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This Environmental News Collection is only made

for Bangladesh Debating Council – BDC

By Rashedul Hasan Stalin

Earth is too crowded for Utopia
Chris Rapley

Ten thousand delegates attended the recent Montreal Summit on the control of carbon
emissions "beyond Kyoto".

That's a lot of people! The conference organisation must have been daunting; and just imagine
arranging the hotel accommodation and restaurant facilities and dealing with the additional
human-generated waste.

Imagine the carbon and nitrogen emissions from the associated air travel!

The 40 or more decisions made were announced as an historic success.

Supposing this proves to be so, will it be sufficient to secure an acceptable quality of life for
the generations to come?

What about the myriad other planetary-scale human impacts - for example on land cover, the
water cycle, the health of ecosystems, and biodiversity?

What about our release of other chemicals into the environment?

What about our massive transport and mixing of biological material worldwide, and our
unsustainable consumption of resources?

Big foot

All of these effects interconnect and add up to the collective "footprint" of humankind on our
planet's life support systems.

The consequences of the human footprint extend to the ends of
the Earth

The consequences extend to the ends of the Earth (recall the hole in the ozone layer over the
Antarctic) and each is as difficult to predict and as challenging to deal with as the link between
carbon emissions and climate.

It would surely be impractical and almost certainly ineffective to assemble 10,000 delegates to
address each one of these issues, and especially to do so in the necessary "joined up" way?

And in particular, what about the net 76 million annual rise in the world's population, which
currently stands at about 6.5 billion - more than twice what it was in 1960 - and which is
heading towards eight billion or so by mid-century)?

That's an annual increase 7,500 times the number of delegates in Montreal.

Imagine organising the accommodation, feeding arrangements, schooling, employment,
medical care, cultural activities and general infrastructure - transport, power, water,
communications, waste disposal - for a number of people slightly larger than the population of
the UK, and doing it each year, year on year for the foreseeable future.

Combined with ongoing economic growth, what will be the effect on our collective human
"footprint"? Will the planet cope?

Steps to Utopia

Although reducing human emissions to the atmosphere is undoubtedly of critical importance,
as are any and all measures to reduce the human environmental "footprint", the truth is that
the contribution of each individual cannot be reduced to zero.

Only the lack of the individual can bring it down to nothing.

So if we believe that the size of the human "footprint" is a serious problem (and there is much
evidence for this) then a rational view would be that along with a raft of measures to reduce
the footprint per person, the issue of population management must be addressed.

Let us assume (reasonably) that an optimum human population level exists, which would
provide the physical and intellectual capacity to ensure a rich and fulfilling life for all, but
would represent a call upon the services of the planet which would be benign and hence
sustainable over the long term.

A scientific analysis can tell us what that optimum number is (perhaps 2-3 billion?).

With that number and a timescale as targets, a path to reach "Utopia" from where we are now
is, in principle, a straightforward matter of identifying options, choosing the approach and then
planning and navigating the route from source to destination.

Cinderella subject

In practice, of course, it is a bombshell of a topic, with profound and emotive issues of ethics,
morality, equity and practicability.

Only the lack of the individual can bring the footprint down to

As found in China, practicability and acceptability can be particularly elusive.

So controversial is the subject that it has become the "Cinderella" of the great sustainability
debate - rarely visible in public, or even in private.

In interdisciplinary meetings addressing how the planet functions as an integrated whole,
demographers and population specialists are usually notable by their absence.

Rare indeed are the opportunities for religious leaders, philosophers, moralists, policymakers,
politicians and indeed the "global public" to debate the trajectory of the world's human
population in the context of its stress on the Earth system, and to decide what might be done.

Unless and until this changes, summits such as that in Montreal which address only part of the
problem will be limited to at best very modest success, with the welfare and quality of life of
future generations the ineluctable casualty.

Professor Chris Rapley is Director of the British Antarctic Survey, based in Cambridge, UK

'Global Warming, Local Leadership'

Speech by Ruth Kelly MP at the Green Alliance summit on local government and climate change
held on 4 April 2007.


Thank you Steve. And let me start by congratulating Green Alliance on their impressive record in
raising the profile of climate change and improving the quality of our public debate.

I am really glad to have this opportunity to speak to so many people from local government,
whose role in tackling climate change is, I think, often overlooked and sometimes
misunderstood - but always vital.

I think that climate change is one of the defining global challenges of our age.

The case for action has been established beyond doubt.

This is not solely an environmental issue, but also about social justice and the economy as well.

Action at every level

Everyone has their part to play - internationally, nationally, and locally.

Tackling climate change requires Governments to take leadership and work responsibly together
across borders.

The recent European agreement to cut carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 is a powerful
demonstration of the progress that can be made through collective action at the international

And it shows what can be achieved by a Government committed to working co-operatively with
our European partners.

Government must also show leadership at the national level, by setting a long term policy
framework which establishes clearly the rights and responsibilities of not just the state, but of
citizens, communities and businesses.

That is why David Miliband published the Climate Change Bill which will set in law our targets to
cut carbon emissions 60 per cent by 2050, and establishes a mechanism to hold Government to
account if we fail to achieve them.

It is through leadership at the local level, however, that I believe many of the key steps towards a
low carbon economy will ultimately take place.

For it is here that the everyday lives, decisions and behaviour of local people and communities
are often best challenged and changed.

Communities and Local Government

But first let me discuss the role of my Department in tackling climate change.

Climate change is now an issue for every Government department, not just Defra.

And my department - Communities and Local Government, is no exception.

I want us to be an environmental department, as well as a social and economic one.

And I want green issues to be at the heart of what we do and how we do it.

In particular, I think, we have a major contribution to make on two fronts.

First, through building and planning regulations we can green the built environment all around us
- from our homes, to offices, to public buildings.

Secondly, through setting the framework for local government to work with communities, to raise
local ambition and harness the potential for change.

I believe that we can only make the progress we need towards a low-carbon future if we take
serious steps in both of these areas.

And today I want to explain how.

The built environment

First, the built environment.

Energy use in our homes and offices accounts for nearly half of our national carbon emissions.
And the transport we use to travel between them accounts for another third.

So greening our built environment represents a huge opportunity.

It means making sure that substantial new developments use low-carbon energy. microgeneration could help cut domestic carbon emissions by some 15 per cent.whilst retaining clear.such as solar panels . the Government wants to show just what is possible with new developments like the Thames Gateway . It means planning for communities where people have better access to public transport. And I will make sure that local authorities retain the right to restrict planning permission in exceptional circumstances where the benefit of the technology is clearly questionable. Making planning greener is an opportunity .We’ve already taken a number of significant steps to set the right long term policy framework. Currently. and can even allow households to earn a small amount by selling back excess electricity. siting and size. But we will only achieve this level of take-up if we make sure that people have the right incentives.that I hope the planning profession will grasp. We need changes to ensure the system is more proportionate .and a challenge . I am also delighted to launch today a consultation on microgeneration. The first step is to embed measures to tackle climate change within our planning system. research suggests that by 2050. and rely less on their cars.on their homes where it is clear there is little or no impact on neighbouring properties.which we intend to be a testbed for action on climate change. Indeed. they can face a wait of up to three months and hundreds of pounds in costs. And as we build the homes that people that people want to live in. These green technologies can help keep fuel bills down. when people want to install microgeneration. The draft Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change that I published at the end of last year puts climate change right at the heart of the planning process. And it means making provision for the green spaces that help towns and cities stay cooler in hot weather. . Our proposals give people greater freedom to install microgeneration devices . common- sense safeguards on noise.

which comes into force this week. and not about what’s the latest fashion accessory. In particular. So if local authorities want to take their own approach that should be set out and tested through the local development plan process in the usual way. And I aim to make this a mandatory rating for all new homes from April next year.I am keen that people think carefully about the technology that is best suited to their local area. with its minimum standards for the amount of renewable energy in substantial new developments. But we need to tighten standards. Last December. Yvette Cooper and I announced an ambitious timetable for progressive improvements to building regulations so that new homes will be zero carbon by 2016. has set a positive trend in many local authorities. which account for more than a quarter of our carbon emissions. The Code tells consumers how their home performs across a range of environmental measures. . But we also want builders and developers to have a degree of certainty about the future standards they will be judged by so that they can innovate and invest to get us there. We want local authorities to innovate. This will be supported by the Chancellor’s Budget decision to exempt new zero carbon homes from stamp duty from this October. the Merton rule. working with the WWF and housebuilders. authorities should show how higher environmental standards are consistent with delivering the homes that local people so desperately need. Let me be clear. For example. Our proposals on the Code and the draft PPS have stimulated an important debate about the respective roles of central and local government in driving up higher green standards for new homes. And we understand that some local authorities want to move more quickly to deliver higher environmental standards. Our review of Building Control will help strengthen the system and ensure compliance with all regulations. It is also supported by the Code for Sustainable Homes. The second step to making our built environment greener is to ratchet up building standards. too. I think this can be very beneficial. We started with our homes.

This will send a strong signal to industry .particularly in the social stock. We’ve already achieved a lot here. But it is also vital to improve the existing stock. and shops . . where the worst performing homes are found. socially responsible commercial enterprises are recognising that they cannot ignore the impact they have .There is clearly a balance to be struck. We want to build on that momentum. like fitting insulation. The energy efficiency of our housing stock is improving year on year . But I would very much welcome your views. sold and rented from June this year. New homes are important. And I believe that our approach . We will be introducing Energy Performance Certificates for all homes that are bought. within a decade all homes will have taken the steps. I want to work with industry to deliver major improvements in the energy efficiency of non- domestic buildings over the next ten to fifteen years. within a clear long-term framework . we should now be looking at non-residential buildings - like offices.and that they will be judged on it by consumers and investors. but can pay for themselves through reduced energy bills. Having made a strong start on homes. This will provide real information to households about the energy performance of their home and the things they can do to improve it. Many are leading the way in carbon management. So Yvette Cooper is working with key industry figures through a new Green Commercial Buildings Group to define a challenging long-term ambition on carbon emissions. thanks to our massive programme of investment in Decent Homes. which will be published later this year. But we need to do much more to achieve our climate change targets.of constrained local flexibility.that are responsible for 18 per cent of our national carbon emissions. where practicably possible. We will set out how we will achieve this in the Energy White Paper.and support those that are prepared to move ahead and show leadership. Emissions from homes actually fell by around 4 million tonnes of carbon last year. And the Budget also announced that we would put in place measures so that. that are not only environmentally in this instance the right one. Increasingly.

cutting the carbon footprint of its own estate and influencing local partners. saving about seven hundred thousand pounds each year. There is huge potential here. simply by building on best practice. However. It can lead by example. Crucially. local government can also work directly with individuals and communities to help them take action themselves. [Bristol] . . planning and transport. to deliver not just units of energy. local government can have a massive impact on climate change. I believe there are several ways local Government can play its part. raising awareness about of climate change and helping to change people’s attitudes and behaviour.which is nearly 1 per cent of the UK's emissions.and the growing interest in microgeneration is one illustration of this.this would save 4. for example in housing.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide . but the good advice and practical measures such as insulation that help keep people warm. such as with Energy Services Companies. Local government can act imaginatively within the broader frameworks set out by central government. It can lead local debate. it has cut carbon emissions from its council buildings by three quarters. Citizens are already demonstrating that they are prepared to be ambitious about climate change . As many of you will doubtless appreciate.Working with Local Government I have set out our approach on the built environment. It can set up partnerships. for example by making recycling easier or improving local bus services. If all eight of the core cities outside of London had emissions per capita of that of the best. As a result. however. Woking has led the way in this area. Just looking at England’s eight largest cities outside London shows what could be achieved. This might mean supporting individuals in making positive choices. I also believe that there is a huge untapped resource in collective action by communities. The second key way my department can have an impact on climate change is by working with local government. Take cities alone. There are already some striking examples.

its communities and enable local innovation and leadership. In some areas. we must demonstrate that we have moved away from our old habits and instincts of setting the same blunt duties or targets everywhere. And when people act together in that way it can make everyone feel a part of tackling climate change and spur them on to greater efforts. And they are not alone. That means it will feature amongst the 200 performance indicators that local government will sign up to as part of local area agreements. and our commitment to making a huge reduction in central costs and controls.and the job of my Department . Already there is a growing network of like-minded communities.In Cheshire for example. But let me be clear. such as Chew Magna village with its Go Zero initiative. in many places local government has been ahead of national government in the action it has taken. This might mean simply showing the local community that they are not acting alone: that each individual’s actions are reciprocated many times over in their street or their ward. but also by providing the flexibility for local government to respond to local circumstances and communities. In the new arrangements. not only by getting the national frameworks right. And for me. In fact. We will monitoring progress through the 200 national indicators. and between local government. It is Government’s job . regardless of local circumstances. As many of you will know. climate change is the first real test of this new relationship for both central government and local government. and greater communities in these efforts. The White Paper reflected our belief that local government is ready to take greater responsibility for its own local priorities. our Local Government White Paper published last autumn was a landmark in rebalancing relations between central and local government. We will intervene where there are serious failings. climate change will have be central in the new performance framework. local government is already leading the debate and responding to citizens’ concerns. .and must . the residents of Ashton Hayes have come together to set the goal of becoming the country’s first-carbon neutral village. On the part of central government. and are being supported in this aim by the local authority. Local government can .

And secondly it is up to local government to show it is ready to respond to the appetite for action on climate change already being demonstrated by individuals and communities. Seize it. there is more that local government can do. First. 56 per cent had targets relating to climate change or energy. This is a real opportunity for local government. As we loosen the control from the centre. And I welcome the fact that growing numbers of local authorities are including low carbon goals in their Local Area Agreements or Sustainable Community Strategies. Step up to it. we are providing ways for bottom up pressures to be expressed. By the third round that figure had risen to 68 per cent. . there is a growing momentum behind new ways of thinking. And there could be no better opportunity for local government to step up to the challenge and build on its historic-place shaping role in a modern context. In the second round of Local Area Agreements. it is clear that although there has been significant action by some. We are putting our trust in local authorities to have the expertise and leadership to deal with the big policy challenges. With 200 authorities now signed up to the Nottingham Declaration. In the future. and local government must be ready. they could use the call for action to press for change. if people were unhappy with their local recycling service. But this is just a first step. Conclusion I am confident that local government can be trusted to get on with delivering what matters. On all these points. citizens will have new ways to raise these issues with the local authority. Looking ahead.or if we should be looking to move towards a Nottingham Plus. We need more councils to live up to their role as community leaders and strategic partners when it comes to climate change.Hence the challenge is also to local government. And I would be interested to know if councils believe the Nottingham declaration is still ambitious enough . And show us just what you can do. For example. I welcome the establishment of the LGA’s Climate Change Commission which will look at what more councils can do. local government must demonstrate that it is ready and willing to take ownership of these issues without being told exactly what to do and how to do it.

Living in a way that is less damaging to the Earth is not easy. • Water: Diseases carried in water are responsible for 80% of illnesses and deaths in developing countries. as in the Gulf of Mexico.000 chemicals are on the market. Chronic problem Chemicals are a frequent pollutant. on a squeaky-clean planet. sometimes used for dumping not even the Arctic is immune. too. concerned about chemicals that persist and build up in the body.are blamed for causing changes in the genitals of some animals. but it is vital. and can even create dead zones off the coast. killing a child every eight seconds. Affected species include polar bears . because pollution is pervasive and often life-threatening. At least 30. When we think of chemical contamination it is often images of events like Bhopal that come to mind.500 new ones appearing annually. Agriculture can pollute land with pesticides. from fish to mammals .we do not have the option of growing food. cosmetics and detergents . Pollution is an obvious example . But the problem is widespread. or finding enough water.a breakdown product of spermicides. About 70. But we need to tighten standards.Our review of Building Control will help strengthen the system and ensure compliance with all regulations. • Air: The World Health Organization (WHO) says 3 million people are killed worldwide by outdoor air pollution annually from vehicles and industrial emissions. The WHO. nitrate-rich fertilisers and slurry from livestock. endocrine disruptors like phthalates and nonylphenol .000 are thought never to have been comprehensively tested for their possible risks to people. And the chemicals climb the food chain. Trade-off .and to us. where former factories and power stations can leave waste like heavy metals in the soil. Yet time and again it is the quest for wealth that generates much of the mess in the first place. It can also occur in developing countries. Each year 2. Most are in poor countries. and 1. especially in the young. Some man-made chemicals. Cutting waste and clearing up pollution costs money.1 million people die from diarrhoeal diseases associated with poor water. says we may "be conducting a large-scale experiment with children's health".6 million indoors through using solid fuel. but on one increasingly tarnished and trashed by the way we have used it so far. Pollution: A life and death issue One of the main themes of Planet Under Pressure is the way many of the Earth's environmental crises reinforce one another. • Soil: Contaminated land is a problem in industrialised countries. And when the contamination reaches rivers it damages life there. One study says 7-20% of cancers are attributable to poor air and pollution in homes and workplaces. with around 1.

One way of cleaning up after ourselves would be to throw less away.the countries of the world share one atmosphere. "there's no such place as 'away' . as one author wrote.But the snag is that modern society demands many of them. confident they would be dispersed in the depths. Ask not for whom the bell tolls . and what one does can affect everyone. and for me. but it is reaping the benefits of the pollution it has caused. or whether the rest of us would be happy to pay the price of stopping the pollution. but can also be effective against malaria. but that cannot cover every problem that can arise between neighbours. So while we invoke the precautionary principle. we have to recognise there will be trade-offs to be made. We now think that is too risky because. so we used to dump nuclear materials and other potential hazards at sea. which always recommends erring on the side of caution. and some are essential for survival. or between states which do not share a border. The pesticide DDT does great damage to wildlife and can affect the human nervous system. Perhaps the best example is climate change . designing products to be recycled or even just to last longer. It can hardly tell the developing countries that they have no right to follow suit. . Where does the priority lie? The industrialised world has not yet cleaned up the mess it created. More of us are eating more and better than ever tolls for thee. Sometimes it is obvious who is to blame and who must pay the price. Can the planet feed us? By Alex Kirby As part of Planet Under Pressure . There is a UN convention on transboundary air pollution.the polluter pays. Another complication in tackling pollution is that it does not respect political frontiers. Alex Kirby explores the challenge of feeding the world without destroying the planet. Previous generations worked on the assumption that discarding our waste was a proper way to be rid of it. For one and all One of the principles that is supposed to apply here is simple . a BBC News series looking at some of the biggest environmental problems facing humanity. But it is not always straightforward to work out just who is the polluter.and there's no such person as the 'other'".

to cater as well for the extra 75 million people born annually. where irrigation can boost crop yields by up to 400%. Too little space Another question concerns the huge cost to other forms of life of all the progress we've made in securing our own food supply. and meat consumption has tripled since 1961. but make harvests even more precarious across much of the tropics. Modest temperature increases may actually benefit rich temperate countries.while global population doubled to 6 billion people in the 40 years from 1960. Many of the pesticides on which the crop increases have depended are losing their effectiveness. For a start. But we may not be able to go on at this rate. None of this happened by magic. There are ways to improve irrigation and to use water more effectively. but only by giving Nature a massive helping hand. and farmers are having to turn to increasingly marginal land. . Biotechnology. A key constraint is water. but it's not clear these can bridge the gap. Many of these are poor countries. The global fish catch grew more than six times from 1950 to 1997. The 17% of cropland that is irrigated produces an estimated 30- 40% of all crops. in principle. and has more than doubled since the 1940s.World cereal consumption has more than doubled since 1970. as the pests acquire more resistance. Nobody knows what the probable impacts of climate change will be on food supplies. much of the world's best cropland is already in use. but in many countries there will be progressively less water available for agriculture. global food production more than kept up. The amount of nitrogen available for uptake by plants is much higher than the natural level. So one question is whether the world can go on increasing its harvests at this rate . though. for example by producing drought-resistant plants or varieties that withstand pest attacks. Crop increases Our recent achievements are impressive .soil degradation has already reduced global agricultural productivity by 13% in the last half-century. may offer the world a second Green Revolution.or even faster. The proportion of malnourished people fell in the three decades to the mid-1990s from 37% to 18%. The World Resources Institute said in 1999 that half of all the commercial fertiliser ever produced had been applied since 1984. But it arouses deep unease. And the good land is often taking a battering . not least because of fears it may erode the genetic resources in thousands of traditional varieties grown in small communities across the world.

Something's got to give . intensifying climate change. and from other human activities. But the food is often in the wrong place. Another 0. Much of it travels a long way to reach us. Habitat loss from the conversion of natural ecosystems is the main reason why other species are being pushed closer to the brink of extinction. Hunger and malnutrition killed 10 million people a year. according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. So making sure everyone has enough to eat is more about politics than science. a third of them in sub-Saharan Africa. seasonal food where we can. In any case. we have taken over about 26% of the planet's land area (roughly 3. or can't be stored long enough. depleting the ozone layer. and creating dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and other near-coastal seas. worldwide. from livestock manure.3 billion hectares) for cropland and pasture.The excess comes from fertilisers running off farmland. The world does produce enough to feed everyone. The sheer amount of the Earth we need to produce our food is having an enormous impact. replacing a third of temperate and tropical forests and a quarter of natural life extinguished every five seconds. Yet. Increasing hunger At the moment we are not on course to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving world hunger by 2015. it is a security many can only envy.5 billion ha has gone for urban and built-up areas. It is changing the composition of species in ecosystems. Food security comes at a high price. with the transport costs adding hugely to the "embodied energy" it contains. or unaffordable. Globally. And meat usually demands far more than grain . In 2003. grain itself (34% of world grain supplies are fed to livestock reared for meat). 25.water. Water scarcity: A looming crisis? By Alex Kirby . In the 1990s global poverty fell by 20%. Although the proportion of hungry people is coming down.and not only our waistbands. land. There's a lot to be said for eating local. the richer we grow the more we turn to meat. But whether we can go on eating the sort of diet we've grown used to in developed countries is far from clear. but the number of hungry people rose by 18 million.000 a day . population increase means the actual number continues to rise. 842 million people did not have enough to eat. reducing soil fertility.

. The number of us is growing fast and our water use is growing even faster. in total. Pollution and disease Global water consumption rose sixfold between 1900 and 1995 . A third of the world's population lives in water-stressed countries now. But we're a long way from achieving that. And consumption will soar further as more people expect Western-style lifestyles and diets - one kilogram of grain-fed beef needs at least 15 cubic metres of water. The amount of water in the world is finite. high prices to buy it. Providing universal access to that basic minimum worldwide by 2015 would take less than 1% of the amount of water we use today. food insecurity and disease from drinking dirty water.economic development . And the wider effects of water shortages are just as chilling as the prospect of having too little to drink. Poverty and water The poor are the ones who suffer most.requires yet more water to supply the agriculture and industries which drive it.more than double the rate of population growth . while a kilo of cereals needs only up to three cubic metres. over a billion people did not have even that.predicted to rise from about six billion today to 8. Water shortages can mean long walks to fetch water. this is expected to rise to two-thirds. As important as quantity is quality . cooking and sanitation. if not to solve.and goes on growing as farming. industry and domestic demand all increase.with pollution increasing in some areas. The UN recommends that people need a minimum of 50 litres of water a day for drinking. for everyone's basic needs. But the very thing needed to raise funds to tackle water problems in poor countries . There is more than enough water available. Seventy percent of the water used worldwide is used for agriculture. Much more will be needed if we are to feed the world's growing population . In 1990. More than five million people die from waterborne diseases each year . washing. By 2025.9 billion by 2050.The world's water crisis is simple to understand.10 times the number killed in wars around the globe. The UN-backed World Commission on Water estimated in 2000 that an additional $100bn a year would be needed to tackle water scarcity worldwide. the amount of useable water declines.

Dams and other large-scale projects now affect 60% of the world's largest rivers and provide millions with water. But in many cases the costs in terms of population displacement and irreversible changes in the nearby ecosystems have been considerable. useable energy will probably soon be a bigger problem than water itself. and in agriculture. the former Soviet Union and the western United States are dropping . Climate change In any case.This dwarfs the $20bn which will be needed annually by 2007 to tackle HIV and Aids. But the amounts involved would be immense. Technical solutions New technology can help. rely. where water use can be made far more efficient. however. While dams and other large-scale schemes play a big role worldwide. As groundwater is exploited. spending it wisely is a further India by as much as 3m a year in 1999. and depleting it faster than the interest can top it up. low-pressure sprinklers are an improvement. The optimists say "virtual water" may save the day . especially by cleaning up pollution and so making more water useable. and they. water tables in parts of China. it is so much it could only be raised from the private sector. Some countries are now treating waste water so that it can be used .several times over. We have to rethink how much water we really need if we are to learn how to share the Earth's supply. but every other species that shares the planet with us . Drip irrigation drastically cuts the amount of water needed. Even if the money can be found. Desalinisation makes sea water available.and drunk . it is not just us who need water. And affordable. but others are likely to be losers. West Asia. but takes huge quantities of energy and leaves vast amounts of brine. according to the Commission.the water contained in crops which can be exported from water-rich countries to arid well all the ecosystems on which we. there is also a growing recognition of the value of using the water we already have more efficiently rather than harvesting ever more from our rivers and aquifers. . and the energy needed to transport them gargantuan. and. and even building simple earth walls to trap rainfall is helpful. Some areas will probably benefit from increased rainfall. Drought- resistant plants can also help. Using underground supplies is another widely used solution. India. Climate change will also have an impact. but it means living on capital accumulated over millennia.

tourists' dollars or turtles' nests. Science has described 1. Biodiversity: The sixth great wave All the creatures we share the Earth with are important in some way. In 2003 the World Conservation Union's Red List said more than 12. We are taking their living room to grow our food.the sixth mass extinction to affect life on Earth. LIVING PLANET INDEX The index tracks the size of specific populations of selected species It shows them as a percentage of the 1970 populations It shows falling population levels in all three ecosystem types studied We have more than doubled our numbers in half a century. We are exploiting them. .For millions of people around the world. Today the tempo is far faster. however unprepossessing or insignificant they may appear. trading in them. squeezing them to the margins of existence .75 million species. their food to feed ourselves. purifying water. FIVE MASS EXTINCTIONS Cretaceous (About 65 million years ago) Triassic (About 208 million years ago) Permian (About 245 million years ago) Devonian (About 360 million years ago) Ordovician (About 438 million years ago) Our pillage of the natural world has been likened to burning down the medieval libraries of Europe. Many species keep us alive. but this time our sheer preponderance is driving the slide to oblivion. extinction has usually progressed at what scientists call a natural or background rate. nobody knows. before we had even bothered to catalogue their contents. We were not here for any of the previous mass extinctions. Many scientists believe this is the sixth great wave . including: • one bird in eight • 13% of the world's flowering plants • a quarter of all mammals. getting it right is a matter of life and death. Often the choice is hard: conserve a species or feed a community. some experts estimate that there may be 13 or 14 million in the world in total . They and we are all part of the web of life. and that is the most obvious reason why there is less room for any other species. That gives you a ballpark figure. From the dawn of time.000 assessed) faced some extinction risk.000 species (out of 40. and pollinating crops.but until they are catalogued. fixing nitrogen.and beyond. recycling nutrients and waste.

has said: "Most conservation effort goes into birds and mammals . and those we can use directly. That is the argument for utility. But the creatures we can see. thinking we can split it into its separate parts.Plants and bacteria carry out photosynthesis. but are barren in isolation. It is the only way we shall survive. One toxin may be a thousand times more potent than morphine for pain relief. US researchers calculated the value of the goods and services provided by the Earth to the world economy: $33 trillion. The web is unravelling. Trees absorb carbon dioxide. and their habitats are under pressure. when the global annual gross product was about $18 trillion. US researchers estimate that by 2020 less than 5% of it will remain in pristine condition. Lord May. Within 15 years. which produces the oxygen we breathe. whatever Steven Spielberg says. But millions of cone snails are now killed annually for their shells. "Yet arguably it's the little things that run the world. really is for ever. Pandas and microbes Some years ago.5bn people: today there are 6bn. about a fifth of central Africa's forests will have gone. dead-end animal that was probably on the way out anyway. We are not removing individual species from the Amazon: we are destroying the entire forest.creatures like the panda. They're the least-known species of all. Extinction. Some species are bucking the trend towards extinction. the main greenhouse gas given off by human activities. because the trees bear a good crop in the forest. China's dirty energy takes its toll By Louisa Lim CCN News in China . And the forests of Indonesia are in headlong retreat. Tropical cone snails contain toxins which show promise for treating some forms of cancer and heart irregularities. things like soil microbes. are just the start of the story. Brazil nuts are a lucrative harvest in the Amazon." Complex network And we continue to tug at the loose threads of the web of life. a dim. But an experiment to produce them in plantations failed. by one estimate. In 1953 there were about 2. president of the Royal Society (the UK's national academy of sciences). Ensuring other species keep their living space is not sentimental.

is needed for the construction of new roads. the factory has continued to pump out pollution. in turn. Just behind their compound is a coke plant. heart disease and cancer." Mr Liu says." Skin disease Mr Liu rolls up his heavy blue workers' trousers to uncover his legs.3bn. Louisa Lim explores the human impact of the country's dependence on coal products. The residents started petitioning the government seven years ago. "Most people who die in this area die from cancer.China's breakneck economic growth and soaring energy demand are becoming key factors in global energy use. "Around 30 people have the same skin disease. buildings. In the summer when the factory chimney pumps out steam. your arms will be covered with this rash. Since then the provincial Environmental Protection Bureau has acknowledged the plant to be a serious polluter. The forces arrayed against them are more than just one factory. . All are toxic and bad for humans. 150km east of Beijing. as part of the BBC's Planet Under Pressure series. however. They are purple. cars and everyday home appliances for China's population . With his thick smudged glasses and faltering gait. The doctors have told him it is incurable. prompting the residents to launch a lawsuit. The residents are convinced it is poisoning them.the world's biggest at of the world's fastest-expanding economies with GDP growth of more than 9% in the last year. if you wear a short-sleeved shirt. reeling off the names of four residents who died of cancer in one month alone. They are the victims of China's thirst for any energy it can lay its hands on . which belches out noxious fumes day and night." he says. "Many young people have leukaemia. The by-products from the factory include benzene and phenol. But despite a fine. turning coal into coke which is then used as a key source of heat energy in the steel-making process. Many old people have lung cancer or bowel cancer. But he has become the catalyst for action among the retired workers who live in his community in the industrial city of Tangshan. This coke plant is playing a part in the modernisation whirling through China .with air pollution one of several resulting problems ranging from acid rain to greenhouse gas emissions. covered with an itchy rash which he has suffered for years. 77-year-old Liu Hongkui makes an unlikely protest leader. The plant is a small cog in the supply chain. causing respiratory disorders. Steel.

" When it comes to coke. Some two-thirds of the country's power comes from coal and coal products. with one brokerage expecting Chinese demand to push prices up 60% in the next financial year. with many areas facing power cuts. and. "Often these [polluting] enterprises are the main industries and important taxpayers. "The need to use fossil fuel right now is unavoidable. and to capture carbon dioxide emissions. The residents' lawyer. "Globally up to 80% of energy supply comes from fossil fuel. This means there is a big market for the product. as well as a clear financial incentive to let polluting plants continue to operate. "What we have to do and can do is change the efficiency in fossil fuel use so we have more energy services from the same amount of coal. This exacts a very real human toll . Sometimes the pressure [on us lawyers] from the local government is extremely great. according to the World Bank.Hungry for progress The Chinese thirst for development means that coke is becoming an ever more valuable commodity. Cleaner technology Klaus Toepfer. China does not have enough electricity to power its economic boom. the cheapest and dirtiest forms of energy." Global issue It is a dilemma which underlies China's energy crisis and has wider global implications. says the struggle to move away from polluting forms of energy is a global challenge. new alternatives and cleaner techniques are being developed.and for more than a quarter of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. air pollution expert Liu Xiang. "We have to make clean coal technology.000 Chinese citizens die a year from diseases related to air pollution. It suffered a record shortage of 30 million kilowatts this year." he said. We have to do what we can to fight classic pollutants like sulphur dioxide and mercury. so local governments don't want to see these enterprises closed down through court judgements because that would interfere with economic development. says in his experience these factors often influence the local government's behaviour. 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in China. such as a pulverised coal injection process. The International Energy Agency predicts the country will account for more than a fifth of the growth in world energy demand in the next 25 years . . head of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep).official figures say 400.

but these problems are always solved slowly. all attempts to interview the factory bosses were turned down. It gives no term though for the person who. he said he was now unable to work because he had a heart condition. this may change. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Environmental campaigners and Kyoto-minded governments went to Canada believing they might see the Kyoto model consigned to oblivion. the most polluting type of coke plants in China have largely been closed down. Everybody thinks it's important nowadays. US. "There are so many stories on environmental protection on television and in the press. Regardless of the difficulties they've been through. "I still have hope. coke is going to have to play its important role for many years to come. an optimist is someone whose glass is half full while a pessimist finds his or hers half empty. However. yet concern for climate By Richard Black In the well-worn saying.But Karen Polenske. for in analysing the fallout from the two weeks of climate talks in Montreal. . some of the residents are still optimistic about the future. its ashes ceremonially scattered on the St Lawrence river and floated off to the still frozen Arctic. as China's Ministry of Commerce has announced it will cut the output of coke by 20% next year in a bid to reduce pollution." Change ahead? According to her research. "We've been in a struggle against the coke factory for the past few years. like 48-year-old Zhang Shun. "In order to industrialise. so I see a light at the end of the tunnel. says new technologies won't necessarily mean an end to the use of coke." Cheers. A lot of people say this is going to go away as we are going to have substitutes. rises with joyous heart on finding it yet holds a few welcome splashes. having been in despair at believing his or her glass drained." he says. it might just be the key word. The model of mandatory fixed targets and timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is still alive. Speaking under a pseudonym. but those factories that have stayed open are producing much more coke than in the past. who has been researching coke plants in rural China. That has not happened. But coke is not going to go away. As for the future of the Tangshan plant. This is unfortunate. which he blames on pollution from the plant.

and to finish negotiations soon enough that there is a smooth transition between the date when existing targets expire (2012) and the beginning of this projected second period of commitments.what is that shadow falling on the other side of the drinks trolley? Split personality The "Annex 1" parties still inside the Kyoto process ..e. themselves) for the period beyond 2012". So what commitments has Montreal wrung from the remainder? Essentially. then. helping countries adapt to the impact of climate change. an "open and non-binding exchange of views. the innate rhythm which drives negotiations deep into the night and ends with sudden resolution. keeps Kyoto alive and builds momentum towards a legally binding global framework beyond 2012". which. why Greenpeace International's Bill Hare could declare "the Kyoto Protocol is stronger today than it was two weeks ago". Two sets of words. developed nations plus former Soviet bloc states minus the US and Australia . As near as one can pin it down. like the dark minor chords of Mozart melancholy resolving into a sunlit finale.That is what enabled Tony Blair to describe the final agreement as "a vital next step in tackling climate change". so good. information and ideas" which "will not open any negotiations leading to new commitments". a commitment to further talks. So far.pledged to "initiate a process to consider further commitments for parties included in Annex 1 (i. But Kyoto Annex 1 countries account only for about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. and why Tony Juniper from Friends of the Earth could opine: "This meeting has made a historic agreement which will strengthen global resolve.. dictates with inexorable logic the targets and timetables. It is why Guy Thompson of the Green Alliance could conclude "this. Plot lines It is always tempting at these meetings to focus on the drama ." Champagne all round. . while for Kyoto-sceptics and the developing world. concentrations ought to peak around 2020 to 2030. and "realising the potential" of technology and market-based opportunities. But stay . in what had always been a conference with a split personality. the scientific consensus is that in order to avoid dangerous climate change. By far the most important thread of that narrative is the speed at which concentrations of greenhouse gases are rising in the atmosphere. Europe and Japan win a commitment to further binding targets for those who already have them. They vowed to begin directly. then. and his Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett to hail a "diplomatic triumph".the American walkout and the off-the-cuff speech of former US President Bill Clinton. the prize is a generalised dialogue which specifically excludes concrete other words. and decline thereafter. But these UN gatherings are in reality brief busy punctuation marks in an on-going narrative. These talks will focus on advancing development goals. if you accept the mainstream scientific view.

For Mr Blair and Mrs Beckett." was the advice of Camilla Toulmin.. Crucially. "The signposts are pointing in the right direction. fully accept responsibility for creating the problem and produce a substantial development dividend. But is it the right glass? Or are they focusing on the tiny aperitif they have managed to rescue while the tankard slowly drains? . that the 2020/2030 date for peaking emissions is about right .. then. he said.and they believe a reasonable long-term target for reducing global emissions would be in the ball park of 60% by 2050. declines to sup in the same bar. responsible for between one-quarter and one-fifth of global emissions. where we have 17% of the global population. Yes. agreeing the rules by which it will operate and developing programmes through which richer countries can contribute to emissions reduction in poorer nations.Forget the final day emoting. Yes. but let's not get too carried away. the glass is indeed fuller than it might have been." In the first week of talks. it is hard to see what has happened in Montreal which can turn that scenario into reality. are clamouring to join the post-Kyoto party. "I do believe that the calls for developing countries to take up G8 abatement commitments." Don't get carried away A sober assessment of these factors has led to some less up-beat assessments of Montreal. The US. and look at the Montreal agreement in this light. They must lead by example. are misplaced. and responsive to agendas other than genuine mitigation of climate change. They accept. with their fast-growing economies and fast-rising greenhouse gas emissions. European delegates would be discussing the possible scales and timetables of future emissions cuts. there is little sign that countries like India and China. But in reality many of them have veered spectacularly off the course required to meet their existing targets. for Greenpeace and the rest of the NGO lobby. With the best will in the world. but the key to achieving this lies with the rich countries. Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development. valuable progress was made on Kyoto Protocol mechanisms. As Indian Environment Minister Andimuthu Raja told the BBC: "Our emissions of CO2 are only 3% of the world's total. never mind future ones. a British official involved in negotiations told me that in side-rooms and tea-bars. "The big industrialising nations must be included in a future binding agreement. the Annex 1 parties will talk about further targets and timetables.

but in this case a little effort brings instant reward.G8 climate deal plays on language Analysis By Richard Black In most sports. as science justifies. Tony Blair called climate change a "threat". apparently. where it appears that naming your team "the United States" is the real guarantee of victory. a numerical advantage of seven to one would guarantee victory. and now the Gleneagles Go-around. COMMUNIQUÉ: MAIN POINTS It describes climate change as a "serious long-term challenge" It says human activities contribute "in large part" to increases in greenhouse gases It says "we know enough to act now and put ourselves on a path to slow and. those same leaders are able to approve a document indicating that reductions in emissions may not be needed now. By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. the nuances paint a parentage picture as clearly as a genetic family tree. Now. in a speech to the Prince of Wales' Business and the Environment Programme. delayed for nearly 24 hours because of Thursday's bombings and loss of life in London. France. dates from 11 June 2001 . But go back a bit.tossing the caber. increasing access is needed in order to support the Millennium Goals It says that developed nations have the responsibility to act By choosing to leave the Kyoto process. we should "slow and.and the word there is "challenge" .the word we find in Friday's communiqué. President Bush's definitive statement on climate change. haggis's known as the Rose Garden Speech . says the communiqué. Germany. Mr Bush indicated his belief that emissions cuts are not urgently needed. Japan. as science justifies. It is difficult to interpret in any other way the final G8 communiqué on climate change. and Russia have indicated their belief that greenhouse gas emissions need to fall within the next five years. while a draft of the G8 communiqué. Mr Blair and the leaders of Canada. but at some future time "as science justifies". But Scotland is home to some unusual events . a "serious long-term challenge". stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases" It says two billion people lack access to modern energy sources. also used the "T" word . 'At a price' Then there is the science. Italy. On 4 September 2004. Climate change is. He used the term again in an article in The Economist on 1 January this year. . Analysis of diplomatic language can be a tedious exercise. stop and then reverse" the growth of greenhouse gases. leaked in May. meanwhile.

environmental campaign groups maintained that the seven countries which had ratified Kyoto would be faced with a stark choice. no international commitments and no need for open. come out of the months of planning. the reams of newsprint. No place for the fetid unwashed of the environmental movement. is an important agreement. and no government will have to do anything it doesn't want to do. then.In the run-up to this summit. the giant developing economies of Asia will keep growing. keep it in the family of power-suited industrial and political brokers. even if it doesn't go as far as we would have wanted. The electronic juice will keep flowing. and you ask yourself 'where is the rest?'" That little change can be expected in the short term is evidenced by a sentence in the separate communiqué on the global economy and oil which was also agreed by the G8 leaders in Gleneagles: "Oil demand is currently projected to continue its strong growth. no mandatory targets. break with precedent.have been excised from the final version. . also in London. But clauses which were present in earlier drafts of the communiqué to set up a number of special funds . One seasoned observer with a background in Capitol Hill politics told me "You get to the end. No economic pain. The French leader. They would either have to agree to a document much weaker than they would have wanted. the few who can really get things done. the millions of air- kilometres spent on preparatory jaunts." To the future Has anything concrete. accountable negotiations. mature-person's solution to climate change. following on from the G20 meeting of energy and environment ministers that took place. appeared to acknowledge that the bridge built by the final communiqué has come at a price... and you turn the final page. to help Africa adapt to the impacts of climate change . "The agreement. the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is a real world. or to break with the United States. and make plain the oceanic gulf between the seven and the one. "It restores dialogue between the seven (G8) Kyoto members and the United States. Jacques Chirac." he said. in March." Business deal or bright idea? ANALYSIS By Richard Black To insiders. the hours upon inconceivable hours of lobbying from all quarters? There is an agreement to talks on technology in London in November.for example. the hours of broadcasting time.

a fig-leaf to cover the embarrassment of George Bush and John Howard. then. their evidence is that many fully paid-up Kyoto nations look set to miss their targets by some margin. with some support from the scientific community. "The reality is new technology will deliver three times the savings in greenhouse gas as the Kyoto Protocol will. The case for the defence is mounted by Australian Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. "global greenhouse gas emissions are projected to almost triple between 2001 and 2050". Contrast that with the predictions of climate scientists. "Things like geosequestration. it predicts. solar energy. it's an empty vessel. London via Stornoway If Abare's projections are correct. Rolling out technologies for energy efficiency and renewables across the six Partnership nations would. are needed. is to avoid a rise of 2C in the average global temperature. reduce the 2050 total by about 11%. Compiled for the Partnership. the Partnership will deliver nothing of benefit to the climate. then firms will do so Craig Frater. HAVE YOUR SAY If it is cheaper to pollute. because technology alone cannot bring the huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which. . and it is easy to see why the Partnership has brought widespread dismay to many concerned observers. it declares.To other observers." he said in the run-up to the meeting here. EU policy. the only western leaders to have reneged on commitments their predecessors made at the UN Kyoto conference in 1997. technology-driven solution to climate change. In this thesis. a report released at the meeting by the Australian government's Bureau of Agricultural and Research Economics (Abare) dealt something of a blow to the concept of a voluntary. No definitive picture exists of precisely what constitutes "dangerous" climate change. Without the Partnership. extending these benefits to the rest of the world puts it up to 23%. and explicitly supportive of it. Introducing carbon capture and storage technology for coal and gas-fired power stations as well increases that figure to 17%. Emissions to rise However. according to consensus climate science." The Australian position is that Kyoto will not deliver meaningful cuts in carbon emissions. even the most optimistic scenario would see a doubling of global emissions by 2050. better utilisation of the newer technologies are going to see more efficient electricity production and more efficient electricity consumption. the report plots various scenarios for the future.

"Post-combustion capture route is where you strip the CO2 from the flue gas and then compress it to be stored underground. or [to put it another way] it consumes energy so the output is reduced by about 20 or 25%." says Louis Wibberley. capturing carbon is always going to prove more expensive than not capturing it. manager of energy technology and modelling at the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). and clever ideas based on natural gas. "That process effectively consumes 20 or 25% of the power station's output. "You can invest all you want in coming up with all kinds of wonderful new technologies.nuclear power. renewables. "There are several approaches to removing CO2 from the combustion of coal. energy efficiency. emissions should have peaked and be on their way down. The six-nation grouping contains four of the world's top five coal producers. capture and use of methane. president of the National Environmental Trust in Washington DC." It is difficult to see Abare's report as anything other than a frank admission that the Asia- Pacific Partnership will not bring this about. The European Union is attempting to square this circle with its Emissions Trading Scheme. Researchers in Australia as elsewhere in the world are working on "clean" technologies that can reduce substantially carbon dioxide emissions from this most polluting of fuels. whereby companies can register a financial "win" by installing clean technologies. All eyes on coal In principle all technology options are on the table here . and with current technology you will approximately double the cost of electricity." Dr Wibberley's group and others are working to raise the efficiency and bring down the cost. coal is the centre of attention. all depend heavily on the fuel for their domestic energy. In practice. "That also gives you a multiplier effect on the cost. In the run-up to the meeting Australia's environment minister Ian Campbell said: "The consensus of scientists around the world is that we need 50 to 60% lower emissions this century. Even so.Follow that goal through the maths and it is possible to conclude that within 15 years. which is one reason for the scepticism. . No such driver exists for the Asia-Pacific grouping." says Philip Clapp." he told me.

Asian emissions would rise by about 70% between now and 2050. India. Taking care of business Sceptical observers of the Asia-Pacific Partnership have other reservations." Race against time Timescale is another factor. or any other country commits to substantial reductions in its nation's emissions. that if clean coal became the dominant technology." he told me. seduce developing nations away from the United Nations climate negotiations with its frilly promises of jam today and forever. It will. critics allege. Asia's thirst for energy is growing so fast. aimed at providing new opportunities for companies big and rich enough to get close to the reins of political power."But unless China. On the eve of this meeting the Transition Institute. it concluded. It is basically a business deal. But the big question is the one posed by Philip Clapp. they maintain. he backs the concept of trying to develop technologies which can be rolled out across Asia as its thirst for energy soars. as these countries install new technologies. Indonesia . "It's probably a decade before most of the technologies are commercially viable. "We've got to bear in mind that the big growth in greenhouse gas emissions in the future will in fact not come from the developed world. the Kyoto naysayers. So if we can make those technologies available over the next decade or so. why would anyone invest in clean technologies when they cost more? US energy secretary Samuel Bodman gave one answer at the conference.all of whom have aspirations to [a western] standard of living. without targets and without economic incentives. we can have an enormous impact on the rate of growth of greenhouse gas emissions. . simply because there will be so many power stations from which 10% or so can escape. why should its electricity sector or other polluting sectors invest in them? There's no reason." says the CSIRO's chief of energy technology David Brockway. an energy think-tank." But carbon capture technologies don't cut greenhouse gas emissions completely. "They will need to use a lot of energy to achieve that standard of living. Nevertheless.China. 10% or more can still be emitted. Thailand. concluded that this issue alone means carbon capture and storage cannot solve the greenhouse issue. It is a public relations exercise to foster feelings that the US and Australia. are doing something. India. it'll come from the developing world .

the energy giants of today's multinational economy will invest willingly to safeguard the world's climate future."I believe that the people who run the private sector. they too have grandchildren. "Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication." commented Jonathan Lash. the companies. . the really big emitters of the present and future do not. And the current state of affairs is likely to be a road block to the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by world leaders at the United Nations in 2000.. If the Abare projections are correct. it says. and the audit shows we've driven most of the accounts into the red. and the audit shows we've driven most of the accounts into the red Jonathan Lash. or not powerful enough. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was drawn up by 1. internationally-agreed targets as exemplified by the Kyoto Protocol. poverty and improve healthcare. fresh water. they too have children. The report says the way society obtains its resources has caused irreversible changes that are degrading the natural processes that support life on Earth. the assessment concludes. they too live and breathe in the world. they are clearly not willing enough. Study highlights global decline The most comprehensive survey ever into the state of the planet concludes that human activities threaten the Earth's ability to sustain future generations. and they would like things dealt with effectively." the report states. That is why other bodies such as the European Commission are standing by the approach of binding. timber." In this thesis. "It's really going to be the private sector. who run these companies. the president of the World Resources Institute. apparently..300 researchers from 95 nations over four years. to bring reductions in global emissions of greenhouse gases. and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem 'services' on which humanity relies continue to be degraded. The way society has sourced its food. This report is essentially an audit of nature's economy. "This report is essentially an audit of nature's economy. The challenge this bloc faces is that as the existence of the Asia-Pacific Partnership demonstrates. World Resources Institute It reports that humans have changed most ecosystems beyond recognition in a dramatically short space of time. This will compromise efforts to address hunger. that are ultimately going to be the solvers of this problem. fibre and fuel over the past 50 years has seriously degraded the environment. see the need. improved health.

we see that. demands. has driven efforts to slow global warming. Two services .the way these successes have been achieved puts at risk global prosperity in the future. In many ways. livestock and aquaculture production. invasive species. clean air to breathe." Way forward The MA is slightly different to all previous environmental reports in that it defines ecosystems in terms of the "services". fish for food. by bringing together hundreds of scientists in a peer-reviewed process. and pollution. much less future.ever used on the planet were deployed after 1985. the drivers are either staying steady or increasing in severity . There will undoubtedly be gainsayers. across the board. the director of the MA.are said now to be well beyond levels that can sustain current. "When we look at the drivers of change affecting ecosystems. overexploitation of resources." said Dr William Reid. fibres to make clothes. bird and amphibian species currently threatened with extinction. Although humanity has made considerable gains in the process . More than half of all the synthetic nitrogen fertilisers . More land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th and 19th Centuries combined.500 pages and is intended to inform global policy initiatives. and increased carbon sequestration for global climate regulation (which has come from new forests planted in the Northern Hemisphere). MA . or benefits. Global value The assessment runs to 2.ASSESSMENT OVERVIEW Humans have radically altered ecosystems in just 50 years Changes have brought gains but at high ecosystem cost Further unsustainable practices will threaten development goals Workable solutions will require significant changes in policy . such as nitrogen and phosphorus."If you drive the economy into the red. it mirrors the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which. The report says only four ecosystem services have been enhanced in the last 50 years: increases in crop. with some 10-30% of the mammal. ultimately there are significant consequences for our capacity to achieve our dreams in terms of poverty reduction and prosperity. as there are with the IPCC. The MA authors say the pressure for resources has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth. but I put them in the same box as the flat-Earthers and the people who believe smoking doesn't cause cancer Prof Sir John Lawton The study finds the requirements of a burgeoning world population after WW II drove an unsustainable rush for these natural resources. that people get from them .first made in 1913 . climate change.economies and food production have continued to grow .habitat change.timber for building.fisheries and fresh water .

says the MA. and more fundamental in nature . the report warns. added: "The range of current responses are not commensurate with the nature. At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning Most computers will open PDF documents automatically."The MA is a very powerful consensus about the unsustainable trajectory that most of the world's ecosystems are now on. while continuing to use them to raise living standards." The MA has cost some $20m to put together. Technology's role. as there are with the IPCC. these areas could be constrained by markets that trade permits . the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. but you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader. The report is not all doom and gloom. new technologies and higher prices for exploiting ecosystems. will be keenly felt in the field of renewable energies.airlines do not pay for the carbon dioxide they put into the atmosphere. Antarctic glaciers show retreat .as in Europe's newly established carbon emissions market. PLANET UNDER PRESSURE 60% of world ecosystem services have been degraded Of 24 evaluated ecosystems. 20% degraded Nutrient pollution has led to eutrophication of waters and coastal dead zones Species extinction is now 100-1. Some of the solutions go to old but as yet unfulfilled initiatives. the MA says. the co-chair of the MA assessment panel. the extent or the urgency of the situation that is at hand." said Professor Sir John Lawton. targeted. the United Nations Foundation.we can realise some of the desired outcomes and they can have positive results for ecosystems. their services and human well-being. "In our scenarios. changes in consumption patterns. we see that with interventions that are strategic. Modelling of future scenarios suggests human societies can ease the strains being put on nature. better education. But it requires. 15 are being damaged About 20% of corals were lost in just 20 years. and the price of food does not reflect the cost of cleaning waterways that have been polluted by run-off of agrochemicals from the land. Angela Cropper.000 times above the normal background rate In future. But the pace of change needs to quicken. It was funded by the Global Environment Facility. the World Bank and others. "There will undoubtedly be gainsayers. such as the abolition of production subsidies which imbalance world trade and in agriculture are blamed for overloading land with fertilisers and pesticides as farmers chase high yields. Newer solutions centre on putting a value on "externalities" that are currently deemed to be "free" . but I put them in the same box as the flat-Earthers and the people who believe smoking doesn't cause cancer. former chief executive of the UK's Natural Environment Research Council.

'Shrinking rapidly' Bas scientist Alison Cook. which on average were 1953. however. . Now the majority are shrinking and rapidly. They are all relatively small.a joint team from the British-Antarctic and US-Geological Surveys . has moved back 13km since 1993." The melting trend began in the north of the peninsula and has steadily worked southwards.say the big melt could have a number of complex causes.possibly to do with changing ocean currents and temperatures.000 aerial photographs dating from 1940. who led the research. from the British Antarctic Survey (Bas). have been very dramatic. the full picture may go beyond just simple global warming. "But it's not a perfect fit. to assess the change in position of glacier fronts over time. "This is a reverse of the pattern 50 years ago . there seem to be other factors involved as well . This study demonstrates the enormous importance of gathering long-term data Dr Andrew Sugden. Sjogren Glacier. they say." explained Dr David Vaughan.then most glaciers were actually growing." he told BBC News. "We found that 87% of the 244 glaciers have shown retreat since the earliest records. Some individual losses.000m down to sea level. Their fronts either ground and calve icebergs into the ocean. Although higher air temperatures are a factor. "The overall picture is of glaciers retreating in a pattern that suggests the most important factor is atmospheric warming. at the northern end of the peninsula. A detailed study reported in Science magazine shows nearly 90% of the ice bodies streaming down from the mountains to the ocean are losing mass. more than any other glacier in the study.The glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula are in rapid retreat. But the authors . The study covers 244 marine glaciers found largely on the western side of the peninsula. The team used more than 2. Science magazine. independent streams of ice that fall from an altitude of about 2. with an average shrinkage of 50m per year. and over 100 satellite images from the 1960s onwards. The last five years have seen the greatest losses in mass. we can connect the retreat with the observed warming recorded at climate stations along the peninsula. or push out into the water as a floating "tongue". said: "This is the first comprehensive study of marine glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula.

" Dr Andrew Sugden. wind and precipitation patterns. Computer models This information will be crucial to the improvement of computer models that are used to predict future climate change in the region. underlying geology. Thirty-two glaciers buck the trend. illustrates the point that glacier length is being influenced by a complex interplay of forces." Ice cores unlock climate secrets Global climate patterns stretching back of which we enjoy today. If past patterns are followed in the future. Initial tests on gas trapped in the ice core show that current carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are higher than they have been in 440. the amount of sea ice in front of the glaciers . Dr Vaughan said: "Whether we can expect that warming trend to extend to the rest of the Antarctic is extremely uncertain. the international managing editor of Science magazine. Analysis of the ice proves our planet has had eight ice ages during that period.Sjogren Glacier had flowed into the Prince Gustav Ice Shelf and when the ice shelf broke up in 1993. but their advance . The topography. with all the implications that has for further ice melt and possible sea level rises. . and at the moment there is little data on any of them. These systems have struggled to reproduce the conditions on the Antarctic Peninsula where average air temperatures have risen by around 2C in just 50 years . Nature reports. punctuated by rather brief warm spells .000 years. "The Antarctic is really too small an area to be resolved in the models and that's the level we have to get down to if we want to predict what is going to happen in a particular place. the glacier retreated rapidly.000 years have been confirmed by a three-kilometre-long ice core drilled from the Antarctic. the researchers say. "It is only in the accumulation of this data that we are going to be able to understand and predict what might happen to our planet in the future. we can expect our "mild snap" to last another 15.000 years. The data may also help predict how greenhouse gases will affect climate. Their growth. the team less than the shrinkage of the main group and their distribution fits no clear pattern.all could have a average of 300m per glacier over the study period .one of the fastest warming rates on Earth. commented: "This study demonstrates the enormous importance of gathering long-term data.

" said Dr Wolff. "We think this project will really change the way we look at climate. That is how we know how cold it was. Wolff. But there is great variation in the degree of cold. allowing Epica to obtain a climate record two times longer than its nearest ice core rival. Wolff. of the British Antarctic Survey." said co-author Eric W. Distant worlds A large team of scientists. This is not the first ice core project . Different colds Deuterium is a heavy isotope of hydrogen. that means the temperature was warmer . Cambridge.and you'd be's incredible. of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "So all that is left is what we would call isotopically depleted or lighter. UK He added: "You might say Antarctica is always cold . "That is the wonderful thing about ice cores. of hydrogen atoms. US.000 years worth of snowfall.Nobody quite knows how this will alter our climate. McManus. For instance. or isotopes. . Each slice of the ice core tells tales about the distant world it came from. "At very cold temperatures a great deal of the heavy isotopes have rained out. on east Antarctica's plateau." Epica is still busy analysing the ice core's atmospheric gases." said Professor McManus. within which tiny pockets of preserved air lie. scientists can work out climate by looking at the ratio of different types. Dome C contains 800. "There is air from three-quarters of a million years ago and it is still locked in these bubbles . If a sample of ice has a lot of it. the British Antarctic Survey." explained Jerry F.but it ventures much further back in time. has spent most of the last decade extracting the mammoth column of ice from a location called Dome C." Another important thing that scientists can 'read' in the ice is the relative concentration of atmospheric gases.and vice versa. from 10 different countries.and in doing so gain a better understanding of what we can expect in the future. UK." We think this project will really change the way we look at climate Eric W. That is because minute bubbles pock mark the core. "We have never seen greenhouse gases anything like what we have seen today. but researchers hope a detailed picture of past fluctuations will give them a better idea. The European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (Epica) aims to unlock the climatic secrets of our past . but preliminary results suggest that present CO2 levels are remarkably high.

too. but lasted slightly longer. The increased levels of greenhouse gases are geologically incredible." said co-author Thomas F Stocker. That warm spell lasted a whopping 28. of the University of ours probably will. having apparently starved to death. Over the last 400. scientists might be able to predict the effect of humankind's enthusiastic CO2 belching.according to the pattern .despite what The Day After Tomorrow says.have come every 100. And. who sees the strong connection between greenhouse gases and climate in the past.000 years and have generally been short-lived." By understanding what greenhouse gases did to global temperature in the past.because the shape of the Earth's orbit was the same then as it is now." Climate warning from the deep Strange things are happening in the North Sea." said Dr Wolff. But we are not. Interglacials .Predicting the future Over the last 800. Switzerland. they will gain a deeper knowledge of how climate relates to them. earlier this summer.000 years . Before that they were less warm.000 years." Epica scientists hope that after they have fully analysed the ice core's atmospheric gases. We have already been in an interglacial for about 10. been a pretty chilly place. "We will double the timescale over which we can study greenhouse gases. interglacials have lasted about 10. Several sea birds are also in trouble. on the whole. "There is great controversy as to whether human beings have changed the climate." said Professor McManus. hundreds of fulmar (a relative of the albatross) corpses washed up on the Norfolk coast.000 years. "We will be able to show what the natural variability is in relation to gases like CO2.000 years. with climates similar to this one. Scientists suspect these events are linked and they are trying to work out how. "But there is no doubt about the fact that human beings have changed the Earth's atmosphere. so we should . Kittiwake numbers are falling fast and guillemots are struggling to breed. and Mediterranean species like red mullet are migrating north. The Epica team has noticed the interglacial period of 400. "The next ice age is not imminent.or warm spells .000 years ago closely matches our own . Cod stocks are slumping faster than over-fishing can account for.000 years the Earth has. . "and greenhouse warming makes it even less likely ." He added: "It is something of grave concern to someone like heading for an ice age.

so we can see how these links actually operate." . "So all the cold water species of plankton have moved much further north. is key to changes further up the food chain.presumably . and they are being replaced by more sub-tropical species. along with zoo-plankton (tiny animals)." said Dr Wanless. "We have already shown that kittiwakes are declining and declining quite rapidly .but at the moment we don't know the mechanisms. "The North Sea was a cold temperate ecosystem in the 1980s. which blooms in early spring. "What Martin Edwards and his colleagues are showing is that there is a profound difference in the plankton in the North Sea. but since the 1990s it has changed into a warm temperate ecosystem. Now it is going. Globally they are of vital importance. have got together to try to pinpoint how this is happening. they form the base of the whole ocean food web.and so are the fish larvae that feed on the zoo- plankton. Plymouth. but some believe a dramatic change in North Sea plankton is responsible. Dr Edwards said: "The spring bloom is declining.and even time their own emergence to match it. And. they blame global warming. Many small animals feed on this spring bloom .Nothing is certain yet. from Nerc Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. But. what is more. over the last 20 years. these little organisms have been undergoing a radical shake-up in the North Sea. Phyto-plankton (tiny plants) are behind 50% of the Earth's photosynthesis." explained Martin Edwards. and the cold water zoo-plankton that feed on the spring bloom are declining as well . of the Sir Alistair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS). as global temperatures rise. and we are seeing a decline in the sand eels that many birds feed on. cold water species are moving out and warm water species are moving in. Global changes Plankton are microscopic free-floating marine organisms. UK. And. "And that is why we are joining up the bird work with the plankton work. they are dying.are other fish that feed on those larvae and the birds that feed on the fish. Everybody working in the North Sea is seeing big changes Sarah Wanless. Nerc Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Broadly speaking." The decline of a particular species of phyto-plankton." And so . Over the edge Martin Edwards and bird expert Sarah Wanless.

But since then it has pulled out of the agreement and its carbon dioxide emissions have increased to more than 15% above 1990 levels.1% of those emissions. the Director of SAHFOS." said Dr Chris Reid. this 55% target was much harder to achieve without its participation. to try to piece the whole jigsaw together. "Work on plankton is hugely important. But 141 countries banded together and the protocol came into force in February 2005.although it also produces more wealth. For the agreement to become a legally binding treaty. And we are seeing signals emerging from the birds. the tip of the iceberg. some fear. has not been extensively studied in the past. So what we are seeing now could be. than any other country . "And kittiwakes might well be one of the first to disappear. "The world's oceans make up more than 70% of the world's surface and 50% of the primary production in the world comes from phyto-plankton. the story behind some of the North Sea mysteries is beginning to unfold. "Some species might decline to the extent where they are no longer present. As the US accounted for 36. "In some cases we are finding a whole lot of adult birds dead and in other cases that the birds are abandoning their chicks. and how they are affected by climate. the US signed and committed to reducing its emissions by 6%. but what we need to do now is get everybody together.She continued: "We speculate these are climate driven changes. it had to be ratified by countries which together were responsible for at least 55% of the total 1990 emissions reported by the industrialised countries and emerging economies which made commitments to reduce their emissions under the protocol." Now." Emerging picture Amazingly the role of plankton. When Kyoto was agreed." said Dr Wanless." And there might be worse to come. but as yet we have very little idea about how this changes regionally or with time. Dr Wanless said: "Everybody working in the North Sea is seeing big changes. . Because sea birds are generally long lived. changes happen rather slowly. absolutely and per head. which are working their way right through the food chain. President George W Bush said in March 2001 that the US would not ratify Kyoto because he thought it would damage the US economy and because it did not yet require developing countries to cut their emissions." Climate change: The big emitters US The US emits more.

but with the economy developing at high speed many analysts expect China's total emissions to overtake America's by mid-century. despite its tough stance on Kyoto. The EU has continually argued for a rigorous application of Kyoto. although no UN figures are available. But it is far from clear whether the country would ever agree to internationally-imposed emissions restrictions. analysts say there is evidence to back up Chinese claims of a reduction in emissions during the late 1990s. In 2004 Beijing announced plans to generate 10% of its power from renewable sources by 2010. China's leaders recognise that climate change could devastate their society and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. European Union All 15 European Union states ratified the Kyoto deal in May 2002. The average Chinese person consumes only 10-15% of the energy an average US citizen uses. However. but as a developing country is not yet required to reduce its emissions. It pledged to bring total greenhouse gas emissions to 8% below 1990s levels by 2008-2012. .9% .and through the development of cleaner technologies. The EU has also opposed widespread use of forests and other carbon "sinks" to absorb pollution . The country faced power cuts in 2004 as soaring growth outstripped electricity generation. increases in its emissions could dwarf any cuts made by the industrialised countries.the crucial moment making the treaty legally binding. Japan and Canada to ratify Kyoto so that it could come into force without the commitment of the US. Russia Russia ratified the Kyoto Protocol in November 2004 . the EU is some way off its own target. Fossil fuels play a major role . wanting to limit the use of so-called "flexibility mechanisms" which allow countries to partially meet their emissions reduction targets by paying for improvements in other countries. The protocol's most enthusiastic supporter.China is the world's biggest coal producer and oil consumption has doubled in the last 20 years. Only four EU countries are on track to achieve their own targets. However. the EU has pressured countries such as Russia.and CO2 emissions had risen slightly. With China accounting for a fifth of the world's population.He says he backs improvements in energy efficiency through voluntary emissions reductions - rather than imposed targets . China China is the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.but gave substantial ground on the issue at talks in Bonn in 2001. largely due to increased efficiency and slower economic growth. but by 2002 they had dropped only 2.

1994.Russia's entry was vital. It was responsible for 8. This target was only met after Russia joined.selling its unused emissions entitlement to developed countries which want to emit more than the protocol allows them to. Although previously reluctant to ratify the protocol unless the US also committed. but 2002 figures showed total greenhouse gas emissions had risen 11% above the baseline figure. But with India's economy and population. In the short-term. committed to cutting emissions. because the protocol had to be ratified by nations accounting for at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions to become valid. however. leaving emissions reduced by about 35% and well below the level allowed under Kyoto. although the country has only submitted emissions figures to the UN for one year. Russia stands to gain billions of dollars through emissions trading . It says the money would be used for energy efficiency projects. bring Russia economic costs in the longer term. Q&A: The Kyoto Protocol What is the Kyoto Protocol? The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement setting targets for industrialised countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Russia's economy has shrunk so drastically since 1990 that industrial activity has dropped. The country recognises that its economy could benefit from the Kyoto agreement. clean technology.5% of emissions in 1990 and its support for the agreement has been critical in the absence of US participation. Japan A major world economic power. Japan ratified it in June 2002. Japan is a leading member of Kyoto. TARGETED GASES Carbon dioxide (CO2) . India recognises that many of its one billion people will be vulnerable to the effects of climate change and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in August 2002. like China's. it is clear that the thorny issue of developing country emissions commitments will have to be tackled soon in future rounds of negotiations. India's emissions are estimated to have risen by more than 50% in the 1990s. as Japanese companies could capture markets for new. continuing to grow. It committed to reduce emissions by 6% from 1990 levels. Committing to keep emissions low could. India Developing countries like India are not obliged to make any cuts in greenhouse emissions under Kyoto. But as they raise living standards their emissions will increase.

based on principles set out in a framework convention signed in 1992. and the Kyoto Protocol came into force 90 days later - on 16 February 2005. but its output of greenhouse gases has shrunk by nearly 40%. Russia will be able to make a lot of money selling credits when emissions trading (see below) gets under way. However. What are the targets? Industrialised countries have committed to cut their combined emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2008 . But following the decision of the United States and Australia not to ratify. In particular. . Why did Russia decide to back the treaty? The deciding factor appears to have been the political benefits Russia stands to gain. It finally did ratify on 18 November 2004.the rise in global temperature which may have catastrophic consequences for life on Earth. The two main countries which have not are Australia and the USA. Russia initially wavered over signing the protocol. The protocol does not require Russia to decrease its emissions from their 1990 level at all. Fears still persist in Russia that Kyoto could badly affect the country's economic growth. Each country that signed the protocol agreed to its own specific target. Turkey and now Kazakhstan. The protocol was agreed in 1997. when it ratifies the protocol. amid speculation that it was jockeying for more favourable terms. It could only come into force after two conditions had been fulfilled: • It had been ratified by at least 55 countries • It had been ratified by nations accounting for at least 55% of emissions from what the Treaty calls "Annex 1" countries . But the country's cabinet agreed to back Kyoto in September 2004. Some countries with low emissions were permitted to increase them. Russia's position became crucial for the fulfilment of the second condition.2012. EU countries are expected to cut their present emissions by 8% and Japan by 5%. there has been talk of stronger European Union support for Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization. Methane (CH4) Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) These gases are considered at least partly responsible for global warming . plus Belarus. When did the Kyoto Protocol come into force? The Kyoto Protocol became a legally binding treaty on 16 February 2005. because its economy collapsed after 1990.38 industrialised countries given targets for reducing emissions. The targets for reducing emissions then become binding on all the Annex 1 countries which have ratified the Protocol. The first target was met in 2002.

emissions cuts in the order of 60% across the board are needed. Sweden and the UK have already done so. The agreement aims to reduce emissions from industrialised nations only by around 5%. . and will stay in place regardless of the fate of the protocol itself. US states and in the EU. pulled out.such as Spain. How much difference will Kyoto make? Most climate scientists say that the targets set in the Kyoto Protocol are merely scratching the surface of the problem. partly because it does not require developing countries to commit to emissions reductions. responsible for about quarter of the world's emissions. There is not even any certainty that the 15 countries that were members of the EU in 1997 will meet their collective target of an 8% reduction on 1990 levels. China and India fall into this category. Portugal and Ireland .have made no progress at all. it sets out a framework for future negotiations which could take another decade to rebuild. Mr Bush says he backs emissions reductions through voluntary action and new energy technologies. The treaty suffered a massive blow in 2001 when the US. as well as being virtually obsolete without US support. despite its flaws. Kyoto commitments have been signed into law in some countries. The UN says industrialised countries are now well off target for the end of the decade and predicts emissions 10% above 1990 levels by 2010. But this was largely because a sharp decrease in emissions from the collapsing economies of former Soviet countries masked an 8% rise among rich countries. France. What about poor countries? The agreement acknowledges that developing countries contribute least to climate change but will quite likely suffer most from its effects. But others say its failure would be a disaster as.Have the targets been achieved? Industrialised countries cut their overall emissions by about 3% from 1990 to 2000. His administration dubbed the treaty "fatally flawed". This has led to criticisms that the agreement is toothless. whereas the consensus among many climate scientists is that in order to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. but others . although they are two of the world's biggest producers of greenhouse gases. Why did the US pull out? US President George W Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. saying implementing it would gravely damage the US economy.

They accept there are uncertainties but say human activities are having a clear effect on natural climate change. dubbed "contraction and convergence". but have to report their emissions levels and develop national climate change mitigation programmes. Highly polluting countries can buy unused "credits" from those which are allowed to emit more than they actually do. the proposal. states that rich countries should "contract" their emissions with the aim that global emissions "converge" at equal levels based on the amount of pollution scientists think the planet can take. and that the Earth could warm dangerously. Rapid carbon build-up . and can be carried out in the country itself. What is emissions trading? Emissions trading works by allowing countries to buy and sell their agreed allowances of greenhouse gas emissions. Although many commentators say it is not realistic. Climate: What science can tell us By Alex Kirby BBC News Online environment correspondent Most climate scientists are convinced they are right to warn us the prospect ahead is alarming unless we act soon. or by that country working in a developing country. Are there alternatives? One approach gaining increasing support is based on the principle that an equal quota of greenhouse gas emissions should be allocated for every person on the planet. and think the human impact is so small as to be negligible. have both ratified the protocol. Originated by the Global Commons Institute. its supporters include the United Nations Environment Programme and the European Parliament. They do not have to commit to specific targets.Many have signed it. But recent findings suggest there are real causes for concern at the speed with which the Earth is now heating up. China and India. Countries are also able to gain credits for activities which boost the environment's capacity to absorb carbon. Their critics say the evidence so far is not conclusive. These include tree planting and soil conservation. potential major polluters with huge populations and growing economies.

Hadley Centre One rapidly changing phenomenon is the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2). a potent greenhouse gas. It reached 360ppm in the 1990s and recently climbed to a high of 379ppm. and researchers believe that if the ice cap melts. The release. Even if global warming were halted. would be an example of what is called "positive feedback". Analysis of an ice core drilled from the Antarctic shows the level fluctuated over the last 500. and the suggestion that climate change could mean a million species will be at risk of extinction by 2050. when warming itself causes a further temperature rise. The year-on-year average rise is currently 2ppm. triggered by the higher atmospheric carbon levels. the main greenhouse gas given off by human activities. "Other pieces of evidence are last year's heatwave in Europe." Dr Geoff Jenkins. the level of CO2 in the atmosphere was around 270-280ppm.000 years between about 200 parts per million (ppm) during ice ages to more like 270ppm in warmer inter-glacial periods. We've reached the point where it's only by including human activity that we can explain what's happening Dr Geoff Jenkins. which they think means that by 2060 the peat could account for greater carbon emissions than the burning of fossil fuels. This is because it can take decades or even centuries for actions to produce effects. told BBC News Online: "The evidence that feedbacks are occurring is one of the most striking recent findings. of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. Before the start of the Industrial Revolution about 200 years ago.000 years if global warming continues at its present rate. the rise could be irreversible. Scientists say the rate of release is accelerating at 6% a year. executive director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is starting work on its fourth assessment report. global average sea level will rise by about 7m (23ft). Professor Mike Hulme. they say. which should ready by 2007. Studies forecast an 8C increase in Greenland's temperature by 2350. . told BBC News Online: "Over the last few decades there's been much more evidence for the human influence on climate. Vicious circle The permafrost of northern Europe and North America is known to contain large quantities of methane. which could also be released as global warming thaws the tundra. Another worry is whether peatlands could release vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. There is concern that Greenland's ice sheet could disappear within the next 1.

that is why we are successful. "As wetlands grow wetter and hotter. but poor.5C higher than now. it predicts. our planet is heading for some big upheavals."We've reached the point where it's only by including human activity that we can explain what's happening. though.coal. BBC News asked a range of opinion leaders how worrying climate change is . but will require using vast amounts of the cheapest . global sea levels will have risen by 9cm to 88cm. that many uncertainties remain. "The feedbacks mean that by the end of this century we'll have lost a lot of the free buffering that nature provides. for instance. Competitive Andrew Simms. But does this really spell doom? After all. director of global warming policy. and average temperatures will be about 1.and what we should do about it. The world cannot be put on an energy rationing diet because the world is not energy rich. Myron Ebell. The Institute Carbon Trust Peter Calow. we humans are very adaptable . By 2100. by 2100 they'll probably account for as much methane as human activities. This cannot be achieved using the most expensive forms of energy." Both he and Professor Hulme agree. . Shell Assessment Institute Global warming alarmism is an implausible theory Myron Ebell. New Economics Enterprise Institute Foundation Aubrey Meyer.5 to 5. Competitive Enterprise Institute Potential global warming is much less worrying than the policies proposed to deal with it. Around two billion people cannot hope to participate in the benefits of industrial civilization until they have electricity. Building brighter futures for the world's poor will almost certainly not cause climate catastrophe. Global warming alarmism is an implausible theory for which there is remarkably little scientific evidence. Global Commons Professor Michael Grubb. These include the role played by clouds and solar radiation. Viewpoints: Tackling climate change If the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is right. Environmental Lord Oxburgh.

A grave concern . Global Commons Institute Climate change is a cause for grave concern. Environmental Assessment Institute Climate change is worrying. After scientists have agreed how much CO2 pollution the planet can withstand. Based on the scientific understandings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It's a tremendously destructive dead end. the potential adverse impacts have been vastly exaggerated (sea level rise) or made up (more storms. They have failed to provide an adequate or effective global template for further action. then there should have already been much more warming than the miniscule rise over the past 30 years. In other words each person would be allowed to emit an agreed amount of CO2. we propose "Contraction and Convergence" as the basis for this reconciliation. the approach is a full-term global framework which will share the task of halting the accumulation of greenhouse gases. Failing to do this will raise severe costs for this generation . the Kyoto Protocol isn't the solution. Director.and potentially incalculable costs for future generations. As a matter of urgency. In practice. in order to keep the accepted global level constant. sub-global and inadequate nature of the Kyoto Protocol negotiations has arguably worsened the chances of success. Almost everybody agrees on that.The claim that the 20th Century was the warmest in the last millennium has been shown to be based on methodological errors handling complex data. It is based on the principle that an equal quota of greenhouse gas emissions should be allocated for every person on the planet. Even if significant warming occurs. We have to be pragmatic Peter Calow. every person in the world would be allocated an "emission quota". Sadly the random. while poor countries could actually increase theirs. This means curtailing our emissions of greenhouse gases rapidly enough to halt their further accumulation in the atmosphere. To achieve success. their emissions. . accepted levels. This has been described as "taking the rights- based approach to its logical conclusion". we must reconcile ourselves to committed action to stop aggravating these changes. or reduce. If the computer models that predict rapid future warming were realistic. Director. rich countries would have to "contract".but Kyoto is not the answer Aubrey Meyer. This is the first step in building a constitution. And even if all the scare stories became real. so that global emissions "converge" at equal. malaria).

Global warming threatens to reverse human progress Andrew Simms.or any . bedevilled by uncertainties.framework that would require it to accept real emission limitations. New Economics Foundation Global warming threatens a great reversal of human progress. and how we should deal with climate change are more difficult questions. Arguments about the extent and timing of limits on carbon emissions are less clear. recognising that these will be judged in a complex mix of political considerations. even if we froze CO2 concentrations at current levels there would still be climate change due to inertia. However. Moreover. the big challenge is to persuade the US to participate in this . no country has come forward with credible alternatives to sequentially negotiated emission limitations. But global warming has been critically overlooked.a political signal more than an effective policy. and all the progress built up by community groups. I believe it has three defining characteristics: the enormous scope of emissions. To rescue the situation we need an effective global framework to stop climate change that is based on equality and gives a good deal to the people of the Global South. As always we should weigh costs and benefits of possible proposals. governments and development agencies. Here it is important to distinguish what we know from myths and prejudices. And Kyoto should be judged for what it is . Like a fire smouldering in the basement. Despite all the opposition.How worrying. Targets include greater trade justice and more debt relief. More than that. Therefore we have to be pragmatic and recognise a need for adaptation planning. Policy Director. The Kyoto Protocol is a proposed solution which takes these three characteristics into account. . Kyoto is a realistic strategy Professor Michael Grubb Imperial College and The Carbon Trust Climate change is a huge problem. it threatens to burn down decades of work to reverse global poverty. policies and initiatives used to better the human condition pass the test of being both climate-proof and climate-friendly. and high uncertainty about the impacts and the economics of responses. a long timescale over which emissions and impacts will accumulate. Thousands of people from the British grassroots to the Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown are aiming to make poverty history as part of a growing movement to reform the global economy. from now on we have to ensure that all our economic models. That we should research into alternative energy sources and also search for innovative ways of sequestering carbon seems beyond doubt.

The transition to a world that does not depend on fossil fuels will take decades. Climate change: Uncharted waters? By Alex Kirby BBC News Online environment correspondent As part of Planet Under Pressure .like Shell . First. solar energy. His chief scientific adviser. It has weathered the storms.have a major role to play in meeting the energy challenge.Of course. hydrogen. Sir David King. International companies have a major role Lord Oxburgh Non-executive Chairman of Shell Coal and oil have successfully fuelled the economic development of the western world for a century and a half. and clean ways of using coal. biofuels. and not release it to the atmosphere. says the UK Prime Minister. I believe that international companies . many additional things are needed. Today. At Shell. a BBC News series looking at some of the biggest environmental problems facing humanity. and demand for energy will continue to rise sharply. There is wide though not unanimous agreement from scientists that they are right. . Starting now and laying foundations for the future are matters of urgency. and third. as the outcome to seven years of almost continuous negotiation. Climate change is our biggest environmental challenge. and we need a three-pronged approach. and business has a key role to play. But by starting to manage our carbon dioxide emissions now. in the developed world we must be less profligate with energy. Transforming the way we supply and use energy will take a long time. second. Alex Kirby explores the implications of climate change. But the Kyoto structure was developed for good reasons. and some may well require international negotiations. with the US Administration as a key architect. development and implementation of cost- effective alternatives to fossil fuels (biomass and solar for example). this process is underway. calls it a far greater global threat than international terrorism. Tony Blair. we are investing in wind power. we may be able to limit the effects of climate change to levels to which we can adapt. and remains the bedrock of any credible strategy going forward. business and government must collaborate to support research. when we use fossil fuels we must look at ways to trap and store the carbon they produce.

and changes in land use. will be higher average global temperatures. Rising temperatures The consequence of increasing CO2 and other pollutant levels. and that isolating one small variable. CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels.not necessarily by trying to reduce its extent but by adapting to its effects. That may not sound very much . with Hollywood and some campaign groups alike feeding scare stories that owe little. the IPCC says. in an immensely complex natural system is meaningless. Life on Earth exists only because of the natural greenhouse effect. says rising levels of industrial pollution are unnaturally enhancing this effect.5ppm annually. atmospheric CO2 concentrations were about 270-280 parts per million (ppm). and perhaps runaway heating as the whole climate system slips out of gear. coal and gas . They now stand at almost 380ppm. rising sea levels. to scientific fact. . and have been rising at about 1. They are entirely right to argue that there are still many uncertainties about the climate and any influence we may have on it. if anything. The sceptics are unmoved. Others insist the IPCC's measurements are flawed and its predictions unreliable. The IPCC predicts that if we go on as we are. The main culprits. meaning unpredictable weather. Sobering facts But many who were once sceptics now accept that enhanced climate change is happening. Part of the problem is that climate change is now part of the stuff of science fiction. even though nobody can say exactly how fast it may happen and who will be most affected.5 and 5.but the last Ice Age was only 4-5C colder than today. by 2100 global sea levels will probably have risen by 9 to 88cm and average temperatures will be between 1. The chief greenhouse gas from human activities is carbon dioxide (CO2). Yet others believe a warmer world would be better for most of us. Before the Industrial Revolution. are the burning of fossil fuels . a consortium of several thousand independent scientists.It is certainly possible that warming temperatures could take the Earth into uncharted waters. it says. the ability of the atmosphere to retain enough heat for species to thrive (and no more). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).5C higher than now. Some say the human influence on the climate is negligible.oil. and that we have to respond . with increasing amounts of heat trapped near the Earth instead of escaping into space.

And wildlife. could be hit hard. Delayed effect If somehow we could halt all greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow. although fast- industrialising countries like China will soon be significant contributors as those in poor nations increasingly demand rich world lifestyles. Sea level rise may make many coastal areas uninhabitable. is a small but necessary start on building an international system for tackling climate change. producing more heat waves. less equipped to adapt than humans. floods and violent storms. which commits rich countries to reducing emissions. creates jobs and helps lift the poor out of poverty. Creating worldwide consensus on this global problem is difficult.even though. not least because of the economic cost of cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. there is also the possibility of "positive feedbacks". which will themselves speed up the warming process. Furthermore. . higher temperatures may release more methane from the Arctic tundra and CO2 from peat bogs. droughts. The possibilities are sobering too. emissions cuts could have significant social costs in slowing the growth that feeds economic development. but in others yields will drop. it will still take a good few centuries to disappear.But the facts are sobering enough. Aid agencies are warning that these combined effects could seriously jeopardise attempts to lift the world's poorest people out of poverty. the heating would continue for decades or centuries. One estimate suggests hundreds of thousands of species may be at risk of extinction by 2050 because of climate change. We know that average global surface temperatures have risen by 0. Many water-scarce regions now will probably become thirstier. Weather patterns may change.for example. All of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 1990.6C in the last 140 years. Some countries may be able to produce bigger harvests. its proponents believe. But the country responsible for about a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. including each year since 1997. What we do today may literally determine how long the Greenland icecap survives . For them. at fastest. Then there is the inertia of the atmosphere and the oceans. has refused to sign up to it. The protocol does not require developing countries to cut their emissions. The Kyoto Protocol. the US.

the concentration of carbon dioxide has risen by more than 30% since 1800. What is the "greenhouse effect"? The greenhouse effect refers to the role played by gases which effectively trap energy from the Sun in the Earth's atmosphere. methane and nitrous oxide. the planet would be too cold to sustain life as we know it. preliminary though it is. What is the evidence of warming? . of the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels. What is climate change? The planet's climate is constantly changing. Scientists predict increasing droughts. this average may have been as high as 27C and as low as 7C. Q&A: Climate change The Earth is getting warmer. The BBC News website looks at key questions behind climate change and global warming. floods and extreme weather and say there is growing evidence that human activities are to blame. Their concentration in the atmosphere is increasing . Geological and other evidence suggests that. in the past. The most important of these gases in the natural greenhouse effect is water vapour. suggests we shall be wise to err on the side of caution. The global average temperature is currently in the region of 15C." And what's happening now could lead to a world beyond our experience. but concentrations of that are changing little and it plays almost no role in modern human-induced greenhouse warming. which are released by modern industry.A prudent look at the evidence. "We've reached the point where it's only by including human activity that we can explain what's happening. Dr Geoff Jenkins. said recently: "Over the last few decades there's been much more evidence for the human influence on climate. Without them. Other greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide. But scientists are concerned that the natural fluctuation has been overtaken by a rapid human-induced warming that has serious implications for the stability of the climate on which much life on the planet depends. The majority of climate scientists accept the theory that an increase in these gases will cause a rise in the Earth's temperature.

48 ppm 2001: 371. There are also indications that the west Antarctic ice sheet may have begun to melt. Sea levels have risen 10-20cm .thought to be caused mainly by the expansion of warming oceans.76 ppm 1998: 366. It also takes greenhouse gases in the atmosphere decades to break down.64 ppm 1997: 363. Even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically now. There are anomalies however .63 ppm 1999: 368. Scientists predict more rainfall overall. and there are discrepancies between trends in surface temperatures and those in the troposphere (the lower portion of the atmosphere).88 ppm 1995: 360. current climate models predict a global temperature increase of 1. . particularly large bodies of water and ice. How much will temperatures rise? If nothing is done to reduce emissions. How will the weather change? A DECADE OF CO2 1993: 357. which would cause an estimated 7m rise in sea level.10 ppm 2003: 375. It is possible that we have already irrevocably committed the Greenland ice sheet to melting.64 ppm Mean annual carbon dioxide concentrations recorded at Mauna Loa in Hawaii Globally.02 ppm 2002: 373. More flooding is expected from storms and rising sea levels. with heat waves becoming hotter and more frequent.88 ppm 1996: 362.Temperature records go back to the late 19th Century and show that the global average temperature increased by about 0.04 ppm 1994: 358.4-5.31 ppm 2000: 369. and records show Arctic sea-ice has thinned by 40% in recent decades in summer and autumn.8°C by 2100.6C in the 20th Century. we can expect more extreme weather events. scientists say the effects would continue because parts of the climate of the Antarctic appear to be getting colder. but say the risk of drought in inland areas during hot summers will increase. Most glaciers in temperate regions of the world and along the Antarctic Peninsula are in retreat. can take hundreds of years to respond to changes in temperature. though scientists caution further research is necessary.

it is possible that plants may take more CO2 from the atmosphere as their growth speeds up in warmer conditions. however. Scientists are not sure how the complex balance between these positive and negative feedback effects will play out. such as the release of large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane as permafrost melts. sweeping changes in food production conditions. which is one reason why there is such uncertainty in projections of temperature increase. The precise relationship between concentrations of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) and temperature rise is not known. and the World Health Organization has warned that the health of millions could be threatened by increases in malaria. heat waves and droughts. What don't we know? We don't know exactly what proportion of the observed warming is caused by human activities or what the knock-on effects of the warming will be. though this remains in doubt. Poorer countries. What will the effects be? The potential impact is huge. water-borne disease and malnutrition. Nevertheless. . and these are difficult to predict. Plant and animal extinctions are predicted as habitats change faster than species can adapt. with predicted freshwater shortages. storms. likely to be very strong regional variations in these patterns. What about the sceptics? Global warming "sceptics" fall into three broad camps: • those who maintain temperatures are not rising • those who accept the climate is changing but suspect it is largely down to natural variation • those who accept the theory of human-induced warming but say it is not worth tackling as other global problems are more pressing.the only game in town By Rt Hon John Gummer Former British environment secretary Climate change is no longer a matter of argument.There are. there is a growing scientific consensus that. even on top of the natural variability of the climate. something out of the ordinary is happening and humans are to blame. will suffer most. Other factors may mitigate warming. Viewpoint: Kyoto . and increases in deaths from floods. Global warming will cause some changes which will speed up further warming. which are least equipped to deal with rapid change.

American States are suing the utilities for their refusal to take global warming seriously. Happily.There is no previous time in recorded history when the world's temperature has risen so much and so quickly. Its targets for reduction in our greenhouse gases are smaller than we need but it is the first step on the journey and that is always the hardest. Optimism is rising that Russia will ratify the Kyoto Protocol so it will come into force . Mankind has been pouring unprecedented amounts of filth into the air ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Just this month.000 year probes into the ice cap reveal no parallel.has made major changes in order to meet its targets for reduction. What we can do is to restrict the growth in that change so that we can cope with it. Catalyst So. . We have a planet that supports vastly more people than ever before and their numbers are still growing fast. Already. Kyoto has meant that one of the world's two great trading powers . why Kyoto? It isn't anything like enough. We are therefore in entirely uncharted waters.even without the Unites States. the world is waking up.the European Union . Every child has expectations significantly greater than their fathers and mothers. then life on the planet will become increasingly impossible as it threatens the Gulf Stream and other crucial elements that sustain the earth's benign atmosphere. Even the 400. Those expectations. set in train by the gases we have already released. The Chartered Institute of Insurance is warning all its members of the present reality of climate change and its impact upon insurance risk. are similarly based upon increased consumption which means more greenhouse gas emissions. Optimism What is done can't be undone. however limited they may seem to the rich. We have already changed our climate significantly and there is considerably more change on the way. If we allow global warming to grow unrestrictedly.

American businesses are losing out to European suppliers working within the Kyoto system. Yet. Of course. Even without coming into force. American business and many of the states are responding to its challenge even though President Bush has behaved with such callous disregard. How has climate change affected you? By Dan Stillman Institute for Global Environmental Strategies A February report by the International Panel on Climate Change states that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal. by 2012 the 15 longstanding members will have cut emissions by 8%. as the rest of the world makes its investment decisions in the light of Kyoto. Only then could we expect developing countries to join in the global response. Kyoto has been the catalyst for this change. widespread melting of snow and ice. as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures. America still holds the key. After all." . Yet. There will be some new package and a different name. if he is in effect to join in. The Kyoto mechanisms which reward clean technology transfer are. China is developing in a much cleaner way than was forecast. and rising global mean sea level. The decoupling of economic growth from the growth in emissions is crucial and the latest figures show that it has been done. With 4% of the world's population it produces 25% of the world's pollution. beginning to have some effect not least through international institutions like the World Bank. already. there would have been no such rallying. Rich countries Its effect even on the US has been remarkable. Economic pressure Of course. Without Kyoto. But Kyoto is the only game in town and it will mould and probably save our planet's future. indeed. that is a remarkable achievement and another example of the huge value of the EU. any US president will need a way to climb down. No wonder that it is US business that is pushing Bush to change. Given how fast emissions were rising. it was the rich world that caused the problem. Kyoto was a deal between the rich countries. no widely accepted programme. it depends on world trade and. and no effective base upon which to build.The likelihood is that.

In some cases scientific data and research support such a link. regardless of whether the cause is natural or manmade. Similarly. melting ice and shrinking glaciers. while in others the evidence is not sufficient to identify climate change as a direct cause. they can spot unusual weather and changes occurring in their local environment. bees. the second warmest on record for the UK. Making connections The responses received suggest that people across the globe are connecting a variety of locally observed changes in weather and the environment to climate change. and North America focus on warmer winters.While such large-scale changes to our planet cannot be easily detected by the casual observer. Though many responders offered their political and scientific views on climate change and the role of human activity. especially the UK. the warmest year on record in the US. the primary goal of this analysis was to review claims about how climate change may be manifesting itself in people's everyday lives. responders mention changes in year-round weather patterns and the occurrence of more extreme temperature and precipitation events. near Washington DC. to sort and summarize the responses. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration identified the long-term warming trend as a contributing factor to an unusually warm 2006. To a lesser extent. . and the appearance of butterflies. While most scientists assess climate change and its impacts over the course of multiple years and decades rather than single years or seasons. the BBC News website solicited comments from around the world to find out how climate change has affected people where they live. all of which are widely believed by scientists to be influenced by climate change. though studies show the impact of climate change on these phenomena is not as certain. the Met Office has described this past winter. as consistent with conditions expected from a changing climate. UK A large majority of comments from Europe. and place them in context with scientific data and climate change research. From December until March. less snow. which according to numerous comments led to the early blooming of flowers and fruits. the U. HAVE YOUR SAY I saw a red admiral butterfly in my back garden on the 30th December. mosquitoes and other insects in the middle of winter. and resulting changes in wildlife and vegetation.S. They then asked the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. This is not normal Julian. Backyard changes Of particular interest to many Europeans and North Americans was the unusual warmth of this past winter.

The relationship between climate warming and glacier melt has been well documented. A study by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) finds that drought in Australia is largely the result of natural weather patterns. enabling more of them to survive the winter. Regarding mosquitoes. While true for many locations. Meanwhile. As of March 1. This warming of waterways is consistent with what a Pennsylvania farmer describes as a decrease in trout. peacock butterflies began appearing by late December and red- tailed bumblebees by the middle of February. from North America and Europe. parts of the western US and western New York received near- record snowfalls this past winter. with some appearing so early in the season they have time to raise an extra generation. Various studies suggest that warmer ocean temperatures and shifts in . Springwatch says that some bumblebee species are found further north than they were 30 years ago. Too Wet Responders from parts of England. Commenters from New Zealand and parts of Asia write not about drought. A 2001 study by biologists at the University of Oregon found that mosquitoes have actually altered their genes in response to warming. a cold-water fish. claim that lakes and rivers do not freeze for as long as they used to. comments from mountaineers and ice climbers blame disappearing ice in areas such as the French Alps on longer warm spells. Too Dry. which is run by the BBC in association with the Woodland Trust and the UK Phenology Network. various studies show that a warming climate is expanding their geographic range and could be contributing to the spread of diseases such as malaria and West Nile Virus. a 2000 study by an international team of scientists found that lakes and rivers in the Northern Hemisphere freeze later and thaw earlier than they did in the 1850s.Early sightings of plant and animal life are supported by data from Springwatch. the western US. some locations in the western US had more than 100 percent of their normal snowpack. Disappearing snow and ice Americans and Canadians report warmer winters with less snow. with scientists at the University of Zurich in Switzerland predicting that rising temperatures could melt from 80 to 100 percent of Alpine glaciers by 2100. and an increase in carp. This is especially true of comments from Australia where dry weather has triggered water restrictions. Africa and Australia tell stories of decreasing rainfall and increasing drought. but may be increasingly enhanced and made more frequent by climate change. a warm-water fish. According to Springwatch. A number of commenters. but increased rainfall and flooding. an Internet- based project that engages the public in tracking the first signs of UK spring. Confirming this. CSIRO's analysis is consistent with research on the connection between drought and climate change for other regions of the world.

However. such as the historic flooding seen in Malaysia in December and January.000 trees. one recent study blames pollution from Asian factories. Key Findings Outlining the report's findings. as studies from both the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Washington. "For the first time. such as this past winter's unusual cold snap in California." said Rajendra Pachauri. Linking weird weather to climate change is not completely without merit. though it is difficult to link specific events. this is empirical data. we can actually measure it. most scientists agree that individual storms.rainfall patterns due to climate change may already be contributing to more extreme rainfall. co-chairman of IPCC Working Group II." he told a news conference. we are no longer arm-waving with models. who are going to be the worst hit. People living in poverty would be worst affected by the effects of climate change. Strange and stormy Capturing the attention of residents along the US and Canadian west coast is stormy and strange weather. and a windstorm in British Columbia that fell more than 3. US. Martin Parry. said evidence showed climate change was having a direct effect on animals. plants and water. In fact. Key findings of the report include: • 75-250 million people across Africa could face water shortages by 2020 . cold blasts or heat waves cannot be directly tied to climate change. Billions face climate change risk The bleak conclusion came ahead of the publication of a key report by hundreds of international environmental experts. for altering the storm track across the Pacific Ocean and intensifying storms. the gathered experts said. and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies. chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). not a warming climate. predict that a changing climate is likely to result in more weather extremes. "It's the poorest of the poor in the world. which included a rare snowfall in parts of Los Angeles. Agreement on the final wording of the report was reached after a marathon debate through the night in Brussels. to climate change. though. Mr Pachauri said those people were also the least equipped to deal with the effects of such changes.

some of which is already inevitable. but decrease by up to 30% in Central and South Asia • Agriculture fed by rainfall could drop by 50% in some African countries by 2020 • 20-30% of all plant and animal species at increased risk of extinction if temperatures rise between 1. are consistent with a warming world. Eighty-nine percent of these. was finally decided after scientists and government officials from more than 100 countries worked through the night.5C • Glaciers and snow cover expected to decline. due in May. will focus on ways of curbing the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations and temperature. China and India." The wording of the summary of the report." European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas told the Reuters news agency. The first element. Several delegations. which will be sent to world leaders in time for a G8 summit of industrialised nations in June.5-2. together making up its fourth global climate assessment. concluded it was at least 90% likely that human activities are principally responsible for the warming observed since 1950.• Crop yields increase could increase by 20% in East and Southeast Asia. it believes. on the science of climate change. We now have a clearer indication of the potential impact of global warming. president of the Royal Society. The third part. "This further underlines both how urgent it is to reach global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how important it is for us all to adapt to the climate change that is already under way. "The challenge is now to support those people living in the most vulnerable areas so that they are able to adapt and improve their ways of life. reducing water availability in countries supplied by melt water The report states that the observed increase in the global average temperature was "very likely" due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions. including the US. had asked for the final version to reflect less certainty than the draft. Year of reports Scientists and politicians have welcomed the report.000 pieces of data on observed changes in physical and biological aspects of the natural world. released in February. Saudi Arabia. . industry and individuals. Farewell to a melting glacier Briny future for Malta It is the second in a series of IPCC reports coming out this year." said Martin Rees. The scientific work reviewed by IPCC scientists includes more than 29. "This is another wake up call for governments.

2 The level and growth of urbanization differ considerably by region (see Figure 2). we began to change the land. But East and South Asia are likely to have the fastest growth rates in the next 30 years. Should I Really Give Up Flying? for the Climate Watch season. which should help viewers make up their minds about their own flying habits. home to increasing numbers of non- Spanish residents who are building new homes there. British airports handled more than 200 million passengers and it is predicted that that number will double over the next 15 years. The recent increase in the world's population has magnified the effects of our agricultural and economic activities. vulnerable to rising sea levels. more than half the world's population will be living in urban areas (see Figure 1). Latin American countries have the highest proportion of their population living in urban areas. including a revolutionary solar-powered plane and Sir Richard Branson's ideas for solving the emissions problem.000 years ago. we began to affect our atmosphere. But the growth in world population has masked what may be an even more important human- environmental interaction: While the world's population is doubling. The best data on global urbanization trends come from the United Nations Population Division and the World Bank. Almost all of future world population growth will be in towns and cities.000 years. Past projections of urbanization have also often . talking to two entrepreneurs keen to corner the potentially huge Indian middle-class market for cheap flights. But this has an environmental cost: while aviation currently accounts for approximately four per cent of greenhouse gases. Within the next few years. Should I Really Give Up Flying (Not showing in North America) Last year. however. With the advent of agriculture 8. Among developing countries. to the Masai Mara.3 The UN. cautions users that the data are often imprecise because the definition of urban varies country by country. An Environmental Force to Be Reckoned With by Barbara Boyle Torrey (April 2004) Human beings have become an increasingly powerful environmental force over the last 10.1 And with the industrial revolution. the world's urban population is tripling. Both the increase in and the redistribution of the earth's population are likely to affect the natural systems of the earth and the interactions between the urban environments and populations. Presenters Ginny Buckley and Max Flint report from around the world and reveal the effects of climate change on some of the world's favourite destinations – from the beautiful city of Venice. takes a new look at air tourism and its impact on the environment. scientists believe that figure will rise to over 60 per cent by the year 2050.A fourth report in November will sum up all the findings. and the Costa del Sol. They also explore the impact that the explosion in budget airlines could have on the environment. This two-part programme also takes a look at the very latest in aviation and fuel advances designed to make taking to the skies more eco-friendly.

overestimated future rates of growth. water. energy. but still they have more chance than rural populations. In 1975 only four megacities existed. In sub-Saharan Africa. the urbanization of the world is likely to slow population growth. Consequently. urban populations had 60 percent more pork in their diets than rural populations. the polluted urban environment affects the health and quality of life of the urban population.10 For example. the difference in consumption declined as the rural populations ate better diets. the world's urban population has grown from 2 percent to nearly 50 percent of all people. urban populations consume much more food. they are more likely to have wanted fewer children even if they had stayed in the countryside.11 With economic development. in Latin America the differences are almost two children. The increasing consumption of meat is a sign of growing affluence in Beijing. and services such as entertainment. And in turn.4 In only 200 years. and durable goods than rural populations. energy. death rates in urban areas historically were higher than in rural areas. So the difference between the fertility of urban migrants and rural women probably exaggerates the impact of urban migration on fertility. Environmental Effects of Urbanization Urban populations interact with their environment. however. Much of urban migration is driven by rural populations' desire for the advantages that urban areas offer. And by 2015 the UN estimates that there will be 22. the rural migrants to urban areas are not a random selection of the rural population. it is important to be careful in using urbanization data to draw definitive conclusions. The increased density of populations in urban areas led to the rapid spread of infectious diseases. in 2000 there were 18.7 Urban fertility rates. In China during the 1970s. The Dynamics of Urbanization In 1800 only about 2 percent of the world's population lived in urban areas. health care. The urban poor have less opportunity for education than the urban nonpoor. Urban advantages include greater opportunities to receive education.5 children less than in rural areas. Urban people change their environment through their consumption of food. The only way urban areas maintained their existence until recently was by the continual in-migration of rural people. Therefore. It is also likely to concentrate some environmental effects geographically.5 Much of the future growth. People who live in urban areas have very different consumption patterns than residents in rural areas.6 The growth in urban areas comes from both the increase in migration to the cities and the fertility of urban populations.9 Therefore. the urban populations consumed more than twice as much pork as the rural populations who were raising the pigs. the urban fertility rates are about 1. women who migrated from rural areas have more children than those born in urban areas. will not be in these huge agglomerations. Within urban areas. The most striking examples of the urbanization of the world are the megacities of 10 million or more people. but in the small to medium-size cities around the world. and land. urban areas were some of the unhealthiest places for people to live. That was small wonder: Until a century ago.8 Of course. in . But even a decade later. contribute to the growth of urban areas. though lower than rural fertility rates in every region of the world.

In the early 1990s.3 C). and heating is much higher in urban areas than in rural villages. thunderstorms and hailstorms are much more frequent. therefore. Urbanization also affects the broader regional environments. will increase aggregate energy use. often become more efficient as they develop because of advances in technology and changes in consumption behavior. urban populations have many more cars than rural populations per capita.14 Comparisons of changes in world energy consumption per capita and GNP show that the two are positively correlated but may not change at the same rate. in 2050 there would be 5. Economies. all using energy. Bigger urban areas do not always create more environmental problems.17 Urban areas affect not only the weather patterns. Almost all of the cars in the world in the 1930s were in the United States. The combination of the increased energy consumption and difference in albedo (radiation) means that cities are warmer than rural areas (0.16 And these heat islands become traps for atmospheric pollutants. Cloudiness and fog occur with greater frequency. Urban populations not only consume more food.15 As countries move from using noncommercial forms of energy to commercial forms. but they also consume more durable goods. And small urban areas can cause large problems.3 billion cars in the world. but also the runoff patterns for water. eight times more likely to have a washing machine. as do floods and water pollution downstream. but snow days in cities are less common. however. Today we have a car for every two people in the United States. If that became the norm. but they reduce the infiltration of water and lower the water tables. Chinese households in urban areas were two times more likely to have a TV. And the increased consumption of energy is likely to have deleterious environmental effects. Energy consumption for electricity.12 This increased consumption is a function of urban labor markets. Regions downwind from large industrial complexes also see increases in the amount of precipitation. Urban consumption of energy helps create heat islands that can change local weather patterns and weather downwind from the heat islands. Some urban environmental problems . Much of what determines the extent of the environmental impacts is how the urban populations behave — their consumption and living patterns — not just how large they are. wages. Flood volumes increase. Urban areas generally generate more rain. Many of the effects of urban areas on the environment are not necessarily linear. The urbanization of the world's populations. and household structure. For example. Precipitation is 5 percent to 10 percent higher in cities. despite efficiencies and new technologies. cooking. the relative price of energy increases. The heat island phenomenon is created because cities radiate heat back into the atmosphere at a rate 15 percent to 30 percent less than rural areas.13 In China the per capita consumption of coal in towns and cities is over three times the consumption in rural areas. and 25 times more likely to have a refrigerator than rural households. transportation. air pollution.India where many urban residents are vegetarians. Health Effects of Environmental Degradation The urban environment is an important factor in determining the quality of life in urban areas and the impact of the urban area on the broader environment.6 to 1. and the number of days with thunderstorms. greater prosperity is seen in higher consumption of milk. This means that runoff occurs more rapidly with greater peak flows.

Some research suggests that indicators of health problems. lead. Most of the data that exist are at a national level. They will want to know whether we funded the right research to address those questions. where wages exceed those paid in rural areas. will judge us by whether we were asking the right questions today about their urban environments. and therefore. and industrial pollution. dust. a growing city may need many years for mitigation. and industrial development frustrate efficient governance of these vital environmental resources. Many towns that grew up near rivers have succeeded in cleaning up the waters they befouled with industrial development. Strong urban governance is critical to making progress.22 These kinds of partnerships can help set priorities that are shared broadly.21 When strong urban governance is lacking.include inadequate water and sanitation. public-private partnerships can become more important. And if the lack of resources is accompanied by inefficient government. And they will also want to know whether we used the research findings wisely. roads. But not all urban areas have the same kinds of environmental conditions or health problems. data and research at the local level need to be developed to provide the local governments with the information they need to make decisions. implemented. are higher in cities that are growing rapidly than in those where growth is slower.18 Unfortunately. The lack of good statistics means that many urban indicators that would inform careful environmental decisionmaking are missing. the majority of whom will be living in urban areas. "Reducing soot. Therefore. many cities in developed countries have met urban environmental challenges. reducing the problems and ameliorating their effects on the urban population are expensive.23 But ultimately there are many other urban environmental priorities that produce chronic problems for both people and the environment over the long term that also have to be addressed. Certainly the members of the next generation. lack of rubbish disposal.19 Urban Environmental Policy Challenges Since the 1950s. And urban land prices are much higher because of the competition for space.20 Overlapping jurisdictions for water. air. Capital costs for building improved environmental infrastructure — for example. The lack of good geographic information systems means that many public servants are operating with cataracts. investments in a cleaner public transportation system such as a subway — and for building more hospitals and clinics are higher in cities. such as rates of infant mortality. and microbial disease presents opportunities to achieve tangible progress at relatively low cost over relatively short periods. The health implications of these environmental problems include respiratory infections and other infectious and parasitic diseases. But it is often the resource in shortest supply. Some of these public-private partnerships have advocated tackling the environmental threats to human health first. But cities at the beginning of their development generally have less wealth to devote to the mitigation of urban environmental impacts. Los Angeles has dramatically reduced air pollution. housing. But national research is too coarse for the environmental improvement of urban areas. Much of the research that needs to be done on the environmental impacts of urban areas has not been done because of a lack of data and funding. World Wide Recent Environment News ." concluded conferees at a 1994 World Bank gathering on environmentally sustainable development.

and there are growing fears of a shutdown of the ocean currents that keep Europe warm for its latitude. Clashes over dwindling water resources may cause conflicts in many regions. combined with melting ice on land. This releases billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year. water vapour. The shantytown dwellers of Latin America and Southern Asia see it in lethal storms and floods. like peat bogs and forests. Recent research suggests that natural CO2 "sinks". Melting glaciers and precipitation are causing some rivers to overflow. Thermal expansion of the oceans. Warming is bringing other unpredictable changes. suggesting that nature's ability to absorb the gas could now be stretched to the limit. say some scientists. human activity could trigger an irreversible melting of the Greenland ice sheet and Antarctic glaciers. A decade ago. And Earth has probably never warmed as fast as in the past 30 years . but the degree will be determined by feedbacks involving melting ice. It has accumulated along with other man-made greenhouse gases. As natural ecosystems . the oceans.Climate change is with us. . But the accumulation rate of atmospheric CO2 has increased since 2001. In this century. If current trends continue.such as coral reefs . ancient coral and bubbles trapped in ice cores. and because forests and oceans absorb around half of the CO2 we produce. Diseases are spreading. The physics of the "greenhouse effect" has been a matter of scientific fact for a century.enough to flood land occupied by billions of people. Europeans see it in disappearing glaciers. Scientists see it in tree rings. Studies of the thermal inertia of the oceans suggest that there is more warming in the pipeline. clouds and changes to vegetation. These reveal that the world has not been as warm as it is now for a millennium or more. 19 of the warmest 20 since 1980. Some crops grow faster while others see yields slashed by disease and drought. The three warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. are actually starting to release CO2. Climatologists reporting for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say we are seeing global warming caused by human activities and there are growing fears of feedbacks that will accelerate this warming. is also raising sea levels.are disrupted. biodiversity is reduced. such as solar cycles and volcanoes should have cooled us down. Canada's Inuit see it in disappearing Arctic ice and permafrost. though others are already evolving in response to warming.a period when natural influences on global temperatures. Arctic sea ice is melting faster every year. the lower atmosphere. while evaporation is emptying others. although the changes may actually have started with the dawn of agriculture. CO2 is a greenhouse gas that traps the Sun's radiation within the troposphere. Now the future is unfolding before our eyes. such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). we will raise atmospheric CO2 concentrations to double pre-industrial levels during this century. That will probably be enough to raise global temperatures by around 2°C to 5°C. Strong hurricanes are becoming more frequent and destructive. This would condemn the world to a rise in sea level of six metres . The global warming would be more pronounced if it were not for sulphur particles and other pollutants that shade us. Most species cannot migrate fast enough to keep up. it was conjecture. oil and natural gas. Global greenhouse People are causing the change by burning nature's vast stores of coal. forest fires and fatal heat waves. Some warming is certain.

particularly the Amazon and Indonesian rainforests. or even "climate disappearance". Duncan Wingham from University College London and Andrew Shepherd from the University of Edinburgh. That's the conclusion of the first assessment of how all climates will be affected as the world heats up. and new types of climate will emerge. The bottom line is that we will need to cut CO2 emissions by 70% to 80% simply to stabilise atmospheric CO2 concentrations . UK. But many observers say deeper cuts are needed and developing nations. which finally came into force during a matter of urgency. like hydrogen fuel cells for cars. Now climates face extinction too We are all familiar with the term "climate change". wave and perhaps nuclear power. and the melting of mountain glaciers and ice caps outside Greenland and Antarctica (Science. Some. suggested "clean fuel" technologies as an alternative to emissions cuts. say the scientific uncertainty over the pace of climate change is grounds for delaying action. New types of climate would emerge in more tropical regions. tidal. It also means developing new methods of converting this clean energy into motive power." says John Williams of the University of Wisconsin. During 2005 these countries. Given that the ice in those regions holds enough water to raise sea levels by 70 metres. The quicker we do that. but "climate replacement" might be more accurate. According to the Intergovernmental .and if the rate is likely to increase . the world needs to quickly improve the efficiency of its energy usage and develop renewable non-carbon fuels like: wind. will one day have to join in. The first step was the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. vol 315. and others. the world agreed to prevent "dangerous" climate change. Other less conventional solutions include ideas to stave off warming by "mega-engineering" the planet with giant mirrors to deflect the Sun's rays. The US and Australia have reneged on Kyoto. They conclude that melting ice contributes 0. including the US Bush administration. reviewed the latest data on the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. "What we're concerned about is what happens to the species in these regions.and thus temperatures. Gone too will be thousands of species." says Williams. The remaining 88 per cent is due to water expanding as it warms. the less unbearably hot our future world will be. Madison. according to the IPCC. Trading in Kyoto carbon permits may help.Deeper cuts At the Earth Summit in 1992. As temperatures rise by several degrees. What's behind the big polar meltdown? Ice shed from the giant sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland is responsible for only 12 per cent of the rise in global sea levels.35 millimetres to the annual 3 mm rise in sea levels. understanding how the water is being lost . with higher temperatures and more rain. which have large and growing populations. In any case. seeding the oceans with iron to generate algal blooms. p 1529). In 100 years half the world's climates may have vanished for good as a result of global warming. or burying greenhouse gases below the sea. so glaciers will retreat and ice disappear from mountains such as Kilimanjaro. "It's the coldest climates that would be replaced. It will bring modest emission reductions from industrialised countries. solar.

5�C could have triggered the present imbalance. won't pay for analysis of the data. p 1503) David Vaughan and Robert Arthern of the British Antarctic Survey say more needs to be known about what is going on underneath the ice sheets (See "Arctic ice on hold"). so they slide into the sea faster.6 mm of the annual rise and other melting glaciers and ice caps for 0. They are losing it because the ice is flowing into the ocean faster than the snow is replacing it. "Our assessment confirms that just one type of glacier in Antarctica is retreating today ." Wadhams's most widely known discovery. vol 315.77 mm. Wingham and Shepherd did find a common feature in four Antarctic glaciers retreating in unison: they are all in direct contact with the sea. "But they won't fund measuring it. says Wingham. As a result. He says oceanographers at the Natural Environment Research Council. From issue 2596 of New Scientist magazine. Only close-up investigation from submarines can measure what is happening to the ice. Global warming might be speeding up this process. "It has become very clear over the past five years that these sheets are not losing most of their mass through melting.those in deep submarine basins that flow directly into the sea" In a separate review (Science. But he adds that Antarctica is much colder than Greenland. 23 March 2007. and after being denied by NERC Wadhams received funding for the latest trip from the US government's Office of Naval Research.Panel on Climate Change. "NERC constantly says in its publicity that sea ice is a critical parameter of climate change." "Just one type of glacier in Antarctica is retreating today . the saga seemed poised to escalate as Wadhams surfaced in Alaska after another cruise beneath the Arctic with new data that NERC again won't pay to have analysed. This week. "These glaciers are vulnerable to small changes in ocean temperature. was the thinning of Arctic ice by an average of 40 per cent between the 1970s and 1990s. This means that relatively small changes in sea temperature could have a disproportionate effect on ice loss. Peter Wadhams of the University of Cambridge collected the data during a cruise on a British military submarine in 2004. we don't know what has happened to ice thinning between 1996 and 2004. so it is not meltwater reaching the base of the glaciers that is causing them to flow faster than ever before." Wingham told New Scientist. The bases of the glaciers seem to be slipping more easily over the rock than in the past. . This is where uncertainties arise. made after a previous submarine cruise in 1996. such as those that have occurred over the 20th century and those predicted for the 21st century. In Greenland it is possible that melting ice at the surface is boring holes through the ice sheets and lubricating their base. Evidence gathered on the cruise in 2004 and this month's trip was intended to update the earlier findings and make predictions about the future of Arctic ice. A rise of less than 0. page 16-17 Arctic ice on hold A dispute between a British research council and one of the world's leading oceanographers is holding up analysis of crucial evidence on the melting of Arctic sea ice." says Wadhams.those that are seated in deep submarine basins and flow directly into the oceans. who hand out government research funds. measurements since 1993 show that the thermal expansion of water is responsible for 1." says Shepherd.

This is as it should be. If the fisheries scientists' models had been correct." he says. "It will allow three-dimensional mapping of the underneath of the ice in much greater detail than before. The 1987 Montreal protocol. the less reliable they prove to be. Wadhams told New Scientist that the 2007 data should be the best yet because of a new multi-beam sonar on to the submarine. . will be five or six times as effective at reducing global warming as the Kyoto protocol.Wadhams says that NERC has turned down his last 10 grant applications but Alan Thorpe. say researchers at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA). "NERC has a stringent 'vested interest' policy to ensure that there is no bias in favour of a particular science area or research institute. and as the Pilkeys argue in Useless Arithmetic. Much is riding not only on ensuring that the science is as accurate as possible but also on getting the political and social response right. often the more we are forced to rely on these "modern-day oracles". Instead they abruptly emptied in 1992. the waters would still be teeming with cod. But love them or loathe them. at least when it comes to global warming. Guus Velders of NEAA and his colleagues calculated that. the head of the research council. just plain argument.34 watts per square metre." Fake fights are not helping climate science Few areas of science have implications as momentous as those of climate change. For others they are a curse. Climate bonanza through ozone-hole healing MONTREAL trumps Kyoto. this would have nearly doubled. The 2007 assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that halocarbons now in the atmosphere have a warming effect on the Earth's surface of 0. These are the hallmarks of a recent attempt to discredit the widely accepted theory that human-made carbon dioxide emissions are causing global warming. This is an easy and persuasive read. A loose affiliation of scientists and writers is pushing the alternative idea that fluctuations in solar activity provide a better explanation for the rise and fall in the temperature of Earth's atmosphere over the past few centuries. cynicism and conspiracy-theorising are quite another. Take what was once the world's most famous fishery. scepticism is fundamental to the scientific method. a barrier to understanding and a fig leaf for the self-serving and plain lazy. Before he went under the ice. which restricts the use of CFCs and other ozone-depleting halocarbons. had it not been for the Montreal protocol. After all. on Canada's Grand Banks. denies any bias in how funds are awarded. it is hardly surprising that scientists' methods and conclusions are coming under considerable scrutiny. Scepticism is one thing. Given the high stakes. much of our world is governed by mathematical models. Mathematical models are no way to save the planet FOR some they are irreplaceable guides to a complex world. There is no maths. and show no signs of recovering.

Ambitious package The outcome of Friday's summit in Brussels is the equivalent of a white paper and will be used to formulate legally binding legislation. Europe's '2020 vision' to lead climate change battle A long-term strategy on energy policy. But European business is already concerned that it will foot the bill by losing competitiveness to foreign rivals who do not have to comply with emissions caps. aimed at leading the world in the fight against global warming. By 2010. It also lays down a challenge to the US and other major industrialised nations to follow suit. was a contentious point. If all countries meet their Kyoto targets by 2012. developing renewable energy sources. promoting energy efficiency and using biofuels. which currently account for less than 7% of the EU energy mix.Another way to quantify the effect of Montreal is to look at how much CO2 emissions would have to be cut to achieve the same effect. which expires in 2012. . Russia. The key points are: • At least 20% of energy used in the EU will come from renewable sources by 2020 • At least 10% of the fuels used in transport will be biofuels by 2020 • EU emissions will be reduced to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 European leaders agreed to increase the emissions cap to 30%. The deal sets binding targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions. the equivalent of only about 2 gigatonnes of CO2 per year will have been saved. says Velders. China and India follow suit. if nations including the US. was agreed by European Union heads of state on Friday. This is in accordance with the energy strategy proposed by the European Council's environment council in February. It will also form the basis of the EU's position in international talks to find a successor to the United Nations' Kyoto protocol. which will need further approval by member states. European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso called it "the most ambitious package ever agreed by any commission or any group of countries on energy security and climate protection".7 and 12. Same but different The agreement to adopt a legally binding target for renewables.5 gigatonnes of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere every year. It was agreed on the condition that countries can contribute differentially to meeting the common goal. Environmentalists want the EU to go further in its efforts to fight climate change. German chancellor Angela Merkel – president of the 2007 European Council which brings together EU heads of state – said the agreement was "a breakthrough as regards the environment and climate change policy of the EU". the protocol will have prevented the equivalent of between 9.

" the strategy reads. The new study."Differentiated national overall targets [for renewables should be set] with due regard to a fair and adequate allocation. Previous research has shown the ozone layer is recovering and the protocol was hailed by Kofi Annan. But several EU states are firmly opposed to using nuclear power or. it was known that ozone-depleting halocarbons (which include CFCs) were also greenhouse gases and therefore were contributing to warming the atmosphere. Officials from anti-nuclear Austria argued that nuclear power cannot be considered as a source of sustainable energy. Plugging the ozone hole cut global warming too Global warming would be much worse if the world had not put a halt to the destruction of the ozone hole above Antarctica. Poland won a commitment to "a spirit of solidarity amongst member states" in the draft – diplomatic code for western Europe helping former Soviet bloc states if Russia cuts off energy supplies. former secretary general of the UN. as "perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date". His assertion is based on a line-by-line analysis of the scientists' report and the final version. are in the process of phasing it out. like Germany. led by Guus Velders of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. say researchers. which was agreed last month at a week-long meeting of representatives of more than 100 governments. They say the 1987 Montreal protocol." Gigatonnes of carbon . will cut warming by five or six times more than the Kyoto protocol. calculated that effect: "It was quite a surprise to see it was so large. What was not known was how much the cooling effect of phasing out these chemicals would add to the cooling effect of patching up the ozone hole in the stratosphere. At the time. French president Jacques Chirac backed a binding target for renewable energy but told fellow leaders that nuclear power must also play a role in Europe's drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions. David Wasdell. Most of these references were absent from the final version. says the preliminary version produced by scientists in April 2006 contained many references to the potential for climate to change faster than expected because of "positive feedbacks" in the climate system. which restricts the use of CFCs and other ozone-depleting chemicals. taking account of different national starting points. an independent analyst of climate change who acted as an accredited reviewer of the report. Much of France's electricity is currently generated by nuclear power stations. Climate report 'was watered down' British researchers who have seen drafts of last month's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claim it was significantly watered down when governments became involved in writing it. Wasdell told New Scientist: "I was astounded at the alterations that were imposed by government agents during the final stage of review.

Although the Montreal protocol limited the production of ozone-depleting chemicals. Policy considerations The report follows the 2 February release of a much-heralded document by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris. this will have avoided the equivalent of 2.5 gigatonnes of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere every year. Declaring the global warming debate over. UK. i.60 and 0. only coal power stations that can accommodate facilities to capture and store their carbon dioxide emissions should be built.refrigerators and air conditioners built before 2000. an atmospheric scientist at the University of Cambridge. which stated that global warming is real and human activities caused much of it over the past half-century. Velders calculates that if all countries were meet their Kyoto targets by 2012. some of the chemicals which have replaced CFCs as a result of the Montreal protocol are also greenhouse gases. would remove the equivalent of a further 1.0 gigatonnes of CO2 every year.65 W/m2. they must have declined to about one-third of that value.05 Watts per square metre and that the halocarbons currently in the atmosphere have a warming effect of 0. France. no later than 2020. Rapid growth "The gases that were regulated by the Montreal protocol were growing very rapidly in the atmosphere. agrees John Pyle. so there was clearly potential for very significant contribution" by limiting them.The 2007 assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that stratospheric ozone has a cooling effect of 0.7 and 12. global CO2 emissions must peak at not much above their current level. Furthermore. Their statement. and by 2100. Another way quantifying the effect is to compare it to the amount of carbon dioxide that would have had the same effect. In contrast. entitled Confronting Climate Change. scientists advised on Tuesday.2 gigatonnes of CO2 per year. The current one centres on just such recommendations. between 0. was issued by the UN Foundation and the Sigma Xi scientific research society on 27 February. the UN-backed team urged the world's nations on to act now to keep climate change from creating a worldwide catastrophe. The group said that in order to avoid "intolerable impacts" of climate change.e. it did not require the removal of equipment containing the gases . for instance. The earlier report's remit was to assess the status of climate science and so did not make policy recommendations. That would be more than half the impact of Kyoto. the researchers calculate. the Montreal protocol will have avoided the equivalent of between 9. They conclude the warming caused by halocarbons would be nearly twice that currently seen. Velders says that removing existing equipment that emit CFCs from circulation and replacing "intermediate substitutes" with chemicals that neither deplete the ozone nor warm the planet. Velders and his colleagues used computer models to simulate how the planet would have warmed had it not been for the Montreal protocol. . By 2010.34 W/m2. United Nations' scientists join climate change chorus As of now.

Its conclusions. but said this energy source must address the problem of disposal of radioactive waste and break the link between nuclear technology and weapons proliferation. policymakers and business leaders worldwide. US. US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she hoped to see a "substantial package" of US global warming legislation by 1 June 2007. Many of these points reinforce those recently advocated. but now." says John Holdren. not next decade. For example. are not new. relies heavily on coal-fired power plants. The agreement between all of these statements and reports – including this latest which is the result of two years of work – indicates a growing consensus among scientists. International climate angst is growing . It states that: • Global average temperature rises of more than 2°C to 2°5C above 1750 pre-industrial temperatures will lead to "sharply increasing risk of intolerable impacts" • Avoiding such a rise will require the capping of atmospheric concentrations at the equivalent of no more than 450-500 parts per million of CO2 (compared to about 380 ppm CO2 today) The report says that addressing this will require: • A two-pronged strategy: "avoiding the unmanageable" (limiting greenhouse gas emissions) and "managing the unavoidable" (adapting to the unavoidable effects of climate change) • Increased efficiency in the transportation sector • Better design and efficiency of commercial and residential buildings • Incentives for a greater use of biofuels • Better preparation for the effects of climate change in poor countries • Slowing and eventually reversing deforestation. which emits about 25% of the world's CO2. and a statement released by the Global Roundtable on Climate Change in February 2007. Substantial package And while the recommendations are global. certain specific items are sure to affect the US. and member of the scientific panel that crafted the report. Holdren says. the European Union's energy strategy released in January 2007. the US. a major source of greenhouse gas emissions • A tripling or quadrupling of global investment in advanced energy technology Growing consensus The scientists considered nuclear power as a carbon-free option. a professor of environmental policy at Harvard University in Boston Massachusetts. "We make the argument that it is essential that we get started now: not next year. however. For example.

will increase water levels and can swallow up island nations our force massive relocation of people living in low-lying areas. spreading drought and disease. detailed plan to combat climate change. Diplomats are meeting with scientists this week in Brussels to endorse the study. The post-Kyoto plan also advocates emissions targets for all countries. The plan includes setting an absolute global limit for emissions of carbon dioxide so that future airborne concentrations stay within 450 to 550 parts per million. said Wednesday.N. an authoritative U. the council president. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry. The council will look at the impact of climate change on water. Adding to the momentum. expanding oceans and displaced coastal populations. even in the gas-guzzling. an international panel of scientists presented the United Nations with a sweeping. he said. Other targets include developing energy-efficient technologies. Jones Parry said. Security Council has put climate change on its agenda for the first time and will hold a high-level meeting this month to discuss potential threats to international security from global warming. legislators and officials from 13 countries including.INTERNATIONAL momentum to combat climate change is growing. warning that failure would produce a turbulent 21st century of weather extremes. and agreed in principle on a 20 per cent cut in CO2 output by 2020. Rising temperatures. agreed a plan for combating global warming once the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett will chair the April 17 meeting and has invited the 14 other council nations to be represented at ministerial level.N. the potential for famine and crop surpluses. China and India. The report was issued just three weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. network of 2. he said.N. agricultural production. the council’s first on the subject.” Britain’s U. “The traditional triggers for conflict which exist out there are likely to be exacerbated by the effect of climate change. reported that global warming . The concentration in 2005 was already 379 ppm. U. for example.The U. At a meeting on Capitol Hill last week. crucially. European environment ministers met on Tuesday to discuss climate change. and creating a global market for trading CO2 credits.000 scientists. which will guide policymakers for decades to come. Last month.N. No statement or resolution is expected from the meeting. Security Council eyes climate change UNITED NATIONS . with tough targets for rich countries and softer ones for countries undergoing industrialisation. notoriously sceptical US.

is being caused largely by the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping
gases in the atmosphere, mostly from man’s burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels.

Jones Parry said he expects a summit on climate change next year, likely in September

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has not committed to a summit, but he has said he
would discuss how best to confront the climate change problem with world leaders at a
meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized countries in June.

Greenpeace ranks Apple last for green

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Greenpeace International ranked Apple Inc. last in
environmental friendliness among major electronics makers, while it praised Lenovo
Group Ltd. for bucking trends in China.

Greenpeace spokeswoman Iza Kruszewska said Apple has been willing to meet legal
requirements and basic standards, but it hasn't stopped using several types of harmful
chemicals in its manufacturing.

Apple spokeswoman Sheryl Seitz rejected the environmental group's ranking system.

"Apple has a strong environmental track record and has led the industry in restricting and
banning toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium, as well
as many BFRs," or brominated flame retardants, Seitz said.

According to standards developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
Apple products are not especially toxic.

The Green Electronics Council, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
generally gave Apple better scores than Lenovo and Dell Inc. based on 23 criteria
established by the IEEE, including materials used, energy conservation and packaging.

Greenpeace's rankings of 14 computer and mobile phone makers were based on their use
of hazardous chemicals in production and efforts to recycle broken or obsolete devices.

Tom van Dyck, whose As You Sow organization promotes socially responsible investing,
said Greenpeace's analysis was generally fair.

Lenovo replaced Nokia Inc. at the top of the list. Kruszewska said Lenovo was the first
major electronics manufacturer to offer all customers the opportunity to give back
computers for recycling. She said the Chinese company was bucking the tide in China,
which has become a dumping ground for hazardous electronics.

Seafood poisoning on the rise
ILOILO, Philippines - Bowls of piping hot barracuda soup were the much-anticipated treat
when the Roa family gathered for a casual and relaxing Sunday meal.

Within hours, all six fell deathly ill. So did two dozen others from the same neighborhood.
Some complained of body-wide numbness. Others had weakness in their legs. Several
couldn’t speak or even open their mouths.

“I was scared. I really thought I was going to die,” said Dabby Roa, 21, a student who
suffered numbness in his head, tingling in his hands and had trouble breathing.

What Roa and the others suffered that night last August was ciguatera poisoning, a rarely
fatal but growing menace from eating exotic fish. All had bought portions of the same
barracuda from a local vendor.

Experts estimate that up to 50,000 people worldwide suffer ciguatera poisoning each
year, with more than 90 percent of cases unreported. Scientists say the risks are getting
worse, because of damage that pollution and global warming are inflicting on the coral
reefs where many fish species feed.

Dozens of popular fish types, including grouper and barracuda, live near reefs. They
accumulate the toxic chemical in their bodies from eating smaller fish that graze on the
poisonous algae. When oceans are warmed by the greenhouse effect and fouled by toxic
runoff, coral reefs are damaged and poison algae thrives, scientists say.

“Worldwide, we have a much bigger problem with toxins from algae in seafood than we
had 20 or 30 years ago,” said Donald M. Anderson, director of the Coastal Ocean Institute
at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

‘More toxins’
“We have more toxins, more species of algae producing the toxins and more areas
affected around the world,” he said.

Although risk of ciguatera has soared recently, the phenomenon is ancient. Fish poisoning
shows up in Homer’s Odyssey. Alexander the Great forbade his armies to eat fish for fear
of being stricken, according to University of Hawaii professor Yoshitsugi Hokama.

Capt. James Cook and his crew probably suffered ciguatera poisoning in 1774 after eating
fish near Vanuatu in the South Pacific, according to crew journals and correspondence
studied by Dr. Michael Doherty of the Swedish Epilepsy Center in Seattle, writing in the
scientific review Neurology. Cook recorded that they “were seized with an extraordinary
weakness in all our limbs attended with a numbness or sensation like ... that ... caused
by exposing one’s hands or feet to a fire after having been pinched much by frost.”

Ciguatera has long been known in the South Pacific, the Caribbean and warmer areas of
the Indian Ocean. Some South Pacific islanders use dogs to test fish before they eat.

But in the past decade, it has spread through Asia, Europe and the United States, where
more restaurants are serving reef fish, prized for their fresh taste and exotic cachet.

In the United States, ciguatera poisonings are most frequent in Florida, Texas and
Hawaii, which has seen a fivefold increase since the 1970s to more than 250 a year.

Hong Kong, which imports much of its seafood, went from fewer than 10 cases annually
in the 1980s to a few hundred now.

Still, Hong Kong diners pay a premium for the risky fish. Rare species like the Napoleon
wrasse fetch nearly $50 a pound. The fish are increasingly shipped live from Southeast
Asia and as far away as the South Pacific, raising concerns from the World Conservation
Union that many species, especially groupers, could be fished out of existence.

Professor Yvonne Sadovy, of the University of Hong Kong, predicted that high demand
and cash-hungry fishermen mean that “ciguatoxic fish entering markets around the world
is going to increase.”

Should global warming and pollution worsen and boost ciguatera poisonings, as most
experts predict, health officials will face a daunting challenge.

Currently, there is no reliable way to detect whether a fish has ciguatera. The molecule is
extremely complex and differs markedly from region to region.

Difficult to diagnose
Furthermore, doctors are often ill-equipped to diagnose ciguatera, which has a range of
symptoms and is sometimes misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome or other

Those challenges faced Dr. Edgar Portigo at Doctors General Hospital in Iloilo, about 265
miles southeast of Manila, when the Roa family and others arrived. The emergency room
was filling with patients yelping in pain, vomiting, or, in the case of Dabby Roa, so
paralyzed that he had to be carried in by a security guard.

“Normally, you have one or two emergency cases. Here we had 30 plus all at once,” from
ages 4 to 65, Portigo said.

At first, Portigo surmised the patients had heavy metal poisoning. But when he learned of
the common thread — the barracuda dinners — he sent a sample of the fish to Manila for
testing. It came back positive for ciguatera.

Portigo gave his patients intravenous drips and a diuretic to relieve their suffering. Most
like Roa were released from the hospital in a week, he said, and fully recovered.

“Although this is quite rare, it can happen anytime,” said Portigo, noting this was the first
ciguatera outbreak in the city.

A relatively quick recovery is the norm, but some have lingering symptoms.

Dennis McGillicuddy, a 65-year-old retired cable television company owner from
Sarasota, Fla., fell sick a few hours after eating a mutton snapper he caught off the coast
of Bermuda in 2000. Within hours, his vomiting and diarrhea were so severe that he
became delirious and was “reduced to crawling,” he recalled.

The digestive symptoms lasted two weeks. After that, McGillicuddy became so sensitive
to temperature extremes that it was hard to take a shower. Numbness in his extremities
lasted for almost a year.

China is on course to overtake the United States this year as the world's biggest carbon emitter. “Given the fact we eat so much seafood in Hong Kong.S. this year. “Unless you don’t eat the fish. Food and Drug Administration and others who monitor ciguatera say they are hampered by the lack of a reliable test. Vendors have switched to less risky varieties.” Little protection for consumers Poorer countries often lack even rudimentary measures to protect consumers. “You feel terrible all over your body. of the University of Queensland in Australia. but they often are impractical. you have a risk of getting ciguatera.S. It argues that educating consumers and traders is the answer. a senior U. “It’s very hard to manage. potentially pressuring Beijing to take more action on climate change. Hong Kong has refused to enact mandatory measures to prevent ciguatera despite increased outbreaks.” In Iloilo. who has studied ciguatera. estimates based on Chinese energy data show. CO2 emissions in '07 BEIJING/LONDON . Those precautions that do exist are undermined by government corruption or lack of enforcement. “I just hope we don’t have to wait for someone to die before something is done. Bans on certain fish or “hot spots” can help.S.” said professor Richard Lewis.S. while Beijing data shows fuel consumption rose more than 9 percent in 2006. who still occasionally feels tingling in his left arm.“I’ve never had anything like this. China's emissions rose by some 10 percent in 2005. suggesting China would easily outstrip the U. scientist estimated. China seen topping U.” The U.” Sadovy said. long before forecasts. Consumers stopped buying barracuda after the ciguatera outbreak. rejecting calls to crack down on traders or ban fish from suspect areas.” said McGillicuddy. fear has done what the Philippine government has not. . this should be one of the priorities in protecting the population.

"It looks likely to me that China will pass the United States this year.5 percent and less than 0. The International Energy Agency. oil and gas for heat.3 billion metric tons. power and transport. China's Office of the National Coordination Committee on Climate Change said it could not comment on either forecast as it did not have a reliable estimate of the country's emissions..9 billion for the U. with respective growth in 2005 of 10." said Gregg Marland.4 billion tons of coal that year. "We have just set in motion our national reporting plan. which advises 26 rich nations. Marland used fossil fuel consumption data from oil company BP to calculate China's CO2 emissions in 2005 at 5. Xu Dingming. but it will not be done for two or three years.. which supplies data to governments. Most scientists say it is a key contributor to global warming." said an official who declined to be named. versus 5.Taking the top spot would focus pressure on China to do more to brake emissions as part of world talks on extending the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on global warming beyond 2012. had already said last November that on current trends China would overtake the United States as the world's biggest carbon emitter before 2010.1 percent. In 2006 Chinese fuel consumption rose 9.45 billion tons of oil equivalent.S. "These figures are very complicated — we don't have an estimate of CO2 for such a recent date. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. "There's a very high likelihood they'll pass them in 2007. the deputy head of the office that advises China on energy policy. gas and coal consumption in 2005. researchers and non-governmental organizations worldwide." . said on Thursday." Human-induced carbon dioxide is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal. to 1. a senior staff scientist at the U. Thirty five developed nations have agreed to cut emissions under Kyoto and they want others — especially the United States and China — to do more.S.3 percent to the equivalent of 2. This was faster than BP's estimate of a 9 percent rise in China's oil..

He estimated a plus or minus 15 to 20 percent error in the Chinese data versus a possible 5 percent U. particularly in China. top with 23 percent of world carbon dioxide emissions and China second on 16. error margin.8 Fahrenheit this century. based on BP data.2 to 7.5 percent. at 20 tons per capita against China's 3. individuals were far bigger emitters.N. approaching France's entire capacity.S. closely matched the IEA's estimates for the same year — reached using its own energy data and U.S. error margin.2 tons and a world average of 3. Last year alone it added around 100 gigawatts of new generators. CDIAC's 2004 emissions estimates. .S.U.N. the highest carbon-emitting fuel. China argues that wealthy nations are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and should lead the way in cutting emissions. China's rapid growth in carbon emissions is threatening to outweigh efforts by the European Union and others to tackle climate change — EU leaders said earlier this month they would cut the bloc's greenhouse gases by at least a fifth by 2020. But U. China's growth has been fuelled largely by burning coal. and it is still building new power plants at an unprecedented rate. raising ethical questions over who bears responsibility for those emissions. And much of the growth in China's emissions is to produce goods consumed in the West. A United Nations panel of climate scientists predicted last month a "best estimate" that temperatures would rise by 3. emissions calculation methods. He estimated a plus or minus 15 to 20 percent error in the Chinese data versus a possible 5 percent U. Marland said. strengthening the reliability of the BP data. most of them coal-burning. which gets around 70 percent of its energy from coal. But China between now and 2015 will build power generating capacity equal to the entire existing capacity in the whole of the European Union. the IEA estimates.S. Higher economic growth and fuel use translates into higher emissions. blaming mankind's emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2.7. data for 2003 put the U.

parts of Antarctica and Greenland would approach a virtually irreversible melting that would produce sea level rises of yards. 2007 HOBART." leading Australian marine scientist John Church told Reuters. most of them coal-burning.China's rapid growth in carbon emissions is threatening to outweigh efforts by the European Union and others to tackle climate change — EU leaders said earlier this month they would cut the bloc's greenhouse gases by at least a fifth by 2020. A United Nations report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in February projected sea level gains of 7-23 inches this century from temperature rises of 3. blaming mankind's emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2. not inches. Australia . he said. Past this level. . leaving some human population centers already unable to cope. China's growth has been fuelled largely by burning coal. "Observations are in the very upper edge of the projections. approaching France's entire capacity. top world scientists say as they analyze latest satellite data. ET March 26.2 to 7. the IEA estimates. Antarctic melting may be speeding up Updated: 10:44 a. But China between now and 2015 will build power generating capacity equal to the entire existing capacity in the whole of the European Union.m. Australia's national science agency.2-7.Rising sea levels and melting polar ice-sheets are at upper limits of projections. a researcher with CSIRO." said Church. A United Nations panel of climate scientists predicted last month a "best estimate" that temperatures would rise by 3. and it is still building new power plants at an unprecedented rate. Last year alone it added around 100 gigawatts of new generators.8 Fahrenheit.8 Fahrenheit this century. "I feel that we're getting uncomfortably close to threshold.

a glaciologist at the Hobart-based Australian Antarctic Division. which is insulated from global warming by extreme cold temperatures and high-altitudes. Church pointed out that sea levels were 4-6 yards higher more than 100. But the Antarctic Peninsula is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth. "There's lots of places where you can't do that and where you'll have to put up with actual flooding.000 years ago when temperatures were at levels expected to be reached at the end of this century." he said. is an example of how fringe areas of the polar region are melting. new information shows the height of the Tottenham Glacier near Australia's Casey Base has fallen by 10 years over 15-16 years. and many glaciers are in retreat. "There have been doomsday scenarios that west Antarctica could collapse quite quickly. who has focused on historical sea level information.There has been no repeat in the Antarctic of the 2002 break-up of part of the Larsen ice shelf that created a 500 billion ton iceberg as big as Luxembourg. . This was already happening in the south of England. van Ommen said. 620 miles north of Antarctica. And there's six meters of sea level in west Antarctica. where local councils and governments could not afford to protect all areas from sea water erosion as land continued to sink. Australian scientist John Hunter. said that to keep the sea water out. But even in east Antarctica. Dynamic ice-flows could add 25 percent to IPCC forecasts of sea level rise. The break-up of ice in Antarctica to create icebergs is also opening pathways for accelerated flows to the sea by glaciers." says Tas van Ommen. Scientists say massive glacier retreat at Heard Island. communities would need to begin raising sea walls. Doomsday has not yet arrived.

About 100 million people around the world live within a yard of the present-day sea level. "Those 100 million people will need to go somewhere. CSIRO scientist Steve Rintoul said. "You can't just say we'll just put sea walls. Worse." Hunter said. . every yard of sea level rise causes an inland recession of around 300 feet and more erosion occurs with every storm." he said.