Warming will 'wipe out billions'
Date: 29 November 2009
By Jenny Fyall
MOST of the world's population will be wiped out if political leaders fail to agree a method of stopping current rates of global warming, one of the UK's most senior climate scientists has warned.
Professor Kevin Anderson, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, believes only around 10 per cent of the planet's population – around half a billion people – will survive if global temperatures rise by 4C.
Anderson's warning comes just eight days before global leaders meet in Copenhagen for the most crucial talks on climate change reversal since the Rio summit in 1992. Current Met Office projections reveal that the lack of action in the intervening 17 years – in which emissions of climate changing gases such as carbon dioxide have soared – has set the world on a path towards potential 4C rises as early as 2060, and 6C rises by the end of the century.
Anderson, who advises the government on climate change, said the consequences were "terrifying".
"For humanity it's a matter of life or death," he said. "We will not make all human beings extinct as a few people with the right sort of resources may put themselves in the right parts of the world and survive.
"But I think it's extremely unlikely that we wouldn't have mass death at 4C. If you have got a population of nine billion by 2050 and you hit 4C, 5C or 6C, you might have half a billion people surviving."