The Guardian January 31, 2001


Global warming a catastrophe

by Andrew Jackson

Destruction of the environment will cause the global temperature to rise up 
to six degrees over the next century, claim a panel of 150 climate change 
experts, who for the first time came to a consensus on the causes and 
extent of this global catastrophe.

"The scientific consensus presented in this comprehensive report about 
human-induced climate change should sound alarm bells in every national 
capital and in every local community", said United Nation's Environment 
Program Executive Director Klaus Topfer.

The news was contained in a report by the Intergovernmental panel on 
Climate Change (IPCC) called Climate Change 2001: The Scientific 
basis.

Key findings of the report state that:

* 1998 was the hottest year since records began in 1861;

* due to more advanced methods of accurately analysing data from tree 
rings, coral and ice cores, it is likely that the 1990s were the hottest 
decade in the last 1000 years;

* the global temperature is likely to rise by another six degrees by 2100;

* the present high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has 
not been exceeded during the last 420,000 years, and unlikely to have been 
in the past 20 million years;

* the Arctic region has lost 10 per cent of its ice cover in just 40 years;

* sea levels are set to rise by up to one metre by the year 2100.

"We must move ahead boldly with clean energy technologies, and we should 
start preparing ourselves now for the rising sea levels, changing rain 
patterns, and other impacts of global warming", Mr Topfer warned.

"The scientific findings being reported today should convince governments 
of the need to take constructive steps towards resuming the climate change 
talks that stalled in The Hague", added Michael Zammit Cutajar, executive 
secretary of the UN Climate Change Convention.

The Kyoto Greenhouse Protocol conference in November last year, ended 
without agreement, after the US, Australia, Japan and Canada placed 
unrealistic demands that were branded by the Europeans "escape routes from 
commitments".

Australia's stymieing of the Hague agreement was a cowardly addition to our 
shameful record on the global environment.

Under the Kyoto agreement Australia was allowed to increase its emissions 
by eight per cent between 1990 and 2010, however by 1998 it had already 
reached 16.9 per cent.

Australia now holds the ignominious title of being the world's largest per 
capita producer of greenhouse emissions.

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