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The Diary
Anne Ku

30 October 2000 Monday


Tne Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that greenhouse gases produced mainly by the burning of fossil fuels are altering the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. It is likely that they have "contributed substantially to the observed warming over the last 50 years." Temperatures could go higher than previously predicted if emissions are not curtailed.

Evidence of increasing warming has shown up in retreating glaciers, thinning polar sea ice, retreating snowpacks, warmer nights and other phenomena.

What is the human role in all this? The report said that even if emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases are sharply reduced, sea level will continue to rise due to thermal expansion for hundreds of years. Does this mean my diving trip to the Maldives and my sailing trip to the South Pacific are imminent?

Like information technology, the climate debate is full of jargon. IPCC. Greenhouse gases (GHG). Montreal Protocol. Kyoto Protocol. I started my own education by cultivating houseplants some years ago. Then I calculated the effect of a hypothetical carbon tax, which has since disappeared from the scene. Market mechanisms such as green certificate trading are now in vogue. Unfortunately, the bigger picture is that "all countries are created equal, but some are more equal than others." I wonder what my friends in the US will say, if they have to live without air conditioning or their Ford Explorers.

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