Global warming may be irreversible by 2006

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates

This is not an example of my rather tardy New Year predictions, but the title of a recent article in the Onion – and thanks to Alan Reid for pointing it out as I've not been keeping up with the Onion's output lately – maybe because I find much American satire rather heavy-handed.

Here's a flavour of what the Onion has to say about an IPCC report that appears to have been written in the 1970s:

GENEVA—A new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned Monday that global warming is likely to become completely irreversible if no successful effort is made to slow down the trend before 2006.  Unless greenhouse-gas emissions are drastically reduced by then, the report concludes, it will be too late to avoid inflicting a grave environmental catastrophe upon future generations.

“We have absolutely no time to waste," said Dr. William Tumminelli, lead author of the report, which stresses it is utterly crucial the world cut its carbon footprint in half by the year 2000. "If we wait until 1998 or even 1995 to really start doing something about climate change, our planet's rising temperature will already have set in motion a series of devastating and irreparable long-term consequences. We need to have strict international rules in place well ahead of 2006 or, to be blunt, many of the earth's inhabitants will be doomed.”

The Onion goes on to note that the IPCC report estimates that the failure to address global warming could result in sea levels rising 6 inches by the end of the 20th century, with 2000-2009 being the hottest decade ever recorded, and roughly half the Arctic ice cap melting by 2011.  Even before 2006, the Onion indicates that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reach "entirely unmanageable levels," with scientists confirming the likelihood of an alarming increase in the frequency and severity of hurricanes, floods, heat waves, and droughts, which could lead to death tolls in the hundreds of thousands.  It quotes Brookings Institution political analyst Gloria Leting as saying:

"Climate change is the deadliest crisis currently facing humanity, so needless to say, we can expect it to be the dominant issue of the 2000 presidential election.  It stands to reason that, as the world's foremost producer of greenhouse gases, the United States will want to take the lead in preventing this disaster while we still have time."

Quite so.  But as I read on, I did wonder just which of the Onion's many possible targets are being satarised.  Probably them all, I suppose – in its typically heavy-handed fashion.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates


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