Global Warming Is On Right Now


UN Panel Offers Dire Warming Forecast

Posted: 11-17-2007

VALENCIA, Spain (Nov. 17) - The Earth is hurtling toward a warmer climate at a quickening pace, a Nobel-winning U.N. scientific panel said in a landmark report released Saturday, warning of inevitable human suffering and the threat of extinction for some species.

Beach erosion claims an Alaskan house. A climate change report from earlier in 2007 predicts that sea levels will increase seven to 23 inches by 2100, speeding erosion and threatening coastal land.

The U.N. report also estimates that global warming will cause a temperature increase between 3.6 and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, with the best estimate around 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Uncommonly warm winter weather has left many European ski resorts high and dry. A University of Innsbruck study suggests that due to an average 3 percent decrease in Alpine ice, glaciers in the Alps will melt away by 2050.

Britain's Meteorological Office reported in January that 2007 is likely to the the warmest year ever recorded. El Nino and high levels of greenhouse gasses are raising global temperatures enough to break the record set in 1998.

More than 100 cold-dependent species are in trouble. Polar bears have started dropping in numbers and weight and emperor penguin populations have shrunk by a factor of 30 in some areas.

Central American harlequin frogs have lost 67 percent of their population in the last 20 to 30 years. Their warming environment has become a breeding ground for a fungus that is deadly to the frogs.

One study says that the average global temperature has risen to the warmest level of the past 12,000 years. Temperatures are only 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit below the maximum temperature of the past million years.

Two studies released in March 2006 found that despite the increasing snowfall that comes with global warming, Antarctica's ice sheets are losing far more surface area than the snow is adding.

The rate of ice melting doubled between 1996 and 2005. This graphic shows seasonal melting in 1992 (left) and 2002 (right).

Some 4 million acres of mature trees in Alaska have been killed by spruce bark beetles. Scientists believe that warmer temperatures have allowed the beetles to breed and mature twice as fast as normal.

Sugar maple trees are migrating farther north out of New England as temperatures rise, putting a dent in the maple syrup industry.

Mosquitoes that carry malaria or dengue fever are moving into formerly inhospitable areas at higher elevations. Global warming is expected to increase the range of mosquitoes and the virulence of their diseases.

More than 250 people died in a heat wave that baked much of the United States in 1999, and in 2003 extreme heat waves killed 20,000 people in Europe and 1,500 in India.

Scientists believe global warming will increase the risk of wildfires, such as this 2003 California blaze that burned more than 300,000 acres, by raising temperatures and causing an earlier spring.

Rising temperatures are to blame for increased rainfall and more extreme flooding. In the United States, annual precipitation has increased between 5 and 10 percent since the early 20th century.

"Bleached" coral reefs that protect coastal areas and harbor some of the most colorful life on Earth are dying prematurely because of warming ocean waters and higher levels of carbon dioxide.

You can do many things to help slow down global warming, including planting trees near your house to help shade it and reduce your energy use. You can also drive your car less, buy energy-efficient appliances and recycle.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said climate change imperils "the most precious treasures of our planet" and called on the United States and China - the world's two biggest polluters - to do more to fight it.

As early as 2020, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will suffer water shortages, residents of Asia's megacities will be at great risk of river and coastal flooding, Europeans can expect extensive species loss, and North Americans will experience longer and hotter heat waves and greater competition for water, the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says.

The potential impact of global warming is "so severe and so sweeping that only urgent, global action will do," Ban told the IPCC after it issued its fourth and final report this year.

The IPCC adopted the report, along with a summary, after five days of sometimes tense negotiations. It lays out blueprints for avoiding the worst catastrophes - and various possible outcomes, depending on how quickly and decisively action is taken.

The document says recent research has heightened concern that the poor and the elderly will suffer most from climate change; that hunger and disease will be more common; that droughts, floods and heat waves will afflict the world's poorest regions; and that more animal and plant species will vanish.

The Summary for Policymakers, and the longer version, called the synthesis report, distill thousands of pages of data and computer models from six years of research compiled by the IPCC.

The information is expected to guide policy makers meeting in Bali, Indonesia, next month to discuss an agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Scientists laid out a timeline of the planet's future in April. 2007: The world population surpasses 6.6 billion as more people now live in cities than in rural areas, changing patterns of land use.

2008: Global oil production peaks between 2008 and 2018, triggering a global recession, food shortages and conflicts between nations over dwindling supplies.

2020: Flash floods increase across Europe. Less rainfall reduces agriculture yields by up to 50 percent in some areas. Population reaches 7.6 billion.

2030: As much as 18 percent of the world's coral reefs are lost as a result of the changing climate and other environmental stresses.

2040: The Arctic Sea is ice-free in the summer, and winter ice depth shrinks drastically. Some say this won't happen until 2060 to 2105.

2050: Large glaciers shrink by 30 to 70 percent as a quarter of the plant and vertebrate animal species on the planet face extinction.

2070: As warmer, drier conditions lead to more frequent and longer droughts, electricity production for the world's existing hydropower stations decreases.

2080: Between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people experience water shortages and up to 600 million go hungry.

2085: The risk of dengue fever from climate change increases to 3.5 billion people.

2100: A quarter of all species of plants and land animals -- more than a million total -- are driven to extinction.

2200: An Earth day is 0.12 milliseconds shorter, as rising temperatures cause oceans to expand toward the poles, speeding up the planet's rotation. Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


The panel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year along with former Vice President Al Gore for their efforts to raise awareness about the effects of climate change.

The report is important because it is adopted by consensus, meaning countries accept the underlying science and cannot disavow its conclusions. While it does not commit governments to a specific course of action, it provides a common scientific baseline for the political talks.

The U.N. says a new global plan must be in place by 2009 to ensure a smooth transition after the expiration of the Kyoto terms, which require 36 industrial countries to radically reduce their carbon emissions by 2012.

"There are real and affordable ways to deal with climate change," Ban said. He said a new agreement should provide funding to help poor countries adopt clean energy and to adapt to changing climates.

Ban encouraged the United States and China, which have stood apart from the Kyoto accord, to join in the next phase of cooperative efforts against climate change.

"I look forward to seeing the U.S. and China playing a more constructive role starting from the Bali conference," Ban told reporters. "Both countries can lead in their own way."

The report says emissions of carbon, which comes primarily from fossil fuels, must stabilize by 2015 and go down after that. Otherwise the consequences could be "disastrous," said IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri.

In the best-case scenario, temperatures will continue to rise from carbon already in the atmosphere, the report said. Even if factories were shut down today and cars taken off the roads, the average sea level will reach as high as 4 1/2 feet higher than the preindustrial period, or about 1850.

"We have already committed the world to sea level rise," said Pachauri. If the Greenland ice sheet melts, the scientists couldn't even predict by how many meters the seas will rise, drowning coastal cities.

Bangkok, Thailand
Area Population: 7,221,000

Jakarta, Indonesia
Area Population: 9,815,000

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Area Population: 10,556,000

Osaka, Japan
Area Population: 10,609,000

Dhaka, Bangladesh
Area Population: 10,979,000

Karachi, Pakistan
Area Population: 11,774,000

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Area Population: 12,431,000

Calcutta, India
Area Population: 12,900,000

Los Angeles, USA
Area Population: 13,129,000

Lagos, Nigeria
Area Population: 13,488,000

Shanghai, China
Area Population: 14,173,000

New York City, USA
Area Population: 16,626,000

Mumbai, India
Area Population: 18,042,000

Tokyo, Japan
Area Population: 28,025,000
Sources: AP,


Yet differences remain stark on how to control carbon emissions.

While the European Union has taken the lead in enforcing the carbon emission targets outlined in Kyoto, the United States opted out of the 1997 accord.

President Bush described it as flawed because major developing countries such as India and China, which are large carbon emitters, were excluded from any obligations. He also favors a voluntary agreement.

Sharon Hays, a White House science official and head of the U.S. delegation, said the certainty of climate change was clearer now than when Bush rejected Kyoto.

"What's changed since 2001 is the scientific certainty that this is happening," she said in a conference call to reporters late Friday. "Back in 2001 the IPCC report said it is likely that humans were having an impact on the climate," but confidence in human responsibility had increased since then.

"What's new is the clarity of the signal, how clear the scientific message is," said Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate change official. "The politicians have no excuse not to act."

Opening with a sweeping statement directed at climate change skeptics, the summary declares that climate systems have already begun to change.

Unless action is taken, human activity could lead to "abrupt and irreversible changes" that would make the planet unrecognizable.

Advocacy groups hailed the report as indispensable for the 10,000 delegates expected at Bali.

"We expect to see their personal copies of the Synthesis Report return from Bali, battered and worn from frequent use, with paragraphs underlined and notes in the margin," said Stephanie Tunmore of Greenpeace.

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Good movie to see  on the subject ''The Day After Tomorrow''