The world’s scientists Friday have warned that that we, humans, are the blame for a climate change that could cause a Earth catastrophe within a few decades.
The blame is being placed on emissions which reports say could increase average temperatures by as much as 6.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century if emissions continue to rise. This comes according to a report of an expert panel set up by the U.N. to study the problem.
Scientists have discovered that Earth’s land and oceans are becoming less able to absorb carbon dioxide.
An average global temperature rise of 4C could wipe out hundreds of species, bring extreme food and water shortages in vulnerable countries and cause catastrophic floods that would displace hundreds of millions of people. Warming would be much more severe towards the poles, which could accelerate melting of the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets. This would lead to a 21-foot increase in sea level, forcing the relocation of more than 300 million people living in low-lying areas worldwide.
The new warning comes as world governments face increasing pressure to agree a new global deal to reduce emissions.
“The world’s scientists have spoken,” said Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation. “It is time now to hear from the world’s policymakers. The so-called and long-overstated ‘debate’ about global warming is now over.”
The most significant effort to reach a common solution was the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which so far has not had much impact.
Although most of the scientific data behind the report have come out before, their aggregation into a single report, phrased in the boldest of terms, sparked an intense reaction Friday.
The report could be summed up in the one statement made by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) who called the report “a scientific smoking gun.”
More scientific studies have shown that the U.S. is the single largest contributor to global warming, producing about a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions even though it accounts for about 4.5% of its population.
China, with 20% of the world’s population, produces 14.5% of global emissions
Though global warming cannot be reversed, it can be mitigated, said climatologist Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. If emissions are reduced, “we’ll have fewer climate changes and less warming. If they are higher, we’ll have much greater changes. The longer you wait to begin reducing emissions, the worse the problem gets and the more you have to do to do something about it.”