Global warming not stopped, will go on for centuries - WMO

March 24, 2014 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming


GENEVA (Reuters) - There has been no reverse in the trend of global warming and there is still consistent evidence for man-made climate change, the head of the U.N. World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Monday.

A slow-down in the average pace of warming at the planet’s surface this century has been cited by “climate sceptics” as evidence that climate change is not happening at the potentially catastrophic rate predicted by a U.N. panel of scientists.

But U.N. weather agency chief Michel Jarraud said ocean temperatures, in particular, were rising fast, and extreme weather events, forecast by climate scientists, showed climate change was inevitable for the coming centuries.

“There is no standstill in global warming,” Jarraud said as he presented the WMO’s annual review of the world’s climate which concluded that 2013 tied with 2007 as the sixth hottest year since 1850 when recording of annual figures began.

“The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90 percent of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans.

“Levels of these greenhouse gases are at a record, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable,” Jarraud told a news conference.

The 21-page survey said the global land and sea surface temperature in 2013 was 14.5 degrees Celsius (58.1 Fahrenheit), or 0.50C (0.90F) above the 1961-90 average. It was also 0.03C (0.05F) up on the average for 2001-2010.

The WMO’s Annual Statement on the Status of the Climate, pointed to droughts, heatwaves, rising seas, floods and tropical cyclones around the globe last year as evidence of what the future might hold.

FLUCTUATIONS

It was issued on the eve of a conference bringing climate scientists together with officials from over 100 governments in Japan from March 25-29 to approve a report on the effects of future global warming and how these might be mitigated.

A draft of this report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says global warming will disrupt food supplies, slow world economic growth and may already be causing irreversible damage to nature.

The chair of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, told Reuters last week that the report made even more compelling the scientific arguments for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Some 200 countries have agreed to try to limit global warming to less than 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, largely by cutting emissions from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Sceptics argue that changes in global weather are the product of natural fluctuations or other natural causes.

But such arguments were rejected by Jarraud.

Natural phenomena like volcanoes or the El Nino/La Nina weather patterns originating in Pacific Ocean temperature changes had always framed the planet’s climate, affecting heat levels and disasters like drought and floods, he said.

“But many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change,” declared the WMO chief, pointing to the destruction wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Another example was the record hot summer of 2012-13 in Australia which brought huge bush fires and destruction of property. Computer simulations showed the heat wave was 5 times as likely under human influence on climate, Jarraud said.

Among other extreme events of 2013 probably due to climate change were winter freezes in the U.S. south-east and Europe, heavy rains and floods in north-east China and eastern Russia, snow across the Middle East and drought in south-east Africa.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Article source: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/03/25/climatechange-temperature-idINDEEA2O00620140325

EarthTalk: Global warming and your health

March 14, 2014 by admin  
Filed under Global Warming

Dear EarthTalk: How is it that global warming could cause an increase in health problems and disease epidemics? Do we have any evidence that it is already happening? — Jim Merrill, Provo, Utah

Global warming isn’t just bad for the environment. There are several ways that it is expected to take a toll on human health. For starters, the extreme summer heat that is becoming more normal in a warming world can directly impact the health of billions of people.

“Extreme high air temperatures contribute directly to deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, particularly among elderly people,” reported the World Health Organization. “In the heat wave of summer 2003 in Europe, for example, more than 70,000 excess deaths were recorded.”

WHO added that high temperatures also play a role in elevated levels of ozone and other air pollutants known to exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems. And according to the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, warmer temperatures and higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide can stimulate plants to grow faster, mature earlier and produce more potent allergens.

“Common allergens such as ragweed seem to respond particularly well to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, as do pesky plants such as poison ivy,” the group reported. “Allergy-related diseases rank among the most common and chronic illnesses.”

Another way global warming is bad for our health is that it increases extreme weather events that can injure or kills large numbers of people. According to WHO, the number of weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s. Likewise, increasingly variable rainfall patterns combined with higher overall temperatures are leading to extended droughts around the world.

“By the 2090s, climate change is likely to widen the area affected by drought, double the frequency of extreme droughts and increase their average duration six-fold,” reported WHO. One result is likely to be a downturn in agricultural productivity along with a spike in malnutrition. Another is less access to safe drinking water, a trigger for poor sanitation and the spread of diarrheal diseases — not to mention resource wars.

Perhaps most worrying to public health experts, though, is the potential for global warming to cause a spike in so-called “vector-borne diseases” like schistosomiasis, West Nile virus, malaria and dengue fever.

“Insects previously stopped by cold winters are already moving to higher latitudes” toward the poles, UCS reported. Researchers predict that thanks to global warming an extra two billion people, mostly in developing countries, will be exposed to the dengue virus over the next half century.

A related fear is that thawing permafrost in polar regions could allow otherwise dormant age-old viruses to re-emerge. This year, French and Russian researchers discovered a 30,000 year old giant virus, previously unknown to science, in frozen soil in Russia’s most northerly region. While the virus, which researchers dubbed Pithovirus sibericum, is harmless to humans and animals, its discovery has served as a wake-up call to epidemiologists about the potential re-emergence of other viruses that could make many people sick. While some of these re-emergent viruses might also be new to science, others could be revitalized versions of ones we thought we had eradicated, such as smallpox.

Contacts: WHO, www.who.int; UCS, www.ucsusa.org.

EarthTalk is by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss of E — The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to earthtalk@emagazine.com.

Article source: http://www.dariennewsonline.com/news/article/EarthTalk-Global-warming-and-your-health-5320101.php