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The chief scientific advisor to the UK government recently claimed that climate change is a more serious problem than terrorism partly because global warming would increase the number of people threatened by hunger, disease and extreme weather conditions.

In this letter to Science, Indur M. Golkany of the US Department of the Interior, argues money would be better spent addressing present-day vulnerabilities to malaria, flooding, and food and water than on "heroic" efforts to mitigate climate change. Golkany suggests there is a 25-year window in which climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies can be improved before decisions need to be made on the depth and extent of their implementation.

Writing in response, David King, chief science advisor to the UK government, disagrees, saying that climate change is already affecting developing countries. King says that action is needed now to stabilise emissions, as part of a wider agenda of sustainable development that encompasses action on poverty, disease and hunger.

Link to full letters in Science

Reference: Science 306, 55 (2004)