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Climate change Qs & As

WASHINGTON, DC--Island and river-delta communities are beginning to vanish beneath the waves as the Earth warms, ice melts and sea levels rise worldwide. Native Inuit fishermen are falling through thinning Arctic ice they've traversed many times before. Climate change reportedly claimed some 150,000 lives in 2000 and sickened many others, according to the World Health Organization.

What climate conditions await our children and grandchildren--from Louisiana to India, and from London to Africa?

"By mid-century, millions more poor children around the world are likely to face displacement, malnourishment, disease and even starvation unless all countries take action now to slow global warming," said Michael Oppenheimer, part of an all-star panel convened Tuesday, 15 June by AAAS, the world's largest general science society, and its journal, Science.

"Mansions along the Hamptons of Long Island, New York, can be rebuilt further inland when the beaches erode," said Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. "But imagine the difficulties faced by families in Bangladesh. An area where about 8 million people now live would be underwater if global sea level were to rise half a meter. Where are they going to go?"

Science Editor-in-Chief Donald Kennedy agreed.

"It should go without saying that the vulnerability of the world's poor will be multiplied many-fold if global warming causes significant melting of one or both of the polar ice sheets," Kennedy said. "Yet, exacerbation of poverty around the world, whether from flooding, reduced crop yields or increased prevalence of asthma, diarrhea, malaria or other illnesses--is part of the climate-change story that hasn't really been told. That is why it's important to make the science underlying climate change accessible to policymakers in parts of the world, like the United States, where much of the source of the problem lies." '"/>

Contact: Ginger Pinholster
gpinhols@aaas.org
202-326-6421
American Association for the Advancement of Science
15-Jun-2004


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