Sunday, December 06, 2009

10 signs .....

Tomorrow, 7 December, the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference will kick off. Brunei, as a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol will be among over 190 countries at the table. Each country with their own agenda, concerns, worries, positions, negotiating to achieve an historic agreement which many pundits say the biggest, most historic agreement mankind has ever seen to date. It is definitely a monumental task. Some people dare not think what failure will mean to humankind.

Most, if not all scientists, says it is unequivocal the climate change and the warming of the earth is the direct result of human activities. This is despite the stories going around now about the leaked emails from some scientists purportedly exaggerating the effects of the greenhouse gases and the climate change. We, the so called layman, the non scientist, have to rely on what the scientists say. But there must be some things we have experienced, we heard, we watched, we read that points to effects of climate change. The Straits Times in its 5 December2009 edition listed 10 signs of Climate Change:

  1. Rising Temperatures: average global temperatures forecast to rise by an additional 1.1 to 6.4 deg C this century affecting weather patterns, the environment and human life.
  2. Rising Sea Levels: sea levels up to 15 – 20 cm in the last century. The pace is quickening and by 2100 sea levels may rise by as much as 2 metres threatening coastal communities and low lying islands.
  3. Melting Ice: Glaciers are retreating at unprecedented rates. Together, Antarctica and Greenland has lost 2.5 trillion tonnes of ice since 2002. The meltdown contributes to rising sea level. Loss of Arctic Ice also frees methane – a greenhouse gas – from seas and soils, worsening global warming.
  4. Dying Seas: the seas absorb CO2 emissions but increasing output is turning the waters more acidic, threatening marine life. Warm water also contributes to death of about a quarter of the world’s coral reefs.
  5. Severe storms: the frequency of downpours as well as the power of hurricanes have increased dramatically that “100 year storms” are striking some areas once every 15 years.
  6. Parched Earth: more intense heatwaves in the past 50 years. El Nino weather pattern associated with droughts appearing in shorter intervals.
  7. Smaller Harvests: this year farmers in India, Indonesia and the Philippines are reporting harvest up to 50 percent less than the usual yield due to extreme weather of dry spells punctuated by downpours. It would only take a metre of rise in sea level to cover half of the rice fields in Bangladesh, inundate much of the Mekong Delta, and submerge parts of Asia’s rice growing deltas.
  8. Earlier Springs: Japan’s cheery blossom came five days early this year and a week earlier than the average for the past three decades. Changes in the onset of seasons could lead to animals dying because the food they depend on is no longer appearing at the expected time.
  9. Spread of Diseases: diseases and their carriers are travelling to new pastures because of warmer temperatures.
  10. Endangered Species: the most high profile victim of global warming may yet be the polar bear. The US Geological Survey predicts if the Arctic sea ice keeps melting, two thirds of the 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears would be gone by mid century. Countless other creatures and plants worldwide are under threat.

I am sure we have experienced some of these signs. The unpredictable weather especially and not forgetting the flash flooding it brings. And off course the El-Nino effect we hear year in and year out.

Hope by 18 December2009, the end of the Copenhagen Conference, the world will see an historic agreement to save the earth and eventually humankind....

What can we do? Apparently agriculture and food industry is one of the major contributors of greenhouse gas. Some experts say production of red meat especially is extremely intensive in emitting greenhouse gases. May be it is about time we listen to our doctors and dieticians. Go on a diet. Eat less red meat. Not only we will be healthier, our doctors happier, wallets thicker, we will also be helping to save the earth.

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