By Ray Fleming THERE was no sign in President Bush's State of the Union speech earlier this week that he was aware of the latest reports on global warming and climate change. Although he had some effective phrases about the need for the United States to kick its oil habit, the cold turkey treatment he proposed related only to the desirability of freeing America from its dependence on Middle East oil. Whether his solutions will work or not, they are long term in nature and will not affect the basic need for urgent action on reducing greenhouse gases. The latest report, Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, published this week, says that effective action to halt climate change must be taken within 20 years or global warming will be irreversible. This report draws attention to the tipping points of global warming, the rises of temperature at which it becomes impossible to halt change. One of these warning points is the melting of the world's ice sheets; the Greenland ice sheeet is already reducing and the western Antarctic ice sheet has begun to disintegrate at an accelerated rate since 2001. The loss of ice in Greenland and the western Antarctic would be likely to increase sea levels by 16ft or more, according to scientists of the British Antarctic Survey. Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change brings together the views of scientists and others who met in Britain about a year ago. The report has a foreword by Tony Blair in which he says that, It is plain now that the emission of greenhouse gases, associated with industrialisation and economic growth from a world population that has increased six-fold in 200 years, is causing global warming at a rate that is unsustainable. Just so, Mr Blair, but should you not have been offering a few thoughts on how the increase in global warming can be made sustainable? The bottom line is that nothing that governments have so far committed themselves to, not Kyoto, not clean technologies, will get anywhere near the change in industrial and environmental habits that are needed if disaster within the 21st century is to be avoided.
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