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Warming threatens famine, drought - theaustralian May 05, 2006

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  • Pat Neuman
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19030955- 2703,00.html Warming threatens famine, drought Mark Henderson, London May 05, 2006 THE world will
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2006
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      http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,19030955-
      2703,00.html

      Warming threatens famine, drought
      Mark Henderson, London
      May 05, 2006

      THE world will warm by 3C, even under the most optimistic emissions
      projections for 2050, according to the UN group that studies global
      warming.

      The increase, which would cause drought and famine for 400 million
      people and devastate wildlife, is predicted by the Intergovernmental
      Panel on Climate Change in its most confident assessment yet of how
      greenhouse gases are affecting global temperatures.

      A draft of part of the panel's fourth report, which the US
      Government has released on the internet, shows that it has, for the
      first time, placed a likely figure on the progress of global
      warming, indicating a degree of scientific certainty that it has
      avoided in the past.

      It says that temperatures could increase by between 2C and 4.5C when
      atmospheric carbon dioxide reaches double the pre-industrial level,
      but it declares 3C to be the "most likely value" for such change.

      A 3C rise is the level at which a British Meteorological Office
      conference last year judged that "dangerous" climate change would
      occur.

      Previous reports from the IPCC, a traditionally cautious body, have
      given only wider ranges of possibilities, which it acknowledged to
      be highly uncertain.

      While the panel does not indicate when this rise will occur, experts
      think it probable that pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels will
      double by 2050, even given successful efforts to contain greenhouse
      gas emissions.

      David King, Britain's chief scientific adviser, has argued that
      stabilisation of carbon dioxide at this level - 550 parts per
      million - is the best target that the world can hope for, and his
      view is endorsed by many leading climatologists.

      A report issued by Professor King last month suggested a 3C rise
      would put 400 million people at risk of starvation because of lost
      arable land and water shortages.

      The draft document is the report of the IPCC's Working Group I,
      which examines the physical science basis for climate change.

      The analysis of Working Groups II and III, which consider detailed
      consequences and mitigation strategies, have not been released.

      Its contents came to light yesterday when the journal Nature
      reported that the US had published the draft on a website, inviting
      comments from experts and other interested groups.

      The unusual manner of its release has alarmed some scientists and
      environmental groups, who questioned whether President George
      W.Bush's administration was seeking to defuse its bold conclusions
      before the final version is published in February.

      Roger Pielke Jr, of the University of Colorado, told Nature: "If the
      report is already out there in circulation, then the 'news' value is
      likely to be much diminished when the official report is finally
      released."

      Friends of the Earth said the US Government had repeatedly tried to
      undermine the IPCC in the past.

      Apart from providing the most precise estimates yet of the likely
      course of climate change, the document's language is much more
      confident than that of the IPCC's third report, which was published
      in 2001.

      It points to decisive new evidence that the rising temperatures
      recorded over the past 50 years are the result of human activity and
      not natural variation.

      The pattern of warming ocean, surface and lower atmosphere
      temperatures, together with melting ice at the poles and falling
      temperatures in the stratosphere, now make it "highly unlikely (less
      than 5 per cent)" that natural changes could be responsible.

      There has been increasing concern about global climate change being
      caused by human activity, in particular the release of gases such as
      carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by automobiles and industrial
      activity.

      The Times, AP
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