NEW DELHI - By the year 2080, Manhattan
and Shanghai could be underwater, droughts and floods could
become more extreme and hundreds of millions of people will be
at risk from disease, starvation and water shortages.
That is the picture that a Greenpeace senior official
painted of the future if the world failed to take urgent steps
to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.
"We're talking of about the submergence of islands,
submergence of Shanghai, the submergence of Bombay, the
submergence of New York City," Greenpeace climate policy
director Steve Sawyer told Reuters late on Friday.
"Manhattan would be under water."
Sawyer, who is in New Delhi for a 10-day annual U.N.
climate change conference, said global warming would lead to
the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which in turn would
cause a five to seven metre (16 to 23 ft) sea-level rise and
the inundation of coastal regions.
Indian children and youths hold a poster asking for a the United States to take
a stronger stance in protecting the environment during a protest staged outside
of the building where U.N. delegates from 185 countries work to implement a global
warming accord at the U.N. Climate Change talks in New Delhi, India Friday, Oct.
25, 2002. The ten-day meeting, began Wednesday, aims to chalk out measures for
governments and civilians before the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate changes takes
effect early next year. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)
"Most coastal cities would be uninhabitable in their
present forms...and that's a catastrophic change of the shape
Some environmentalists have said that recent climate
disasters around the world -- from droughts in India, Australia
and the United States to floods in Europe -- have been graphic
harbingers of some of the expected consequences of global
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has
predicted that by 2100 global average surface temperature will
be 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius higher than it was in 1990.
Sawyer said an increase in temperatures would lead to more
extreme droughts and a rise in frequency and intensity of
"What these temperature changes are going to do to the
hydrological cycle, particularly in the tropics, is not a very
pretty picture," he said.
Between 2050 and 2080, tens of millions of people would be
more at risk of malaria, coastal flooding and starvation and
hundreds of millions of people would be at risk from water
shortages, he said.
Delegates from 185 countries are attending the climate
conference, which is likely to be the last major climate
meeting before the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is expected to come into
force early next year.
The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
from the developed world by 2012 to 5.2 percent below 1990
But the United States, the world's biggest air polluter,
has refused to ratify the treaty, which it sees as flawed
because it does not bind developing countries. It also says it
would hurt the U.S. economy.
The Earth Summit in Johannesburg earlier this year was
widely criticised by environmentalists and vulnerable Pacific
nations for barely touching on the problem of global warming.
The United States was singled out for criticism.
© 2002 Reuters Ltd