BERLIN, Sept. 2 (UPI) — The effects of climate change are far worse than previously expected, a report by the World Wildlife Fund said.
Nearly 1,000 ice sculptures, shaped like human beings, are now melting away in the Berlin sun. Installed by WWF at Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt Square, the sculptures are aimed at reminding the world that the effects of climate change affect all of us. And on Wednesday, WWF said that those effects are more serious than anticipated.
Because of the melting arctic, the world’s seas could rise by more than 3 feet by 2100, a WWF report says — that’s double the sea-level rise projected by the United Nations. The melting ice caps could also lead to flooding of coastal regions and affect a quarter of the world’s population, the WWF said. The melting would also lead to substantial increases in greenhouse gas emissions from carbon pools and extreme global weather changes.
“If we allow the arctic to get too warm, it is doubtful whether we will be able to keep these feedbacks under control,” WWF expert Martin Sommerkorn said in a statement. “It is urgently necessary to rein in greenhouse gas emissions while we still can.”
The report, titled “Arctic Climate Feedbacks: Global Implications,” was released Wednesday in Geneva and Berlin, and details how the loss of arctic ice has a much graver effect on the world than previously believed.
The report claims it will change temperature and precipitation patterns in Europe and America, thus affecting water supplies, agriculture and tourism.
In addition, the melting ice may even increase CO2 emissions: The arctic’s frozen soils and wetlands store twice as much carbon as is held in the atmosphere. As warming in the arctic continues, soils will increasingly thaw and release carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane at significantly increased rates.
Levels of atmospheric methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, have been increasing for the past two years, and experts say the increase stems from warming arctic tundra.
The report comes three months before the governments of 191 countries are due to meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, for a major climate protection conference. The U.N.-mandated summit is aimed at finding a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012.
WWF has teamed up with other NGOs to produce a model climate treaty for Copenhagen that stipulates highly ambitious emissions cuts to avoid arctic feedbacks.
“We need to listen now to these signals from the arctic, and take the necessary action in Copenhagen this December to get a deal that quickly and effectively limits greenhouse gas emissions,” James Leape, the head of WWF, said in a statement.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International