MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media
September 9, 2008
Last month, a senior UK government adviser warned of the real risk of a devastating rise in global temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius. Professor Bob Watson, the chief scientific adviser to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said:
“There is no doubt that we should aim to limit changes in the global mean surface temperature to 2C above pre-industrial [levels].
“But given this is an ambitious target, and we don’t know in detail how to limit greenhouse gas emissions to realise a 2 degree target, we should be prepared to adapt to 4C.” (James Randerson, ‘Prepare for global temperature rise of 4C, warns top scientist’, Guardian, August 7, 2008
But what would a 4C rise mean for the planet? According to the 2006 Stern review on the economics of climate change, up to 300 million people would be affected by coastal flooding annually. Water availability in Southern Africa and the Mediterranean could drop by half, and agricultural yields in Africa may be cut by up to 35%, with devastating consequences for millions at risk of starvation, malnutrition and disease. Half of all animal and plant species could face extinction.