AUSTIN (KXAN) — The recently-released Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) paints a clear message from the world’s best climate scientists: Drastic changes are needed immediately to secure a livable future on this planet.

Chief Meteorologist David Yeomans interviewed Dr. Ben Kirtman of the University of Miami Rosenstiel School — a climate science Ph.D and one of the authors of a previous IPCC report — on KXAN News at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Dr. Kirtman said this latest climate assessment paints a stark contrast to previous reports in terms of how quickly and drastically changes to greenhouse gas emissions need to occur in order to cap global warming at 1.5°C (approximately 3°F) by the year 2050. In fact, the scientists in the report found that we now have a greater than 50% chance of surpassing 1.5°C of warming by 2050.

Local Texas impacts

Central Texas is expected to become more arid as rainfall becomes less reliable and higher temperatures evaporate more of our surface water supply. Texas droughts are expected to get worse.

“Places that are dry and tend to have dry climates are going to get drier, and those places that tend to be a little bit wetter are going to get wetter. And that’s going to get more extreme as we go into the future,” Kirtman said.

Is it too late to act?

When asked about the grim outlook this report paints, Kirtman was still optimistic for the future. He said if countries stop opening new coal-fired power plants, cities invest in more trees and greenspaces and residents shift more toward electric transportation, it could make a significant impact.

“I’m actually quite optimistic that if we do everything, we could reach our goal of stabilizing the climate at 3 degrees (Fahrenheit) warming before the mid-century,” Kirtman said. “The situation is serious, it is dire. We need to act now. But if we do act now, we can reverse the trends that we’re seeing.”