Fw: [Global Warming] GW is unequivocal: Agreement on Summary Report
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Panel: Global warming a threat to Earth By ARTHUR MAX, Associated
BRUSSELS, Belgium - An international global warming conference
approved a report Friday warning of dire threats to the Earth and to
mankind � from increased hunger to the extinction of species � unless
the world adapts to climate change and halts its progress.
Agreement came after an all-night session during which key sections
were deleted from the draft and scientists angrily confronted
government negotiators who they feared were watering down their
"It has been a complex exercise," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Several scientists objected to the editing of the final draft by
government negotiators but in the end agreed to compromises. However,
some scientists vowed never to take part in the process again.
The climax of five days of negotiations was reached when the
delegates removed parts of a key chart highlighting devastating
effects of climate change that kick in with every rise of 1.8 degrees
Fahrenheit, and in a tussle over the level of scientific reliability
attached to key statements.
There was little doubt about the science, which was based on 29,000
sets of data, much of it collected in the last five years. "For the
first time we are not just arm-waving with models," Martin Perry, who
conducted the grueling negotiations, told reporters.
The United States, China and Saudi Arabia raised the many of the
objections to the phrasing, often seeking to tone down the certainty
of some of the more dire projections.
The final IPCC report is the clearest and most comprehensive
scientific statement to date on the impact of global warming mainly
caused by man-induced carbon dioxide pollution.
It said up to 30 percent of the Earth's species face an increased
risk of vanishing if global temperatures rise 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit
above the average in the 1980s and '90s.
Areas that now suffer a shortage of rain will become even more dry,
adding to the risks of hunger and disease, it said. The world will
face heightened threats of flooding, severe storms and the erosion of
"This is a glimpse into an apocalyptic future," the Greenpeace
environmental group said of the final report.
Negotiators pored over the 21-page draft meant to be a policy guide
for governments. The summary pares down the full 1,500-page
scientific assessment of the evidence of climate change so far, and
the impact it will have on the Earth's most vulnerable people and
More than 120 nations attended the meeting. Each word was approved by
consensus, and any change had to be approved by the scientists who
drew up that section of the report.
Though weakened by the deletion of some elements, the final
report "will send a very, very clear signal" to governments, said Yvo
de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate official.
The summary will be presented to the G8 summit of the world's richest
nations in June, when the European Union is expected to renew
appeals to President Bush to join in international efforts to
control emissions of fossil fuels.
This year's series of reports by the IPCC were the first in six years
from the prestigious body of some 2,500 scientists, formed in 1988.
Public awareness of climate change gave the IPCC's work unaccustomed
importance and fueled the intensity of the closed-door negotiations
during the five-day meeting.
"The urgency of this report prepared by the world's top scientists
should be matched by an equally urgent response from governments,"
said Hans Verolme, director of the global climate change program of
the World Wide Fund for Nature.
"Doing nothing is not an option," he said.
During the final session, the conference snagged over a sentence that
said the impact of climate change already were being observed on
every continent and in most oceans.
"There is very high confidence that many natural systems are being
affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature
increases," said the statement on the first page of text.
But China insisted on striking the word "very," injecting a measure
of doubt into what the scientists argued were indisputable
observations. The report's three authors refused to go along with the
change, resulting in an hours-long deadlock that was broken by a U.S.
compromise to delete any reference to confidence levels.
It is the second of four reports from the IPCC this year; the first
report in February laid out the scientific case for how global
warming is happening. This second report is the "so what" report,
explaining what the effects of global warming will be.
European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the report will
spur the EU's determination to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
"The world needs to act fast if we are to succeed in stabilizing
climate change and thereby prevent its worst impacts," Dimas said in
For the first time, the scientists broke down their predictions into
regions, and forecast that climate change will affect billions of
North America will experience more severe storms with human and
economic loss, and cultural and social disruptions. It can expect
more hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires, it said.
Coasts will be swamped by rising sea levels. In the short term, crop
yields may increase by 5 to 20 percent from a longer growing season,
but will plummet if temperatures rise by 7.2 F.
Africa will be hardest hit. By 2020, up to 250 million people are
likely to exposed to water shortages. In some countries, food
production could fall by half, it said.
Parts of Asia are threatened with massive flooding and avalanches
from melting Himalayan glaciers. Europe also will see its Alpine
glaciers disappear. Australia's Great Barrier Reef will lose much of
its coral to bleaching from even moderate increases in sea
temperatures, the report said.