Top Scientist: Global Warming Worse Than We Thought

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2009 9:38 PM CST
A flock of geese fly past a smokestack at the Jeffery Energy Center coal power plant near Emmitt, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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(Newser) – You know all those dire warnings about global warming? They're actually too optimistic, says a top scientist in the field. The climate is going to heat up much faster than anticipated over the next century, with more environmental damage as a result, said Chris Field of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The main culprit is a sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions—mostly from coal—in developing nations such as India and China, Reuters notes.

"We are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we've considered seriously in climate policy," said Field at a summit in Chicago. Greenhouse gases spiked so quickly from 2000 to 2007 that a landmark report issued only a year ago by his own group undershot the pace of warming by a wide margin, said Field. He predicts more wildfires and a quicker melting of Arctic permafrost—both of which will release more greenhouse gases and feed the cycle.