Our planet faces meltdown
Global warming is heating the planet twice as quickly as previously feared.
Temperatures could soar by nearly 6C this century -- faster than at any time in the past 10,000 years, warns a UN report released recently.
In the past 100 years the Earth's temperature rose by only 0.6C. But the last decade of the 20th century was the warmest on record.
Talks to cut emissions by five per cent collapsed in The Hague
several months ago. The report warns that a temperature rise of up to 5.8C, with the warming of the oceans and melting of polar icecaps, will force sea levels to rise by as much as 3ft, making tens of millions of people in Bangladesh and Egypt homeless. Parts of lowland Britain are also at risk.
Scientists believe the predicted rise, which will bring storms, floods and droughts, will be partly due to a reduction in air pollution. The report was issued at a meeting in Shanghai attended by experts from 99 countries.
A pollution clean? up will be partly to blame for such a temperature rise. A reduction in emissions of sulphur dioxide6, which causes acid rain, has increased the impact of greenhouse gases. These gases trap the sun's heat whereas sulphur dioxide cools the atmosphere.
The UN's International Panel7 on Climate Change called on governments to step up8 efforts to curb9 global warming by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which are produced by burning fossil fuels10.
British scientist Professor Sir John Houghton said: “ The six degrees depends on just how much fossil fuel we burn this next century. If we burn less, then the increase will be less.”
Roger Higman, spokesman for environment campaigners Friends of the Earth, said the report was “ terrifying” .