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UCSD Scientist Says Climate Change Accelerating Beyond Expectations

The Copenhagen Diagnosis” Emphasizes Urgency To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Audio

Aired 11/24/09

A UC San Diego scientist says climate change is accelerating beyond expectations. A new report calls for a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

A UC San Diego scientist says climate change is accelerating beyond expectations. A new report calls for a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate scientist Richard Somerville says several key aspects of climate change, such as global ice sheet melting and sea level rise, are happening at the high end of predictions made only a few years ago.

Somerville and other 25 other researchers say carbon dioxide emissions cannot be allowed to continue at the current rate without causing what they say is "unacceptable climate change" effects.

The report, "The Copenhagen Diagnosis" concludes that without taking steps now to cut greenhouse gas emissions, global mean warming could reach as high as seven degrees Celsius or 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.

The report also finds:

  • Satellite and direct measurements demonstrate that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass and contributing to sea level rise at an increasing rate.
  • Arctic sea-ice has melted far beyond the expectations of climate models.
  • Sea level has risen about 80 percent higher than 2001 projections.
  • In 2008 carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were about 40 percent higher than those in 1990.

The report concludes that global emissions must peak then decline rapidly within the next five to ten years for the planet to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

The researchers will release the complete report two weeks before the United Nations-led climate change talks begin in Copenhagen.

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