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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 28th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Africa: Climate Change – Ki-Moon Issues Strong Call for Action

 allafrica.com/stories/20070801009…

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The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon has called for urgent international action to address the problem of climate change within the framework of the UN, warning that failure to act on climate change will have grave consequences for all countries.

Making the call at a meeting in San Francisco, United States, he said, “I am not a scientist; I am not an economist, but if you ask any scientist or economist they will tell you the science is clear, the economics are clear. They say action should have been taken yesterday, but it may not be too late if we take it today.”

Ban, according to a statement on the UN web site claimed the international community has reached almost saturation point on the issue, which the global organisation takes very seriously.

The Secretary-General emphasised the toll that climate change is taking on developing countries, pointing out that they do not have the resources to cope that are available in developed States.

“It is ironic that those people who have least contributed to this cause will have the brunt of serious responsibility for its consequences. The industrialized countries must help”, he said.

Ki-moon also laid out a clear timetable for action. The inter-governmental process includes a meeting of the General Assembly this week as well as the holding of a high-level meeting Mr. Ban will convene in New York on 24 September. Negotiations are expected to begin in December in Bali.

The Kyoto Protocol, the international community’s current framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will expire in 2012, and the UN scribe said a successor pact must be ready for ratification three years before that date to allow countries to make it law in time.

Speaking on the role of the United States, Ki-moon said he had a very good meeting recently on the issue with President George Bush, who he said “now realises the seriousness” of the problem. US leadership on climate change will be “very important,” said Mr. Ban. The status quo “cannot be an option” for the US, which should, “look beyond its national situation.”

According to him, all industrialised countries must show leadership on the issue. “They should think about the future, not the present situation”, he said. Also, the number of Atlantic hurricanes in an average season has doubled in the last century due in part to warmer seas and changing wind patterns caused by global warming, according to a study released on July 29.

Hurricane researchers, according to Reuters and the Environmental News Network (ENN), have debated for years whether climate change caused by greenhouse gases from cars, factories and other human activity is resulting in more, and more intense, tropical storms and hurricanes.

The new study, published online in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, said the increased numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes in the last 100 years is closely related to a 1.3-degree Fahrenheit rise in sea surface temperatures.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in a report this year warning that humans contribute to global warming, said it was more likely than not that people also contribute to a trend of increasingly intense hurricanes.

In the new study, conducted by Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Peter Webster of Georgia Institute of Technology, researchers found three periods since 1900 when the average number of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes increased sharply, and then leveled off and remained steady.

From 1900 to 1930, Atlantic hurricane seasons saw six storms on average, with four hurricanes and two tropical storms. From 1930 to 1940, the annual average rose to ten, including five hurricanes.

From 1995 to 2005, the average rose to 15, with eight hurricanes and seven tropical storms, the researchers said.

Changes in sea surface temperatures occurred before the periods of increased cyclones, with a rise of 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit before the 1930 period and a similar increase before the 1995 period, they said.

“These numbers are a strong indication that climate change is a major factor in the increasing number of Atlantic hurricanes,” Holland said in a statement.

Skeptics say hurricane data from the early decades of the 20th century are not reliable because cyclones likely formed and died in mid-ocean, where no one knew they existed.

 

More reliable data became available in 1944 when researchers had airplane observations, and from 1970 when satellites came into use.

But Holland and Webster said the improved data from the last half of the century couldn’t be solely responsible for the increase.

“We are led to the confident conclusion that the recent upsurge in the tropical cyclone frequency is due in part to greenhouse warming, and this is most likely the dominant effect,” the authors wrote.

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