Published: 5th February 2007
A MANCHESTER scientist leading research into climate change has added his voice to the debate.
David Lee, a government adviser on climate change and professor of atmospheric science at Manchester Metropolitan University, said we may still not know the extent of the damage we have inflicted on our planet.
Professor Lee, who is leading an EU-wide study into the relative impacts of transport on the atmosphere, looking at cars, trains, planes and shipping, said: "The International Panel on Climate Change summit in Paris on Friday made it clear that the effects that we are seeing today are the result of past emissions and that we have not yet seen the full effect of these emissions because of the complexity of the climate system.
"Emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel usage have grown from 6.2 GtC per year in the 1990s to 7.2 GtC per year for the period 2000 - 2005, an increase of 12.5%.
Growth in emissions
"However, emissions from the transportation sector are growing at much faster rates. For example, the 1999 IPCC report on aviation showed that emissions from civil aviation were ~98 Tg C per year for the early 1990s. Using data that will be reported to this week's meeting of the environmental committee of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, civil aviation emissions have been estimated to be 166 Tg C per year in 2005, an increase of 70% over the period.
"What we have already done to the climate is yet to be revealed: we should beware of the "ghost in the machine" and take measures to combat climate change now."
Professor Lee's comments come after the world's top scientists met in Paris on Friday under the auspices of the United Nations to issue their direst warnings yet about the threat from climate change.
After six years of research, which includes contributions from Dr Sarah Raper, of MMU´s Centre for Air Transport and the Environment, they predict the average world temperature will rise by about three degrees by the end of the century - with potentially devastating consequences for melting ice caps and rising sea levels.
Humans to blame
They also make the strongest causal link so far between human behaviour and global warming.
The IPCC's previous assessment in 2001 rated the link between the warming planet and the actions of its inhabitants as "likely" - IPCC-speak for a probability rate of 66 per cent to 90 per cent.
The new report revises that to "very likely" - a greater than 90 per cent chance that mankind is to blame.
For more about climate change, environmental impact and the aviation industry, go to the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment (CATE) homepage at www.cate.mmu.ac.uk