Global warming is 'twice as bad as previously thought'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
27 January 2005
Global warming might be twice as catastrophic as previously thought, flooding settlements on the British coast and turning the interior into an unrecognisable tropical landscape, the world's biggest study of climate change shows.
Researchers from some of Britain's leading universities used computer modelling to predict that under the "worst-case" scenario, London would be under water and winters banished to history as average temperatures in the UK soar up to 20C higher than at present.
Globally, average temperatures could reach 11C greater than today, double the rise predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body set up to investigate global warming. Such high temperatures would melt most of the polar icecaps and mountain glaciers, raising sea levels by more than 20ft. A report this week in The Independent predicted a 2C temperature rise would lead to irreversible changes in the climate.
The new study, in the journal Nature, was done using the spare computing time of 95,000 people from 150 countries who downloaded from the internet the global climate model of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.
Alarm at new climate warning
This figure is twice the level that previous studies have suggested.
The scientists behind the project, called climateprediction.net, say it shows there is no such thing as a safe level of carbon dioxide.
The results of the study, which used PCs around the world to produce data, are published in the journal Nature.
Climateprediction.net is run from Oxford University, and is a distributed computing project; rather than using a supercomputer to run climate models, people can download software to their own PCs, which run the programs during downtime.
More than 95,000 people have registered, from more than 150 countries; their PCs have between them run more than 60,000 simulations of future climate. ...
So no two simulations will produce exactly the same results; overall, the project produces a picture of the possible range of outcomes given the present state of scientific knowledge.
The lowest rise which climateprediction.net finds possible is 2C, ranging up to 11C.
The timescale would depend on how quickly the doubling of CO2 was reached, but large rises would be on a scale of a century at least from now.
"I think these results suggest that our need to do something about climate change is perhaps even more urgent," the climateprediction.net chief scientist David Stainforth told BBC News.
Story from BBC
"...[T]hrough the invasion of Iraq, a crime of
gigantic proportions has been perpetrated.
If history has taught us anything, it is that it will
condemn both the individuals and respective
societies who not only perpetrated the crime,
but also remained blind and mute while it was
-Scott Ritter, Former Senior UN Arms Inspector in Iraq