WARMING GLOBE Wreaking Havoc

As the globe’s temperature rises, it is overshadowing political and other crises of the regions. Devastating floods of Pakistan are recent headlines ringing alarm bells. The country is portrayed as most vulnerable to floods. China too is facing a sim

Aug. 20, 2010, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.:4 No.-06 August 20- September 02,2010(Bhadra-04,2067)

 Climate change is happening faster than what one might have thought a few years ago. The recent extreme weather patterns and their devastating consequences faced by Asian countries are an indication that the rising temperature will create havoc on human life.


 
 “The devastating floods in Pakistan, mudslides in China and droughts in many African countries are the indication to how the warming earth can make differences in human life. In the last two days, we had seen the highest precipitation in summer in the last many years,” said Rasmus Vincentz, a Danish climate scientist in a recently organized climate change journalism course in Denmark. “If we are unable to meet the target set by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the human kind will have to face unimaginable consequences in the days to come.”


 
 The IPCC, which assesses the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, revealed that the world’s temperature is rising at a worrying pace.


 
“We must stop the activities that can heat the earth and follow the course that will reduce the temperature. If we are unable to control the emission level, we will have to face a more severe situation than what we are facing now,” said Vincentz.

 

 From hottest day to hottest years and high precipitations to low precipitations and drought, the earth has already experienced all kinds of fluctuations in weather patterns in recent years. In the last two decades, the temperature has gone up.


 
“In August 15, we received the highest rainfall in a day setting a new record. There are variations of precipitations in Denmark,” said Ramsus in a program. 

Arranged by NORDECO and danicom.net, two NGOs of Denmark, with support from Danida Fellowship Center, a 12-day workshop gave a forum to share the knowledge among 21 journalists from Asia, Africa and Latin America with Danish and international experts.

 

 Experts hold the view that the recent weather events are just the beginning. The worse, they say, is yet to come. The earth’s temperature rise is more than 1 degree Celsius and it continues to rise if proper mitigation steps are not taken.

 

 “If the temperature rises up to two degrees, there will be change in everything and it will have devastating consequences in the earth and human life. From availability of water to risk of floods due to variations in rain, the entire ecosystem will be in danger,” said Dr. Hans-Martin Fussel, program manager Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation, European Environment Agency.

 

“We have been doing the research on how rising temperature can bring changes and what adaptation and mitigation approach we need to follow for European countries,” said Dr. Hans-Marin Fussel. “The climate change is now a reality and no one can deny the fact that the warming temperature may harm the earth’s present ecosystem. This is not a question of who will receive what but the crisis of rising temperature will have a long run implications to the human being.”

 

  Every country in the world has been facing extreme weather patterns and no country is exception. The recent devastating floods in Pakistan and mudslides in China are examples. According to Pakistan’s experts, this was the first such flood in this century and nobody had experienced such floods which washed out infrastructures worth of billons of dollars, killing more than 2000 and displacing 2 million people.

 

“You can see different stories and tragedies related to fluctuations in weather but it is not easy to explain since it is related to science but its impact will be in society,” said Leoni Joubert, a South African science writer. “It is very difficult to explain the drought and expansion of desert in my areas close to my home Cape Town. “ I have seen suffering of people and society.”

 

Experiencing Tragedies
At the time of writing the story, the situation in Northwest Frontier Provinces, Punjab and Sindh in Pakistan, worsened from floods. Though the scale of the floods disaster continued to expand, there seemed to be more problems in rehabilitations.  similarly, the death toll rose to 702 with more than 1,000 people still missing after floods and landslides engulfed villages in north-western China’s Gansu province.

 

Passing through a series of political crises, Nepal too is prone to climate crisis. Covered by high hills and mountains, Nepal’s situation is also not different than others. Its ecosystem, including the glaciers, are under sever crisis and rising temperature may prompt the outburst of such glaciers which are the perennial sources of the fresh water. Nepal’s glaciers feed over 70 percent water to Ganges River during the dry winter session.

 

The change in the weather pattern has already affected the life of people. The recent flash floods caused by heavy rains have already created havoc in the central, eastern and far western Nepal where more than two dozens people have already been killed.

 

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, at least 14 people have died in landslides and floods triggered by incessant rain in central and western Nepal's Dolkha and Jajarkot districts in August 4. Nine laborers working in Sipringkhola Hydropower project in Dolakha district were swept away when the river changed its course due to landslides and two other labors have gone missing.

 

Similarly, five people have been swept away due to the flood that occurred following heavy rain in western Nepal's Jajarkot district. In another incident, two school boys have gone missing following landslip in Kaski district of western Nepal, officials said.

 

 Landslide and flood triggered by incessant rainfall swept away an entire village in Laha VDC of Dolpa at the end of July. Ten persons of a single family have also been swept away in the landslide.

 

Rescue and Rehabilitation
The country which has been passing through very uncertain political course is facing tough challenges for the rescue and rehabilitation.
Teams of Nepal Army and Nepal Police along with locals have been engaged in rescue and relief operations. Nepal Army personnel have been launching the rescue operation carrying the injured to the hospitals.

 Continuous downpour of the rain in the last few days has triggered floods in the eastern and western regions of the country rendering a horde of locals homeless and forcing hundred others to relocate themselves to safer places.

 

 Interestingly, most of the victims are the people below the poverty line. Swollen Sunsari River swept away 15 houses in a Dalit settlement at Narasingh VDC in Sunsari district and inundated about 100 houses in Narasingh and Basantapur VDCs.
 
 
 
 Vulnerable Nepal
 With the population of 30 million, Nepal ranks 193 out of 210 countries in terms of Gross National Income per capita adjusted for purchasing power - more than 70% of the population live on less than USD 2 per day.

 

 

 
 According to the report published in Nepal Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) Draft, data from 45 weather stations across Nepal for the period 1996-2005, indicate consistent warming in maximum temperatures at an annual rate of 0.040C/year. The studies also indicate that the observed warming trend is not uniform across the country. These observations follow on from those by Shrestha et al. 1999 that indicate that average warming in annual temperature between 1977 and 1994 was 0.06 ºC/yr. Warming was shown to be more pronounced in high altitude regions, while warming was lower in the Terai and Siwalik regions.

 

 

 

“Nepal is more vulnerable to climate change and it will have faced severe situation. This is the reason the ministry has prepared NAPA draft so that Nepal can get money to launch adaptation programs,” said Purushottam Ghimire, joint secretary and focal point of the Ministry of Environment.
The inter-annual variation of rainfall, particularly monsoon precipitation, is so large that observed trends are very uncertain and could be a part of the cyclic trends e.g. El Niño phenomenon or solar cycles.

  

 


According to recently released NAPA draft, annual precipitation data show a general decline in pre-monsoon precipitation in far-and mid-western Nepal, with a few pockets of declining rainfall in western, central and eastern regions. While in the rest of the country there is a general trend of increasing pre-monsoon precipitation. Monsoon precipitation shows general declining trends in the mid-western and southern parts of western Nepal, with a few pockets of declining rainfall in the central and eastern regions. In the rest of the country, the monsoon precipitation shows general increases. Post monsoon precipitation shows increasing trends in most of the mid-western and the southern parts of eastern and central/western Nepal.

 

 

  

 The draft reveals that a recent study that used General and Regional Circulation Models projects mean annual temperature to increase by 1.40C by 2030, 2.80C by 2060 and 4.70C by 2090. The projections show higher temperature increments for winter as compared to the monsoon seasons. Higher increments in temperature are projected over western and central Nepal as compared to eastern Nepal for the years 2030, 2060, and 2090, with projections for western Nepal being the greatest. Similar trends are projected for the frequency of hot days and nights for 2060 and 2090.

 


The observations and projections indicate that the key impacts are likely to include: significant warming, particularly at higher elevations, leading to reductions in snow and ice coverage; increased climatic variability and frequency of extreme events, including floods and droughts; and, overall increase in precipitation during the wet season but a decrease in the mid hills.


 


From African countries to Asian, there is similar concern about the fluctuations in weather patterns. Nobody has an immediate solution other than to develop the adaptation process or mitigation. For small countries like Nepal which produce very nominal pollution, particularly CO2, their mitigation has no global implications but their populations are more vulnerable.

 


“Poor populations of developing and least developed countries are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Their whole process of development will be destroyed,” said Steffen Johnsen. “Climate is all about management of commons, money and politics. Every one is ignoring the climate at the cost of prosperity.”

 


For the poor people of least developed countries, there is no one as a savoir. “Voices of the poor must be heard and they should be compensated for the suffering which they are not responsible for,” said Tove Ryding, Greenpeace activist.

 

 “The Ministry of Environment - the Nepal Government’s climate focal point - has widened the lens of adaptation planning to include programmatic and bottom-up approaches adaptation, and to find ways whereby the integration of strategies for low carbon development and adaptation can precipitate a series of co-benefits and economies of scale,” said Ghimire. “The Government’s intention is that the NAPA climate adaptation responses prioritization process is sufficiently enough to be used as a basis for the development of an adaptation strategy that will be able to draw down financial resources for implementation from various global, multi-lateral and bilateral sources. The Government expects that any and all climate adaptation support programs considering what activities to support in Nepal will carefully consider the NAPA outcomes as a first step.”

 


Science has already made it clear that climate change is reality now and what the authorities need to do now is to take initiatives for adaptation as well as mitigation to cope with it.

 



“If the globe heats up, no one will be spared,” this was the message journalists learned at the program.

 Continuous downpour of the rain in the last few days has triggered floods in the eastern and western regions of the country rendering a horde of locals homeless and forcing hundred others to relocate themselves to safer places.

 

 Interestingly, most of the victims are the people below the poverty line. Swollen Sunsari River swept away 15 houses in a Dalit settlement at Narasingh VDC in Sunsari district and inundated about 100 houses in Narasingh and Basantapur VDCs.
 
 
 
 Vulnerable Nepal
 With the population of 30 million, Nepal ranks 193 out of 210 countries in terms of Gross National Income per capita adjusted for purchasing power - more than 70% of the population live on less than USD 2 per day.

 

 

 
 According to the report published in Nepal Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) Draft, data from 45 weather stations across Nepal for the period 1996-2005, indicate consistent warming in maximum temperatures at an annual rate of 0.040C/year. The studies also indicate that the observed warming trend is not uniform across the country. These observations follow on from those by Shrestha et al. 1999 that indicate that average warming in annual temperature between 1977 and 1994 was 0.06 ºC/yr. Warming was shown to be more pronounced in high altitude regions, while warming was lower in the Terai and Siwalik regions.

 

 

 

“Nepal is more vulnerable to climate change and it will have faced severe situation. This is the reason the ministry has prepared NAPA draft so that Nepal can get money to launch adaptation programs,” said Purushottam Ghimire, joint secretary and focal point of the Ministry of Environment.
The inter-annual variation of rainfall, particularly monsoon precipitation, is so large that observed trends are very uncertain and could be a part of the cyclic trends e.g. El Niño phenomenon or solar cycles.

  

 


According to recently released NAPA draft, annual precipitation data show a general decline in pre-monsoon precipitation in far-and mid-western Nepal, with a few pockets of declining rainfall in western, central and eastern regions. While in the rest of the country there is a general trend of increasing pre-monsoon precipitation. Monsoon precipitation shows general declining trends in the mid-western and southern parts of western Nepal, with a few pockets of declining rainfall in the central and eastern regions. In the rest of the country, the monsoon precipitation shows general increases. Post monsoon precipitation shows increasing trends in most of the mid-western and the southern parts of eastern and central/western Nepal.

 

 

  

 The draft reveals that a recent study that used General and Regional Circulation Models projects mean annual temperature to increase by 1.40C by 2030, 2.80C by 2060 and 4.70C by 2090. The projections show higher temperature increments for winter as compared to the monsoon seasons. Higher increments in temperature are projected over western and central Nepal as compared to eastern Nepal for the years 2030, 2060, and 2090, with projections for western Nepal being the greatest. Similar trends are projected for the frequency of hot days and nights for 2060 and 2090.

 


The observations and projections indicate that the key impacts are likely to include: significant warming, particularly at higher elevations, leading to reductions in snow and ice coverage; increased climatic variability and frequency of extreme events, including floods and droughts; and, overall increase in precipitation during the wet season but a decrease in the mid hills.


 


From African countries to Asian, there is similar concern about the fluctuations in weather patterns. Nobody has an immediate solution other than to develop the adaptation process or mitigation. For small countries like Nepal which produce very nominal pollution, particularly CO2, their mitigation has no global implications but their populations are more vulnerable.

 


“Poor populations of developing and least developed countries are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Their whole process of development will be destroyed,” said Steffen Johnsen. “Climate is all about management of commons, money and politics. Every one is ignoring the climate at the cost of prosperity.”

 


For the poor people of least developed countries, there is no one as a savoir. “Voices of the poor must be heard and they should be compensated for the suffering which they are not responsible for,” said Tove Ryding, Greenpeace activist.

 

 “The Ministry of Environment - the Nepal Government’s climate focal point - has widened the lens of adaptation planning to include programmatic and bottom-up approaches adaptation, and to find ways whereby the integration of strategies for low carbon development and adaptation can precipitate a series of co-benefits and economies of scale,” said Ghimire. “The Government’s intention is that the NAPA climate adaptation responses prioritization process is sufficiently enough to be used as a basis for the development of an adaptation strategy that will be able to draw down financial resources for implementation from various global, multi-lateral and bilateral sources. The Government expects that any and all climate adaptation support programs considering what activities to support in Nepal will carefully consider the NAPA outcomes as a first step.”

 


Science has already made it clear that climate change is reality now and what the authorities need to do now is to take initiatives for adaptation as well as mitigation to cope with it.

 



“If the globe heats up, no one will be spared,” this was the message journalists learned at the program.

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