Nightly News   |  March 31, 2014

No One Is Immune: Study Offers Bleak Climate Change Outlook

A new massive report on global warming says dangers will worsen as the climate changes.

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>>> good evening, the world has never been spoken to quite this way. we've never been warned like this before, all of us, about climate change , nor have so many countries agreed quite this much on the clear and present danger it represents. here is the takeaway, unless the world changes course quickly and dramatically, the fundamental systems that support human civilization are at risk. this is all coming from the u.n. and the evidence is convincing enough in part because so many nations have agreed with these findings that it will hit home across this country, especially in those population areas where people may need to be on the move faster than they first thought. it is where we begin tonight with our chief environmental correspondent anne thompson in new jersey. anne, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian, when superstorm sandy hit here the water was above my head. now homes in this area are being raised eight feet off the ground and this is why. the ocean is a quarter mile away, and today's u.n. report says that coastal communities like this one are at risk and in the worse case scenario could disappear altogether. rising sea levels are making storm surges more deadly, wildfires and heat waves are more intense, glaciers are shrinking, and today in green land where melting has doubled in the last ten years, more ice is going into the ocean.

>> it is nature's thermometer, and when it goes away, we know we're in trouble.

>> reporter: despite decades of dire warnings, the carbon dioxide elements went up since last year. what kind of risk does that pose to people?

>> people who live in cities, people along the coast, in fact anybody who eats is at risk for climate change .

>> reporter: oppenheimer says yields of two crucial crop, wheat and corn, were decreasing because of the changing climate. and that could lead to conflict in a world where the population is growing.

>> the lack of food and water create problems, after all those are the basics of life, in some places where you have instability it will probably make it worse.

>> reporter: not just on land, the oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide , becoming more acidic. coral reefs are dying. and bill taylor says his oyster supply is declining.

>> ultimately the whole shell fish is at risk, if they can't form a shell, we're out of business.

>> reporter: the report says we could avoid the risk if we reduce the emissions and moving infrastructures and people out of harm's way, in illinois, the government is buying and tearing down homes in a flood zone. but if nothing is done the report warns that snowpacks in the west will shrink, causing water shortages and record droughts. and the record heat of 2012 could become routine.

>> we're likely to see most summers being hotter than the historically hottest summer. so what used to be the extreme, literally becoming the new normal.

>> reporter: and these changes are picking up speed affecting food and water supplies , human health and the loss of global species, the scientists say no one and no place will be immune. brian?

>> anne thompson , port monmouth , new jersey. only -- on the jersey shore , anne, thank you.