Earth needs human help, says expert
by Dale Neal, DNEAL@...
published November 23, 2007
ASHEVILLE � The scientists have had their say about climate change. Now
society has to determine what to do, according to Leonard Bernstein, a
lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Bernstein, who lives in Asheville, is just back from Valencia, Spain,
where the international body released its fourth synthesis report,
highlighting the findings from three previous reports issued this year.
About 2,000 scientists and experts who are contributors to the panel�s
reports shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to
determine the risks of climate change. The panel agreed that the world�s
temperatures are rising, largely because of human activity. The culprit
is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas pumped into the earth�s atmosphere
from cars, power plants and factories worldwide.
�The purpose of the report was to connect the dots,� Bernstein explained.
�If we don�t do something to control carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases,
we�re going to face pretty serious impacts. If you want to limit the rise
in temperatures to only 2 degrees or so, this report says with more
urgency than in past reports that action is needed in the short term.
Policymakers have to follow through.�
Bernstein is next headed to Bali, where government representatives are
meeting Dec. 3 to negotiate new standards for carbon emissions after the
Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
�A clean environment isn�t free. It costs money,� Bernstein said. �If we
as a society say this is important, we will have to spend money on it.�
How much money and what kind of sacrifices each country is willing to
make remains to be seen.
Despite the challenges, Bernstein remains optimistic. �There have been so
many predictions about the end of the world, but even in the worst case
scenario, this is not going to threaten the existence of human beings.
This is something that needs doing, but it takes time to change human
behavior on a global scale.�
IPCC'S Fourth Synthesis Report: