Saturday, May 30, 2009
original from:: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/29/1
Climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.
It projects that increasingly severeheatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.
Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year - more than all the present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan's thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year.
Civil unrest may also increase because of weather-related events, the report says: "Four billion people are vulnerable now and 500m are now at extreme risk. Weather-related disasters ... bring hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods. They pose a threat to social and political stability".
If emissions are not brought under control, within 25 years, the report states:
• 310m more people will suffer adverse health consequences related to temperature increases
• 20m more people will fall into poverty
• 75m extra people will be displaced by climate change.
Climate change is expected to have the most severe impact on water supplies . "Shortages in future are likely to threaten food production, reduce sanitation, hinder economic development and damage ecosystems. It causes more violent swings between floods and droughts. Hundreds of millions of people are expected to become water stressed by climate change by the 2030. ".
The study says it is impossible to be certain who will be displaced by 2030, but that tens of millions of people "will be driven from their homelands by weather disasters or gradual environmental degradation. The problem is most severe in Africa, Bangladesh, Egypt, coastal zones and forest areas. ."
The study compares for the first time the number of people affected by climate change in rich and poor countries. Nearly 98% of the people seriously affected, 99% of all deaths from weather-related disasters and 90% of the total economic losses are now borne by developing countries. The populations most at risk it says, are in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, south Asia and the small island states of the Pacific.
But of the 12 countries considered least at risk, including Britain, all but one are industrially developed. Together they have made nearly $72bn available to adapt themselves to climate change but have pledged only $400m to help poor countries. "This is less than one state in Germany is spending on improving its flood defences," says the report.
The study comes as diplomats from 192 countries prepare to meet in Bonn next week for UN climate change talks aimed at reaching a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in December in Copenhagen. "The world is at a crossroads. We can no longer afford to ignore the human impact of climate change. This is a call to the negotiators to come to the most ambitious agreement ever negotiated or to continue to accept mass starvartion, mass sickness and mass migration on an ever growing scale," said Kofi Annan, who launched the report today in London.
Annan blamed politians for the current impasse in the negotiations and widespread ignorance in many countries. "Weak leadership, as evident today, is alarming. If leaders cannot assume responsibility they will fail humanity. Agreement is in the interests of every human being."
Barabra Stocking, head of Oxfam said: "Adaptation efforts need to be scaled up dramatically.The world's poorest are the hardest hit, but they have done the least to cause it.
Nobel peace prizewinner Wangari Maathai, said: "Climate change is life or death. It is the new global battlefield. It is being presented as if it is the problem of the developed world. But it's the developed world that has precipitated global warming."
Calculations for the report are based on data provided by the World Bank, the World Health organisation, the UN, the Potsdam Insitute For Climate Impact Research, and others, including leading insurance companies and Oxfam. However, the authors accept that the estimates are uncertain and could be higher or lower. The paper was reviewed by 10 of the world's leading experts incluing Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, Jeffrey Sachs, of Columbia University and Margareta Wahlström, assistant UN secretary general for disaster risk reduction.
India's annual monsoon rains are expected to remain stagnant for up to five days, the weather department said on its website on Friday afternoon.
The department revised its earlier forecast on Friday morning that the monsoon was not likely to advance in coming 3-4 days. "Numerical weather prediction models indicate that further advance of monsoon is not likely during next 4-5 days," the weather department said in an updated note on its website.
Monsoon rains, which hit the country's mainland on Saturday ahead of normal schedule of June 1, had lost pace after May 25 and there has been no advancement for the previous three days.
India's June-September monsoon rains are a major influence on the farm-dependent economy as two-thirds of Indians dependant on agriculture and related businesses for a living.
Cyclone Ailia was not a strong storm, but its heavy rains and storm surges were enough to swamp the Mouths of the Ganges River in Bangladesh and India. Some islands in the Bay of Bengal and the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans region were inundated and still cut off from relief and rescue workers as of May 29, 2009. Clean drinking water was an acute problem: tidal surges continued to wash salty water inland over damaged levees, and salt water cannot be decontaminated with regular water purification tablets, according to reports from BBC news.
This pair of images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the flooding on May 28, 2009 (top), compared to the conditions on May 11, prior to the storm. Made from a combination of visible, shortwave-, and near-infrared light, the image highlights standing water, which appears blue. Vegetation is neon green, and bare ground is tan. Clouds are light blue or white.
Even prior to the storm, pockets of standing water appear in the Sundarbans and other low-lying areas; the first storms of the rainy season (generally June-September) may have already begun. But a dramatic increase in flooded areas is obvious in the post-storm image, despite the patchy clouds. Distributaries in the Sundarbans are wider and coastal areas of Orissa state (lower left) and West Bengal state (northeast of Orissa) in India were pale blue, rather than the light tan they were in the pre-storm image.
The large images provided above are at MODIS' maximum spatial resolution (level of detail) of 250 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response Team provides twice-daily images of the area in a variety of resolutions and formats, including photo-like natural color.