Climate change is one of the most important ecological imperatives facing the human population in our modern times. There is hardly any debate remaining among scientists these days regarding whether climate change exists or whether it is caused by human activities. Climate change threatens not just global average temperature, but it also can play a damaging role in all other aspects of ecosystem health, such as biological diversity and world food supply. We have identified the problem, now we must come up with a fair and sustainable solution.
This blog will focus around the United Nations climate change conference to be help in Copenhagen from December 7th to 18th 2009. During this conference, 192 countries including two of the largest polluters - the United States and China - will gather to discuss the problem and try to find solutions. These widely varied countries will be responsible for the onus task of hammering out an agreement that can satisfy all involved for the period following 2012.
The countdown to COP15 TIG blog aims to consolidate the many youth climate action blogs from around the world, while offering a forum for youth to get informed and get involved regarding this important issue.
Green peace has recently released a new campaign aiming to push for a strong climate deal in Copenhagen. The campaign, called action-pact, calls upon concerned citizens to enter a slogan writing contest. The slogans will be displayed in the gallery, where participants can vote on their favorites. The winning slogan will be displayed "green peace style" at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December.
This campaign is the most recent of many campaigns already being run by green peace. Stopping climate change is a major goal of the green peace organization. "With the world on the brink of runaway climate change, it is time to get serious. We're calling upon governments and industry to step up and make big improvements. There's a lot you can do to help."
The green peace website contains a wealth of information regarding climate change. The website examines the issue from many angles, with topics including: coal, forests, energy revolution, impacts, science, and solutions to name a few.
Green peace advocates for several solutions that they believe will save the Earth from runaway climate change. According to the website, solutions include:
Make sure emissions peak in 2015 and decrease as rapidly as possible towards zero after that
Developed countries must make cuts of 40 percent on their 1990 carbon emisisons by 2020
Developing countries must slow the growth of emissions by 15-30 percent by 2020, with support from industrialised nations
Protect tropical forests with a special funding mechanism - forests for climate
Replace dirty fossil fuel energy with renewable energy and energy efficiency
The Effects of Climate Change on Women: Yet Another Inequality
By Ryan McBride
Climate change is an agent which exacerbates gender inequalities, according to Oxfam. Across the globe, women have roles and responsibilities that are different than those of men and in many cases these roles serve as the pillars of their societies. Women are responsible for producing up to 90% of food in rural communities. In many societies women are also responsible for the collection of water and firewood. In addition to this women are usually the primary caregivers to their families.
As global climates shift, changes to precipitation patterns make it very difficult to predict when farmers are to plant their crops. In certain areas dry seasons are now showered with rain whereas rainy seasons can be drier than usual or so wet they wash away entire crops. Generations’ worth of traditional knowledge passed from mothers to daughters is largely unreliable in dealing with these changes. Climate change can also alter insect patterns leading to increases in pests such as locusts or disease carrying insects. As climates change, areas that were once free of disease carrying insects (like mosquitoes and tsetse flies) are now warm enough to allow these insects to flourish. This puts women and children at an increased risk to malaria, dengue fever and African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).
According to Oxfam, of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty, 70 percent are women. This severely limits women’s access to education, especially concerning the causes and effects of climate change. It also limits the resources available to women to prepare for disasters as well as provide relief aid for their families after a disaster. Oxfam also states that, in climate-induced disasters, three to four women usually die for every man who dies, or 85% of deaths.
Some cultures prohibit women from learning how to swim and climb trees. In a disaster situation, particularly floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis, it is often these skills that make the difference between life and death. The (forced) traditional garments for women in some cultures are often very restrictive to movement making it difficult to flee either by running or swimming during natural disasters. It is also customary in some cultures that women must seek permission from a male superior in order to leave their homes. In a disaster situation they may wait for this permission rather than leaving to seek refuge which can lead to their death.
It is the lack of empowerment of women across the globe that results in their feeling the impacts of climate change the hardest. However, there are many organizations that are working to change this. In Ethiopia, Oxfam is working with communities to teach women how to raise livestock. This gives them an income which can be used towards gaining an education and greater control over their own lives. In Kenya, the Green Belt Movement, which was started by Wangari Maathai is an attempt to allow Kenyan women (and men) the opportunity for self determination, equity and environmental sustainability, through the act of planting trees.
Movements like these not only inspire and empower women around the world, they are needed to combat the effects of climate change.
On October 24, join people from all over the world in taking a stand for a safe climate future. The global day of action, a campaign organized by 350.org, has helped local concerned citizens organize over 4000 events in almost every country in the world!
The 350 day of action is named for 350 parts per million, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere that scientists say would be the safe for the climate. (At the moment, we're at 387 parts per million and climbing fast.)Read more about the science behind the number 350.
On October 24th, at each event a photo will be taken of the number 350. The photos from around the world will be handed over to waiting reporters, broadcast to the world’s media on giant screens in New York’s Times Square, and delivered directly to hundreds of world leaders and politicians in the coming weeks.
Europe Sets Ambitious Target : But Is It Enough To Avoid Run Away Climate Change?
Today the European Union announced an ambitious target which will reestablish itself as the world leader in the fight to avert the worst of climate change. Europe has offered to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2050 and by 30% by 2020 if a climate change pact is sealed in Copenhagen in six weeks' time.
"This should be seen as a clear message to the world," said Andreas Carlgren, the Swedish environment minister who chaired the Luxembourg meeting. "We expect to reach an agreement in Copenhagen," he added, after environment ministers from 27 countries finalised a common EU negotiating position.
However, this deal will only be successful if it is agreed to by all international players. Countries that will especially need to be convinced include the US, India, and China. Opposition to major aspects to the plan are also being voiced by Poland. According to Ian Traynor's report in the Guardian, "Poland and other poorer eastern European countries unhappy at being asked to subsidise action in countries such as China and India whose economies are growing strongly. Poland is also leading the dissent on the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS)."
Many climate change scientists and activists think that a reduction of 95% by 2050 may still not be enough to avoid hitting dangerous climatic tipping points.
James Hanson, and many other leading climate scientists, are advocating that a safe level of CO2 atmospheric concentrations is 350 parts per million. (PDF) This number is lower than current atmospheric concentrations, and would suggest a negative growth in emissions. Many scientists are arguing that we need to peak out emissions no later than 2015, and then drastically lower them.
Lester Brown, at the Earth Policy Institute, argues that it is time for Plan B. (PDF) In this report, it is argued that we need to cut emissions by 80% by the year 2020.
Even according to these more aggressive emission cutting policies, there is still a decent chance that we will pass climatic tipping points anyhow. Which only further reiterates a sense of urgency when it comes to developing strong climate policy.
I congratulate the European Union for stepping up and leading the climate change debate, but I am still forced to wonder... will it be enough?
Happy world food day everyone! World Food Day was proclaimed in 1979 by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It marks the date of the founding of FAO in 1945. The aim of the Day is to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
There are many ways in which food security and climate change are interconnected. Climate change does not just raise the temperature by a few degrees. Instead it has many difficult to predict consequences, such as: droughts, erratic rainfall, flooding, extreme weather events, and glacier retreat. All of these things can have a devastating consequences on agriculture and world food security.
How temperature increases affect food security
"For the first time in history, more than one billion people are undernourished worldwide. This is about 100 million more than last year and it means that one in every six persons suffers from hunger every day." states Jacques Diouf, the FAO director general.
The theme of this years World Food Day is "achieving food security in times of crisis." FAO literature is currently defining this crisis primarily in terms of an economic and financial one. But it can be argued that the climate crisis has just as much, if not greater and further reaching, impact on food security as well.
Four ways climate change effects food security
Temperature increase. Higher temperatures lead to heat stress for plants, increasing sterility and lowering overall productivity. Higher temperatures also increase evaporation from plants and soils, increasing water requirements while lowering water availability.
Changing patterns. In many places, growing seasons are changing, ecological niches are shifting, and rainfall is becoming more unpredictable and unreliable both in its timing and its volume. This is leading to greater uncertainty and heightened risks for farmers, and potentially eroding the value of traditional agricultural knowledge such as when to plant particular crops.
Rising sea levels. Rising seas contaminate coastal freshwater aquifers with salt water. Several small island states are already having serious problems with water quality, which is affecting agricultural productivity. Higher seas also make communities more vulnerable to storm surges which can be 5-6 metres high. The storm surge from cyclone Nargis travelled 35 kilometres inland, killing 140,000 people and flooding around 14,400 km, an area one third the size of Switzerland.
Water. The interactions between climate change, water scarcity and declines in agricultural productivity could lead to regional tensions and even open conflict between states already struggling with inadequate water supplies due to rising populations and over-pumping of groundwater.
Dr Brett Harris is Chief Economist for World Vision Australia. This is an edited version of an article which first appeared in Global Future, Edition 3, 2008, a publication of World Vision.
"For the first time in history, more than one billion people are undernourished worldwide. This is about 100 million more than last year and it means that one in every six persons suffers from hunger every day," Jacques Diouf states further. With the effects of climate change likely to be experienced soonest, and most intensely in areas of the world like Africa and Asia - the world's already hungry masses will only have more things to worry about. The poor are hit hardest by climate change and it's effects on food security due to their governments lacking the resources or leadership to prepare and deal with crises.
Some likely impacts of climate change (IPCC 2007)
In the Sahelian region of Africa, warmer and drier conditions have led to a reduced length of growing season with detrimental effects on crops. In southern Africa, longer dry seasons and more uncertain rainfall are prompting adaptation measures.
The progressive acidification of oceans due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide is expected to have negative impacts on marine shell-forming organisms (e.g. corals) and their dependent species.
At lower latitudes, especially seasonally dry and tropical regions, crop productivity is projected to decrease for even small local temperature increases (1–2°C), which would increase the risk of hunger.
Increases in the frequency of droughts and floods are projected to affect local crop production negatively, especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes.
Regional changes in the distribution and production of particular fish species are expected due to continued warming, with adverse effects projected for aquaculture and fisheries.
Africa: By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to an increase of water stress due to climate change. Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries and regions is projected to be severely compromised by climate variability and change. The area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential, particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas, are expected to decrease. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition in the continent. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% by 2020.
Asia: Glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding, and rock avalanches from destabilised slopes, and to affect water resources within the next two to three decades. This will be followed by decreased river flows as the glaciers recede. Freshwater availability in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia is projected to decrease due to climate change which could adversely affect more than a billion people by the 2050s. It is projected that crop yields could increase up to 20% in East and Southeast Asia while they could decrease up to 30% in Central and South Asia by the mid-21st century.
Climate change, and its relation to food security is a topic now being discussed more and more. From the 16th to the 18th of November, there will be World Summit on Food Security held in Rome. Although this conference focuses on the economic aspects of the world hunger problem, the issue of climate change, and how to mitigate its negative effects are also included in the list of challenges to be discussed. In addition, from 1 - 4 of February in Amman, Jordan there will be an International Conference on Food Security and Climate Change in Dry Areas. The objectives of this conference include identifying strategies for adapting to climate change and mitigating its most negative effects, while mobilizing financial and human resources through partnerships to tackle the issue.
If you are interested in hearing more about this issue, this talk from the Open Society Institute, is a great resource. This video, which runs for roughly an hour an a half features several experts in this field discussing the topic of "The Adaptation Imperative—Food Security and Climate Change."