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Annual $2 trillion damage to oceans

Greenhouse gases are likely to result in annual costs of nearly $2 trillion in damage to the oceans by 2100, according to a new Swedish study.

Rising sea levels will boost the risk of flood damage around the coastlines of Africa. Photo: Dulue Mbachu/IRIN

The estimate by the Stockholm Environment Institute is based on the assumption that climate-altering carbon emissions continue their upward spiral without a pause.

Warmer seas will lead to greater acidification and oxygen loss, hitting fisheries and coral reefs, it warns.

Rising sea levels and storms will boost the risk of flood damage, especially around the coastlines of Africa and Asia, it adds.

Projecting forward using a business-as-usual scenario, the Earth’s global temperature will rise by four degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, says the report, “Valuing the Ocean.”

On this basis, the cost in 2050 will be $428 billion annually, or 0.25 percent of global domestic product (GDP).

By 2100, the cost would rise to $1,979 billion, or 0.37 percent of output.

If emissions take a lower track, and warming is limited to 2.2 C (4 F), the cost in 2050 would be $105 billion, or 0.06 percent of worldwide GDP, rising to $612 billion, or 0.11 percent, by 2100.

“This is not a scaremongering forecast,” says the report. Continue reading Annual $2 trillion damage to oceans

Deforestation could double unless we act now

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 Nov 2011

It’s possible to reduce deforestation to near zero by 2020, but delaying action to save forests by even a decade means double the area of forests lost by 2030, says WWF.

Our forests are disappearing while we sort out how to save them

According to the latest chapter of WWF’s Living Forests Report, “Forests and Climate”, the world stands to lose 55.5 million hectares of forest between now and 2020, even if we take urgent action to reduce deforestation. If the world delays the necessary steps, we stand to lose 124.7 million hectares by 2030, according to the report.

These forests are not only vital to the well-being of people and wildlife, but also to the global climate, because deforestation releases greenhouse gases, says WWF. The report finds that reducing deforestation to near zero would also bring global emissions from forest destruction close to zero, but delaying this reduction until 2030 would mean sacrificing an additional 69 million hectares of forest worldwide and at least an additional 24Gt CO2 into the atmosphere, not including losses from forest degradation or the carbon stored below ground. Currently, up to 20 per cent of global carbon emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation – more than the total emissions from the global transportation sector.

The report further finds that new plantations are not the solution, as they will not begin to sequester enough carbon to offset emissions from deforestation until 2040 at the earliest.

“Our forests are disappearing while we sort out how to save them,” said Bruce Cabarle, Leader of WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative. “This continued loss of forests will have dire consequences for our global climate, for nature and for the livelihoods of billions of people. And we know we can’t plant our way out of the problem. The message is clear – we must act now to protect the world’s forests for good or we’ll lose them forever.” Continue reading Deforestation could double unless we act now

Polar bears at risk over melting ice

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 19 July 2011

Polar bear cubs that swam long distances had a 45% mortality rate

Polar bear cubs forced to swim long distances with their mothers as their icy Arctic habitat melts appear to have a higher mortality rate than cubs that didn’t have to swim as far, a new study reports.

Polar bears hunt, feed and give birth on ice or on land, and are not naturally aquatic creatures. Previous reports have noted individual animals swimming hundreds of kilometres to reach ice platforms or land, but this is one of the first to show these swims pose a greater risk to polar bear young.

“Climate change is pulling the sea ice out from under polar bears’ feet, forcing some to swim longer distances to find food and habitat,” said Geoff York of World Wildlife Fund, a co-author of the study.

York said this was the first time these long swims had been quantitatively measured, filling a gap in the historical background on this iconic Arctic species.

To gather data, researchers used satellites and tracked 68 polar bear females equipped with GPS collars over six years, from 2004 to 2009, to find occasions when these bears swam more than 50km at a time. Continue reading Polar bears at risk over melting ice

Forests play a critical role in Earth’s carbon balance

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 18 July 2011

Until now, scientists were uncertain about how much and where in the world terrestrial carbon is being stored. In the July 14 issue of Science Express, scientists report that, between 1990 and 2007, the […]

Fast growing cities will suffer more from climate change

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

Many fastest-growing cities, especially those in the developing world, stand to suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change, a new study reported on Thursday.

In cities, prolonged hot weather can exacerbate existing levels of air pollution, causing health problems.

Few urban areas are taking the necessary steps to protect their residents – billions of people around the globe – from such likely events as heat waves and rising seas, according to research to appear in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability and European Planning Studies.

They are also failing to cut their own emissions of climate-warming greenhouse gases, the study found.

“Climate change is a deeply local issue and poses profound threats to the growing cities of the world,” study author Patricia Romero Lankao, a sociologist specialising in climate change and urban development, said in a statement.

Because half of Earth’s population is in cities, scientists like Romero Lankao are focusing on the potential climate change impacts in these areas.

Air pollution

The mere fact that they are cities, with densely packed construction, places their populations at greater risk from natural disasters, including those expected to be made worse by climate change. Continue reading Fast growing cities will suffer more from climate change