UN Experts Tackle Warming
The world"s leading climate scientists are to meet in Bangkok from Monday to set out ways of minimizing the damage to the Earth.
The forum is held as rising temperatures dramatically affect life as we know it.
Arctic ice and mountain glaciers are melting, greenhouse gases are damaging weather systems that in turn will alter rainfall patterns, fuel more powerful storms and heighten the risk of drought.
Those findings, reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN"s top authority on global warming, were contained in two major reports earlier this year saying the planet is already warming.
In Bangkok, the scientists will lay out ways of reining in the greenhouse gases that trap heat and fuel climate change, using a mix of new policies and new technologies.
Their report is the last in a massive three-volume update of knowledge on climate change, based on the work of some 2,500 scientists.
One scenario predicted the cost of keeping carbon pollution at nearly 75 percent above today"s levels by 2030 would be as little as 0.2 percent of the world"s gross domestic product.
But the panel"s proposals on exactly how to reduce carbon pollution and how to pay for it are set to come under fierce debate during the five-day meeting in Bangkok.
It figures better building standards, increased fuel efficiency and greater development of wind, solar or geothermal energy, as well as incentives for the better management of farming and forestry also play a role.
But debate will inevitably tip on emissions caps, taxes on carbon dioxide emissions, and the Kyoto Protocol, which is likely to irk the US delegation.
President Bush has incurred the wrath of environmentalists by abandoning the 1995 Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce the emission of climate change-causing greenhouse gases.
Environmental activists like Greenpeace insist the solution is to focus on renewable energy, like solar, wind or geothermal power.
Nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels could spark contentious debate during the meeting, as could an emerging technology called "carbon storage," whereby greenhouse gases would be stored deep underground.
Underlying all these measures is finding a way to make consumers and polluters pay for the cost of pollution.
Experts call this setting a "carbon price" that would be passed along to businesses and consumers, and believe it would prove a powerful incentive for people to change their habits.
The higher the price, the greater the potential for reducing emissions. But if the price is too high, it could become an economic drain.
Oil, gas and coal are likely to remain the mainspring of the world"s energy supply for several decades, according to the International Energy Agency.
Economists argue that too high and fast a rise in the carbon price would send fossil fuel-dependent economies into a tailspin.
Lightening strikes during heavy rain in down town Bangkok. The world"s leading climate scientists are to meet in Bangkok from Monday.