WHAT will it take to make President Bush and his advisors see sense about global warming? Yesterday's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change added further evidence of the dangers of doing nothing about curbing greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide. This report, by eminent scientists from many countries, predicts that if action is not taken to limit global warming and consequent climate change, one-quarter of the world's land animals and plants can be expected to die out by 2050.
The report covered six areas Europe, Mexico, Australia, South Africa amd Brazil - and projected the future prospects of 1'103 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, butterflies and other invertebrates. Although in the past species have been known to move to more favourable areas when their original habitats became unsuitable, this new study showed that global warming will greatly lessen the availability of alternative locations. This is the new factor leading to the dramatic estimate of the loss of more than one million species within the lifetime of many young people alive today.
Examples of the anticipated effects: the loss of more than half of Australia's 400 butterflies; as many as 2'000 endemic tree species in Brazil becoming extinct; the disappearance of up to 60 per cent of animals in South Africa's Kruger Park and the loss of the country's national flower, the king protea; at least ten European birds threatened with decimation or extinction.
President Bush's wilful blindness on the subject of global warming might be acceptable, though regrettable, if it affected only his own country. However, the United States is responsible for 25 per cent of all emissions leading to global warming. While he blithely ignores what the scientists say, the rest of the world suffers.