Friday, September 29, 2006

Climate Change is going to happen: prepare for it!

Climate change is inevitable, and policies to help societies adapt to a warmer future are badly needed.

That is the message from the President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA), Frances Cairncross, at the BA annual festival.

She will tell delegates that even maximal deployment of the best technology cannot stop climate change.

She will also say that improving scientific literacy would raise public understanding of environmental issues.

"An innumerate population is less likely to devise good solutions to climate change and a host of other environmental problems than one at home with mathematical and scientific concepts," she will say in her address to the festival, held this year at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

'Ineffectual' Kyoto
Ms Cairncross, who is also chair of Britain's Economic and Social Research Council, believes that attempts to reduce emissions through the UN's Kyoto Protocol will not work.

We've got to realise we're going to live in a warmer world

"[Climate change] is undoubtedly going to happen on the basis of all we know at the moment," she told BBC News.

"One of the most thorough reports was done by the International Energy Agency in the summer, and that suggested that even if we threw at climate change all we had at the moment, even if we put it all in place, we would still see a rise in the concentration of emissions.

"[So] although we've got to continue taking steps to slow it down, we've also got to realise we're going to live in a warmer world."

The British government, she will say, should develop and implement policies for adaptation now, although the main issues lie in the developing world.

She will urge countries to consider measures such as developing new crops, constructing flood defences, and banning building close to sea level.

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