Scientist Stephen Hawking described climate as a greater threat to the planet than . Hawking made the remarks earlier this spring as other prominent scientists turned the giant hand of the Doomsday Clock — a symbol of the risk of atomic cataclysm — closer to midnight. The move marked the fourth time since the end of the Cold War that the clock has ticked forward and Hawking warned that "as citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day."
The international panel of scientists predicts the global average temperature could anywhere from 2 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 and that sea levels could rise by 2 feet.
A slight increase in Earth's rotation rate could result. Glaciers would disappear completely. Some areas would face intense flooding, while others would experience severe drought, along with many other global shifts.
The following is a predicted timeline for events that will likely occur this century:
2007—More of the world's population now lives in cities than in rural areas, which is changing patterns of land use and rainfall patterns. The world population will surpass 6.6 billion.
2008—Global oil production will peak between 2008 and 2018. Once “Hubbert's” Peak is reached, global oil production will begin an irreversible decline, possibly triggering a global recession, food shortages and conflict between nations over dwindling oil supplies.
2020—Flash floods will very likely increase across all parts of Europe.
Less rainfall could reduce agriculture yields by up to 50 percent in some parts of the world.
World population will reach 7.6 billion people.
2030—Up to 18 percent of the world's coral reefs will likely be lost as a result of climate change and other environmental stresses. In Asian coastal waters, the coral loss could reach 30 percent.
World population will reach 8.3 billion people.
Warming temperatures will cause temperate glaciers on equatorial mountains in Africa to disappear.
In developing countries, the urban population will more than double.
2040—The Arctic Sea could be ice-free in the summer, and winter ice depth may shrink drastically. However, some researchers argue that the region could still have summer ice up until between 2060 and 2105.
2050—Small alpine glaciers will very likely disappear completely, and large glaciers will shrink by 30 to 70 percent. Austrian scientist Roland Psenner of the University of Innsbruck says this is a conservative estimate, and the small alpine glaciers could be gone as soon as 2037.
In Australia, there will likely be an additional 3,200 to 5,200 heat-related deaths per year. The hardest hit will be people over the age of 65. An extra 500 to 1,000 people will die of heat-related deaths in New York City per year. In the United Kingdom, the opposite will occur, and cold-related deaths will outpace heat-related ones.
World population reaches 9.4 billion people.
Crop yields could increase by up to 20 percent in East and Southeast Asia, while decreasing by up to 30 percent in Central and South Asia. Similar shifts in crop yields may occur on other continents.
As biodiversity hotspots are more threatened, a quarter of the world's plant and vertebrate animal species could face extinction.
2070—As glaciers disappear and areas affected by drought increase, electricity production for the world's existing hydropower stations will decrease. Hardest hit will be Europe, where hydropower potential is expected to decline on average by 6 percent; around the Mediterranean, the decrease could be up to 50 percent.
2080—While some parts of the world dry out, others will be inundated. Up to 100 million people could experience coastal flooding each year. Most at risk are densely populated and low-lying areas that are less able to adapt to rising sea levels and areas which already face other challenges such as tropical storms.
Between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people will experience water shortages and up to 600 million will go hungry.
Sea levels could rise around New York City by more than three feet, potentially causing extensive flooding around the city.
2085—The risk of dengue fever from climate change is estimated to increase to 3.5 billion people.
2100—A combination of global warming and other factors will push many ecosystems to the limit, forcing them to exceed their natural ability to adapt to climate change.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will be much higher than anytime during the past 650,000 years.
Ocean pH levels will very likely decrease by as much as 0.5 pH units, the lowest it's been in the last 20 million years. The ability of marine organisms such as corals, crabs and oysters to form shells or exoskeletons could be impaired.
Thawing permafrost and other factors will make Earth's land a net source of carbon emissions, meaning it will emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it absorbs.
New climate zones appear on up to 39 percent of the world's land surface, radically transforming the planet.
Nearly up to one third of all species of plants and land animals-more than a million total-could be driven to extinction.
The IPCC reports warn that current "conservation practices are generally ill-prepared for climate change and effective adaptation responses are likely to be costly to implement."
Posted by Rebecca Sato