The elders speak out on climate change -is anyone listening?

The Elders are a group of eminent global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela. They include Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu.

In an inspiring personal letter (PDF), The Elders have urged 192 world leaders to attend the Copenhagen climate talks in person and to reach a fair, ambitious, effective and binding agreement to reduce emissions and build a low-carbon, and sustainable future for us all.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

A few weeks ago, as you can see from photographs posted on www.theElders.org, we joined forces with thirteen of our grandchildren from Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States to remind the world of the risks of climate change to future generations. Like all young people, our grandchildren expect today’s leaders to take responsibility for delivering a low-emission, sustainable future: one that requires shared commitment, based on common but differentiated responsibilities.

The agreement reached in Copenhagen must have climate justice at its heart. It is a tragic irony that the world’s least developed countries have contributed less than 2 percent of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, yet are most vulnerable to climate change and least able to protect their people. We have had the opportunity to meet small farmers and indigenous leaders from the poorest countries, many of whom are women, who tell us that changing weather patterns are already putting increasing pressure on water, food and land.

The letter lays out some specific details of a legally binding agreement on climate change. Among others, these requirements include a 2 degree Celsius target as the outer limit of global temperature increase, a reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the year 2050, and a commitment from developed nations to cut emissions of 25-40% by 2020, and 80-95% by 2050, relative to levels in 1990.

The Elders are getting fully behind our next global day of action on the weekend of December 12, World Wants a Real Deal they will be present at a vigil in the Copenhagen conference center when we present your photos and stories from around the world. We sincerely hope the world leaders of today will heed the call of their Elders.

More information and global action updates can be found :

Climate Voice Live @ COP15

Wish you were at Copenhagen? The next best thing is just a click away. Climate Voice Live @ COP15 brings you live updates from over 350 top bloggers and leading civil society groups, with live video, stories, photos, and analysis of all the action. Whether you want a close-up view, are covering the conference, or just need to find out where all the cool events are, this is where you want to be.

The site hosts live streaming video from our partners interviews from leading campaigners, decision makers, and more. We are supporting over 200 of the top bloggers and online journalists covering climate change, to help connect them with newsmakers and NGO’s and provide an open space for them to work at the Fresh Air Center.

The Fresh Air Center is our rapid response, real-world media hub for top global bloggers and digital campaigners. Our large collaboration and community center space opens on December 10, extending a small space we have inside the Bella Center.

Google and YouTube have come onboard as sponsors of the Fresh Air Center, and are collaborating with TckTckTck on an exciting event!

YouTube, CNN and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs are inviting citizens to submit video and text questions for world climate leaders. The top-rated questions will be posed to leaders at a live townhall event on December 15 (12:00 – 14:00 CET), which will be televised on CNN International and live-streamed on YouTube.

Visit this page to submit questions, voted on questions and watch the teaser video about the event. The project is available in 20 languages, with questions being translated by Google’s Language API, enabling citizens from all over the world to participate. Submitted questions are also cycling through a 3-storey high cube display in Copenhagen.

ACT NOW

So what is the deal on climate change? – results of COP15

BBC news provided the key points of the less than unanimous deal

Copenhagen deal: Key points

A US-led initiative called the Copenhagen Accord has formed the centre-piece of a deal at UN climate talks in Copenhagen, despite some countries’ opposition.

Below is an explanation of the main points in the agreement.

LEGAL STATUSThe Accord, reached between the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, contains no reference to a legally binding agreement, as some developing countries and climate activists wanted.

Neither is there a deadline for transforming it into a binding deal, though UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it needed to be turned into a legally binding treaty next year.

The accord was merely “recognised” by the 193 nations at the Copenhagen summit, rather than approved, which would have required unanimous support. It is not clear whether it is a formal UN deal.

TEMPERATURE RISEThe text recognises the need to limit global temperatures rising no more than 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels.

The language in the text shows that 2C is not a formal target, just that the group “recognises the scientific view that” the temperature increase should be held below this figure.

However, the accord does not identify a year by which carbon emissions should peak, a position resisted by some richer developing nations.

Countries are asked to spell out by 1 February next year their pledges for curbing carbon emissions by 2020. The deal does not spell out penalties for any country that fails to meet its promise.

FINANCIAL AIDThe deal promises to deliver $30bn (£18.5bn) of aid for developing nations over the next three years. It outlines a goal of providing $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change.

The accord says the rich countries will jointly mobilise the $100bn, drawing on a variety of sources: “public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance.”

A green climate fund will also be established under the deal. It will support projects in developing countries related to mitigation, adaptation, “capacity building” and technology transfer.

EMISSIONS TRANSPARENCYThe pledges of rich countries will come under “rigorous, robust and transparent” scrutiny under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In the accord, developing countries will submit national reports on their emissions pledges under a method “that will ensure that national sovereignty is respected.”

Pledges on climate mitigation measures seeking international support will be recorded in a registry.

REVIEW OF PROGRESSThe implementation of the Copenhagen Accord will be reviewed by 2015. This will take place about a year-and-a-half after the next scientific assessment of the global climate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

However, if, in 2015, delegates wanted to adopt a new, lower target on global average temperature, such as 1.5C rather than 2C, it would be too late.

Deal or no deal? Climate Change -COP15 -day 12

From the cop15 website

COP15 – day 12 roundup

The last day of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen ended with a group of countries including the US and China agreeing a deal which the EU early Saturday described as “not perfect” but “better than no deal”.

Michael von Bülow 19/12/2009 02:10

EU: “The only deal available in Copenhagen”

While the head of China’s climate delegation thought “everyone should be happy”, it was uncertain late Friday night whether the “Copenhagen Accord” agreed by the US, China, South Africa and India would win broader support among countries. Read more

US, China, India and South Africa reach deal

According to a senior Obama administration official the United States, China, India and South Africa have reached a “meaningful agreement” on climate change Friday evening. Read more

New draft for Copenhagen deal

In a newly written draft named the “Copenhagen Accord” a 2010-deadline for reaching a legally binding climate treaty has been dropped, Reuters reported Friday afternoon. Read more

Chávez felt excluded

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez criticized the UN climate conference for “a real lack of transparency”. Read more

EU challenges US and China

The European Union makes clear it is ready to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels – if the US and China “do their part”. Read more

Obama: I came here to act

“Our ability to take collective action is in doubt,” US President Barack Obama warned the plenary at COP15. Read more

Brazil ready to provide funding

As the first developing country, Brazil offers to contribute to the finance mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol – if an agreement is reached in Copenhagen Friday, says President Lula. Read more

World leaders in last-minute climate talks

The UN climate talks were in serious disarray Friday, prompting President Barack Obama to upend his schedule and hold close-door talks with 19 other world leaders to work out a last-minute agreement on fighting global warming. Read more

China and India signal progress on transparency

The world’s two largest emerging economies both respond positively to a call from US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. “We are 75 percent underway with a solution,” says Indian minister. Read more

URGENT ACTION – Save the Climate Change talks from ‘failing’

The Copenhagen summit to stop the climate crisis is at risk of failing. Only massive public pressure can save it.

Over the year, TckTckTck have been working with over 250 global NGO’s. Over 12 million people have already come together in nearly every country on earth to show their support for a climate deal, now. Please sign our giant petition. If you’ve already signed, now is the time to forward it to all your friends. We need to get to 15 million supporters by the weekend to make leaders listen.


Today, the world’s leaders have arrived for an unprecedented 60 hours of direct negotiations. Experts agree that without a tidal wave of public pressure for a deal, the summit will not stop catastrophic global warming of 2 degrees.

Click here to sign the petition for a real deal in Copenhagen —  we already have a staggering 12 million supporters – let’s make it the largest petition in history in the next 72 hours! Every single name is actually being read out at the summit — sign on and be part of history. Forward this email to everyone!

Our partners have teams meeting daily with negotiators inside the summit who will organize a spectacular petition delivery to world leaders as they arrive, building a giant wall of boxes of names and reading out the names of every person who signs. With the largest petition in history, leaders will have no doubt that the whole world is watching.

Millions watched our vigil inside the summit on TV on the weekend, where Archbishop Desmond Tutu told hundreds of delegates and assembled children:

“We marched in Berlin, and the wall fell.
We marched for South Africa, and apartheid fell.
We marched at Copenhagen — and we WILL get a Real Deal.”

Copenhagen is seeking the biggest mandate in history to stop the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. History will be made in the next few days. How will our children remember this moment? Let’s tell them we did all we could.

Please sign the petition, or at any number of our partner’s websites including Avaaz, Oxfam, Greenpeace (who are running campaigns in over two dozen countries), and dozens of others. Use our tell-a-friend tool, or spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, or your other social networks.

If you’ve been waiting for the one thing you can do that might impact the negotiations, this is it!

UN Climate Change Conference – Free Disaster Risk Reduction Resources

INEE has done it again  -providing comprehensive support resources for activities to reach the most vulnerable.

The fifteenth United Nations climate change conference (COP15)  is taking place from December 7 to 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Government leaders and scientists from nearly 200 nations will gather to discuss carbon emissions curbs, clean energy and other issues related to the global environment.

We’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. The average number of natural disasters has increased from 200 a year to more than 400 today, and this is predicted to increase by as much as 320 percent in the next 20 years.

Save the Children estimates that over the next decade 175 million children per year will be affected by these disasters. As disaster risk reduction is a first step in helping communities to adapt to increasingly intense and frequent natural disasters, child-centered risk reduction should be a cornerstone of climate change adaptation. The INEE network advocates that members work to meet the goals of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) through education by:

  • Creating safe learning environments with safe construction and retrofitting
  • Maintaining safe learning environments through school disaster management
  • Protecting access to education with educational continuity planning
  • Learning and teaching about disaster prevention and preparedness in formal and non-formal environments
  • Building a culture of access and safety; promoting schools as centers for community risk reduction

INEE is mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and risk management into its work and resources through the following initiatives and good practice tools:

  • INEE Minimum Standards Training Materials focused on DRR: INEE has adapted its training documents, the INEE Minimum Standards Training Guide and Trainers Workbook, with a focus on DRR. These materials, designed for a 3-day training but adaptable for other durations, can be used to guide policy makers and practitioners to better understand and integrate disaster risk reduction into their work, including contextualising the INEE Minimum Standards and other tools toward this goal.
  • INEE Guidance Notes on Safer School Construction provide a framework of guiding principles and general steps to develop a context-specific plan for safer school construction and/or retrofitting initiative.  Click here to download the Guidance Notes in English. Click here to download the User’s Guide and Feedback Form, which provides talking points on what the guidance notes are, why they are important, who should use them, how they should be used, and how you can provide feedback to improve them.

Specific tools and resources (INEE)

TOOL: Disaster Prevention for Schools

(ISDR)

This guidance document is for school administrators, teachers, education authorities and school safety committees. It reviews strategies for disaster prevention for schools; creating and maintaining safe learning environments; teaching and learning disaster prevention and preparedness, educational materials and teacher training, and developing a culture of safety.

TOOL:  Child Friendly Schools Infrastructure Standards and Guidelines

(Ministry of Education, Rwanda)

This document outlines the infrastructure standards which are expected to be meet by all Primary and Tronc Commun schools in the Republic of Rwanda. Through this document the Ministry of Education of Rwanda sets clear standards and gives practical guidance on how to achieve them. These standards have been developed through a comprehensive consultation process with the school communities including head teachers, staff members and pupils. Then these concerns were further developed through technical expert review process where many specialists from organizations have contributed. The draft was then presented at regional and national consultation meeting where directors of education, head teachers and teachers from public and private schools gathered to give their inputs. It is with all these inputs that a Rwanda-specific standard and guidelines were able to be drafted.
TOOL: Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction into School Curriculum

(The Regional Consultative Committee on Disaster Management)

These guidelines were developed to guide member countries in introducing and integrating DRR into school curricula. It shares good practices from several countries, from highlighting key approaches to mainstreaming DRR into the curricula to articulating suggesting steps for priority partnerships. The tool also highlights long term activities that are essential to institutionalization.


OECD: Draft Policy Handbook on Natural Hazard Awareness and Disaster Risk Reduction Education

(Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)

The growing impact of natural hazards on OECD and non-member economies has stimulated a demand for an in-depth evaluation of possible strategies to reduce their large-scale damaging effects. In both developed and emerging countries, the rise in direct and indirect costs of disasters is caused by several factors, most of which are human-induced. The increased vulnerability and exposure of people and assets to natural perils are, in significant part, due to the growing concentration of people and values in conurbations, inadequate land-use zoning and planning, inadequate construction standards, environmental degradation, the inability to adapt to climate change, and an insufficient level of disaster risk preparedness.  This handbook is aimed at providing policy guidance in the field of natural hazard awareness and disaster risk reduction education to OECD and non-member governments.

ARTICLES: Child’s Right to a Safer School: Lessons from Asia
(Southasiadisaster.net)

In any disaster situation anywhere in the world-be it a human induced or natural-children are among the most vulnerable groups.  At the same time, there are many unheard/unpublished stories of children dead due to both human-induced and natural disasters.  The following journal on school safety was designed as a special issue for the Asian Conference for Disaster Reduction in 2007. In this issue readers will find several articles with direct reference to all aspects of school safety, such as: Society’s Responsibility: Safer Schools, A Community-based Approach for School Safety and Education for Disaster Reduction, and Let Our Children Teach Us!

WEBSITE: Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project (CDMP): School/Shelter Hazard Vulnerability Reduction Resource Page: http://www.oas.org/CDMP/schools/schlrcsc.htm

(Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project)

The Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project has constructed this webpage with several resources on school safety, including on the importance and vulnerability of school buildings, steps to reduce the vulnerability of school buildings, the maintenance of school buildings and how to take the initiative to move forward projects and policies.  The web page also includes links directing users towards crucial information and organizations involved in the school safety and DRR.

WEBSITE: School Safety and Security: www.oecd.org/edu/schoolsafety (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has established a new page on their website for ‘School Safety and Security.’  OECD states that, “a safe and secure environment is a prerequisite for effective teaching and learning. Threats to the safety and security of people and property can arise from natural hazards – for example earthquake, floods and storms – or from human actions – such as vandalism, arson, and violent crime. While catastrophic events and human tragedies cannot be eliminated entirely, there is a role for facility designers, institutional managers, emergency response teams, and post-crisis intervention in mitigating their negative impact.”  On this webpage users can locate current resources on safer school construction along with upcoming events and other pertinent information regarding school safety.

Further resources relevant to climate change and humanitarian response (INEE):
REPORT: Feeling the Heat – Child Survival in a Changing Climate
(Save the Children)

Save the Children’s new report states that climate change is a real threat to children in the 21st century and is an immediate global emergency. Children are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and adaptation therefore must involve children and support interventions responding to their needs and priorities. Within the context of climate change, access to education is a critical issue.  Women in affected communities identify education as an essential strategy to help their children adapt to the effects of climate change in the long term. In addition, education is vital for empowerment and for maternal, newborn and child survival. Nonetheless, girls’ access to education during conflict or natural disasters can be severely reduced. Girls are the first to be taken out of school to support their families, carry out household chores or work to bring in extra income. As these situations intensify and become more frequent as a result of climate change, girls’ access to education could be further compromised. Women and children must be consulted and involved in strategies to adapt to climate change. Women show exceptional leadership and are the first to make changes in their communities and for their children to reduce disaster risk as well as adapt to climate change. Unless women are involved in decision-making, leadership and implementation, efforts to reduce the risks associated with disasters and climate change are unlikely to succeed.

The report also advocates for investment in child focused DRR. It asserts that activities undertaken before the onset of a natural disaster can build people’s resilience to shocks and help ensure that children and their families are as prepared as they can be. The report notes that the proliferation of natural disasters – including small-scale, climate-related events – will challenge the humanitarian system’s ability to respond. In order to meet increased needs, aid must be swift and well targeted, and donors must ensure that staff on the ground are in a position to scale up quickly. Wherever possible, it will be crucial to help communities prepare for and respond to the increasingly frequent threat of disaster.

REPORT: Climate Change, Conflict and Fragility
(International Alert)

Just under three billion people live in 46 conflict-affected countries where climate change could create a high risk of violent conflict, according to International Alert’s 2007 report, A Climate of Conflict.  Its new report Climate Change, Conflict and Fragility urges policy-makers to take into account the interaction between the impact of climate change and the social and political realities in which people live that will determine their capacity to adapt.The political dimension of adapting to climate change, and the underlying causes of vulnerability in a state unable to carry out its core functions, has to be factored in. In particular, the report recommends that adaptation to climate change be conflict sensitive, responding to the needs of the people, involving them in consultation, taking account of power distribution and social order and avoiding pitting groups against each other. It also recommends that greater efforts be taken to plan for and cope peacefully with climate-related migration.

REPORT: Future floods of refugees – climate change, conflict and forced migration
(NRC)

This report asserts that climate and environmental issues are among the underlying causes of migration, and that climate change can trigger conflict and displacement. It deals with the form and scope of future displacement in addition to protection and preventive measures. The report recommends that climate change adaptation in developing countries be given priority together with mitigation and emission-reducing measures. Financial resources must be made available to countries that bear the consequences of forced migration related to climate change.

REPORT:  Monitoring Disaster Displacement in the Context of Climate Change
(IDMC, NRC, OCHA)

To date, there have been no reliable estimates on forced displacement driven by climate change related disasters, nor a methodology for making such estimates.  This study provides for the first time a reliable estimate of the scale of forced displacement caused by rapid-onset natural disasters in 2008, with a special focus on climate related disasters and proposes a methodology to monitor disaster-related displacement on an ongoing basis. It looks at natural disasters and forced displacement in the context of climate change in order to provide an estimate of forced displacement related to disasters in 2008, specifically climate-related disasters; and secondly, to propose a methodology that could be applied to monitor disaster-related displacement on an ongoing basis. The findings show that at least 36 million people were displaced by sudden-onset natural disasters in 2008. Of those, over 20 million were displaced by sudden-onset climate-related disasters. As a reference, the total population of people living in forced displacement due to conflict, including IDPs and refugees, was 42 million in 2008, with 4.6 million having been newly internally displaced during the year. It is likely that many more are displaced due to the other climate change-related drivers, including slow-onset disasters, such as drought and sea level rise; however the study does not present an estimate of their number.

EPORT: Addressing the Humanitarian Challenges of Climate Change Regional and National Perspectives: Preliminary Findings from the IASC Regional and National Level Consultations
(OCHA, ICRC, WFP)

Climate change is one of the major global challenges for humanity in the 21st century; and yet it is only in the last few years that the human face of climate change – the socioeconomic and humanitarian dimension – has been fully acknowledged. While climate change has global repercussions, the most vulnerable communities will experience the greatest impacts from climate and disaster risk; climate change is threatening the lives and livelihoods of these communities, eroding their resilience and undermining opportunities for sustainable development. As a result, climate change threatens to overwhelm the current capacity of the humanitarian system to respond effectively by increasing hazards, vulnerabilities and response costs.  Addressing climate change demands a multi-faceted and coordinated response at all levels. This document represents the initial outcomes of the first round of regional and country level consultations, including stocktaking and an overview of the challenges, opportunities and next steps.

ARTICLES: Forced Migration Review 31: Climate change and displacement
(Forced Migration Review)

In response to growing pressures on landscapes and livelihoods, people are moving, communities are adapting. This issue of FMR debates the numbers, the definitions and the modalities – and the tension between the need for research and the need to act. Thirty-eight articles by UN, academic, international and local actors explore the extent of the potential displacement crisis, community adaptation and coping strategies, and the search for solutions. The issue also includes a range of articles on other aspects of forced migration.

POLICY PAPER: Climate Change and Adaptation Response: Principles and approaches for field programs
(InterAction)

This policy paper articulates principles and approaches for field programs in response to climate change and adaptation.  It highlights that the number of disasters and disaster-affect­ed people grew from 1.6 billion in 1984-1993 to 2.6 bil­lion in 1994-2003 but that despite the increasing frequen­cy of disaster events and growing numbers of at-risk people, investments in disaster management have reduced deaths. Up-front investment in adaptation mea­sures will greatly reduce the impending costs of climate change. The principles, challenges and strategies highlighted are relevant to education programming.

WEBSITE and REPORT: Second Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction
Website: http://www.preventionweb.net/globalplatform/2009/
Report: http://www.preventionweb.net/files/section/193_GPProceedingsFINAL.pdf
(ISDR)

This website documents proceedings and outcome of the second session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, including a report on the proceedings, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 16-19 June 2009. The Chair’s Summary and documents on the outcomes, including recommendations from National Platforms, Parliamentarians, the ISDR Management Oversight Board and on climate change adaptation, gender, youth engagement in disaster risk reduction. There are also reports specific to education, such as from the Roundtable on Risk Round Table 4: Risk Reduction Education
http://www.preventionweb.net/globalplatform/2009/programme/roundtable/v.php?id=118

Climate Change – the real truth?

Of course no matter what people say we do not know the truth but we may know some of the truths.

What is more troubling about the climate change debate is that, as usual, it is being hijacked. On one side climate change activists may leave out some important facts, because we are not all scientists and we would not understand ( I heard this argument put forward as a reason for children being excluded from the climate change debate -they are too young to understand).

On the other side -the climate change denyers/disbelievers -they often have vested interests and damn all evidence as being trumped up by governments who want to tax people more.

What has been forgotten is the sum total of our destructiveness – we have forgotten about the plundering of the tropical rain forests, overfishing of the oceans, urban pollution, destruction of habitat and species and the list gets longer each day. It is the sum total of our effects on our environment that we should be concerned about –  not just climate change. The evidence about climate change has to be seen in the context of recent human activities (which we know a lot about) and the broader climatic cycles that can only be interpreted through archaeological and geological studies (such as inter-glacial periods etc) which we are still learning about.

What do we know about?

Habitat destruction

Habitat destruction

The expansion of agricultural activity has led to the destruction of huge areas of natural habitats, including forests, grasslands and wetlands, in nearly all regions of the world. For tropical forests, the richest habitat for biodiversity, logging is typically the first major pressure, often providing access to remote areas and leading to further clearance and degradation. The expansion and development of urban areas and infrastructure also reduces natural habitats, and new roads give access to additional areas, which results in further losses. The relative importance of these factors varies in different parts of the world (box 2), but all play a significant part in the destruction of habitats and therefore in driving ecosystem change.

habitat destruction

Pollution

The urban areas of Europe, North and South America as well as Asia are some the world’s major producers of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution. Other significant polluters are the coal-fired power stations of South Africa and bio-mass burning in other parts of the African continent. Heavily used shipping lanes such as the Red Sea also contribute significantly to the earth’s man-made pollution.

These are some of the findings of 18 months of observations by the European Space Agency (ESA) satellite Envisat. The images produced by Envisat make clear the impact of human activities on air quality and the spread of urban pollution.

no2levels_europe

Overfishing

zambezi_overfishing

Is overfishing a problem?

The FAO scientists publish a two yearly report (SOFIA) on the state of the world’s fisheries and aquaculture. 2 The report is generally rather conservative regarding the acknowledging of problems but does show the main issues. In general it can be stated that the SOFIA report is a number of years behind time of the real situation.

  • 52% of fish stocks are fully exploited
  • 20% are moderately exploited
  • 17% are overexploited
  • 7% are depleted
  • 1% is recovering from depletion

The above shows that over 25% of all the world’s fish stocks are either overexploited or depleted. Another 52% is fully exploited, these are in imminent danger of overexploitation (maximum sustainable production level) and collapse. Thus a total of almost 80% of the world’s fisheries are fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse. Worldwide about 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish stocks are already gone. In the real world all this comes down to two serious problems.

  • We are losing species as well as entire ecosystems. As a result the overall ecological unity of our oceans are under stress and at risk of collapse.
  • We are in risk of losing a valuable food source many depend upon for social, economical or dietary reasons.

Examples of the outcomes from overfishing exist in areas such as the North Sea of Europe, the Grand Banks of North America and the East China Sea of Asia.[2] In these locations, overfishing has not only proved disastrous to fish stocks but also to the fishing communities relying on the harvest. Like other extractive industries such as forestry and hunting, fishery is susceptible to economic interaction between ownership or stewardship and sustainability, otherwise known as the tragedy of the commons.

And now the arguments about climate change (ref:BBC)

So what are their arguments, and how are they countered by scientists who assert that greenhouse gases, produced by human activity, are the cause of modern-day climate change?

1. EVIDENCE THAT THE EARTH’S TEMPERATURE IS GETTING WARMER IS UNCLEAR
Sceptic Counter
Instruments show there has been some warming of the Earth’s surface since 1979, but the actual value is subject to large errors. Most long-term data comes from surface weather stations. Many of these are in urban centres which have been expanding and using more energy. When these stations observe a temperature rise, they are simply measuring the “urban heat island effect”. In addition, coverage is patchy, with some regions of the world almost devoid of instruments. Data going back further than a century or two is derived from “proxy” indicators such as tree-rings and stalactites which, again, are subject to large errors. Warming is unequivocal. Ocean measurements, decreases in snow cover, reductions in Arctic sea ice, longer growing seasons, balloon measurements, boreholes and satellites all show results consistent with records from surface weather stations. The urban heat island effect is real but small; and it has been studied and corrected for. Analyses by Nasa, for example, use only rural stations to calculate trends. Research has shown that if you analyse long-term global temperature rise for windy days and calm days separately, there is no difference. If the urban heat island effect were large, you would expect to see more warming on calm days when more of the heat stays in the city. Furthermore, the pattern of warming globally doesn’t resemble the pattern of urbanisation, with the greatest warming seen in the Arctic and northern high latitudes. Globally, there is a warming trend of about 0.8C since 1900, more than half of which has occurred since 1979.
2. IF THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS RISING, IT HAS NOW STOPPED
Sceptic Counter
Since 1998 – more than a decade – the record, as determined by observations from satellites and balloon radiosondes, shows no discernible warming. The year 1998 was exceptionally warm because of a strong El Nino event, while 2008 was unusually cold because of La Nina conditions. Variability from year to year is expected, and picking a specific warm year to start an analysis (or a cold one to end with) is “cherry-picking”. If you start in 1997 or 1999 you will see a sharp rise. Furthermore, while the UK Met Office regards 1998 as the hottest year yet, Nasa thinks it was 2005 (they use the same data but interpret it differently). According to the Met Office, the 10 warmest years in the modern record have all occurred since 1997.
3. THE EARTH HAS BEEN WARMER IN THE RECENT PAST
Sceptic Counter
The beginning of the last Millennium saw a “Medieval Warm Period” when temperatures, certainly in Europe, were higher than they are now. Grapes grew in northern England. Ice-bound mountain passes opened in the Alps. The Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than it is today. There have been many periods in Earth history that were warmer than today – for example, the last interglacial (125,000 years ago) or the Pliocene (three million years ago). Those variations were caused by solar forcing, the Earth’s orbital wobbles or continental configurations; but none of those factors is significant today compared with greenhouse warming. Evidence for a Medieval Warm Period outside Europe is patchy at best, and is often not contemporary with the warmth in Europe. As the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) puts it: “The idea of a global or hemispheric Medieval Warm Period that was warmer than today has turned out to be incorrect.” Additionally, although the Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than in the following few decades, it is now warmer still. One recent analysis showed it is warmer now than at any time in the last 2,000 years.
4. COMPUTER MODELS ARE NOT RELIABLE
Sceptic Counter
Computer models are the main way of projecting future climate change. But despite decades of development they are unable to model all the processes involved; for example, the influence of clouds, the distribution of water vapour, the impact of warm seawater on ice-shelves and the response of plants to changes in water supply. Climate models follow the old maxim of “you put garbage in, you get garbage out”. Models will never be perfect and they will never be able to forecast the future exactly. However, they are tested and validated against all sorts of data. Over the last 20 years they have become able to simulate more physical, chemical and biological processes, and work on smaller spatial scales. The 2007 IPCC report produced regional climate projections in detail that would have been impossible in its 2001 assessment. All of the robust results from modelling are backed up by theoretical science or observations.
5. THE ATMOSPHERE IS NOT BEHAVING AS MODELS WOULD PREDICT
Sceptic Counter
Computer models predict that the lower levels of the atmosphere, the troposphere, should be warming faster than the Earth’s surface. Measurements show the opposite. So either the models are failing, or one set of measurements is flawed, or there are holes in our understanding of the science. Interpretation of the satellite data has not always been straightforward – but it does not show the opposite of what computer models predict. Two separate analyses show consistent warming, one faster than the surface and one slightly less fast. Information from balloons has its own problems but the IPCC concluded in 2007: “For the period since 1958, overall global and tropical tropospheric warming estimated from radiosondes has slightly exceeded surface warming”.
6. CLIMATE IS MAINLY INFLUENCED BY THE SUN
Sceptic Counter
Earth history shows climate has regularly responded to cyclical changes in the Sun’s energy output. Any warming we see can be attributed mainly to variations in the Sun’s magnetic field and solar wind. Solar variations do affect climate, but they are not the only factor. As there has been no positive trend in any solar index since the 1960s (and a negative trend more recently), solar forcing cannot be responsible for the recent temperature trends. The difference between the solar minimum and solar maximum over the 11-year solar cycle is 10 times smaller than the effect of greenhouse gases over the same interval.
7. A CARBON DIOXIDE RISE HAS ALWAYS COME AFTER A TEMPERATURE INCREASE NOT BEFORE
Sceptic Counter
Ice-cores dating back nearly one million years show a pattern of temperature and CO2 rise at roughly 100,000-year intervals. But the CO2 rise has always come after the temperature rise, not before, presumably as warmer temperatures have liberated the gas from oceans. This is largely true, but largely irrelevant. Ancient ice-cores do show CO2 rising after temperature by a few hundred years – a timescale associated with the ocean response to atmospheric changes mainly driven by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit. However, this time, CO2 is leading temperature. Furthermore, the situation today is dramatically different. The extra CO2 in the atmosphere (35% increase over pre-industrial levels) is from man-made emissions, and levels are higher than have been seen in 650,000 years of ice-core records. They may in fact be higher than at any time in the last three million years.
8. LONG-TERM DATA ON HURRICANES AND ARCTIC ICE IS TOO POOR TO ASSESS TRENDS
Sceptic Counter
Before the era of satellite observation began in the 1970s, measurements were ad-hoc and haphazard. Hurricanes would be reported only if they hit land or shipping. The extent of Arctic ice was measured only during expeditions. The satellite record for these phenomena is too short to justify claims that hurricanes are becoming stronger or more frequent, or that there is anything exceptional about the apparent shrinkage in Arctic ice up to 2007. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment project notes that systematic collection of data in parts of the Arctic began in the late 18th Century. The US National Hurricane Center notes that “organised reconnaissance” for Atlantic storms began in 1944. So although historical data is not as complete as one might like, conclusions can still be drawn from it. And the IPCC does not claim that global warming will make hurricanes more frequent – its 2007 report says that if anything, they are likely to become less frequent, but more intense.
9. WATER VAPOUR IS THE MAJOR GREENHOUSE GAS; CO2 IS RELATIVELY UNIMPORTANT
Sceptic Counter
The natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth’s surface about 33C warmer than it would otherwise be. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, accounting for about 98% of all warming. So changes in carbon dioxide or methane concentrations would have a relatively small impact. Water vapour concentrations are rising, but this does not necessarily increase warming – it depends how the water vapour is distributed. The statement that water vapour is “98% of the greenhouse effect” is simply false. In fact, it does about 50% of the work; clouds add another 25%, with CO2 and the other greenhouse gases contributing the remaining quarter. Water vapour concentrations are increasing in response to rising temperatures, and there is evidence that this is adding to warming, for example in Europe. The fact that water vapour is a feedback is included in all climate models.
10. PROBLEMS SUCH AS HIV/AIDS AND POVERTY ARE MORE PRESSING THAN CLIMATE CHANGE
Sceptic Counter
The Kyoto Protocol has not reduced emissions of greenhouse gases noticeably. The targets were too low, applied only to certain countries, and have been rendered meaningless by loopholes. Many governments that enthuse about the treaty and want a successor are not going to meet the reduction targets that they signed up to in Kyoto. Even if it is real, man-made climate change is just one problem among many facing the world’s rich and poor alike. Governments and societies should respond proportionately, not pretend that climate is a special case. Poorer countries should not be forced to constrain their emissions and therefore their economic growth, as they will be under a Copenhagen treaty. Some economists believe that a warmer climate would, on balance, improve lives. Arguments over the Kyoto Protocol are outside the realms of science, although it certainly has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions as far or as fast as the IPCC indicates is necessary. The latest IPCC Working Group 2 report suggest that the impact of man-made climate change will on balance be deleterious, particular to the poorer countries of the tropics, although colder regions may see benefits such as increased crop yields. Investment in energy efficiency, new energy technologies and renewables are likely to benefit the developing world. A Copenhagen treaty would not force emission constraints on the world’s poorest countries – in fact, it will funnel money to them for technology and climate protection, helping clean growth. More affluent developing countries – including China – will have to constrain their emissions growth but they agreed to this at the 2007 Bali summit.
In case the two columns are not completely visible,I will try and separate them for ease of use:

1. EVIDENCE THAT THE EARTH’S TEMPERATURE IS GETTING WARMER IS UNCLEAR

Sceptic

Instruments show there has been some warming of the Earth’s surface since 1979, but the actual value is subject to large errors. Most long-term data comes from surface weather stations. Many of these are in urban centres which have been expanding and using more energy. When these stations observe a temperature rise, they are simply measuring the “urban heat island effect”. In addition, coverage is patchy, with some regions of the world almost devoid of instruments. Data going back further than a century or two is derived from “proxy” indicators such as tree-rings and stalactites which, again, are subject to large errors.

Counter

Warming is unequivocal. Ocean measurements, decreases in snow cover, reductions in Arctic sea ice, longer growing seasons, balloon measurements, boreholes and satellites all show results consistent with records from surface weather stations. The urban heat island effect is real but small; and it has been studied and corrected for. Analyses by Nasa, for example, use only rural stations to calculate trends. Research has shown that if you analyse long-term global temperature rise for windy days and calm days separately, there is no difference. If the urban heat island effect were large, you would expect to see more warming on calm days when more of the heat stays in the city. Furthermore, the pattern of warming globally doesn’t resemble the pattern of urbanisation, with the greatest warming seen in the Arctic and northern high latitudes. Globally, there is a warming trend of about 0.8C since 1900, more than half of which has occurred since 1979.

2. IF THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS RISING, IT HAS NOW STOPPED

Sceptic

Since 1998 – more than a decade – the record, as determined by observations from satellites and balloon radiosondes, shows no discernible warming.

The year 1998 was exceptionally warm because of a strong El Nino event, while 2008 was unusually cold because of La Nina conditions. Variability from year to year is expected, and picking a specific warm year to start an analysis (or a cold one to end with) is “cherry-picking”. If you start in 1997 or 1999 you will see a sharp rise. Furthermore, while the UK Met Office regards 1998 as the hottest year yet, Nasa thinks it was 2005 (they use the same data but interpret it differently). According to the Met Office, the 10 warmest years in the modern record have all occurred since 19

3. THE EARTH HAS BEEN WARMER IN THE RECENT PAST

Sceptic

The beginning of the last Millennium saw a “Medieval Warm Period” when temperatures, certainly in Europe, were higher than they are now. Grapes grew in northern England. Ice-bound mountain passes opened in the Alps. The Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than it is today

Counter

There have been many periods in Earth history that were warmer than today – for example, the last interglacial (125,000 years ago) or the Pliocene (three million years ago). Those variations were caused by solar forcing, the Earth’s orbital wobbles or continental configurations; but none of those factors is significant today compared with greenhouse warming. Evidence for a Medieval Warm Period outside Europe is patchy at best, and is often not contemporary with the warmth in Europe. As the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) puts it: “The idea of a global or hemispheric Medieval Warm Period that was warmer than today has turned out to be incorrect.” Additionally, although the Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than in the following few decades, it is now warmer still. One recent analysis showed it is warmer now than at any time in the last 2,000 years.

4.computer models

Computer models are the main way of projecting future climate change. But despite decades of development they are unable to model all the processes involved; for example, the influence of clouds, the distribution of water vapour, the impact of warm seawater on ice-shelves and the response of plants to changes in water supply. Climate models follow the old maxim of “you put garbage in, you get garbage out”.

counter

Models will never be perfect and they will never be able to forecast the future exactly. However, they are tested and validated against all sorts of data. Over the last 20 years they have become able to simulate more physical, chemical and biological processes, and work on smaller spatial scales. The 2007 IPCC report produced regional climate projections in detail that would have been impossible in its 2001 assessment. All of the robust results from modelling are backed up by theoretical science or observations.

5. THE ATMOSPHERE IS NOT BEHAVING AS MODELS WOULD PREDICT

Sceptic

Computer models predict that the lower levels of the atmosphere, the troposphere, should be warming faster than the Earth’s surface. Measurements show the opposite. So either the models are failing, or one set of measurements is flawed, or there are holes in our understanding of the science.

Counter

Interpretation of the satellite data has not always been straightforward – but it does not show the opposite of what computer models predict. Two separate analyses show consistent warming, one faster than the surface and one slightly less fast. Information from balloons has its own problems but the IPCC concluded in 2007: “For the period since 1958, overall global and tropical tropospheric warming estimated from radiosondes has slightly exceeded surface warming”.

6. CLIMATE IS MAINLY INFLUENCED BY THE SUN

Sceptic

Earth history shows climate has regularly responded to cyclical changes in the Sun’s energy output. Any warming we see can be attributed mainly to variations in the Sun’s magnetic field and solar wind.

Counter

Solar variations do affect climate, but they are not the only factor. As there has been no positive trend in any solar index since the 1960s (and a negative trend more recently), solar forcing cannot be responsible for the recent temperature trends. The difference between the solar minimum and solar maximum over the 11-year solar cycle is 10 times smaller than the effect of greenhouse gases over the same interval.

7. A CARBON DIOXIDE RISE HAS ALWAYS COME AFTER A TEMPERATURE INCREASE NOT BEFORE

Sceptic

ce-cores dating back nearly one million years show a pattern of temperature and CO2 rise at roughly 100,000-year intervals. But the CO2 rise has always come after the temperature rise, not before, presumably as warmer temperatures have liberated the gas from oceans.

Counter

This is largely true, but largely irrelevant. Ancient ice-cores do show CO2 rising after temperature by a few hundred years – a timescale associated with the ocean response to atmospheric changes mainly driven by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit. However, this time, CO2 is leading temperature. Furthermore, the situation today is dramatically different. The extra CO2 in the atmosphere (35% increase over pre-industrial levels) is from man-made emissions, and levels are higher than have been seen in 650,000 years of ice-core records.

8. LONG-TERM DATA ON HURRICANES AND ARCTIC ICE IS TOO POOR TO ASSESS TREN

Sceptic

Before the era of satellite observation began in the 1970s, measurements were ad-hoc and haphazard. Hurricanes would be reported only if they hit land or shipping. The extent of Arctic ice was measured only during expeditions. The satellite record for these phenomena is too short to justify claims that hurricanes are becoming stronger or more frequent, or that there is anything exceptional about the apparent shrinkage in Arctic ice up to 2007.

Counter

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment project notes that systematic collection of data in parts of the Arctic began in the late 18th Century. The US National Hurricane Center notes that “organised reconnaissance” for Atlantic storms began in 1944. So although historical data is not as complete as one might like, conclusions can still be drawn from it. And the IPCC does not claim that global warming will make hurricanes more frequent – its 2007 report says that if anything, they are likely to become less frequent, but more intense.

9. WATER VAPOUR IS THE MAJOR GREENHOUSE GAS; CO2 IS RELATIVELY UNIMPORTANT

Sceptic

The natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth’s surface about 33C warmer than it would otherwise be. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, accounting for about 98% of all warming. So changes in carbon dioxide or methane concentrations would have a relatively small impact. Water vapour concentrations are rising, but this does not necessarily increase warming – it depends how the water vapour is distributed.

Counter

The statement that water vapour is “98% of the greenhouse effect” is simply false. In fact, it does about 50% of the work; clouds add another 25%, with CO2 and the other greenhouse gases contributing the remaining quarter. Water vapour concentrations are increasing in response to rising temperatures, and there is evidence that this is adding to warming, for example in Europe. The fact that water vapour is a feedback is included in all climate models.

10.PROBLEMS SUCH AS HIV/AIDS AND POVERTY ARE MORE PRESSING THAN CLIMATE CHANGE

Sceptic

he Kyoto Protocol has not reduced emissions of greenhouse gases noticeably. The targets were too low, applied only to certain countries, and have been rendered meaningless by loopholes. Many governments that enthuse about the treaty and want a successor are not going to meet the reduction targets that they signed up to in Kyoto. Even if it is real, man-made climate change is just one problem among many facing the world’s rich and poor alike. Governments and societies should respond proportionately, not pretend that climate is a special case. Poorer countries should not be forced to constrain their emissions and therefore their economic growth, as they will be under a Copenhagen treaty. Some economists believe that a warmer climate would, on balance, improve lives.

Counter

Arguments over the Kyoto Protocol are outside the realms of science, although it certainly has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions as far or as fast as the IPCC indicates is necessary. The latest IPCC Working Group 2 report suggest that the impact of man-made climate change will on balance be deleterious, particular to the poorer countries of the tropics, although colder regions may see benefits such as increased crop yields. Investment in energy efficiency, new energy technologies and renewables are likely to benefit the developing world. A Copenhagen treaty would not force emission constraints on the world’s poorest countries – in fact, it will funnel money to them for technology and climate protection, helping clean growth. More affluent developing countries – including China – will have to constrain their emissions growth but they agreed to this at the 2007 Bali summit

THE DEBATE CONTINUES ONLINE …….

A selection of web sites and blogs.

IPCC

UN climate convention

British Antarctic Survey

Climate Audit

Climatic Research Unit,

Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies

realclimate.org

Science and Environmental Policy Project

UK Met Office

Hadley Centre National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

UN Environment Programme data centre

US National Snow and Ice Data Center

World Meteorological Organization

Brave New Climate

Climate Change: The Next Generation

Climate Debate Daily

Climate Sanity

CO2 Science

Deltoid – global warming

Grist – climate and energy

James’ Empty Blog

Roger Pielke Jr.’s Blog

New Scientist – climate


COP15 : Children’s climate change forum

The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides articles which support the right of children to express their views and more importantly have the right to have their voice heard.

During the run-up to COP15 (UN Climate Change Conference 2009) a children’s climate forum has been organised.

The one message that the adults need to hear is  ‘involve us in the climate change analysis and decision making as it is the world that we will inherit from you”

  • Children’s Climate Forum kicks off in Copenhagen

Children of the world are making their voices heard in the lead up to COP15.

Marie Sauer-Johansen “You will become frontrunners of your generation. You are the future, and I hope that you will remember Copenhagen as the beginning when you look back 10-20 years from now,” said Else Sommer from City of Copenhagen’s Department of Children and Family Care as she opened the Children’s Climate  Forum on November 28.

The symbolism could not be stronger when the delegates, 165 children from 44 countries, plastered handprints in all the colours of the rainbow on a large globe and lifted it up, declaring the forum open.

“Children have a great ability to communicate, because we can hold hands and unite. While we are here, we can teach each other a lot about our cultures and  what we are going through in our countries. We can come up with ideas of how to mitigate the effects of cliamte change to protect our environment, our countries, and the world at large, ” says Vanessa Njovu from the Zambian delegation.

Over the next week the children will share their local experiences of climate change and debate solutions, concluding in a resolution to be handed over to Connie Hedegaard, Minister for the UN Climate Change Conference 2009, at the close of the forum.

The forum is a collaboration between UNICEF, the City of Copenhagen and 22 Danish school classes acting as hosts for the visiting children.

Many of the child delegations represent ‘at risk’ countries, particularly vulnerable to climate change, such as Konduani Joe Banda from Zambia, a country struggling with droughts and heavy rain falls.

“The effects of climate change have been taking place gradually over the last five years in Zambia. If the sea levels rise in other countries, we see floods in Zambia, resulting in the spread of disease. Rain falls are also happening at the wrong time, and the country suffers under deforestation,” explains Mr. Banda.

After the forum, the children are to educate other children in their home countries on climate change issues.

And what is the message from the children to the adults at COP15, so far?

“Children are the grass roots of all nations, so if our opinion is taken into consideration it can affect the world at large.  My message to the negotiators is less talk, more action. We want to see that the conference actually has an impact,” concludes Mr. Banda.

Check this site also:

considerus.org – a voice for children on climate change