Will Rita Force Bush to act on Climate Change?

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The ferocity of hurricanes Katrina and Rita must force President Bush to face up to the threat of climate change, Friends of the Earth said today. The call follows recent research showing that hurricanes have become more powerful in proportion to increasing sea surface temperatures. Scientists say that climate change is a likely cause.

Earlier this month the US journal Science published research showing that the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has nearly doubled over the past 35 years, and that global sea surface temperatures have increased over the same period. Last month a paper in Nature revealed that major storms in the Atlantic and Pacific since the 1970s have increased in intensity by about 50 per cent.

And in an interview published yesterday, Sir John Lawton, chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, said “The increased intensity of these kinds of extreme storms is very likely to be due to global warming”.

Friends of the Earth director, Tony Juniper, said:

“President Bush refuses to accept that the overwhelming body of scientific evidence warning of a grave climate change threat requires urgent action. Like a modern King Canute, the President insists that he will be immovable against the force of nature. The recent increased intensity of hurricances is most likely a consequence of human-induced climate change and his continuing denial of the problem is storing up even more serious problems for the future. It is time that the Bush Administration woke up in the real world and got serious about cutting the pollution that threatens the prosperity and stability of the entire planet”.

The United States is responsible for a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions (the principal greenhouse gas), yet it only has around four per cent of the world’s population.

Source: Friends of the Earth Press Release