Friday, September 04, 2009

President Kiribati's Dilemma aired on BBC

From: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

"Life On The Edge" programme presents: 'The President's Dilemma: Should Kiribati's President Anote give in to climate change?'

The Pacific islands of Kiribati were among the last places to be colonized. But now rising sea levels mean they may be the first to be abandoned. Should Kiribati's President Anote give in to climate change? Or can he persuade his people to tough it out?

The programme can be watched at which states:

Anote Tong is President of a small nation - a group of 33 atoll islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, half-way between Australia and Hawaii. Tongis faced with a dilemma the likes of which most government leaders couldn't image. Scientists predict that within 30 to 50 years the nation he governs will have disappeared, covered over by rising seas resulting from global climate change.
"For some time I did not sleep because I didn't have a solution to a problem that there wasn't a solution to," says Tong. "What happens to us in thefuture? Do we disappear as a culture? So these are the issues that keep me awake."
A new television documentary explores some of the issues that keep Tongawake and put his nation's 108,000 residents at risk. Airing September 1 at 20:30 (GMT) as part of tve's new 'Life on the Edge' series on BBC World News, "The President's Dilemma" takes a hard look at the impact that climate change is having on poor, low-lying island nations like Kiribati and what can be done to help ease the burden for those who are living on the frontlines.
"Already we have whole villages being washed out," Tong says in the documentary. "There's no running away from the reality that the seas are rising. There is no running away from that reality."
One recent study from the University of Colorado shows that even if carbon dioxide emissions are stabilized, sea levels will continue to rise as much as two metres by the end of this century. For the people of Kiribati, who live on narrow strips of land about the width of a city block just two metres above sea level, it's a trend that spells disaster. Already, sea level rises in Kiribati have inundated islands. Tebua and Bikeman islands off the coast of Tarawa, the country's capital, have vanished. At the same time, salt water intrusion into aquifers is getting worse. Indeed, scientists predict salination will make the islands un inhabitable long before rising water over takes settlements. As temperatures rise, extreme drought and storms have also become all too frequent, and people are struggling to grow the staple crops, like coconut, breadfruit and taro, that have sustained life for generations.
Although Tong's plan is to eventually get his people off the islands, he needs to build the country's economy in the mean time if he is to prevent further suffering as conditions get worse. Convincing development organizations to invest in a country that won't be around in 50 years has been a challenge but some, like IFAD, have been answering the call. The documentary film looks at the work that IFAD has been doing on one of the country's most remote southern islands, Arorae. Ron Hartman, IFAD's CountryProgramme Manager, says there is a lot that can be done to help people mitigate the impact of climate change and increase agricultural production.
"Agricultural research could contribute to improving soil fertility,"explains Hartman. "Agricultural research could also contribute to developing crop varieties that they can grow in high temperatures or salty water. But the urgency is now."
The Centre of Excellence for Atoll Agriculture Research and Development,with support from IFAD, will be looking at these very issues, helping local farmers on remote atolls improve their productivity and adapt to climate change. All of which, according to Tong, helps buy islanders more time.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

President Nasheed tells the world to not be stupid!

Jeremy Hance
September 01, 2009

"Please, don't be stupid," Mohamed Nasheed told the world regarding the need to act decisively against climate change. To underlie his message, Nasheed announced that his country will become carbon neutral in ten years. "If the Maldives a small relatively poor country can achieve a big reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions, there can be no excuse from richer nations who claim that going green is too complex, too expensive, or too much bother," he said.

As the world's lowest-lying country, the Maldives may also be the world's most threatened nation from climate change. Made up of twenty-six atolls, it is estimated that a one meter rise in the world's sea levels could swamp the country, forcing the exodus of over 300,000 people.

“If the world can’t save places such as the Maldives today, we won’t be able to save places such as London, New York, and Hong Kong tomorrow. What we need to do together is nothing short of de-carbonizing the entire world economy," Nasheed said.

While the president recognized that moving towards a carbon neutral economy won't be easy, he says that it is feasible. "Will this be difficult to accomplish? Definitely. Will this painful to do? Probably. Will this be possible to achieve? Yes, absolutely possible. If man can walk on the moon, we can unite to conquer our common carbon enemy. We are willing to play our part." After announcing his country's pledge to become carbon neutral in a decade, Nasheed turned to addressing the rest of the world—and most specifically the delegates who will meet for the Climate Change summit in Copenhagen in December.

"The world has an opportunity to come together and prevent the looming environmental catastrophe," Nasheed said. "This opportunity as we all know is called Copenhagen, and let’s be very frank about this: Copenhagen can be one of two things. It can be an historic event where the world unites against carbon pollution in a collective spirit of cooperation and collaboration, or Copenhagen can be a suicide pact. The choice is that stark. My message to you, my message to the world is simply this: please don’t be stupid."

Nasheed spoke via video link at the premier of Age of Stupid a film which dramatically depicts what life may be like if the world doesn't tackle climate change quickly. His statement—met with applause and cheering—was called a possible 'game changer' for the Copenhagen talks.

Blogger note: To watch you tube video:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Risks and Solutions from around the World

From Reuters India
31st August 2009

A 150-nation conference in Geneva is looking at ways to improve climate information to help people cope with ever more droughts, floods, sandstorms and rising sea levels projected this century.
The August 31-September 4 talks are to agree a "Global Framework for Climate Services" that will improve information in areas ranging from health to energy. Among examples of risks and solutions from around the world given by U.N. agencies:

Between 1991 and 2005, natural disasters killed 960,000 people and economic losses totaled $1.19 trillion. Nine out of 10 natural disasters in the past 50 years have been caused by extreme weather and climate events. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) supplies early warnings of disasters including cyclones and dust storms. Vietnam is replanting mangroves along the Mekong River delta to help protect low-lying areas from floods as seas rise.
Water-borne diseases may become more frequent because of climate change -- for instance, warmer oceans can lead to toxic algal blooms and cholera epidemics. A heatwave in Europe in 2003 caused 70,000 more deaths than normal. Botswana is using seasonal rain forecasts to help predict malaria outbreaks. The forecasts give time to deploy resources against mosquitoes and provide nets to keep the insects at bay.
Tourism generated $735 billion in revenue in 2006, of which $221 billion was in developing nations. Projected sea level rise this century would worsen coastal erosion and lead to the loss of beaches on tropical islands that depend on tourists.Some ski resorts are using temperature projections for coming decades to site ski lifts. In Vermont, one ski resort has built a reservoir to feed water to snow-making machines.
More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to clean water. Drought and desertification worldwide threaten the livelihoods of 1.2 billion people. Countries in the Himalayas are working to assess risks of floods from lakes, now held in behind glaciers. A thaw of the glaciers could lead to an "outburst flood."
In 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed more than 100 offshore oil and gas platforms off the United States. Energy industry losses from hurricanes in 2005 were estimated at $15 billion. Developing countries such as India and Mali are turning to jatropha, which grows with little rain on wasteland and does not compete with crops. Jatropha can be burned as fuel, helps store carbon in the ground and slows desertification.
Climate change will disrupt farming and fishing just as the world population rises to a projected 9 billion by 2050 from more than 6 billion now. Farmers in the Ningxia region of China are trying to work out better ways to allocate water during droughts and think how crops will change in the next 70 years.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Parts of Queensland coastline off-limits to development

From: The Australian
Andrew Fraser
26th August 2009

PARTS of the Queensland coastline will be declared off-limits for development under a coastal planning policy released yesterday that claims sea levels will rise 80cm over the rest of this century. Under Queensland's planning laws, yesterday's draft policy would set guidelines for development that would then be implemented by local councils.

Queensland is a coastal development "hotspot", and in the past few years several local councils have been forced to make their own estimates of future rises in sea levels due to global warming, and have applied them to development applications. However, Queensland is believed to be the first state to put a figure on how much the sea will rise.

The Bligh government policy is based on the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and predicts sea levels will rise 30cm by 2050 and 80cm by 2100. Government and industry figures yesterday predicted that if these guidelines were adopted by local councils, it would have an effect on coastal development in all major coastal towns.

But the areas most affected would be Mooloolaba and Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, where most of the beach disappeared after strong storms in May, and parts of the Gold Coast and Yeppoon, Mackay and Cairns further north. A spokesman for the state government said the policy would not apply to existing houses and units on the beachfront but only to future development, as well as redevelopment on existing sites.

Planning Institute of Australia vice-president Greg Tupicoff said the policy would give some certainty to developers and flexibility to local councils.

"That's really what industry wants -- that combination of certainty and flexibility," he said.