Countdown to Global Catastrophe ; Climate Change: Report Warns Point of No Return May Be Reached in 10 Years, Leading to Droughts, Agricultural Failure and Water Shortages
Michael McCarthy Environment Editor, The Independent (London, England)
THE GLOBAL warming danger threshold for the world is clearly marked for the first time in an international report to be published tomorrow - and the bad news is, the world has nearly reached it already.
The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world - and it is remarkably brief. In as little as 10 years, or even less, their report indicates, the point of no return with global warming may have been reached.
The report, Meeting The Climate Challenge, is aimed at policymakers in every country, from national leaders down. It has been timed to coincide with Tony Blair's promised efforts to advance climate change policy in 2005 as chairman of both the G8 group of rich countries and the European Union.
And it breaks new ground by putting a figure - for the first time in such a high-level document - on the danger point of global warming, that is, the temperature rise beyond which the world would be irretrievably committed to disastrous changes. These could include widespread agricultural failure, water shortages and major droughts, increased disease, sea-level rise and the death of forests - with the added possibility of abrupt catastrophic events such as "runaway" global warming, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, or the switching-off of the Gulf Stream.
The report says this point will be two degrees centigrade above the average world temperature prevailing in 1750 before the industrial revolution, when human activities - mainly the production of waste gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), which retain the sun's heat in the atmosphere - first started to affect the climate. But it points out that global average temperature has already risen by 0.8 degrees since then, with more rises already in the pipeline - so the world has little more than a single degree of temperature latitude before the crucial point is reached.
More ominously still, it assesses the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere after which the two-degree rise will become inevitable, and says it will be 400 parts per million by volume (ppm) of CO2.
The current level is 379ppm, and rising by more than 2ppm annually - so it is likely that the vital 400ppm threshold will
be crossed in just 10 years' time, or even less …
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Publication information: Article title: Countdown to Global Catastrophe ; Climate Change: Report Warns Point of No Return May Be Reached in 10 Years, Leading to Droughts, Agricultural Failure and Water Shortages. Contributors: Michael McCarthy Environment Editor - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 24, 2005. Page number: 1,2. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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