UN Issues Bleakest Climate Report

Top climate experts issued their bleakest forecasts yet about global warming on Friday, April 6, ranging from hunger in Africa and extinction of species to a thaw of Himalayan glaciers in a study.

UN Issues Bleakest Climate Report

Top climate experts issued theirbleakest forecasts yet about global warming on Friday, April 6, ranging fromhunger in Africa and extinction of species toa thaw of Himalayan glaciers in a study that may add pressure on governments toact.

"It's the poorest of the poor in the world, andthis includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be theworst hit," Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change (IPCC), told Reuters of the report, which took six years to seethe light.

More than 100 nations in the UN climate panel agreeda final text after all-night disputes during which some scientists accusedgovernments of watering down forecasts about extinctions and other threats.

The report said change, widely blamed on humanemissions of greenhouse gases, was already under way in nature and thatdesertification, droughts and rising seas would hit hard in the tropics, fromsub-Saharan Africa to Pacific islands.

"This does become a global responsibility in myview," said Pachauri who added he was still wearing the same suit as onThursday morning because of the marathon talks.

The IPCC groups 2,500 scientists and is the topworld authority on climate change.

It built on a previous IPCC report in Februarysaying that human greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels,are very likely to be the main cause of recent warming.

Scientists said China,Russia and Saudi Arabiahad raised most objections overnight seeking to tone down some findings. Otherparticipants also said the United States,which pulled out of Kyotoin 2001 as too costly, had toned down some passages.

US delegates rejected suggested wording that partsof North America may suffer "severeeconomic damage" from warming.

Overall, the report was the strongest UN assessmentyet of the threat of climate change, predicting water shortages that couldaffect billions of people and a rise in ocean levels that could go on forcenturies.

Hunger, Extinction

Friday's study also said climate change could causehunger for millions with a sharp fall in crop yields in Africa.

It said food security will be "severelycompromised," with an additional 80 to 200 million people at risk ofhunger by 2080.

By that date, sub-Sahara Africamay account for 40 to 50 percent of the world's undernourished, compared withabout 25 percent today.

Even under optimistic scenarios, hundreds ofmillions more Africans are "very likely" — a 90 percent certainty —to face severe shortfalls in food and drinkable water by 2080.

"Climate-induced diseases," already areality, will increases in the frequency and impact, including cholera,meningitis and dengue fever.

The report also said up to 30 percent of animal andplant species will be vulnerable to extinction if global temperatures rise by1.5-2.5 C (2.7 F to 4.5 F).

Global warming It could rapidly thaw Himalayanglaciers that feed rivers from Indiato China and bring heatwavesfor Europe and North America.

The phenomenon threatens to unleash more suffering inAfrica than on any other continent thiscentury.

Action Urged

Its findings are approved unanimously by governmentsand will guide policy on issues such as extending the UN's Kyoto Protocol, themain UN plan for capping greenhouse gas emissions mainly from burning fossilfuels, beyond 2012.

"This further underlines both how urgent it isto reach global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and howimportant it is for us all to adapt to the climate change that is already underway," said European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

"The urgency of this report, prepared by theworld's top scientists, should be matched with an equally urgent response bygovernments," echoes Hans Verolme of the WWF conservation group.

Green and conservation groups also urged animmediate global response to the damning report, reported Agence France-Presse(AFP).

"The urgency of this report, presented by theworld's top scientists, should be matched with an equally urgent response bygovernments," said Hans Verolme, director of the World Wildlife Fund'sglobal climate change program.

"There's no escaping the facts: global warmingwill bring hunger, floods and water shortages. Poor countries that bear theleast responsibility will suffer most -- and they have no money torespond."

Greenpeace International said the report is only aglimpse into an "apocalyptic future."

"The earth will be transformed by human inducedclimate change, unless action is taken soon and fast," campaignerStephanie Tunmore told AFP.

The Friends of the Earth asked the world's richnations to cut emissions to avert a looming "humanitarian catastrophe."

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