Global warming: scientists at the bedside of the planet

PARIS (AFP) - Scientists and government officials from around thirty countries will focus on global warming for three days this week in Exeter (Great Britain) and should draw up a pessimistic report: the planet is warming up faster and with more serious consequences than previously thought.

A hundred scientists and sixty ministers or government officials are expected Tuesday in Exeter (south-west of Great Britain), for this international conference during which will be presented 24 studies relating to the impact of greenhouse gases. greenhouse on the climate.

This scientific conclave takes place a few days before the entry into force, on February 16, of the Kyoto Protocol, this agreement to fight against climate change adopted under the auspices of the UN in December 1997 which is strongly opposed. the American president. George Bush's isolation on this issue appears all the more so as his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is chairing the G8 this year, has made this conference a fetish project.

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The Exeter meeting must put on the table the state of scientific knowledge, try to specify the dangerous thresholds, without however commenting on the political measures that should be applied, said the president of the conference Dennis Tirpak . “The next twenty-five years will be decisive in determining what will happen between now and the end of the century (…). The conference will try to collect the best possible evidence, ”he added.

The last major scientific conference on global warming was held in 2001 under the aegis of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC), removing any remaining doubts about the impact of the release of greenhouse gases. greenhouse, which block the sun's rays in the atmosphere and modify the planet's climatic balance.

However, a large margin of uncertainty remains on the scale of the phenomenon, its speed of development and the regions most affected. According to IPCC, temperatures are expected to rise by the end of the century within a range of 1,4 and 5,8 degrees centigrade from 1990, depending on whether greenhouse gas volumes have doubled or quadrupled since pre-industrial era. According to the IPCC scenarios, the sea level would rise from 9 to 88 centimeters.

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But over the past five years, scientists' predictions have become more refined: "People are starting to realize that the upper end of estimates is within the realm of the possible," said Chris Jones, a researcher at the Hadley Center, where the conference is being held. 'Exeter. "In fact, it is now practically accepted that these climate changes are already visible", adds the British researcher.

"By the middle of the century, heatwaves like that of summer 2003 in Europe will be the norm, and before the end of the century, we will undoubtedly look at 2003 as a cold summer", according to Chris Jones.

The most recent work, some of which will be presented in Exeter, suggests that the countdown is ticking off faster than expected. According to one of these studies, there are barely fifteen years left to ensure that carbon dioxide pollution stabilizes by the end of the century at 550 parts per million (ppm), twice the level of pre-industrial era.

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Even stabilized at this level, CO2 emissions would lead to an increase in temperatures of between 2 and 11 °, with, in the high case, dramatic climatic upheavals: melting of glaciers and part of the ice sheet, floods, chain hurricanes ...

source: Yahoo News

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