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Climate change: not a threat but a promise

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 27 July 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:184
  1. Fiona Godlee
  1. Assistant editor BMJ, London WC1H 9JR

    Doing nothing is no longer an option

    Global warming can no longer be dismissed as a catastrophe theory dreamt up by scaremongers. In the past few months two reports from internationally renowned organisations have offered grave warnings of the threat that climate change poses, within current lifetimes, to humans and ecosystems1 2; and last week, in the face of frantic lobbying from the fossil fuel industry, 134 nations, including the United States, agreed to work towards “quantified legally binding” cuts in emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. What is surprising is how little these concerns have impinged on the media and on our daily lives.

    Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) confirmed previous reports that human activity has had a “discernible influence” on the earth's climate, and painted a grim picture of the future if nothing was done.1 At current rates of increase in the burning of fossil fuels, it will take only another 50-60 years for the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to reach double the levels present at the start of the industrial revolution. By …

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