World may warm by 4°C by end of this century: World Bank

Karachi: World would warm by 4 degrees Celsius (4°C or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if we did not take concerted action now, says a new scientific report released by the World Bank on Wednesday.

In South Asia, the potential change in the regularity and impact of the all important monsoon could precipitate a major crisis in the region. Events like the devastating Pakistan floods of 2010, which affected more than 20 million people, could become common place. More extreme droughts in large parts of India could lead to widespread food shortages and hardship.

“This new report outlines an alarming scenario for the days and years ahead – what we could face in our lifetime,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C, the warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years, will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could batter the slums even more and greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature.”

“These changes forecast for the tropics illustrate the level of hardships that will be inflicted on all regions eventually, it we fail to keep warming under control,” Kim said. “Urgent action is needed to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to help countries prepare for a world of dramatic climate and weather extremes.”

The report, prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, reveals how rising global temperatures are increasingly threatening the health and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations, crucially magnifying problems each region is struggling with today.

Across South East Asia, rural livelihoods are faced with mounting pressures as sea levels rise, tropical cyclones increase in intensity, and important marine ecosystem services are lost as warming approaches 4°C. And across all the regions, the likely movement of impacted communities into urban areas could lead to ever higher numbers of people in informal settlements being exposed to heat waves, flooding, and diseases. The report says impacts across its study regions are potentially devastating. And, if warming goes from 2ºC to 4°C, multiple threats of increasing extreme heat waves, sea–level rise, more severe storms, droughts and floods would have severe negative implications for the poorest and most vulnerable. It notes, however, that many of the worst consequences could still be avoided by holding warming below 2ºC.

The report says sea level rise has been occurring more rapidly than previously projected and a rise of as much as 50 cm by the 2050s may already be unavoidable as a result of past emissions. In some cases, impacts could be felt much earlier. For example, without adaptation measures, sea level rise of 15 cm, coupled with more intense cyclones, threatens to inundate much of Bangkok by the 2030s. The burgeoning cities of the developing world are identified as some of the places on the planet most at risk from climate change. Today, the Bank is helping 130 countries take action on climate change. Last year, it doubled its financial lending that contributes to adaptation.

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