Climate change will make almost everyone in the world worse off after 2050, scientists have warned.Lord Lawson claims climate change hysteria heralds a 'new age of unreason''IPCC seriously underplays climate change'Climate experts predict temperature drop
Rising temperatures may benefit countries such Britain in the coming decades, with higher crop growth and fewer deaths from cold, according to members of the Nobel prize-winning body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
|The village duck pond at Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, begins to refill after drying out in 2006|
But by 2100 the changed weather pattern of floods, droughts and sea level rise will mean losers nearly everywhere, they added.
Scientists from the IPCC were responding to suggestions by the former Chancellor, Lord Lawson, in a new book that warming might not be disastrous for the planet and for many it might be beneficial.
In his book, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, Lord Lawson accepts the IPCC's conclusion that we can expect to see a warming of between 3.2ºF (1.8ºC) and 7.2ºF (4ºC) by the end of this century.
But he adds that this would not necessarily be the disaster requiring an immediate cut in carbon emissions that IPCC scientists say it is.
Lord Lawson, who is not a scientist, writes: "Gradual and moderate warming brings benefits as well as incurring costs. These benefits and costs will not, of course, be felt uniformly throughout the world; the colder regions of the world will be more affected by the benefits, and the hotter regions by the costs.
"But overall, it is far from clear that the inhabitants of the planet as a whole would suffer a significant net cost, or indeed any cost at all."
However, Jean Palutikof, one of the authors of a new IPCC report, said: "By the time you get past 2050 the winners become fewer and fewer. By 2100, we will be losing almost everywhere."
Its paper on Climate Change and Water says that the frequency of heavy rainfall has already increased over most areas and globally the area of land classified as "very dry" has more than doubled since the 1970s.
The frequency of heavy rainfall is predicted to increase over most areas during this century. At the same time the proportion of land surface in extreme drought at any one time is projected to increase, according to the report.
There would also be a decline in water stored in glaciers and permanent snows affecting areas, such as China, supplied by melt water from mountain ranges.
This would adversely affect the availability of food, political stability and the operation of drinking water and hydro-electric plants, Dr Palutikov said.
She said Lord Lawson's view that climate change might have benefits that outweighed the disbenefits was "very wrong" when it came to the availability of water.
Dr Robert Watson, the former chairman of the IPCC and now chief scientist to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, wrote in a letter to a newspaper: "Lord Lawson's perspective that the UK and Europe are over-reacting to the threat of human-induced climate change is substantially wrong and ignores a significant body of scientific, technological and economic evidence."
Scientists from the Met Office's Hadley Centre responded to Lord Lawson's contention that there has been no global warming since 2000.
Dr Vicky Pope, from the centre, said this was because the hottest year ever, 1998, was the result of a 30 year warming trend coupled with a strong El Niño event, the cyclical warming period in the Pacific which occurs every 10-15 years.
This year and last year are very cool thanks to La Niña, the opposite, cooling event, which began to develop in early 2007, and has had a significant cooling effect on the global average temperature. Despite this, she said, 2007 was one of the ten warmest years since global records began in 1850 with a temperature some 0.4°C above average.
La Niña has strengthened further during early 2008 and is now the strongest since 1988/89, contributing to a lower January temperature in 2008 compared to recent years.
However, once La Niña declines, the Hadley Centre says it is very likely that renewed warming will occur as was the case when the Earth emerged from the strong La Niña events of 1989 and 1999.