Herald Sun

We’ve got 5 years to save world

Chief scientist warns:

- Olga Galacho

THE planet has just five years to avoid disastrous global warming, says the Federal Government’s chief scientist.

Prof Penny Sackett yesterday urged all Australian­s to reduce their carbon footprint.

Australian­s — among the world’s biggest producers of carbon dioxide — were ‘‘better placed than others to do something about it’’, she said.

‘‘Australian­s can make an enormous contributi­on, so why would we not rise to this challenge and this opportunit­y,’’ she told a business conference in Melbourne.

Prof Sackett refused to comment on the failure of the emissions trading scheme to be passed by the Senate this week.

She said her role was as an adviser to the Government and not a commentato­r on public policy, but she did not deny her appointmen­t a year ago was a political one.

Asked to explain data that showed the earth had been cooling in recent years, the trained astrophysi­cist acknowledg­ed air temperatur­es had levelled during the La Nina weather pattern, now nearing an end.

‘‘But next time someone talks about cooler weather, ask them if they are talking about the temperatur­e in the small amount of atmosphere above the surface of the earth or the great mass of heat retained in the world’s oceans,’’ she said.

‘‘When scientists talk about global warming, they are referring to the temperatur­e of the whole earth and most of the heat is stored in the oceans, which have not cooled in 10 years.’’

The professor said even if all the world stopped producing carbon dioxide immediatel­y, temperatur­e increases of 1.3C were unavoidabl­e.

If the earth’s temperatur­e rose 2C, she warned, there would be risks that were ‘ ‘ d i f f i c u l t a n d dangerous’’.

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