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Met Office unveils climate catastrophe map

The Met Office has today unveiled a new interactive map designed to illustrate the impact of an average rise in global temperatures of four degrees Centigrade.

The map, which was officially launched earlier today at an event at the Science Museum attended by foreign secretary David Miliband and chief scientist Professor John Beddington, is based on the latest peer-reviewed climate science and details the likely impact of rising temperatures on water supplies, sea levels, agricultural productivity and forest fires.

It follows the release last month of new research which warned that, based on current trajectories, average temperatures could reach four degrees above pre-industrial levels as early as 2060.

Although the map is not detailed enough to precisely inform businesses investment decisions, it provides an overview of the regions and sectors most at risk from rising temperatures over the next century.

In particular, it highlights the latest research which shows that temperature rises will not be uniform and are likely to be concentrated in specific areas.

For example, an average increase in global temperature of four degrees will conceal an increase in land-based temperatures of 5.5 degrees, while higher latitudes will see greater increases in temperatures than areas nearer the equator.

The map also highlights a selection of potentially catastrophic economic impacts, warning for example that global crop yields in many major production regions will fall drastically by 2050, while half of all Himalayan glaciers will be significantly reduced by the same date, leading to 23 per cent of the population of China being deprived of the vital dry season glacial meltwater source.

Foreign secretary David Miliband said the map provided a clear illustration that societies "cannot cope with a four-degree world", and warned that such a drastic temperature increase would result in serious global security risks.

"Climate change is a truly global problem that needs a global solution and it is a solution we have within our grasp," he said. "But to tackle the problem of climate change, all of us - foreign ministries, environment ministries, treasuries, departments of defence and all parts of government and societies - must work together to keep global temperatures to two degrees. It is only by doing this that we can minimise the huge security risks presented by a future four-degree world."

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