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World Bank Outlines Global Warming 'Doomsday Scenario'

Howard Schneider examines a recent study by the World Bank, issued as a call-to-action for the international community not merely to curb, but to plan for and mitigate the crises that a 4°C rise in global temperatures would bring.
November 20, 2012, 7am PST | Ryan Lue
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Warning of widespread crop failures, malnutrition, and dislocated populations, the World Bank issued a study Sunday urging the international community to take action on the mounting challenges of an increasingly sweltering planet.

The report identified a threshold of 4 degrees Celsius, beyond which global warming could cause irreparable damage to human settlements, including a 3-foot rise in sea levels by 2100. Paraphrasing World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Schneider writes, "World climate goals aim to hold the mean temperature increase to under 2 degrees Celsius, by curbing emissions of greenhouse gases that trap heat... That goal is unlikely to be met, with an increase of 3 or 3.5 degrees Celsius now considered probable."

In comparison, the last ice age followed a drop in global temperatures of about 4.5 degrees Celsius.

"The kind of sea level rise we are talking about is going to make the process of urban planning and services to the poor absolutely fundamental," said Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s vice president for sustainable development.

Notes Schneider, "But the bank report concluded that a 4 degree jump in average temperatures would push some countries or regions to the brink of collapse, regardless of how hard they try to adapt."

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Published on Monday, November 19, 2012 in The Washington Post
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