Earth Science News  





. Climate Scientists Set To Serve Up A Slab Of Bad News

Latest figures on per capita CO2 emissions by region. Graphic courtesy AFP.
by Anne Chaon and Richard Ingham
Paris (AFP) Jan 28, 2007
Hundreds of the world's top climate scientists muster in Paris on Monday to frame a report expected to issue the bleakest assessment yet about global warming and its effects on the weather system. On Friday, they will issue the first update in six years of the scientific evidence for global warming. The 2001 report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was in many ways a shocker.

It delivered a jolt to politicians about the perils of fossil-fuel pollution and reduced the powerful lobby of climate-change "deniers" to a shrill, if well-funded, rump.

Sources familiar with the drafting of this year's report -- the first of three mammoth IPCC tomes to be issued this year -- say it will not offer any good news.

"It will be a confirmation of what has been said for a long time, but point to additional risks," said French climatologist Herve Le Treut.

Over the past few years, many published studies suggest that climate change, which many had expected to kick in several decades from now, is already underway.

In alpine areas, glaciers are melting and snow cover is shrinking. The North Pole's summer icefield is a mere fraction of what it once was. Permafrost in high northerly latitudes is retreating. The oceans are becoming more acidic through absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2).

In 2001, the IPCC said that carbon pollution from burning oil, gas and coal had helped drive atmospheric levels of CO2 to their highest in 420,000 years. CO2 is the principal "greenhouse gas," a term that applies to half a dozen substances that linger invisibly in the atmosphere, trapping the Sun's heat instead of letting solar radiation bounce back into space.

Over the previous 50 years, temperatures climbed by around 0.1 C (0.2 F) per decade and most of the warming could be attributed to Man, the 2001 report said.

It predicted that by 2100, the global atmospheric temperature will have risen between 1.4 and 5.8 C (2.52-10.4 F) and sea levels by 0.09 to 0.88 metres (3.5-35 inches), depending on how much greenhouse gas is emitted.

The biggest interest in this year's report will be whether the nearly 500 scientists who make up this working group of the IPCC will amend these figures.

They are likely to attribute "probability" to specific forecasts of temperature rise in order to help policymakers, said Serge Planton, in charge of climate research at Meteo France.

Emissions of greenhouse gases determine the level of warming -- but these emissions, in turn, depend on two factors.

One is whether governments take action to rein in the pollution, a process that so far, under the Kyoto Protocol, has proven nightmarishly difficult. The other is equally hazy: whether stored carbon in Earth's surface, such as in the permafrost, may be released if temperatures rise beyond a certain point.

Such triggers could release hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 into the air. Like petrol thrown on a fire, it would dramatically amplify the warming.

Two other volumes will be issued in April in what will be the fourth assessment report on climate change by the IPCC since it was established in 1988.

The two others will focus on the impacts of climate change and on the social-economic costs of reducing greenhouse gases.

Fossil fuels provide the backbone of today's energy needs, so reducing carbon emissions implies an economic cost in shifting to a cleaner source.

Weighed against that, though, is what experts say is the longer-term cost of failing to tackle the pollution. The potential risks include worse droughts, floods, rising sea levels and more vicious storms, which thus poses a threat to agriculture, water supplies and even human settlement itself.

A report last year by former World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern said climate change could cost up to 20 percent of global gross domestic product if nothing is done.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
Learn about Climate Science at TerraDaily.com
Bring Order To A World Of Disasters

Business World Urges Governments To Be Bolder On Climate Change
Davos, Switzerland (AFP) Jan 24, 2007
Leading economists on Wednesday cautiously welcomed US President George Bush's proposals for a long-term cut in US gasoline consumption, as business leaders meeting in Davos urged bolder government action on climate change. "I think it is a movement in the right direction, there is a recognition of the link between climate change and human activity," said Nicholas Stern, the British government's chief economic advisor.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Munich Re Says Insurers Face Up To 7-Billion-Euro Bill From Winter Storm
  • Rapid Response To Avian Flu Threat
  • Mud Volcano In Java May Continue To Erupt For Months And Possibly Years
  • Indonesian Mud Volcano Caused By Drilling

  • Climate Scientists Set To Serve Up A Slab Of Bad News
  • Business World Urges Governments To Be Bolder On Climate Change
  • Climate Change Public Concern Is Rising Fast
  • Artificial Worlds Hold Key To Figuring Out A Real Problem

  • Space Technology Can Help Ailing Agri Sector: Kasturirangan
  • Russia's Putin, India Call For 'Weapons Free' Space
  • New Sensor To Be A Boon To Astronomers
  • GeoEye Next-Generation Earth Imaging Satellite Reaches Major Milestone

  • Heat Mining All The Rage As Next US Energy Source
  • Crude Prices Retreat Amid Rising US Reserves
  • Portugal Wants Renewables To Meet Nearly Half Of Its Electricity Needs
  • Iowa State Corn Soy Plastics To Be Made Into Hog Feeders

  • Study Uncovers A Lethal Secret Of 1918 Influenza Virus
  • Scientists Reveal A Virus' Secret Weapon
  • World's Response To Children With Aids 'Tragically Insufficient'
  • UN Body Says EU Ban On Wild Bird Imports Won't Help Stop Bird Flu

  • Woman "Saved Husband's Life" In Lion Attack
  • Biologist Clair Ting Explores Photosynthetic Apparatus
  • Scientists Discover New Species Of Distinctive Cloud-Forest Rodent
  • Researcher Discovers Hybrid Speciation In The Sierra Nevada

  • Kathmandu Today Little More Than A Garbage Dump And Open Sewer
  • Record Fine For China Factory Over Infamous Songhua Spill
  • Flights To Avoid Indonesian Mud Volcano Postponed
  • Lead With A Poisonous Electron Shield

  • Human Circadian Clocks Couple To Local Sun Time
  • Paleontologists Discover Most Primitive Primate Skeleton
  • Unprecedented Screening For Lifespan-Extending Compounds to Get Underway
  • Next Up In The Battle Against Cancer

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement