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Janetos Closes Conference With Warnings About Climate Change

October 1, 2000
CONTACT: Bill Giduz

by Emily Drew'04

By the year 2100, the average temperature could increase15 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas of the US. Dr. Anthony Janetos presented this frightening scenario, along with more hopeful ones, during his September 27 lecture, "Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change" which concluded the Dean Rusk ProgramÕs environmental conference.
Anthony Janetos, senior vice president of the World Resources Institute.

Janetos showed charts and graphs of data compiled by the US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. This project, spanning three years and 50 states, challenged researchers to uncover future climate possibilities based on current trends. "We aren't pretending to predict the future, but to ask possible consequences of plausibility," said Janetos, who co-chairs the assessment.

Janetos stressed the growing levels of atmospheric CO2 as a leading cause of climate change. "We have about 30% more CO2 in the atmosphere since industrialization," said Janetos. "We're also on a path to double today's CO2 concentration within the next century."

He said this dramatic rise is due to urbanization, as well as the constant increase in population.

Current trends imply that in the year 2050, the world's population will begin to level off at around 10 billion. Fortunately, the US has the funding to invest in research toward poverty prevention, food scarcity, water contamination, and ecological destruction. Unfortunately, the greatest population densities are likely to be found in underdeveloped countries that do not have the money for research and prevention.
An attentive crowd at the environmental conference.

Janetos said that societies must focus on physics and biology when searching for better techniques in conservation and substitution of resources. "It's going to take leadership from industrialized countries," he said.

By educating the population and developing more efficient energy systems, governments hope to decrease CO2 emission into the atmosphere, thereby curbing global warming.

The US National Assessment has evoked enormous popular attention and interest. The total assessment will be completed this autumn, and the official report will go to Congress in mid-November. The government is then expected to use the data to promote programs that may curb the long-term warming trend.

Janetos graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in biology. He later earned his master's degree and a Ph.D. in biology from Princeton University. Janetos went on to work in NASA's Office of Earth Science, and he currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief of Program at World Resource Institute.

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