This week I got a report in the mail from the Tyndall Institute. The Institute is a respected scientific center for climate change research located in the UK. The report was titled Key8 for G8 and contained eight suggested areas that should be concentrated on in preparing for and dealing with the effects of global warming. In this story I would like to share those suggestions with you. Without you, the public, being aware of the scope of the problems that face us and the steps that need to be taken to at least lessen the damage done by climate change there will never be enough political pressure/support to enact the necessary measures until after it is too late.
The Institute believes that the G8 must work together to come up with policies for adressing climate change that are both politically acceptable and based on sound scientific evidence. The reason that this is important is very well illustrated in my last post which was about the Bush Administration’s attempts to cover up or alter such evidence.
The Institue feels that the Gleneagles Plan of Action is a landmark on the road to managing Climate Change. Now there can be serious discussions about a future world, post 2012. It is obvious that the G8 Nations are the one’s who must shoulder the lions share of the cost of Climate Change remediation since they are also the nations that contributed most of the greenhouse gas pollution to the atmosphere in the first place. Third World nations must be lent the support of richer nations to adapt to the changing enviornment.
Leaders of the G8 Nations. Image SOURCE.
The first suggestion was that “Climate Change solutions must be fair and just”. This is of course an important consideration. Consider Africa, with a huge population and rampant poverty it is hard to imagine that they could shoulder as much responsibility financially as North America could. But yet they will feel the effects of Climate Change just the same if not perhaps more simply because they dont have the modern convieniences (such as air conditioning or even electricity and clean, running water) that the G8 nations do in as widespread use. But by the same token these nations should have a voice in the plans that are being enacted to save the world as it is as much their world as anyone else’s.
The second suggestion is the statement that new evidence suggests that a low carbon economy will cost less than was originally thought. Recent reports said that reducing the carbon emissions in the UK from ground based sources would be totally offset by an increase in the emissions produced by increased air traffic. The Institute looked at a long range cost scenario based on their being “clusters” of necessary innovations that will occur between now and 2050. That being the case the total cost of carbon remediation is anticipated to be between 0 and 2% of the world GDP by 2050. and they are projecting that, by that time, the GDP in most countries will have risen by as much as 300%.
The third suggestion is the statement that the UK (and other countries) CAN achieve their carbon reduction goals. As I mentioned it had recently been postulated that increased air traffic would erase the benefits of any other carbon reduction programs. Tyndall was the first group to include this additional carnbon into their calculations. They admit that meeting the reduction goals will certainly be more difficult but they believe it is still possible. They say that what is needed is a coordinated energy strategy in which economic growth is reconciles with substantial decarbonization of households, transportation and the energy production sector.
The fourth suggestion has to do with the ongoing death of coral reefs around the world and specifically in the Caribbean. The death of the reefs are making these Islands more vulnerable to Climate Change. The Tyndall Institute has determined that coral reefs in the Caribbean have suffered and 80% decline over the past thirty years. A figure that they describe as “phenominal”. The consequences to the local economies range from a reduction in tourist and sport diving revenue as well as reduced fish stocks and the reduction of the reef’s effectiveness as buffers against intense hurricanes.
Map showing major coral reef bleaching areas. Image SOURCE.
The fifth suggestion is that we shift from emergency flood response to health care preparedness. Flooding is a fact of life almost everywhere in the world. As the rate and effect of Climate Change intensifies though there will be more severe and more frequent flooding in many areas. For this reason the Institute feels that we must address the effects of flooding in advance. This involves planning for such effects as drowning and injury, exposure to diseases, sanitation and access to food and water for people in these areas. This will involve the detailed analysis of the effectiveness of our current emergency response programs and a shift in thinking to preparedness instead of emergency response.
The sixth suggestion is that the Institutes scenarios can help prepare for the future. The institute has developed plausible depictions of how climate change is likely to progress over the next 80 years. Based on this knowledge plans are being laid now by various organizations that will enable the infrastructure and peole of the world to adapt to these changes. Some of the predicted changes are that summer heat waves will be more frequent and intense, winters will be wetter and that the sea level will continue to rise.
The seventh suggestion says that communities should be involved in decisions about coastal planning. In many parts of the world the coastlines are going to change with rising sea levels. The various players who are involved in planning the development of coastal areas are to be included in such discussions regarding the future. The plan is to combine education with dialogue and regional co-operation.
The eigth and final suggestion is that the public must be intimately involved in this process otherwise they simply wont care about it until it hits them. People just don’t percieve the climate change phenomenon as “danger” because they can’t see it in their everyday lives. Until they are made aware of the reality of the danger facing us though workable solutions to the effects of Climate Change cannot be developed. So a bridge must be builtacross the gulf between public perception and scientific data. The Institute surveyed movie goers after seeing the disaster movie “Day After Tomorrow” and found that the watchers expressed a stronger but momentary motivation to act on Climate Change from watching the movie. More than this is necessary if we are to succeed.
Note: A gentleman named Calvin Jones asked me to mention that he has started a blog on Climate Change which can be found HERE.
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By Michael Johnston