The International Panel on Climate Change, meeting in Shanghai, reported that the global warming trend was increasing more rapidly than previously anticipated, making widespread climate related weather effects more likely.
The scientists also said that human activities, notably the burning of fossil fuels, were increasingly seen as responsible for the changes in the global climate. Over the next 100 years global temperatures will rise between 1.4° and 5.8° Celsius – roughly 2.5° to 9° Fahrenheit.
This would substantially raise sea levels, causing widespread flooding in low lying areas of the world, but other effects, such as the increasing violence of windstorms, droughts and increased rainfall need further study.
The report found that the increasing concentration of carbon (CO2) in the atmosphere had now reached levels not see in half a million years, and that the rate of increase is unprecedented. Two thirds of the carbon is the result of burning fossil fuels.
If such is the case, the U.S., which burns over 25 percent of all the world’s fossil fuels, bears a special responsibility. Efforts to reduce these greenhouse gas emissions will be reexamined at the next scheduled climate conference in Bonn in May.
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