RIO+20 – action?

There is a lot of behind the scenes activity going on in preparation for the Rio+ 20 Earth Summit, so perhaps we should widen the participation and do something ourselves.Here are some ideas from  the TckTckTck newsletter  :

It’s only a few short weeks before the Rio Earth Summit, where world leaders will gather in Brazil to decide the future of our planet. But what kind of future will it be? Will it be one where resources like food, water and energy are scarce? Or will it be a world with clean air, clean water, affordable resources and abundant jobs for everyone?
Will the future we want include a global agreement to reduce fossil fuel emissions and protect the most vulnerable nations from the severe impacts of climate change? We believe there is a way forward, but it requires bold action without delay. More than ever, it is time for our leaders to lead.
Together with our partners, the TckTckTck team has worked hard to create opportunities for you to participate in Rio+20 and to let the world’s leaders know about the Future We Want. Wherever you are in the world right now, here are a few ways you can make your voice heard in advance of this historic gathering:
  • A  Date with History:  After a global search with hundreds of video entries and thousands of online votes, a diverse jury selected 17-year-old Brittany Trilford of Wellington, New Zealand to deliver a three minute speech at the Rio Earth Summit. Follow her journey to Rio and send her a message of support. Send a Message >>
  • Elders + Youngers:  The Elders — esteemed thought leaders including Desmond Tutu, Gro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Mary Robinson — have joined four young activists to discuss new ways of taking on the most urgent issues facing our world today.  Join the discussion >>
  • Stop Polluter Payouts:  One thing is certain — unless we stop government aid to wealthy fossil fuel corporations (an estimated $630 Billion in 2011 alone) and start providing desperately needed funds for accessible, clean energy we will never achieve a sustainable future. 750,000 people worldwide have signed the petition to end these subsidies. Add Your Name >>
  • Our Future Earth:  A collaborative initiative sponsored by TckTckTck in cooperation with over 20 NGO’s from around the world, Our Future Earth provides slideshows on the core issues around sustainable development — Food, Water, Energy, Jobs — and ways you can take action on these key issues. Explore Now >>
  • Rio+20 News Hub: > The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) officially begins on 20 June, but there are many events leading up to the summit and now you can follow all the latest news on the road to Rio and beyond. Read More >>

World Development Report 2012 – Gender Equality and Development.

The lives of girls and women have changed dramatically over the past quarter century. The pace of change has been astonishing in some areas, but in others, progress toward gender equality has been limited—even in developed countries.

This year’s World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development argues that gender equality is a core development objective in its own right. It is also smart economics. Greater gender equality can enhance productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions more representative.

The Report also focuses on four priority areas for policy going forward: (i) reducing excess female mortality and closing education gaps where they remain, (ii) improving access to economic opportunities for women (iii) increasing women’s voice and agency in the household and in society and (iv) limiting the reproduction of gender inequality across generations.

The  Complete Report can be downloaded below, or can be selectively downloaded, chapter by chapter.

World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development  (19MB, pdf) I Issuu

Main Messages (multilingual)

English | Español | Français | عربي | Русский | Português | 中文

Overview (multilingual)

English | Español | Français | عربي Русский | Português | 中文


A guide to the Report (1.0MB, pdf)

Download by Chapter:

The Report has nine chapters in three parts.

Part I Taking stock of gender equality

Part 1:Taking stock of gender equality—presents the facts that will then provide the foundation for the rest of the Report. It combines existing and new data to document changes in key dimensions of gender equality over the past quarter century and across regions and countries. Its main message is that very rapid and, in some cases, unprecedented progress has been made in some dimensions of gender equality (chapter 1), but that it has not reached all women or been uniform across all dimensions of gender equality (chapter 2).

Chapter 1: A Wave of progress (913KB, pdf)
Chapter 2: The persistence of gender inequality (1.2MB, pdf)
Spread 1: Women’s pathways to empowerment: Do all roads lead to Rome? (219KB, pdf)

Part II What has driven progress? What impedes it?

The contrast between the patterns and trends described in the first two chapters of the Report prompts one to ask what explains the progress or lack of it. Part 2—What has driven progress? What impedes it?—constitutes the analytical core of the Report. It presents the conceptual framework and uses it to examine the factors that have fostered change and the constraints that have slowed progress. The analysis focuses on gender differences in education and health (chapter 3), agency (chapter 4), and access to economic opportunities (chapter 5)—discussing the roles of economic growth, households, markets, and institutions in determining outcomes in these three spheres. Part 2 concludes with a discussion of the impact of globalization on gender inequality, paying attention to the opportunities and challenges created by new economic and social trends (chapter 6). The analysis in these four chapters leads to the identification of four priority areas for action: reducing gender gaps in human capital endowments, promoting higher access to economic opportunities among women, closing gender gaps in household and societal voice, and limiting the intergenerational reproduction of gender inequality.

Chapter 3: Education and health: Where do gender differences really matter? (4.7MB, pdf)
Chapter 4: Promoting women’s agency (3.0MB, pdf)
Spread 2: The decline of the breadwinner: Men in the 21st century (175KB, pdf)
Chapter 5: Gender differences in employment and why they matter (4.9MB, pdf)
Chapter 6: Globalization’s impact on gender equality: What’s happened and what’s needed (1.0MB, pdf)
Spread 3: Changing ages, changing bodies, changing times—Adolescent boys and girls (177KB.pdf)

Part III The role of and potential for public action

Part 3—The role and potential for public action—presents policy recommendations, examines the political economy of reforms for gender equality, and proposes a global agenda for action. The discussion starts with a detailed description of policy options addressing the four priority areas, complemented with concrete illustrations of successful interventions in different contexts (chapter 7). An examination of the political economy of gender reforms follows, with an emphasis on the issues that distinguish reform in this area from other types of redistributive or equality-enhancing reforms (chapter 8). Global action on gender equality should focus on complementing country efforts on the four priority areas identified in the Report (chapter 9).

Chapter 7: Public action for gender equality (1.0MB, pdf)
Chapter 8: The political economy of gender reform (1.1MB, pdf)
Chapter 9: A global agenda for greater gender equality (522KB, pdf)

Youth – time for action? International Youth Day – Friday 12th August 2011.

The events in the UK during the last week has not only disgusted many in Britain, but with the worldwide spread of connected media -the whole world holds up young people in Britain as figures of shame.

We all know it was a ‘handful’ of young disaffected youth that were to blame, yet the media seems only interested in a sensational and negative view of young people. Not many newspapers get sold when the main headline is ‘Boy scout helps old lady to cross the road!’.

Well , there is plenty of good news to do with young people and the  recent INEE newsletter spells out what has been going on during the UN International Year of Youth.

International Youth Day, this Friday, August 12, marks the culmination of the UN International Year of Youth. The focus of the International Year was to advance the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society, and was kicked off by 27 Heads of UN Entities reaffirming the World Programme of Action for Youth.

The World Programme of Action for Youth, which was initially developed in 1985 during the first International Year of Youth, provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people. While progress has certainly been made in some of the areas outlined in the Programme, much remains to be done, particularly for youth affected by crisis.

All sectors of society are encouraged to work in partnership with youth and youth organisations to better understand their needs and concerns, and to recognise the significant contributions that they can and do make to society. With this in mind we have seen a strong momentum building in the area of inter-agency coordination on youth and within the INEE Adolescents and Youth Task Team.

UPDATES: Inter-Agency Coordination on Youth

Recent international events – including the November 2010 INEE Policy Roundtable on education for youth affected by crisis and a January inter-agency symposium on engaging youth in conflict affected areas – have built momentum for increasing collaboration among relief and development organizations to ensure coherent, responsible and relevant programming for youth in disaster- and conflict-affected situations.

In response, INEE undertook a mapping exercise in March and April on behalf of itself and colleagues such as the Center for Peace Building International, the International Rescue Committee, Search for Common Ground and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Findings indicated that increased collaboration could produce many benefits including: enhanced commitment (particularly at higher political and organizational levels); increased funding for and better financing of youth programs; more coordination and less duplication; incorporating youth issues more substantively in the humanitarian and development architecture, such as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s cluster system; more effective programming; and institutionalized mechanisms for engaging youth.

To further these ends, many of the agencies involved in the mapping have since come together to form the core of a new informal youth coordination group that others have joined as well. The group has developed an action plan with activities to undertake together and approximately 30 individuals representing around 20 agencies – such as INEE, Open Society Foundation, Plan, Search for Common Ground, UNFPA, Women’s Refugee Commission – have agreed to participate. If you’d like to get involved with the work of the informal youth coordination group, please contact L. Randolph Carter from the Center for Peace Building International at

As its first activity, the group organized a side event to the UN High Level Meeting on Youth on 25 July. Panelists from the side event discussed the need for cross-sectoral engagement and interagency collaboration and the need for a champion of youth issues as a way to begin discussions at higher policy levels.

SURVEY: Inter-agency Survey on Youth

As its next activity, the informal youth coordination group is organizing an inter-agency survey process to engage young people in emergencies, post-conflict, and post-disaster situations for the purpose of informing collective humanitarian action. The group hopes to reach 30,000 young people through the survey.

If you would like to get involved with the development and implementation of the survey, please contact L. Randolph Carter at


UPDATES: INEE Adolescents and Youth Task Team

The INEE Adolescents and Youth Task Team has capitalized on the recent momentum around youth issues. It has reorganized with new conveners and has new activities underway.

AYTT co-convenership:Alongside continuing co-convener Nicolas Servas from Refugee Education Trust (RET), INEE would like to welcome Josh Chaffin (Women’s Refugee Commission), Anna Seeger (GIZ) and Kerstin Tebbe (INEE) as new AYTT co-conveners. INEE would like to thank the previous conveners – Jenny Perlman Robinson, Naseem Awl and Marian Hodgkin – for their contributions and commitment.

AYTT Action Plan: The AYTT has also created a new action plan and updated tasks for the next 12 months. Based on recommendations put forth from the Policy Roundtable in November 2010, there are four broad categories for action:

  1. advocacy and the building the evidence base to make the case for education for youth;
  2. knowledge management and technical capacity to equip all actors;
  3. resources for all to increase funding for post-primary education;
  4. and inter-agency and inter-sectoral coordination to work together to holistically meet the needs of youth affected by crisis.

AYTT Advocacy Brief: The AYTT advocacy brief on ‘Education for Youth Affected by Crisis: Trends, Challenges and Ways Forward’ is available here.

AYTT webpage: The AYTT webpage on the INEE website has also undergone some changes to reflect the new leadership and momentum of the group. Please view the website here for more information on the past, current and future activities of the group.

If you are interested in getting involved with the work of the AYTT, please

From the website on the International Year of Youth:

Welcome to the International Year of Youth (IYY)

“Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

 On 18 December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolutionA/RES/64/134 proclaiming the year commencing on 12 August 2010 as the International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. The Year will coincide with the 25th anniversary of the first International Youth Year in 1985 on the theme Participation, Development and Peace. The resolution A/RES/64/134 is available in all United Nations Official Languages: English | Français | Español | Русский | عربي | 汉语

If you are holding an event in celebration of the International Year of Youth (IYY) and would like to register it on our calendar of events, please visit this link:

The Brochure of the Year provides an overview of the importance of the International Year for young people. Everyone is invited to promote the ideals of peace, freedom, progress and solidarity towards the promotion of youth development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The Brochure is available in all official UN languages under Links and Resources on top of this page.

 Join the Change Your World campaign for IYY and International Youth Day on 12 August 2011

 International Year of Youth: Culmination Celebration, 11 August 2011

 High Level Meeting on Youth, UN General Assembly Hall, New York, 25-26 July 2011
Photos |  Video of the meeting

 Private Sector Kit to Working With Youth (PDF)

 Check out the webpage of our UN Youth Champion Monique Coleman and her World Tour Diaries

 International Year of Youth Briefing Sessions

 United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development

 Global Launch of the International Year of Youth, 12 August 2010

Further information about International Youth Day includes this article from  the Ecoleader’s Blog

“Good Night Earth” (free eBook) – Celebrating International Youth Day

Posted on August 12, 2011 by 

(Source: United Nations)

Since the current generation of Planet Earth’s leaders and consumers got us to where we are today, the poem reminds us of simpler times to appreciate Mother Nature each day and night. By appreciating and enjoying Nature with our youth, we can work together  to preserve the circle of life which sustains us.

As our youth mature to adulthood, we can pave the road for the young trailblazers to help us solve some of the world’s toughest energy and environmental issues. They will be able to learn from our mistakes and join us to be part of a solution for a greener future: to change our world.

As UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon states, “ ‘Change Our World’ is more than the theme for this year’s International Youth Day; it is an injunction that should inspire young people at all times…. Young people are gifted with open minds and a keen awareness of emerging trends, and are bringing their energy, ideas and courage to some of the most complex and important challenges facing the human family….And they are often the leading proponents of sustainability and green lifestyles.”

In summary, Ban Ki-moon declares: “To them I say: you have the opportunity to change our world. Seize it.”

Note: if you sign up to this blog   , you can receive a free copy of the eBook “Good Night Earth” (a children’s poem), to celebrate United Nations International Youth Day.

Some useful fact sheets for those involved with young people

Fact Sheets

EARTH DAY 2011 – 22nd April 2011

April 22nd marked Earth Day 2011 – check out the website to see how you can get involved.

Athletes for the Earth™: Bringing the voices of Olympic and professional athletes to the environmental movement, Athletes for the Earth™ has a proven track record of illustrating the interaction of athletes with their environment and connecting popular athletic activities with environmental stewardship.  Participating athlete/celebs include Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Demong, Olympic Bronze Medalist Andrew Weibrecht, World Champion Freeskier and founder of the Save Our Snow Foundation Alison Gannett, Boston Bruins Defenseman Andrew Ference, Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Aaron Peirsol, and NFL linebacker Dhani Jones.

The Canopy Project: In 2010, Earth Day Network planted over 1 million trees in 16 countries under the Avatar Home Tree Initiative. In 2011, EDN will continue that effort with another 1 million trees in large-scale, sponsor‐supported tree-planting projects in partnership with non‐profit organizations throughout the world. Locations where reforestation is most urgently needed include Haiti, Brazil, Mexico and urban areas of the US.  Help us green our future, one million trees at a time.

Women and the Green Economy (WAGE): To accelerate and provide the new thinking and creative power for a global post-carbon economy, Earth Day Network is engaging women business, government and NGO leaders in its “Women and the Green Economy” (WAGE™) campaign. Our goal is to create a policy agenda for Rio+20 and relevant generate national initiatives that will promote the green economy, secure educational and job training opportunities for women and channel green investment to benefit women.

Arts for the Earth: Arts for the Earth is an innovative education program developed to teach sustainability and environmental education through museum and arts community networks.

Cop15 – Copenhagen conference – climate and attitude change

Maris Kassabian 10

After all the fuss, the conference has started , and remarkably positively.

Are we interested?

Due to the range of self interest groups there are a number of alternative interpretations of the scientific evidence. During the last few days we have seen the results of the Commonwealth meeting in Trinidad and Tobago – a wholehearted yes to global action on issues to do with climate change. Of course the commonweath of countries include many small island states who are immediately in danger due to a rise in sea levels. Some active polluters would also like to put a different spin on science,suggesting that temperatures are actually going down and the fuss is just political not scientific. Our job is to cut through the obvious bias and find out as much as we can before coming to some conclusions.

Commonwealth nations representing one-third of the world’s population threw their weight on Saturday behind accelerating efforts to clinch an “operationally binding” U.N. climate deal in Copenhagen next month.

Leaders of the 53-nation Commonwealth meeting in Trinidad and Tobago used their summit to bolster a diplomatic offensive seeking wide consensus on how to fight global warmingbefore December 7-18 U.N. climate talks in the Danish capital.

“The clock is ticking to Copenhagen … we believe that the political goodwill and resolve exists to secure a comprehensive agreement at Copenhagen,” Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told a news conference in Port of Spain.

The Commonwealth Climate Change Declaration pledged the group’s backing for Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in his efforts to secure wide attendance and commitment from world leaders at the Copenhagen climate talks.

“We pledge our continued support to the leaders-driven process … to deliver a comprehensive, substantial and operationally binding agreement in Copenhagen leading towards a full legally binding outcome no later than 2010,” the Port of Spain declaration said.

Tackling the thorny issue of funding for poor nations’ efforts to fight climate change and global warming, developed countries in the Commonwealth led by Britain backed an initiative to establish a Copenhagen Launch Fund, starting in 2010 and building to $10 billion (6 billion pounds) annually by 2012.

Reflecting debate that has dogged the road to Copenhagen, developing states said much more money needed to be committed by rich nations to help poorer countries counter global warming and adapt to the pollution-reducing requirements of a climate deal.

Will Cop15  be a case of missed opportunities by leaders who should know better?

Get daily updates from earthwire e.g.

Climate pledges ‘not enough for deal’, says EU
EurActiv | 30 Nov 2009
Pledges made so far by governments to cut greenhouse gases are not enough for an effective pact to fight climate change, European Commission President Jos’ Manuel Barroso said on Sunday (29 November).
EU Emission Trading SchemeClimate ChangeSouth Africa: Zuma Calls for Binding Emission Reduction Targets | 30 Nov 2009
President Jacob Zuma has during a bilateral meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for world leaders to commit to legally binding emission reduction targets at the upcoming climate change summit in Copenhagen.
Climate Change and DevelopmentClimate Change ImpactsClimate Change

Did the Kyoto protocol make a difference?

The debate is hotting up…

Check the youtube channel on Cop15

and the youth climate debate

Perhaps we need to keep an open mind and start learning more about what the issues are for us personally, for our local environment,for our country and last but not least, the planet and all those who will need to live on the planet for the foreseeable future.

Rodrigues -Indian Ocean

While working on Rodrigues island (Mauritius) I was discussing with some young people about their hopes and fears for the future. We were doing this as part of a larger research study where several countries were sharing ideas about what concerned young people about their future and what action should be taken. Out of all the places only primary school students from Rodrigues said they were concerned about rising sea levels. Of course they were the only ones who lived near sea level and who lived on an island small enough to be totally engulfed by an increase in seal level.

Ten years later,and more news is coming out about Pacific islanders and Maldive inhabitants anxiously watching their coasts disappear and desperately asking the world’ s polluters to give them a break.

Whatever the reality of the situation , to do nothing should not be an option for any of us. We can learn more , understand more,ask difficult questions and perhaps take some action. During the next two weeks I will try like many others to ensure that more information is available.

Lets start with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

[UNEP’s Work > Science > Climate Change Science Compendium ]

Climate Change Science Compendium

UNEP’s Climate Change Science Compendium is an annual snapshot of how the science has been evolving since the publication of the IPCC’s landmark fourth assessment.

One of the many sobering conclusions is that:

The growth in carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry has exceeded even the most fossil-fuel intensive scenario developed by the IPCC at the end of the 1990s. Global emissions were growing by 1.1 percent each year from 1990-1999 and this accelerated to 3.5 percent per year from 2000-2007.”

Click on the images below to read the chapters’ abstracts or click here to download the full report.

earth systems
earths ecosystems
earth's ice
earth's oceans

eco management

Transfer of climate technologies

This report contains ideas and proposals on the elements contained in paragraph 1 of the Bali Action Plan, focusing on technology. It was originally submitted by UNEP to the UNFCCC in December 2008 as an input to the deliberations of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) under the title “Thoughts Concerning Technical Assistance and Capacity Building to Support the Transfer of Climate Technologies: Possible activities and their potential impact.

Indigenous voices speak:

And what about “the Truth about Climate Change”:

and some animation…

From the COP 15 website:

Some predictions from the Ministry of Climate and Energy of Denmark

Predicting the consequences of global warming is one of the really difficult tasks for the world’s climate researchers. Firstly, because the natural processes that cause precipitation, storms, increases in sea level and other expected effects of global warming are dependent on many different factors. Secondly, because it is difficult to predict the size of the emissions of greenhouse gases in the coming decades, as this is determined to a great extent by political decisions and technological breakthroughs.

Many of the effects of global warming have been well-documented, and observations from real life are very much consistent with earlier predictions. It is the precise extent that is difficult to predict. Among the effects that can be predicted are:

More droughts and more flooding:

When the weather gets warmer, evaporation from both land and sea increases. This can cause drought in areas of the world where the increased evaporation is not compensated for by more precipitation. The extra water vapor in the atmosphere has to fall again as extra precipitation, which can cause flooding other places in the world.

Less ice and snow:

Glaciers are shrinking rapidly at present. The trend is for the ice to melt faster than estimated in the IPCC’s latest report. In areas that are dependent on melt water from mountain areas, this can cause drought and a lack of drinking water. According to the IPCC, up to a sixth of the world’s population lives in areas that will be affected by this.

More extreme weather incidents:

The warmer climate will most probably cause more heatwaves, more cases of heavy rainfall and also possibly an increase in the number and/or severity of storms.

Rising sea level:

The sea level rises for two reasons. Partly because of the melting ice and snow, and partly because of the thermal expansion of the sea. Thermal expansion takes a long time, but even an increase in temperature of two degrees Celsius is expected, in due time, to cause a rise in the water level of almost a metre.

In order to get an idea of the extent of the consequences, researchers typically work with scenarios that show various possible developments. Other scenarios are being described by people such as economists and planners:

Ranging from business as usual to “a real deal”, Björn Stigson, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, sees six very different possible outcomes of the UN conference on climate change to be held in Copenhagen this December.

Mr. Stigson’s views, first presented earlier this summer, are highlighted as an expert group under the US National Academies of Sciences releases a new video on the process ahead. His six scenarios are:

1. “A real deal”: the US and China provide the driver for a new, ambitious and comprehensive agreement.

2. “Business as usual”: the various countries follow current national targets.

3. A limited deal: headed by for example the Group of Eight (G8) a deal outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is found.

4. A mere prolonging of the present agreement, the Kyoto Protocol.

5. A stretching of the Copenhagen conference (COP15) into 2010.

6. “Window dressing”: a grand declaration but no real deal.

As the only non-American, Björn Stigson is a member of the expert group “America’s Climate Choices” under the US National Academies of Sciences.


GreeningIT – APC on ICTs, Climate Change & Environmental Sustainability

As a network promoting local community sustainable development, promoting the development and use of ICTs has been always closely linked with issues related to environmental sustainability. APC members have been implementing projects ranging from monitoring environmental degradation, to natural disaster and accident reporting, to the use of ICTs in managing energy resources more efficiently to research on low-power computing, alternative energy sources and e-waste management in developing countries. In 2008 these efforts led to a new APC-wide GreeningIT initiative that aims to address two critical challenges: How national ICT policy environments address ICTs, environmental sustainability and climate change; and How ICTs can be used more sustainably by ICTD practitioners, civil society organisations and service providers?

MuriloHidekiAshiguti 11

Understanding 350 -Climate change – what can we do?

Blog Action Day.Understanding 350 -Climate change – what  can we do?


As educators, trainers and facilitators we have an obligation to provide young people with the skills  not only to survive well in the world but to have the choice to make  an active contribution to reduce the heavy impact we are making on the health of the planet.


Awareness is not enough -so teaching young people the ‘facts’ may not be enough, they also need to develop the skills of :

  1. self awareness leading to personal action, initially on behalf of self
  2. confidence in expressing own views
  3. being assertive without being aggressive
  4. assessing media reporting – distinguishing fact from bias
  5. problem solving
  6. empathy and understanding a range of perspectives on the same issue
  7. taking action on behalf of others

Of course, this does not happen in one classroom but approaches to learning have to be community wide so that adults affirm and support young people’s actions.

There is plenty of information around but just to reiterate :

About 350…

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.


Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.


and a little bit more about global warming:

Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Global Warming

There are a number of widely held misconceptions about climate change, and unfortunately, these are reflected in some of the educational materials available on the web. It is therefore crucial for teachers to educate themselves and their students with accurate information and be careful not to reinforce common but incorrect notions.


#1 Global warming is caused primarily by carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas.

Certain gases that trap heat are building up in Earth’s atmosphere. The primary culprit is carbon dioxide, released from burning coal, oil and natural gas in power plants, cars, factories, etc. (and to a lesser extent when forests are cleared). The second is methane, released from rice paddies, both ends of cows, rotting garbage in landfills, mining operations, and gas pipelines. Third are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and similar chemicals, which are also implicated in the separate problem of ozone depletion (see #5 below). Nitrous oxide (from fertilizers and other chemicals) is fourth.

#2 Earth’s average temperature has risen about 1 degree F in the past 100 years and is projected to rise another 3 to 10 degrees F in the next 100 years.
While Earth’s climate has changed naturally throughout time, the current rate of change due to human activity is unprecedented during at least the last 10,000 years. The projected range of temperature rise is wide because it includes a variety of possible future conditions, such as whether or not we control greenhouse gas emissions and different ways the climate system might respond. Temperatures over the US are expected to rise more than over the globe as a whole because land areas closer to the poles are projected to warm faster than those nearer the equator.

#3 There is scientific consensus that global warming is real, is caused by human activities, and presents serious challenges.
Scientists working on this issue report that the observed global warming cannot be explained by natural variations such as changes in the sun’s output or volcanic eruptions. The most authoritative source of information is the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which draws upon the collective wisdom of many hundreds of scientists from around the world. The IPCC projects global temperature increases of 3 to 10 degrees F in the next 100 years and says that human activity is the cause of most of the observed and projected warming.

#4 There’s a difference between weather and climate.
Weather refers to the conditions at one particular time and place, and can change from hour to hour, day to day, and season to season. Climate, on the other hand, refers to the long-term average pattern of weather in a place. Long-term data are needed to determine changes in climate, and such data indicate that Earth’s climate has been warming at a rapid rate since the start of intensive use of coal and oil in the late 1800s.


#5 The ozone hole does not cause global warming.
Ozone depletion is a different problem, caused mainly by CFCs (like Freon) once used in refrigerators and air conditioners. In the past, CFCs were also used in aerosol spray cans, but that use was banned in the US in 1978. CFCs deplete the stratospheric ozone layer that protects life on Earth from excess ultraviolet light that can cause skin cancer and cataracts in humans and other damage to plants and animals. An international agreement has phased out most uses of CFCs but the ozone layer is only just beginning to recover, partly because these chemicals remain in the atmosphere for a long time. (Although ozone depletion is not the cause of global warming, there are a number of connections between the two. For example, many ozone-depleting compounds are also greenhouse gases. Some of the compounds now replacing CFCs in order to protect ozone are also greenhouse gases. And ozone itself is a greenhouse gas. In addition, while greenhouse gas build-up causes temperatures close to Earth’s surface to rise, it cause temperatures higher up, in the stratosphere, to fall. This stratospheric cooling speeds ozone depletion, delaying the recovery of the ozone hole.)

#6 Global warming will have significant impacts on people and nature.
As temperatures continue to rise, precipitation is projected to come more frequently in the form of heavy downpours. We can probably expect more extreme wet and dry conditions. In the western US, where snowpack provides free storage of most of the water supply, reduced snowpack will make less water available in summer. Coastal areas will become more vulnerable to storm surges as sea level rises. Plant and animal species will migrate or disappear in response to changes in climate; New England may lose its lobsters and maple trees as they move north into Canada. Natural ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangrove swamps, arctic tundra, and alpine meadows are especially vulnerable and may disappear entirely in some areas. While global warming will have impacts on natural and human systems all around the world, the largest impacts will be on many natural ecosystems and on people who live in developing countries and have few resources and little ability to adapt. On the positive side, warmer winters will reduce cold-related stresses and growing seasons will lengthen. And there will be tradeoffs in some areas, such as less skiing but more hiking; and fewer killing frosts but more bugs.


#7 Sea level has already risen due to warming and is projected to rise much more.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that only if the polar ice caps melt will sea level rise. In fact, average sea level around the world has already risen 4 to 8 inches in the past 100 years due to global warming and is expected to rise another 4 to 35 inches (with a best guess of around 19 inches) by 2100. The primary reason for this rise is that water expands as it warms. The second reason is that glaciers all over the world are melting, and when land-based ice melts, the water runs to the sea and increases its level. Thousands of small islands are threatened by the projected sea-level rise for the 21st century, as are low-lying coastal areas such as southern Florida. Of course, if there is any significant melting of the polar ice sheets, the additional rise in sea level would be enormous (measured in feet not inches). This is projected to occur on a time scale of millennia rather than centuries.

#8 Saving energy and developing alternative energy sources would help.
Each of us can reduce our contribution to global warming by using less greenhouse-gas-producing energy: driving less, choosing fuel efficient cars and appliances (like refrigerators and water heaters), and using solar energy where feasible for water and space heat. We can encourage our political and business leaders to institute policies that will save energy and develop alternative energy sources that do not release carbon dioxide. We can preserve existing forests and plant new ones. But even if we take aggressive action now, we cannot completely prevent climate change because once carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere, it remains there for about a century, and the climate system takes a long time to respond to changes. But our actions now and in the coming decades will have enormous implications for future generations.

#9 An international agreement known as the Kyoto Protocol has been negotiated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the US is not participating in it.
Because of its high energy consumption, the US has long emitted more carbon dioxide than any other country. Because carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for about 120 years, it accumulates, becomes equally distributed around the world, and has global effects. Thus, while using large amounts of energy to achieve economic growth, the US and other wealthy nations have unintentionally burdened the rest of the world with a long-term problem. And many negative impacts of climate change are likely to be more severe for poorer countries that lack the resources to adapt.

#10 Protecting the world’s climate by stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will require enormous reductions in current emissions.
Even if ratified, the Kyoto Protocol in its present form is only a start and would not be nearly enough to stabilize climate. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions would have to be reduced to less than one third of current levels to stabilize atmospheric concentrations. This would require a major transformation of the energy sector. A mix of new and existing energy technologies will be needed to achieve this, including large increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Researchers are also developing technology to capture and bury carbon dioxide thousands of feet underground. Major increases in public and private research and development are needed to make the necessary technologies available as rapidly and economically as possible.

But the most significant reason for the controversy is that some special interests have mounted an active campaign to raise doubts and create confusion about this issue. For legitimate and other reasons, a very small number of scientists raise questions about whether warming has or will occur. When they do, special interests work hard to amplify and distribute the views of these “contrarians” in order to create confusion among the press, policymakers and public and give the impression that there is still a major scientific debate about the reality and causes of climate change. (Note: not all fossil fuel companies are implicated in this disinformation campaign. Some, in fact, have acknowledged the scientific realities and are taking steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions [see a list of such companies at the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change]).


You can get up to speed on climate change issues quickly and efficiently at this site from the US Environmental Protection Agency. “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) is a good place to begin. Another good section, “In the News,” offers brief summaries of the latest developments in climate science and policy and provides links for further details. “Publications” provides links to authoritative reports from the top sources. “Outreach” offers a variety of very useful fact sheets (basic to advanced) to get you and your students started, as well as brochures that deal with particular aspects of the subject, such as “Climate Change and Birds” and “Climate Change and Public Lands.” One fact sheet, “Straight Talk on Global Warming,” deals with some of the most common misunderstandings and misrepresentations about the issue.

The “Outreach” section also includes publications that deal with policies and technological strategies for reducing human-induced climate change. Links to online tools are provided for calculating emissions reductions from various strategies. These tools can easily form the basis of classroom activities such as calculating carbon dioxide emissions reductions from walking to school instead of being driven, thus helping students relate personally to this global scale issue. The glossary is quite extensive and fairly technical and is a great resource for teachers and more advanced high school students.

A much simpler and far less comprehensive glossary for younger students can be found at EPA’s Global Warming Kids Page. Elementary and Middle School students will find this page an accessible place to begin. It includes simple explanations of the issues and characterizes scientists as “climate detectives” searching for clues in ice cores, tree rings and satellite data. It also provides links and games to appeal to younger students.


This is an excellent resource for information on climate change from the United Nations, World Meteorological Organization, and five other international agencies. The 63-page guide (downloads in pdf) is clearly written in plain English, and offers comprehensive information on the science of global climate change, potential impacts, adaptation and mitigation strategies, and policies. This policy emphasis – what the world is doing about climate change – sets this material apart. Data charts, including greenhouse gas emissions and their sources, are another useful feature. This thorough guide was updated in the summer of 2001 with information from the latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading authority on the subject. Note: International units are used in this guide, so take this opportunity to familiarize your students with converting degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit and metric measurements to English ones (e.g., meters to feet).


The Pew Center on Global Climate Change is an independent, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information and innovative solutions to addressing climate change. Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and other sources, the Center produces reports by leading experts on climate change science, economics, policies, and solutions. It has also enlisted dozens of major companies in an effort to use the power of the marketplace to address climate change. The website offers an excellent set of resources that are useful for teachers and more advanced students, from the full text of the Center’s reports, to current articles and editorials, to lists of sites for more information.


The UCS has produced a set of teaching materials designed to accompany “Global Warming: Early Warning Signs”- a science-based world map depicting local and regional consequences of global climate change. The map can be found at While UCS and the other organizations that produced the map are advocacy groups that call for policy actions on climate change, the lesson plans in the UCS Curriculum Guide are scientifically accurate, pedagogically sound, and do not reflect a bias. Rather, they encourage students to collect and analyze data and draw their own conclusions.

The 30-page Curriculum Guide is geared towards grades 9-12, but individual exercises are adaptable to other grade levels. Each activity is structured to include an initial “Engagement” exercise, one or more steps of a student “Exploration” project, and ideas for extended study. The activities align with National Learning Standards for Science, Geography, Social Studies, Language Arts, Environmental Education, and Technology, and the specific standards addressed by each activity are identified.

The web resources suggested for teacher and student use are authoritative and first rate.

Four activities are presented:
Climate Change in My City: Students use an historical climate index to analyze climate change at local, regional, and global scales. 
Oral History Project: Students interview older residents in the community about climate changes during their lifetime and compare the results to a climate change index that is based on historical temperature measurements. 
Climate Change and Disease: Students research the relationship between hosts, parasites, and vectors for common vector-borne diseases and evaluate how climate change could affect the spread of disease. 
Climate Change and Ecosystems: Students research the interdependencies among plants and animals in an ecosystem and explore how climate change might affect those interdependencies and the ecosystem as a whole.

Some information from the Global Environmental Facility GEF:

Climate Change Risks could cost Developing countries up to 19% of GDP by 2030

14 September 2009 | A report from the Economics of Climate Adaptation Working Group released today indicates that climate risks could cost nations up to 19% of their GDP by 2030, with developing countries most vulnerable. The report concludes, however, that cost effective adaptation measures already exist that can prevent between 40 and 68 percent of the expected economic loss with even higher levels of prevention possible in highly target geographies.

GEF projects in climate change help developing countries and economies in transition to contribute to the overall objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “to achieve […] stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner” (from the text of the UNFCCC, Art.2).

What Can I Do About It?

After learning about climate change, some students may want to know what they as individuals can do about it. This site from Environmental Defense offers 20 simple steps to reduce an individual’s contribution to global warming and gives the approximate carbon dioxide reduction attained by taking each step. While Environmental Defense is an advocacy group that supports strong measures to mitigate climate change, the suggested actions are simply those that are widely recommended to reduce energy use and its environmental impacts.


Climate change is a human issue. It isn’t just about saving the planet and communities around the world face serious threats from the climate crisis. The TckTckTck campaign has created a great tool for learning the stories behind the human face of climate change. It’s called the Climate Orb and it is an animated interactive tool housing first-hand stories searchable by country, keyword and timeframe. Explore the Climate Orb.

Finally, don’t forget that people all around the world are getting involved and taking action. Next week, on October 24, is organizing the International Day of Climate Action. You can visit their site and see what people all around the world are planning to do next week to demonstrate their commitment to stopping climate change.