Search Results for Tag: nature
Departing from the world as we know it
In light of the coming climate conference COP19 in Warsaw a new study published today in the scientific journal Nature highlights the importance of urgent greenhouse gas (ghg) mitigation: Researchers say that weather extremes will eventually move beyond anything that could be explained by natural climate variability.
Sceptics often argue that what the majority of scientists call climate change is just natural variability. And the fact that the earth did not get warmer for the last 16 years they take as a proof that climate researchers’ predictions are wrong. Obviously climate scientists couldn’t disagree more, and this study further undermines the sceptics’ argument. From the data they conclude that at some point – the so called “climate departure” – climate extremes will even surpass anything we have have seen in the last 150 years of a changing climate.
If you think that is now at a distant point of time – far from it! Depending on the volume of GHG emitted, this “climate departure” could already happen in the middle of this century. In a low emission scenario (which requires limiting CO2 concentration to 538 ppm by 2100 – from around 393 ppm nowadays) mean climate would move out of historical bounds by 2069 on world average. In a business-as-usual scenario (936 ppm by 2100) these boundaries would already be exceeded by about 2047 on world average.
For their experiment, the researchers compared historical climate variability with the projections for a future time period until 2100. They defined historical climate variability for the period of 1860 to 2005 – a time when anthropogenic influence on climate has already been at play. Excluding this anthropogenic GHG emission from their calculations, climate departure would set in about 18.5 years early in a low and 11.5 years earlier in a business-as-usual scenario.
“The results shocked us. Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon,” said lead author Camilo Mora of Social Sciences’ Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, in a press release. “Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past.”
For their calculations of climate departure year, the team did not only look at air temperature (as shown above), but also at several more factors that determine climate change – such as sea surface temperature, precipitation, evaporation, and acidification of oceans. As these factors differ spatially, the researchers developed an map showing the departure dates for several cities.
What happens in consequence to climate departure, depends on the biological properties of that region: How well can species adapt to new conditions? Can they migrate to more suitable habitat? How will migration affect interaction with other species? In the highly biodiverse tropics (dashed area on the map) for example, the shift will occur far earlier than in other parts of the world. At the same time, precedent climate variability is quite low in this area and thus species are not used to varying conditions and might fail to adapt to new ones. That is why this climate shift threatens biodiversity of these regions.
But this is not only about plants and animals – also five billion people will be affected by the climate shift by 2050 in a business-as-usual-scenario. People, that are mainly living in developing and low-income-countries. This leads the scientific researchers to an almost political demand: “This suggests that any progress to decrease the rate of ongoing climate change will (…) require more extensive funding of social and conservation programmes in developing countries to minimize the impacts of climate change (…) if widespread changes in global biodiversity and human societies are to be prevented.”
DateOctober 9, 2013
On location in Rwanda: towering trees and crazy discussions
Modern skyscrapers and people talking to towering trees, irrepressible children who insisted on being in every frame and a heated discussion during a drive – reporter Julia Henrichmann came away with some lasting impressions while filming in Rwanda.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the Rwandan capital Kigali, chances are you’ll always find a moto-taxi (a motorcycle taxi), at your side waiting to drive you through the lush green valleys dotting the city. On the one hand, Kigali is a modern city with skyscrapers, busy streets and crowded shops. On the other, it’s also not unusual to come across pockets where some of the most amazingly large trees and plants find space to grow.
To get a sense of how big the trees are, I asked our driver Ismael to stand next to one I liked very much. He suddenly touched the tree and began talking to it. I asked him why. “Oh,” he said. “This must be a very old one, much older than me so I have to treat it with respect.”
I cannot say whether people are as respectful of nature everywhere in the country. There are many areas in Rwanda where people cut almost every tree for firewood. Gathering firewood is normally done by children. Some don’t go to school because of the long distances they have to walk to get firewood. It’s a problem that’s worsening by some estimates. Firewood is used in homes for cooking because there’s often no electricity. Many use diesel generators.
When we came to the countryside to the district of Nasho, many children wanted to touch me. Most of them had never seen a white person because they had never traveled beyond their district. They were delightful and innocent in a way that I have never seen children elsewhere. Maybe that’s because they did not expect anything from me. All they wanted was that I listen to them and spend some time with them (even though I did not understand their language).
And, of course they wanted me to take photos with them, even during the filming. They walked into every frame! How could we tell them that we just wanted Anastase Tabaro in the film, the man who brought electricity to their village? So we decided to make them part of the film. The villagers’ happiness and pride was palpable as they led us to the little hydro-electrical pump Anastase Tabaro had built for them.
Driving back to Kigali, we had a crazy animated discussion in the car and I became a bit alarmed that the Rwandans would come to blows. So they stopped talking in their native language and switched to English and French for my benefit. And so, what was the big discussion about? What’s the topic that pops up in conversations in Rwanda sooner or later? The genocide.
Even though it happened almost 20 years ago, everybody still talks very much talks about it. Every family here has been affected personally by the tragic event. When you come to Rwanda, you should no longer ask: “Are you a Hutu or a Tutsi?” That’s not the question anymore. The question we argued about in the car was the role of the media during the war and the genocide. Do you as a camera crew film or do you help the victims lying at your feet? During the three-hour drive, we came no closer to any answers. You will probably never find them.
DateJune 12, 2013
Act now – or you’re (perhaps) wasting money
If planet Earth’s fate is not strong enough an argument for fighting climate change, perhaps money is? Researchers now calculated the costs of climate change: They found that costs enormously increase the longer politicians put off taking action. So are our economies prepared to take the hit?
About 200 country leaders agreed at the UN climate conference in Doha last December to (further) lower greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 on. That is how they want to keep global warming in check limiting it to two degrees compared to the preindustrial level. “If you delay action by 10, 20 years you significantly reduce the chances of meeting the 2 degree target”, Keywan Riahi, IIASA energy program leader and study co-author told Reuters news agency.
The scientists developed a freely available software-tool to test under which conditions the two-degree-target is most likely to be obtained. For the first time, they included all important variables in their calculation: the time elapsed until first action takes place, future energy demand, carbon prices, new energy technologies, and uncertainty about how the climate system reacts.
Though all of them are important, the most crucial one is the time it takes until you take action, Riahi says: “With a twenty-year delay, you can throw as much money as you have at the problem, and the best outcome you can get is a fifty-fifty chance of keeping temperature rise below two degrees.”
DateJanuary 4, 2013
An awkward position
Klaus Esterluss and Kerstin Schnatz, Doha
They all had to squeeze through: Shoppers and staff from surrounding restaurants moved past a tree made out of cans and tires at Doha’s traditional market area yesterday. 16 year old Mourad Farahat from Egypt and his friends from the organisation „You Think Green“ tried to raise the awareness of passers by for a greener future. Despite having received a permission for setting up their action at a spacious juncture a few meters further down, security guards told them to move the symbolic tree to a very inconvenient area with hardly any space, between a wall and the outside seating area of a restaurant.
By being in this awkward position of Doha’s „Souq Waqif“, the youths shared a fate with the international climate negotiations taking place in the same city that day. Civil society groups watching the international process carefully, are heavily critizising the Qatari Presidency for not showing enough leadership. „Key elements are stalling“ Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network, said. According to Hmaidan, the talks that are scheduled to end on Friday, December 7th, were at „a critical juncture“. The NGO expert is in line with young Mourad, when asking for a global reduction of carbon emissions and more money to help poorer countries adapting to climate change.
DateDecember 6, 2012
Tagscop18, doha, egypt, environment, garbage, Germany, global ideas, market, nature, qatar, shops, souq waqif, trash, you think green
Floating into the future
You know houseboats, you know cars that are build to swim or tanks. But can you image to live on water in a real hous? That is reality for example in Nigeria, where the people of Makoko build their houses on stilts above the lagoon. What is tradition there, might be a model idea which other parts in the world can adopt to.
Rising sea levels due to climate change will force many people to leave their homes and migrate to places that won’t be covered with water in future time.
Facing this Scenario, the Maledive Islands government had an unusual idea: floating islands. They cooperate with a Dutch arcitechtural company to build artificial islands that stay above, no matter how much the sea level rises.
Do you think this is a proper idea to realize on large scale?
DateNovember 11, 2012
Tagsbiodiversity, environment, floating, global ideas, house, houseboat, living, makoko, nature, nigeria, swimming, urban