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Report Cites Global Warming Cause, Effects

A section of the ice sheet covering much of Greenland is seen in this Aug. 17, 2005 file photo. Scientists say the ice is thinning and blame global warming, predicting a 3-foot rise in ocean levels by the end of the century through a combination of thermal expansion of the water and melting of polar ice.
AP
Next week, an international panel of top climate scientists, including Americans, will issue a long-awaited report on climate change.

The long-awaited report to be published next week puts hard scientific fact behind the cliché images of global warming. A final draft, obtained by CBS News, contains the strongest language yet on how fast the world is heating up and who to blame.

The answer? Us.

The study traces global temperatures and so-called greenhouse gases going back thousands of years. It shows a gradual variation until the Industrial Revolution begins, when fossil fuel use skyrockets, as do temperatures, CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports.

"As we add to those gasses, we are just doing the same thing as putting another blanket on our bed at night," said Sir David King, British chief government scientific adviser. "The consequences are that you get warmer, and that is as simple as it is."

The panel now feels the science is there to make confident predictions that are likely or almost certain. They include:

  • More warmer days and fewer cold ones;
  • More heat waves;
  • Increasingly intense tropical storms and hurricanes;
  • Higher sea levels.

    All of these are driven by "discernable human influences," the report says, Phillips reports.

    While this report presents the grim realities of climate change in stark terms, it is not a doomsday scenario. There are responses - scientific, economic, political — that can help limit the damage and help the world react. Government advisers like King say solutions are already available. Among them: limiting emissions, hybrid cars, energy-efficient homes, alternative power sources and less travel.

    Meanwhile, world political and economic leaders focused on the threat of global warming as well as the perennial problem of tensions in the Middle East as they gathered for a five-day brainstorming session in Davos.

    The session began with several participants pondering remarks the night before by President Bush, who said he would seek $1.6 billion in funding over the next decade for research into alternative energy.

    Ex-U.S. Sen. Timothy E. Wirth, a Colorado Democrat who was a former U.S. chief negotiator on the Kyoto Protocol, noted that the remarks were short on specifics, but that Mr. Bush was "understanding finally that this is a serious issue that the U.S. has to address."

    Wirth added that the U.S. needed to provide leadership, but acknowledged it would be hard for Mr. Bush to do that.

    "We will wait for John McCain or Hillary Clinton ... or somebody who will be in a very different position in 2009," he said, referring to the two senators who are considered the front-runners for the Republican and Democratic parties in the 2008 election.

    About 2,400 business and political leaders, journalists, bloggers and celebrities — including musicians and social activists Bono and Peter Gabriel — are at the five-day annual gathering to talk politics, economics and social issues in an atmosphere aimed at finding long-term solutions instead of quick fixes.

    Some 24 heads of state are due to attend to the meeting, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who gave the keynote address, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was warmly greeted in 2005 when he and Treasury chief Gordon Brown proposed massive debt relief for Third World countries.

    But this year's meeting promises a return to forums of old, with a heavy emphasis on the issues that the WEF's members, most of them businesses, are facing.

    "Darfur is currently one of our two or three major concerns at the moment," U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres told The Associated Press at a media luncheon. "I believe the WEF is more absorbed this year with economics than these dramatic events" in Darfur.

    Previous meetings have been criticized for becoming too entertainment-oriented, with hordes of media staking out Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, among others.