Saturday, October 07, 2006

Get Ready for Freak Weather, World's Polluters Told

October 05, 2006 — By Catherine Bremer, Reuters

MONTERREY, Mexico — The world's top polluting nations were told Wednesday to prepare for decades of weather turmoil, even if they act now to curb emissions and pursue green energy sources.

Environment and energy ministers meeting in the Mexican city of Monterrey vowed to work faster to control global warming as scientists told them each year wasted in curbing greenhouse gas emissions would cost them dearly.

Yet even if countries froze emission levels tomorrow, the world still faces 30 years of floods, heatwaves, hurricanes and coastal erosion, the British government's chief scientific advisor David King, said.

King - who considers global warming a bigger threat than terrorism - said rich nations must help the developing world prepare for a weather shift that could put millions of lives at risk.

"We've got 30 years of climate change ahead of us even if we stop right now. Were persuading countries they have to adapt to the changes that are ahead of them," King told Reuters at the meeting of top greenhouse gas emitting countries.

"Because we've raised the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere so quickly, the earth's climate system is falling behind. This is way in excess of anything the planet has known, probably for 45 million years," he said.

Among countries who sent ministers to Monterrey were China and India, whose ballooning demand for energy has made them some of the worst polluters after the United States, which pumps out a quarter of the world's greenhouse gases.

The United States, which could face fiercer hurricanes as sea temperatures rise, sent a senior official, but U.S. officials did not brief the press.

Already, a roughly 1 degree Celsius temperature rise over the past century has allowed icy Greenland to start growing barley, and farmers in Spain are battling arid conditions.

"The people in denial now are the equivalent of the Flat Earth Society," British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks told Reuters in an interview. "Humankind is in a race for life against global warming."

Delegates discussed energy efficiency, conservation and how to fund initiatives like storing the carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants deep underground.

But it is likely to be at least the end of the decade before most projects can get off the ground.

"Time is running out, and the size of the challenge is enormous," Mexican Environment Minister Jose Luis Luege said.

Developing countries at the talks - including South Africa, Brazil and Mexico - were told to adapt for possible floods, droughts, storms and a surge in tropical diseases like malaria.

Source: Environmental News Network

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