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Oct 232008
 

By Harriet Blake

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued a report earlier this week stating that global warming is increasing at an even faster pace than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast in 2007. The report, “Climate Change: Faster, Stronger, Sooner,” was pegged to the Oct. 20 Luxembourg meeting of the European Union’s Environment Ministers.

Despite concerns about the global financial crisis, the ministers have chosen to stick with their environmental improvement plan – to reduce greenhouse gases 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The WWF would like to see that increased to 30 percent for the EU.

According to the WWF’s scientific data, there were six key findings:

1. The Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice up to 30 years ahead of what the IPCC originally thought. Summer sea ice could disappear entirely between 2013 and 2040. This has not happened in more than a million years.

2. The rise of the global sea level could increase twofold from the IPCC’s estimate of .59 meter (about 23 inches) by the end of the century.

3. Forests and oceans, known as “natural carbon sinks,” are not absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere as quickly as they used to.

4. Because of rising temperatures, there’s been a decrease in food crops that equals about 40 million tons of grain per year.

5. The marine ecosystems in the North and Baltic seas also are being affected by the warmest temperatures ever recorded.

6. Cyclones in the United Kingdom are increasing in number and in intensity, which will in turn increase the wind speeds and storm-related losses over Central and Western Europe.

Richard Moss, vice president for the WWF’s Climate Change division and a member of the IPCC, said the report indicates to all that the world must act now.

“That means individuals in their own lives need to get involved, at home and by expressing their alarm. They need to get in touch with their local politicians,” Dr. Moss said. “Businesses need to get on board, too. We are seeing action at the state and local levels.”

The promise of a new administration offers hope, he says. “At least we won’t have the climate debate anymore since both candidates realize that global warming is human-induced. The candidates are moving in the right direction. And the science pointed out in this report should help.”

What about both candidates’ seeming concessions to off-shore drilling?

“Seeing the American public invest more finances to energy resources like oil is unfortunate,” says Dr. Moss. “It’s sad to see that happen. Our off-shore areas shouldn’t be destroyed.”

On the WWF website, the author of the report, climate scientist Dr. Tina Tin, says, “Climate change, is a major challenge to the future of mankind and the environment, and this sobering overview highlights just how critical it is that EU Environment Ministers discussing the EU legislations against climate change today commit to a strong climate and energy package, in order to ensure a low carbon future.”

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