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

Rising sea levels force nation’s relocation

In what could be the world’s first climate-induced migration of modern times, Anote Tong, the Kiribati president, said he was in talks with Fiji’s military government to buy up to 5,000 acres of freehold land on which his countrymen could be housed.

None of the coral atolls rises more than a few feet above sea level

Some of Kiribati’s 32 pancake-flat coral atolls, which straddle the equator over 1,350,000 square miles of ocean, are already disappearing beneath the waves.

Most of its 113,000 people are crammed on to Tarawa, the administrative centre, a chain of islets which curve in a horseshoe shape around a lagoon.

“This is the last resort, there’s no way out of this one,” Mr Tong said.

“Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages.”

Mr Tong said the plan would be to send a trickle of skilled workers first, so they could merge more easily with the Fijian population and make a positive contribution to that country’s economy.

“We don’t want 100,000 people from Kiribati coming to Fiji in one go,” he told the state-run Fiji One television channel.

“They need to find employment, not as refugees but as immigrant people with skills to offer, people who have a place in the community, people who will not be seen as second-class citizens. Continue reading

Climate change is lapping at our feet

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 07 Sep 2011

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that visiting Pacific nations threatened by rising seas had reinforced his belief that climate change was real and posed a genuine threat to humanity.

The island of Kiribati is on the front line of climate change. Photograph: Richard Vogel/AP

Ban stopped in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati on his way to New Zealand for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and described the two small nations as “on the front line” of the climate change issue.

He said Kiribati, where some villagers have been forced to relocate as the rising ocean encroaches on their land, dramatically illustrated climate change’s impact on the planet.

“For those who believe climate change is about some distant future, I invite them to visit Kiribati or the Solomon Islands and most of the Pacific island countries,” he said in a speech at Auckland University.

“Climate change is not about tomorrow. It is lapping at our feet — quite literally in Kiribati and elsewhere.”

Ban said that in his role as UN leader he had seen the impact of climate change first-hand in areas of the globe ranging from Antarctica to the Amazon Basin and Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.

He said scientific evidence backed up his view. 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

Water warning for agriculture

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

Climate change will have major impacts on the availability of water for growing food and on crop productivity in the decades to come, warns a new FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] report.

Loss of glaciers will eventually impact the amount of surface water available for agriculture

‘Climate Change, Water, and Food Security’ is a comprehensive survey of existing scientific knowledge on the anticipated consequences of climate change for water use in agriculture.

These include reductions in river runoff and aquifer recharges in the Mediterranean and the semi-arid areas of the Americas, Australia and southern Africa — regions that are already water-stressed. In Asia, large areas of irrigated land that rely on snowmelt and mountain glaciers for water will also be affected, while heavily populated river deltas are at risk from a combination of reduced water flows, increased salinity, and rising sea levels.

Additional impacts described in the report:

An acceleration of the world’s hydrological cycle is anticipated as rising temperatures increase the rate of evaporation from land and sea. Rainfall will increase in the tropics and higher latitudes, but decrease in already dry semi-arid to mid-arid latitudes and in the interior of large continents. A greater frequency in droughts and floods will need to be planned for but already, water scarce areas of the world are expected to become drier and hotter.

Even though estimates of groundwater recharge under climate change cannot be made with any certainty, the increasing frequency of drought can be expected to encourage further development of available groundwater to buffer the production risk for farmers. Continue reading