March 16, 2004

Damage from Warming Becoming 'Irreversible,' Says New Report

Remember, 2+2=4
Jim Loeb, www.oneworld.net: "We are quickly moving to
the point where the damage will be irreversible,"
warned Dr. Jonathan Pershing, director of WRI's
Climate, Energy and Pollution Program. "In fact, the
latest scientific reports indicate that global warming
is worsening. Unless we act now, the world will be
locked into temperatures that would cause irreversible
harm."..."Accelerated development of a portfolio of
technologies could stabilize greenhouse gas
concentrations, enhance global energy security, and
eradicate energy poverty," noted David Jhirad, WRI's
vice president for research. "We urgently need the
political will and international cooperation to make
this happen."

Save the Environment, Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0315-04.htm

Published on Monday, March 15, 2004 by OneWorld.net
Damage from Warming Becoming 'Irreversible,' Says New Report
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON -- Ten years after the ratification of a
United Nations treaty on climate change, greenhouse
gas emissions that lead to global warming are still on
the rise, signaling a "collective failure" of the
industrialized world, according to the
Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI), a
leading environmental think-tank.

"We are quickly moving to the point where the damage
will be irreversible," warned Dr. Jonathan Pershing,
director of WRI's Climate, Energy and Pollution
Program. "In fact, the latest scientific reports
indicate that global warming is worsening. Unless we
act now, the world will be locked into temperatures
that would cause irreversible harm."

WRI researchers estimate that greenhouse gas emissions
such as carbon dioxide rose 11 percent over the last
decade, and will grow another 50 percent worldwide by
2020. Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the international
agreement that sets out specific targets to follow up
on the treaty, 38 industrialized countries were
supposed to reduce their emissions by an average of
seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The administration of former President Bill Clinton
signed the Kyoto Protocol, but President Bush withdrew
the U.S., which currently emits about 25 percent of
the world's greenhouse gases, from negotiations over
Kyoto's implementation.

Russia, which indicated initially that it intended to
ratify the Protocol, remains undecided. As a result
the Protocol--which must be ratified by countries
whose greenhouse emissions totaled more than 55
percent of global emissions in 1990 in order to take
effect--remains in limbo.

WRI decided to make a relatively rare public statement
now, both because the tenth anniversary of the
UNFCCC's ratification will take place next weekend and
because of the growing pessimism surrounding the
international community's ability and will to deal
with the problem.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), which called for voluntary reductions in
greenhouse emissions, was signed by, among others,
then-President George H.W. Bush, at the Earth Summit
in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and took formal effect March
21, 1994. Today, 188 countries are signatories.

The Kyoto Protocol grew out of the UNFCCC when it
became clear that plans for voluntary reductions would
not meet the initial targets, and as climate and
atmospheric scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change have become increasingly convinced
that the rise in global temperatures of about one
degree Fahrenheit over the last century is due
primarily to artificial emissions, notably the
combustion of fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and
gas.

Studies over the past decade have shown that the
warming trend continues. "The five warmest years in
recorded weather history have taken place over the
last six years," noted WRI's president, Jonathan Lash.


"The ten warmest years in recorded weather history
have taken place since 1987. Whether it's the retreat
of glaciers, the melting of the permafrost in Alaska,
or the increase in severe weather events, the world is
experiencing what the global warming models predict,"
he said.

Europe, the main champion of the Kyoto Protocol,
suffered its hottest year on record last year. Some
15,000 people in France alone died due to heat stress
in combination with pollution, while European
agriculture suffered an estimated $12.5 billion in
losses.

Britain's most influential scientist, Sir David King,
recently excoriated the Bush administration for
withdrawing from the Protocol and ignoring the threat
posed by climate change. "In my view, climate change
is the most severe problem we are facing today," he
wrote in Science magazine, "more serious even than the
threat of terrorism."

Even the Pentagon recently issued a warning that
global warming, if it takes place abruptly, could
result in a catastrophic breakdown in international
security. Based on growing evidence that climate
shifts in the past have taken place with breathtaking
speed, based on the freshening of sea water due to
accelerated melting of glaciers and the polar ice
caps.

Given enough freshening, the Gulf Stream that
currently warms the North Atlantic would be shut off,
triggering an abrupt decline in temperatures that
would bring about a new "Ice Age" in Europe, eastern
Canada, and the northeastern United States and similar
disastrous changes in world weather patterns
elsewhere--all in a period as short as two to three
years.

Wars over access to food, water, and energy would be
likely to break out between states, according to the
report. "Disruption and conflict will be endemic
features of life," according to the report. "Once
again, warfare would define human life."

Even if climate change is more gradual, recent studies
have argued that as many as one million plant and
animal species could be rendered extinct due to the
effects of global warming by 2050. A recent report by
the world's largest reinsurance company, Swiss Re,
predicted that in 10 years the economic cost of
disasters like floods, frosts, and famines caused by
global warming could reach $150 billion annually.

"Accelerated development of a portfolio of
technologies could stabilize greenhouse gas
concentrations, enhance global energy security, and
eradicate energy poverty," noted David Jhirad, WRI's
vice president for research. "We urgently need the
political will and international cooperation to make
this happen."

Copyright 2004 OneWorld.net

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Posted by richard at March 16, 2004 11:34 AM