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Climate change more extreme than thought, US study to show

The changing climate is more threatening than previously thought, a US government study will show, the report's author said.

The six-month study was conducted for a US national security entity and will be published officially in coming weeks, said Peter Schwartz, chairman of Global Business Network, a San Francisco-based consultancy that completed the work last month. „The rate of climate change is much faster than we all think,” Schwartz said at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. „There will be many extreme large weather events. It is more urgent and catastrophic than we previously thought.” The US and other nations may experience adverse effects of climate change within 10 years, Schwartz said. In his State of the Union Address this week, US President George W. Bush outlined a plan to „help confront climate change” by promoting the use of biofuels in cars, though his policy fell short of demands from some business leaders to set broader limits on carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. Schwartz told reporters attending a dinner in Davos that Bush's speech nevertheless showed the US government's view on climate change has evolved to a point where it now discusses „what to do, not whether.”

The as-yet-unpublished study was intended to help quantify the effects of climate change, such as flooding and hurricanes on the security of nations around the world, Schwartz said. For instance, flooding of low-lying countries means the „Navy will have to deal with large numbers of refugees,” he said. He declined to say which government agency for which the study was conducted, aside from saying that the body is concerned with national security. Schwartz is the author of business strategy and futurist books including „The Art of the Long View,” and „When Good Companies Do Bad Things,” and was former head of scenario planning in London at the European oil company now known as Royal Dutch Shell Plc. Climate change topped the agenda at the Davos forum this year as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Lloyd's of London Chairman Peter Levene and Alcoa Inc. Chairman Alain Belda said businesses and politicians must act to combat global warming. Seventeen sessions at the five-day conference are earmarked to discuss the world's changing weather patterns, which most scientists say result from warming caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. (Bloomberg)