British scientists believe global warming may be proceeding more rapidly than they thought. Professor James Lovelock points to the increasingly rapid melting of the Arctic ice sheet that covers Greenland.
Lovelock also cites the heat wave that fried Britain and western Europe in the first two weeks of August last year. That period saw temperatures in Britain top 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time. The heat was blamed for 20,000 deaths, mostly the elderly, in France.
Senior scientists from the Swiss Met Office and the head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Phil Jones, said the heat wave was without precedent in climatic history and blamed it squarely on climate change.
Theres no question in any reasonable scientists mind that that was the first real bad event of global warming, Lovelock said. But the media picked it up only as a story about the wickedness of the French in not looking after their old people.
Lovelock said the change in the Greenland ice sheet, which measurements show is melting faster than we expected. Such a thing could raise global sea levels considerably.
The professor pointed to a recent newspaper picture from Greenland. Thats a kilometer up in Arctic Greenland, near the North Pole, he said, and thats what it looks like in summer now. There are torrents of meltwater plunging off the glaciers.
In 2001, the report of the UNs Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted a global temperature increase of 5.8 degrees Celsius in the next century. Professor Lovelock, however, thinks things will happen faster than on a 100-year time scale. It wont be as fast, however, as depicted in the current movie The Day After Tomorrow.
Lovelock said: I think in the past, we thought more in terms of it would get hotter, things would change, you might be able to grow Mediterranean plants in Britain and things like that, it didnt seem all too bad. You knew thered be some places that wouldnt be fine, but others would be nicer than they were.
Now, he said, theres a growing awareness that global warming is far more serious than we ever realized, that it is proceeding more quickly, and that it poses a threat to future generations and even to civilization itself.
Source: The Independent