Three degrees is short for hell - leaked IPCC report sounds climate alarm
9 May 2006
John Vidal in the London Guardian on Monday May 8, 2006
If someone mentions the Three Degrees these days, they probably don't mean the 1960s soul group, but the increase in world temperature that most atmosphere scientists now believe will take place over the next century.
New reports suggest an even higher figure, but 3C is slap in the middle of the range that the ultra-conservative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says is most likely. A draft of their report, leaked by the US government, says greenhouse gas levels are at their highest for 650,000 years. So it's official. Climate change is here: a man-made phenomenon.
What does that mean? Britain may export wine in future, but it won't be much fun watching telly with a glass of sauvignon Cheviot in 2085. Chief scientist David King says a 3C increase will mean half the world's wildlife reserves and corals will have gone, the tropical forests will dry up, and perhaps a billion people will starve.
And there's more. Last year, the government said that a 3C rise could trigger the melting of the Greenland ice cap, the destabilisation of the Antarctic and "irreversible system disruptions" - basically, out-of-control change. The IPCC says that if emissions are not cut, sea leavels will rise 43cm by 2100, and go on rising after that for 200 more years. Britain, a small island, will become much smaller.
But if losing half the UK doesn't matter, then get used to wild weather. Our drains, houses, underground transport systems and temperaments can barely cope with six inches of snow, winds of more than 55mph or temperatures over 21C, but what is coming could make the great storm of 1987 seem a breeze. There will be no insurance when London is swamped, when your house crumbles into dust or you catch malaria. Yes: 3C is the point when malarial mosquitoes will be able to breed permanently in Britain, cement-eating termites move into your cellars and the green police take over.
In short, 3C will be another world. No more hols in Spain, no seaside jaunts, no short breaks to New York or any of the other world's coastal cities. 3C? It's short for hell.