The latest report from the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that global warming is “unequivocal” and the effects may be felt sooner than expected. A synthesis of their previous three reports warns that the warming caused by greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere will result in an average rise in sea levels of up to 4.6 feet. Low-lying islands, coastlines and a fifth to two-thirds of the world’s species would be affected.
As early as 2020, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will suffer water shortages, residents of Asia’s large cities will be at great risk of river and coastal flooding, according to the report. Europe will experience extensive species loss, while longer and hotter heat waves and greater competition for water will plague North America.
Though a dire picture emerges from the report, it details steps that countries can adopt to avoid the worst catastrophes.
In February of 2007, James Hansen, head of NASA Institute for Space Studies, spoke at UCSB about probability of ice sheet melt overlooked by IPCC report. So, sea level rise could be worse than the latest IPCC report indicates.
Graphic courtesy IPCC