With a Nobel Peace Prize behind it, it’s back to business for the UN’s climate change watchdog IPCC and its head, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri – starting with today’s dire prediction that even with present efforts to curb global warming, sea levels could still continue to rise for a long, long time.
"The inertia in the system is such that ... the impacts of climate change will continue for a long time," said Pachauri. "In the case of sea level rise it will continue for decades, for centuries or millennia," he told reporters in Geneva during the inauguration of the Global Humanitarian Forum, a new organization for coordinating global humanitarian aid efforts.
In addition, Pachauri emphasized the need to recognize that changes to global climates will most likely increase incidents of human conflicts as resources – such as water and arable land – become scarce, whether it is due to desertification or flooding, or other extreme weather events.
It is something we are now witnessing, for example, in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and especially in the Darfur conflict of Sudan, where water scarcity certainly played a part in escalating desperate bids for survival into all-out genocidal violence.It seems that if we are to have a measure of peace and true progress for all of humanity, it is necessary to strike these conflicts which have their root in poverty – something that large-scale initiatives such as the United Nation’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals are attempting to address. However, Pachauri rightly points out that rapid climate change is threatening this effort to end poverty (and by extension, threatening world peace as well).
In an excerpt of a piece published yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald, Pachauri writes:
Climate change is likely to add to several stresses that already exist in the poorest regions of the world and affect the ability of societies in these regions to pursue sustainable livelihoods.
By 2020 between 75 million and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to an increase in water stress due to climate change in Africa. Coupled with increased demand, this will adversely affect livelihoods and exacerbate water-related problems.
Another sector likely to be affected adversely in some of the poorest regions of the world is agriculture. It has been assessed that agricultural production in many African countries and regions would be severely compromised by climate variability and change.
The area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential - particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas - are expected to decrease. In some countries yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent by 2020.
The cost of mitigation, as assessed by the climate change panel, is very modest in relation to the cost of impacts across the world. If mitigation is not implemented, then income and wealth disparities between nations will increase, and the existence of poverty on a large scale, which should be ethically unacceptable, could pose a threat to global security and stability.
The possibility of large numbers of people becoming environmental refugees is not only a humanitarian problem of serious proportions but also has the potential for social disruption that needs to be avoided.
Stringent mitigation needs to be undertaken immediately, and existing technologies and methods are available for this. Adaptation to climate change, particularly involving the poorest communities in the world, assumes urgency.
::Sydney Morning Herald (full article here)
Image: Lynsey Addario, DarfurDarfur.org