UN: Even With Emissions Cuts, Planet to Warm 6.3 Degrees by 2100

by | Sep 28, 2009

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AntarcticIceClimate researchers now project the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if industrialized and developing countries meet their most ambitious climate commitments, according to a report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), reports The Washington Post.

Michael MacCracken, one of the scientific reviewers for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and a contributor to the UNEP report, said in the article that even if developed nations cut their emissions by half and the developing countries continued on their current path, or vice versa, the world would still experience a temperature increase of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050.

The new global warming research, Climate Change Science Compendium 2009, aimed at garnering political support for a new international climate pact by the end of the year in Copenhagen, highlights recent scientific assessments that have moved up the time table for predictions released by the IPCC in 2007.

The research is divided into five categories: Earth Systems, Ice, Oceans, Ecosystems and Management.

Robert Corell, who chairs the Climate Action Initiative and reviewed the UNEP report’s scientific findings, told The Washington Post that the increase is nearly double what scientists and world policymakers have identified as the upper limit of warming the world can handle in order to avert catastrophic climate change.

Some scientists also are concerned that that thresholds may now be reached in a matter of years or a few decades including dramatic changes to the Indian sub-continent’s monsoon, the Sahara and West Africa monsoons, and climate systems impacting ecosystems like the Amazon rainforest, according to the report.

The report also indicates concern by scientists that the planet is committed to some damaging and irreversible impacts as a result of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. As an example, the report cites shifts in the hydrological cycle resulting in the disappearance of regional climates with related losses of ecosystems, species and the spread of drylands northwards and southwards away from the equator.

Climate researchers at the Vermont-based Sustainability Institute, Massachusetts-based Ventana Systems and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who collaborated with Corell, revised its estimates since the release of the U.N. report, reports The Washington Post.

The group took the upper-range targets of nearly 200 nations’ climate policies and found the average global temperature is likely to warm by 6.3 degrees, reports The Washington Post.

Other findings indicate that the sea level might rise by as much as six feet by 2100 instead of 1.5 feet, as the IPCC had projected, and the Arctic may experience a sea-ice summer by 2030, rather than by the end of the century, reports The Washington Post.

While the Obama administration is pushing for an end to fossil-fuel subsidies as part of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, activists such as 350.org director Bill McKibben told the Washington Post that politicians worldwide are not taking aggressive enough steps to address climate change.

McKibben’s group aims to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm), well below the 450 ppm target that leaders of the Group of 20 major nations have supported, reports the newspaper.

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