September 25, 2009

UN Releases Less Optimistic View Of Projected Global Warming

The Earth's temperature is projected to increase 6 degrees by the end of the century even if global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, says a United Nations press release.

Scientists reviewed emission proposals from 192 countries and calculated future global warming. The projections account for 80% of pollution reductions globally by 2050. Carbon dioxide is the main cause of global warming.

The world's temperature has increased 1.4 degrees since the 19th century.  The majority of the increase in temperature is from developing nations, which are not keen on reducing their emissions, scientists noted at a United Nations press conference Thursday.

"We are headed toward very serious changes in our planet," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N.'s environment program.

Even if worldwide emissions were cut by 80% by 2050, the world will still undergo a 3-degree increase by the end of the century, stated Robert Corell, a U.S. climate scientist who aided in the study.

Corell thinks that the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December will still result in a 5 degree increase in world  temperature by the end of the century.

The U.N.'s environment program released the update to inform diplomats on the future of the planet. The last report came from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change two years ago, Steiner said.

Global warming is moving along quickly, which means that some projections from 2007 are old and too optimistic. Corell said global warming "is accelerating in ways that we are not anticipating."

Since both the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets are dissolving faster than originally thought, the seas will climb quicker than projected only three years ago, Corell said.

"As sobering as this report is, it is not the worst case scenario," said U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, co-author of the bill that passed the U.S. House. "That would be if the world does nothing and allows heat-trapping pollution to continue to spew unchecked into the atmosphere."


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