Humans most likely to have caused extreme weather

Extreme weather events over the past decade have increased and were “very likely” caused by manmade global warming, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change said on Sunday.

The high amount of extremes is not normal

Scientists at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heat waves to global warming. The link between warming and storms was less clear.

“It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming,” said the study.

The past decade was probably the warmest globally for at least a millennium. Last year was the eleventh hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organization said on Friday.

Extreme weather events were devastating in their impacts and affected nearly all regions of the globe.

They included severe floods and record hot summers in Europe; a record number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic in 2005; the hottest Russian summer since 1500 in 2010 and the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history.

Last year alone, the United States suffered 14 weather events which caused losses of over $1 billion each. Continue reading

Raising the profile of water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 Dec 2011

Efforts to establish water as an agenda item in its own right in climate change negotiations are gaining momentum in Durban, South Africa. Water experts say doing this will lead to a greater focus on developing policy, and attract more resources into the water sector through adaptation programmes.

As rainfall patterns change, Africa is facing major crises

“For every one of us, the first thing you use when you wake up in the morning is water, and when we are going to bed, it is water. Yet, it’s taken for granted,” says Chris Moseki, research manager at the Water Research Commission (WRC) in South Africa. WRC is a member of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) – a global alliance of organisations working on water issues.

Access to water is an urgent issue here in the Southern Africa region, where nearly 100 million people lack adequate access to water. Modelling by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa shows the region will become hotter and drier over the next 50 to 100 years, putting farms, industry, domestic water supply and natural ecosystems at risk.

International water experts and policy makers are concerned that planning for changes to water availability is not getting the prominence it deserves. Bai-Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), says they are working to raise the profile of water within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We are saying to the parties, look: we appreciate what you are doing in other sectors, but without addressing water directly, all of that will be in vain,” says Taal. Continue reading

Dead turtles wash up on Australian beaches

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 Aug 2011

WWF has received numerous reports from aboriginal groups on the north-eastern coast of Australia of large numbers of sick, starving and dead turtles washing up on beaches. The reports come following the loss of sea grasses after Cyclone Yasi and floods hit the area back in February.

Five species of marine turtle are classified as endangered or critically endangered

The increase in turtle deaths for April may be more than five times higher this year compared to the same time last year.

“If these numbers are accurate, then this is a shocking development for the Great Barrier Reef​” said WWF’s Conservation on Country Manager Cliff Cobbo. “We urgently need clarification from the Queensland Government on how many turtles are being found dead along the Great Barrier Reef coast”.

Turtle hospitals in Townsville, Queensland are being overwhelmed with sick and starving animals and do not have the resources to handle the number of turtles expected to need emergency care over the next 18 months.

Some local aboriginal groups have been so concerned by what they are seeing they plan to suspend issuing hunting permits within their saltwater country.

CEO of the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Phil Rist, said large numbers of dead turtles and dugongs had been found in recent weeks and that strandings are occurring on a weekly basis. Continue reading

Climate change a threat to countless individuals

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

The right to food, health and shelter is threatened due to global warming, International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said on Monday.

In drought prone areas it is women who have to fend for their families

“Climate change affects the economic and social rights of countless individuals. This includes their rights to food, health and shelter,” she said.

The minister was speaking at a consultative dialogue on Women and Climate Change in Limpopo. She said that as climate change will continue to affect humanity, it was key to safeguard the lives of the people that are adversely affected, which are women.

“As incoming president [of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change], I will strive to ensure the centrality of women in all global fora to advance the multilateral efforts to address climate change, which impacts in a very pernicious manner on women, especially in developing countries,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Women, she said, are the propellers and carriers of development.

“In flood prone regions, it is women who have to deal with the impact. In drought prone areas, it is women who have to fend for their families ensuring that the children are fed, and that the sick and the indigent are taken care of. Continue reading

Climate change is a threat to world security

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 July 2011

Climate change could exponentially increase the scale of natural disasters while at the same time threatening world security, a senior UN official told the UN Security Council Wednesday.

Floods, such as the ones that hit Pakistan, have implications on food markets

Though science cannot yet explain all the reasons behind global warming, “a changing climate is a reality,” and one that effects all sectors of society, said Achim Steiner, director of the UN Environment Program.

Steiner cited a worst-case scenario prediction that temperatures will rise 4 degree Celsius by 2060 while the sea level will rise one meter over the next century.

There are myriad threats already and their numbers will rise, he said, noting droughts like the one currently afflicting Somalia, floods such as the ones that hit Pakistan, and their implications on the food markets.

“The scale of the natural disasters will increase exponentially,” he added.

Two regions of Southern Somalia, hit by a devastating drought, were declared in a state of famine Wednesday by the United Nations, who called it the worst food crisis in Africa in 20 years and have mobilized efforts to stem the situation before it worsens.

“The signs of climate changing, not only is it happening, it is accelerating,” he added.

The famine and rising sea levels “are all threats to peace and security,” said Steiner. The next climate conference will take place in Durban in December and “must be decisive.”

Developed countries must manage their actions but emerging nations must also play their role and cannot be spectators, he urged.

– AFP