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As doctors warn of rising climate impacts new research predicts sea levels will
rise 75cm by 2100
Medical experts have urged policy makers to take concrete
steps to tackle climate change, warning that failure to do so poses an
immediate, grave and escalating threat to the health and security of billions of
people around the globe.
More than 100 medical and military professionals, including Dr Hamish
Meldrum, chairman of council at the British Medical Association and Lord Michael
Jay, chairman of medical relief charity Merlin, yesterday backed a statement
declaring climate change the greatest current threat to public health.
The statement outlines how rising temperatures and weather instability will
lead to more frequent and extreme weather events, loss of habitat and
habitation, water and food shortages, the spread of diseases, ecosystem
collapse, and threats to livelihood, potentially triggering mass migration and
conflict within and between countries.
It also warns that humanitarian crises will impact on military resources and
that the human and economic cost of climate impacts "will be enormous".
It urges the EU to urgently adopt a 30 per cent CO2 greenhouse gas reduction
target for 2020 and for the United Nations to commit to restricting the global
temperature rise to 2°C as agreed at the Copenhagen and Cancun Summits.
Opening the meeting, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne urged
national governments to limit the impact of climate change to deliver "a
cleaner, healthier, safer future".
Professor Hugh Montgomery, director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and
Performance urged politicians to tackle the tangible risks posed by global
"It is not enough for politicians to deal with climate change as some abstract
academic concept," he said.
"The price of complacency will be paid in human lives and suffering, and all
will be affected. Tackling climate change can avoid this, while related
lifestyle changes independently produce significant health benefits. It is time
we saw true leadership from those who would profess to take such a role."
Other signatories included Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, former president of the
Royal College of Physicians, David Kidney, the former MP who is now head of
policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, and the leaders of
Norway and Sweden's Medical Associations.
The statement was released as startling new research predicted sea levels are
likely to rise by 75 centimetres by 2100 as a result of climate change.
Aslak Grinsted, researcher at the Centre for Ice and Climate, the Niels Bohr
Institute at the University of Copenhagen, yesterday published a set of
projected changes in sea level for the next 500 years.
The two most realistic scenarios, calculated based on greenhouse gas
emissions and pollution levels stabilising in the coming decades, predicts sea
levels will still rise by about 75cm by 2100 and two metres by the year 2500.
The most pessimistic scenario, where emissions continue to increase, predicts
sea levels could rise 1.1 metres by 2100 and 5.5 metres by 2500.
Even in the most optimistic scenario, requiring extremely dramatic climate
change goals, major technological advances and strong international cooperation
to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the sea would continue to rise by around 60cm
by 2100 and 1.8 metres by 2500.
Grinsted said the changes would occur because ice caps and sea levels react
slowly to changes in emissions.
"Even if we stabilise the concentrations... and stop emitting greenhouse gases
into the atmosphere, we can see that the rise in sea level will continue to
accelerate for several centuries because of the sea and ice caps long reaction
time," he said.
"So it would be 2-400 years before we returned to the 20th century level of a 2
mm rise per year."