Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tackling global warming

According to the World Meteorological Organisation, 2005 missed becoming the warmest year on record by the merest fraction of a degree Celsius. The past decade, 1996-2005, is the warmest on record (if 1996 is taken out of the calculation). The earth's surface has warmed by about 0.6 degrees C since the late 1800s, and the temperature is expected to increase by another 1.4 degrees to 5.8 degrees C by 2100. The culprit is `greenhouse gases,' notably carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. These are accumulating to unprecedented levels in the atmosphere as a result of profligate burning of fossil fuels, industrial processes, farming activities, and changing land use. The greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the Earth, trapping too much of the heat that would otherwise have escaped into space. If the Earth warmed further by more than one degree C, it would be warmer than it has been in a million years. James Hansen, a doyen of the science of climate change, recently warned that if carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels continue rising at about two per cent a year (as in the past decade), the additional warming would be two to three degrees C this century, implying changes that would mean practically a different planet. Global warming is likely to trigger disastrous changes in rainfall and snowfall patterns. full story>>

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