Monday, November 24, 2014

Some Climate Change Impacts Unavoidable:  World Bank

Smoke rises from chimneys of a steel plant next to a viaduct on a hazy day in Tangshan, Hebei province February 18, 2014. (Credit: Reuters/Petar Kujundzic) Click to Enlarge.
Some future impacts of climate change, such as more extremes of heat and sea level rise, are unavoidable even if governments act fast to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the World Bank said on Sunday.

Past and predicted emissions from power plants, factories and cars have locked the globe on a path towards an average temperature rise of almost 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times by 2050, it said.

"This means that climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be simply unavoidable," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told a telephone news conference on the report, titled Turn down the Heat, Confronting the New Climate Normal.

"The findings are alarming," he said.

Sea levels would keep rising for centuries because vast ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica thaw only slowly.  If temperatures stayed at current levels, seas would rise 2.3 metres (7 ft 6 in) in the next 2,000 years, the report said.

Average temperatures have already risen by about 0.8 degree(1.4F) since the Industrial Revolution, it said.

"Dramatic climate changes and weather extremes are already affecting millions of people around the world, damaging crops and coastlines and putting water security at risk," Kim wrote in the report.

As examples of extremes, he pointed to the hottest November day in Australia during a recent Group of 20 summit "or the five to six feet of snow that just fell on Buffalo" in the United States.

Still, the worst impacts of global warming could be avoided by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the report said.

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