Friday, July 27, 2007

UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon Visits California

SAN FRANCISCO -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the United States to take the lead in combating global warming during a visit to California to learn about the state's campaign to curb its greenhouse gas emissions.

"The whole planet Earth is at a crucial juncture," Ban said Thursday at an event organized by the World Affairs Council of Northern California. "Time is of essence. The cost of inaction will be far greater than the cost of action."

Ban, who served as South Korea's foreign minister before he became U.N. chief in January, arrived in San Francisco on Thursday for a two-day visit of the Bay Area. Read More

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

British Prime Minister Blames Floods on Climate Change

LONDON, UK, July 24, 2007 (ENS) - The sun is forecast to shine across much of England Wednesday, illuminating flood waters that have risen to 60 year highs. Prime Minister Gordon Brown blamed climate change for the torrential rains that pounded the British Isles on Friday and through the weekend, inundating vast stretches of southwest England and leaving more than 50,000 homes without power.

In Gloucestershire, up to 350,000 people had no drinking water Monday after a water treatment plant in in the city of Tewkesbury was flooded, local police authorities said.
Read More

Monday, July 23, 2007

UN members to table climate change plans

UN member states will, between 31 July and 1 August in New York, US, present their national strategies and commitments to address the adverse effects of climate change.

The countries' plans, which will be discussed at a special meeting, is aimed at fostering sustainable growth and development.

The meeting tagged: ‘Climate Change as a Global Challenge’, is convened by UN General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Al-Khalifa, ahead of the General Assembly scheduled for September and October.

A UN source, who spoke to PANA Monday, said that it will be attended by the three UN Secretary-General's Special Envoys for Climate Change. Read More

Glaciers and Ice Caps Quickly Melting Into the Seas

Environment News Service

BOULDER, Colorado, July 20, 2007 (ENS) - Sea level rise this century may be greater than previously thought, posing risks to hundreds of millions of people who live close to the world's oceans, concludes a new study of ice loss from glaciers and ice caps. The researchers say that in the near future, the giant Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will contribute less to sea level rise than glaciers and ice caps.

Scientists with the University of Colorado-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, INSTAAR, and the Russian Academy of Sciences conclude that glaciers and ice caps now contribute about 60 percent of the ice melting into the oceans and the rate has been accelerating over the past decade.

"One reason for this study is the widely held view that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will be the principal causes of sea-level rise," says lead author Emeritus Professor Mark Meier, former INSTAAR director and CU-Boulder professor in geological sciences.

"But we show that it is the glaciers and ice caps, not the two large ice sheets, that will be the big players in sea rise for at least the next few generations, he says. Read More

Influence of global warming seen in changing rains news service 23 July 2007

The pattern of rainfall around the world is being changed by greenhouse-gas emissions from human activities, researchers have shown for the first time.

Tropical regions north of the equator, including such areas as the Sahel in Africa which borders the Sahara desert, have already begun to get even drier and will continue to do so, the data show. Regions in the far north, including Canada, Northern Europe and Russia, will get wetter, as will the southern tropics.

Detecting the effects of climate change on rainfall patterns has proved much more elusive than temperature changes because of the much greater natural variability of precipitation.

The key was to take results from 92 computer simulations, using 14 different global circulation models, and to compare the average of these with actual rainfall data over wide bands of latitude around the world. Read More

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tibet warming up faster than anywhere in the world

Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:41AM EDT

BEIJING (Reuters) - Tibet is warming up faster than anywhere else in the world, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.
The average annual temperature in Tibet, the roof of the world, was rising at a speed of 0.3 degrees Celsius every 10 years, Xinhua said.
Chinese scientists have long warned that rising temperatures on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau will melt glaciers, dry up major Chinese rivers and trigger more droughts, sandstorms and desertification.
The Tibet Meteorological Bureau said the temperature rise was most obvious in the west of the region. Tibet, with its glaciers and high altitude, has been regarded as sensitive to the effects of global warming.
Currently, China's average temperature is rising at 0.4 degree Celsius every 100 years, while a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed the average surface temperature of the globe had risen 0.74 degree Celsius in the past 100 years, Xinhua said.
China is rapidly overtaking the United States to become the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases. It is under rising international pressure to accept mandatory caps on carbon dioxide emissions from its factories and vehicles.
China has refused to comply, but the government has shown greater efforts in addressing energy and environment issues.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The illness in Planet Earth

Planet Earth is unwell, argues James Lovelock in The Green Room. Emissions of greenhouse gases and other environmental changes have, he says, brought humanity and the natural world to the edge of crisis.

James Lovelock.  Image: BBC
Climate change alarms me, and it should alarm anyone

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, published in 2001, is one of the scariest documents you will ever read.

It talks about changes to the Earth by the end of this century which will be as great or greater than occurred between the end of the last Ice Age and the time when humans started changing the atmosphere; it is huge.

It alarms me, and it should alarm anyone.

Just imagine that you had lived 12,000 years ago, before the last Ice Age ended, in a tropical civilisation somewhere in South-East Asia.

What would have been your reaction if some scientist had told you that within not too many years the sea level would rise by 120m, by 400ft?

Read More

Friday, July 13, 2007

Global warming to multiply world's refugee burden

BEIRUT (Reuters) - If rising sea levels force the people of the Maldive Islands to seek new homes, who will look after them in a world already turning warier of refugees?

The daunting prospect of mass population movements set off by climate change and environmental disasters poses an imminent new challenge that no one has yet figured out how to meet.
People displaced by global warming -- the Christian Aid agency has predicted there will be one billion by 2050 -- could dwarf the nearly 10 million refugees and almost 25 million internally displaced people already fleeing wars and oppression.
"All around the world, predictable patterns are going to result in very long-term and very immediate changes in the ability of people to earn their livelihoods," said Michele Klein Solomon of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM). Read More

Energy And Pollution Woes Need Urgent Attention In China

Energy And Pollution Woes Need Urgent Attention In China

The Chinese government had set a five-year goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent by 2010, but has fallen far short of its goals as the economy roared ahead last year at 10.7 percent.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 10, 2007
China's Premier Wen Jiabao has reiterated that China needs to urgently face the challenges of climate change by curtailing its polluting inefficiencies, a government statement said Tuesday. "Cutting energy consumption and pollutant emissions and dealing with climate change are urgent, critically important tasks," Wen said in remarks posted on the central government's website.

Wen was speaking Monday at the inaugural meeting of a high-level task force set up to research China's response to climate change, the statement said.

The task force has been charged with setting and implementing policy to address global warming and the nation's worsening environment, the statement said.

No concrete initiatives were put forward at the meeting, according to the statement. Read More

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Global Warming To Multiply World’s Refugee Burden

By Allistair Lyon

19 June, 2007

BEIRUT - If rising sea levels force the people of the Maldive Islands to seek new homes, who will look after them in a world already turning warier
of refugees?

The daunting prospect of mass population movements set off by climate change and environmental disasters poses an imminent new challenge that no one has yet figured out how to meet. Read More

Solar Activity 'Not The Cause Of Global Warming

By Steve Connor

11 July, 2007
The Independent

Claims that increased solar activity is the cause of global warming - rather than man-made greenhouse gases - have been comprehensively disproved by a detailed study of the Sun.

Scientists have delivered the final blow to the theory that recent global warming can be explained by variations in the natural cycles of the Sun - a favourite refuge for climate sceptics who dismiss the influence of greenhouse-gas emissions.

An analysis of the records of all of the Sun's activities over the past few decades - such as sunspot cycles and magnetic fields - shows that since 1985 solar activity has decreased significantly, while global warming has continued to increase.

Mike Lockwood, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Chilton, Oxfordshire, said: "In 1985, the Sun did a U-turn in every respect. It no longer went in the right direction to contribute to global warming. We think it's almost completely conclusive proof that the Sun does not account for the recent increases in global warming." Read More

Friday, July 6, 2007

A Message From The Melting

By Cahal Milmo & Sam Relph

06 July 2007
The Independent

Fifty-four years after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first men to scale Everest, their sons have said the mountain is now so ravaged by climate change that they would no longer recognise it.

On the eve of the Live Earth concerts this weekend, Peter Hillary and Jamling Tenzing yesterday issued a timely warning that global warming is rapidly changing the face of the world's highest mountain and threatening the survival of billions of people who rely on its glaciers for drinking water.

The base camp where Sir Edmund and Norgay began their ascent is 40 metres lower than it was in 1953. The glacier on which it stands, and those around it, are melting Linkat such a rate that scientists believe the mountain, whose Nepalese name, Qomolangma, means Mother of the World, could be barren rock by 2050.

Up to 40,000 Sherpas who live at the base of the Himalayas face devastation if vast new lakes formed by the melted ice burst and send a torrent of millions of tons of water down the slopes.

Mr Hillary, who has himself twice reached Everest's summit, said: "Climate change is happening. This is a fact. Base camp used to sit at 5,320 metres. This year it was at 5,280 metres because the ice is melting from the top and side. Base camp is sinking each year. For Sherpas living on Mount Everest this is something they can see every day but they can't do anything about it on their own." Read More

Deadly Monsoon Rains Worst in 25 Years

NEW DELHI, India, July 5, 2007 (ENS) - Over the past month, more than 1.5 million people have been affected by storms, tornados and landslides in Bangladesh, in what has been described as the worst monsoon season in 25 years. Heavy monsoon rains also are making life miserable for people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

Eighty four people in the Indian state of Gujarat have lost their lives ever since torrential rains hit on Monday. Some 43,000 people have been evacuated from their homes as houses collapsed and crops were inundated.

The South Africa-based charity ActionAid says heavy rains in the state of Maharashtra this week killed more than 50 people and have left thousands homeless.

The Indian meteorological department forecasts more heavy rainfall in both Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Flooded vehicles on a Mumbai road. (Photo courtesy State of Maharashtra)
The Maharashtra capital city of Mumbai is limping back to normalcy after heavy downpours last week. Five persons were killed when a building collapsed and two people were electrocuted.

In the rural Amravati district, 350 villages are underwater and the rains have claimed the lives of 26 people.

Power supply and roads have been badly hit, while thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes. Efforts to find missing persons are still ongoing. Read More

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

South Australia Legislates Nation's First Greenhouse Gas Limits

ADELAIDE, Australia, July 3, 2007 (ENS) - Australia's first climate change legislation became law today. It is not national legislation, it applies only to the state of South Australia, but in the country that has followed the United States in its reluctance to join international climate action, the new law is viewed as a big step.

The Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act 2007 makes South Australia the first place in Australia to legislate targets to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. The law also requires a renewable energy standard.

South Australia's Premier Mike Rann (Photo courtesy Office of the Premier)

South Australia continues to lead the way for the rest of the nation when it comes to climate change - and we are on track to achieve the legislated target of 20 percent of our state’s power coming from renewable sources by 2014," said South Australia's Premier Mike Rann.

"The legislation commits the government to work with business and the community to develop and put in place strategies that will put our state in a position to take early action to reduce greenhouse emissions and adapt to climate change," the premier said.

But the state's only Green legislator, Mark Parnell, is not satisfied with the new targets.