Current findings

Durban Agreement

Following various scientific studies of the impacts of greenhouse gases congregating in the upper atmosphere, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was agreed in May 1992 and signed by 155 countries at a conference in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The ultimate objective of this convention was-

To stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

The subsequent convention signed in Kyoto committed the signatories to reducing their carbon emissions by 8- 12o/o by 2012. However not all parties to the Framework Convention signed the Kyoto convention including three of the biggest emitters- the USA, China and India.

“Best evidence yet” of a warming world

Global temperatures in the first half of this year (2010) were the hottest since records began more than a century ago, according to two leading climate research centres.

Scientists have also released what they described as the “best evidence yet” of rising long-term temperatures. The report is the first to collate 11 different indicators, from air and sea temperatures to melting ice, each based on between three and seven data sets, dating back to between 1850 and 1970s.

Publishing the data in London, Peter Stott, the head of climate modelling at the UK Met Office, said despite variations between years, the evidence was unequivocal: “When you follow those decade-to-decade trends then you see clearly and unmistakably signs of a warming world.”

Seven of the 11 indicators rose over the last few decades of which one was air temperature. The other six rising indicators were sea surface temperatures, ocean heat to 700 metres in depth, air temperatures over oceans, the tropospheric temperature in the atmosphere up to 1 km, humidity caused by warmer air absorbing more moisture, and sea level rise as hotter oceans expand and ice melts.

The cause of the warming was “dominated” by greenhouse gases emitted by human activity, said Stott, “It’s possible there’s some (other) process which can amplify the other effects, such as radiation for the sun, (but) the evidence is so clear the chance there’s something we haven’t thought of seems to be getting smaller and smaller,” he said.
–further reading: Guardian newspaper d 29/07/2010

“World faces 4 C rise in temperature”

The world is heading for an average temperature rise of nearly 4C (7F), according to an analysis of national pledges from around the globe. Such a rise would bring a high risk of major extinctions, threats to food supplies and the near-total collapse of the huge Greenland ice sheet.

More than 100 heads of state agreed in Copenhagen last December to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C-2C above the long-term average before the industrial revolution, which kickstarted a huge global increase in the greenhouse gases thought to trigger climate change.

But six months on, a major international effort to monitor the emission reduction targets of more than 60 countries, including all the major economies, the Climate Interactive Scoreboard, calculate that the world is on course for a rise of nearly double the stated goal by 2100.

In its last assessment of the problem, in 2007, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast that a rise of more than 2C would lead to potential increases in food production, but an increasingly high risk of extinction for 20-30% of species, more severe droughts and floods, and an unstoppable “widespread to near total” loss of the Greenland ice sheet over very long time periods. At 4C it predicted global food production was “very likely” to decrease, “major extinctions around the globe”, and near total loss of Greenland’s ice. The severity of floods, erosion, water pollution, heat-waves, droughts and health problems such as malnutrition and diarrhoeal diseases would also increase.



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