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Ice-Blog

Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Arctic CO2 hits alarming levels

 

The Arctic sea ice - on the wane

The Arctic sea ice - on the wane (photographed off Greenland)

Worrying news from scientists in the USA monitoring the global CO2 concentration. NOAA (The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)  says for the first time ever, more than 400ppm (parts per million) have been measured in the atmosphere in the Arctic. This is a very worrying development. Jim Butler, who’s in charge of global monitoring at NOAA, says this should be a reminder to everybody that we are in deep trouble. CO2 concentration has been rising increasingly fast. 350 ppm is the figure many scientists say is the highest the earth can go without being in danger from drastic climate change.

So far, it’s only the Arctic – which is heating up around twice as fast as the rest of the planet – where the 400pm mark has been reached. The average is around 395ppm for  the rest of the world. But the NOAA researchers – not known for exaggeration I’d say – say the 400 mark will be reached in just a few years.

Bearing in mind the lack of progress in international negotiations, with a report recently published indicating we’re heading for a 3.5 degree C rise in global temperature, way above the 2° target set by the international community, it’s hard to see how we are going to turn this around. And, as Professor Mojib Latif, one of the IPCC lead authors and a renowned meteorologist and climate expert, reminded me just last week, even those 2° would be a major challenge and unprecendented for the earth.

Date

June 1, 2012 | 2:04 pm

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Climate talks and linguistic finesse

 

The Arctic ice continues to melt...

While the Arctic ice continues to melt...

Do you know the feeling when you read minutes or an account of a meeting and wonder if the person who wrote it was actually at the same event as you? Subjective perceptions are often very different, and that is even more the case when it comes to international negotiations about climate change. I remember when the last head of the UNFCCC Yvo de Boer resigned in the wake of the Copenhagen climate talks fiasco,  I wrote a commentary entitled “No job for an optimist”. Maybe I should have turned it around to “optimism essential” – or at least keeping a positive attitude and repeatedly sending out positive signals no matter how frustrating the process is.

Date

May 30, 2012 | 1:28 pm

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Climate adaptation or building resilience (and does it matter?)

Every drop counts

Four weeks away from the Rio Summit, the impression I’ve been getting here at Green Week in Brussels has not been one of great optimism on the part of the EU experts involved in the preparations. The EU says it’s going for ambitious targets, but has no reason to assume that others are going to follow suit. EU Director General for environment Karl Falkenberg say’s next week’s meeting in New York for the last round of pre-Rio negotiations will be an “uphill challenge”. The Danish Environment Minister Ida Auken (Denmark currently has EU Presidency) wants to have a global goal on water. We need to take all 3 aspects of sustainability into account, says Auken. The social, environmental and economic impacts. Yes, yes, yes!. Let’s see what will actually come out of Rio.

Date

May 24, 2012 | 7:16 am

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 Earth – Closed for shortage of water?

Earth closed for water shortage

My "poster of the day" from formatoverde, a company exhibiting here at Green Week

I’m in Brussels at the moment for the EU’s annual environment policy conference, the Green Week. Every Drop Counts: Water is the focus this year, in keeping with 2012 as International Water Year and in the run-up to the earth summit in Rio in June. Once again the message is that water is involved in or affected by just about all our human activities. So protecting our water supplies has to be a part of policies on agriculture, energy or urbanisation. And it has to be tackled globally. And as consumers of products that have a huge water footprint, we consumers have a role to play. Everybody is calling for a networked approach, looking at the nexus of water, energy, food security. This is a recurrent theme at environment gatherings I’ve attended over the past year. Is this thinking finding its way into policy and practice, I wonder?

A growing population and rapid climate change are putting our water supplies under huge pressure. One speaker said that as early as 2030 the world’s demand for freshwater will exceed supply by around 40% and 50% of the world’s population will live in regions with water shortages. Shocking? More later between sessions.

And if you’re interested in the organisation whose water shortage poster at the stand is on the photo, you’ll find it at formatoverde Their business is education for sustainability. The link is to the English website.

Date

May 23, 2012 | 6:56 am

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Peatlands … on the fringes of the Bonn climate talks

Climate action in practice alongside the main agenda

Climate action in practice alongside the main agenda

Food security, agriculture, biodiversity - on the fringes in Bonn

The talks going on in Bonn right now are an “intersessional climate session”, i.e. talks between the talks… aimed at making progress on the issues to be decided at the next round of climate changes talks “proper” which will be held in Doha in Qatar at the end of the year. I would not have the patience these negotiators need, with the talks crawling along at what would seem to your average person to be a snail’s pace, considering the speed with which climate change is actively affecting our planet. It’s not easy to get countries to commit to emissions reductions, rainforest protection, financing for developing countries etc. But while the different working groups meet, filling the conference rooms of a large Bonn hotel and the nearby German Federal Environment Ministry, different organisations take the chance to publicise their work and new practical initiatives to work against global warming, in the corridors and foyers and in numerous “side-events”, which for me as a journalist are one of the most interesting things to follow at these gatherings.

Date

May 21, 2012 | 10:13 am

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