Global Warming

Among the dangerous threats facing our species (and in fact all species on this planet) today is the grave threat of climate change and global warming. The following article was posted on BBC News today.

Climate change 'hitting Africa'
Climate change is already affecting people across Africa and will wipe out efforts to tackle poverty there unless urgent action is taken, a report says.
Droughts are getting worse and climate uncertainty is growing, the research from a coalition of UK aid agencies and environmental groups says.

Climate change is an "unprecedented" threat to food security, it says.

It calls for a "climate-proof" model of development and massive emissions cuts to avoid "possibly cataclysmic change".

The report, Up In Smoke 2, updates previous research from the organisations - Oxfam, the New Economics Foundation and the Working Group on Climate Change and Development, an umbrella group of aid and green groups.

Global warming is set to make many of the problems which Africa already deals with, much, much worse
Andrew Simms
New Economics Foundation

It says that although climates across Africa have always been erratic, scientific research and the experience of the contributing groups "indicates new and dangerous extremes".

Arid or semi-arid areas in northern, western, eastern and parts of southern Africa are becoming drier, while equatorial Africa and other parts of southern Africa are getting wetter, the report says.

The continent is, on average, 0.5C warmer than it was 100 years ago, but temperatures have risen much higher in some areas - such as a part of Kenya which has become 3.5C hotter in the past 20 years, the agencies report.

Andrew Simms, from the New Economics Foundation, said: "Global warming is set to make many of the problems which Africa already deals with, much, much worse," he said.

"In the last year alone, 25 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have faced food crisis.

"Global warming means that that many dry areas are going to get drier and wet areas are going to get wetter. They are going to be caught between the devil of drought and the deep blue seas of floods."

He added that the "great tragedy" was that Africa had played virtually no role in global warming, a problem he said was caused by economic activity of the rich, industrial countries.

Mr Simms said unless climate change was tackled all the "best efforts" to help Africa could come to nothing.

One of the biggest threats is growing climate unpredictability, which makes subsistence farming difficult, the report says.

The average number of food emergencies in Africa per year almost tripled since the mid 1980s, it points out.

But it says that better planning to reduce the risk from disasters, together with developing agricultural practices that can withstand changing climates, have been shown to work and could help mitigate the impact if used be more widely.


Up in Smoke 2 also laments the failure of industrialised governments to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

Between $10bn (£5.2bn) and $40bn is needed annually, the report says, but industrialised countries have given only $43m - a tenth of the amount they have pledged - while rich country fossil fuel subsidies total $73bn a year.

The agencies say that greenhouse emissions cuts of 60% - 90% will ultimately be needed - way beyond the targets set in the Kyoto agreement.

"Climate change is overwhelming the situation in Africa... unless we take genuine steps now to reduce our emissions, people in the developed world will be condemning millions to hunger, starvation and death," said Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth.

The report comes two weeks before a key summit on climate change in Nairobi, where delegates will look at the progress made on the Kyoto agreement that requires industrial nations to cut their emissions by an average of 5.2% from 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012.

Delegates will also consider what system should be adopted when the current period ends.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/10/28 23:44:57 GMT


One of the organisations behind the report has some additional information available here.

The actual report is available here.

Update: 31/10/2006

The British Treasury and Cambridge University have also produced a related report about the economic consequences of global warming.

The report is available through the official website of the British Treasury, accessable by clicking here.

Essentially the conclusions of the report (available most easily through the executive summary) are nothing new. For instance, one of the important assertions of the report is that it will cost less to stem pollution now than it will cost to deal with the warming effects later. Of course, a pure capitalist system does not really care about the future, for systematic reasons. The current Robber Barrons (masters of big business) view their position as being at the top of a democratic structure in which votes are cast in dollars (or foreign equivalent). The opinions of the public (as viewed by where the money is going) is of course of paramount importantce. However, in this system that is based strictly on the here and now, future generations are of no value as they cannot cast their dollar-votes today. As such, anything that would adversely affect the bottom line now is rejected.

However, this particular aspect of the system is in contrast with the general will of the populations of the world, the majority of whom would like to see governments sign and impliment the Kyoto Protocols on global warming.

The important question, which shouldn't even have to be brought up in "democratic" states, is will our governments do what we want?
Update: November 4, 2006

The AFP today reports on a demonstration in London 10,000 strong calling for urgent action on climate change.

On Monday, November 6, the second United Nations Climate Change conference for parties to the (1997) Kyoto Protocols on climate change will meet in Nairobi, Kenya. This event is likely to be overshadowed by coverage of the US elections set to take place on 7 November, and will not include a delegation from the United States as the US is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocols. However, as the US the worlds leading producer of CO2 (greenhouse gas) emissions which have been increasing at an alarming rate over the past few decades and are likely to continue to increase exponentially without immediate action being taken, such as pollution reduction to 2002 target levels, which still hadn't been reached by many industrialised nations by 2005, the time at which the target levels were set to decrease again. These are simple steps to take, and of the utmost importance for those who care about the world that we leave (or don't leave) our children.


Update 07-11-06
Insects to Rule the Earth soon due to Global Warming. From Pravda.ru
A rise in the Earth’s temperature could lead to an increase in the number of insects worldwide, with potentially dire consequences for humans, a new study suggests.

New research shows that insect species living in warmer areas are more likely to undergo rapid population growth because they have higher metabolic rates and reproduce more frequently. The finding has scientists concerned that global warming could give rise to more fast-growing insect populations and that we could see a spike in the number of six-legged critters.

The consequences could be more serious than just a few extra bug bites each summer. “If they’re crop species, we could count on needing to use more pesticides and it could be very costly,” said Melanie Frazier, a doctoral student at the University of Washington and lead author of the study.

Insect-borne diseases are also a worry. Malaria, Lyme Disease and a host of others rely on insect vectors to spread among humans, and a swell in their populations could mean more infections.

Already, scientists have observed a widening of malarial zones with new cases appearing in previously unaffected areas. The change is thought to be due to rising temperatures and an expansion of areas habitable for mosquitoes. The new research, detailed in the October issue of The American Naturalist, shows rising temperatures would mean insects would not only spread out, but also multiply more quickly.

...it continues...

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