Friday, May 29, 2009

New Report on Climate Change Issued

Gray cars by the gray ocean. Sven and I journeyed out today for some fresh air. The beach was almost deserted.
We witnessed a sponge massacre, or rather the aftermath. Bits of sponges littered the shore. It was high tide and the waves carried up seaweed, broken balloons from harbor cruises, plastic cups and other evidence of modern life. Rather discouraging to be reminded of what civilization has done to nature. I thought I would use today’s photos to illustrate a report, gleaned from CNN this morning, discouraging, too, but reprinted, not my custom, in case you missed it: “More than 300 million people are already seriously affected by the gradual warming of the earth and that number is set to double by 2030, the report from the Global Humanitarian Forum warns.
"Climate change is the greatest emerging humanitarian challenge of our time, causing suffering to hundreds of millions of people worldwide," said the forum's president, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In a statement accompanying the report's release in London Friday, Annan said that it gave the world a glimpse of a grim future if Member States fail to reach a "global, effective, fair and binding" outcome on climate change at the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December.

"I hope that all Member States will go to Copenhagen with the political will to sign up to an ambitious agreement to tackle climate change," he said. "As this report shows, the alternative is greater risk of starvation, migration and sickness on a massive scale."

The report's startling numbers are based on calculations that the earth's atmosphere is currently warming by 0.74 degrees Celsius The Global Humanitarian Forum says that temperatures will rise by almost two degrees Celsius, regardless of what's agreed in Copenhagen.

"No matter what," the report concludes, "the suffering documented in this report is only the beginning." A rise of two degrees, it says, "would be catastrophic."

Of the 300,000 lives being lost each year due to climate change, the report finds nine out of 10 are related to "gradual environmental degradation," and that deaths caused by climate-related malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria outnumber direct fatalities from weather-related disasters."

Read the updated article here.