Mend ways in 10 years to avoid disaster, warn 500 top scientists

Humankind has 10 years in which to address the problem of the greenhouse effect. A warning from 500 distinguished scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear: «If the previous report (in 2001) was a wake-up call, this year’s report is a distress signal,» they said. Yet there is a glimmer of hope. We can avert disaster if we mobilize all social, economic and technological forces. There is no time for words, not even to undermine the research in order to minimize the urgency of the situation, as the White House did by pressuring American scientists to change their stances on the issue. The average temperature of the globe is expected to rise by 1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius before the end of the century in relation to the period between 1980 and 1999, according to the IPCC scientific report presented at the conference held in Paris. As these figures represent an average, it is possible that temperatures will rise even higher. A rise of 2 degrees is regarded as the highest acceptable limit before a drastic upheaval in the Earth’s climate with far-reaching consequences. According to IPCC estimates, average temperatures have already risen by 0.74 degrees Celsius. Sea levels are expected to rise by between 18 and 59 centimeters by the end of the century. The panel confirmed that human activities are 90 percent responsible for the rise in temperatures, up from 66 percent in the 2001 report. The IPCC has been under considerable pressure – from Washington mainly – to make its estimates less certain. What the report considers to be certain is the increased frequency of extreme weather phenomena.