Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Climate change called security issue like Cold War

Reuters: Climate change is the biggest security challenge since the Cold War but people have not woken up to the risks nor to easy solutions such as saving energy at home, experts said on Tuesday.

"We're not yet collectively grasping the scale of what we need to do," British climate change ambassador John Ashton told a seminar of 40 scientists and officials from 13 nations in Ny Alesund, Norway, about 1,200 km (750 miles) from the North Pole.

He said global warming should be recast as a security issue, such as war or terrorism, to help mobilize support for tougher global action to cut emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. "The Cold War was the last big problem the world faced on so many fronts -- economic, political, industrial," he said.

Other experts at the talks, in an Arctic scientific research base, also said there was too much focus on costs of cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, rather than on risks of rising seas, droughts or floods projected by U.N. studies.

Global warming "should be looked at as a totally different type of challenge instead of asking 'what does it cost?'," said Joergen Randers, a leading Norwegian economist. Casting global warming as a security issue could make it easier to confront.

Most said that costs of fighting global warming were likely to be manageable. A report by the U.N. climate panel this year said that even the most stringent measures would mean a loss by 2030 of just three percent of global gross domestic product.

But the experts said it was hard to persuade millions of individuals to cut energy use or to get businesses to invest in new technologies to avert long-term damage from global warming…

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