Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By Seth Borenstein
You can kiss goodbye the things that make South Florida read like an Elmore Leonard novel: the glitz of South Beach, the gator- infested Everglades, and some of the bustling terminals of Miami International Airport. In a century, Miami will resemble a cookie nibbled from the south and east.
That's the troubling outlook projected by coastal maps created by scientists at the University of Arizona, based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Several leading scientists expect global warming — through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warmer waters expanding — to cause oceans to rise by about 3 feet in the next 50 to 150 years.
"We're going to get (3 feet), and there's nothing we can do about it," said University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, a lead author of the February report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris. "It's going to happen no matter what — the question is when."
But global response to the predicted change is picking up.
This week, beginning with a meeting at the United Nations today, world leaders will convene to talk about fighting global warming. At week's end, leaders will gather in Washington with President Bush.
Here's a look at what is being done to help reshape the world map's uncertain future.
TODAY'S U.N. SUMMIT
• Up for debate is an effort to launch negotiations for an emissions-reduction plan to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
• The 1997 Kyoto pact, which the U.S. rejects, requires 36 industrial nations to reduce carbon dioxide and other gases by 5 percent.
• "I expect the meeting (today) to express a sense of urgency in terms of negotiating progress that needs to be made," said U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer.
• The unprecedented meeting comes just days after U.S. scientists reported that melting temperatures this summer shrank the Arctic Ocean's ice cap to a record-low size.
POLICY SEAS OF CHANGE
• Almost 200 countries agreed Saturday to move faster in eliminating HCFCs, a major greenhouse gas that depletes ozone.
• About 80 nations will meet at a U.N. summit today to discuss how to slow warming temperature trends.
• Later this week, President Bush will host a climate meeting in Washington that will focus on "major emitter" countries.
• In the past two weeks, climate advocates have taken their battle to court, winning cases in the U.S. and Australia. Some of the plaintiffs claim polluters are violating their human rights.
© 2007 The E.W. Scripps Co.