Government's chief scientist today set out an "apocalyptic
vision" of global warming bringing back the conditions which drove
the dinosaurs to extinction.
David King told a House of Lords committee that urgent action was needed
"within the next few years" to avert the threat of sudden and
severe climate change.
He claimed that
last summer's heat wave was a man-made event and a warning sign of worse
And he defied
Downing Street by repeating his charges that global warming is a bigger
threat than terrorism, and that Washington is failing to tackle the
On a recent
trip to America to talk about the threat of global warming, Sir David
was warned by Downing Street to limit his contact with the media.
A memo from a
No10 aide was leaked to a journalist in Seattle, where the scientist was
delivering a lecture.
David told the peers that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
was probably the highest it had been for 65 million years, since the
Palaeocene epoch when most dinosaurs became extinct.
He said the era
saw a "massive reduction" in life on earth and added:
"The Antarctic was the best place to be at that time. The rest of
the world was virtually uninhabitable."
delivered a thinly-veiled attack on President George Bush by praising
the effort which individual American states were making to curb their
carbon dioxide emissions, in the absence of a ruling from Washington.
And he accused
American oil giant Exxon of funding lobbyists who are trying to
undermine the consensus on global warming by suggesting that scientists
are divided on the nature of the problem.
Sir David said:
"This is the biggest issue for us to face this century.
man-made. The science is done. It's complete. It's a matter of political
understanding. I personally have little doubt that unfortunately, as
time moves on, the global warming events such as the very high
temperatures in Europe over the past summer and the flooding two years
before will occur more frequently, and the understanding of what's
driving these will become more apparent.
think nations across the world will understand... that action has to be
In the past few
centuries, carbon dioxide in the air has risen from 270 to 370 parts per
million and is still on the increase, Sir David said.
that if the level reached 550 parts per million, the polar ice caps
would melt and the Gulf Stream current would be reversed, plunging
Europe into a new ice age while the rest of the globe overheated.
To avoid that
threat, he said, the level needed to be stabilized at 450 parts per