Scorcher Summers For Europe , Disrupted Food Supplies, Broken Growth If No Climate Action Taken
24 March 2014
A draft report, part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to be delivered on Tuesday predicts a future full of floods, drought, conflict, economic damage and slow economic growth, disrupted food supplies, if no action on climate crisis is taken. The crisis may already be causing irreversible damage to nature
The UN report will put pressure on governments to act. By reducing carbon emissions “over the next few decades”, the world can stave off many of the worst climate consequences by century's end, says the report.
Reports by news agencies including Reuters and AFP said:
A draft report, part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is to be delivered on Tuesday in Yokohama , Japan .
Scientists are now more certain than ever that human activity caused global warming.
It predicted global temperatures would rise 0.3-4.8 degrees Celsius (0.5-8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, adding to roughly 0.7 C since the Industrial Revolution. Seas will creep up by 26-82 centimeters (10.4-32.8 inches) by 2100.
The draft warns costs will spiral with each additional degree, although it is hard to forecast by how much.
Many scientists concur that recent heatwaves and floods were evidence of climate change already on the march – and signal a future in which once-freakish weather events become much less rare.
The perils listed in the draft report incude:
Hunger : Average yields of wheat, rice and corn may fall by two percent per decade while demand for crops is likely to rise by up to 14 percent by 2050 as Earth's population grows. The crunch will hit the poor, tropical countries worst. Crop yields would range from unchanged to a fall of up to 2 percent a decade, compared to a world without warming.
Broken growth : Warming of 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could mean “global aggregate economic losses between 0.2 and 2.0 percent of income”, a figure that could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Security threat : Poverty, migration and hunger are invisible drivers of turbulence and war, as they sharpen competition for dwindling resources.
Flood : Rising greenhouse-gas emissions will "significantly" boost the risk of floods, with Europe and Asia particularly exposed. In the highest warming scenarios of untamed GHG emissions, three times as many people will be exposed to severe river flooding as with lower warming.
Drought : For every 1 C (1.8 F) rise in temperature, another seven percent of the world's population will see renewable water resources decline by a fifth.
Abrupt changes : Some natural systems may face risks of “abrupt or drastic changes” that could mean irreversible shifts, such as a runaway melt of Greenland or a drying of the Amazon rainforest. There were “early warning signs that both coral reef and Arctic systems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts”. Corals are at risk in warmer seas and the Arctic region is thawing fast.
Rising seas : If no measures are taken, "hundreds of millions" of coastal dwellers will be displaced by 2100. Small-island states and East, Southeast and South Asia will be the biggest land-losers.
Species loss : A "large fraction" of land and freshwater species may risk extinction, their habitat destroyed by climate change.
“Climate change over the 21st century will lead to new challenges to states and will increasingly shape national security policies”, the draft summary says.
“Small-island states and other states highly vulnerable to sea-level rise face major challenges to their territorial integrity.
“Some trans-boundary impacts of climate change, such as changes in sea ice, shared water resources and migration of fish stocks, have the potential to increase rivalry among states. The presence of robust institutions can manage many of these rivalries to reduce conflict risk.”
Scientists and more than 100 governments will meet in Japan from March 25-29 to edit and approve the report. It will guide policies in the run-up to a UN summit in Paris in 2015 to decide a deal to curb rising GHG emissions.
Chris Field of Stanford University and a co-chair of the IPCC report told Reuters over telephone: “It doesn't require 100 percent certainty before you have creative options for moving forwards ... there are compelling adaptation options.”
The report points to options such as improved planning for disasters such as hurricanes or flooding, efforts to breed drought- or flood-resistant crops, measures to save water and energy or wider use of insurance.
Field said the IPCC will have to take account of thousands of comments since the draft was leaked to a climate skeptic's website late last year.
The draft now projects Himalayan ice will range from a 2 percent gain to a 29 percent loss by 2035. “It is virtually certain that these projections are more reliable than an earlier erroneous assessment,” it says.
Many people in big emitting countries are unconvinced. Only 40 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Chinese view climate change as a major threat, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 39 nations in 2013.
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