Climate change is the greatest challenge facing the world today. Long-term development planning must now include measures to deal with it.
Displaying 1-18 of 18 key documents
Source: UNESCO International Hydrological Programme | July 2012
This collection of papers was presented at a conference on linkages between climate change, water, conflict and migration, held in September 2011 at The Hague, in the Netherlands, where the discussion focused on: capacity building and resilience in climate hotspots; conflict prevention; and a legal framework to protect environmental migrants.
The publication includes a conference summary and a background document providing an overview of how climate change, water stress and environmental problems are increasingly seen as major threats to human security. Also included are papers that explore connections between these issues from the perspective of vulnerability; put forward a research and capacity-building agenda for climate-induced migrations; and review current literature, evidence and implications for policymaking on the environment, climate change and human displacement.
Source: ICRISAT | January 2012
This paper looks at how climate change could affect the rate of phenological development — biological events related to climate, such as flowering — and rainfall patterns during the growing season. The authors suggest that these changes may result in mismatch between water demand by crops and water availability from rainfall.
The paper describes a project that combines a new analysis of meteorological data with previously published data on climatic changes to assess the expected consequences of this mismatch for food security.
The authors illustrate how understanding how key crops might be affected by climate change in the Asia-Pacific region can help farmers, community workers and policymakers to prepare and adapt. Strategies include timing of planting, managing rainwater resources, use of new varieties, alternate crops and shifts in geographic distribution of crops.
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
In this review article, published after the Fukushima accident, medical scientists examine published information on the short- and long-term health risks of exposure to ionising radiation. The article describes two previous nuclear accidents — at Three Mile Island in the USA, and Chernobyl in Ukraine — and explains the types and doses of radiation that can damage biological systems. It discusses the mechanisms behind exposure, and radiation-induced illness and injury, including long-term cancer risks. The authors also review measures that can be taken to reduce the effects of radiation exposure, including potassium iodide tablets used in the aftermath of Chernobyl. The article stresses that clear communication on radiation exposure levels and health risks is a key component of the response to a nuclear incident.
This review article, published before the accident at Fukushima, discusses the immediate and long-term prospects of nuclear power development to meet future carbon-free energy needs. It explores opportunities and constraints of generating a nuclear power 'renaissance', and puts forward six possible options for building a sustainable nuclear energy industry.
The authors say that nuclear technology is at a crossroads, and if it is to move forward a two-stage strategy is needed. The first stage must involve developing or extending the life of the world’s existing nuclear plants over the next two years, to improve their efficiency and reliability. In the second stage, after 2030, the industry should look to build new nuclear power stations with large-scale fuel cycles that may include fuel reprocessing. They highlight measures that, if taken now, could make nuclear a viable energy option in the future.
Source: AdaptAfrica | June 2011
This report documents the proceedings of the AfricaAdapt 2011 Climate Change Symposium that include research, experiences and knowledge about how to coordinate efforts to address climate change in Africa in anticipation of negotiations at COP-17 to be held in Durban, South Africa.
It includes summaries of and links to presentations, experience notes and comments offered by participants, as well as photos, videos and reports from the symposium's interactive plenary sessions. The topics covered include community-led responses to climate change and the role of media in translating and sharing information about climate change.
The report highlights ten overarching conclusions and lessons learned from the research presented. These include the need for improved research into indigenous knowledge and deeper links between adaptation, mitigation and low-carbon development; creating more African forums for knowledge sharing; and strengthening the availability of non-Anglophone researchers and practitioners.
AfricaAdapt is a network dedicated to promoting and facilitating the sharing of knowledge on climate change adaptation in Africa.
Source: Elsevier | May 2010
This special issue of the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability presents a collection of interdisciplinary scientific articles and commentary on biodiversity. It includes new research in key areas such as food security and climate change.
It also reviews major initiatives that will be released or discussed during 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity. These include the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a new remote sensing project called the Group on Earth Observations — Biodiversity Observation Network, and key issues such as access and benefit sharing.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) | January 2010
This article, written by scientists in Niger and the United States, assesses the suitability of solar-powered irrigation for improving food security in rural regions of West Africa. The authors describe an irrigation system that combines drip irrigation with a photovoltaic solar-powered water pump, and test its efficacy and impact through household surveys and field data. They find that solar-powered drip irrigation is cost-effective and significantly boosts household incomes and nutritional intake.
Source: Renewable Energy | December 2009
This article assesses the practicality and affordability of solar systems for small businesses in remote rural areas. The authors did this by monitoring the use of six 'productive use containers' — shipping containers converted into solar-powered business centres — and surveying local entrepreneurs in a rural part of South Africa. The authors find that the containers offer significant benefits to local communities, including improved communications and higher incomes.
Source: Consilience | February 2008
This article assesses the benefits and drawbacks of using solar home lighting to supply energy to rural villages in India. The author suggests that these systems can meet all a village's lighting needs and have other benefits including better education, lower costs and reduced reliance on kerosene. But the systems are also susceptible to damage, with component parts often needing replacing or repair. The author highlights the need for financial support to disseminate solar home lighting — be it through microfinance or government subsidies.
Source: International Institute of Economic Development (IIED) | November 2009
This special issue of the journal Participatory Learning and Action highlights community-based approaches to climate change adaptation. It showcases methods to make scientific data accessible to communities, integrate scientific and indigenous knowledge, and plan adaptation measures. It highlights the challenges ahead, including ensuring effective participation and building the capacity of local organisations and governments.
Source: Environmental Research Letters | March 2009
This journal article describes the first climate-based model used to predict outbreaks of dengue fever. Researchers from the University of Miami and the University of Costa Rica used climate data and vegetation indices from Costa Rica to predict disease outbreaks with 83 per cent accuracy.
Globally, there are up to 100 million cases of dengue fever, and its more dangerous form, dengue haemorrhagic fever, every year. The spread of dengue fever is set to rise as the world's climate changes. The importance of this model is that it could be used as the basis for an early warning system to prevent the spread of the disease by warning populations that are at risk.
The indices used in the model include variables such as El Niño Southern Oscillations and sea surface temperature, which affect populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the infection.
Source: Nature | August 2005
A population's immunity to disease can greatly affect outbreaks of vector-borne disease, and isolating the influence of climate variability has proven difficult. This research study sets out to evaluate the effect of climate by accounting for population immunity.
The authors collated data on cholera cases from a predominant strain in the rural area of Matlab, Bangladesh, from 1966–2002. They used a model to incorporate immunity from previous infections and also potential cross-immunity from previous infections by other strains. They found that both forms of immunity were long-lasting — over 10 years in some cases. Yet the variation in transmission did not always match variations in immunity; at several points, it coincided with severe weather change such as monsoon rains or river overflow.
The authors suggest that forecasting disease will require considering climate variability alongside population susceptibility.
Source: Current Science | February 2006
The authors of this article analysed simulation results from a regional climate model for the northern Indian Ocean to predict likely changes in the strength and frequency of tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal from 2041–2060.
They find that rising concentrations of greenhouse gases will lead to more frequent cyclones in the region, particularly during the post-monsoon period. In addition, the number of intense cyclones and storm surges will increase. These results are consistent with other trend analyses that show intensification of cyclones in the bay during the last century.
But the research described in this paper only deals with simulations from one future climate scenario. To obtain better regional climate projections, the authors suggest it is necessary to examine simulations from more scenarios.
Source: Nature | September 2008
The authors of this article use satellite data to examine trends in the maximum intensities that cyclones can achieve during their lifetimes.
Results from previous analyses of tropical cyclone trends have been questioned due to a lack of consensus regarding data reliability. Moreover results have not been matched to theory because the focus has mainly been on changes in mean tropical cyclone statistics.
In this article, the authors conclusively show significant increases in the maximum wind speeds achieved by the strongest cyclones across all ocean basins except the South Pacific Ocean, with the largest increases occurring over the North Atlantic and northern Indian Oceans.
These findings are consistent with the idea that as seas warm, cyclones become more intense because the ocean has more energy that can be converted to tropical cyclone wind.
Source: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research | January 2004
Geological carbon sequestration remains an attractive climate change mitigation option. But there are uncertainties and complexities surrounding the legality of projects aiming to sequester carbon this way. This working paper reviews the legal issues concerning geological carbon sequestration in the offshore waters surrounding the United Kingdom.
Geological carbon sequestration aims to prevent emissions from entering the atmosphere by capturing CO2 at source. Unlike carbon sequestration by forests, where CO2 already in the atmosphere is taken up, geological sequestration is classed as an emission reduction at the source. From a legal perspective, different locations of the sea are subject to different prescriptions under international law, but it is individual nations who have the greatest amount of jurisdiction and control over waters closest to the shore. There two key legal questions in this regard. Is CO2 a waste, and hence, can we consider it as dumped? And what is the pathway of CO2 at the storage site? This paper finds that long term storage should be considered dumping, and that existing legal tools do not properly address the pathways involved in CO2 transport.
This working paper explores an area of research that has not been considered in detail to date. While the results are specific to the EU, the content is relevant globally. It is important reading for anyone interested in the frontiers of current carbon sinks research.
Concerns over climate change may soon force drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. In response to this challenge, it may prove necessary to render fossil fuels environmentally acceptable by capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide until other inexpensive, clean and plentiful technologies are available. In this Science review article, Klaus S. Lackner gives a detailed overview of the various options available for carbon sequestration, highlighting the pros and cons of each.
Source: Nature | November 2001
The authors report new data showing that the western side of the north Greenland ice sheet is thinning much more than anticipated from previous studies.
Source: Nature | September 2002
The author summarises the current state of knowledge regarding uncertainties in modelling future climates, and describes how several scientific approaches are being taken to address these issues.