Brussels, 04 Feb 2005
A detailed timetable of the effects that climate change is likely to have on the planet was unveiled on 2 February by a scientist from Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the country's leading global warming research institute.
At a conference in Exeter in the UK, Bill Hare outlined the global risks of rising temperatures for species, ecosystems, agriculture, water and socio-economic conditions. Produced through a synthesis of recent and wide ranging academic studies, Dr Hare's timetable shows that the impacts of climate change are predicted to increase rapidly as the average global temperate increases.
According to Dr Hare, the dangers to civilisations are immense with environmental refugees moving across borders due to lack of food and water. This is particularly true for developing countries, he added.
At present, world temperatures are already 0.7 degrees Celsius (C) above the pre-industrial level. Within the next 25 years, as this temperature difference rises to 1 C, some ecosystems such as the tropical highland forests in Queensland, Australia, will start to suffer.
A 1 to 2 C rise would increase fires and insect pests around the Mediterranean. In the US, rivers may become too warm for trout and salmons, and in the Artic, thinning ice would threaten polar bear and walrus populations.
Above a 3 C rise, expected by 2070, the effects will be catastrophic, with more than 3.3 billion people, half the world's population, living in countries expected to experience severe crop losses. GDP losses in many countries will be significant and there will be massive ecological damage, predicts Dr Hare.
The two-day conference 'Avoiding dangerous climate change' was called for personally by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as part of the UK's attempt to move the climate change issue up the agenda during the country's presidency of the G8 and the EU. The aim of the conference is to advance scientific understanding on the long-term implications of climate change, the relevance of stabilisation goals and options to reach such goals. It also aimed to encourage research and international scientific debate on these issues.
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