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November 23, 2009

Staggering Global Warming Statistics Emerge As UN Meeting Looms

Since the 1997 international agreement to address global warming, climate change has seen its ups and downs, including extremely bleak warnings.

So far, the world's oceans have raised an inch and a half, serious droughts have plagued parts of the world, temperatures everywhere are warmer, and several endangered species continue to be threatened.

"The latest science is telling us we are in more trouble than we thought," said Janos Pasztor, climate adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to AP News.

It is suspected that since the original agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, is that the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has grown 6.5%. Officials will meet in Copenhagen next month to seek create a new pact, which President Barack Obama says "has immediate operational effect ... an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution."

From 1997 to 2008, world carbon dioxide has leapt up 31%. Emissions from China have doubled since 1997.

"Back in 1997, the impacts (of climate change) were underestimated; the rate of change has been faster," noted Virginia Burkett, leading scientist for global change research at the U.S. Geological Survey. This scares former Vice President Al Gore, who helped create a last-minute pact in Kyoto.

"By far the most serious differences that we've had is an acceleration of the crisis itself," Gore said to The Associated Press.

Since 1997, the issue of global warming has spread to all facets of business.

"We've come from a time in 1997 where this was some abstract problem working its way around scientific circles to now when the problem is in everyone's face," said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate scientist.

The issue that has scientists most afraid deals with the Arctic and melting summer sea ice. Back in 1997 "nobody in their wildest expectations," would have contemplated a loss of summer sea ice, Weaver said.

Globally, glaciers are disintegrating three times rapider than in the 1970s and the normal glacier has melted 25 feet since 1997, mentioned Michael Zemp, scientist at World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich.

"Glaciers are a good climate indicator," Zemp said. "What we see is an accelerated loss of ice."

Oceans are also growing more acidic due to carbon dioxide in the air that is being drawn into the water. Acidic water is hazardous to coral, oysters and plankton and will harm the ocean food chain, biologists note.

"The message on the science is that we know a lot more than we did in 1997 and it's all negative," said Eileen Claussen, head of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "Things are much worse than the models predicted."