If we fail to act, 'we will end up with a different planet'
By Steve Connor, Science Editor, UK Independent
01 January 2007
One of the world's leading experts on climate change has warned that the Earth is being turned into a "different planet" because of the continuing increase in man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.
In an interview with The Independent, Jim Hansen, who was one of the first scientists to warn of climate change in scientific testimony to the US Congress in 1988, claimed that we have less than 10 years to begin to curb carbon dioxide emissions before global warming runs out of control and changes the landscape forever.
Last year, Dr Hansen, director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies, part of Columbia University in New York, complained that Nasa public relations officials appointed by the Bush administration had tried to gag him by limiting his access to the media. But in talking to this newspaper he was outspoken, warning that there are already worrying signs that global warming is beginning to trigger dangerous "positive feedbacks" within the climate, which can accelerate the rate of climate change.
Dr Hansen said: "We just cannot burn all the fossil fuels in the ground. If we do, we will end up with a different planet. I mean a planet with no ice in the Arctic, and a planet where warming is so large that it's going to have a large effect in terms of sea level rises and the extinction of species."
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