A United Nations panel issued a report on February 28 describing the impact of climate change globally, and possible ways of combatting its threat to humanity.
Climate change’s impacts are worse than scientists expected, the panel warned, and will only accelerate. Summarizing its conclusions about the threat:
*Its impacts are increasing rapidly, and some are irreversible.
*It will significantly expand diseases and deaths worldwide, “near to long term.”
*Climate change is already disrupting food, water, and infrastructure systems. Acute lack of food and malnutrition have increased in Africa, Central, and South America.
According to the Washington Post, Page 1, March 1:
“The new U.N. report, ‘Arson of our only home’, found that climate change has:
—Caused a fivefold increase in extreme heat in the world’s biggest cities since 1982.
—Led to local disappearances of more than 400 plant and animal species.
—Driven 20,000,000 people from their homes each year because of weather disasters.
An expert at The Hill newsletter, Saul Elbein, describes what he calls significant lessons reflected in the U.N. study:
- Start now, and urgently. The earlier preventative measures are implemented, the better “because the potential is greater until 2050, when the global population will exceed 9 billion.
- Avoid getting early solutions wrong. Close monitoring is essential. “Adaptation strategies should be shaped by specific geographies.” A good example: “A heatwave has very different impacts on public access to cooling centers and lots of tree cover and green space than citizens living in a concrete-and-asphalt jungle with none of those things.”
- Rapidly urbanizing countries such as India, beware and prepare. Include a complete report on the entire population in your country, rural as well as urban. One idea: a sea wall built to protect coastal cities. This threatens to be a costly solution that poses new risks to people living behind seawalls by destroying coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs.
- Climate action initiatives need to include as many people as possible. Millions are moving to cities from the countryside for the first time. Yet remaining rural populations need ongoing protection, too.
To sum up: “Shifts in most aspects of society are underway,” The Hill concludes, “to build resilience, reduce climate risk to tolerable levels, justly and equitably. No one should be left behind.”
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More