New Climate-Change Index gives idea on warming dangers

2009-12-09 11:00

TODAY, scientists unveiled a climate-change index aimed at showing

user-friendly form the dangers posed by man-made global warming.

The index takes a basket of factors – carbon dioxide, temperature

change, sea level and sea ice – and distils them into a single figure that is

more easily understandable for the public, scientists said.

In 1980, the index stood at 34, its creators, the International

Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,


But from 1997, the barometer leapt suddenly, adding dozens of

points each year as evidence of climate change accumulated.

As of 2007, the index stood at 574.

“We felt people outside global-change research are not clear about

the scale of the changes scientists are witnessing,” said IGBP executive

director Sybil Seitzinger, who presented the index on the sidelines of the UN

climate talks in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark. “The index is a response to

these concerns.”

In three of the years – in 1982, 1992 and 1996 – the index falls

back, reflecting big volcanic eruptions that temporarily cooled the planet by

swathing the upper atmosphere with clouds of reflective dust.

However, “the change is unequivocal, it is global and,

significantly, it is in one direction,” the IGBP said. “The reason for concern

becomes clear. In just 30 years, we are witnessing major planetary-scale


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