August 07, 2003

Global Warming May Be Speeding Up, Fears Scientist

Condi Rice, the White House au pair, has told some
whoppers in the three years she has been doing the
_resident's homework for him, but she did speak one
powerful truth in the midst of the flap of the
_resident's foolish and unnecessary war in Iraq -- she
said that there was no challenge that Europe and the
US could not overcome if they work together. That's
the truth! Of course, it is a sad truth at this point
because the Western alliance is seriously fractured,
perhaps lost forever, due to the _resident's
unilateral military adventure and the disgraceful
bullying and lying that was done to *justify* it and
coerce others into joining the debacle. We did not
have to go into Iraq, not for the publicly stated
lies, not for the hidden agenda of having a launching
pad into Saudi ready for when it collapses, not in the
way in which we did it alone, urgently and in
violation of the UN charter. But here is a vital,
global issue that does require the immediate and
coordinated efforts of the US and Europe.
Unfortunately, when the man who lost the election was
sworn into office, the US veered from science, veered
from reality, veered from the consensus of the
international community and ran from its
responsibility. The Clinton-Gore team had identified
both global warming and AIDS in Africa as *national
security* issues, as indeed they are...Just another
terribly painful illustration of how wrong and craven
Ralph Nada's lie about there being no difference
between a vote for Gore and a vote for Bush really

Published on Wednesday, August 6, 2003 by the
Global Warming May Be Speeding Up, Fears Scientist
Alarm at 'unusual' heatwaves across northern

by John Vidal

One of Europe's leading scientists yesterday raised
the possibility that the extreme heatwave now settled
over at least 30 countries in the northern hemisphere
could signal that man-made climate change is

"The present heatwave across the northern hemisphere
is worrying. There is the small probability that
man-made climate change is proceeding much faster and
stronger than expected," said Professor John
Schellnhuber, former chief scientific adviser to the
German government and now head of the UK's leading
group of climate scientists at the Tyndall center.

Prof Schellnhuber said "the parching heat experienced
now" could be consistent "with a worst-case scenario
[of global warming] that nobody wants to come true".
He warned that several months' research would be
needed to analyze data from around the world before
scientists could say why the heatwaves are so intense
this year. "What we are seeing is absolutely unusual,"
said Prof Schellnhuber. "We know that global warming
is proceeding apace, but most of us were thinking that
in 20-30 years time we would be seeing hot spells
[like this]. But it's happening now. Clearly extreme
weather events will increase."

Other climate scientists across Europe suggested the
present heatwave was perhaps the most intense
experienced and linked to global warming.

"We've not seen such an extended period of dry weather
[in Europe] since records began," said Michael
Knobelsdorf, a meteorologist at the German weather
service. "What's remarkable is that these extremes of
weather are happening at such short intervals, which
suggests the climate is unbalanced. Last year in
Germany, we were under water. Now we have one of the
worst droughts in human memory."

Antonio Navarra, chief climatologist at Italy's
National Geophysics Institute, said the Mediterranean
region was 2-3C warmer than usual this summer.

Temperatures across parts of Europe have been a
consistent 5C warmer than average for several months,
but the heatwaves have extended across the northern
hemisphere. Temperatures in some Indian states reached
45-49C (113-120F), with more than 1,500 people dying
as a direct result. There have been near-record
temperatures in Canada and the US, Hawaii, China,
parts of Russia and Alaska.

The intense heat in some places has given way to some
of the most severe monsoon rains on record, a
phenomenon also consistent with climate change models
which predict extremes of weather. The heatwaves are
fueling concern that climatologists may have
underestimated the temperature changes expected with
global warming. According to the UN's
intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) - the
consensus of the world's leading 2,000 climatologists
- the expected increase is up to 5C over the next

But a recent conference of leading atmospheric
scientists in Berlin concluded that the IPCC's models
may have underestimated the cooling effect of
atmospheric soot, the airborne industrial waste of the
past. The upper limit of global warming, they
suggested, should range between 7C and 10C, which
would severely affect food and water supplies,
traumatize most economies, and fundamentally change
everyday life.

The UN's World Meteorological Organization warned last
month that extreme weather events would become more
frequent. Yesterday Ken Davidson, director of the
WMO's climate program, said: "The world is seeing a
change in general conditions and in extremes. We are
trying to understand if it's getting more frequent."

Climate scientists at the British government's Hadley
center. last week said they had new evidence that the
heatwave affecting Europe and North America could not
be explained by natural causes, such as sunspots or
volcanoes, but must be partly due to man-made

Yesterday Dr Peter Stott, who led the research team,
said: "Once we factor in the effects of human
activity, we find we can explain the warming that is
observed. Now we have gone a step further and shown
that the same thing is happening on the scale of

Europe battles drought and fire

The death toll from Portugal's biggest wildfires in
decades rose to 11 after two bodies were found in
charred woodland, but cooler overnight temperatures
enabled firefighters to contain all but three major

13 Spaniards have died in the heatwave, and 30 taken
to hospital because of the heat in Cordoba, Seville
and Huelva in Andalusia

Parisians thronged the bank of the river Seine which
has been turned into an urban beach with sand, cafes,
deckchairs and palm trees as the temperature in the
capital neared 40C (104F) again yesterday

Amsterdam zoo fed its chimpanzees iced fruit and
sprayed ostriches with cold water to keep them cool as
temperatures in the Dutch capital edged towards 30C
(86F), the Dutch news agency ANP reported

Italy's national electricity grid said it had cut
power to some big industrial customers amid soaring
demand from air conditioners

Polish fire crews battled 35 forest fires on Monday
and about a quarter of the country's woodlands were at
serious risk of fire after temperatures topped 30C
(86F) for much of July, authorities said

In southern Bosnia, mines left over from the 1992-95
war have barred firefighters from coming to grips with
a fire that has raged for three days near Mostar

Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003


Posted by richard at August 7, 2003 09:34 AM