Man-made climate change can be defined as a global rise in temperature is due to human activities. For instance, the excessive use of the fossil fuels for industries and transportation sector is putting pressure on natural ecosystems of the earth. Most of the scientists are skeptical that human activity is causing the global warming. Climate deniers are of the view that climate change is natural and not due to the human activity.
Misperceptions on Man-made climate change
First, if global warming is real, then why are we experiencing record-cold winters? One cannot deny the fact that extreme colder temperatures are observed in some of the areas. For example, the winter of 2009 to 2010 was extremely cold in Europe and particularly in Antarctica region. It would be wrong to claim it as a evidence against the global warming. Climate change is the complex phenomenon and multifaceted in nature. Moreover, El Nino is causing extreme weather patterns after every four years. Winters are getting warmer in the South American west coast. As a result, Europe is experiencing extremely cold weather due to increase in temperature of the sea surface of Northern Hemisphere.
Second, the sea ice in Antarctica region is not decreasing but the ice sheets have reduced immensely in Arctic region for past few years. The Antarctic region remained protected from the increase in global temperature. Due to the strong winds and ocean currents, that protects it from external climate changes. The increase in average Earth temperatures is empirically observed since systemic measurements of temperature began in 1880. 2016 was recorded as the warmest year along with 2015 and 2014 at a second and third place in terms of a global rise in temperature. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average increase in temperature was 0.85 degrees Celsius (about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) from 1880 to 2012.
Third, climate change is a natural phenomenon. Humans are not the only factor in the past; the current warming is just a part of natural process. The Earth’s climate has changed many times over the years as part of natural environmental processes. But the current rise in temperature is alarming because the pace of temperature has increased from last 10 years. According to the Climate change skeptics, CO2 emissions from human activity are not the only factor that influences the Earth’s climate to large extent. They are of the view that CO2 emitted from other sources such as volcanoes, by plants and the permafrost cycle.
The increase in carbon emissions caused by burning fossil fuels has disrupted the imbalance in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to the IPCC, it is “highly probable” that human activities have been the primary cause of global warming since the mid-20th century. In 1750, the concentration of CO2 has increased by 40 percent and methane by 150 percent. According to environmental pessimists that represents the conservative think tanks. For example, the Cato Institute that is funded by companies such as Volkswagen and other powerful groups that rely on the use of fossil fuels.
Fourth, it is often claimed that predicting weather forecast is difficult. How can we predict climate for coming 100 years? Predicting the weather is very different from predicting climate change. The weather is short-term often unpredictable that is influenced by a variety of factors. The climate, on the other hand, is long-term and can be observed. It is easy to predict the increase in global temperatures over decades by using different methods. According to the IPCC, the validity of climate forecasts has improved in recent years.
According to environmental pessimists, the rise in temperature by couple of degrees is not a major issue since Earth is resilient. On the surface level, the rise of temperature of few degrees doesn’t matter. But on a global level, these minor changes in temperature can have extreme consequences. It causes more extreme weather conditions such as drought, storms, and wildfires. The increase in sea levels due to melting glaciers can cause submergence of populated areas across the globe. The implementation of climate protection laws is needed. IPCC predicted that the average global temperature could go up to 5.4 degrees by the end of the 21st century.
It is difficult to predict the Earth’s climate for coming years due the changing nature of natural processes. Earth has an ability to replenish its deteriorating resources but the process is slow and gradual. It needs time to reproduce and recycle the used resources. The over-consumption of existing resources is increasing the pressure on the natural process of planet earth. To sum up, instead of arguing that man-made climate change is a myth scientists should focus on reducing the overuse of natural resources, for example, fossil fuels to meet the needs of an ever-increasing population.
World looks to nature-based solutions for urgent water challenges
As more than 2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and more than double that number lack access to safe sanitation, the international community is drawing attention to nature-based solutions for the water challenges of the 21st century on this World Water Day.
The theme of this year’s commemoration highlights the unique and fundamental role that nature-based solutions play in regulating the water cycle, keeping freshwater clean and improving the water security of our water cycles.
With the global population continuing to grow rapidly, demand for water is expected to increase by nearly one-third by 2050, while our freshwater ecosystems are degrading at an alarming rate – 64-71% of the natural wetland area worldwide has been lost due to human activity in the last century. Furthermore, water pollution has worsened in almost all rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America since the 1990’s
“We need to deal with the water paradox,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, calling attention to the need to work together towards a solution for our water challenge. “Water is the essence of life, but we don’t save it enough. It’s time to change mindsets, it’s not about development versus the environment.”
The 2018 edition of the UN World Water Development Report outlines a range of nature-based solutions for water management, from personal measure that can be applied in the home, to examples of “green” infrastructure that can be applied to rural and urban landscapes – such as planting new forests, restoring wetlands, and constructing green walls and roof gardens.
The report further clarifies that despite recent advances in the application of green infrastructure, a holistic approach to water management is to identify the most appropriate, cost-effective and sustainable balance between grey infrastructure and nature-based solutions.
“Today, more than ever, we must work with nature, instead of against it,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO in the foreword of the report. “Demand for water is set to increase in all sectors. The challenge we must all face is meeting this demand in a way that does not exacerbate negative impacts on ecosystems.”
World Water Day is celebrated every year on March 22nd. This year, the commemoration coincides with the World Water Forum, held in Brasilia, Brazil. The Forum is the world’s biggest water-related event, organized by the World Water Council. The Forum brings together water experts from around the world to collaborate on making long-term progress on global water challenges. http://www.worldwaterforum8.org/
Category 5 storms: A norm or exception?
Compared to their larger counterparts, small states are at a higher risk of extreme weather events, which threaten to wipe out their developmental gains, and to some extent, their very existence.
According to the IMF, the economic cost of the average natural disaster during 1950-2014 was nearly 13 percent of GDP for small states, compared to less than 1 percent of GDP for larger states. During that same period, the average natural disaster affected 10 percent of the population in small states, compared to just 1 percent for other countries.
In recent times, the frequency of disasters affecting small states has been far much greater, reflecting small states’ proximity to cyclone and hurricane belts. In addition, there has been a rapid expansion in the number of higher category cyclones. These have left a trail of devastation in their wake, and are estimated to have generated costs in the billions.
In March 2015, category 5 cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu, and in Fiji, category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston left over 40 percent of the population negatively impacted. A few weeks ago, Tropical Cyclone Gita, the worst storm to hit Tonga in 60 years, caused significant damage to infrastructure and unprecedented disruption to amenities.
As recent as last year, the Caribbean experienced widespread destruction and substantial loss and damage due to category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria. These hurricanes damaged critical infrastructure in Anguilla and Barbuda, whilst; and the Bahamas suffered remarkable damage to physical structures. Moreover, there were damages to over 80 percent of homes, electricity and telecommunications in Dominica; and the list goes on.
Is this growing frequency of robust and destructive category 5 storms a norm or exception?
Well, there is a growing body of evidence that seems to suggest that the recent increase of these highly destructive storms are indeed linked to climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) model projections, in particular, global warming is expected to cause an intensification of devastating cyclones by the end of the 21st century. I believe that should this projection come to fruition, such weather events will most-likely push small states beyond their coping point, given their already weak adaptive capacities.
The real question is this:
What does all this mean for the economic development and very existence of small states, and can this be solved through increased financing for development?
UN spotlights rainwater recycling, artificial wetlands among ‘green’ solutions to global water crisis
With five billion people at risk of having difficulty accessing adequate water by 2050, finding nature-based solutions, such as China’s rainwater recycling, India’s forest regeneration and Ukraine’s artificial wetlands, is becoming increasingly important, according to a United Nations report released Monday at the world’s largest water-related event in Brazil.
“We need new solutions in managing water resources so as to meet emerging challenges to water security caused by population growth and climate change,” said Audrey Azoulay, head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in the foreword of the UN World Water Development Report 2018.
“If we do nothing, some five billion people will be living in areas with poor access to water by 2050,” she added.
Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders in 2015 seeks to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all and, also access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030.
The report notes that the global demand for water has been increasing and will continue to grow significantly over the next two decades due to population growth, economic development and changing consumption patterns.
Due to climate change, wetter regions are becoming wetter, and drier regions are becoming even drier. At present, an estimated 3.6 billion people, nearly half the global population, live in areas potentially water-scarce at least one month per year, and this population could increase to some 4.8 billion to 5.7 billion by 2050.
The number of people at risk from floods is projected to rise from 1.2 billion today to around 1.6 billion in 2050, nearly 20 per cent of the world’s population. The population currently affected by land degradation, desertification and drought is estimated at 1.8 billion people, making this the worst natural disaster based on mortality and socio-economic impact relative to gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.
The UNESCO Director-General said the report proposes solutions that are based on nature to manage water better.
The report notes that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at disposal.
So-called ‘green’ infrastructure, as opposed to traditional ‘grey’ infrastructure, focuses on preserving the functions of ecosystems, both natural and built, and environmental engineering rather than civil engineering to improve the management of water resources, the report says.
In 1986, the province of Rajasthan in India experienced one of the worst droughts in its history. Over the following years, a non-governmental organization worked alongside local communities to regenerate soils and forests in the region by setting up water harvesting structures. This led to a 30 per cent increase in forest cover, groundwater levels rose by several metres and cropland productivity improved.
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