March 10, 2009

Climate Scientists Meet In Denmark

More than 2,000 climate scientists gathered in Copenhagen on Tuesday to focus on global warming's rapid acceleration, the AFP reported.

New research suggests the impact of global warming could be even worse than predicted by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, with natural disasters like floods, drought, disease and extreme weather, arriving sooner rather than later.

Scientists fear the possibility that human activity -- mainly the burning of oil, gas and coal -- could trigger natural drivers of global warming that could be nearly impossible to reverse.

Presenters at the conference are likely to unveil a new scientific consensus that sea levels are set to rise at least a meter by 2100, more than double the IPCC estimate, which failed to account for melt-off from the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Britain's top climate negotiator, John Ashton, said the meeting must look at what is a 'reasonable worst case' in the lifetime of people alive today, since even rich nations had yet to take such scenarios seriously.

Ashton said that a sea level rise of one or two meters would not just be damaging for China, it would be an absolute catastrophe.

"And what is catastrophic for China is catastrophic for the world," he added.

Researchers from 80 countries responded to the open invitation to present their findings, which were then vetted by a panel of climate experts.

Katherine Richardson, head of the Danish government's Commission on Climate Change Policy and a co-organizer of the meeting, said the huge response from scientists comes from a sense of urgency, but also a sense of frustration.

"Most of us have been trained as scientists to not get our hands dirty by talking to politicians. But we now realize that what we are dealing with is so complicated and urgent that we have to help to make sure the results are understood," she told AFP.

Many other experts, like Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister for climate and energy, agree that political decisions should be driven by science.

"As policymakers, we can't ignore what the scientists are telling us, nor can we close our eyes to reality," she said.


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