Climate Change a Worse Threat than War?

November 14th, 2010 - by admin

Alister Doyle / Reuters & Randy Rieland / Grist – 2010-11-14 22:54:25

Losses from Natural Disasters Could Triple by 2100: Report
Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent / Reuters

OSLO (November 11, 2010) — Global losses from natural disasters could triple to $185 billion a year by 2100, excluding the impact of climate change, according to a report, which calls for a shift in focus from relief work to preventative measures.

The joint report by the United Nations and the World Bank, published on Thursday, said the number of people at risk of storms or earthquakes in large cities could double to 1.5 billion by 2050. Simple preventative measures could curb losses from natural disasters, it said, citing Bangladesh’s success in building shelters to protect against cyclones.

The study of natural hazards including earthquakes, heatwaves and floods called for investment in everything from improving weather forecasts, to re-painting steel bridges to avoid rust, and keeping storm drains clear of debris.

“Preventing deaths and destruction from disasters pays, if done right,” according to the 250-page report by 70 experts entitled “Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters.”

“Annual global losses from natural disasters could triple to $185 billion by the end of this century, even without calculating the impact of climate change,” it said.

“Losses will triple primarily because you have economic growth and … more people and property located in richer areas. As people get richer they have more to lose,” lead author Apurva Sanghi told a telephone news conference.

Damage from more powerful cyclones likely to be caused by global warming could add $28-$68 billion to the annual bill, it said. It did not give a total for possible costs linked to climate change, such as desertification or rising sea levels.

It said about 3.3 million people had died from natural hazards in the past 40 years, or 82,500 a year, with most in poor nations.

The report urged countries from the United States to India to review caps on building rentals. Rent controls in Mumbai meant “property owners have neglected maintenance for decades, so buildings crumble in heavy rains,” it said.

It urged better protection of key infrastructure, such as hospitals. In some cases, buildings can have dual money-saving roles — such as schools in Bangladesh that act as cyclone shelters or roadways in Malaysia that act as drains, it said.

And it urged spending on “environmental buffers,” such as mangroves that can protect coastlines against storms or tsunamis. Forests can help prevent mudslides and mute the effect of floods, it said.

World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick said the report made a “compelling case” showing how nations can curb their vulnerability to natural hazards and free up resources for economic development.

“The news is not all gloomy. Bangladesh has been extremely successful in reducing the number of deaths from cyclones” partly by building shelters in recent decades, Sanghi said.

(Editing by Susan Fenton)
© Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.

2010 Still on Track to be Hottest on Record
Randy Rieland / Grist

(November 12, 2010) — The latest figures are in from NASA and, surprise, surprise, this remains the warmest year on the planet since they started tracking temperatures 131 years ago. Last month was the third warmest October, ensuring that temperatures from January to October were still the highest on record.

Top of the heat: At this rate 2010 will beat out the other years at the top of the list — 1998, 2007, and the current leader, 2005. And so far November is tracking at a record level. What makes this more significant, says NASA, is that the record temperatures have come during a “minimum of solar irradiance,” when temperatures would be expected to drop. [Climate Progress]

They’re definitely noticing the difference in Moscow. It’s nothing like the hideous heat wave that baked the city last summer, but temperatures have been running more than 20 degrees above the November average, which is 30 degrees F. [TerraDaily]

Nonetheless, it’s still all a hoax: Because climate expert Rush Limbaugh says it is. Here’s Rush’s response to recent comments by Robert Kennedy Jr. that “narcissistic” Republicans and Fox News killed cap-and-trade:

Now, I sit here and I look at this and I ask: Who is Robert Kennedy? Robert Kennedy Jr. is Robert Kennedy Jr., but who appointed him climate expert? Okay, so he sets up an organization. He’s worried about the filth in the Hudson River. All of a sudden he becomes an expert in energy policy, and it’s just accepted. But the thing that really offends me about this is how dare he? I’m to blame! I’m the reason that the climate bill went to hell.

It isn’t Fox News. It’s not the “narcissistic” Republicans. I did it. I’ve been working to tweak this kinda stuff since 1990. I’ve been calling global warming — man-made global warming — a hoax. There’s actually a better word for it. Fraud. It is a fraud, and RFK Jr. and every one of the people promoting it are also part of a fraud.

And in other green news:
There’s always a catch: Some geoengineers have proposed fighting global warming by fertilizing the oceans with iron. That would spur the growth of phytoplankton, which sucks up carbon dioxide. Not such a good idea, say other scientists, who warn that it could also spur the growth of toxic microbes. []

Plaque ’em up: Coal and oil companies love to show off safety awards from regulatory agencies as some kind of government seal of approval. Turns out that some may not be worth the cost of the frame. (Case in point: BP was a finalist for the 2010 SAFE award.) [Washington Post]

Not exactly what they had in mind: In order to meet goals for reducing carbon emissions, local governments in China have been imposing blackouts. But industrial plants that have production goals to meet have kept running by using diesel generators. And that increases carbon emissions and has also led to a diesel shortage. [Technology Review]

Failure is an option: On Monday, researchers will finally begin testing on the four-story blowout preventer that failed to stop the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf. But a nasty spat between federal agencies threatens to muck up the investigation. [Wall Street Journal]

A clean break: The US Patent Office says it will extend for another year its program to fast-track applications for cleantech inventions. [Scientific American]

Now hiring: Sun and wind greeters: Walmart keeps greening up, now with a huge distribution center in Canada with solar panels and wind turbines on its roof. The company says it will be 60 percent more energy efficient than any other Walmart center. [GreenBiz]

This does not compute: Ferrari, Porsche, and Bentley are all coming out with “green” models. [Wall Street Journal]

Randy Rieland is a writer who lives in Washington, D.C., but tries to spend as many weekends as possible at his cottage in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. He also actually remembers the first Earth Day. You can email him at randy.rieland[at]gmail[dot]com.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.