March 31, 2007
Climate change is causing health problems to spread across every region on the planet, a panel of scientific experts said. "We're looking at impacts that can be sudden and wide scale." Climate change is allowing some insect-borne infectious diseases to creep up into climates where they don't belong, while natural resources, such as western North American forests must cope with new infestations of the Mountain Pine Beetle. Previous estimates global warming could cause up to 150,000 excess deaths do not even take into account the latest research. "This is a very conservative estimate because it doesn't look at forests and air quality and water sheds or corral reefs and marine life and livelihoods and fisheries. These ultimately affect our food and are water and our shelter, and these are more important in terms of life support systems." "The small amount of warming has already driven more than 70 species extinct and already caused the loss of massive amounts of coral reefs worldwide, so if you look into the future, even the most optimistic minimum projections of 1.8 C (rise in temperature) are more than twice what we've already seen." Climate change has also thrown off migratory patterns and growth of birds, plants and other species, because of unpredictable weather patterns in the winter and spring.
Climate change will inflict steadily rising costs that could become astronomical if greenhouse gas emissions rise unabated and countries delay preparations for the likely impacts, UN experts will say next week. Their vast report will shed light on the costs from heightened water stress, tropical storms, floods, droughts, species loss and human disease this century as a result of global warming. "(The) vulnerabilities could be considerable." Climate change can have a knock-on effect in many areas and there are also poorly-understood triggers that scientists fear could dramatically accelerate the warming. Depending on the scenario of CO2 concentrations, "by 2080, it is likely that 1.1 to 3.2 billion people will be experiencing water scarcity; 200 to 600 million hunger; two to seven million more per year, coastal flooding." A very high increase (5.5 Celsius) would widely damage crop and livestock production. Global cereal prices would rise by 30 per cent. The biggest potential costs will come from extreme weather events, such as storms, droughts and floods, which are "very likely" - a 90 per cent certitude - to become more powerful and possibly more frequent too. Up to the middle of the century, a mix of mitigation and adaptation will be effective, "but even a combination of aggressive mitigation and significant investment in adaptive capacity could be overwhelmed by the end of the century."