Billions May Suffer Severe Water Shortages as Global Warming Melts Glaciers

Friday, 28 November 2003 21:31 by: Anonymous

  Billions May Suffer Severe Water Shortages
  As Global Warming 0aMelts Glaciers

  Agence France Presse

  Friday 28 November 2003

  MILAN -- Billions of people will face severe water shortages as 0aglaciers around the world melt unless governments take urgent action to tackle 0aglobal warming, the environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said, ahead of 0aa UN conference on climate change.

  This photo shows a crack in the Larsen B ice shelf in the Wedden 0asea, in Antarctica. Billions of people will face severe water shortages as 0aglaciers around the world melt unless governments take urgent action to tackle 0aglobal warming, the WWF said. (AFP/EPA/File)

  "Increasing global temperatures in the coming century will cause 0acontinued widespread melting of glaciers, which contain 70 percent of the 0aworld's fresh water reserves," it warned in a new study.

  "An overall rise of temperature of four degrees Celsius before 0athe end of the century would eliminate almost all of them," it said. Average 0atemperatures have risen between 0.6 and 0.7 degrees Celsius since 1860, 0aaccording to WWF, which urged countries to curb emissions of carbon dioxide to 0aensure the increase stays well below a threshold of two degrees.

  The Switzerland-based conservation group released its study on 0aclimate change and global glacier decline in Milan where more than 180 countries 0aare due to gather from December 1-12 for the UN Climate Change Convention to 0aassess progress in addressing problems concerning global warming.

  "The melting of glaciers will lead to water shortages for 0abillions of people, as well as sea levels rising and destroying coastal 0acommunities worldwide," WWF said. Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, where major cities 0arely on glaciers as their main source of water during dry seasons, would be 0aworst affected, it predicted.

  In the Himalayas, there was a grave danger of flooding, the group 0asaid, noting that glacier-fed rivers in the region supply water to one third of 0athe world's population.

  "Glacial meltdown is a clear sign that we must act now to fight 0aglobal warming and stop the melting," said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF's 0aclimate change programme. The environmental organisation called on the ministers 0awho will attend the Milan conference to act faster to combat global warming, 0aurging those from developing nations in particular to demonstrate their will to 0atackle the issue.

  WWF wants strong rules governing the use of forests, which play a 0avital role in absorbing carbon dioxide. The group also asked governments to 0aensure Russia ratifies the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which establishes a set of goals 0ato reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  Already ratified by 119 countries, the text just needs a 0acommitment from Moscow to become international law, it said. On Tuesday, Italian 0aofficials said the European Union has pledged 390 million dollars (325 million 0aeuros) a year to help developing countries from 2005 fight the damaging effects 0aof climate change.

  In 2001, 20 countries including the 15 EU members pledged to 0aprovide 410 million dollars annually to poorer countries until 2005.

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