Name some of the world’s major problems: poverty, disease, starvation, war. All of them are likely to be made worse by man-made climate change.
That sober scenario is painted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. It plans to issue a report in March on how global warming already affects how we live and what is likely to happen in the future. A leaked copy of a draft of the report appeared earlier this month on a climate skeptic’s website, The Associated Press reports.
The report says the most vulnerable people are the poor and residents of cities, where most of the world’s people now live. The report concludes that scientists have high confidence in the predictions, particularly in what it calls “key risks.”
• Rising deaths, especially in big cities, from floods related to warming and rising sea levels.
• Famine, particularly in poorer nations, because of temperature and rain changes.
• Farms failing for lack of water.
• Failure of infrastructure caused by extreme weather conditions.
• Dangerous heat waves growing worse.
Global warming isn’t the only cause of these ills, the report points out, not even the leading cause. It uses the word “exacerbate” a lot to describe the effects of warming.
The report details risks on each continent and suggests ways that countries can adapt. In North America, for instance, the highest long-term risks are wildfires, heat waves and flooding.
It’s not just gloom and doom, the report’s director said, because it suggests what countries can do to avert some of the damage. “I see the difference between a world in which we don’t do anything and a world in which we try hard to get our arms around the problem.”