Report Predicts Dire Consequences of Climate Change

Two reports show the where we stand with regards to climate change. A draft document of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s second report on the consequences of climate change paints a dire picture:

The harmful effects of global warming on daily life are already showing up, and within a couple of decades hundreds of millions of people won’t have enough water, top scientists will say next month at a meeting in Belgium.

At the same time, tens of millions of others will be flooded out of their homes each year as the Earth reels from rising temperatures and sea levels, according to portions of a draft of an international scientific report obtained by The Associated Press.

Tropical diseases like malaria will spread. By 2050, polar bears will mostly be found in zoos, their habitats gone. Pests like fire ants will thrive.

Conservatives with a “flat-earth” mentality who deny the consensus of modern scientific thought often cherry pick information which appears to contradict these preditions, ignoring the fact that the problems are not expected until future dates. Short term we might even see the appearance of improvements:

For a time, food will be plentiful because of the longer growing season in northern regions. But by 2080, hundreds of millions of people could face starvation, according to the report, which is still being revised.

The report includes a long list of adverse effects of climate change if current trends continue, but also offers hope:

Many – not all – of those effects can be prevented, the report says, if within a generation the world slows down its emissions of carbon dioxide and if the level of greenhouse gases sticking around in the atmosphere stabilizes. If that’s the case, the report says “most major impacts on human welfare would be avoided; but some major impacts on ecosystems are likely to occur.”

While many of these effects could be prevented if action is taken, The New York Times charges that an upcoming report shows that the actions taken by the Bush administration have been ineffective:

If President Bush requires any more proof that he sits on the wrong side of the global warming debate, he should listen to his own scientists. An internal draft of a report the administration will soon forward to the United Nations shows that his program of voluntary reductions has done little to stop the rise in greenhouse gases generated in this country.

There is no sign that this report will alter Mr. Bush’s thinking; he contemptuously dismissed a similar report five years ago as bureaucratic boilerplate. But we are hopeful that it will add momentum to the bills circulating in Congress that would impose mandatory limits on these gases, a course Mr. Bush has opposed since renouncing his own 2000 campaign pledge to do just that.

The document — a distillation of expert views in various federal agencies — will show that Mr. Bush is making modest progress towards his goal of making sure that emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases grow at a slower rate than the economy. But it will also show that in absolute terms, emissions will grow nearly as fast in the next decade as they did in the last, when they increased by 11.6 percent. This is not much better than business as usual. And as national policy it is clearly unacceptable.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    Jim Grisanzio says:

    The most interesting sentence in that initial article can be found in the 5th paragraph: “Written and reviewed by more than 1,000 scientists from dozens of countries, it still must be edited by government officials.” Fascinating. I wonder what will get edited out of the final draft.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I was a bit curious about that line, but as their first report this year certainly didn’t pull any punches it doesn’t sound like the government editing prevents them from getting their views out. At least we have this preliminary report to compare when the final report does come out.

  3. 3
    WJ says:

    I am not posting to dispute the document, but I do have some questions.

    Today, there are about 1-2 billion people without adequate access to clean drinking water (numbers that I remember, but I could be way off). The earliest prediction by this document (that I saw in clicking thru) is “Hundreds of millions of Africans and tens of millions of Latin Americans who now have water will be short of it in less than 20 years”.

    All I want to know is in which countries (or general geographic area of Africa) the hundreds of millions in Africa who now have clean water won’t in 20 years? If you are going to make a forecast like that, shouldn’t you also offer up a basis for checking on it’s accuracy?

    Another thing is that you have to seperate out the wars and failed policies that impoverish Africans. See what Mugabe has done to Zimbabwe.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    WJ,

    Keep in mind that this is just a newspaper account. You would need to review the actual report to answer questions such as this.

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