On Feb 2, 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is expected to release a new report entitled, “Climate Change 2007”.
According to UK newspaper The Observer, which claims to have received a draft copy of the report, we can expect the following:
Although the final wording of the report is still being worked on, the draft indicates that scientists now have their clearest idea so far about future climate changes, as well as about recent events. It points out that:
- 12 of the past 13 years were the warmest since records began
- Ocean temperatures have risen at least three kilometres beneath the surface
- Glaciers, snow cover and permafrost have decreased in both hemispheres
- Sea levels are rising at the rate of almost 2mm a year
- Cold days, nights and frost have become rarer while hot days, hot nights and heatwaves have become more frequent
The report predicts these future developments:
- Sea levels will rise over the century by around half a metre
- Snow will disappear from all but the highest mountains
- Deserts will spread
- Oceans become acidic, leading to the destruction of coral reefs and atolls
- Deadly heatwaves will become more prevalent
The impact will be catastrophic, forcing hundreds of millions of people to flee their devastated homelands, particularly in tropical, low-lying areas, while creating waves of immigrants whose movements will strain the economies of even the most affluent countries.
And the cause is clear, say the authors:
It is very likely that [man-made] greenhouse gas increases caused most of the average temperature increases since the mid-20th century.
One senior UK climate expert offered the following comments about the report:
“The really chilling thing about the IPCC report is that it is the work of several thousand climate experts who have widely differing views about how greenhouse gases will have their effect. Some think they will have a major impact, others a lesser role.
Each paragraph of this report was therefore argued over and scrutinised intensely. Only points that were considered indisputable survived this process. This is a very conservative document – that’s what makes it so scary.”
For the record, here are some stats on what went into producing the report:
- 2500+ Scientific Expert Reviewers
- 800+ Contributing Authors
- 450+ Lead Authors
- 130+ Countries Represented
- 6 Years Work
- 4 Volumes
The Observer summarized with the following comments:
The report reflects climate scientists’ growing fears that Earth is nearing the stage when carbon dioxide rises will bring irreversible change to the planet. ‘We are seeing vast sections of Antarctic ice disappearing at an alarming rate,’ said climate expert Chris Rapley, in a phone call to The Observer from the Antarctic Peninsula last week. ‘That means we can expect to see sea levels rise at about a metre a century from now on – and that will have devastating consequences.’
However, there is still hope, said Peter Cox of Exeter University. ‘We are like alcoholics who have got as far as admitting there is a problem. It is a start. Now we have got to start drying out – which means reducing our carbon output.’