MOO Reports:
How will climate change affect us in the future?

This report is by Peter Dray, who often contributes to MOO.

Later this year, the IPCC will publish their latest reports. These will tell us what scientists currently think about the earth’s rising temperatures and how they will affect us. A rise in the level of carbon dioxide in the air and a rise in sea level are just two ways we might be affected. To celebrate the findings, Moo examines the last findings that were published in 1995 by IPCC. Keep checking MOO in the future to see what the latest report says!

In 1995, the scientists who contributed to the IPCC report made several conclusions. They said that a natural ‘global warming’ occurs due to the short wave radiation that comes from the Sun. The worrying sign to them was the build up of ‘Greenhouse Gases’ that allowed less radiation to leave the earth - hence the earth would slowly warm up. The IPCC concluded with confidence that the concentration of Greenhouse Gases was increasing - they also stated that the warming effect would not be easy to stop due to the time lag between cutting emissions (like CFCs) and the atmosphere responding.

The IPCC also made what it called ‘firm judgments’ which were accepted by its members. It worked out that world temperature has risen about 0.5 degree since 1900 and sea level had risen 15cm. These differences are thought to be mainly due to natural factors. The IPCC also said that there is no firm evidence that world temperatures are more variable than before.

With these conclusions and judgments, the scientists made a number of predictions, which can be summarized as follows:

  • With no restrictions limiting emissions of Greenhouse Gases, world temperature will increase at a rate of about 0.3 degrees per decade.

  • Even with a high amount of controls placed, the world temperature will still increase at a rate of about 0.1 degrees per decade.

  • The temperate rise will not be equal globally - the land warms more quickly than the sea and high latitudes will warm more quickly. Rises in Southern Europe and Central America will be quicker than the average, and will be accompanied by drier conditions than at present.

  • The prediction of sea level for 2100 will be about 60cm than at present; due to the melting of the polar ice caps and due to thermal expansion of the oceans because of the warmer temperature.

The IPCC admitted that further investigation had to be carried out to understand various phenomena. It ordered more experiments to understand these. The main uncertainties were the properties of Greenhouse Gases, how cloud cover might change, the influence of the oceans in temperature rises and how carbon dioxide levels might change. It is thought that a large amount of work has been undertaken on the latter of these - we shall soon see in the new report. The group also said that more readings needed to be taken on a global basis, especially in developing countries which were under-represented in the readings up to that point. The group also agreed to push governments into commissioning more research.


What will the new report say? Find out and get the first analysis here on MOO!



. © 1999-2003 Justin Taylor / John Dray

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