Why Antarctica will soon be the only place to live -
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
02 May 2004
Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the
end of this century if global warming remains unchecked, the
Government's chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, said last
He said the Earth was entering the "first hot period" for 60
million years, when there was no ice on the planet and "the rest
of the globe could not sustain human life". The warning - one of
the starkest delivered by a top scientist - comes as ministers decide
next week whether to weaken measures to cut the pollution that causes
climate change, even though Tony Blair last week described the
situation as "very, very critical indeed".
The Prime Minister - who was launching a new alliance of governments,
businesses and pressure groups to tackle global warming - added that
he could not think of "any bigger long-term question facing the
Yet the Government is considering relaxing limits on emissions by
industry under an EU scheme on Tuesday.
Sir David said that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere -
the main "green-house gas" causing climate change - were
already 50 per cent higher than at any time in the past 420,000 years.
The last time they were at this level - 379 parts per million - was 60
million years ago during a rapid period of global warming, he said.
Levels soared to 1,000 parts per million, causing a massive reduction
"No ice was left on Earth. Antarctica was the best place for
mammals to live, and the rest of the world would not sustain human
life," he said.
Sir David warned that if the world did not curb its burning of
fossil fuels "we will reach that level by 2100".