Stop global warming or NY submerges - Greenpeace
Author: Sugita Katyal
That is the picture that a Greenpeace senior official painted of the future if the world failed to take urgent steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.
"We're talking of about the submergence of islands, submergence of Shanghai, the submergence of Bombay, the submergence of New York City," Greenpeace climate policy director Steve Sawyer told Reuters late last week.
"Manhattan would be under water."
Sawyer, who is in New Delhi for a 10-day annual U.N. climate change conference, said global warming would lead to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which in turn would cause a five to seven metre (16 to 23 ft) sea-level rise and the inundation of coastal regions.
"Most coastal cities would be uninhabitable in their present forms...and that's a catastrophic change of the shape of continents."
Some environmentalists have said that recent climate disasters around the world - from droughts in India, Australia and the United States to floods in Europe - have been graphic harbingers of some of the expected consequences of global warming.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that by 2100 global average surface temperature will be 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius higher than it was in 1990.
Sawyer said an increase in temperatures would lead to more extreme droughts and a rise in frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones.
"What these temperature changes are going to do to the hydrological cycle, particularly in the tropics, is not a very pretty picture," he said.
Between 2050 and 2080, tens of millions of people would be more at risk of malaria, coastal flooding and starvation and hundreds of millions of people would be at risk from water shortages, he said.
Delegates from 185 countries are attending the climate conference, which is likely to be the last major climate meeting before the 1997 Kyoto Protocol is expected to come into force early next year.
The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the developed world by 2012 to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels.
But the United States, the world's biggest air polluter, has refused to ratify the treaty, which it sees as flawed because it does not bind developing countries. It also says it would hurt the U.S. economy.
The Earth Summit in Johannesburg earlier this year was widely criticised by environmentalists and vulnerable Pacific nations for barely touching on the problem of global warming. The United States was singled out for criticism.