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World's leading scientists spell out the dangers of climate change

Tara Lohan: We made our bed, now we are going to have to swim in it.
So, it's official ... again. The world is heating up and it will continue to heat up.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations announced the findings of their study about the future of our planet -- CO2 and other heat-trapping gases that have resulted from human activity are the cause of the earth's warming. Of this they are certain. Well, almost.

They are apparently 90 percent certain. And this is good enough to confirm that which has already been confirmed in numerous findings released over the past several years, including the groundbreaking Stern Review from the UK and the work of NASA's Jim Hansen.

"The findings are not new to us, but the certainty is. It's a reminder that time is running out to avoid these dangerous events," said Angela Anderson, Vice President for Climate Programs at the National Environmental Trust.

So maybe there are some people out there that don't want to take Al Gore's word for it -- but how about hundreds of the world's leading scientists? Actually, to be exact the report was produced by more than 600 authors from over 40 countries and was reviewed by an additional 620 experts and representatives from 113 countries, making it one of the most extensively peer-reviewed scientific documents.

The report says:
Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to increases in heat-trapping pollution in the atmosphere.
Without action to curb global warming pollution it is very likely that heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent and hurricanes are likely to become more intense.
What we are looking at, the report details, is a future of rising temperatures, rising seas, contracting snow cover, shrinking sea ice, an increased frequency in extreme heat periods and precipitation, and an increase in the frequency and severity of tropical storms.

At this point there really doesn't seem to be much room for discussion. The majority of folks understand that climate change is real -- let's hope this study is able to finally put that conversation to rest.

What we need now is a radical shift in policy -- and soon.

One of our country's leading environmental thinkers, who sounded the alarm about global warming decades ago, Bill McKibben, is organizing a massive political action on April 14. His project, Step It Up 2007, is a great place to start demanding political action.

There are no longer any "ifs" or "whens" in the discussion of global warming. We should be talking about action -- now.
Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.
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