Friday, June 19, 2009

Oceans rising faster than UN predicted, scientists say

By Alex Morales

June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Polar ice caps are melting faster and oceans are rising more than the United Nations projected just two years ago, 10 universities said in a report suggesting that climate change has been underestimated.

Global sea levels will climb a meter (39 inches) by 2100, 69 percent more than the most dire forecast made in 2007 by the UN’s climate panel, according to the study released today in Brussels. The forecast was based on new findings, including that Greenland’s ice sheet is losing 179 billion tons of ice a year.

“We have to act immediately and we have to act strongly,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told reporters in the Belgian capital. “Time is clearly running out.”

In six months, negotiators from 192 nations will meet in Copenhagen to broker a new treaty to fight global warming by limiting the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and clearing forests.

“A lukewarm agreement” in the Danish capital “is not only inexcusable, it would be reckless,” Schellnhuber said.

Fossil-fuel combustion in the world’s power plants, vehicles and heaters alone released 31.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, 1.8 percent more than in 2007, according to calculations from BP Plc data.

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