Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The melting Arctic must not be an excuse for a resource grab: UNEP

The speed of changes in the Arctic is hard to grasp.

The Arctic Ocean has been covered by sea ice for most of the past three million years. But now it is melting before our eyes and could see its first ice-free summer in a couple of decades or less.Since my school years, the Arctic summer sea-ice extent has already shrunk to half!

Last week the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) cautioned against a rush in the Arctic for exactly the fossil fuel resources that fuelled the melt in the first place.

Arctic permafrost and the Greenland ice sheet are also melting at an alarming speed, and oceans becoming more acidic. Without rapid action, the world can be tipping towards irreversible climate chaos.

Yet, instead of cutting pollution and protecting the Arctic, some, like Shell, want to accelerate the destruction, by rushing to exploit the area’s natural resources. Greenpeace, together with 2.7 million Arctic Defenders around the world, is not going to let this happen.

The UNEP Year Book 2013, released at the UNEP’s 1st universal Governing Council in Nairobi, issues an Arctic alert for governments, calls for extreme caution and says there should be no steps to exploit the new state of the Arctic prior to assessing impacts, and until adequate management frameworks have been put in place.

The Arctic mustn’t be seen only as a regional issue and left for the Arctic countries alone to manage, says UNEP. All governments must take responsibility for protecting it, because failing to do so would have dramatic consequences for the whole world. As UNEP’s Nick Nuttal put it: We are bringing the Arctic issue here because we want all ministers to be involved in this issue.”

We agree, which is why I took the floor and urged governments to act on UNEP’s recommendations without any delay. What we want to see, in terms of management, is the creation of a global sanctuary in the area of international waters around the North Pole; a ban on offshore oil drilling; and a moratorium on industrial fishing in previously unfished areas of the Arctic region. We also urgently need measures to manage the potentially damaging impacts of increased shipping in the Arctic, and measures to control the emissions of black carbon.

The Arctic wasn’t really a topic at this UNEP GC itself. Instead the agenda focused on reinventing the UNEP institutionally, to strengthen it as the unique convening authority on environmental sustainability. This was one of the decisions governments made in the Rio+20 summit last June.

Unfortunately, after 40 years of UNEP’s existence, governments still aren’t willing to make it strong enough to match today’s environmental challenges. Last week some decisions were taken to make the organization more strategic and policy-relevant and raise its profile as a global authority. This is all good, but as long as UNEP can only plead, coach and capacity build, while the World Trade Organization can impose punitive tariff measures on those breaking their rules, there is an unacceptable inequality of power, as my bosses write in the latest issue of Our Planet.

Let’s get serious about protecting our planet, our only home, by building the institutions, laws and coalitions that it requires. In the near future, the Arctic will be the primary test of the ability of the global community to act together, to save ourselves from ourselves.

I challenge the environment ministers around the world to become ambitious Arctic defenders, and join a race that isn’t about exploitation, but about boldest actions for protection. The Arctic environment ministers, who met recently in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, spoke in Nairobi about some of the plans they had for taking action forward, including under the Convention of Biological Diversity. UNEP’s ideas are also worth exploring more. More


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Other Migration Story in Mexico: Climate Change

The conversation around immigration and Mexico has long been tied to the United States and the prevailing economic conditions in both countries.

But a new report from the Royal United Services Instituteargues that as temperatures rise and precipitation patterns change over the course of the next century, climate too will increasingly become a driver of both internal and international migration in Mexico.

Author Elizabeth Deheza presented the report, Climate Change, Migration, and Security, at the Wilson Center on February 15. She was joined by Michael Werz of the Center for American Progress who discussed the policy implications and application of the findings to other climate sensitive countries.

Decoupling Rainfall and Temperature

“Migration is a defining characteristic of modern Mexico,” Deheza explained, which made it a “perfect laboratory” for the study. Mexico is also expected to experience significant environmental changes over the coming century. Temperature increases of four degrees Celsius by 2100 and changing precipitation patterns are projected to lead to droughts in the north of the country and floods in the south.

Desertification claims 400 square miles of farmland every year and has led an estimated 80,000 farmers to migrate, according to the report. “Food security is threatened by increasing irregularities in the rainy seasons brought about by climate change or climate variability,” said Deheza. The number of food insecure Mexicans reached 20 million in 2010, up from 18 million in 2008.

To determine what effect these changes might be having on the movement of people, Deheza and her co-author Jorge Mora pulled data from Mexico’s 2010 Population and Housing Census and compared it to changes in average temperature and precipitation as well as other environmental factors, like soil conditions.

Among their findings were that an increase in temperature will increase internal migration but decrease international migration, while an increase in precipitation will decrease internal migration and increase international migration. Almost 50 percent of international migrants were between the ages of 20 and 35 and nearly 80 percent were men.

“This [report] is a good example of how you combine qualitative and quantitative research,” said Werz. Previous discussions of climate induced migration have been much more qualitative, he said, relying on anecdotal evidence or conjecture for people’s motivations. Having a “scientific base” can help people take such findings more seriously, he said. More


Pakistan and UK Invite Climate scientist Schellnhuber to brief UN Security Council

02/15/2013 - As climate change starts being recognized as a security issue on the highest international levels, Pakistan and the United Kingdom have asked Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to speak at an in-depth discussion event for the UN Security Council members. The meeting aims at addressing “potential threats posed by possible adverse effects of climate change to the maintenance of international peace and security”. It will take place on February 15th at the UN headquarters in New York City. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to attend.


“With unabated greenhouse-gas emissions, humankind would venture into an uncertain future that is much hotter than ever before in its history – so from a scientist’s perspective, climate change is a global risk multiplier,” says Schellnhuber, director of PIK and chair of the Scientific Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) for the German government. Many millions of people could be affected by severe climate change impacts. They range from sea-level rise that increases the frequency of severe coastal flooding, to changes in atmospheric circulation patterns that could trigger, e.g., monsoon failures.

“Most remarkably, Pakistan and the UK together have called this meeting – illustrating, by action, that climate change is an issue for both developing and industrialized countries,” Schellnhuber says.

Climate change impacts might trigger social tipping dynamics

If the international community allows global mean temperature to rise way beyond the 2-degree limit that it agreed upon, major environmental tipping points could be crossed. “The Earth system shows a nonlinear response to greenhouse-gas emissions, so elements like the Amazon rainforest could react drastically if some warming thresholds are passed. This in turn might result in tipping international relations from a situation in which an initial increase of cooperation in face of a crisis shifts into a fierce competition for scarce natural resources, like food,” argues Schellnhuber. “However, another kind of social tipping dynamics is imaginable as well – with states, and people, becoming aware of the dangers ahead, and starting the great transformation towards sustainability.” One small example for this might be the German Energiewende (a rapid decarbonization of the national energy system).

Schellnhuber is the only scientist invited to the meeting. The other eminent speakers are Tony DeBrum, Minister-in-assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, and Gyan Acharya, Under-Secretary General and High Representative of the least developed countries. Some of the issues to be debated are climate change impacts on food security, sustaining cooperative management of freshwater supply in the face of glacial melting and reduced runoff, and possible large-scale displacements of people across borders. More

Friday, February 22, 2013

Don’t Talk to Us About Your Sinking Island

How the U.N. Security Council takes a pass on global warming.

If you’re a low-lying island state, climate change is not some abstract problem far out on the event horizon, it’s more of an urgent existential threat—the kind of thing you’d hope would spur the leading global security body to take bold action. If only it were that simple.

Carne Ross

In the latest episode of Slate’s video series The World Decrypted, Carne Ross deconstructs the U.N. Security Council’s latest puzzlingly passive response to global warming. Here’s some additional background on the story: This report suggests that some low-lying states may need to be evacuated within a decade, as the rate of sea level rise is worse than anticipated: Oceans are rising 60 percent faster than the U.N. had projected. The island state of Kiribati is already making plans to relocate its population.

Here is the statement made by the representative of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, at last week’s private and “informal” meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

There’s also a lot of emerging research about how rising temperatures may cause new hostilities or exacerbate existing conflict. This report from the International Crisis Group contends that the links between climate change and conflict are complex and not yet fully understood, and the Economist covers similar terrain in this analysis.

This National Research Council report states that accelerating climate change will place unparalleled strains on American military and intelligence agencies in coming years by causing ever more disruptive events around the globe. More




Major methane release is almost inevitable

We are on the cusp of a tipping point in the climate. If the global climate warms another few tenths of a degree, a large expanse of the Siberian permafrost will start to melt uncontrollably.

The result: a significant amount of extra greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, and a threat – ironically – to the infrastructure that carries natural gas from Russia to Europe.

The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and climatologists have long warned that this will cause positive feedbacks that will speed up climate change further. The region is home to enormous stores of organic carbon, mostly in the form of permafrost soils and icy clathrates that trap methane – a powerful greenhouse gas that could escape into the atmosphere.

The Siberian permafrost is a particular danger. A large region called the Yedoma could undergo runaway decomposition once it starts to melt, because microbes in the soil would eat the carbon and produce heat, melting more soil and releasing ever more greenhouse gases. In short, the melting of Yedoma is a tipping point: once it starts, there may be no stopping it.

For the first time, we have an indication of when this could start happening.Anton Vaks of the University of Oxford in the UK and colleagues have reconstructed the history of the Siberian permafrost going back 500,000 years. We already know how global temperatures have risen and fallen as ice sheets have advanced and retreated, so Vaks's team's record of changing permafrost gives an indication of how sensitive it is to changing temperatures.

Stalagmite record

But there is no direct record of how the permafrost has changed, so Vaks had to find an indirect method. His team visited six caves that run along a south-north line, with the two southernmost ones being under the Gobi desert. Further north, three caves sit beneath a landscape of sporadic patches of permafrost, and the northernmost cave is right at the edge of Siberia's continuous permafrost zone.

The team focused on the 500,000-year history of stalagmites and similar rock formations in the caves. "Stalagmites only grow when water flows into caves," Vaks says. "It cannot happen when the soil is frozen." The team used radiometric dating to determine how old the stalagmites were. By building up a record of when they grew, Vaks could figure out when the ground above the caves was frozen and when it wasn't.

As expected, in most of the caves, stalagmites formed during every warm interglacial period as the patchy permafrost melted overhead.

But it took a particularly warm interglacial, from 424,000 and 374,000 years ago, for the stalagmites in the northernmost cave to grow – suggesting the continuous permafrost overhead melted just once in the last 500,000 years.

At the time, global temperatures were 1.5 °C warmer than they have been in the last 10,000 years. In other words, today's permafrost is likely to become vulnerable when we hit 1.5 °C of global warming, says Vaks.

"Up until this point, we didn't have direct evidence of how this happened in past warming periods," says Ted Schuur of the University of Florida in Gainesville.

It will be very hard to stop the permafrost degrading as a warming of 1.5 °C is not far off. Between 1850 and 2005, global temperatures rose 0.8 °C,according to the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Even if humanity stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, temperatures would rise another 0.2 °C over the next 20 years. That would leave a window of 0.5 °C – but in fact our emissions are increasing. What's more, new fossil fuel power stations commit us to several decades of emissions.

Soggy permafrost

What are the consequences? The greatest concern, says Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter in the UK, is the regional landscape. Buildings and infrastructure are often built on hard permafrost, and will start subsiding. "Ice roads won't exist any more."

The increasingly soggy permafrost will also threaten the pipelines that transport Russian gas to Europe. "The maintenance and upkeep of that infrastructure is going to cost a lot more," says Schuur.

As for the methane that could be released into the atmosphere, Schuur estimates that emissions will be equivalent to between 160 and 290 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. More


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Filipino super-typhoon an ominous warning of climate change impact

When super-typhoon Bopha struck without warning before dawn, flattening the walls of their home, Maria Amparo Jenobiagon, her two daughters and her grandchildren ran for their lives.

The storm on 4 December was the worst ever to hit the southern Philippines: torrential rain turned New Bataan's river into a raging flood. Roads were washed away and the bridge turned into an enormous dam. Tens of thousands of coconut trees crashed down in an instant as unbelievably powerful winds struck. The banana crop was destroyed in a flash – and with it the livelihoods of hundreds of farmers.

The only safe place the family could think of was the concrete grandstand at the village sports stadium. Two months later, Jenobiagon, 36, and her three-year-old granddaughter, Mary Aieshe, are still there, living in one of the improvised tents spanning its steep concrete tiers along with hundreds of other people.

"We were terrified. All we could hear was loud crashing. We didn't know what to do. So we came here," Jenobiagon said. "Everyone ran to the health centre but houses were being swept away and the water was neck deep. Everywhere we went was full of mud and water. We went to a school but it was flooded, so we came to the stadium."

Lorenzo Balbin, the mayor of New Bataan, said the fury of the storm was far beyond the experience of anyone living in Mindanao. It would take 10 years to replace the coconut crop, he said. Some villages in Compostela Valley may be too unsafe to live in.

Bopha, known locally as Pablo, broke records as well as hearts. At its height, it produced wind speeds of 160mph, gusting to 195mph. It was the world's deadliest typhoon in 2012, killing 1,067 people, with 800 left missing. More than 6.2 million people were affected; the cost of the damage may top $1bn. As a category 5 storm (the highest), Bopha wassignificantly more powerful than hurricane Katrina (category 3), which hit the US in 2005, and last year's heavily publicised hurricane Sandy(category 2).

With an estimated 216,000 houses destroyed or damaged, tens of thousands of people remain displaced, presenting a challenge for the government and aid agencies.

The lack of international media coverage of Bopha may in part be explained – though not excused – by western-centric news values, and in part by the high incidence of storms in the Pacific region.

The Philippines experiences an average of 20 typhoons a year (including three super-typhoons) plus numerous incidents of flooding, drought, earthquakes and tremors and occasional volcanic eruptions, making it one of the most naturally disaster-prone countries in the world.

But more disturbing than Bopha's size was the fact that it appeared to reflect rapidly deteriorating climatic trends.

The five most devastating typhoons recorded in the Philippines have occurred since 1990, affecting 23 million people. Four of the costliest typhoons anywhere occurred in same period, according to an Oxfam report. What is more, Bopha hit an area where typhoons are all but unknown.

The inter-governmental panel on climate change says mean temperatures in the Philippines are rising by 0.14C per decade. Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in annual mean rainfall. Yet two of the severest droughts ever recorded occurred in 1991-92 and 1997-98.

Scientists are also registering steadily rising sea levels around the Philippines, and a falling water table. All this appears to increase the likelihood and incidence of extreme weather events while adversely affecting food production and yields through land erosion and degradation, analysts say.

Mary Ann Lucille Sering, head of the Philippine government's climate change commission, is in no doubt her country faces a deepening crisis that it can ill afford, financially and in human terms. Typhoon-related costs in 2009, the year the commission was created, amounted to 2.9% of GDP, she said, and have been rising each year since then.

"Extreme weather is becoming more frequent, you could even call it the new normal," Sering said. "Last year one typhoon [Bopha] hurt us very much. If this continues we are looking at a big drain on resources." Human activity-related "slow onset impacts" included over-fishing, over-dependence on certain crops, over-extraction of ground water, and an expanding population (the Philippines has about 95 million people and a median age of 23). More


Monday, February 18, 2013

Preparing for Climate Change-Induced Weather Disasters

Feb. 16, 2013 — The news sounds grim: mounting scientific evidence indicates climate change will lead to more frequent and intense extreme weather that affects larger areas and lasts longer.

However, we can reduce the risk of weather-related disasters with a variety of measures, according to Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Chris Field.

Field will discuss how to prepare for and adapt to a new climate at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston. Field's talk, "Weather Extremes: Coping With the Changing Risks," will be part of a symposium called "Media: Communicating Science, Uncertainty and Impact" on Feb. 16.

While climate change's role in tornadoes and hurricanes remains unknown, Field says, the pattern is increasingly clear when it comes to heat waves, heavy rains and droughts. Field explains that the risk of climate-related disaster is tied to the overlap of weather, exposure and vulnerability of exposed people, ecosystems and investments.

While this means that moderate extremes can lead to major disasters, especially in communities subjected to other stresses or in cases when extremes are repeated, it also means that prepared, resilient communities can manage even severe extremes.

During the past 30 years, economic losses from weather-related disasters have increased. The available evidence points to increasing exposure (an increase in the amount and/or value of the assets in harm's way) as the dominant cause of this trend. Economic losses, however, present a very incomplete picture of the true impacts of disasters, which include human and environmental components. While the majority of the economic losses from weather-related disasters are in developed world, the overwhelming majority of deaths are in developing countries.

Withstanding these increasingly frequent events will depend on a variety of disaster preparations, early warning systems and well-built infrastructure, Field says. The most effective options tend to produce both immediate benefits in sustainable development and long-term benefits in reduced vulnerability. Solutions that emphasize a portfolio of approaches, multi-hazard risk reduction and learning by doing offer many advantages for resilience and sustainability. Some options may require transformation, including questioning assumptions and paradigms, and stimulating innovation. More


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Global Temperature by Janet Larsen Earth Policy Institute

Warmest Decade on Record Brings Record Temperatures and Weather Extremes

In recent years weather events have whiplashed between the extremes of heat and cold, flooding and drought. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases—largely from the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas—have loaded up in the atmosphere, heating the planet and pushing humanity onto a climatic seesaw of weather irregularities. High-temperature records in many places are already being broken with startling frequency, and hotter temperatures are in store. Without a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel use, we will veer even further away from the “normal” temperatures and weather patterns that civilization is adapted to.

The world has warmed by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since the Industrial Revolution, with most of the rise in temperature coming since the 1970s. Such rapid warming is unprecedented over at least 20,000 years. The average global temperature in 2012 was 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit (14.56 degrees Celsius). This sets it among the 10 warmest years on record—all of which, according to NASA data dating back to 1880, have occurred in the last 14 years. (See data.)

The two headline-dominating weather events of 2012 both occurred in the United States: the intense summertime drought and heat that baked the country’s midsection and Superstorm Sandy, which clobbered the East Coast in late October. Overall, 2012 was the hottest year in U.S. history, topping the twentieth-century average by more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit.

After a winter that never seemed to take hold over much of the United States&‐with snow coverage across the lower 48 states the third lowest on record—summer-like weather arrived in March. Close to 15,000 new high-temperature records were set. Thus began the warmest spring in U.S. history, setting the stage for further high temperatures and an epic drought. July 2012 was the hottest month ever in the continental United States, according to the National Climatic Data Center. A third of the U.S. population witnessed summer temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for 10 or more days. At its peak, drought covered nearly two thirds of the country. Power plants shut down because of the lack of cooling water. Low water levels disrupted Mississippi River barge traffic. Crops withered; corn yields in key producing areas were cut by a fifth or more. Purdue University economist Chris Hurt estimates the cost of the drought could exceed $75 billion. And with drought lingering into the new year, particularly in the Great Plains, the odds of a second year of harvest shortfalls are increasing.

The other most expensive weather event of 2012 was the opposite precipitation extreme: Superstorm Sandy. Sandy was number 18 of 19 named Atlantic storms in a season that began even before its official start, with two storms forming in May. After bringing heavy rain to the Caribbean and killing 72 people, Sandy merged with a winter storm, transforming into a meteorological chimera. Rather than travelling a more typical pathway out to sea, Sandy made an abrupt left-hand turn to make landfall on the U.S. East Coast. Fueled by high sea-surface temperatures and loaded with extra moisture due to warmer air temperatures, Sandy brought more than a foot of rainfall to parts of the mid-Atlantic region. Coasts from Maryland to Massachusetts were hit by a tremendous storm surge that in Lower Manhattan reached more than 9 feet above the normal high-tide level. In New York and New Jersey close to 100 people died, and more than a half-million homes were damaged or destroyed. Blizzards blanketed parts of Appalachia with the most snow ever recorded for a U.S. storm in October. Costs are still being tallied, but state governments report damages of $62 billion.

Some scientists propose that Sandy was pushed onto its unusual trajectory because of changes in atmospheric circulation caused by the loss of sea ice in the rapidly warming Arctic. As the Arctic’s reflective ice cover shrinks, more heat is absorbed, resulting in a smaller temperature differential between the North Pole and higher latitudes. This can cause the jet stream to slow down or become more wavy, stalling typical weather patterns and leading to prolonged extreme events. The regional warming is also accelerating ice melt on Greenland, which contains enough water to raise global sea level by 23 feet (7 meters). In late May 2012, southern Greenland reached a balmy 76.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In mid-July, 97 percent of its surface area showed signs of melting.

The year was exceptionally warm in Canada, where summer 2012 was the warmest on record. For Russia it was the second warmest, just behind summer 2010, when Moscow was smothered by heat and choked with smoke from rampant wildfires. In both years crops suffered, contributing to a jump in food prices. In France, an unusually late and sudden heat wave toward the end of August broke the high-temperature records set during the 2003 heat wave that killed nearly 15,000 people nationwide. More


Friday, February 8, 2013

Agencies Release Sustainability Plans, Include Climate Change Adaptation

Federal agencies Feb. 7 released their third annual sustainability plans, which for the first time include steps to adapt to climate change.

The adaptation plans outline initiatives to reduce the vulnerability of federal assets, programs, and investments to climate change impacts such as sea level rise and more frequent and severe weather, the White House Council on Environmental Quality said.

Federal agencies are required to develop sustainability plans outlining how they will meet environmental and energy goals set in Executive Order No. 13,514, which was issued by President Obama in 2009. Agencies are required to reduce petroleum use in vehicles by 30 percent by 2020, improve water efficiency by 26 percent by 2020, divert or recycle 50 percent of waste by 2015, and meet other targets under the order.

The climate change adaptation plans are part of larger agency sustainability plans. Agencies also included fleet management plans and strategies to purchase more biobased-products in their sustainability plans in 2012.

The 2012 sustainability plans were reviewed by CEQ and then approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget before being made publicly available.

The climate change adaptation plans will be open for public comment for 60 days.

The sustainability plan for the Agriculture Department states that the department has reduced indirect greenhouse gas emissions by more than 12 percent since 2008, has reduced potable water use by nearly 19 percent since 2007, and has purchased or generated renewable energy equivalent to nearly 20 percent its total electricity use.

The sustainability plan for the Interior Department states that the department has reduced potable water intensity by more than 11 percent since 2007, among other reductions.

EPA to Help Vulnerable Coastal Communities

Building the country's capacity to adapt to climate change is part of the Environmental Protection Agency's mission to protect human health and the environment, the agency said in its climate change adaptation plan.

Climate change is likely to increase tropospheric ozone levels over broad areas of the country, which may increase the vulnerability of U.S. citizens to air pollution, EPA said. As a result, it may be more difficult to attain or maintain ozone standards, which may require EPA to implement new control measures, the agency said.

Climate change will also affect the quality and availability of drinking water supplies, and EPA may need to take action to address these issues, the agency said. Increasing heavy-precipitation events from climate change may increase the pollutants in runoff, dirtying streams and threatening public health, EPA said.

EPA said it will integrate climate change adaptation planning into its programs and policies; increase the resilience of EPA facilities in coastal areas to protect them from severe weather, flood damage, and sea level rise; and help communities in vulnerable areas, such as low-lying coastal areas, reduce their exposure to climate change impacts. More

It will be interesting to review this initiative in one year and see what has actually been accomplished. Editor

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Climate change means catastrophe in UK, not café culture says professor

Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said Government and local authorities are failing to grasp the risks to Britain of global warming.

He accused people of focusing on the chance of warmer evenings, rather than realising heatwaves will cause deaths.

"We may like to think of it as a nice café culture, sitting outside sipping lattes – but we will be struggling to sleep because our buildings won't cool down at night.

"That's when you see the deaths occurring. We can think about this in advance."

The Met Office predicts that summer temperatures will could rise by up to 5C by the 2080s.

Heatwaves, like the one that killed 2,000 people in 2003, could become more frequent.

Prof Anderson pointed out that UK buildings and hospitals are not equipped for these temperatures.

He called on politicians to 'bite the bullet' by upgrading houses so ventilation is better and making sure hospitals are prepared for illness caused by heat.

Prof Anderson also said flooding could become more frequent because of rising sea levels and more intense rainfall.

Last year was the wettest on record and the Met Office has warned that the frequency of extreme rainfall in the UK may already be increasing.

He said councils have to improve drainage in cities and ensure homes are prepared and not built on flood plains.

However, first Prof Anderson said the UK must try to prevent climate change from happening so fast and temperatures reaching dangerous levels by reducing carbon emissions.

He recommended investment in public transport and renewable energy.

"The new president of the World Bank has said he expects to see people fighting for food and water everywhere.

"Hopefully we would be more organised and find a rationing system.

"We are not talking about many many generations away. We are talking about our own lifetimes and the lives of our children." More



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2013 Explores Global Climate Change Challenges

NEW DELHI -- Seychelles is flooding, Mali is parched, Kiribati is eroding and the one bright spot would seem to be the fact that the United States president finally uttered the words "climate change."

Seychelles President James Michel

Nations on the front lines of climate change expressed hesitant optimism for the U.S., as delegates gathered for The Energy and Resources Institute's 13th annual Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, whose goal is to tackle resource efficiency challenges.

Around the world, leaders pointed to the ways a changing climate was already affecting their nations.

Kiribati President Anote Tong told HuffPost his island nation is experiencing unprecedented coastal erosion, forcing some communities to relocate.

Seychelles President James Michel was unable to attend the summit because of recent flooding. As Seychelles Foreign Minister Jean-Paul Adam suggested, "We are very good fishermen, but we're not used to having to use our boats on the street."

Maldives Minister of Environment and Energy Dr. Mariyam Shakeela told a panel that extreme weather is now common. She added, "Dependence on unsustainable fossil fuel-based energy increases global warming and threatens climate security, which in turn affects our biodiversity, food and water security through droughts, floods and extreme weather events."

African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka told a small group of journalists, "Seasons have become completely unpredictable. Farmers no longer know when to plant." Citing 2011's Horn of Africa drought as an example, he explained that "for farmers who live on nature, who live on a good understanding of seasons, this is a disaster." More


Friday, February 1, 2013

Increases in Extreme Rainfall Linked to Global Warming

Feb. 1, 2013 — A worldwide review of global rainfall data led by the University of Adelaide has found that the intensity of the most extreme rainfall events is increasing across the globe as temperatures rise.

In the most comprehensive review of changes to extreme rainfall ever undertaken, researchers evaluated the association between extreme rainfall and atmospheric temperatures at more than 8000 weather gauging stations around the world.

Lead author Dr Seth Westra said, "The results are that rainfall extremes are increasing on average globally. They show that there is a 7% increase in extreme rainfall intensity for every degree increase in global atmospheric temperature.

"Assuming an increase in global average temperature by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, this could mean very substantial increases in rainfall intensity as a result of climate change."

Dr Westra, a Senior Lecturer with the University of Adelaide's School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering and member of the Environment Institute, said trends in rainfall extremes were examined over the period from 1900 to 2009 to determine whether they were becoming more intense or occurring more frequently.

"The results show that rainfall extremes were increasing over this period, and appear to be linked to the increase in global temperature of nearly a degree which also took place over this time.

"If extreme rainfall events continue to intensify, we can expect to see floods occurring more frequently around the world." Dr Westra said.

The strongest increases occurred in the tropical countries, although some level of increase seems to be taking place at the majority of weather gauging stations. More