labels: environment, economy - general
UN climate panel warns of hunger and flood as the earth gets warmer news
09 April 2007

Mumbai: Climate experts have warned of some of the worst disasters like hunger and floods as global warming impacts climate patterns and causes the melting of glaciers.

Scientists and officials from over 100 countries have approved the second part of the climate change report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that gives out the starkest warning yet about the impact of global warming, ranging from hunger in Africa to a fast thaw in the Himalayas, asking governments to act immediately.

A better picture of the impact of climate change is gradually appearing. Scientists warned that major climate disruptions will happen in the coming decades, with glaciers melting, the Arctic ice cap shrinking, the oceans heating up and sea levels rising.

The report said warming, widely blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would cause desertification, droughts and rising seas and would hit hard in the tropics, from sub-Saharan Africa to Pacific islands.

The IPCC document is supposed to serve as a guideline for governments to shape policies.

Action is needed to mitigate the worst impacts of global warming, such as water shortages for billions of people or the extinction of almost half of Amazonian tree species, the report said.

The details of the localised effects of global warming are not yet available. But scientists have predicted with certainty that man-made global warming over the past three decades has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems. The effects of this situation may be catastrophic and irreversible.

The impacts of global warming threaten nearly every aspect of society. Many physical effects, such as rising sea levels, effects on agriculture and forests, and impacts on human health, will translate into huge economic costs.

The loss of life, the extinction of species, the destruction of ecosystems and numerous other effects will place additional burdens on our and our children's quality of life.

We need a sense of urgency as well as recognition of the long-term nature of both the climate change and its ultimate solutions.

It is time to try to figure out how best to adapt to climate change in the years and decades ahead.

The final text of the draft, however, has been watered down after all-night talks after objections from countries like the US, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

Scientists said China, Russia and Saudi Arabia raised most objections overnight and sought to tone down the findings, including those about the likely pace of extinctions.
Other participants said the United States, which cited high costs when it pulled out of Kyoto, had opposed a suggested text that said parts of North America could suffer "severe economic damage" from climate change.

China, the second largest source of greenhouse gases after the United States, insisted on cutting a reference to "very high confidence" that climate change was already affecting "many natural systems, on all continents and in some oceans".

Delegates, however, sharpened other sections, including adding a warning that some African nations might have to spend 5 to 10 per cent of gross domestic product on adapting to climate change.

Overall, the report was the strongest UN assessment yet of the threat of climate change, predicting water shortages that could affect billions of people and a rise in ocean levels that could go on for centuries.

Its review of the regional impact of change built on an IPCC report in February saying that human greenhouse gas emissions were more than 90 per cent sure to have stoked recent warming.

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UN climate panel warns of hunger and flood as the earth gets warmer