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Report spurs backing for global body on warming

Feb. 3, 2007
Asso­ciated Press

Fear of run­away glob­al warm­ing pushed more than 40 coun­tries to line up Sat­ur­day be­hind France’s bid for a new en­vi­ron­men­tal body that could sin­gle out—and per­haps po­lice—na­tions that abuse the Earth.

Glob­al warm­ing is melt­ing the Green­land ice sheet, re­search­ers say. (Cour­te­sy NASA GSFC) 


“It is our re­spon­si­bil­ty. The fu­ture of hu­man­i­ty de­mands it,” French Pres­ident Jacques Chi­rac said in an ap­peal to put the en­vi­ronment at the top of the world’s agen­da. 

He spoke at a con­fer­ence in Paris a day af­ter the re­lease of a grim land­mark re­port from the world’s lead­ing cli­mate sci­en­tists and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials that said glob­al warm­ing is so se­vere that it will “con­tinue for cen­turies” and that hu­mans are to blame.

The Intergovernmen­tal Pan­el on Cli­mate Change re­port sparked calls for fast, pla­net-wide ac­tion. But not eve­ry­one at Chi­rac’s con­fer­ence wel­comed the idea of a body that would de­fine and pos­si­bly en­force en­vi­ron­men­tal rules.

Key world pol­luters—in­cluding the Unit­ed States, Chi­na and In­di­a—steered clear, while Eu­ro­peans em­braced it. A to­tal of 46 coun­tries agreed to pur­sue plans for the new or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Form­er Vi­ce Pres­ident Al Gore, whose doc­u­men­ta­ry on the per­ils of glob­al warm­ing has scored two Os­car nom­i­na­tions, cheered Chi­rac’s ef­forts. Fri­day’s re­port was “yet an­oth­er warn­ing about the dan­gers we face. We must act, and act swift­ly,” Gore said in recorded re­marks shown at the con­fer­ence. “We are at a tip­ping point.”

The 21-page re­port said man-made emis­sions of heat-trapping “green­house gas­es” are to blame for few­er cold days, hot­ter nights, heat waves, floods and heavy rains, droughts and strong­er storms, particularly in the At­lan­tic Ocean.

The re­port found if noth­ing is done to change cur­rent emis­sions pat­terns of green­house gas­es, glob­al tem­per­a­tures could in­crease as much as 11 de­grees Fahr­en­heit by 2100. But if the world does get green­house gas emis­sions un­der con­trol—some­thi sci­en­tists say they hope can be done—the best es­ti­mate is about 3 de­grees Fahr­en­heit.

Sea lev­els are pro­jected to rise 7 to 23 inches by the end of the cen­tu­ry, the re­port said. By 2100, if noth­ing is done to curb emis­sions, the melt­ing of Green­land’s ice sheet would be in­ev­i­ta­ble and the world’s seas would even­tu­al­ly rise by more than 20 feet, said Aus­tral­ian sci­ent­ist Na­than­iel Bind­off, a co-author.

Au­thors of the re­port called it con­serv­a­tive: It used on­ly peer-reviewed pub­lished sci­ence and was edited by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of 113 gov­ern­ments who had to agree to eve­ry word. It was a snap­shot of where the world is with glob­al warm­ing and where it is head­ing, but does not tell gov­ern­ments what to do.

The pan­el, cre­at­ed by the Unit­ed Na­tions in 1988, re­leases its as­sess­ments eve­ry five or six years, though sci­en­tists have been ob­serv­ing as­pects of cli­mate change since as far back as the 1960s. The re­ports are re­leased in phases—Fri­day’s re­port was the first of four this year.


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environmental body that could single out—and perhaps police—nations that abuse the Earth. President Jacques Chirac conference landmark report climate scientists global warming “continue for centuries” Panel on Climate Change report sparked fast, planet-wide action. environmental rules.
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