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Global Warming Timetable

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  • Pat Neuman
    ... Global warming: scientists reveal timetable By Michael McCarthy, Environment Correspondent 03 February 2005, The Independent
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2005
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      --- In globalwarming@yahoogroups.com,

      Global warming: scientists reveal timetable
      By Michael McCarthy, Environment Correspondent
      03 February 2005, The Independent

      A detailed timetable of the destruction and distress that global
      warming is likely to cause the world was unveiled yesterday.

      It pulls together for the first time the projected impacts on
      ecosystems and wildlife, food production, water resources and
      economies across the earth, for given rises in global temperature
      expected during the next hundred years.

      The resultant picture gives the most wide-ranging impression yet of
      the bewildering array of destructive effects that climate change is
      expected to exert on different regions, from the mountains of Europe
      and the rainforests of the Amazon to the coral reefs of the tropics.

      Produced through a synthesis of a wide range of recent academic
      studies, it was presented as a paper yesterday to the international
      conference on climate change being held at the UK Met Office
      headquarters in Exeter by the author Bill Hare, of the Potsdam
      Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany's leading global
      warming research institute.

      The conference has been called personally by Tony Blair as part of
      Britain's attempts to move the climate change issue up the agenda
      during the current UK presidency of the G8 group of rich nations,
      and the European Union. It has already heard disturbing warnings
      from the latest climate research, including the revelation on
      Tuesday from the British Antarctic Survey that the massive West
      Antarctic ice sheet might be disintegrating - an event which, if it
      happened completely, would raise sea levels around the world by 16ft
      (4.9 metres).

      Dr Hare's timetable shows the impacts of climate change multiplying
      rapidly as average global temperature goes up, towards 1C above
      levels before the industrial revolution, then to 2C, and then 3C.

      As present world temperatures are already 0.7C above the pre-
      industrial level, the process is well under way. In the near future -
      the next 25 years - as the temperature climbs to the 1C mark, some
      specialised ecosystems will start to feel stress, such as the
      tropical highland forests of Queensland, which contain a large
      number of Australia's endemic plant species, and the succulent karoo
      plant region of South Africa. In some developing countries, food
      production will start to decline, water shortage problems will
      worsen and there will be net losses in GDP.

      It is when the temperature moves up to 2C above the pre-industrial
      level, expected in the middle of this century - within the lifetime
      of many people alive today - that serious effects start to come
      thick and fast, studies suggest.

      Substantial losses of Arctic sea ice will threaten species such as
      polar bears and walruses, while in tropical regions "bleaching" of
      coral reefs will become more frequent - when the animals that live
      in the coral are forced out by high temperatures and the reef may
      die. Mediterranean regions will be hit by more forest fires and
      insect pests, while in regions of the US such as the Rockies, rivers
      may become too warm for trout and salmon.

      In South Africa, the Fynbos, the world's most remarkable floral
      kingdom which has more than 8,000 endemic wild flowers, will start
      to lose its species, as will alpine areas from Europe to Australia;
      the broad-leaved forests of China will start to die. The numbers at
      risk from hunger will increase and another billion and a half people
      will face water shortages, and GDP losses in some developing
      countries will become significant.

      But when the temperature moves up to the 3C level, expected in the
      early part of the second half of the century, these effects will
      become critical. There is likely to be irreversible damage to the
      Amazon rainforest, leading to its collapse, and the complete
      destruction of coral reefs is likely to be widespread.

      The alpine flora of Europe, Australia and New Zealand will probably
      disappear completely, with increasing numbers of extinctions of
      other plant species. There will be severe losses of China's
      broadleaved forests, and in South Africa the flora of the Succulent
      Karoo will be destroyed, and the flora of the Fynbos will be hugely

      There will be a rapid increase in populations exposed to hunger,
      with up to 5.5 billion people living in regions with large losses in
      crop production, while another 3 billion people will have increased
      risk of water shortages.

      Above the 3C raised level, which may be after 2070, the effects will
      be catastrophic: the Arctic sea ice will disappear, and species such
      as polar bears and walruses may disappear with it, while the main
      prey species of Arctic carnivores, such as wolves, Arctic foxes and
      the collared lemming, will have gone from 80 per cent of their
      range, critically endangering predators.

      In human terms there is likely to be catastrophe too, with water
      stress becoming even worse, and whole regions becoming unsuitable
      for producing food, while there will be substantial impacts on
      global GDP.
      --- End forwarded message ---
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