UN's Dire Warnings-IPCC: Warming ruining society...


by Janet Ritz

The UN, at the IPCC climate change meeting in Belgium today, issued a report that global warming is even worse than had been recently thought:

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- Top climate experts warned on Friday that global warming will cause faster and wider damage than previously forecast, ranging from hunger in Africa and Asia to extinctions and rising ocean levels.

More than 100 nations in the U.N. climate panel agreed a final text after all-night disputes with some scientists accusing government delegates of watering down their findings in a draft 21-page summary for policymakers.

"We have an approved report," Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told reporters after the talks in Brussels.

Long term impact, according to the report: change in sea level, impact on urban environments, increase in humidity, intensity of weather, global impact (which the report calls "catastrophic").

From the NewsHour story:

STEVE SCHNEIDER, Lead Author, Climate Study: Don't be poor in a hot country. Don't live in hurricane alley. Watch out about being on the coasts or in the Arctic. It's a bad idea to be up on the high mountains with your glaciers melting and losing your water supply. And if you're in the Mediterranean climate, you're going to have a fire season in the summer that's really going to be a problem.

The IPCC summary says:

the poor will be hardest hit by changes including desertification, drought, and rising sea levels. The IPCC groups 2,500 scientists and is the top world authority on climate change.

Its findings are approved unanimously by governments and will guide policy in coming years on issues such as extending the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the main U.N. plan for capping greenhouse gas emissions, beyond 2012.

There are scientists crying foul on one aspect of the report:

China, Russia and Saudi Arabia had raised most objections during the night to a 21-page summary which makes clear that the poor will suffer most. Other participants also said the United States had toned down some passages.

Some scientists objected, for instance, after China tried to eliminate a note saying that there was "very high confidence" that climate change was already affecting "many natural systems, on all continents and in some oceans."

China, the second largest source of greenhouse gases after the United States and ahead of Russia, wanted no mention of the level of confidence.

A tone down report that says to expect "catastrophic" changes in the climate and impact on society...

Who is the IPCC?

Recognizing the problem of potential global climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. It is open to all members of the
UN and WMO.

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Their conclusion to date?

The impact of climate change is worse than we thought, the poorest countries and most vulnerable species will suffer the greatest, but every continent will be impacted more than had been previously reported.

Oh, and for anyone who thinks that Climate Change is not a real problem or that this report shouldn't be taken seriously (there are still a few), a report from Gavin Schmidt of NASA on his attempt to reason with deniers recently (loved his summary: "Well, that was interesting...").

My conclusion?

It's time for everyone to reduce their carbon footprint and to get ready for a changed environment, because we're all at effect of it now.