Climate change report shows alarming trends

PALO ALTO, Calif.

No mincing words, here -- last year was the hottest ever recorded. Every decade has been warmer since they started keeping track. ABC7 News spoke with Terry Root, Ph.D., of Stanford, who worked on this report and says the trends are alarming.

"You don't tell how bad it is because it will paralyze people," said Root.

Root is one name among hundreds of scientists who worked on this latest climate change report. The word frustration fails to capture the full measure of her concern.

"When I started in this field 25 years ago, I really believed that we could stop mass extinction from occurring. I'm now to the place where I see we're on the trajectory that mass extinction will occur. We're going to lose half the species on the planet. It will be very hard not to lose half the species on the planet," said Root.

It's a prognostication based on objective science in the latest IPCC report. It's a study that notes how we're already seeing a changing climate in melting ice caps and rising sea levels.

"If we completely lose Greenland, the oceans could go up as many as seven to nine feet," said Root.

And we're seeing it in super storms. Remember Hurricane Sandy, last year? The panel says it, too, was a product of climate change -- a hurricane amplified by rising temperatures. We can expect more like it and more often.

"We are used to being in a very stable weather pattern. Very stable climate pattern. We are going to a time now when it's not going to be stable," said Root.

California's drought is also a product, not just of weather, but the long term effect of climate on the weather. There will be less snow, earlier springs and runoffs, less water for crops. Sorry to scare you, Root says, but this is happening now, and if humans do not drastically reduce carbon emissions, we'll see much worse.

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