Mar 19 2013

UC Professor Projects Worldwide Global Warming Threats

Dr. Andrew Guzman Urges US to Act To Save Billions of Lives –

On Sunday afternoon, March 17, a Piedmont audience heard a sobering description of the worldwide calamities likely to occur within this century from a modest 2 degree (celsius) warming of the earth.

Speaking at the monthly Piedmont Forum at Piedmont Community Church, Dr. Andrew Guzman, Professor of International Law at UC Berkeley and author of a new book, Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change, painted a dark picture of what will happen to human populations around the world as a result of water shortages and rising sea levels.

Hundreds of millions of people will be killed, and 3.5 billion (half the world population) will be damaged, he said, because mountain glaciers, which create rivers and water runoff that sustain human populations around the world, are shrinking.  South America, Asia, Europe, he noted, all depend on water from mountain glaciers. “If there are no glaciers, there will be no stable population centers.”

In California, he noted, 35 percent of our water comes from the Sierra snowpack, which by 2050 is projected to be 25 percent smaller.  “This means we will have more water in winter when it’s not needed and less in summer when we need it.” Food prices will rise, and by 2050, severe droughts such as happened in 1977 will occur every six to eight years.  “Internationally, because of the impacts on worldwide food production, people will be priced out of the market, and starvation and famine will result.”

If seas rise one meter, he said, Bangladesh will lose 17 percent of its land mass, displacing 20 million people, who will never be able to go back home.  Overall, he projected 200 million people — 3 percent of the world population — will be displaced and will migrate to cities that are unprepared to handle them.

“Dangerous (international) situations will become more dangerous,” he said, with potential for military violence and terrorism in unstable countries such as Nigeria, which may lose 50 percent of its crops, and Pakistan, which relies on water from the Indus River that it shares with India, its unfriendly neighbor.

Guzman concluded that the United States does not appreciate how big the threat of global warming is and that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by raising the price of fuel, which he recommends through a carbon tax. “The politicians won’t do it unless we make them,” he said. “We must tell our leaders to do something.  If we lower greenhouse gases, we will be saving billions of lives.”

In response to an audience member who questioned the reality of global warming, Guzman replied, “The rise in greenhouse gases is measurable. Ninety-seven percent of scientists today believe the climate is warming and that the cause is manmade. That’s a given.”  The US, he said, is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. China is first.

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