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Green Planet

Climate Change and poverty increase

Teja Palko



In the world after the Cold war non-military threats prevail over military ones. The threats are connected to population growth, lack of natural resources and degradation of environment.

The consequences of already changing climate will affect everyone. We will be confronted with more droughts, floods, storms, coastal flooding, sea-level rise, change of coastal ecosystems, heat waves and with it health problems. Less reliable rain, more water shortages, worse harvests and higher food prices will be a part of daily news. Competition for resources will make conflicts and poverty increase more frequent.

Human influence on the climate system is acknowledged by most scientists. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports show that recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are at the highest level in history. The atmosphere and oceansare warmer, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, and sea level has risen. Furthermore glaciers are continuously shrinking almost worldwide. Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover has continued to decrees in extent. Implications are seen in quality and quantity of drinking water. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that implications of climate change for humankind are the same threat as war.

Regardless the cause of climate change, with sea-level rise more than 634 million people who live in low-elevation areas are at risk. Countries that have the most people living in coastal areas are China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, United States, Thailand and the Philippines. Two third of world’s largest cities (more than 5 million people) are at least partially living in these low areas. This cannot be ignored, since with growth of population more and more people are moving into the cities. Bahamas, Suriname, the Netherlands, Vietnam, Guyana, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Belize, Egypt and Gambia have also the largest share of their population living in low-elevation areas. The exact rise is hard to predict due to uncertainty in thermal expansion, the melting of glaciers and ice caps, and loss of ice from the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheet. Under the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios by the mid-2090s, for instance, global sea level reaches 0.22 to 0.44 m above 1990 levels, and is rising at about 4 mm per year. Climate change will not only affect salinity levels, but also ocean temperatures and circulation patterns. There are increasing concerns that climate change will reduce the overall intensity of deep-ocean circulation that plays a significant role in temperature patterns around the globe. As a result some of mentioned countries that are most vulnerable do not have resources to prepare for sea-level rise. There exists a big potential for very large number of environmental refugees and internally displaced persons that will shake up the security.

Climate change with population growth and economy represents negative impact on amount of fresh and drinking water. Solutions lies in construction of an ambitious water supply projects, transport with tankers, recycling of wastewater, desalination and indirect import of water. Problem with all of proposals is price. Considering population growth by the year 2050 more than 30% of population will suffer water scarcity. Research by development Agency Tearfund showed that by the end of the year 2050 five times more of earth surface as today will be affected by extreme drought. By 2050 there will be 200 million climate refugees. Problems are seen in Brazil, China and Niger. There will be great effect on Mediterranean as well. Meteorologists say we need to count on more deaths, diseases and injures due to heat, floods, storms, droughts and forest fires in some part of the world. Climate change is projected to undermine food and energy security as well.

It is very likely that heat waves will occur with higher frequency and longer duration.Based on NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in last hundred years the temperature had risen for 0, 95 degrees Celsius. In the centuries mentioned above we will witness rise for another 2 or 3 degrees Celsius. Changing the average global temperature by even a degree or two can lead to serious consequences. For example, at the end of the last ice age, average temperatures were only 5 to 9 degrees cooler than today. Prediction for near future is reduction of corps that currently grows, increase amount of rainfall and with it floods, decrease in steam flow in some river basins andincrease number of areas burned by wildfire.

If all this sounds to you like catastrophic scenario for the future I need to inform you that you are mistaken. This is the present. Sudan’s Darfur is well known case and can be marked as a war for water. With the lack of water we will see problems along major rivers flows that run through different countries. There are already occurring some regarding river Euphrates and Tigris concerning Iraq, Syria,Iran and Turkey.According to a UN (United Nations) climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that are the sources of Asia’s biggest rivers – Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and Yellow – could disappear by 2350 as temperatures rises.Increasing conflict and land disputes are happening in the arid Sahel region, caused by changing climate. Imagine you do not have a reliable water resource, irregular water supply damages your crops and ruins harvest, change of rainfall or none at all jeopardize your securityand then clashes for survival begins.

Climate change will influence resource completion and put additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.Climate change will intensify poverty, environmental pollution, political instability and social tensions.There will be more than Kyoto protocols needed to reduce consequences of climate change and to prevent future and ongoing clashes. The problem is also that the single-largest carbon emitter, the United States has not made any lasting commitment to help tackle climate change. Also in developing countries such as India and China levels of CO2 emission has risen, and continue to rise. We need to be more energy sufficient, choose renewable power, eat wisely, trim our waste, fly and drive less, and last but not least get informed and involved.

Teja Palko is a Slovenian writer. She finished studies on Master’s Degree programme in Defense Science at the Faculty of Social Science at University in Ljubljana.

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Green Planet

5 ways the United Kingdom is leading the fight against plastic pollution




We’re only two months into 2018, but this year has already seen a number of concrete steps to combat plastic pollution in the United Kingdom. Changing public opinion, along with new restrictions on sending plastics to China (which previously took in 66 per cent of the UK’s plastic waste), have forced businesses and government bodies to reconsider traditional strategies for dealing with discarded plastic.

1. Queen Elizabeth bans disposable plastic

Buckingham Palace has implemented a plan to phase out the use of disposable plastics at royal estates. The new waste plan calls for ending the use of plastic straws and bottles in public and private dining areas. Additionally, biodegradable takeaway containers will be introduced. The Queen was reportedly inspired after working on a wildlife film with Sir David Attenborough, whose recent involvement in the BBC series Blue Planet 2 has been praised for bringing greater attention to the issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

2. Restaurants ditch plastic straws

An increasing number of UK restaurants and pubs are joining the global movement to end the use of plastic straws. Chains such as Costa Coffee, Pizza Express, Wagamama restaurants, and Wetherspoons have all put plans into place to phase out the use of non-biodegradable drinking straws in 2018. A number of independent establishments have also followed suit, encouraging customers to forego the straw or use a biodegradable one.

3. Scotland announces nationwide bans

While many companies and individuals have made great progress by phasing out plastic straws, the British nation of Scotland took it a step further by announcing plans for a countrywide ban on straws, which will be developed this year. This came on the heels of a previous announcement in January to ban the sale and manufacture of plastic cotton buds, which will be phased out over the course of 2018.

4. The UK says no to microbeads

In January, a government ban on plastic microbeads officially went into effect. The miniature plastic particles are widely used in cosmetics, soaps, and toothpastes, and due to their small size, can slip through treatment plants and pollute rivers and lakes. The first phase of the ban prevents the plastics from being used in the making of cosmetics and cleaning products, followed by a complete sales ban in July. This law follows similar ones passed by the United States, Canada, and Ireland, as well as moves by global cosmetics companies to phase out the use of such products.

5. Supermarkets go plastic free

In January the UK supermarket chain Iceland made headlines when it announced plans to eliminate plastic packaging for all Iceland branded products. The company released a five-year strategy that calls for introducing paper and pulp food containers, as well as paper bags, all of which can be returned to in-store recycling facilities. The company has already banned plastic straws and is beginning to introduce the new packaging over the next couple of months. Other companies such as Tesco and Aldi UK have announced similar plans, a response to increased demands from shoppers for environmental responsibility.

This article was originally published by UN Environment

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Green Planet

India to host World Environment Day 2018

MD Staff



Today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and Erik Solheim, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Head of UN Environment, jointly announced that India will be hosting the global World Environment Day celebrations on 5 June 2018.

“Beat Plastic Pollution”, the theme for World Environment 2018, urges governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health.

“India is excited to host the World Environment Day this year on June 5. Indian philosophy and lifestyle has long been rooted in the concept of co-existence with nature. We are committed to making Planet Earth a cleaner and greener place”, said Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

He added: “If each and every one of us does at least one green good deed daily towards our Green Social Responsibility, there will be billions of green good deeds daily on the planet.”

The Government of India has committed to organizing and promoting the World Environment Day celebrations through a series of engaging activities and events generating strong public interest and participation. From pan-Indian plastic clean-up drives in public areas, national reserves and forests to simultaneous beach clean-up activities – India will lead the initiative by setting an example.

“India will be a great global host of 2018’s World Environment Day celebrations,” said Erik Solheim at the announcement on Monday.

He added: “The country has demonstrated tremendous global leadership on climate change and the need to shift to a low carbon economy, and India will now help galvanize greater action on plastics pollution. It’s a global emergency affecting every aspect of our lives. It’s in the water we drink and the food we eat. It’s destroying our beaches and oceans. India will now be leading the push to save our oceans and planet.”

India is emerging as a leader, given it has one of the highest recycling rates in the world. It can be instrumental in combating plastic pollution. By hosting World Environment Day 2018, the Indian government is accelerating its leadership on an issue of tremendous magnitude.

World Environment Day is a UN Environment-led global event, the single largest celebration of our environment each year, which takes place on June 5 and is celebrated by thousands of communities worldwide.

Since it began in 1972, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated across the globe.

Most of all, World Environment Day is a day of everyone around the world to take ownership of their environment and to actively engage in the protection of our earth.

Plastic Pollution facts:

  • Every year the world uses 500 billion plastic bags
  • Each year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans, the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute.
  • In the last decade, we produced more plastic than in the whole last century
  • 50 percent of the plastic we use is single-use or disposable
  • We buy 1 million plastic bottles every minute
  • Plastic makes up 10% of all of the waste we generate

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Green Planet

Coral reefs: We continue to take more than we give

MD Staff



Maaenboodhoo, Maldives Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

Figures released today on international financial support being given to protect and sustainably manage the world’s coral reefs reveal funding contributions are not only inadequate, but disproportionate to how much the fragile ecosystems offer humans in food, livelihoods, medicine and environmental protection.

Coral reef ecosystems provide society with resources and services worth $375 billion per year. They house 25 percent of all marine life, feeding hundreds of millions of people; they enable discovery of new pharmaceuticals and provide work and income through the tourism and fisheries industries.

Yet we have lost at least one fifth of the world’s coral reefs, with some estimates placing the loss of live coral as high as 50 per cent. These vital ecosystems are being rapidly degraded as a result of warming sea temperatures due to climate change, overfishing, destructive fishing, ocean acidification, and a range of land-based activities. A recent study in the Asia-Pacific region also found that coral reefs are contaminated by 11 billion pieces of plastic, which are leading to coral disease.

The coral reef funding analysis, conducted by UN Environment, the International Coral Reef Initiative and the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, found that in the 83 countries surveyed, there was an increase in funding between 2010 and 2016 in response to global and regional policy commitments on environmental management and protection, but that the more than $1.9 billion currently being invested is not commensurate with the economic and social gains we make from coral reefs.

The value of a single hectare of coral reef in terms of tourism, shoreline protection and fisheries is, on average, $130,000 per year, and as much as $1.25 million where the tourism sector is large. Travel and tourism, much of it dependent on reefs, contribute a third of the GDP in the Caribbean for example, and as much as 80 percent in the Maldives.

Coastal fisheries supported by coral reefs contribute to food security of hundreds of millions of coastal dwellers, providing 70 per cent of the dietary protein of Pacific islanders. Coral reef organisms are a source of many medicines, such as antiviral drugs and the anticancer agent Ara-C used in chemotherapy for leukemia and lymphoma.

The analysis reveals annual investment in maintaining healthy reefs through overseas development assistance is only 0.07 percent of the value of the societal benefits we draw from them. And of this investment, the majority of funding for work related to coral reefs and associated ecosystems is driven by a small number of funders, with nearly three-quarters of all projects consisting of small-scale initiatives.

Funded projects for coral reefs and associated ecosystems were identified in a total of 83 countries and territories, out of more than 100 countries and territories where tropical corals are known to exist. Some countries with a large coral reef area were found to be receiving comparatively low amounts of donor funding per unit area of reef. Out of the 314 projects surveyed, 279 focused on a single country – Tuvalu.

Funding is essential for sustainable management of coral reefs and associated ecosystems worldwide. But greater consideration of these ecosystems as blue economy assets is required, both in the public and private sector, to enable more and more diverse investment, and in the longer term reduce reliance on donor funding.

“If greater action is not taken today, the planet could lose its live coral reefs and with them a large number of the world’s marine species by 2050,” said Gabriel Grimsditch of UN Environment’s Marine and Coastal Ecosystems Branch.

“The necessary change will only be possible when mindsets change, in the general public, among financial decision makers, and also in the environment sector.”

The Funding Analysis was conducted by UN Environment, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) and the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, and was funded by the Government of France.

2018: The International Year of the Reef

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) has declared 2018 the International Year of the Reef. UN Environment together with partner organizations is helping to drive a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs and threats to their sustainability, and to motivate people to take action to protect them. All individuals, corporations, schools, governments, and organizations are welcome and actively encouraged to participate in IYOR 2018.

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