Synthesizing reams of data from its three previous reports, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the first time specifically points out important risks if governments fail to respond: melting ice sheets that could lead to a rapid rise in sea levels and the extinction of large numbers of species brought about by even moderate amounts of warming, on the order of 1 to 3 degrees.
This final report also puts more emphasis on the ripple effect of small degrees of temperature change, some of which are already being seen, such as species extinctions and loss of biodiversity.
“A relatively modest degree of warming — one to three degrees — spells a lot of trouble and I think that was not clear in the previous report,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. He said part of the reason for the lack of clarity was that governments had “messed around” with the language and structure of the report during the approval process.
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More than four times the number of natural