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Report Cites Global Warming Cause, Effects

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.

  • "We are living in a schizophrenic world," said Klaus Schwab, executive director and founder of the World Economic Forum. "On the one hand, we have an economy which is doing very well and even the prospects for this year are very promising.

    "On the other hand we have so many underlying imbalances, inconsistencies, weaknesses and fragilities," he told reporters. "So what we want to do with this meeting is to highlight the need to address those global challenges."

    The annual meeting is also to focus on securing global energy supplies, including the development of more alternative fuels, particularly in light of oil prices that surged in 2006 before settling in recent weeks, supply disruptions from Russia and attacks on oil pipelines in Iraq and Nigeria.

    During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Mr. Bush called for American imports to be cut by the equivalent of 75 percent of the oil coming from the Middle East.

    His prescription, as always, relied primarily on market incentives and technological advances, not government mandates.

    There will be 17 sessions focusing on climate change, featuring topics to help companies and governments navigate the legalities of implementing policy changes aimed at curbing emissions and pollution and how to make going green profitable.

    Among the people scheduled to talk about the issues are McCain, Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission; and Montek Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of India's planning commission.

    A survey of participants by pollster Gallup International found that this year twice as many attendees as last year thought that environmental protection should be a priority for world leaders.

    "The companies represented at the annual meeting have a combined turnover of about $10 trillion — nearly a quarter of global GDP — so catalyzing their deeper engagement in this issue can only be a good thing for all of us," said Dominic Waughray, head of environmental initiatives for the WEF.

    Merkel, whose country is president of the European Union and the Group of Eight, focused on climate change in her address.

    Another key issue is the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and securing the future of Iraq. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are among those attending the event, while Jordanian King Abdullah II will speak about the future of the Middle East.

    Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told the AP that it was unlikely any of those problems would be solved.

    "Don't ask (for) too much ...that we are going to solve the problem or sign documents here in Davos," he said.

    Security was tight around the city, with Swiss police, the military and private contractors cordoning off access to the Congress Center, the meeting's main venue.

    Protests by people critical of globalization and who claim that corporate and big business favors profits over people are expected to be minimal. Critics have planned an action day for Jan. 27 in Davos and a national demonstration in the city of Basel the same day.

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