April 7, 2009
Global Warming Increasing Faster Than Projected
A poll of scientists, released on Tuesday, showed that global warming is likely to overshoot a 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit rise, seen by the European Union and many developing nations as a trigger for "dangerous" change, Reuters reported.
The evidence that mankind is to blame for climate change has grown stronger in the past two years, according to 9 of the 11 experts, who were among the authors of the final summary by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 (IPCC).
The original 2007 report was considered the most authoritative overview of climate change to date, drawing on work by 2,500 experts.
However, based on personal views of recent research, most of the experts in the recent poll projected on average a faster melt of summer ice in the Arctic and a quicker rise in sea levels than estimated in the 2007 findings.
William Hare of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said a lot of the impacts being seen are running ahead of initial expectations.
According to 10 of the 11 experts, the possibility of the world managing to limit warming to a 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit rise above pre-industrial levels was at best "unlikely".
Salemeel Huq at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London said scientifically it could be done, but it's unlikely given the level of political will.
"The world is very unlikely to reach the goal," said David Karoly of the University of Melbourne.
He said the concentration of long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is already enough to cause warming of more than 35 F above pre-industrial levels.
"We are continuing to emit more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere," he added.
A new upcoming U.N. climate treaty due to be agreed upon in December welcomed officials from 175 nations in Bonn, Germany, for 11 days of negotiations lasting until April 8.
A 35 degree Fahrenheit rise above pre-industrial levels is the maximum to avoid the worst of rising sea levels, floods, droughts or heatwaves, according to The European Union and many other developing nations and environmental groups who are concerned that temperatures are already up 33 Fahrenheit.
Temperatures limited to an even tougher goal of below 34.7 Fahrenheit have been called for by an alliance of 43 small island developing states, who fear being swamped by the cutbacks.
The alliance argues that rich nations should dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels.
In 2007, the IPCC said that it was at least 90 percent certain that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, were the main cause of warming in the past 50 years.
World average annual temperatures were projected to set a new record by 2015, according to six of the scientists in the poll. Another four of them projected that it would happen by 2020.
The World Meteorological Organization said 1998 was the hottest year recorded since records began in the 19th century.
Sea levels are also projected to rise faster than what the IPCC report first predicted"”threatening many cities, islands and coasts from Bangladesh to Florida.
Seas are expected to rise by between 7-24 inches this century, the IPCC said, although it listed several big uncertainties about ice sheets in Greenland or Antarctica.
Among those polled, 10 of the experts projected that Arctic late summer sea ice could vanish before 2050"”with two saying it could disappear by 2020.
Some scenarios pointed to a loss in the latter half of the century, the IPCC concluded.
On the Net:
- U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
- International Institute for Environment and Development
- University of Melbourne
- World Meteorological Organization