for National Geographic News
Global warming threatens to extinguish hundreds of millions of human lives and nearly a third of the planet's wildlife, an international panel of climate scientists said in a report issued today.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that the world's poorer nations face spiraling rates of death and disease due to increased risk of droughts, floods, storms and other severe climate effects spurred by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Up to 30 percent of animal and plant species could be wiped out by a global temperature rise of 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius), experts said.
The IPCC forecasts a rise of between 3.2 and 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century.
The new findings, based on the work of some 2,500 scientists in more than 130 countries, follow an IPCC statement in February that global warming is "unequivocal" and that human activity is almost certainly the cause.
(Get the facts on global warming.)
The panel is overseen by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization.
Food Supplies at Risk
The latest report represents the IPCC's bleakest assessment yet of how climate change is affecting life on the planet.
The Arctic, sub-Saharan Africa, island nations, and densely populated river-delta regions in Asia are the areas at highest risk, the experts warned. Ecosystems severely threatened by rising temperatures include coral reefs, mountains, sea ice, and tundra.
Inequalities between wealthy and deprived societies will be magnified by global warming, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri announced at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium.
"It's the poorest of the poor of the world who are going to be worst hit by the impacts of climate change," Pachauri said.
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