HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

human developmentClimate change is the defining human development challenge of the 21st Century. Failure to respond to that challenge will stall and then reverse international efforts to reduce poverty. The poorest countries and most vulnerable citizens will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, even though they have contributed least to the problem. Looking to the future, no country—however wealthy or powerful—will be immune to the impact of global warming.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

Climate change is not just a future scenario. Increased exposure to droughts, floods and storms is already destroying opportunity and reinforcing inequality. Meanwhile, there is now overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is moving towards the point at which irreversible ecological catastrophe becomes unavoidable. Business-as-usual climate change points in a clear direction: unprecedented reversal in human development in our lifetime, and acute risks for our children and their grandchildren.

In a divided but ecologically interdependent world, it challenges all people to reflect upon how we manage the environment of the one thing that we share in common: planet Earth. It challenges us to reflect on social justice and human rights across countries and generations. It challenges political leaders and people in rich nations to acknowledge their historic responsibility for the problem, and to initiate deep and early cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Above all, it challenges the entire human community to undertake prompt and strong collective action based on shared values and a shared vision.

IPCC2000 REPORT

The IPCC2000  report, based on the work of some 2,500 scientists in more than 130 countries, concluded that humans have caused all or most of the current planetary warming. Human-caused global warming is often called anthropogenic climate change.

Industrialization, deforestation, and pollution have greatly increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all greenhouse gases that help trap heat near Earth’s surface. Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than can be absorbed by plants and oceans.

It is expected that environmentally friendly methods of electricity generation will help to lower the CO2 being produced during power generation. Some of this methods include solar and wind energy power generators.

THE SUN IS NOT TO BLAME

It’s global warming, it’s climate change, it’s our fault, no it’s volcanoes… wait, actually it’s the sun! Or maybe not.

The arguments about climate change have been raging for years. Some say that the warming is a natural occurrence, some blame humanity and then others simply say ‘what warming?’ One idea now at least can be put to rest – the sun is not to blame.

It has been very popular to cite that the planet goes through many warming and cooling periods as a direct result of changes in solar activity. It sounds fair enough, if the sun produces more heat we get warmer. And this was very much the idea put forward by Britain’s Channel 4 in their documentary called ‘The great global warming swindle.’ There is one main problem with blaming the sun – it’s just not true.

SOLAR ACTIVITY
It is true that up until about 1980 all the information showed that solar activity was increasing. This is exactly what they showed on all of their graphs, and it looks both convincing and logical. The sun was outputting more energy, the planet was getting warmer, bingo, we have our culprit! But this is just not the case, the trend in solar activity changed.

“This paper is the final nail in the coffin for people who would like to make the sun responsible for present global warming,” Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, told the journal Nature.

GLOBAL MEAN TEMPERATURES

Mike Lockwood, from Oxford’s Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory and Claus Fröhlich, from the World Radiation Centre in Switzerland recently published their paper in the UK’s Royal Society’s journal, stating clear evidence that the warming of the past two decades is not due to the sun – we need to look elsewhere.

Not only does the sun fail to explain any rise in temperature but it would actually suggest a cooling, as clearly stated in the abstract of the paper, “There is considerable evidence for solar influence on the Earth’s pre-industrial climate and the Sun may well have been a factor in post-industrial climate change in the first half of the last century. Here we show that over the past 20 years, all the trends in the Sun that could have had an influence on the Earth’s climate have been in the opposite direction to that required to explain the observed rise in global mean temperatures.”

COUNTERING GLOBAL WARMING

This study has compiled data about solar activity spanning the last one hundred years and have shown that solar activity peaked between 1985 and 1987.

“This is an important contribution to the scientific debate on climate change. At present there is a small minority which is seeking to deliberately confuse the public on the causes of climate change. They are often misrepresenting the science, when the reality is that the evidence is getting stronger every day. We have reached a point where a failure to take action to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions would be irresponsible and dangerous,” said a representative of the Royal Society.

Even though one theory countering global warming has been overturned new ones will come up every day. People will continue to say that the whole idea of climate change is nothing but government propaganda and a dozen or so other conspiracy theories. Now more than ever it is important for the public to be properly educated about what is going on. There are far too many places citing ‘scientific’ reasons as to why global warming is nothing but a lie. And sadly, with the way the media and the internet works, this is unlikely to change. Let’s just hope the politicians listen to the scientists and not to members of the public who are being confused and misled by far too many sources.

SHEEP BLAME HUMANS

Two years after scientists concluded that a breed of wild sheep on a remote Scottish island was shrinking over time, a study released Thursday revealed why: milder winters tied to global warming.

Due to milder winters, lambs on the island of Hirta do not need to put on as much as weight in the first months of life to survive to their first year, according to the study in the peer-reviewed journal Science. As a result, even the slower-growing ones now have a chance of surviving.

HEALTHY SHEEP

“In the past, only the big, healthy sheep and large lambs that had piled on weight in their first summer could survive the harsh winters on Hirta,” lead author Tim Coulson, a researcher at Imperial College London, said in a statement.

“But now, due to climate change, grass for food is available for more months of the year, and survival conditions are not so challenging — even the slower growing sheep have a chance of making it, and this means smaller individuals are becoming increasingly prevalent in the population.”

EVOLUTIONARY THEORY UPENDED

The study upends the belief that natural selection is a dominant feature of evolution, noting that climate can trump that card.

“According to classic evolutionary theory,” Coulson added, the sheep “should have been getting bigger, because larger sheep tend to be more likely to survive and reproduce than smaller ones, and offspring tend to resemble their parents.”

The sheep on Hirta have been examined closely since 1985 and experts concluded in 2007 that average body size was shrinking. By this year, it had decreased by 5 percent since 1985.

Coulson’s team analyzed body-weight measurements and key life milestones for a selected group of female sheep. They then plugged the data into a computer model that predicts how body size will change over time due to natural selection and other factors.

The results suggest that the decrease in average size is primarily an ecological response to warming, the authors said, and that natural selection has contributed relatively little.

  1. anna voronova
    May 29, 2010 at 5:16 am

    UNFCCC and The Kyoto Protocol
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by the United nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Its role is to assess a range of information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change.
    The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) is one of a series of international agreements and treaties on global environmental issues that were adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio. It provides the overall policy framework for addressing the climate change issue and so forms the foundation of global efforts to combat global warming.
    The ultimate goal of the FCCC is…
    ‘stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic human induced interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner’
    The FCCC does not yet specify what the stabilization level should be, with another 10 years probably needed before the uncertainties can be largely removed and an ideal target GHG level decided upon.
    The treaty promotes action against global warming in spite of the current uncertainty on the basis that its better to be precautionary than wait until irreversible damage is done.
    The FCCC entered into force in March 1994 following ratification by 50 of its signatory parties. In 1995 the FCCC set out some guiding principles and general commitments for the international response to climate change This was the first Conference of the Parties (COP)

    The Kyoto Protocol
    The Kyoto protocol was drawn up to set specific targets for reductions in greenhouse gas concentrations in the global atmosphere. Emission restrictions were made for the rich countries of annex 1 – the biggest greenhouse gas producers, and also the countries most able to cut emissions. Targets range from an 8 per cent cut for the EU to a 10per cent increase for Iceland, depending on the individual country.
    Annexe 1 also includes several ‘transition countries’, like the Russian federation, whose economies still need some development and are allowed ‘a certain degree of flexibility’. The emission reduction targets for these countries were laid out in Annexe B. To become legally binding the protocol had to be ratified by at least 55 countries which between them account for at least 55 percent of the total 1990 GHG emissions of developed countries.
    Details of the Kyoto Protocol
    A theme which runs through much of the Kyoto protocol is for countries to cooperate. Sharing both advances in GHG technology and science. The greatest achievement of the protocol so far is to get so many countries together and talking on a central issue.
    A cautionary note in the protocol is to be careful of the wider impacts GHG reduction schemes may have. Some may be too costly to maintain for the benefit they provide, others may cause an unreasonable degree of disruption to the populace, industry etc.
    Article 3.4 caused a great deal of argument as it did not specify what could be constituted as a valid sink or source and what ‘additional activities’ meant. The US took this article to mean that it could count forests which already existed in its sinks, other countries argued that this was not fair and would allow countries like the US to do relatively little.
    Joint Implementation
    This is one of the so called ‘flexibility mechanisms’ designed to help rich (annexe 1) countries meet their Kyoto commitment using methods other than directly via cuts in their own emissions. The flexibility mechanisms have caused some of the biggest arguments about the Kyoto protocol, but it is generally agreed that without them the size of the agreed reduction targets would have had to be much smaller.
    Annexe 1 Countries can transfer ’emissions units’ between them and implement joint initiatives to curb GHG emissions.
    This kind of joint implementation could involve a coordinated forest management scheme. However, there is concern that some of the richer countries may use the JI to bypass cutting their own domestic emissions by claiming the ’emissions credits’ from schemes they implement in ‘transition’ annexe 1 countries like Russia.
    GHG Equity
    GHG emission is extremely skewed geographically. We in the rich west produce many times more GHG per person than people in developing countries. Though our rich countries have only about 20% of the world’s population, we use about 80 percent of the worlds resources. The ominous thing is that our high standard of living – along with its high GHG emissions, is what many people in developing countries strife for. Part of Kyoto aims to tackle this big potential increase in GHG emissions by helping developing countries to avoid the polluting mistakes the rich countries have made and become developed with out the usual balooning in GHG emission – sustainable development’.
    The Clean Development Mechanism
    The clean development mechanism allows governments or private entities in rich countries to set up emission reduction projects in developing countries. They get credit for these reductions as ‘certified emission reductions (CER’s). This system is different from the Joint Implementation as it promotes sustainable development on developing countries.
    Emissions Trading
    A key feature of the protocol is the agreement on the use of some form of emissions trading. If introduced the trading system should allow the holder of a ‘credit’ the emission of a specified amount of GHG. A tradeable carbon credit unit called AAU’s (Assigned Amount Units) has been proposed which would represent one tonne of CO2 emissions.The advantages of this trading are that it drives countries to better efficiency in their own greenhouse gas emissions. However, this is probably the most contentious of all the’ flexibility mechanisms’.
    There is a worry that some rich countries will simply ‘buy off’ the GHG they produce and not take any action themselves. The idea of a ‘cap on the amount of trading has been suggested, but has produced even more argument’. Taken a step further, per capita emissions have been discussed as a Utopian way to be fair to all.. Maybe one day. But these credits will only have value for reductions made in the commitment period 2008-2012. Despite this some traders are already speculating in ‘carbon credits’ and its worth all businesses being aware of where they would stand in a world of ‘carbon credits’. Farmers for instance may be sitting on ‘pots of carbon gold’ in the form of the potential of their land as a carbon sink.

  2. Yang Hu
    November 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    The reason behind low productivity of the so called organic agriculture of today is because it has become highly commercialized and certification centric. Certifiers hardly bother about soil health and the lever of organic carbon in the soil. Moreover the soil itself is highly devoid of organic matter and this leads to low microbial population and bad soil structure. The perceived low productivity of organic agriculture is because of damage already done by intensive chemical farming wherein organic matter was hardly applied for many years. Over years, the land has progressively become sterile and hence low productivity. In India, we have written evidence of very high productivity of organic agriculture which is 30% more than the best managed modern farm with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If only more attention is given to organic agriculture as a means of improving soil health through incorporation of organic matter and biomass in the soil, then the yield from organic agriculture can rival that of chemical fertilizers. Take the case of rice. According to International Rice Research Institutie (IRRI) based as Manila, the maximum recovery of nutrients from chemical source of nitrogen is only between 30 – 35%. The rest 65 – 70% of nitrogen found in harvested paddy is from biological sources. This shows how inefficient the chemical forms of nutrient management is. The more research is done in proper nutrient management and soil health for crops, the more it points towards organic agriculture.

  3. alicia
    November 29, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    One only has to look at the recent urban agricultural revolution in Cuba to understand the vitally important role intensive organic farming has to play in feeding cities without oil. We are fast approaching the end of the oil age and the global agribusiness sector is destined for decline. This industry is reliant on vast amounts of cheap oil and gas to provide fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, and to perform planting, cultivating, harvesting, processing, packaging, transportation and marketing. As half of the world’s population now live in cities we must find ways to feed the global population through a progressive return to intensive organic farming in close proximity to major urban centres. Monocultures artificially supported by oil inputs that are far removed from urban populations will not feed the world’s people in the future. The world must recognise that cities are in fact ecosystems and that they must be managed in balance with the natural systems that support them. The only hope that humans have of feeding our 6.8 billion people is to realise that we must work with our ecosystems rather than against them. Organic farming will shift agri’business’ back to agri’culture’. It is only a matter of time.

  4. kim young
    September 4, 2009 at 5:28 am

    of course human GREED is causing the environmental disaster! no debate about it. we need medicines but do we really need all the non-biodegradable garbage sold as BEAUTY products? hell no.

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