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[Editorial] Climate Change: An Alarm

Posted February. 03, 2007 03:42,   


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report yesterday which contained the gloomiest forecast in human history. The report said that the average temperature of the earth will rise from 1.8 to 4.0 degrees Celsius, and that the sea level will rise from 18 to 59 centimeters by 2100. The report warns that countries located in low-lying areas, such as Pacific island countries, Bangladesh and the Netherlands, will face inundation. More than 100 million people will suffer food shortages in Asia alone, while half of the world’s population will undergo water shortages.

The main culprit of global warming which causes climate change is greenhouse gas, including carbon dioxide, emitted in the process of burning fossil fuels. The report made it clear that “humans are responsible for more than 90 percent of the rise in temperatures over the past half century.” The figure is up from 66 percent in the third report released in 2001. What is shocking is that even if the greenhouse gas emission freezes at present levels, the sea level will keep going up, never going back to its original level.

Global warming does not mean a hike in temperatures all over the globe. It is a climate disaster caused by co-existing extreme cold spells and heat waves. The world witnessed various disastrous situations this season due to unusually warm weather and sudden cold spells. Korea is not an exception, since it had an unprecedented long monsoon season in last summer and is currently experiencing the third warmest winter in 100 years. In the World Economic Forum recently held in Davos, participants also warned, “Climate change is expected to cost the world economy up to $250 billion over the next 10 years and a 5-percent loss in GDP every year.”

The IPCC report is just a “response” by scientists to climate change. The real problems are changing pictures of international tensions and hegemony that will be fueled by climate disasters, water shortages and migration of environmental refugees. Futurists predict, “A third world war will break out over water.”

Some of the blame should go to the U.S., which refused to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. But Korea has something more urgent to do than blaming others. With the release of the IPCC report, the world is expected to introduce a measure to reduce heat-trapping gas emissions stronger than the Kyoto treaty. Korea has yet to be obliged to decrease the emission, but it will soon be under heavy pressure to do so. It is time for the humans living on earth to deal with the issue with a sense of responsibility for this manmade crisis.