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 on 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. "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 lowermiddle income countries and create new poverty pockets in uppermiddle to high-income countries with increasing inequality."
None of the harms talked about in the report is solely due to global warming nor is climate change even the No. 1 cause, the scientists say. But a warmer world, with bursts of heavy rain and prolonged drought, will worsen some of these existing effects , they say.
The summary went through each continent detailing risks and possible ways that countries can adapt to them.
For North America, the highest risks over the long term are from wildfires, heat waves and flooding. Water — too much and too little — and heat are the biggest risks for Europe, South America and Asia, with South America and Asia having to deal with drought-related food shortages . Africa gets those risks and more: starvation, pests and disease. Australia and New Zealand get the unique risk of losing their coral reef ecosystems, and small island nations have to be worried about being inundated by rising seas.