Early Warning Systems for the Coming Climate Storm

Chile—The fury of Chaitén volcano - nat geoBy Stephen Leahy

GENEVA, Aug 31 (IPS)

Climate change is here. The challenge in Geneva this week is to find ways to help the world cope with a climate that will have more and worse extremes in terms of temperatures, floods, and storms.

More than 2,500 experts and policy-makers from 150 countries are attending the Aug. 31-Sep. 4 World Climate Conference to discuss how to improve weather forecasting and long-range seasonal weather projections, especially to help poor nations in areas such as agriculture.

“Until now, the way that we deliver climate information to some sectors has been ad hoc. What we need is a formal system that all people can trust to access vital information that can save their lives and protect property and economies,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary- general of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), which is convening the World Climate Conference this week in Geneva.

The WMO has proposed that a global climate services system be created to boost observations and research for monitoring the climate and new information tools that will provide sector- and regional-specific products and services, Jarraud told IPS.

The first two “World Climate Conferences” in 1979 and 1990 were organised by the WMO and played the key roles in the creation of the U.N. climate secretariat, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This “Global Framework” system could help reduce losses caused by extreme weather and climate events such as heat waves, sandstorms, cyclones, drought and floods which will become more frequent and more intense as the climate continues to warm, he said.

“Extreme weather events and changing climatic conditions affect all of us, frequently resulting in humanitarian disasters and heavy losses,” said Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz.

For full article:  CLIMATE CHANGE: Early Warning Systems for the Coming Storm.

Drowning the Oceans in Plastic Trash (Pacific Garbage Patch)

plastic trash - pacific gyre By Stephen Leahy

UPDATE: The “Pacific Garbage Patch” is really a “plastic soup” where the plastic is distributed throughout the water column in area more than twice the size of Texas. See here for more

[FYI: I’m an independent journalist who supports his family and the public interest writing articles about important environmental issues. ]

Wired 06.05.04

Marine trash, mainly plastic, is killing more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles each year, said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a statement.

Plastic bags, bottle tops and polystyrene foam coffee cups are often found in the stomachs of dead sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles and others. The implications have many at the conference concerned. Last April, Dutch scientists released a report on litter in the North Sea and found that fulmars, a type of seagull, had an average of 30 pieces of plastic in their stomachs.

In the sea, big pieces of plastic look like jellyfish or squid, while small pieces look like fish eggs, says Bill Macdonald, vice president of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, a Long Beach, California-based nonprofit environmental organization.

Macdonald, who is also an underwater filmmaker, said he has seen albatross parents fly huge distances to feed their young a deadly diet of plastic bottle caps, lighters and light sticks.

“The sheer volumes of plastic in oceans are staggering,” he said. In recent years Algalita researchers have sampled a huge area in the middle of the North Pacific, and found six pounds of plastic for every pound of algae.

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2020 Climate Deadline Is the Crucial “Litmus Test”

Chile—The fury of Chaitén volcano - nat geo

The atmosphere and the climate is a public good, a commons, and can’t be protected by the private sector.”

— Marianne Haug, Oxford Institute for Energy

By Stephen Leahy

VIENNA, Jun 29 2009 (IPS)

“So who here thinks there will be a meaningful deal in Copenhagen?”

Few of the more than 600 energy ministers, officials and experts from 80 countries attending the Vienna Energy Conference raised their hands in response to the conference moderator’s question about the final round of climate negotiations this December in Copenhagen.

“I don’t think there will be agreement on an emissions cap,” said Andre Amado, Brazil’s vice-minister for energy, science and technology.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels must peak between 2015 and 2020 and then decline to prevent dangerous, irreversible climate change, scientists have warned. A strong international agreement on emissions targets for both the industrialised and developing world is widely believed to be the only way to ensure emissions peak and then decline.

“There will be agreement on technology transfer and reducing barriers for technology transfers,” to assist developing countries in cutting their emissions and adapting to the changing climate, Amado told participants last week in Austria’s capital city.

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Umweltjournalist — German Translations of My IPS Articles

Berlin Olympic Stadium 2007By popular request — yes there have been many requests — I will be posting my 2008-09 Inter Press News Service (IPS) articles that have been translated in German by professional translators (not bablefish or some other software). The 20 or so articles will be posted over the next couple of weeks on this new site: Stephen Leahy — Umweltjournalist

Please pass the link on to any one who might be interested.

It’s diverse world of species, ideas and languages, so I have also posted selected articles in various languages on these sites so that people can read them in their native language whenever possible.

I can only write in English, and even then that’s always a struggle. Note not all of my articles are translated into all languages.

Auf Wiedersehen, Stephen






Desperately Seeking Leadership on Climate

penguin palm tree

Civil society will have to provide unrelenting leadership if  global carbon emissions are to peak in less than 10 years and go ‘negative’, experts say.

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 15 2009 (IPS)

Global emissions of carbon dioxide must reach a peak in less than 10 years and then begin a rapid decline to nearly zero by 2050 to avoid catastrophic disruption to the world’s climate, according to a new report.

Emissions of carbon dioxide will actually need to “go negative” – with more being absorbed than emitted – during the second half of this century, according to “State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World” released by the U.S.-based Worldwatch Institute this week.

“2009 is a pivotal year to deal with climate change,” said Christopher Flavin, president of well-respected Worldwatch Institute (WI), a U.S.-based environmental think tank.

“Humanity will face grave danger if we don’t move forward now,” Flavin told IPS.

Climate change is happening faster and with larger impacts than previously predicted, concludes the 26th annual “State of the World” report, devoted entirely to the challenges and opportunities of global climate change.

Even an additional warming of 2 degrees Celsius poses unacceptable risks to key natural and human systems, warned climate scientist W.L. Hare, one of the report’s 47 contributors.

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