Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Climate Change and Extreme Drought?

Today's Independent newspaper leads on a climate change story more depressing than most. According to projections by the respected Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research a third of the planet could be subjected to extreme drought conditions by 2100 as a result of climate change. Of course the research is subject to a number of uncertainties, not least what will happen to greenhouse emissions between now and 2100, but the spread of drought is not something that has been explicitly modelled previously.

Environmental considerations aside, the social and economic consequences of a major increase in drought would be immense. Faced with extreme drought, agriculture would be practically impossible and mass migration would be the likely result. Aid requirements would also be significant, no wonder charities like Christian Aid are deeply alarmed by the findings of this research.

This research would seem to support the position of Sir Nicholas Stern at the current climate change discussions in Mexico. He is widely expected to report that climate change inaction will prove to be far more costly than the adoption of policies to tackle emissions. More on Stern's report when it is released next week.

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