The Final Verdict
The Fourth Assessment of the International Panel on Climate Change is due to come out in February. Here is an early look from The Observer .
Global warming: the final verdict
A study by the world's leading experts says global warming will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought
Sunday January 21, 2007
Global warming is destined to have a far more destructive and earlier impact than previously estimated, the most authoritative report yet produced on climate change will warn next week.
A draft copy of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained by The Observer, shows the frequency of devastating storms - like the ones that battered Britain last week - will increase dramatically.
Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre; snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains; deserts will spread; oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls; and deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent.
The impact will be catastrophic, forcing hundreds of millions of people to flee their devastated homelands, particularly in tropical, low-lying areas, while creating waves of immigrants whose movements will strain the economies of even the most affluent countries.
'The really chilling thing about the IPCC report is that it is the work of several thousand climate experts who have widely differing views about how greenhouse gases will have their effect. Some think they will have a major impact, others a lesser role.
Each paragraph of this report was therefore argued over and scrutinised intensely. Only points that were considered indisputable survived this process. This is a very conservative document - that's what makes it so scary,' said one senior UK climate expert.
Climate concerns are likely to dominate international politics next month. President Bush is to make the issue a part of his state of the union address on Wednesday while the IPCC report's final version is set for release on 2 February in a set of global news conferences."
The report reflects climate scientists' growing fears that Earth is nearing the stage when carbon dioxide rises will bring irreversible change to the planet. 'We are seeing vast sections of Antarctic ice disappearing at an alarming rate,' said climate expert Chris Rapley, in a phone call to The Observer from the Antarctic Peninsula last week.
'That means we can expect to see sea levels rise at about a metre a century from now on - and that will have devastating consequences.'
However, there is still hope, said Peter Cox of Exeter University. 'We are like alcoholics who have got as far as admitting there is a problem. It is a start. Now we have got to start drying out - which means reducing our carbon output."
According to many, society must reduce its emissions of carbon by 90% in the next 23 years, if we are to have a chance in avoiding dramatic species ending repercussions.
Folks, this is not some quadrennial presidential campaign.
This is not something that might go the way of Y2K.
We simply must begin to move boldy from carbon to light.
Simultaneously, we must also begin to prepare for the coming changes.
We must transform our economic systems,
we must change our transportation appliances,
we must transform and reconfigure our settlements,
we must change our sense of who we are, and
we must become the best that we can imagine.
It will only be horrible,
if we don't do it.
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