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Wednesday, 02 December 2015 06:00

Climate Change: You and Me

Written by  Vicki Thomas

Climate Change-web

The climate crisis. Climate Change. Global Warming. This isn’t going to go away without some effort from all of us.

This week the Paris climate summit is tackling the large issues of the climate, the environment, 2 degrees Celsius, and what can and needs to be done. As is typical with such conferences, there is a lot of political back-and-forth including agreements, promises and disagreements.

While it is too early to draw conclusions from this meeting of World leaders, it is important to think about the climate and how it impacts you and me. To help emphasize the impacts of climate change, consider these quotes and comments on the impacts we are contributing to:

Drought, Forest Fires, Extreme Rain = Poverty, Hunger, Conflict, Crisis

“Portions of Tuvalu and Miami are still likely to be lost to the sea by the 2080s, farming will become more and more difficult in large parts of the world as droughts become more frequent and severe, and forest fires will continue their unrelenting advance. Why we can be hopeful about climate change (slate.com)”

“Many migrants come from countries seriously affected by climate change.

Persistent droughts and extreme rainfall are affecting agriculture, they cause poverty, hunger, and conflict over declining natural resources like water and food, as people move away from hard-hit regions they put more pressure on natural resources and infrastructure in other areas.

The climate debate revolves around reduction of emissions, adaptation to the effects of climate change, and then “loss and damage” when adaptation no longer is possible.

Climate change works as a threat multiplier, making unstable situations worse. So, conflicts may spread, forcing people to become refugees.Climate change will increase flow of migrants to Europe (climatechangenews.com)”

Ability to Adapt

“Loss and damage is when the impacts of climate change go beyond what is possible to adapt to. It’s not possible to adapt if your home becomes uninhabitable through rising sea levels.

Nor is it possible to adapt to your family’s farmland turning to desert. And one can never adapt to losing members of your family.

Recent examples of loss and damage include the devastation wreaked by super storms – Typhoon Haiyan on the people of the Philippines and Cyclone Pam on the people of Vanuatu and Tuvalu.

Nearly 5,000 people died in India and Pakistan in heatwaves this summer, and 1.3 million people in Myanmar have recently been displaced from record flooding.

Central America has spent roughly 10% of GDP recovering from disasters in the last decade, most of them related to climate. As climate change becomes worse more and more people will face loss and damage from climate change.

A global climate change agreement without loss and damage at its core is not tenable. What is the point of an agreement that does not address the worst impacts of climate change and is willing to sacrifice” those most vulnerable to climate change for the sake of expediency. Paris climate agreement can’t leave behind the most vulnerable (climatechangenews.com)”

35 Degrees Fahrenheit

“In a statement, the group said: Warming has now reached 1C. At the same time, our islands are experiencing the impacts of an ongoing extremeEl Niño and the science is telling us that such events will occur twice as often over the 21st century if we do not act strongly and decisively. Additional magnitudes of warming will only increase the risk of such severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.” Paris climate talks: Vulnerable centuries demand a 1.5C warming limit (theguardian.com)”

“The sooner we realize that the 2-degree goal is lost, the sooner we can focus on preparing for the impacts that are in store,with an eye toward justice for the countries bound to be hit hardest. Admitting defeat on 2 degrees, in this sense, would be a great victory in Paris—as long as it’s the beginning of a discussion about how to cope with the implications.Why we can be hopeful about climate change(slate.com)”

“The president was on the money. Even if every pledge is met (they have so far been received from 166 countries responsible for more than 90% of the world’s emissions) global warming will still hit at least 2.7C and might even rise to 3.5C – an outcome science tells us will still cause Australian cities like Perth to experience 50% more days with temperatures over 45C, reduce winter and spring rainfall in the southeastern Australian food bowl, increase the frequency and severity of droughts and increase the number of days of extreme fire danger in southern eastern Australia. Without an agreement, those impacts would be worse. Seven things the Paris climate talks could do, and what they mean to Australia (theguardian.com)”

Pollution

“Beijing has been shrouded in grey smog since Friday, reducing visibility to a few hundred metres.

Some pollution readings in the city have reached 22 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization - despite commitments from the government to improve the environment.

Beijing and many other northern cities in China are notorious for their winter smog, which is caused by a combination of air pollution and weather conditions.

More than a quarter of a million people in China's biggest cities could have their lives cut short by high levels of air pollution, according to a recent joint study by Peking University and Greenpeace. Worst smog of the winter envelopes Beijing (aljazeera.com)”

Poorest are Hit the Hardest

“Meanwhile, in the real world, emissions continue to pile on and impacts stack. Many of the most vulnerable countries have such low emissions of their own that they can do nothing themselves to remedy the problem that they did nothing to cause.

For example, my own country, Pakistan, contributes less than 1% of global emissions, but is a frontline vulnerable state. Melting glaciers, messed-up monsoons, intense heat waves, erratic and severe floods: these are not just projections for the future,these are realities Pakistan is already having to adapt to. Research suggests that by 2040, agriculture productivity could drop by 8-10%; by 2050, the cost of adaptation could be ashigh as $14bn a year. I’ve seen 21 years of COP failures. Paris needs to deliver action not talk. (theguardian.com)”

At first glance, simply pulling out these quotes and news snippets could appear to be fear-mongering or hype… sadly this is not the case. The ramifications of climate change have a real global impact - one that will be felt worldwide. Drought, pollution, poverty, migration, refugee crises - these are realities that are and will continue to increase. How does this affect your supply chain? your third-party vendors? your overseas employees? your ability to transport quality products? the cost of your groceries? your ability to travel for business and pleasure? the future?

Climate change can’t be ignored or brushed off as something that isn’t going to impact you or me. It is impacting you - you might not be feeling it right now, but given time, you’ll see and feel it more than you realized.

To learn more about climate change read the following: