The Kyoto Protocol: universal concern for climate change.

Author:Kim, Oksana

Scientific climate change models predict that in the next hundred years there will be a dramatic rise in the global temperature by 3.6[degrees]C. However, due to the uncertainty surrounding the measures humanity will take to tackle the change in climate, the variation in prognosis is considerable. According to one worst-case scenario, the temperature would rise by 5.8[degrees]C, which could lead to irreversible changes in ecosystems, a negative impact on the global environment, and a significant sea-level rise causing floods and widespread damage to human society through destruction of human settlements and infrastructures, as well as economic instability and massive food insecurity.

Scientific evidence indicates that during its millions of years of geological history, the Earth has experienced climate change several times due to long-term natural processes. However, the rapid climate change we have been experiencing during the last decades is the result of human activity. The so-called greenhouse gases, the product of industrial emissions, prevent the thermal infrared energy emitted by the Earth from directly escaping into space. In the long term, the Earth's surface must return as much energy as it receives from the sun so as to maintain a global energy balance. But greenhouse gases "blanket" the atmosphere, causing temperature imbalance and heating the atmosphere more than it would naturally be.

The First World Climate Conference, held in Geneva in 1979, presented the first evidence of the negative effects of human interference with the climate, and public concern about environmental disasters associated with climate change began to emerge. In the following decade, governmental efforts towards elaboration of the programmes of action dealing with climate change increased. A result of these joint efforts was the 1988 United Nations General Assembly resolution 43/53 urging the "Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind", in which it recognized climate change as a common concern for mankind. That same year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created, and two years later the Panel issued its First Assessment Report.

At the beginning of the 1990s, climate change had become a concern worldwide, although it seemed that some regions--those whose economies depended on agriculture for instance--might profit from the rising temperature. However, no country in the long term could benefit from...

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