Monday, November 19, 2007

Global warming – the next three years will determine our future

The news broke over the weekend that the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s new report says that climate change is "unequivocal", and may bring "abrupt and irreversible" impact. The report is a synthesis of the three previous reports by the panel, the winner, with Al Gore, of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

I have to admit that today's sweltering temperature in Melbourne – the first of many hot days expected this season – and the news of the devastation Cyclone Sidr brought to Bangladesh, have helped focus my mind on the IPCC's report.

The IPCC is trying to alert us to the fact that the changes caused by global warming are worse, and occuring sooner, than originally estimated. According to BBC Online, the IPCC projections include:

  • Probable temperature rise between 1.8C and 4C
  • Possible temperature rise between 1.1C and 6.4C
  • Sea level most likely to rise by 28-43cm
  • Arctic summer sea ice disappears in second half of century
  • Increase in heat waves very likely
  • Increase in tropical storm intensity likely
According to Time magazine, the IPCC reports,
that the world would have to reverse the rapid growth of greenhouse gases by 2015 to avert the worst consequences. The clock was running. "What we will do in the next two, three years will determine our future," said Pachauri [the IPCC's chairman]. "This is the defining challenge."
The challenge is for all of us, not just for our political leaders (in or out of the Bali discussions), as the press would have us believe. Election or not, we cannot afford the parties to manipulate and politic the issue of global warming into justifications for inaction. Or poor action.

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