Climate Change is Real

Thanks to extensive research and noticeable changes in weather and storm prevalence, it’s getting harder to turn a blind eye to the reality of climate change. Since the Industrial Age spurred the increasing usage of fossil fuels for energy production, the weather has been warming slowly. In fact, since 1880, the temperature of the earth has increased by 1 degree Celsius.

climate_changeAlthough 72% of media outlets report on global warming with a skeptical air, the overwhelming majority of scientists believe that the extreme weather of the last decade is at least partially caused by global warming. Some examples of climate calamities caused partly by global warming include:

  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Drought in desert countries
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • Tornadoes in the Midwest

These storms, droughts, and floods are causing death and economic issues for people all over the world – many of whom cannot afford to rebuild their lives from the ground up after being wiped out by a tsunami or other disaster.

Evidence also indicates that the face of the Earth is changing because of warming trends. The ice caps of the Arctic are noticeably shrinking, the ice cap of Mt. Kilimanjaro alone has shrunk by 85% in the last hundred years, and the sea levels are rising at the rate of about 3 millimeters per year because of all the melting ice. Climate change is also affecting wildlife – for instance, Arctic polar bears are at risk of losing their environment; the Golden Toad has gone extinct; and the most adaptable species are evolving into new versions capable of withstanding warmer water.

Despite some naysayers with alternative theories about why global temperatures are rising – including the idea that the earth goes through natural temperature cycles every few millennia – the dramatic changes in the earth’s atmospheric makeup suggests humans are to blame. In fact, 97% of scientists agree humans are responsible for climate change. Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels increased 38% because of humans, methane levels have increased 148%, nitrous oxide is up 15% – and the list goes on and on, all because of human-instigated production, manufacturing, and organizations and individuals work hard to promote an Earth-friendly existence, resistance to change is rampant and actions are slow. For instance, while the US Environmental Protection Agency is still working on collecting data to support development of greenhouse gas reduction expectations for businesses, most of their efforts feel more like pre-research than actual change. Other countries have made efforts – such as signing to Kyoto Protocol to reduce their 1990 emission levels by 18% by 2020 – but the only solution will require the whole world band together.

Steps anyone can take to reduce global warming include:

  • Driving a car with good gas mileage, or investing in a hybrid or electric car
  • Switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED
  • Insulating your home and stocking it with energy efficient appliances
  • Recycling
  • Using green power available in your area

Check out the infographic here to see what else the changing climate is affecting

Africa’s water could rescue the continent from climate change

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 Nov 2011

The African continent is the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its dependence on rain-fed agriculture but can harness the potential for hydropower, said Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa on Monday.

Africa currently uses only 10% of its hydropower potential

“The challenge for Africa is to decouple economic and social development from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation to an extent which has no precedent in the developed world,” said Molewa, who is leading the SA’s negotiation team at COP17 in Durban.

Water shortages caused by climate change threaten agriculture and human health in Africa, she said. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted yields from rain-fed agriculture to shrink by half by 2020.

“This will spell famine for many,” she said.

Water shortages have already affected the agriculture and livestock industries in Kenya, she said, and African nations that currently have water surpluses will shift to water scarcity before 2025.

But Africa’s water resources could also rescue the continent from the effects of climate change in the form of renewable energy, she said. The continent currently uses only 10% of its hydropower potential.

“A national, regional and international effort towards unlocking this potential is an example of how African societies could go from being amongst the most vulnerable to become climate resilient,” she said.

Molewa repeated the SA government’s support of the “polluter pays principle”, imploring developed nations to fund green projects in developing nations, since they are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Africa contributes only 4% of global GHG emissions, but SA is responsible for almost half of that.

Molewa also highlighted the Africa Pavilion at COP17, which presents opportunities for green-development projects on the continent.

The effects of climate change on Africa are “unacceptable” and climate-change talks must “produce a credible, fair, equitable and balanced outcome” in the coming weeks.

Source: Business Live

SA aims to boost green economy

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 Nov 2011

South Africa will launch an ambitious project aimed at boosting its “green” economy and reducing the country’s carbon footprint during the United Nations Climate Change Conference starting in Durban on 28 November.

The South African Renewables Initiative (SARi), set to be unveiled at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, will seek to catalyse the growth of a “green” industry through the financing of large-scale renewable generation capacity.

“SARi presents a key element in ensuring that South Africa meets the emissions targets set by President Jacob Zuma who, at COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009, committed South Africa to reducing its emissions trajectory to 34% below business as usual by 2020, and to 42% by 2025,” Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said last week.

An integral part of South Africa’s Industrial Policy Action Plan, SARi will help to develop capacity in related industries by designing a financial solution to encourage the roll-out of large-scale renewable generation capacity.

South Africa will be looking to use its international partnerships to help the country secure funding to enable an ambitious scale-up of renewables.

The launch of the initiative will be accompanied by the announcement of partnerships between the South African government and international governments and Development Finance Institutions to explore possibilities for further developing the renewables industry.

Davies said an initial design for a financing mechanism had been developed, which combined low-cost loans, insurance and other financial instruments with climate funding on a pay-for-performance basis.

“Success in the large-scale development of renewables could realise direct economic benefits of up to 40000 jobs, contribute up to 15% of South Africa’s Copenhagen Commitment, and decarbonise exports by up to 30% in increasingly carbon-sensitive international markets,” Davies said.


SA to beef up climate policy

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 Sep 2011

South Africa will beef up its climate policy to ensure that all government departments responded well to the issue of climate change.

While details were still sketchy on how this would be done, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Tuesday said it was important that departments had a “common” strategy on how to help South Africa respond to global warming, which threatened development in poor countries.

“It is very important that as we host the Climate Change Conference in Durban, that we as a country start to demonstrate that we are serious about climate change and willing to take the issue forward in terms of policy,” Molewa said at a media briefing on Tuesday.

She confirmed that up to 194 participants from different countries will form part of the climate talks scheduled to take place from 28 November – 9 December.

Molewa said South Africa will also be using its position as a host to push for the implementation of several crucial political decisions that were taken at the Cancun round of talks last year. These included finance packages for poor countries and the extension or renewal of the Kyoto Protocol that binds nations to measurable carbon emissions reduction.

A new climate green fund — which Minister in The Presidency: National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel, co-chairs — was agreed upon at Cancun to transfer money from the developed to developing countries to tackle the impacts of global warming, but no figure was put on how much money will go into it.

“We believe that Durban should be the place where we do something about all those decisions …on what to do with Kyoto and issues of adaptation, technology transfer and mitigation,” Molewa said.

The South African government, meanwhile, will be hosting a series of events during the build-up to the conference to get its people involved and educated about climate change. Campaigns will include educational road shows and community meetings in all the nine provinces in the coming weeks.

Officials had been holding talks with African ministers in order to present a united front at the international meeting.

Source: BuaNews

Lack of fire management increases wildfires

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 09 Sep 2011

Countries need to pay more attention to fire management on lands bordering forests in order to prevent the 95 percent of wildfires that originate from human activities in forests and adjacent areas, an international partnership for forests warned today.

Agricultural fires can spread quickly to nearby forests

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which consists of 14 international organizations and secretariats, issued its warning as many countries are experiencing an increasing incidence in the frequency and size of wildfires due to lack of fire management policies and impacts of climate change.

“In many cases the fire starts on agricultural or pasture lands and spreads quickly on nearby forests,” said Pieter van Lierop, an FAO expert on forest fire management. “When people continue to burn rubbish and agricultural waste, clear lands by burning vegetation for agricultural or development purposes, or burn pastures to allow grass to sustain its high productivity, there is always a danger of large-scale vegetation and forest fires particularly under dry and hot weather conditions,” he added. “There are practical things that can be done to reduce the risks of fire escaping from agricultural areas. Continue reading