Grim picture if world fails over climate .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} POZNAN - War, hunger, poverty and sickness will stalk humanity if the world fails to tackle climate change, a 12-day U.N. conference on global warming heard yesterday.

A volley of grim warnings sounded out at the start of the marathon talks, a step to a new worldwide treaty to reduce greenhouse gases and help countries exposed to the wrath of an altered climate. "Humankind in its activity just reached the limits of the closed system of our planet Earth," said Polish Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki, elected to chair the Dec. 1-12 meet in the city of Poznan.

"Further expansion in the same style will generate global threats of really great intensity - huge droughts and floods, cyclones with increasingly more destructive power, pandemics of tropical disease, dramatic decline of biodiversity, increasing ocean levels," said Nowicki. "All these can cause social and even armed conflict and migration of people at an unprecedented scale."

Serious impacts
The forum of the 192-member U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, comes halfway in a two-year process, launched in Bali, Indonesia, that aims at crafting a new pact in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Nowicki's warning was underscored by Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which provides neutral scientific opinion on global warming and its impacts. "The impacts of climate change, if there is inaction, can be extremely serious," he said. "We have projected that the number of people living in severely stressed river basins will increase from 1.4 to 1.6 billion in 1995 to 4.3-6.9 billion in 2050. That's almost the majority of humanity," he added.