UN Reform and WORLD Climate Change
January 2, 2007 9:24pm CST
World Climate Change;VIEW: Africa, climate change, and the G-8 summit —Jeffrey Sachs VIEW: Africa, climate change, and the G-8 summit —Jeffrey Sachs/ I have edited his work to make it fit the page the original is at the web address below. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_2-3-2005_pg3_5 Daily Times - All Rights Reserved Site developed and hosted by WorldCALL Internet Solutions Failures of rainfall contribute not only to famines and chronic hunger, but also to the onset of violence. When violence erupts in water-starved regions such as Darfur, Sudan, political leaders tend to mobilise peacekeepers, international sanctions, and humanitarian aid. But Darfur needs a development strategy. Soldiers cannot keep peace among desperately hungry people G-8 British Prime Minister Tony Blair has declared that the two issues at the centre of the G-8 summit this July will be African poverty and global climate change. These may seem to be distinct issues. In fact, they are linked. Failures of rainfall contribute not only to famines and chronic hunger, but also to the onset of violence when hungry people clash over scarce food and water. When violence erupts in water-starved regions such as Darfur, Sudan, political leaders tend to view the problems in narrow political terms. If they act at all, they mobilise peacekeepers, international sanctions, and humanitarian aid. But Darfur, like Tigre, needs a development strategy to fight hunger and drought even more than it needs peacekeepers. Soldiers cannot keep peace among desperately hungry people. One Course of Action One course of action must be to help impoverished African regions to “adapt” to climate change and to escape the poverty trap. Water-stressed regions like Ethiopia and Sudan can adapt, at least in part, through improved technologies such as “drip irrigation,” rainwater harvesting, improved water storage facilities, deep wells, and agro-forestry techniques that make best use of scarce rainfall. Better land-management practices (the re-planting of degraded forests, for example) can recharge underground water aquifers. Poor countries cannot afford these technologies on their own. Nor should they have to. Help for poor countries in Africa and elsewhere to adapt to climate change should not be described as charity or aid, but rather as compensation for damages being imposed on the poorest people on the planet. Greater help for these countries to escape from extreme poverty has been promised for decades but has not been delivered. In addition to adapting to climate change, the world must also reduce future risks to the planet by cutting back on emissions of greenhouse gases, which are the source of man-made climate change. While adaptation to climate change is necessary — because it is already occurring — this is not enough. If the world fails to mitigate future climate change, the effects of rising temperatures, increasing droughts, more numerous and severe tropical storms, rising sea levels, and a spread of tropical diseases will pose huge threats to the entire planet. The famines in Ethiopia and the violence in Darfur suggest what can lie ahead. The best way to reduce long-term climate change is to reduce carbon emissions. There are at least three options: shift to non-carbon energy sources such as solar or nuclear energy; capture and dispose of the carbon dioxide emitted at carbon-based power plants; economise on energy use, for example by shifting to hybrid automobiles and trucks. Most likely, all three of these methods will have to play a role. The effort to reduce greenhouse gases will require decades of action, but, given the long lead times in overhauling the world’s energy systems, we must start now. Rich countries need to lead the way. It is ironic that the United States, which portrays itself as a friend of democracy and impoverished countries, gives the smallest share of its GNP in aid among the rich countries, and also refuses to participate in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is especially ironic because African countries like Ethiopia stand steadfastly and bravely with the US in the fight for freedom and against terrorism, even as they struggle with hunger, disease, and famine. Moreover, countries like Ethiopia are making valiant, indeed remarkable, efforts to overcome their problems, despite the lack of adequate, and long-promised, help from the world’s richest countries. Africans suffering from hunger and drought, and indeed poor people everywhere, have a right to ask much more of the US and other rich countries. Tony Blair is right to call on his rich-country colleagues to follow through on their unfulfilled promises. —DT-PS Jeffrey Sachs is professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University Floods kill over 200 in Afghanistan 20 Mar 2005 07:27:00 GMT Source: Agency KABUL, March 20 (Reuters) - Floods caused by torrential rains and melting snow have killed more than 200 people and destroyed thousands of homes in several parts of Afghanistan over recent days, officials said on Sunday. After the worst winter for a decade, there were always fears that the spring thaw would result in flooding from rivers running down from Afghanistan's mountain ranges. Several hundred people were killed by the severe winter weather and the unlucky country had earlier suffered almost six years of drought. The area worst hit by flooding was Deh Rawud district in the rugged central Uruzgan province, where the Helmand River burst its banks, destroying villagers' mud walled homes, inundated farmland and swept away cattle, sheep and goats. "The deaths of 115 people have been confirmed... while thousands of homes have been destroyed,"," Uruzgan's governor Jan Mohammad Khan said, adding that many more people were missing. As rain continued to pour in Uruzgan, U.N. spokeswoman Ariane Quentier said some five tonnes of food supplies from the World Food Programme were airlifted to the stricken areas along with tents and plastic sheeting, and another five tonnes of food supplies were on the way. The U.S. military also sent blankets, wheat flour, cooking oil and biscuits, and a spokesman said U.S. forces were on standby, awaiting any further request for assistance from Afghan and U.N. authorities managing the relief effort. The western provinces of Farah and Herat were also hard hit. In Farah, Governor Assadullah Falah said 68 people died as a result flooding, while officials reported 40 more deaths in Faryab and Ghor provinces. "We have reports of total destruction of 7,800 houses in Farah," Falah said, adding that large numbers of livestock had been killed. Some 2,500 houses had collapsed in Herat province. Most houses in Afghanistan are built from mud and are highly vulnerable to flooding. Local officials also reported an outbreak of dysentery and diarrhoea in Herat's mountainous and inaccessible Pashtun Zarghoon area.