altering the timing and amount of things like rainfall and snow pack, and even snow melting in ways that really threaten our water supplies. Warming is also shifting agricultural regions northward and curtailing the ability of southern regions to grow food for us. And this is leading to both crop and livestock loss. And the same is true for marine species. We know that fisheries are moving northward, and this is reducing the yield of both fish and aquaculture products, as well. And then, climate’s intensifying flooding in the U.S., in low-lying areas in particular. And we know that the economically disadvantaged are most affected by these problems. And then, finally, there are health issues. High temperatures and altered rainfall patterns have increased mortality in the United States and increase the risk of diseases that are borne by food or water or vectors like mosquitoes. And we also know there are really serious mental-health issues associated with the disasters that are brought on by climate change.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Lisa Levin, Ph.D. (review editor, ocean and coastal ecosystems and their services chapter)
Professor, biological oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

How should people planning local adaptation and mitigation efforts use the findings of this report to inform their work?


Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D.

“There are several ways people who are working on adaptation and mitigation can use the report. One way is just that the recognition that we may be experiencing quite severe impacts in the near future, and, therefore, they can use this as justification to increase their efforts. The report is laid out in different ways. There are early chapters that describe a particular sector, so if someone’s interested in food they can go to that chapter. If people are interested in a particular geographic region, for instance the U.S. or North America, there’s a particular chapter on that. And then there are actual atlases available—both from this report and from the previously published Working Group I report—that show you more specific regions or more specific impacts in climate change in particular regions.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D. (coordinating lead author, North America chapter)
Professor, department of geography and geological sciences, University of Idaho

Tim Kohler, Ph.D.

“Compared to other places where I’ve lived—and recently I’ve spent several months in Germany, several months in Japan—it seems to me that we have a much higher level of politicization of climate change, and of misinformation and even disinformation surrounding climate change, that many other developed countries seem to have somehow avoided. Now exactly how we get ourselves out of that I don’t know, but it seems to me that getting correct information out there for people who care to use it is of utmost importance, and that’s, of course, one of the most important things that reports like this can do.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Tim Kohler, Ph.D. (lead author, North America chapter)
Professor emeritus, archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, Washington State University

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D.

“It’s got some significant assessments where it goes through a whole list of different sorts of adaptation actions, assesses their feasibility and effectiveness in different contexts—provides information like that. It discusses sources of information where people can go to to try to get more information about what is going to work in their local contexts. It also has a lot of information about governance and about how it’s important to make governance inclusive, and then break down silos between different sectors and jurisdictions—because so many climate impacts don’t correspond to particular jurisdictions—and so cooperation both geographically and among different levels of government. And then it also talks about the need to reach out from not just government or not just business, but for government, businesses, the society, and other organizations all working together and addressing these challenges.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D. (coordinating lead author, point of departure and key concepts chapter)
Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, RAND Corporation

Lisa Levin, Ph.D.

“This new climate report has something for everyone. It addresses mitigation and adaptation in cities, in agriculture, in forests, in oceans. It addresses aspects of finance and economics and governance, as well as issues of equity and justice. In the regional chapters, people can identify the nature of their vulnerabilities, regionally. They can identify the risks and time scales of impacts. People can read about solutions and tradeoffs of different types of actions, and also how to improve resilience and reduce risk and, I think, something that I think is really important: How to use nature to address climate change.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Lisa Levin, Ph.D. (review editor, ocean and coastal ecosystems and their services chapter)
Professor, biological oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Is there anything else reporters should know as they dig into this report?


Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D.

“This report has an additional emphasis on disadvantaged populations—that is the elderly, the poor, the homeless, outdoor laborers, indigenous peoples, and so on. These populations often experience the disproportionate impact of climate change, and they’re quite vulnerable to future climate change. So the report emphasizes that both sustainable development and climate change can be achieved based on societal decisions.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D. (coordinating lead author, North America chapter)
Professor, department of geography and geological sciences, University of Idaho

Tim Kohler, Ph.D.

“As an archeologist, one of the things I see is that, depending on the greenhouse gas emissions over the next 10 or 20 years, we are going to be changing our climates more than has been experienced on the Earth for 12,000 years. The last time we raised temperatures as much as we are poised to raise them right now was 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. We had no control over that, but it massively shifted the places where people could live and where plants and animals could thrive. We’re about to do that again. However, this time ostensibly we have control over that process, and so we have to be sure that we exercise that control to the extent we can.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Tim Kohler, Ph.D. (lead author, North America chapter)
Professor emeritus, archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, Washington State University

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D.

“It really emphasizes how it’s more effective to work with nature as opposed to against it. Ecosystems are among the most vulnerable segments of our world to climate change. But by working with them using, say, wetlands in front of our settlements by the sea to help absorb any sea level storm surge or others is just one example; changing agricultural practices so that they absorb carbon as opposed to emit more carbon to the atmosphere. So there’s a lot of ways that we can harmonize human activities with nature to benefit both. And so the report has a real emphasis on that.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D. (coordinating lead author, point of departure and key concepts chapter)
Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, RAND Corporation

Lisa Levin, Ph.D.

“As an oceanographer I would like reporters to understand that the ocean is a really important part of the climate system. And, although there’s only one chapter in this report dedicated specifically to the ocean, this chapter clearly explains how oceans are vulnerable to the same kinds of changes as on land. Sea level rise and heat waves and ice loss, for example. But also, the ocean is vulnerable to other changes that don’t occur on land. Things like ocean acidification and ocean deoxygenation, which is the loss of oxygen. This chapter, chapter three, tells us that human livelihoods and food security and infrastructure are increasingly dependent on the health of the coastal and open ocean and that our mitigation and adaptation actions need to tackle the ocean as well as land. And I think it’s also important to point out that this report gives some reasons for hope—that the global goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 in the Paris agreement is still intact and that it is actually possible to reach this goal if we act very quickly. The report tells us that everything we do—every action matters, and that there are many side benefits to tackling climate change for both people and for nature. And also the sooner we act the more options we will have.” (Posted February 28, 2022 | Download Video)

Lisa Levin, Ph.D. (review editor, ocean and coastal ecosystems and their services chapter)
Professor, biological oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

Creative Commons LicenseThe text and video on this page are licensed as Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0. Journalists are free to use any text or video on this page with or without attribution to SciLine.

Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D.


Tim Kohler, Ph.D.


Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D.


Lisa Levin, Ph.D.


Creative Commons LicenseThe text and video on this page are licensed as Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0. Journalists are free to use any text or video on this page with or without attribution to SciLine.

Jeffrey Hicke, Ph.D., professor, department of geography and geological sciences, University of Idaho

None.

Tim Kohler, Ph.D., professor emeritus, archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, Washington State University

None.

Robert J. Lempert, Ph.D., director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, RAND Corporation

None.

Lisa Levin, Ph.D., professor, biological oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

None.