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Research – The weather affects us all…. but it affects some more than others

Posted in Research by Ferne Edwards on April 6th, 2007

by Ferne Edwards, Sustainable Melbourne moderator

A draft of the not yet released International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report obtained by The Age suggests what Melbournians can expect for their children’s futures. Cited in The Age (Minchin, L. "The meek shall inherit the Earth", The Age, 31/3/2007, p.5), Mr Hennessy, acting head of the CSIRO’s climate impacts group, states that "The biggest issue across Australia is water…" estimating that in 23 years time "There will be a lot less water in the dams because of lower river flows". He continues, “Melbourne would still be affected indirectly from increasing frequency and severity of droughts, through things like rising food prices and water restrictions”.

Sounds bad? Well consider people in developing countries who scientists expect to receive the brunt of the global impact.  As recognised by Revkin in his article, "Reports from Four Fronts in the War on Warming", global warming is unfair. People in developing countries carry the heaviest burden of the world’s environmental problems due their geography, lack of wealth and history. Rather than experiencing merely the "unpleasant" indirect consequences of drought, Revkin traces how poverty, overdependence on a single crop and lack of governance in developing countries such as Malawi, excerabate peoples ability to adjust to climate change. Likewise in India, excessive flooding and inadequate urban planning cause death – "In 2005, 37 inches of rain in 24 hours crippled the country’s commercial capital, Mumbai, killing 400 people" (Revkin, A. "Reports from Four Fronts in the War on Warming, New York Times, 3/4/2007).

Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Report who was in Canberra this week, argues that the financial and human costs of "not cutting greenhouse gas pollution are too high to be ignored". Although we will probably not suffer if we do not act as much as people in the developing world, we are in this together and we must act.

What you doing to cut your carbon emissions? Do you know of or are involved with any programs to help people in the developing world cope with the effects of climate change? Feel free to comment on www.SustainableMelbourne.com.

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