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The reality of climate change

Mar 27, 2014, 9:26 AM

The big international story is this week’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Japan to finalize another report on global climate change.

We have carried agency reports about the event in this edition, to bring home the crucial message. The AP report highlights the fact that “warming is big risk for people”.

We are told that is the message from top climate scientists gathering in Japan this week to assess the impact of global warming. “In fact, they will say, the dangers of a warming Earth are immediate and very human”.

The more than 60 scientists are in Japan to finish writing a massive and authoritative report on the impacts of global warming.

“With representatives from about 100 governments at this week’s meeting of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, they’ll wrap up a summary that tells world leaders how bad the problem is”.

We are told that the key message is: “The big risks and overall effects of global warming are far more immediate and local than scientists once thought. It’s not just about melting ice, threatened animals and plants. It’s about the human problems of hunger, disease, drought, flooding, refugees and war, becoming worse”.

The United Nations established the climate change panel in 1988 and its work is done by three groups. One looks at the science behind global warming. The group meeting in Japan beginning Tuesday studies its impacts. And a third looks at ways to slow warming.

According to the AP story, if climate change continues, the panel’s larger report predicts these harms:

— Violence: For the first time, the panel is emphasizing the nuanced link between conflict and warming temperatures. Participating scientists say warming won’t cause wars, but it will add a destabilizing factor that will make existing threats worse.

— Food: Global food prices will rise between 3 and 84 percent by 2050 because of warmer temperatures and changes in rain patterns. Hotspots of hunger may emerge in cities.

— Water: About one-third of the world’s population will see groundwater supplies drop by more than 10 percent by 2080, when compared with 1980 levels. For every degree of warming, more of the world will have significantly less water available.

— Health: Major increases in health problems are likely, with more illnesses and injury from heat waves and fires and more food and water-borne diseases. But the report also notes that warming’s effects on health is relatively small compared with other problems, like poverty.

— Wealth: Many of the poor will get poorer. Economic growth and poverty reduction will slow down. If temperatures rise high enough, the world’s overall income may start to go down, by as much as 2 percent, but that’s difficult to forecast.

“Climate change is a terrible problem, and it absolutely needs to be solved. It deserves to be a huge priority”.
Bill Gates