The effects of climate change will be felt sooner than scientists realised and the world must learn to live with the effects, experts said yesterday.
Martin Parry, a climate scientist with the Met Office, said destructive changes in temperature, rainfall and agriculture were now forecast to occur several decades earlier than thought. He said vulnerable people such as the old and poor would be the worst affected, and that world leaders had not yet accepted their countries would have to adapt to the likely consequences.
Speaking at a meeting to launch the full report on the impacts of global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Professor Parry, co-chairman of the IPCC working group that wrote the report, said: “We are all used to talking about these impacts coming in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. Now we know that it’s us.”
He added politicians had wasted a decade by focusing only on ways to cut emissions, and had only recently woken up to the need to adapt. “Mitigation has got all the attention, but we cannot mitigate out of this problem. We now have a choice between a future with a damaged world or a severely damaged world.”
The international response to the problem has failed to grasp that serious consequences such as reduced crop yields and water shortages are now inevitable, he said. Countries such as Britain need to focus on helping nations in the developing world cope with the predicted impacts, by helping them to introduce irrigation and water management technology, drought resistant crops and new building techniques.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said: “Wheat production in India is already in decline, for no other reason than climate change. Everyone thought we didn’t have to worry about Indian agriculture for several decades. Now we know it’s being affected now.” There are signs a similar shift is under way in China, he added.
The summary chapter of yesterday’s report was published in April, after arguments between scientists and political officials over its contents. Prof Parry said: “Governments don’t like numbers, so some numbers were brushed out of it.”
The report warns that Africa and the Arctic will bear the brunt of climate impacts, along with small islands such as Fiji, and Asian river megadeltas including the Mekong.
It says extreme weather events are likely to become more intense and more frequent, and the effect on ecosystems could be severe, with up to 30% of plant and animal species at risk of extinction if the average rise in global temperatures exceeds 1.5C-2.5C. The consequences of rising temperatures are already being felt on every continent, it adds.
Prof Parry said it was “very unlikely” that average temperature rise could be limited to 2C, as sought by European governments. That would place 2 billion more people at risk of water shortages, and hundreds of millions more will face hunger, the report says.
So there we have it, spelled out.
A couple of my books arrived the other day, I’ve started on Environment Ethics and I have to admit it isn’t as easy a read as a few others I have started and finished recently, but thats the point of studying, to challenge and push yourself. Despite it not being totally straight forward I am enjoying it and am learning and exploring ideas that wouldnt have come to me as easily as some other concepts that I come across daily on my travels. We’ll see how it goes of course.
In other news The Special One has left Chelsea and it’s a really dark day. I can’t see any other manager in the future being able to bestow the level of success he has in his time with us. Anyway I’m working on a tribute video which I will published as soon as it’s ready. That’s really all I want to say on the subject.