Warming report: Future violent, sicker and poorer

WASHINGTON — Starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease already lead to human tragedies. They’re likely to worsen as the world warms from man-made climate change, a leaked draft of an international scientific report forecasts.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue a report next March on how global warming is already affecting the way people live and what will happen in the future, including a worldwide drop in income. A leaked copy of a draft of the summary of the report appeared online Friday on a climate skeptic’s website. Governments will spend the next few months making comments about the draft.

“We’ve seen a lot of impacts and they’ve had consequences,” Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who heads the report said Saturday. “And we will see more in the future.”

Cities, where most of the world now lives, have the highest vulnerability, as do the globe’s poorest people.

“Throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts will slow down economic growth and poverty reduction, further erode food security and trigger new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger,” the report says. “Climate change will exacerbate poverty in low- and lower-middle income countries and create new poverty pockets in upper-middle to high-income countries with increasing inequality.”

The report says scientists have high confidence especially in what it calls certain “key risks”:

People dying from warming- and sea rise-related flooding, especially in big cities.

•Famine because of temperature and rain changes, especially for poorer nations.

Farmers going broke because of lack of water.

Infrastructure failures because of extreme weather.

Dangerous and deadly heat waves worsening.

Certain land and marine ecosystems failing.

“Human interface with the climate system is occurring and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems,” the 29-page summary says.

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of the international study team, said the report’s summary confirmed what researchers have known for a long time: “Climate change threatens our health, land, food and water security.”

The report details specific effects of warming and how countries and people can adapt to some of them. Field said experts paint a dramatic contrast of possible futures, but because countries can lessen some of the harms through reduced fossil fuel emissions and systems to cope with other changes, he said he doesn’t find working on the report depressing.

“The reason I’m not depressed is because I see the difference between a world in which we don’t do anything and a world in which we try hard to get our arms around the problem,” he said.

More in Local News

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

The beavers weren’t happy, either, about Mill Creek flooding

A tree fell on their dam, sending a rush of water into a neighborhood near Jackson High School.

Aerospace workers adjust to changing industry

The number of Boeing workers dropped almost 10 percent since last year

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

Mill Creek councilman no longer lives in city, panel finds

The Canvassing Board determined Sean Kelly is not eligible to vote there.

A whole life ahead. Five-month-old Felix Shope lies in his stroller ready to go home from the Snohomish County Courthouse with his new mom and dad, Alicia and Josh Shope of Edmonds. A family down the hall tends to a child and are likely awaiting their own adoption proceedings. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
16 youngsters get the gift of home on National Adoption Day

A joyful day at county courthouse tempered with the great need for stable, loving homes.

Stranger offered candy to student walking home from school

The Granite Falls School District is warning families about… Continue reading

Man arrested after stolen car crashes in Everett

The accident occurred in the 100 block of SE Everett Mall Way.

5-vehicle crash in Arlington kills 62-year-old woman

Medics had transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

Most Read