Climate ‘hell’ predicted if action not taken

October 7, 2009 at 4:38 am Leave a comment

Average world temperatures will rise by a perilous 4°C by mid-century a team of 130 climate scientists said at a September 28-30 conference in Oxford sponsored by the UK Met Office.

The Met Office ran 17 different climate models to measure the potential for increased warming due to the crossing of climate tipping points. All the models concluded that unless world emissions were cut by at least 3% a year, runaway global warming will become a dreadful reality.

A 4°C world would make the melting of the Arctic ice-cap and the loss of most of the Amazon rainforest unstoppable, the conference concluded. A 4°C world would also make millions of people climate refugees due to rising sea levels.

The higher temperatures would also weaken or interrupt the annual Asian monsoon, an irreplaceable water source for billions of people, the scientists said.

While the climate models predicted an average rise of up to 15°C for the Arctic by 2055, the conference said Australia’s temperature was likely to escape such an extreme temperature hike.

However, it said climate change would worsen drought conditions and could treble the number of extreme fire danger days by 2050. Australian climate scientist David Karoly told the September 30 New Scientist that “even under a low warming scenario, the [extreme fire danger] frequency rises by 10 to 50%. We are unleashing hell on Australia.”

Another climate change report released by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on September 24 also cited evidence that the scale and pace of global warming is far beyond past predictions.

The UNEP report drew on some the latest peer-reviewed science. It concluded that the worst-case scenarios put forward by the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) are now highly likely.

“Losses from glaciers, ice-sheets and the Polar Regions appear to be happening faster than anticipated, with the Greenland ice sheet, for example, recently seeing melting some 60 percent higher than the previous record of 1998”, the UNEP said.

The report also said that despite the widespread knowledge about the danger of climate change, carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry are now at record highs. Global emissions grew by 1.1% each year from 1990-1999. From 2000-2007 emissions rose by 3.5% a year, said the UNEP.

Meanwhile, oceanographers have been shocked to discover that carbon dioxide emissions are causing the Arctic ocean to become acidic at rate never seen before.

The October 4 Observer said French oceanographer Jean-Pierre Gattuso thought the results “extremely worrying”.

“We knew that the seas were getting more acidic and this would disrupt the ability of shellfish — like mussels — to grow their shells”, he said. “But now we realise the situation is much worse. The water will become so acidic it will actually dissolve the shells of living shellfish.”

When carbon dioxide is dissolved into the oceans it can form carbonic acid. Due to the burning of fossil fuels for energy, huge areas of the Arctic Ocean are becoming too acidic to sustain some forms of marine life.

The Observer said the research suggested “that 10% of the Arctic Ocean will be corrosively acidic by 2018; 50% by 2050; and 100% ocean by 2100”.

A September 23 report on the Yale Environment 360 website said the world’s oceans are “acidifying 100 times faster than at any time during the past 20 million years”.

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Entry filed under: agriculture, climate tipping points, oceans, rising sea levels.

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