Positive Environment News

Model Sees Severe Climate Change Impact By 2050

Date: 16-Feb-09
Country: UK
Author: Michael Kahn

LONDON - Current efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions will do little to ease damaging climate change, according to a report issued on Friday that predicts Greenland's ice sheets will start melting by 2050.

A computer model calculated that if carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow at the current rate over the next 40 years, global temperatures will still rise 2 degrees Centigrade compared with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

This would push the planet to the brink, sparking unprecedented flooding and heatwaves and making it even more difficult to reverse the trend, according to the report from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in Britain.

"Indeed organisations such as the European Union believe that an increase of 2 degrees Centrigrade relative to the pre-industrial climate is the maximum acceptable temperature rise to prevent uncontrollable and catastrophic climate change," the report said.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of hundreds of scientists, says its best estimate is that global temperature will increase this century by 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius.

Temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 degrees Celsius since before the Industrial Revolution.

The researchers from the engineering group used the 1.9 percent average annual increase of carbon dioxide emissions over the past 25 years for their model and assumed that rate would continue until 2050.

"What we are saying is that even with mitigation there will be significant changes in the climate," said the Institute's Tim Fox, who helped write the report.

The computer model also calculated effects over the next 1,000 years, predicting that by the end of the first decade of the 22nd century, atmospheric carbon dioxide would be four times the pre-industrial level even with a decreasing rate of emissions.

Temperatures would continue to rise. By the year 3000 there would be little left of Greenland's ice sheets and the circulation of the Atlantic ocean would be fundamentally altered.

"This temperature increase will have global consequences, with nearly all regions experiencing their own particular climate-related challenges," the report reads.

(Reporting by Michael Kahn; editing by Maggie Fox and Andrew Roche)

Reuters
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