NAIROBI - The world’s poor, who are the least responsible for global warming, will suffer the most from climate change, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told environment ministers from around the world on Monday.
“The degradation of the global environment continues unabated … and the effects of climate change are being felt across the globe,” Ban said in a statement after last week’s toughest warning yet mankind is to blame for global warming.
In comments read on his behalf at the start of a major week-long gathering in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Ban said all countries would feel the adverse impact of climate change.
“But it is the poor, in Africa and developing small island states and elsewhere, who will suffer the most, even though they are the least responsible for global warming.”
Why Africa will be one of the most affected is not secret:
Experts say Africa is the lowest emitter of the greenhouse gases blamed for rising temperatures, but due to its poverty, under-development and geography, has the most to lose under dire predictions of wrenching change in weather patterns.
Some updates are coming this week. The structure of this blog is going to be overhauled a bit. It will include a blogroll of all the fine bloggers who have linked me, left comments, or just passed by.
Also, if you notice, the categories section of my blog includes several countries, which I’m going to organize a bit based on regions, i.e. Iraq, Iran, will go under Middle East, African countries under Africa, and so on. This will make the blog easier to navigate.
Finally, I’m going to add a “news section” to the website, where just links to news items on relevant topics - like women’s health and human rights - will be posted. Reading the blog statistics, I notice that most people that visit my blog based on search engine results (Google, Yahoo!, Altavista) are looking for specific information based on my postings (like the number of victims from natural disasters).
New statistics out today show disasters killed 21,342 people worldwide in 2006, compared with 82,061 the year before. Economic losses caused by natural hazards also fell, to just $19 billion in 2006, compared with $210 billion the year before.
These heartening figures, released by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), are a reflection of what didn’t happen in 2006. No massive temblors like the Kashmir earthquake of 2005 that killed 73,338. And certainly nothing like the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, which left 230,000 dead or missing. Nor were there hurricanes to rival Katrina, Wilma or Rita that together racked up $166 billion in damages in the United States.
That’s the good news - and news that confirms a trend observed since 2000.
“The number of people killed by disasters has been decreasing, if we do not take into account the two mega events: the tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the earthquake in Pakistan,” said Debarati Guha-Sapir from CRED.
The bad news is that even as disasters are claiming fewer lives, the number of people affected by them remains staggeringly high at 134.5 million in 2006. That’s down a bit from 158 million in 2005 (again, a number inflated by the Kashmir quake) but far higher than in decades past.
So what you might say? So the magnitude of disasters come and go. But it is not just as simple as watching the weather forecasts. We need to connect the dots between natural disasters, global warming, poverty, and health & human rights.
Thankfully, the article made them for me!
That said, it’s still people in Africa and Asia who bear the brunt of disasters due to an intrinsic link between poverty and vulnerability to risk - a link that explains why an earthquake that hits Los Angeles, say, is likely to kill far fewer people than a quake of similar magnitude that hits Java or Bam.
That’s because poor countries often lack the resources to mitigate against hazards, whether by setting up early warning systems, protecting livelihoods or building risk-reduction strategies into their development plans. Again the figures bear this out.
Last year the United States was hit by more natural disasters than any country except China (26, compared with China’s 35). But if you rank countries by the number of people killed or affected per 100,000 inhabitants, the U.S. hardly even figures.
By this count, Malawi tops the list with 34,331 per 100,000 people, followed by Burundi (26,778) and Kenya (11,935).
That these three nations are among the poorest countries in the world - and thus among the least able to take the impact of climate change in their stride - is surely no coincidence.
Courtesy of CRED (and from the same article), here’s a breakdown of the world’s 10 deadliest disasters in 2006, followed by a list of countries most hit by disasters and numbers killed or affected per 100,000 inhabitants:
Disaster Country Toll Earthquake (May) Indonesia 5,778 Typhoon Durian (Dec) Philippines 1,399 Landslide (Feb) Philippines 1,112 Heat wave (July) Netherlands 1,000 Heat wave (July) Belgium 940 Typhoon Bilis (July) China 820 Tsunami (July) Indonesia 802 Cold wave (Jan) Ukraine 801 Flash flood (Aug) Ethiopia 498 Typhoon Samoai (Aug) China 373
Natural disasters per country - 2006
China 35 United States 26 Indonesia, Philippines 20 India 17 Afghanistan 13 Vietnam 10 Australia, Burundi, Pakistan 8 Ethiopia, Mexico, Romania 7 Germany 6
Victims (killed or affected) of natural disasters per 100,000 people - 2006
Malawi 34,331 Burundi 26,778 Kenya 11,935 Philippines 9,097 Afghanistan 7,194 China 6,753 Somalia 5,490 Thailand 5,040 Guyana 4,562 Vietnam 3,969
OSLO (Reuters) - World sea levels will keep rising for more than 1,000 years even if governments manage to slow a projected surge in temperatures this century blamed on greenhouse gases, a draft U.N. climate report says.
The study, by a panel of 2,500 scientists who advise the United Nations, also says that dust from volcanic eruptions and air pollution seems to have braked warming in recent decades by reflecting sunlight back into space, scientific sources said.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its report, the most complete overview of climate change science, in Paris on February 2 after a final review. It will guide policy makers combating global warming.
The draft projects more droughts, rains, shrinking Arctic ice and glaciers and rising sea levels to 2100 and cautions that the effects of a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will last far longer.
“Twenty-first century anthropogenic (human) carbon dioxide emissions will contribute to warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium, due to the timescales required for removal of this gas,” the sources quoted the report as saying.
Global warming could exacerbate the world’s rich-poor divide and help to radicalize populations and fan terrorism in the countries worst affected, security and climate experts said on Wednesday.
“We have to reckon with the human propensity for violence,” Sir Crispin Tickell, Britain’s former ambassador to the United Nations, told a London conference on “Climate Change: the Global Security Impact”.
“Violence within and between communities and between nation states, we must accept, could possibly increase, because the precedents are all around.”
He cited Rwanda and Sudan’s Darfur region as two examples where drought and overpopulation, relative to scarce resources, had helped to fuel deadly conflicts.
I have previously discussed how climate change is creating conflict and exarcebating current ones here.
I know, I know - why bother posting this if Bush and his cronies don’t care about climate change? Maybe this will help: Osama bin Laden thinks wonders of global warming:
John Mitchell, chief scientist at Britain’s Met Office, noted al Qaeda had already listed environmental damage among its litany of grievances against the United States.
“You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries,” al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden wrote in a 2002 “letter to the American people.”
Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, said any attempt by countries to build fortress walls to keep out climate change refugees — what he called the “barbarians at the gate” mentality — was doomed to fail.
“If you just take the example of Bangladesh, if 60 million of 140 million people could not survive in Bangladesh yet they were kept there, you would have A) gigantic human suffering and B) progressive very deep radicalization — very, very angry people — and that is not in anybody’s security interest.”
What more do you need to act and tackle climate change?
That it is way harder to fix this than he is making it out to look. Luckily, we also have George Monbiot. From Alternet:
In a recent speech to a standing-room-only audience at the New York University School of Law, Gore declared, “We are moving closer to several ‘tipping points’ that could — within as little as 10 years — make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet’s habitability for human civilization.” The audience cheered wildly. Presumably audiences are not cheered by the prospect of imminent catastrophe. So what is going on here?
“We wish our governments to pretend to act,” he writes. “We get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it. My fear is that the political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this. They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want those targets to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity.”
Austerity? Hold on. Al Gore and the rest of the U.S. environmental movement never utter the word “austerity.” Their word of choice is “opportunity.” The prospect of global warming, they maintain, can serve as a much-needed catalyst to spur us to action. A large dose of political will may be required, but we need not anticipate economic pain. We can stop global warming in its tracks, expand our economy and improve our quality of life. We can, in other words, do good and do quite well. A leading environmentalist, for whom I have a great deal of admiration, summed up his position to an interviewer, “I can’t stand it when people say, ‘Taking action on climate change is going to be extremely difficult.’”
In 10 years time it will be too late to reverse the effects of global warming, a climate change expert warned yesterday.
Scientist Jim Hansen - one of the first to start alarm bells ringing in 1988 - said that unless cuts in pollution started happening within the next decade we would reach the “tipping point” where the damage could not be undone.
He added: “Half the people in the world live within 15 miles of a coastline. A large fraction of the major cities are on coastlines.
“Once you get the process started and well on the way, it’s impossible to prevent it.
“That’s why we need to address the issue before it gets out of control. We just cannot burn all the fossil fuels in the ground.
“If we do, we will end up with a planet with no ice in the Arctic and where warming is so large that it’s going to have a large effect in terms of sea level rises and the extinction of species.”
WASHINGTON: Exxon Mobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in a coordinated effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming, the Union of Concerned Scientists asserted Wednesday.
The report by the science-based nonprofit advocacy group mirrors similar claims by Britain’s leading scientific academy. Last September, The Royal Society wrote the oil company asking it to halt support for groups that “misrepresented the science of climate change.”
Just $16 million? That’s not a lot of money - when was the last time you gave away $16 million?
Exxon Mobil lists on its Web site nearly $133 million in 2005 contributions globally, including $6.8 million for “public information and policy research” distributed to more than 140 think-tanks, universities, foundations, associations and other groups. Some of those have publicly disputed the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
But in September, the company said in response to the Royal Society that it funded groups which research “significant policy issues and promote informed discussion on issues of direct relevance to the company.” It said the groups do not speak for the company.
They just gave them $16 million, but think-thanks like the Heritage foundation (sorry, I’m not going to link to that piece of shit website) don’t speak for Exxon Mobile. Of course not. If you believe that, then I’m a pretty ballet dancer.
In regards to global warming, take my word for this: the end-game is China. What China does (or does not do) is what will shape the rest of the world in the years to come.
China, with its enormous economy, is a net-energy importer. As such, they are making deals hand-over fist with literally anyone who can supply them with energy, even if they are far away from them, i.e. Canadian tar sands.
A great coal rush is under way across China on a scale not seen anywhere since the 19th century.
Its consequences have been detected half a world away in toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung.
Nonetheless, the Chinese plan to build no fewer than 500 new coal-fired power stations, adding to some 2,000, most of them unmodernised, that spew smoke, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.
They have a toxic cloud so big that it can even be seen from space, and what to they do? Build more power plants, specifically coal-powered plants, which are even more toxic. Coal is used because it is cheap and plentiful (thus far that is) but as mentioned it is horribly toxic. It is used because oil is peaking throughout the world, and China - along with the rest of the world - is in a frantic scramble for oil.
China had a hot and disastrous year in 2006, with average temperatures the highest since 1951, state media reported Sunday.
Xinhua News Agency said temperatures were on average 1 degree higher than in normal years. Meteorological officials were quoted as saying there was less rain than normal, down 16 millimeters (half an inch) from an average year.