The Heat Is Online

Climate Change Could Prompt More Terrorism

IPCC Chief: Global warming may nurture extremism, Dec. 9, 2002

BERLIN - Climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions will exacerbate world poverty and could make millions of people more open to extremism, the chief of the United Nations' climate advisory body said.

Rajendra Pachauri told Reuters the effects of climate change were likely to affect the developing world disproportionately and make the poor even poorer and more bitter.

"Large areas of poverty are dangerous for the world as a whole as they provide fertile ground for extremist views... Things go wrong. People want to blame someone," Pachauri said.

Pachauri said that by 2100, worldwide temperatures would be 1.4 to 5.8 Celsius higher than today and sea levels would rise by 0.5 metres (1 ft 8 in).

Island groups, such as the Maldives and the South Pacific would be particularly hard hit, while low-lying Bangladesh, already one of the world's poorest countries, could lose 17 percent of its land.

Pachauri said there was no firm scientific proof that freak weather, such as the rain and floods that hit central Europe in August, was the result of climate change, but there was reason to be suspicious.

"Purely by association, there is something to worry about. In the last 10 years, the number of such freak incidents has doubled," Pachauri said on the sidelines of an environmental conference in Berlin.

Pachauri said he was encouraged by the prospect of Russia ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, an international pact to reduce most industrial nations' net emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

Russia's ratification is vital if the accord is ever to take effect after the withdrawal last year of the United States, the biggest polluter.

He said he was pleased to see progress at regional level in the United States, but called for more public transport there.

He also made an appeal to fellow scientists to increase public awareness of the costs of global warming.

"We have to get the message out, inform the public of the economic and social losses, not just do research to create that message," said Pachauri, who is head of the Tata Energy Research Institute of India.

Pachauri's task is to oversee the fourth assessment of climate change in 2007, which he wants to have a more regional focus, showing for example what effect climate change will have in particular parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.