Warming Approaching Point Of No Return,
Warns Leading Climate Expert
Geoffrey Lean, January 23, 2005
has already hit the danger point that international attempts
to curb it are designed to avoid, according to the world's top
Dr. Rajendra Pachauri,
the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC https://www.ipcc.ch),
told an international conference attended by 114 governments
in Mauritius this month that he personally believes that the
world has "already reached the level of dangerous concentrations
of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" and called for immediate
and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity
is to "survive".
His comments rocked
the Bush administration - which immediately tried to slap him
down - not least because it put him in his post after Exxon,
the major oil company most opposed to international action on
global warming, complained that his predecessor was too "aggressive"
on the issue.
A memorandum from
Exxon to the White House in early 2001 specifically asked it
to get the previous chairman, Dr. Robert Watson, the chief scientist
of the World Bank, "replaced at the request of the US".
The Bush administration then lobbied other countries in favour
of Dr. Pachauri - whom the former vice-president Al Gore called
the "let's drag our feet" candidate, and got him elected
to replace Dr. Watson, a British-born naturalised American,
who had repeatedly called for urgent action.
But this month,
at a conference of Small Island Developing States on the Indian
Ocean island, the new chairman, a former head of India's Tata
Energy Research Institute, himself issued what top United Nations
officials described as a "very courageous" challenge.
He told delegates:
"Climate change is for real. We have just a small window
of opportunity and it is closing rather rapidly. There is not
a moment to lose."
told The Independent on Sunday that widespread dying of coral
reefs, and rapid melting of ice in the Arctic, had driven him
to the conclusion that the danger point the IPCC had been set
up to avoid had already been reached.
the world are perishing as the seas warm up: as water temperatures
rise, they lose their colours and turn a ghostly white. Partly
as a result, up to a quarter of the world's corals have been
And in November,
a multi-year study by 300 scientists concluded that the Arctic
was warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and that
its ice-cap had shrunk by up to 20 per cent in the past three
The ice is also
40 per cent thinner than it was in the 1970s and is expected
to disappear altogether by 2070. And while Dr. Pachauri was
speaking, parts of the Arctic were having a January "heatwave",
with temperatures eight to nine degrees centigrade higher than
He also cited
alarming measurements, first reported in The Independent on
Sunday, showing that levels of carbon dioxide (the main cause
of global warming) have leapt abruptly over the past two years,
suggesting that climate change may be accelerating out of control.
He added that,
because of inertia built into the Earth's natural systems, the
world was now only experiencing the result of pollution emitted
in the 1960s, and much greater effects would occur as the increased
pollution of later decades worked its way through. He concluded:
"We are risking the ability of the human race to survive."