Stress on local action to mitigate the effects of climate change

Safeguarding livelihoods of the affected poor important: N. Ram

CHENNAI: Climate change and the problems associated with it need to be tackled on a global scale but local actions to mitigate its effects are also required, speakers at a symposium said here on Thursday.

SUSTAINABLE STRATEGIES: (From left) Jurgen Porst of the Indo-German Technical Co-operation; C.N. Raghavendran, chairman, CII LEED India; N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu; A. Ramachandran, Director, Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, Anna University-Chennai; and Verena Schuler of BMW at a symposium in Chennai on Thursday.

N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, who chaired a panel discussion on the third day of the symposium organised by the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai, said though no one was satisfied with the Copenhagen summit, it had been useful. But, there were also concerns that the developed world was trying to dilute the content of the talks, both in Copenhagen and, later, in Bonn.

The conflicting points of view discussed at these meetings were a “good thing,” but they would not bode well for the developing nations unless they showed some “backbone” and unity.

Mr. Ram said that it was also important to take into consideration the safeguarding of livelihoods of the poor who were affected by climate change as the official establishment tended to forget them sometimes.

A. Ramachandran, Director, Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, Anna University-Chennai, said the politics involved in global climate change talks was making it difficult to arrive at a consensus.

Instead of waiting for world leaders to come up with an effective global policy, local action towards mitigation of the effects of climate change was essential. In particular, people should focus on helping the ecosystem adapt to climate change while ensuring food security and sustainable development.

He mentioned bio-waste management, water and energy conservation and sustainable agricultural production as areas where mitigation activities could be taken up at the local level.

Jurgen Porst of the Indo-German Technical Co-operation organisation said grassroots activities in water and waste management had resulted in a positive outcome in Bangalore. There was a need to take into account the effects of the measures taken to mitigate climate change. Recycling of lead acid batteries used in place of fossil fuels in transportation and of CFLs used for lighting should also be worked out. .

Verena Schuler of Corporate Strategy and Planning, Environmental, Sustainability and Conservation, BMW, said the carmaker had been working to reduce the lifecycle carbon footprint of a car. This included efficient production of vehicles and research to produce hybrid vehicles. BMW had set the target of 25 per cent reduction (from 2008 figures) in fuel consumption of its cars by 2020.

But, she added that a successful climate change policy required co-operation from all stakeholders including scientists, politicians, the corporate sector and the general public.

C.N. Raghavendran, chairman, CII LEED India, spoke about measures taken by the Green Building Council in India to ensure that energy efficient buildings were created.

Replying to a question on the new Assembly complex, he said it was a “good start,” that a legislative building had obtained ‘gold’ certification.

The symposium was organised with the co-operation of the Centre for Environmental Studies, Anna University-Chennai and the Care Earth Trust.


Impact of climate change on India

Here are the main potential effects of climate change on a country, which is the world’s seventh largest in area and is home to 1.1 billion people, a sixth of humanity.

Reflection due to climate change in INDIA


Various studies show that surface air temperatures in India are going up at the rate of 0.4 degrees Celsius every 100 years, particularly during the post-monsoon and winter seasons. While mean winter temperatures could increase by as much as 3.2 degrees Celsius in the 2050s, summer temperatures could go up by 2.2 degrees Celsius in the 2050s, spurring climate variability.

Extreme temperatures and heat spells could alter patterns of monsoon rains, vital for India’s agriculture and water needs. Scientists warn that India will experience a decline in summer rainfall by 2050. The monsoon accounts for almost 70 percent of the country’s total annual rainfall. Winter rains are also predicted to fall by 10-20 percent. Higher temperatures also mean faster melting of Himalayan glaciers and as the melting season coincides with the monsoon season, any intensification of the monsoon is likely to contribute to flood disasters in the Himalayan catchment.


Agriculture will be adversely affected not only by an increase or decrease in the overall amounts of rainfall, but also by shifts in the timing of the rainfall. Higher temperatures reduce the total duration of a crop cycle, leading to a lower yield per unit area, especially for India’s wheat and paddy crops.

Soil erosion, increased numbers of pests and weeds brought by climate change will also affect agriculture in India. For instance, the amount of moisture in the soil will be affected by changes in factors such as rainfall, runoff and evaporation.

Rising seas

A 10-year study in and around the Bay of Bengal points to the sea rising 3.14 mm a year in the mangrove swamps of the Sunderbans delta against a global average of 2 mm, threatening the low-lying area which is home to about 4 million people.

A trend of sea level rise of 1 cm per decade has been recorded along the Indian coast. The major delta area of the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Indus rivers, which have large populations reliant on riverine resources, will be affected by changes in water regimes, salt water intrusions and land loss.


Rise in temperature and change in humidity will adversely affect human health in India. Heat stress could result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and weaken immune systems. Increased temperatures can increase the range of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, particularly in regions where minimum temperatures currently limited the spread of such diseases.

(Sources: Greenpeace, UNDP, Centre for Science and Environment, ibnlive)

Two-day meet on climate change begins today

60 Vice-Chancellors from various universities will take part

SIVAGANGA: The two-day conference on “Climate change, energy, environment and global impact and the role of higher education institutions” organised by the Alagappa University, Karaikudi, in association with the Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi, will begin at Karaikudi on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters here, P. Ramasamy, Vice-Chancellor, said 60 Vice-Chancellors from various universities of the country, particularly South Zone Universities, would participate in the conference.

They would discuss and disseminate the causes and effects of climatic change and remedies.

Effects to be driven home.

The Alagappa University was taking strenuous efforts to guide the public to take suitable steps themselves for managing the effects of the climate change.

The Vice-Chancellors’ Conference would pave the way to express the relationship between energy use, climate change and global warming.

He said that the Minister for Higher Education, K. Ponmudi, would inaugurate the conference and declare open science block constructed at a cost of Rs.30 crore.

The Controller of Examinations building, Department of English and Foreign Languages block and first floor of the guest house would also be inaugurated.

K.R. Periakaruppan, Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment, K. Ganesan, Higher Education Secretary, and others would participate.

The second leg of the mini-marathon torch run of Alagappa University on the eve of World Classical Tamil Conference, which started from Ramanathapuram, would also be flagged off by Mr. Ponmudy and Mr. Periakaruppan.

Beena Shah, Secretary-General, Association of Indian Universities, and others took part in the press conference.


Famed climber takes climate message to Everest on record 20th ascent

Kathmandu, Nepal – WWF Climate Ambassador and famed mountaineer Apa Sherpa took his climate crusade to the top of the world yet again by unfurling a climate change banner as he reached the Everest summit for a record 20th time on Saturday.

Apa Sherpa on Everest. © WWF Nepal

Apa Sherpa reached the top of Everest for the 20th time at 8:34 a.m. local time.


Last year, during his then record-breaking 19th Everest ascent, Apa had carried another banner to the summit warning the world of the dangerous impacts of climate change in the Himalayas.

Last year, during his then record-breaking 19th Everest ascent, Apa had carried another banner to the Summit warning the world of the dangerous impacts of climate change in the Himalayas.

Following that event, Apa, and fellow Climate Ambassador Dawa Steven Sherpa were actively engaged in the WWF-led Climate for Life Campaign, which led to the Himalayas getting significant attention in the global debate on climate change leading up the climate talks in Copenhagen.

“In 2009, the world gave us massive support when we were involved with Climate for Life with WWF and we are thankful for that support and encouragement; however after Copenhagen, we have felt there is an even greater need to take action against climate change now. The fight must continue,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa, from the Everest Base Camp.

Apa carried the banner during the Eco Everest Expedition, which is led by Dawa Steven Sherpa, who has climbed Everest twice.

The event was part of WWF’s Climate for Life Campaign which extensively raised the issue of the impacts of climate change in the Himalayas in the run up to the Copenhagen COP 15 Summit. The Campaign managed to reach out to a large mass of people in Nepal and beyond with a compelling voice for global action with powerful events – such as having Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal present rocks from the Everest summit to U.S President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“The admirable efforts of Ambassadors like Apa Sherpa truly help in highlighting the human face of the impacts of Climate Change. Such strong voices from vulnerable communities have gone a long way in helping WWF take these messages to the world leaders in a powerful way,” said Tom Dillon, Senior Vice-President, WWF-US.

From WWF

Climate Change Hits the Oceans

When scientists say the planet is warming, they usually point to rising air temperatures as proof. That’s reasonable enough, especially since the warmth of the air temperature affects us directly so we feel the change the scientists are measuring. But it’s also misleading: while the lower atmosphere has been gradually warming over the past 50 years, it happens unevenly, rising sharply for a year or two or even ten, then flattening out. That stutterstep pattern is due to relatively short-lived effects on top of the general warming – an El Nino current in the Pacific making things warmer, for example, or a volcanic eruption like 1991’s Mt. Pinatubo producing a cloud of dust that makes things cooler. Over time, these cancel out, but it can be tempting – though incorrect – to think a temporary flattening means global warming has stopped.

To get a measure of what’s truly going on, scientists look to the oceans – slow to heat up, slow to cool down, and thus less prone to short-term variations. Indeed, says John Lyman an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii, “about 80 or 90 percent of the extra heat absorbed by the planet is absorbed into the oceans.” That being the case, Lyman and several colleagues set about trying to see how the ocean’s heat content has changed over the past couple of decades. The result, appearing in the current issue of Nature, will give little comfort to climate change deniers: the oceans have been warming inexorably since at least 1993, at a rate broadly consistent with what you’d expect from the buildup of greenhouse gases. (See a photo gallery of climate change in Europe.)

There are some uncertainties in the numbers – not surprising, since the new study is essentially a synthesis of earlier papers, done by different groups using different instruments and making different sorts of measurements. “There’s a large amount of error in the data,” admits co-author Josh Willis, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena. “But the signal of global warming is abut six times larger than any uncertainties.” In particular, the so-called “global cooling” climate skeptics claim has been going on since 1998 doesn’t show up. “If you look at our data since 1998,” says Lyman, “it’s warmed significantly.”

The curve does flatten somewhat in 2003 – but that may have to do with things going on in the deep ocean. The sensors involved in the latest research go down only to about 2,300 ft., roughly half the average depth of the world’s oceans. The upper and lower ocean exchange heat just as the ocean and atmosphere do, and nobody really knows what’s happening near the bottom. Less than two months ago, in fact, Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo, both climatologists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado, published a paper in Nature suggesting that some of the extra heat trapped by greenhouse gases has gone missing – and that it might well be hiding in the deep oceans. Part of the problem, Trenberth suggested, was the same sort of incomplete measurements and inconsistencies in data processing Willis and Lyman describe in their own study. (See a special on December 2009’s COP15 Climate-Change Conference.)

Incomplete though the numbers are, however, the results seem reasonably robust – and they’re corroborated by another, entirely different set of measurements. As the oceans warm, they expand; indeed, up to half of sea-level rise comes not from melting glaciers or disappearing ice caps, but from the physical expansion of seawater as it heats up. And like the ocean’s heat content, the rise in sea level is gradual enough that over time, the year-to-year or even decade-long ups and downs disappear into a steady, long-term increase. “A century ago,” says Willis, “sea level was rising at about one millimeter per year. Fifty years ago it was two. And now it’s rising at three millimeters per year.”

In short, the oceans are currently doing the heavy lifting in absorbing trapped heat. Ultimately, though, some of that heat will be transferred back to the air, continuing to warm the places we live even if we manage to stop generating greenhouse gases at such a great rate. That makes it crucial to understand exactly what’s going on offshore. If scientists can refine their measurements, writes Trenberth in a commentary on this week’s Nature paper, “ocean heat content is likely to become a key indicator of climate change.” That key, in turn, may be one more tool to help slow the damage.

From Yahoo