Climate change the defining challenge of our age

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    Martin W

      Latest IPCC report – and last one for five years (according to plans; I suspect we'll see more from IPCC before five years elapse) is out. And, as expected, the news is grim.

      From Bloomberg:

      Climate change may continue for centuries, and governments will have to spend billions of dollars annually to slow warming and adapt to its effects, a United Nations panel said. Warming is “unequivocal,'' and is causing Arctic ice to melt, rain to decline in parts of Africa and the Mediterranean, and sea levels to rise, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said today in its fourth report of the year. Clean technologies are available to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and more political action is needed to achieve this, it said. “Slowing and reversing these threats is the defining challenge of our age,'' UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a news conference in Valencia, Spain. Calling the panel's report a policy “guidepost,'' he said: “It contains one overarching message for all of us, that there are real and affordable ways to deal with climate change.'' …

      A continuation of current policies will by 2100 cause bigger effects from greenhouse gas emissions than those seen last century, including a sea level rise of 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) and a temperature increase of 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius (2.0 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit), the panel said. Even stabilizing greenhouse gases at current atmospheric levels would entail an eventual temperature rise beyond 2100 of at least 2 degrees Celsius, and a sea level increase of at least 40 centimeters, the panel said. “Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilised,'' the panel wrote. …

      “Climate change is here already. This document provides all the evidence that is necessary,'' Hans Verolme, director of the climate change program for WWF International, said in an interview. “Policymakers can't say: `I did not know, I wasn't there, and I wasn't told what to do.' The report makes very clear if we don't act in the next 10 years, we're fried.''

      Global Warming to Continue for Centuries, UN Says From the International Herald Tribune:

      Far more powerfully then ever before, members of the UN panel said Saturday that their review of the data had led them to conclude that reductions in greenhouse gases had to start immediately to avert a global climate disaster that could leave island states submerged and abandoned, decrease African crop yields by 50 percent and lower global economic output by 5 percent or more. The panel, co-winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, said the world would have to reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 to avert major problems. "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late, there is not time," said Rajendra Pachauri, a scientist and economist who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

      "What we do in the next 2-3 years will determine our future. This is the defining moment." He said that since the panel began its work 5 years ago, scientists had recorded "much stronger trends in climate change" like an unpredicted melt of polar ice in recent years. "That means you better start with intervention much earlier," he said.

      Ban calls climate change 'defining challenge of our age'

      Martin W

        UN Development Programme likewise expressing massive concerns re climate change.
        Press release begins:

        Brasilia, 27 November 2007—With governments preparing to gather in Bali,
        Indonesia to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Development
        Programme’s Human Development Report has warned that the world should focus on the
        development impact of climate change that could bring unprecedented reversals in
        poverty reduction, nutrition, health and education.
        The report, Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a
        divided world, provides a stark account of the threat posed by
        global warming. It argues that the world is drifting towards a
        “tipping point” that could lock the world’s poorest countries
        and their poorest citizens in a downward spiral, leaving
        hundreds of millions facing malnutrition, water scarcity,
        ecological threats, and a loss of livelihoods.
        “Ultimately, climate change is a threat to humanity as a whole.
        But it is the poor, a constituency with no responsibility for the
        ecological debt we are running up, who face the immediate and
        most severe human costs,” commented UNDP Administrator
        Kemal Dervi_.
        The report comes at a key moment in negotiations to forge a
        multilateral agreement for the period after 2012—the expiry
        date for the current commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
        It calls for a “twin track” approach that combines stringent
        mitigation to limit 21st Century warming to less than 2°C
        (3.6°F), with strengthened international cooperation on
        On mitigation, the authors call on developed countries to
        demonstrate leadership by cutting greenhouse gas emissions by
        at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. The report advocates a
        mix of carbon taxation, more stringent cap-and-trade
        programmes, energy regulation, and international cooperation
        on financing for low-carbon technology transfer.
        Turning to adaptation, the report warns that inequalities in
        ability to cope with climate change are emerging as an
        increasingly powerful driver of wider inequalities between and
        within countries. It calls on rich countries to put climate change
        adaptation at the centre of international partnerships on poverty
        “We are issuing a call to action, not providing a counsel of
        despair,” commented lead author Kevin Watkins, adding,
        “Working together with resolve, we can win the battle against
        climate change. Allowing the window of opportunity to close
        would represent a moral and political failure without precedent
        in human history.” He described the Bali talks as a unique opportunity to put the interests of the world’s poor at the
        heart of climate change negotiations.

        you can obtain this and other press releases and info, including the report, from
        Human Development Report Office

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