SHANGHAI - The earth's atmosphere is warming
faster than expected, evidence is mounting that humans are to
blame and tens of millions of people may be forced from
low-lying areas as seas rise, the U.N. said on Monday.
``We see changes in climate, we believe we humans are
involved and we're projecting future climate changes much more
significant over the next 100 years than the last 100 years,''
said Robert Watson of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on
A warmer climate would raise sea levels as ice caps recede
and could force tens of millions of people to flee low lying
areas like China's Pearl River Delta, Bangladesh and Egypt, the
IPCC chairman told a news conference in Shanghai.
Robert Watson, left, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), answers questions Monday, Jan. 22, 2001 at a news conference. In the most emphatic warning yet about the danger of global warming, a meeting of scientists from 99 nations issued a report Monday that sharply increased projected climate change blamed on air pollution and warned of drought and other disasters. Persons next to Watson are Sir John Houghton, center, and Yihui Ding, right. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Klaus Toepfer, the head of the United Nations Environment
Program which part sponsors the IPCC, said the report should
ring alarm bells everywhere.
``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,''
he said in a statement.
``We must move ahead boldly with clean energy technologies
and we should start preparing ourselves for the rising sea
levels, changing rain patterns and other impacts of global
Global warming is a highly controversial subject with many
respected scientists arguing that the earth undergoes periodic
climatic changes with or without contributions from humanity.
The IPCC report, which runs to more than 1,000 pages, was
written by 123 lead authors around the world who drew on 516
contributing experts and is one of the most comprehensive
produced on global warming.
A draft summary for policy makers, issued on Monday, said
the report projects the earth's average surface temperature will
rise 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius (2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit)
between 1990 and 2100, higher than its 1995 estimate of a one
to 3.5 degree C rise (1.8 to 6.3 degrees F).
Sea levels were likely to rise between nine and 88 cm (3.54
and 34.64 inches) over the same period, it said.
``The decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the last
century and the warming in this century is warmer than anything
in the last 1,000 years in the Northern Hemisphere,'' Watson
``We will see a drier summer in arid and semi-arid areas
which will make water management much more difficult in the
future,'' he said. Ecosystems such as coral and forests will
The earth's temperature had already risen 0.6 degrees C
(1.08 degrees F) over the last 100 years and it has seen more
floods and droughts around the world in the last decade. Land
areas had warmed close to one degree, more than oceans, the IPCC
Disease, Less Water
Watson said the main reason behind expectations of faster
global warming is an anticipated fall in cooling agents such as
sulfur dioxide. Sulfur emissions are expected to ease due to
concerns they cause acid rain and deposits, he said.
Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide prevent heat from
leaving the earth, therefore warming the earth's atmosphere,
whereas sulfur dioxide tends to cool it.
Watson said the implications of global warming on human
health included increases in heat stress mortality in the summer
and diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
It could also hit agriculture and water resources, which
many experts believe will be a major issue in coming years.
Watson said industrialized nations had to help curb global
warming, but developing countries must become more energy
efficient and getting the right technologies in place everywhere
``Governments can play a critical role in placing the right
enabling framework to facilitate the transfers of technology,''
he said. ``It's not just hardware, it's information and
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