jueves, 8 de agosto de 2013

‘Dangerous Degrees’: Climate change risks prosperity, security and health

August 8, 2013

Dry lake bed caused by prolonged drought in Australia, Creative Commons: Denis Fox, 2006
Today, three Australian leaders, each from different backgrounds, came together in hard hats and fluoro vests to launch a new report by The Climate Institute warning of the ways in which climate change risks the health, prosperity and security of the world.

Entitled Dangerous Degrees: Risking Australians’ prosperity, security, and health,” the report was released by Dr. John Hewson, former Liberal Party leader; Professor Tony McMichael, Australia National University’s Climate Change Institute; and John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute on August 8th at a scientific symposium.

The three had a grave warning for their audience at the report launch:

Carbon pollution in the atmosphere has risen by 40% since the start of the Industrial Revolution. It’s now at levels greater than at any time for least 800,000, possibly millions, of years. We are stumbling blindly into utterly uncharted territory where a few degrees make a world of difference.

The report’s conclusions, supported by a number of other recent studies, show that failure to take prompt action to contain emissions risks the future prosperity, security and health of Australians and the rest of the world. According to research in Nature last month, climate change is projected to cost the world economy $60 trillion. Earlier this week, a report by the Australian Senate said that extreme weather in Australia will intensify, and has already cost the national economy between $900 million and $4 billion annually.

Of important note in “Dangerous Degrees” is the conclusion that Australia is more exposed to climate risks than any other developed nation. If the world remains on track to reach a 3°C of warming by 2050 and 4°C by 2100, Australia could become a net importer of food by 2050 and lose 90% of its irrigated agriculture in the Murray–Darling Basin by 2100. Around 2,000 more temperature-related deaths are expected by mid-century, and around 10,000 more by 2100.

Professor Tony McMichael said:
The symptoms we already see in people beleaguered by bushfire, storms, floods, and drought are the early warming signs. The risks to physical and mental health, as well as community morale, mount with every year we fail to act decisively. Yet, there is still time to avoid much additional human suffering, to realise the health benefits of action, and to restore hope.

While the risks become clearer by the day, the Climate Institute says the political framework for climate action and adaptation remains insufficient to address the challenges ahead — a conclusion reinforced by the Australian Senate report, which says Australia is underprepared for the impacts of just a few degrees of warming. While closing the gap between danger and relative safety is still within reach, it is only possible if action begins now.

Delay in ambitious climate action means higher social, environmental, and economic costs, as well as fewer options. While Australia can count itself among the growing number of nations moving to cut emissions, the political statements made in the run-up to the nearing Australian election aim to water down several important climate policies.

Check out the global climate impacts infographic released with “Dangerous Degrees.”

Credit: The Climate Institute, 2013. Click to see the full size infographic via The Climate Institute.

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