Friday, February 23, 2007

South Pacific More Vulnerable Than Thought

by Shailendra Singh

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)'s climate coordinator in the South Pacific says that a recent United Nations report on climate change has "underestimated" the threat to millions of people in the region from sea-level rise.

While the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report provides a detailed picture of how humans activity is changing earth's climate by burning fossil fuels, it fails to adequately identify the real risks of sea level rise, something particularly relevant to the Pacific, WWF coordinator Ashvini Fernando told IPS in an interview.

She said that that the danger was graver than outlined in the U.N. report, and that by underestimating it, the report puts at risk millions of people who live on low-lying coasts not just in the Pacific, but also around the world.

"Research using scientific models different to that of the IPCC have predicted much larger increases in sea level, exceeding one metre over the next century," said Fernando, who is regional climate change coordinator for the WWF’s South Pacific programme. "This would have dire implications for the Pacific as this region has many atolls and low-lying coastal areas (which) are only several meters above sea level."

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