Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The consequences of global warming will become serious in the next 20 years

The IPCC released a summary report on the projected consequences of global warming. Serious problems are expected over the next century, and many will occur in the near future.

Warming Predicted to Take Severe Toll on U.S.

Climate change will exact a major cost on North America's timber industry and could drive as much as 40 percent of its plant and animal species to extinction in a matter of decades, according to a new report from an international panel.

The prognosis is mixed for North America and Europe; some areas will see a temporary increase in agricultural productivity, while increased droughts and heat waves will strike others.

Hardship will strike more quickly at the poorest nations.

From the summary report, here are some of the most dire predictions for the next 10-20 years:

By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to an increase of water stress due to climate change. If coupled with increased demand, this will adversely affect livelihoods and exacerbate water-related problems.

Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries and regions is projected to be severely compromised by climate variability and change. The area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential, particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas, are expected to decrease. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition in the continent. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% by 2020.
Arid countries will suffer severely. Australia faces a serious agricultural crisis if it doesn't begin to act, now.
Australia and New Zealand

As a result of reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, water security problems are projected to intensify by 2030 in southern and eastern Australia and, in New Zealand, in Northland and some eastern regions.

Significant loss of biodiversity is projected to occur by 2020 in some ecologically-rich sites including the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland Wet Tropics. Other sites at risk include Kakadu wetlands, southwest Australia, sub-Antarctic islands and the alpine areas of both countries.

Production from agriculture and forestry by 2030 is projected to decline over much of southern and eastern Australia, and over parts of eastern New Zealand, due to increased drought and fire. However, in New Zealand, initial benefits are projected in western and southern areas and close to major rivers due to a longer growing season, less frost and increased rainfall.

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