environment & politics

Some Further Studies

I just wanted to summarise some of what’s going on regarding several recent climate reports. Plenty of studies have been published for the UN Climate Conference in Cancún, and really do deserve sharing. Every day, a new piece of peer-reviewed scientific research seems to roll in with more confirmation of the events (and dire results) so I’ve gathered them here for those who are interested in what’s going on right now.

So, despite the snow in the UK (some people can’t understand that global climate is not the same as local weather – or even the differences between summer and winter), 2010 will almost certainly be one of the three warmest years since 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

The final ranking for 2010 will not become clear until November and December data are available in early 2011, but November global temperatures are similar to those observed in November 2005, suggesting that despite the freezing weather across the UK, 2010 is on track for near record levels. The past 10 years have also been the hottest decade on record, with temperatures for January to October averaging 0.46C above the 1961-90 average, 0.03C above the 2000-09 mean and the highest value yet recorded for a 10-year period. The data were released at the UN climate talks in Cancún.

Not just that, as reported in the Daily Telegraph, for some it’s looking like 2010 was the hottest year on record.

Despite the coldest start to the year in Britain for 30 years and the recent freeze, the world as a whole has been 0.94F (0.52C) warmer than the 30 year average of 57.2F (14C). The national weather service said it was equal with 1998, when an El Nino in the Pacific made the world warmer.

A report by the International Food Policy Research Institute warns us that warming of even one degree by 2050 means hotter and wetter temperatures cutting crop yields.

With a global population of 9 billion forecasted by the middle of the century, the effects of lower crop yields could be devastating – especially if income growth faltered in developing countries, the report warned.

Meanwhile, according to climate experts at Oxford University, climate change will cost a billion people their homes, and:

Up to three billion people could lose access to clean water supplies because global temperatures cannot now be stopped from rising by 4C.

“The main message is that the closer we get to a four-degree rise, the harder it will be to deal with the consequences,” said Dr Mark New, a climate expert at Oxford University.

Just to put things into context, 4 degrees doesn’t sound much, but when global average temperatures were about 5 degrees cooler, we were in an ice age.

Another report in the Daily Telegraph highlights the death-toll from the higher frequency of extreme weather events:

The number of people killed in floods and drought has doubled over the past year, according to aid agencies, that blame at least some of the extreme weather on global warming.

The really important thing here to differentiate is that climate change is not the same as weather events. The change in climate affects weather events, and droughts (caused by the net drying of biosphere) and floods (because in a warming world more water vapour makes it into the atmosphere, then unleashing itself in vast quantities) are the symptoms of a warming climate.

And according to Reuters, the US and China seem to be accusing each other of inaction with regards to climate change.

… the world’s largest economies and top greenhouse gas emitters, have accused each other of doing little to combat global warming in 2010, contributing to deadlock in the U.N. talks among almost 200 nations.

“I think that a success here will only emerge if we can both come to agreement,” said Jonathan Pershing, heading the U.S. delegation at the talks in Cancun.

“We have spent a lot of energy in the past month working on those issues where we disagree and trying to resolve them. My sense is that we have made progress. It remains to be seen how this meeting comes out,” he said.

The important thing here is that these major economies and governments understand that action is required. That’s a big step.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

2 replies on “Some Further Studies”

The United Nations listen to each other and work together? That is unlikely! They are, in my opinion, too self absorbed to see the bigger picture.

I wish you good luck on the climate march tomorrow Mark!

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