Weather: Predictions of doom and disaster

A new report paints a grim picture of the potential consequences of global warming. Islands will be submerged, Europe could suffer water shortages, urban air quality could deteriorate in North America, Africa could starve ... if current computer models are correct.

The Regional Impacts of Climate Change has just been published by Cambridge University Press (pounds 24.95 paperback, pounds 70 hardback) to coincide with the end of the Kyoto conference on global warming. In more than 500 pages of tables and analysis, this report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change takes us on a tour of the world, continent by continent, examining the present interaction between climate and natural resources, and how things could change if the earth continues to get warmer. And it paints a dismal scenario.

"Based on the range of sensitivities of climate to changes in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and plausible changes in emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols," it says, "climate models project that the mean annual global surface temperature will increase by 1-3.5C by 2100, that global mean sea level will rise by 15-95cm, and that changes in the spatial and temporal patterns of precipitation would occur. The average rate of warming probably would be greater than any seen in the past 10,000 years."

Having set the scene for climactic climatic change, the report moves on to discuss the impact on ecosystems, water availability, food production and human health in various areas of the world. In Africa, some models predict less rain and a drop in water level in dams and rivers which "could adversely affect the quality of water by increasing the concentrations of sewage waste and industrial effluents, thereby increasing the potential for the outbreak of diseases".

In Latin America, climate change could lead to a reduction in fish quality and stocks, increasing storms and the inundation of coastal zones and small islands. In Central America, it's floods they have to worry about. In the Middle East, water shortages are expected to be exacerbated, which will lead to increased problems with food production.

In North America: "in some cases, changes in climate will provide adaptive opportunities or could alleviate the pressure of multiple stresses; in other cases climate change could hasten or broaden negative impacts, leading to reduced function or elimination of ecosystems." Europe also has good and bad news: more heat-related deaths in the summer; fewer cold-related deaths in the winter. But summer air pollution will get worse, and "some vector-borne infectious diseases will have the potential to extend their range."

The ambition of the book is "to become the primary source of information on regional aspects of climate change for policymakers, the scientific community, and students", and it certainly contains all the information needed for anyone attempting a serious study of the affect of climate on the environment. There are tables of water resources, energy use, economic conditions, population density, arable land, agricultural land and even the stocks of cattle, sheep, pigs, and everything to camels and goats in every country on earth. (Oddly enough, nobody seems to have counted the number of goats in the UK.)

But are the models to be trusted? Global warming sceptics will find plenty of ammunition in sentences such as this: "Possible local climate effects which are due to unexpected events like a climate-change induced change of flow pattern of marine water streams like the Gulf Stream have not been considered, because such changes cannot be predicted with confidence at present."

If we can't even confidently predict whether the Gulf Stream - which has such a major effect on our climate - is going to change direction, can we really trust the other conclusions?

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
i100
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
News
i100
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

    £300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

    KS1 Teacher

    £95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

    HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

    £32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?