Saturday, October 29, 2011

Climate change could trap hundreds of millions in disaster areas

Hundreds of millions of people may be trapped in inhospitable environments as they attempt to flee from the effects of global warming, worsening the likely death toll from severe changes to the climate, a UK government committee has found.

Refugees forced to leave their homes because of floods, droughts, storms, heatwaves and other effects of climate change are likely to be one of the biggest visible effects of the warming that scientists warn will result from the untrammelled use of fossil fuels, according to the UK government's Foresight group, part of the Office for Science.

But many of those people are likely to move from areas affected by global warming into areas even worse afflicted - for instance, by moving into coastal cities in the developing world that are at risk of flood from storms and rising sea levels.

"Millions will migrate into, rather than away from, areas of environmental vulnerability," said Sir John Beddington, chief scientific advisor to the UK government, and head of the Foresight programme. "An even bigger policy challenge will be the millions who are trapped in dangerous conditions and unable to move to safety." more