Climate change and Global Warming

The Water Towers of Asia

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 13, 2007

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The "Water towers of Asia" or the Himalayas feed seven of Asia’s great rivers. A meltdown due to melting glaciers which are receding at an average rate of 10-15 meters per year, could trigger floods initially and droughts in the future.

Source: Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change, Second Working Group Report.

Climate change and Global Warming

Flood and drought

Posted by Susan Sharma on May 12, 2007

Blog

.........Three quarters of the 634 million people deemed to be most at risk from rising sea levels connected to global warming live in Asia. Coastal cities in the developed world, such as New York and LosAngeles, may be at risk. But wealthy countries are best placed to adapt to the problem. Certainly the Dutch, who have long experience of keeping the sea at bay, are not panicking. They are simply planning to spend billions more on flood defences.

 Because of its effect on rainfall and glaciers that feed rivers, global warming is also contributing to water shortages. ..

Source: Business Standard , 23 April, 2007

Climate change and Global Warming

From the equator towards the poles

Posted by Susan Sharma on April 12, 2007

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Scientists say it has become increasingly clear that worldwide precipitation is shiftng away from the equator and toward the poles.

While rich countries are hardly immune from drought and flooding, their wealth will largely insulate them from harm, at least for the next generation or two, many experts say.

Cities in Texas, California and Australia are already building or planning desalination plants, for example. And federal studies have shown that desalination can work far from the sea, purifying water from brackish aqifiers deep in the ground in places like New Mexico.

Source: Times International, 3/4/07

Climate change and Global Warming

Clean Energy

Posted by Susan Sharma on March 11, 2007

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Clean energy, ................is 2.3% of the US electricity market.

The 2.3% breaks down the following way:
1.5% from bio-mass
0.44% from wind
0.36% for geothermal
0.01% for solar power.

The other 97.7%?
49.7% coal-fired
19.3% nuclear
19.1% natural gas
6.5% hydro
3% oil-fired

Wow. 97.7% is non-renewable, with 50% carbon spewing coal.

Source:  http://tinyurl.com/32zb2k

 

Climate change and Global Warming

HIGHLIGHTNING TOURISM’S ROLE IN CLIMATE RESPONSE

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 07, 2007

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HIGHLIGHTNING TOURISM’S ROLE IN CLIMATE RESPONSE

 "There is now
unequivocal proof from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
and the Stern report that climate challenge is real and that we must
all play our part in its resolution. Tourism is an important sector
of the global economy and a vital link in human communications,
cultural interface and development. Like other key sectors, we play a
part in the problem and we have to be responsive and responsible as
temperatures, sea levels and other climactic conditions evolve. We
will work even more closely with UNEP and other sister agencies like
the International Civil Aviation Organization, as well as the private
sector, in exploring new patterns of consumption and conservation, as
well as fast track strategies for adaptation", Mr. Frangialli, UNWTO Secretary-General, said.

There will be two overriding considerations for UNWTO, the Secretary-
General added. "First, promoting responsible growth of tourism to
advance global trade, as well as strengthening the links between
people and cultures which foster mutual understanding. This will mean
innovative adaptation across the sector using all the tools and
technologies as they become available. Second, ensuring that tourism
remains a key tool to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and
helping poor nations lift themselves out of the poverty trap.

 Tourism
represents 40% of services exports and the world’s poorest countries
have comparative advantage in this area which must be encouraged as a
part of responsible climate change strategies."


UNWTO and UNEP have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in a
number of ways – most immediately, UNWTO will join the billion tree
planting campaign of UNEP and the environment agency will strengthen
its support for UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to upbeat
the sustainability and climate response components. The organizations
will collaborate on the Tourism Climate Change Summits.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - BillionTree Campaign
http://www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign/

Climate change and Global Warming

IPCC Report on Global Warming

Posted by Susan Sharma on February 06, 2007

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IPCC Report on Global Warming
The most authoritative scientific report on climate change says with 
90% certainty that the burning of fossil fuels and other human 
activities are driving climate change. 
The report, from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) says the rise in global temperatures could be as high as 6.4°C 
by 2100. The report also predicts sea level rises and increases in hurricanes.
 The new IPCC report is the work of 3750 climate experts, who have 
spent six years reviewing all the available climate research. It was 
released in Paris, France, on Friday.

Considering the human role in causing climate change, the IPCC report is damning: "The understanding of [human] influences on climate has improved since the [2001] report, leading to a very high confidence that human activities" are responsible for most of the warming seen since 1950, says the report’s summary for policymakers. “Very high confidence” is described as “at least a 9 out of 10 chance of being correct”.

Before the industrial revolution, human greenhouse gas emissions were small, and the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – was about 280 parts per million (ppm).

Thanks largely to the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, such as agricultural exploitation and deforestation, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide reached 379 ppm in 2005

 
Read the full story here:
http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn11088-blame-for-global-warming-placed-firmly-on-humankind.htm
 

Climate change and Global Warming

Sunderbans

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2007

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The sea is steadily eating into the Sundarbans, the world’s largest delta and mangrove forest, threatening an ecological disaster for the Bengal basin region. The 20,000 square kilometre forest delta stretches across the lower reaches of the Bengal basin - 60% falling in Bangladesh and the rest in  West Bengal.

Satellite imagery shows that the sea level in the Sundarbans has risen at an average rate of 3.14 centimetres a year over the past two decades - much higher than the global average of two millimetres a year. Scientists believe that in the next 50 years, a rise of even one metre in sea level would inundate 1,000 sq.km of the Sundarbans.

In the past two decades, four islands - Bedford, Lohachara, Kabasgadi and Suparibhanga - have sunk into the sea and 6,000 families have been made homeless. Two other islands - Ghoramara and Mousuni - are fast going under.  The district administration has constructed huge embankments to ring the coastal inlands.  But during high tides, the embankments are damaged. Some develop cracks and collapse.

A total of 54 of the 102 islands in the Indian Sundarbans are still habitableAbout 2,500 sq.km have been set aside as a tiger reserve since 1973.  Since the first settlements in 1770, the population of the Indian Sundarbans has risen 200% to nearly 4.3 million.

The population has put pressure on the ecosystem, which acts as a nursery for the aquatic resources of the Bay of Bengal. Scientists say that the Sundarbans, South Asia’s largest "carbon sink" - which mops up carbon dioxide - must survive to help prevent global warming. But will it?

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3102948.stm

 

Climate change and Global Warming

Mangroves, trees

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 28, 2006

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The term "greenbelt" refers to any area of undeveloped natural land that has been set aside near urban or developed land to provide open space, offer light recreational opportunities or contain development. The natural greenbelts along areas of Southeast Asia’s coastlines, including the region’s mangrove forests, served as buffers and helped to prevent even greater loss of life from the December 2004 tsunami.

Greenbelts in and around urban areas have probably not saved any lives, but they are important nonetheless to the ecological health of any given region. The various plants and trees in greenbelts serve as organic sponges for various forms of pollution, and as storehouses of carbon dioxide to help offset global warming.

Greenbelts are also important to help urban dwellers feel more connected to nature. Dr. S.C. Sharma of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India believes that all cities should "earmark certain areas for the development of greenbelts to bring life and color to the cement concrete jungle and a healthy environment to the urbanities."

Greenbelts are also important in efforts to limit sprawl, which is the tendency for cities to spread out and encroach on rural lands and wildlife habitat.

The concept has also caught on in U.S and Canada, with cities adopting mandates for the creation of greenbelts to combat sprawl. Urban greenbelts can also be found in and around larger cities in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The green belt concept has even spread to rural areas, such as in East Africa. Womens’ rights and environmental activist Wangari Maathai launched the Green Belt Movement in Kenya in 1977 as a grassroots tree-planting program to address the challenges of deforestation, soil erosion and lack of water there. To date, her organization has overseen the planting of 40 million trees across Africa. In 2004 Maathai was the first environmentalist to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Why "peace?" "There can be no peace without equitable development and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space," said Maathai in her acceptance speech.

Source:E-the Environmental magazine

Climate change and Global Warming

Hong Kong Pollution

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 12, 2006

Blog

Singapore and Hong Kong have long competed for the title of Asia’s premier financial centre and favoured destination for foreign professionals. Singapore’s claim received a boost in November when Merrill Lynch, an American investment bank, declared that Hong Kong's air pollution was so bad that investors should sell shares in developers there and buy shares in their Singaporean rivals. Spencer White, the bank's analyst, also forecast that Hong Kong office rents might fall 5% in 2007.

Singapore has its own air-pollution problems, but this is usually an annual bout of so-called “haze”, caused by farmers in neighbouring Indonesia setting fire to tropical forests to clear land. Hong Kong’s problem, by contrast, is a year-round miasma churned out mainly by factories on the Chinese mainland. “About 40% of those in my social circle who work in the financial sector are looking to leave [Hong Kong] because of the pollution,” Mr White told a Singaporean newspaper. His investment advice was nothing more than “common sense”, he said, and he predicted Singapore would benefit as more people move there.

Source: Economist.com

Climate change and Global Warming

A considered opinion

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 12, 2006

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"The fact is that warming of the global atmosphere is possibly the biggest and most difficult economic and political issue the world has ever needed to confront. I say this because, firstly, emissions of carbon dioxide are directly linked to economic growth. Therefore, growth as we know is on the line. We will have to reinvent what we do and how we do it. There will be costs, but as Stern says, the cost will be a fraction of what we will need to spend in the future.

Secondly, the issue is about sharing that growth between nations and between people. The fact is that global economic wealth is highly skewed. Put in climate terms, this means that global emissions are also highly skewed. The question now is whether the world will share the right to emit (or pollute) or will it freeze inequities. The question is if the rich world, which has accumulated a huge 'natural debt' overdrawing on its share of the global commons, will repay it so that the poorer world can grow, using the same ecological space?

Thirdly, climate change is about international cooperation. The fact is that climate change teaches us more than anything else that the world is one; if the rich world pumped in excessive quantities of carbon dioxide yesterday, the emerging rich world will do so today. It also tells us the only way to build controls will be to ensure there is fairness and equity, so that this biggest cooperative enterprise is possible. Think of climate change as the fallout of the feverish embracing of the market.

............................................

Ultimately, climate change is the true globaliser. It forces our world to come together not just to make short-term profits for some, but long-term economic and ecological benefits for all. Let us continue to discuss how this can be done."

 Source:
Sunita Narain

 in

www.downtoearth.org.in/

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