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Poor Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms

Andrew C. Revkin, NY Times
The world’s richest countries, which have contributed by far the most to the atmospheric changes linked to global warming, are already spending billions of dollars to limit their own risks from its worst consequences, like drought and rising seas.

But despite longstanding treaty commitments to help poor countries deal with warming, these industrial powers are spending just tens of millions of dollars on ways to limit climate and coastal hazards in the world’s most vulnerable regions – most of them close to the equator and overwhelmingly poor.

Next Friday, a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that since 1990 has been assessing global warming, will underline this growing climate divide, according to scientists involved in writing it – with wealthy nations far from the equator not only experiencing fewer effects but also better able to withstand them.

Two-thirds of the atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas that can persist in the air for centuries, has come in nearly equal proportions from the United States and Western European countries.
(1 Apr 2007)

Climate Report Maps Out ‘Highway to Extinction’

Seth Borenstein, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – A key element of the second major report on climate change being released Friday in Belgium is a chart that maps out the effects of global warming, most of them bad, with every degree of temperature rise.

There’s one bright spot: A minimal heat rise means more food production in northern regions of the world.

However, the number of species going extinct rises with the heat, as does the number of people who may starve, or face water shortages, or floods, according to the projections in the draft report obtained by The Associated Press

Some scientists are calling this degree-by-degree projection a “highway to extinction.”

It’s likely to be the source of sharp closed-door debate, some scientists say, along with a multitude of other issues in the 20-chapter draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. While the wording in the draft is almost guaranteed to change at this week’s meeting in Brussels, several scientists say the focus won’t.
(31 March 2007)
Also at Common Dreams.

Global warming could bring hunger, melt Himalayas

Alister Doyle, Reuters
Global warming could cause more hunger in Africa and melt most Himalayan glaciers by the 2030s, according to a draft U.N. report due on Friday which also warns that the poorest nations are likely to suffer most.

The U.N. climate panel, giving the most authoritative study on the regional impact of climate change since 2001, also predicts more heatwaves in countries such as the United States, and damages corals including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

“We are talking about a potentially catastrophic set of developments,” Achim Steiner, the head of the U.N. Environment Programme, said of the likely impact of rising temperatures, widely blamed on greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

“Even a half meter (20 inch) rise in sea levels would have catastrophic effects in Bangladesh and some island states,” he told Reuters.

Scientists and officials from more than 100 countries meet in Belgium from Monday to review and approve a 21-page summary for policymakers in the report amid disputes on some findings, including on how far rising temperatures may contribute to spreading disease.
(1 April 2007)

Wars of the world: how global warming puts 60 nations at risk

Geoffrey Lean, UK Independent
As scientists deliver a detailed report on the impact of climate change this week, an ‘IoS’ investigation shows it will spark a major rise in conflicts
Scores of countries face war for scarce land, food and water as global warming increases. This is the conclusion of the most devastating report yet on the effects of climate change that scientists and governments prepare to issue this week.

More than 60 nations, mainly in the Third World, will have existing tensions hugely exacerbated by the struggle for ever-scarcer resources. Others now at peace – including China, the United States and even parts of Europe – are expected to be plunged into conflict. Even those not directly affected will be threatened by a flood of hundreds of millions of “environmental refugees”.

The threat is worrying world leaders. The new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, told a global warming conference last month: “In coming decades, changes in the environment – and the resulting upheavals, from droughts to inundated coastal areas – are likely to become a major driver of war and conflict.”
(1 April 2007)
Also at Common Dreams.

Australia faces extreme weather rise, says leaked UN report

Australia will suffer more droughts, fires, floods and storms due to global warming and its famous Great Barrier Reef will be devastated by 2030, according to leaked extracts Friday of a UN report.

The draft UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns that temperatures in Australia would rise by 6.7 degrees Celsius before the end of the century, the ABC and Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The report, due to be released on April 6, said rising temperatures would cause more intense bushfires and lead to deaths from heatwaves.
(30 March 2007)

Climate change may cause health woes worldwide, UN panel says

Mike De Souza, CanWest
Climate change is causing health problems to spread across every region on the planet, a panel of scientific experts said during a conference call on Thursday to preview an upcoming United Nations report.

“We’re looking at impacts that can be sudden and wide scale,” said Paul Epstein Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. “I think there’s overwhelming consensus at this point that the majority of health implications of species change from climate change is going to result in a spread of health problems, and this is related to warming as well as extreme weather events.”

The report, to be released on April 6, is the second section of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment of recent peer-reviewed literature on global warming.
(30 March 2007)