Saturday, June 06, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Rolph Payet explained the human failures which have led to climate change

From: 7th Space Interactive

Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Rolph Payet explained the human failures which have led to climate change and outlined his blueprint to overcome them at a special lecture in London.
At the event on 28 May he also launched and praised the new postgraduate distance learning module Climate Change and Development, which is run by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
Payet, from the Seychelles, was the lead author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and he shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize jointly awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore. He is also a University of London External System alumnus.
During the lecture organised by the University of London External System, the London International Development Centre (LIDC) and the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP) at SOAS, Payet set out his ambitious hopes for the UN climate change conference in December. He wants the Copenhagen package to include:
- Agreeing on mechanisms that would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases to 350-400 parts per million.
- Applying the polluter pays principle.
- Valuing the ecosystem in investment projects.
- Promoting sustainable green jobs.
The Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of the Seychelles emphasised the benefits of adopting multidisciplinary and integrated approaches towards climate change and development. He explained how climate change mitigation and adaptation are not mutually exclusive and how strategies such as coastal tree planting can benefit both mitigation and adaption efforts. Payet said he saw the current economic crisis as an "opportunity" to reassess the existing global economy and he has "hope" for the future.
His lecture, delivered at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, charted the "mistakes" which have led to climate change and are posing threats to small island states like the Seychelles. He spoke of the root causes of carbon emissions, including:
- Not paying the real environmental costs of human actions.
- Over-consumption.
- Failure to drive technological innovation.
- Lack of political solutions.
Payet illustrated the gross distortions in global consumption patterns: how the richest 20 per cent of the world's population consume 86 per cent of goods and services and 58 per cent of all energy supplies. His lecture also referred to the Icarus effect - how people do not react until they fly too close to the sun. Another warning referred to the prediction that sea level rise could cause the mass migration of 602 million people as land disappears and becomes uninhabitable. Payet added: "The issue of climate change is a wake-up call. Climate change has shown that actions in your homes have an impact upon me. We need to move away from thinking in silos and have to admit to our weaknesses before we move forward."
The new Climate Change and Development distance learning module, run by CeDEP, was also launched at the event entitled Countdown to Copenhagen: What Next for Climate Change and International Development? Payet said the module would help students and professionals to approach the complex issue of climate change and development in a multidisciplinary way and encourage them to ask the right questions. The module provides a foundational understanding of core natural and social science processes and of technical and policy issues, and will be available worldwide from February 2010.
Notes to editors
The London International Development Centre (LIDC) is a collaborative project which brings together social and natural scientists from across the University of London's six Bloomsbury Colleges (Birkbeck, Institute of Education, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Royal Veterinary College, School of Oriental and African Studies, and The School of Pharmacy).
LIDC aims to:
- Develop high quality interdisciplinary research between the Colleges and other parties.
- Develop new and innovative teaching programmes to support development goals.
- Inform national and international policies on development through linking research, policy and practice.
- Build capacity in low- and middle-income countries to address the needs of higher education and research institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and governments.
To find out more about LIDC, its activities and events visit: www.lidc.org.uk
For further information contact:
Guy Collender
Communications Officer
London International Development Centre
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7958 8260
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 3073 8303
Binda Rai
Head of Global Media and Public Relations
University of London External System
Tel: +44 (0)20 7862 8545 (office)
+44 (0)7920 476483 (mobile)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Climate Change: Ghana’s sea level to rise by 2020

From: Ghana Business News

An environmental expert, Dr Steve Duadze, has indicated that there is the likelihood of a rise in the sea level in Ghana by 2020.

He has, therefore, advised people in the coastal areas to be mindful of such natural phe­nomenon and take appropriate measures to check its effect.

Delivering a public lecture on the theme, “Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies for Ghana”, Dr Duadze said the quan­tity of dry land of the earth surface was likely to reduce by the year 2020 as a result of the increasing sea level.

The lecture was organised by the Depart­ment of Environment and Development Studies of the Central University College.

Dr Duadze, who is also a senior lecturer at the department, advised residents along coastal towns such as Keta, Ada, Cape Coast to adopt appropriate measures to mitigate the effect of the rising sea level on human life.

According to him, if the current sea-level rise was not checked, agricultural activities in those areas might be adversely affected.

Dr Duadze said sea-level rise of 2.1mm per year had been observed over the last 30 years, and indications were that the sea would register a rise of 5.8cm by 2020, 16.5cm by 2050 and 34.5cm by 2080.

Dr Duadze again predicted a decrease in the rainfall pattern of the country on an average of 2.8 per cent by the year 2020, 10.9 per cent by 2050 and 18.6 per cent by 2080.

He explained that increased global tempera­ture would cause the melting of glaciers, lead­ing to a significant rise in average sea level and exposing low-lying coastal cities and cities located by tidal rivers to frequent and severe floods.

Dr Duadze cautioned again that if the rate of fossil fuel consumption and deforestation did not change or reduce, warming trends were like­ly to continue, and global temperature might continue to increase between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius.

“Averagely, it is estimated that temperature will continue to rise by about 0.6 by 2020, 2.0 by 2050 and 3.9 by 2080,” he said.

On health, Dr Duadze mentioned that guinea worm and diarrhoeal cases, including cholera, were likely to increase with reduced rainfall and increased temperature.

He stressed that though increase in air tem­perature and reduced rainfall were indications of a decline in the number of malarial cases, it may only be shifting from one location to another.

Dr Duadze said agriculture was likely to be the heaviest hit by the global climate change as a result of decline in soil fertility due to unpre­dictable changes in rainfall pattern and temper­ature.

Increased incidence of pest attacks resulting from increase in temperature, loss of cropland due to erosion and desertification, coastal ero­sion destroying some valuable coastal agricul­tural land and increased demand for irrigation were just a few of the expected impacts of cli­mate change.

After painting a very gloomy picture of the effect of climate change on the various sectors of the economy he gave the assurance that there was solution only if the government was pre­pared to put in place effective policies to curb the situation.

Dr Duadze recommended the harvesting and storage of water in a more improved and simple surface facility such as ponds, tanks, dugout and small reservoirs for use in the dry months of the year.

He again proposed the damming of rivers and streams for a more sustainable water availability.

He said the provision and design of suitable water management and drainage facilities in irrigated crop fields, fish farms, residential areas and homes must be of prime concern to the government.

Dr Duadze also called for a more holistic approach to fish farming problem through close co-operation with managers of forestry, water and other resources to ensure adequate management practices of the environment.

He said in order to eradicate poverty and create a healthy population, more fish storage facilities should be established to reduce post harvest losses, retain wholesomeness and ensure stable pricing on the market.

Source: Daily Graphic

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Erosion leaves Kutubdia lighthouse to sink or swim

Maruf Mallick
bdnews24.com environment correspondent
Dhaka, June 2 (bdnews24.com)—The once-treasured lighthouse on Kutubdia island is sinking due to rising sea levels and unabated erosion that has caused half the island to disappear in a matter of decades.
The once 60 sq km island has been reduced to a mere 25 sq km since the 1960's, says Coast Trust executive director Rezaul Karim Chowdhury.
The lighthouse built in British times is no more an integral part of the island as erosion has left the structure, now separated from the island, to sink or swim in the choppy seas.
The long-abandoned lighthouse, still of historical importance, is now barely visible during the high tide.
Meanwhile, islanders are losing their centuries old homesteads, while rising population density—as the island's more than 100,000 inhabitants are forced to occupy less and less land—gives rise to social and economic unrest.
Low-lying Bangladesh's vulnerability to global climate change and rising sea levels is the main reason for the sad state of Kutubdia island and its lighthouse, experts say.
Coast Trust, a non-government organisation working in the area, says analysis of satellite images has confirmed that great chunks of land have been engulfed by the Bay in recent past decades.
SAARC Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC) also records the sea levels rising along the coast of Bangladesh.
An SMRC study pointed out that the sea level at Hiron Point in the Sundarbans, at the island of Char Chhenga and at Cox's Bazaar are registering significantly increased tidal heights.
SMRC's senior research officer Mizanur Rahman told bdnews24.com that with higher seas, salinity and coastal erosion was also increasing.
Farming, one of the two main livelihoods on the island—the other being fishing—is gradually being abandoned due to shrinking arable land, while people are made homeless refugees.
Fisherman Brajo Hari Das, 48, has been forced to take refuge in a temporary shelter on the embankment after his home was washed away by the sea.
"We are not receiving any governmental services, no support at all," he told bdnews24.com.
Though not aware of the causes of sea level rise, 27 year-old Taposhi, also made a refugee by erosion, said the menace poses most threat during the months May-August.
Dr Md Jafar, of Chittagong University's marine science institute, told bdnews24.com, "The tidal highs are increasing. The erosion is exacerbated with the advent of monsoon."
"It's not only Kutubdia, but Hatia, Bhola and St Martin's island are also threatened by erosion, with the south-eastern coast experiencing the worst effects," he said.
bdnews24.com/mrf/aj/wz/1640h.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Greenland ice could fuel severe U.S. sea level rise

Reuters

Wed May 27, 2009 5:36pm EDT

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York, Boston and other cities on North America's northeast coast could face a rise in sea level this century that would exceed forecasts for the rest of the planet if Greenland's ice sheet keeps melting as fast as it is now, researchers said on Wednesday.

Sea levels off the northeast coast of North America could rise by 12 to 20 inches more than other coastal areas if the Greenland glacier-melt continues to accelerate at its present pace, the researchers reported.

This is because the current rate of ice-melting in Greenland could send so much fresh water into the salty north Atlantic Ocean that it could change the vast ocean circulation pattern sometimes called the conveyor belt. Scientists call this pattern the meridional overturning circulation.

"If the Greenland melt continues to accelerate, we could see significant impacts this century on the northeast U.S. coast from the resulting sea level rise," said Aixie Hu, lead author of an article on the subject in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"Major northeastern cities are directly in the path of the greatest rise," said Hu, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

This is an even bleaker assessment than an earlier study indicated. A March article in the journal Nature Geoscience said warmer water temperatures could shift ocean currents so as to raise sea levels off the U.S. northeast coast by about 8 inches more than the average global sea level rise.

NOT LIKELY BUT POSSIBLE

However, this earlier research did not include the impact of melting Greenland ice, which would speed changes in ocean circulation and send 4 to 12 more inches of water toward northeastern North America, on top of the average global sea level rise.

That could put residents of New York, Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia, at risk since these cities and others lie close to sea level now, Hu said in answer to e-mailed questions.

Not only would coastal residents be at direct risk from flooding but drainage systems would suffer as salty ocean water would move back into river deltas, changing the biological environment, Hu wrote in an e-mail.

"In a flooding zone, because the higher sea level may impede the function of the drainage system, the future flood may become more severe," he wrote. If cities are prone to subsidence -- where the ground sinks -- higher sea levels would also make that problem worse, according to Hu.

The ice that covers much of Greenland is melting faster now due to global climate change, raising world sea levels. But sea level does not rise evenly around the globe. Sea level in the North Atlantic is now 28 inches lower than in the North Pacific, because the Atlantic has a dense, compact layer of deep, cold water that the Pacific lacks.

Greenland's ice-melt rate has increased by 7 percent a year since 1996 but Hu said it is unlikely to continue. Still, he and his co-authors ran computer simulations that included this fast-paced melting, along with more moderate scenarios with ice-melt increasing by 3 percent or 1 percent annually.

Hu said it was hard to say whether the 7 percent annual increase could go on for the next 50 years but said it was possible since the current rate of increase in climate-warming carbon dioxide is higher than the high end of projections by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

(Editing by Bill Trott)