Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Global warming expert raises concerns for tourism industry

29 April 2008 - BANGKOK (AFP) — Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rajendra Pachauri Tuesday warned tourism industry chiefs they need to reduce their impact on climate change as consumers become more environmentally aware.
"The tourism industry, for its own sake, will have to adapt," Pachauri said to more than 200 Asia Pacific airline, hotel and tourist company chief executives at a conference on tourism and climate change.

"I would appeal to you and urge you to take steps so that you are seen not as the problem but as part of the solution," the head of the UN's Nobel prizewinning climate panel said in a pre-recorded video. Global warming has the potential to melt ski resorts out of business and drown island getaways with rising sea levels, Pachauri told the first Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) climate change conference. More>>>

Monday, April 28, 2008

Climate change could force 1 billion from their homes by 2050

Tuesday, 29 April 2008 - As many as one billion people could lose their homes by 2050 because of the devastating impact of global warming, scientists and political leaders will be warned today.

They will hear that the steady rise in temperatures across the planet could trigger mass migration on unprecedented levels. Hundreds of millions could be forced to go on the move because of water shortages and crop failures in most of Africa, as well as in central and southern Asia and South America, the conference in London will be told. There could also be an effect on levels of starvation and on food prices as agriculture struggles to cope with growing demand in increasingly arid conditions. Rising sea levels could also cause havoc, with coastal communities in southern Asia, the Far East, the south Pacific islands and the Caribbean seeing their homes submerged. More>>>

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Global Warming Consensus

Ronald Bailey points to an interesting survey by the Statistical Assesment Service (STATS) on global warming. It is a survey of the views of climate scientists. Here are some of the findings:
  • Ninety-seven percent of the climate scientists surveyed believe “global average temperatures have increased” during the past century.
  • Eighty-four percent say they personally believe human-induced warming is occurring, and 74% agree that “currently available scientific evidence” substantiates its occurrence. Only 5% believe that that human activity does not contribute to greenhouse warming; the rest are unsure.
  • A slight majority (54%) believe the warming measured over the last 100 years is not “within the range of natural temperature fluctuation.”
  • A slight majority (56%) see at least a 50-50 chance that global temperatures will rise two degrees Celsius or more during the next 50 to 100 years.
  • Based on current trends, 41% of scientists believe global climate change will pose a very great danger to the earth in the next 50 to 100 years, compared to 13% who see relatively little danger. Another 44% rate climate change as moderately dangerous.
  • Seventy percent see climate change as very difficult to manage over the next 50 to 100 years, compared to only 5% who see it as not very difficult to manage. Another 23% see moderate difficulty in managing these changes. More>>>

Saturday, April 26, 2008

World Facing Huge New Challenge on Food Front

"Food security will deteriorate further unless leading countries can collectively mobilize to stabilize population, restrict the use of grain to produce automotive fuel, stabilize climate, stabilize water tables and aquifers, protect cropland, and conserve soils.
Stabilizing population is not simply a matter of providing reproductive health care and family planning services. It requires a worldwide effort to eradicate poverty. Eliminating water shortages depends on a global attempt to raise water productivity similar to the effort launched a half-century ago to raise land productivity, an initiative that has nearly tripled the world grain yield per hectare. None of these goals can be achieved quickly, but progress toward all is essential to restoring a semblance of food security." — Lester Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute. More >>>

The Washington Post called Lester Brown "one of the world's most influential thinkers." The Telegraph of Calcutta refers to him as “the guru of the environmental movement.” In 1986, the Library of Congress requested his personal papers noting that his writings “have already strongly affected thinking about problems of world population and resources.”

Friday, April 25, 2008

Climate a “Life and Death” Issue for Native Peoples

UNITED NATIONS - 24 April 2008 - Leaders of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples are calling for the United Nations to include their voices in its future talks on climate change.

“Both the climate change and its solutions are concerns for indigenous peoples,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chairperson of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Currently, the Forum, which includes 16 representatives — eight nominated by governments and eight by indigenous representatives — is holding its seventh annual meeting in New York. The meeting is being is being attended by more than 3,300 delegates from around the world.

“The indigenous peoples contribute the smallest ecological footprints on Earth,” according to Tauli-Corpuz, “but they suffer the worst impacts from climate change and mitigation measures, such as the loss of land and biofuel production.”
Despite representation from nearly 500 aboriginal groups worldwide, the Forum is not empowered to enact laws; it can only advise the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a 54-member U.N. body, whose members are elected by the General Assembly every three years.

Last year in September, the General Assembly passed a historic resolution calling for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ right to control their lands and resources, but fell short of saying the “Universal Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples” was legally binding.
Indigenous leaders they want both the governments and private corporations to incorporate the declaration into their national economic, political, cultural and environmental policies, so that indigenous people can participate in the process of development in a meaningful way. More >>>

Thursday, April 24, 2008

UN Climate Change Official: More Incentives Needed for Developing Countries

Beijing - 24 April 2008 -The top U.N. official on climate change says industrialized countries need to offer more incentives to China and other developing countries to reduce gas emissions. Daniel Schearf reports for VOA from Beijing that China is fast overtaking the United States as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, believed by many scientists to be warming the planet.

The U.N. official in charge of the framework convention on climate change, Yvo de Boer, says wealthy nations need to offer advanced technology and financial incentives to reduce China's gas emissions. China has sought to reduce its energy consumption and emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases, but has fallen short of its own targets.

China's energy needs have been growing along with its booming economy, and the government needs fast growth to maintain stability.
De Boer said the government is making efforts, but it is trying to perform a delicate balancing act. More >>>

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Climate change - are we doing enough?

23 April 2008 - Are plans to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent enough to stave off the worst effects of climate change?

The latest draft of the Climate Change Bill may be riddled with unclear and insufficient targets for carbon reduction, but its defenders across all parties agreed that it’s the best option at the moment for meeting the ambitious 60 per cent reduction in carbon emissions promised by Gordon Brown last year.

The issues were debated by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, Conservative spokesman Peter Ainsworth, Lib Dem Steve Webb, and Friends of the Earth (FoE) director Tony Juniper at a joint FoE/Evening Standard event in central London on 22 April. The bill has been amended by the House of Lords, and will be put to the Commons within this legislative year. More >>>

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Get real on global warming goals

April 22, 2008 - REJOICE, cry, or get motivated? After seven years of pretending global warming isn't a real issue, President Bush finally announced a national goal. Let us rejoice. The goal? "To stop the growth of US greenhouse gas emissions by 2025."

It's enough to make you cry. Who are his advisers? Clearly not the leading American climatologists who would have told him that leveling emissions by 2025 misses by over a decade that first and most critical milestone to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change.

If we want to improve our chances of averting this century the extinction of 50 percent of the species or dramatic drops in grain yields or devastating sea level rises, we have to get worldwide CO2 emissions to start a real decline as fast as possible. Scientist Jim Hansen says that if we wait until 2018 to "stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions" then we have close to no chance of avoiding catastrophic effects. Scientist John Holdren tells us that if we plateau in 2015, our chances of averting these catastrophic effects are down to 50 percent. More >>>

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Our Favourite and only planet

Lifeboat Earth? April 20, 2008 - Imagine if President Bush announced a plan for Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs that declared: They will cease accumulating nuclear weapons by 2025. We will accomplish this through incentives and voluntary action, without mandates.

Mr. Bush would be ridiculed, but in essence, that’s the plan he announced for climate change on Wednesday. He set a target for halting the growth in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025, without specific mandates to achieve that, and in the meantime he blasted proposed Senate legislation for tougher measures as unnecessary
Unnecessary? When scientists detect accelerating melting in the Arctic and confidently predict centuries of coastal retreats and climate shifts, endangering the only planet we have?

Now let me pause for a special request: If you’re a skeptic about climate change, stop reading here.

That’s because the skeptics have mostly made silly arguments — that climate change is a “hoax” — when there is a much better argument available for them: that the remedies favored by environmentalists, like a cap-and-trade system to reduce emissions, probably won’t do the job.

Three respected climate experts made that troubling argument in an important essay in Nature this month, offering a sobering warning that the climate problem is much bigger than anticipated. That’s largely because of increased use of coal in booming Asian economies. More >>>

Friday, April 18, 2008

France Warns Climate Change Triggers Global Conflict

On the last day of the Major Economics Meeting, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the world's major economies to fight global warming faster, pointing to new scientific evidence confirming worst-case scenarios.
The French president struck a gloomy note as the MEM wound down in Paris on Friday, April 18, telling the world's biggest carbon polluters that global warming was becoming a driver of hunger, unrest and conflict, and urging them to abandon their defensive strategies in the face of developments he described as catastrophic.

"We must act," Sarkozy told the delegates. "Bad news continues to emerge. Scientific models and empirical observations indicate that the events unfolding now confirm the experts' most gloomy scenarios," he stressed.

Sarkozy also called on emerging nations, such as China and India, to fight global warming. More >>>

Forecast for big sea level rise

Vienna - 15 April 2008 - Sea levels could rise by up to one-and-a-half metres by the end of this century, according to a new scientific analysis. This is substantially more than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast in last year's landmark assessment of climate science.
Sea level rise of this magnitude would have major impacts on low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.
The findings were presented at a major science conference in Vienna. The research group is not the first to suggest that the IPCC's forecast of an average rise in global sea levels of 28-43cm by 2100 is too conservative.

The IPCC was unable to include the contribution from "accelerated" melting of polar ice sheets as water temperatures warm because the processes involved were not yet understood. The new analysis comes from a UK/Finnish team which has built a computer model linking temperatures to sea levels for the last two millennia.
"For the past 2,000 years, the [global average] sea level was very stable, it only varied by about 20cm," said Svetlana Jevrejeva from the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL), near Liverpool, UK. More >>>

Thursday, April 17, 2008

US climate change plan branded 'Neanderthal'

17 April 2008 - International efforts are gaining momentum to hammer out a new climate change agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

A new plan from US President George Bush which aims to cap greenhouse gases by 2025 has been dismissed as "disastrous" and "Neanderthal" by a group of ministers at a climate change meeting in Paris.

This week Mr Bush said he wanted to stop the growth of US emissions by 2025, taking a stronger stance on the issue than in the past.

However his plan, announced at a ministerial-level meeting of major carbon emitters, has drawn criticism from delegates from Australia, the European Union and some US participants.

Germany says Mr Bush has taken climate change policy back in time, to before last December's UN climate talks in Bali and last July's G8 summit.

In a statement called "Bush's Neanderthal speech," German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said: "His speech showed not leadership but losership. We are glad that there are also other voices in the United States." More >>>

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Climate expert says he underestimated threat

Wed Apr 16, 2008 - LONDON (Reuters) - Climate change expert Nicholas Stern says he under-estimated the threat from global warming in a major report 18 months ago when he compared the economic risk to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Latest climate science showed global emissions of planet-heating gases were rising faster and upsetting the climate more than previously thought, Stern said in a Reuters interview on Wednesday.

For example, evidence was growing that the planet's oceans -- an important "sink" -- were increasingly saturated and couldn't absorb as much as previously of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), he said.

"Emissions are growing much faster than we'd thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we'd thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates, and the speed of climate change seems to be faster," he told Reuters at a conference in London. More >>>

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Paris talks on global warming April 16-18

April 15 (Reuters) - Paris will host a meeting of 17 top national emitters of greenhouse gases from April 16-18 in a U.S.-backed scheme to fight global warming and guarantee energy security while promoting economic growth.

Two days of formal talks on Thursday and Friday will be preceded by a workshop on Wednesday about targets by sectors, for instance for the steel or cement industries. It is the third round of the talks, which began in September 2007.

Here are some frequent questions about the "Major Economies Meeting":

U.S. President George W. Bush, long criticised by his allies for doing too little to combat climate change, announced in May 2007 that he planned a series of climate meetings among major emitters before he steps down in January 2009. Pressure for action also came from the U.N. Climate Panel, which said in February 2007 that it was at least 90 percent sure that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, were stoking warming. More >>>

Sunday, April 13, 2008

West must lead climate change battle: Pachauri

April 13th, 2008 - Boao (China), April 13 (Xinhua) Indian Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Sunday urged developed countries to take the first step to tackle climate change.

Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the watchdog Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the developed world should take the first step by making commitments to tackle climate change rather than leave the first initiatives to emerging economies like China and India.

Pachauri was addressing the plenary session of the Boao economic conference in the southern resort town of China. The theme of the meeting was “Climate change: change business, change us”.

The IPCC and the former vice president of the US Al Gore shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Established in 2001, the Boao Forum has become an important platform for discussion and debate on economic development in Asia. The theme of this year’s annual conference of the Forum is “Green Asia: moving towards win-win through changes” More >>>

Friday, April 11, 2008

Caribbean Governments Urged to Set Climate Action Agenda

Regional scientists are calling on Caribbean governments to help develop an emerging research and action agenda on climate change.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 9, 2008 (ENS) -
Regional scientists are calling on Caribbean governments to help develop an emerging research and action agenda that will prepare the islands for the effects of climate change.

A preliminary agenda was reached after three teams of scientists carried out extensive research on climate change scenarios and modeling, coastal, marine and terrestrial biodiversity in the region.

Fined tuned at a two-day workshop hosted by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Natural Resource Institute at the University of the West Indies, Mona, the agenda identifies gaps in existing capacity in the region to deal with the effects of climate change and outlines measures to correct those deficiencies.
Dr. John Agard, chairman of the Environmental Management Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, says the agenda is long overdue.

"At the climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia last December, the Caribbean had no defined position," he declared. "Other countries had positions, and we, named as the primary targets that are likely to be most affected by climate change, had no regional positions on what we wanted to achieve, while other people were busy lobbying for what they wanted."

"That is absurd and embarrassing and we must not do that again!" said Dr. Agard. More >>>

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Food Security in Africa

Long-term food security: investing in people and livelihoods

Sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to achieve a single Millennium Development Goal. It is the only region in the world where malnutrition, a product of food insecurity, is on the rise. Food insecurity in Africa has many complex causes, including HIV/AIDS, climate change, environmental degradation, conflict, a huge increase in population size, and debt.

These factors have had a profound impact on traditional livelihoods, making them unsustainable and, for many people in constant crisis, restricting their ability to access sufficient food. Coping strategies used in response to crisis further contribute to the erosion of livelihoods. The International Federation is focusing its support on food security in Africa in response to such particularly highlevel needs in the continent. More >>>

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Models look good when predicting climate change

April 2 2008 - The accuracy of computer models that predict climate change over the coming decades has been the subject of debate among politicians, environmentalists, and even scientists. A new study by meteorologists at the University of Utah shows that current climate models are quite accurate and can be valuable tools for those seeking solutions on reversing global warming trends. Most of these models project a global warming trend that amounts to about 7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years.

The study titled "How Well do Coupled Models Simulate Today's Climate?" is due to be published this Friday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. In the study, co-authors Thomas Reichler and Junsu Kim from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Utah investigate how well climate models actually do their job in simulating climate. More >>>

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Nobel scientist issues warning on global warming

MIAMI, April 5 (Reuters) - The Nobel Prize-winning scientist who rang the first alarm bells over the ozone hole issued a warming about climate change on Saturday, saying there could be "almost irreversible consequences" if the Earth warmed 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees F) above what it ought to be.

"Things are changing and there's no doubt that it's as a result of human activities," said Mario Molina, a Mexican who shared a Nobel prize in chemistry in 1995 for groundbreaking work on chlorofluorocarbon gases and their threat to the Earth's ozone layer.

"Long before we run out of oil, we will run out of atmosphere," he said.

Molina told a panel discussion on climate change at an annual Inter-American Development Bank meeting in Miami that the increasing intensity of hurricanes was among the worrisome changes that scientists had linked to a rapid global warming trend over the past 30 years. More >>>

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Kevin Rudd speaks on climate change at Policy Centre Briefing, Brussels

Thursday April 3, 2008 - Brussels - The biggest challenge the world faces in the decades ahead is climate change.

It is the great moral and economic challenge of our time.

It will require concerted global action to overcome.

We need the right domestic policies – such as cap and trade carbon markets and policies to promote energy efficiency. And we need the right international policies too.
Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol underlines the fact that we are ready for the serious action required to address climate change.

I was pleased that Australia and the European Union could work effectively together (and with others) in Bali to help launch negotiations on a new, international post-2012 framework that will see all countries contribute. We want to see “top-down” emission reduction targets for advanced economies and specific commitments to action by developing countries.
More >>>

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

IPCC underestimates global warming challenge, researchers say

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has seriously underestimated the technological challenges involved in lowering man-made greenhouse gas emissions, a Canadian economist and two U.S. experts on climate change argue in the journal Nature.

Assumptions in the IPCC's climate models divert attention from greenhouse gas reduction policies, they allege in a commentary published online Wednesday.

The authors are McGill University economist Christopher Green, University of Colorado climate policy expert Roger Pielke Jr. and U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research climatologist Tom Wigley.

Last year, reports by the panel, which was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, spelled out the consensus on climate change from scientists and policy makers, arguing global warming was unequivocally occurring and was very likely man-made in origin. More >>>

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Endangered Islands

LONDON, England (CNN) -- With every click of his camera, Japanese photographer and activist Shuuichi Endou hopes to draw attention to the plight of Tuvalu, a remote nation of people whose home is slowly disappearing.

Tuvalu is the world's fourth smallest country behind Vatican City, Monaco and Pacific Ocean neighbor Nauru. He's taking 10,000 photos, one of each person who lives there, to show the world the human face of climate change.

"Tuvaluans do not ask much, neither goods nor money," he says.

"In Japan, people sacrifice their time and life to get more goods and money. I hope the viewers see the contrast by looking at the photos. We're sacrificing peaceful Tuvalu."
At first glance, Tuvalu is an island paradise, 26 square kilometers of white sand and lush foliage in the Pacific Ocean, north of Fiji.
But the sea level is rising, so much so that the nation's water has become too salty to drink and to grow vegetables, especially taro, a vegetable that was once the island's staple food.

More >>>