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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 1 month ago

We now know that man-made climate change has been underway since the mid-20th century and is having significant effects around the world. Since the industrial revolution, human activities have increased concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by about one third. By the end of the 21st century, they are expected to be two or three times higher. Even if we were able to make dramatic reductions in emissions immediately, we would still have to deal with the effects of climate change for many decades because of inertia in the global climate system.


Over coming decades we expect to experience:


  • rising average temperatures,
  • increasing risk of heat-waves,
  • melting glaciers,
  • permafrost thaw,
  • changing patterns of precipitation,
  • rising sea levels,
  • increasing risks of drought and flood,
  • increased frequency and severity of sea storm surges,
  • possible increased storm intensity and frequency,
  • increasing climatic variability.


We are already beginning to feel the effects of climate change. Damaging high temperature extremes are occurring more often. The summer of 2003 was unusually warm over much of Europe and was the hottest in at least 500 years - about 3oC warmer than the historical average. Across Europe, 30,000 people died and US$15bn economic losses occurred. It is estimated that the risk of such unusually high European temperatures has already doubled due to man-made emissions. These extremes will soon become the norm. By the 2040s, temperatures as high as those experienced in the summer of 2003 are expected to occur every other year. By the 2060s, summers like 2003 will be regarded as ‘cool’.

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