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UN Report Adds Pressure to Global-Warming Fight

Scientists from around the world have been meeting in Paris, working out final details of an exhaustive report on climate change and global warming. Now what? VOA's Paul Sisco reports.

The lights on the Eiffel Tower were switched off. It was a symbolic act, marking the end of a weeklong United Nations conference on climate change, and release of the most detailed scientific report to date on global warming -- and that human beings are responsible for it.

Kenneth Denman, an author of the report says, "We're hoping that it will convince people, you know, that climate change is real."

Hundreds of scientists and officials representing more than 100 governments concluded that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activity is responsible for global warming. And it is likely to continue for centuries.

Panel member Susan Soloman says the change is rapid. "You can see this remarkable rapid rise that began with the Industrial era. There can be no question that the increases in these gases, these greenhouse gasses are dominate by human activity."

The report makes no policy recommendations but links global warming to rising sea levels, increased drought in some regions and violent storm patterns.

Dr. Achim Steiner directs the United Nations Environmental Program. He says policy makers must be committed. "We are also looking for an unequivocal commitment from policy makers, business leaders and civic society leaders to take climate change as truly the challenge of our century."

Some delegates wanted policy recommendations in the report, ranging from wider use of renewable energy resources, to development of so-called geo-engineering technologies -- giant mirrors in space, for example, to deflect some of the sun's rays.

A University of Arizona researcher, Roger Angel, is exploring the possibility of launching a huge quantity of small plastic discs into orbit, to shield the Earth by diffusing a small amount of the sun's radiation. "The effect could be to take our temperature back to pre-industrial levels."

These ideas are very experimental.

Climate scientist Michael MacCracken explains what can be done. "There are a host of things to do. First, many different technologies are cost effective right now, and what we need to do is [use] as many of them as we can, before we get into these geo-engineering technologies.

MacCracken, like most of the scientists at the Paris conference, says the immediate focus must be on reducing carbon emissions, not on looking to outer space for solutions to the global warming problem.