Paraphrase of the Day: We’re like a two year old playing with fire when it comes to deforestation of the Amazon and global climate change.
We’re messing around with something dangerous and don’t really understand what will happen. — William Laurence, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama.
Ailments Surge as Ozone Hole Widens
The increase in skin cancer from sun exposure is alarming, scientists say. Residents of southern Chile and Argentina are advised to take extra care in protecting themselves from solar rays this spring season in the southern hemisphere.
By Stephen Leahy
TORONTO, Nov 11’06 (Tierramérica) – Skin cancer, eye lesions and other infections are on the rise, a reminder that the Antarctic ozone hole continues to be a serious problem, especially for southern Argentina and Chile, where ultraviolet radiation during the spring months increases 25 percent.
The ozone layer covers the entire planet at an altitude of between 15 and 30 kilometres, and protects living organisms from the sun’s harmful rays.
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the dramatic thinning of the ozone layer over the Antarctic — an annual phenomenon — sprawled to an average of 29.5 million square kilometres Sep. 21 to Sep. 30.
“This year’s Antarctic ozone ‘hole’ is the largest on record,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“Governments need to reduce and shut down the remaining sources of ozone-depleting chemicals,” Steiner said in a statement.
The rates of sunburn increase during the southern hemisphere springtime, when the Antarctic ozone hole is large enough to extend over the city of Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile, according to studies conducted by Chile’s Universidad de Magallanes.
My More Recent Ozone Articles:
By Stephen Leahy
BROOKLIN, Canada, Nov 10 (IPS) – Three hundred and eighty parts per million. That’s the current concentration of carbon dioxide going into your lungs with each breath. Our parents or grandparents’ first breaths at birth contained about 290 parts per million (ppm), as it was for everyone born before them.
What does it really mean when in the not so distant future our children or grandchildren will inhale 450, perhaps 500 ppm or more of carbon dioxide?
Evidently, breathing in a bit more carbon dioxide (CO2) isn’t bad for human health — oxygen at sea level is 200,000 ppm, after all — but the changing atmosphere is having profound impacts on the climate of the planet.
The changing climate has many consequences, among them the potential loss of ancient ruins in Thailand, coral reefs in Belize, 13th century mosques in the Sahara, the Cape Floral Kingdom in South Africa and other irreplaceable natural and historic sites around the world, experts reported this week.
“Climate changes are impacting on all aspects of human and natural systems, including both cultural and natural World Heritage properties, “said Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, which hosts the World Heritage Centre.
By Stephen Leahy
BROOKLIN, Canada, Nov 6 (IPS) – Climate change will devastate Africa without substantial help from the world community, according to a new report released at the opening of a major U.N. climate change conference in Nairobi, Kenya Monday.
“Africa is the least responsible for climate change but will be hit the hardest,” said Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
New scientific data shows that Africa is more vulnerable to the impacts than previously thought, Nuttall told IPS from Nairobi.
Seventy million people and 30 percent of Africa’s coastal infrastructure face the risk of coastal flooding by 2080 linked to rising sea levels, the report found. More than one-third of the habitats that support African wildlife could be lost. Crop yields will fall due to warmer temperatures and more intense droughts.
By 2025, some 480 million people in Africa could be living in water-scarce or water-stressed areas.
“If Africa’s weather gets any more fickle, then they are in very deep trouble,” said Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace International. Sawyer is one of 6,000 people in Nairobi attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
“I am not afraid of being killed,” says Egyptian journalist Abeer Al-Askary
Honouring the Best Who Cover the Worst
By Stephen Leahy
TORONTO, Nov 3 (IPS) – “I am not afraid of being killed,” says Egyptian journalist Abeer Al-Askary, who has been repeatedly threatened and beaten by Egyptian government security forces.
“The journey towards full freedom of expression is long and it is difficult,” Al-Askary told IPS.
Al-Askary was in Toronto Wednesday to receive one of this year’s three International Press Freedom Awards from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE).
Colombian print and television journalist Hollman Morris and Pakistani writer and photographer Hayat Ullah Khan were the other award recipients.
Khan’s family will receive the 3,000-dollar award because he was abducted on Dec. 5, 2005. His body was found in North Waziristan near Afghanistan on Jun. 16 this year. He had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Pakistani intelligence services are suspected since Khan was kidnapped four days after reporting on and releasing photos about a missile attack on North Waziristan by what may have been a U.S. drone.
*Photo Courtesy of Canadian Journalist for Free Expression
By Stephen Leahy Nov 2 ’06 (IPS) – Every single commercial fishery in the world will be wiped before 2050 and the oceans may never recover if over-fishing continues at its current rate, a four-year scientific investigation has found.
“By the time my nine-year-old son is my age, there would be no wild seafood left,” said Emmett Duffy, a scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences in the United States.
In this grim, not-to-far-off future, not only will there be no fish to eat, humans will also lose the vital services oceans provide, including processing wastes, cleaning beaches, controlling flooding and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Continue reading