[OPE] Mass migrations & war: Dire Climate Scenario <= Lord Nicholas Stern, economist

From: Gerald Levy <Gerald_A_Levy@msn.com>
Date: Sun Feb 22 2009 - 10:19:28 EST

Mass Migrations and War: Dire Climate Scenario
By Charles J. Hanley

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) " If we don't deal with climate change
decisively, "what we're talking about then is extended world war,"
the eminent economist said.

His audience Saturday, small and elite, had been stranded here by bad
weather and were talking climate. They couldn't do much about the one,
but the other was squarely in their hands. And so, Lord Nicholas
Stern was telling them, was the potential for mass migrations setting
off mass conflict.

"Somehow we have to explain to people just how worrying that is," the
British economic thinker said.

Stern, author of a major British government report detailing the cost
of climate change, was one of a select group of two dozen environment
ministers, climate negotiators and experts from 16 nations scheduled
to fly to Antarctica to learn firsthand how global warming might melt
its ice into the sea, raising ocean levels worldwide. [...]

If the world's nations act responsibly, Stern said, they will
achieve "zero-carbon" electricity production and zero-carbon road
transport by 2050 " by replacing coal power plants with wind, solar or
other energy sources that emit no carbon dioxide, and fossil
fuel-burning vehicles with cars running on electric or other "clean"

Then warming could be contained to a 2-degree-Celsius (3.4-degree-
Fahrenheit) rise this century, he said.
But if negotiators falter, if emissions reductions are not made soon
and deep, the severe climate shifts and sea-level rises projected by
scientists would be "disastrous."

It would "transform where people can live," Stern said. "People would
move on a massive scale. Hundreds of millions, probably billions of
people would have to move if you talk about 4-, 5-, 6-degree
increases" 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. And that would mean extended
global conflict, "because there's no way the world can handle that
kind of population move in the time period in which it would take

Melting ice, rising seas, dwindling lakes and war " the stranded
ministers had a lot to consider. But many worried, too, that the
current global economic crisis will keep governments from
transforming carbon-dependent economies just
now. For them, Stern offered a vision of working today on
energy-efficient economies that would be more "sustainable" in the

"The unemployed builders of Europe should be insulating all the
houses of Europe," he said. After he spoke, Norwegian organizers
announced that the forecast looked good for Stern and the rest to fly
south on Sunday to further ponder the future while meeting with
scientists in the forbidding vastness of Antarctica.


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