Climate scepticism threatens people, planet – IPCC chief

Source: Alertnet // Thin Lei Win

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chair Rajendra Pachauri speaks during the opening of the conference on climate change and displacement in Oslo, Norway, on June 6, 2011. REUTERS/Stian Lysberg Solum/Scanpix Norwa

BANGKOK (AlertNet) – Continuing scepticism about climate change in some parts of the world threatens the planet and the people on it, according to Rajendra K. Pachauri, chief of the Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

“I think global society has to realise that we are affecting the climate of this planet and this is the only planet that we have,” he said in Bangkok Friday at the Southeast Asia launch of the IPCC special report on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters

While scepticism about climate change continues in some parts of the world – particularly the United States – “some facts, which are incontrovertible need to be accepted by the public,” he urged.

He said he believes the upcoming Rio+20 sustainability conference in June will lead to new agreements that could help shift the world onto a path of more sustainable development. But he warned the highly touted event should be seen as one step, not a climax of such efforts.

“We must realise that if we want any earth-shaking developments to take place, they’re not going to take place overnight in one single event,” he said.

“You really have to embark on a process of evolution, a process of understanding and education and I expect Rio+20 will be able to do. I see this as the start of a process rather than a culmination,” he added.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report, released last November, lays out scenarios about how much weather may change depending on whether climate-changing emissions are curbed significantly, or not at all.

What is clear is that average temperatures are going to rise in many parts of the world. Many scientists believe that at current rates of emissions the planet is heading toward at least a 3.5 degree Celsius rise in average temperature this century.

“It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes… will occur in the 21st century on the global scale,” the IPCC report said.

“It is very likely that the length, frequency and/or intensity of… heat waves will increase,” it added.

Changing weather patterns also are expected to bring more extreme weather, including worsening droughts and floods.

The predictions may help countries and communities facing such climate-related problems, including sea level rise, to prepare and adapt to coming changes.

But “while the findings of this report will assist the global community in coming up with adaptation measures, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that, globally, we have to mitigate the emissions of greenhouse gases,” Pachauri said.

“We would like to avoid, and the world should avoid, the impacts that are going to result from these extreme events,” he added.

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