Effects of Climate Change Today

Over 100 years ago, people worldwide began burning more coal and oil for homes, factories, and transportation. Burning these fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These added greenhouses gases have caused Earth to warm more quickly than it has in the past.

How much warming has happened? Scientists from around the world with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tell us that during the past 100 years, the world's surface air temperature increased an average of 0.6° Celsius (1.1°F). This may not sound like very much change, but even one degree can affect the Earth. Below are some effects of climate change that we see happening now.
Sea level is rising. During the 20th century, sea level rose about 15 cm (6 inches) due to melting glacier ice and expansion of warmer seawater. Models predict that sea level may rise as much as 59 cm (23 inches) during the 21st Century, threatening coastal communities, wetlands, and coral reefs.
Arctic sea ice is melting. The summer thickness of sea ice is about half of what it was in 1950. Melting ice may lead to changes in ocean circulation. Plus melting sea ice is speeding up warming in the Arctic.
Glaciers and permafrost are melting. Over the past 100 years, mountain glaciers in all areas of the world have decreased in size and so has the amount of permafrost in the Arctic. Greenland's ice sheet is melting faster too.
Sea-surface temperatures are warming. Warmer waters in the shallow oceans have contributed to the death of about a quarter of the world's coral reefs in the last few decades. Many of the coral animals died after weakened by bleaching, a process tied to warmed waters.
Heavier rainfall cause flooding in many regions. Warmer temperatures have led to more intense rainfall events in some areas. This can cause flooding.
Extreme drought is increasing. Higher temperatures cause a higher rate of evaporation and more drought in some areas of the world.
Ecosystems are changing. As temperatures warm, species may either move to a cooler habitat or die. Species that are particularly vulnerable include endangered species, coral reefs, and polar animals. Warming has also caused changes in the timing of spring events and the length of the growing season.
Hurricanes have changed in frequency and strength. There is evidence that the number of intense hurricanes has increased in the Atlantic since 1970. Scientists continue to study whether climate is the cause.
More frequent heat waves. It is likely that heat waves have become more common in more areas of the world.
Warmer temperatures affect human health. There have been more deaths due to heat waves and more allergy attacks as the pollen season grows longer. There have also been some changes in the ranges of animals that carry disease like mosquitoes.
Seawater is becoming more acidic. Carbon dioxide dissolving into the oceans, is making seawater more acidic. There could be impacts on coral reefs and other marine life.

Climate Chang

Climate change is already happening and represents one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats facing the planet. The European Union is committed to working constructively for a global agreement to control climate change, and is leading the way by taking ambitious action of its own.

The warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level. The Earth's average surface temperature has risen by 0.76° C since 1850. Most of the warming that has occurred over the last 50 years is very likely to have been caused by human activities.

In its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), published in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that, without further action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the global average surface temperature is likely to rise by a further 1.8-4.0°C this century, and by up to 6.4°C in the worst case scenario. Even the lower end of this range would take the temperature increase since pre-industrial times above 2°C - the threshold beyond which irreversible and possibly catastrophic changes become far more likely.

Projected global warming this century is likely to trigger serious consequences for mankind and other life forms, including a rise in sea levels of between 18 and 59 cm which will endanger coastal areas and small islands, and a greater frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Q&A on Climate Change:
1 What makes the climate change?
2 How is climate changing and how has it changed in the past?
3 How is the climate going to change in the future?
4 What impacts of climate change have already been observed?
5 What impacts are expected in the future?
6 How do people adapt to climate change?
7 What are the current trends in greenhouse gas emissions?
8 What actions can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
9 How can governments create incentives for mitigation?
10 Conclusion

Provided by GreenFacts

Human activities that contribute to climate change include in particular the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture and land-use changes like deforestation. These cause emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main gas responsible for climate change, as well as of other 'greenhouse' gases. To bring climate change to a halt, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced significantly.

The European Union has long been at the forefront of international efforts to combat climate change and has played a key role in the development of the two major treaties addressing the issue, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol, agreed in 1997.

The EU has been taking serious steps to address its own greenhouse gas emissions since the early 1990s. In 2000 the Commission launched the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP). The ECCP has led to the adoption of a wide range of new policies and measures. These include the pioneering EU Emissions Trading System, which has become the cornerstone of EU efforts to reduce emissions cost-effectively, and legislation to tackle emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

Monitoring data and projections indicate that the 15 countries that were EU members at the time of the EU's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 will reach their Kyoto Protocol target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This requires emissions in 2008-2012 to be 8% below 1990 levels.

However, Kyoto is only a first step and its targets expire in 2012. International negotiations are now taking place under the UNFCCC with the goal of reaching a global agreement governing action to address climate change after 2012.

In January 2007, as part of an integrated climate change and energy policy, the European Commission set out proposals and options for an ambitious global agreement in its Communication "Limiting Global Climate Change to 2 degrees Celsius: The way ahead for 2020 and beyond".

EU leaders endorsed this vision in March 2007. They committed the EU to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% of 1990 levels by 2020 provided other developed countries commit to making comparable reductions under a global agreement. And to start transforming Europe into a highly energy-efficient, low-carbon economy, they committed to cutting emissions by at least 20% independently of what other countries decide to do.

To underpin these commitments, EU leaders set three key targets to be met by 2020: a 20% reduction in energy consumption compared with projected trends; an increase to 20% in renewable energies' share of total energy consumption; and an increase to 10% in the share of petrol and diesel consumption from sustainably-produced biofuels.

In January 2008 the Commission proposed a major package of climate and energy-related legislative proposals to implement these commitments and targets. These are now being discussed by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, and EU leaders have expressed their wish for agreement to be reached on the package before the end of 2008.

10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? Staff members at the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental organization, share ideas on how to GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN at home and at work.

Climate change is in the news. It seems like everyone's "going green." We're glad you want to take action, too. Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably. Let's start now.

We've partnered with the Million Car Carbon Campaign to help you find ways to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. This campaign is uniting conscious consumers around the world to prevent the emissions-equivalent of 1 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year.

Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life.

Save energy to save money.

Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.

Save water to save money.
Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.

Less gas = more money (and better health!).

World Watch Magazine
Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.

Eat smart.
If you eat meat, add one meatless meal a week. Meat costs a lot at the store-and it's even more expensive when you consider the related environmental and health costs.
Buy locally raised, humane, and organic meat, eggs, and dairy whenever you can. Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy.
Watch videos about why local food and sustainable seafood are so great.
Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain [pdf]. This is especially true for seafood.

Skip the bottled water.
Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.

Think before you buy.

Low Carbon Energy Report
Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
When making purchases, make sure you know what's "Good Stuff" and what isn't.
Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.

Borrow instead of buying.
Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.

Buy smart.

Climate Change Reference
Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).

Keep electronics out of the trash.
Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
Recycle your cell phone.
Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.

Make your own cleaning supplies.

Join the Million Car Carbon Campaign by purchasing your Earth-Aid kit today.
The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.

Bonus Item!
Stay informed about going green. Sign up for our weekly newsletter or subscribe to World Watch, our award-winning magazine.

WATER causes Global Warming

Water heating

Illustration of Someone Being Reminded to Keep Their Shower Short

Which appliance and fuel?

Every 15 litres of hot water used from an electric water heater generates about one kilogram of greenhouse gas.
  • Buying an energy-efficient water heater that uses a low greenhouse impact fuel is a great start to saving greenhouse gases.
  • Gas water heaters carry energy labels to help you choose an efficient model. Avoid units with continuous pilot lights and save $40 and 200 kilograms of greenhouse gas each year.
  • When selecting a hot water system, ensure its size suits your needs—larger tanks lose more heat but supply more hot water.
  • If you have a solar hot water service, switch off the booster in the sunny months.
  • Electric hot water service units made since 1999 lose 30% less heat because of Minimum Energy Performance Standards.
Greenhouse gas emissions from an electric HWS
(based on 140 litres usage per day)
Chart Showing Percentage of Emissions from Different Activities

Use less hot water

Avoid 5 minutes of hot water rinsing every day and save half a tonne of greenhouse gas each year. Water efficient taps can also save hot water and greenhouse gas: save up to a kilogram of greenhouse gas for every five minutes of tap use.
  • Showers are the biggest user of hot water in most homes. Install a 3 star rated water-efficient showerhead and save more than half a tonne of greenhouse gas each year if you have an electric hot water service. They will also save many dollars in hot water bills and pay for themselves very quickly.
  • Take shorter showers: you’ll save up to half a kilogram of greenhouse gas for every minute.
  • Avoid using small amounts of hot water if cold water will do. Each time you turn on the hot water tap, a litre or more of cold water that had been heated but has cooled in the pipes runs down the sink before hot water is delivered. Doing this just 10 times a day will generate about 200 kilograms of greenhouse gas each year if you have electric hot water.
  • Avoid rinsing dishes under running hot water: it uses far more hot water than putting the plug in and using some water in the sink—and often the job can be done by scraping or rinsing with cold water.
  • If you’re going away for more than a few days, switch off your hot water systems and save 1.4 kilograms per day you are away.

Capture heat before it is lost

  • Reduce heat losses from an electric storage heater by wrapping the tank with extra insulation: save up to half a tonne of greenhouse gas each year. An insulated outdoor unit will need to be protected from the weather.
Illustration of a Dripping Tap
Fix dripping hot taps: save up to 100 kilograms of greenhouse gas each year for each tap.
  • Fix dripping hot taps: save up to 100 kilograms of greenhouse gas each year for each tap.
  • If the overflow pipe from a hot water service dumps more than a bucket of water each day, call a plumber and save hundreds of kilograms of greenhouse gas each year.
  • When using a mixer tap for cold water, position the lever as far right as possible. Otherwise you will be wasting hot water, as most mixer taps begin blending hot water with cold as soon as they are moved from the ‘hard right’ position.
  • If you have gas hot water, you save about one third of the amounts of greenhouse gas quoted above, which apply to electric hot water. Solar water heating can generate even lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Design for water and energy efficiency

  • When installing a hot water service, position it so that pipes to outlets used a lot are as short as possible. This will minimise water, energy and time. Long pipes can waste thousands of litres of water and half a tonne of greenhouse gas each year.
  • Avoid installing a continuously circulating hot water pipe loop. They waste large amounts of heat and cost a lot to run. If long pipes can’t be avoided, investigate the use of ‘on-demand’ pumps.
  • Ensure exposed hot water pipes are well insulated, with insulation at least 10 millimetres thick.

Which hot water service will you buy?

Tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions
(average emissions for a medium-sized Sydney household)
Comparison of Hot Water Services


Even slowing the amount of clearing of tropical forests could significantly cut the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, international experts say in a new study.

Deforestation in the tropics accounts for nearly 20 percent of carbon emissions caused by human activities, said Pep Canadell of the international scientific body Global Carbon Project and the CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research.

"If by 2050 we slow deforestation by 50 percent from current levels...this would save the emission of 50 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere," he said.

The aim was also to stop deforestation when 50 percent of the world's tropical forests remained. This would avoid the release of the equivalent of six years of global fossil fuel emissions, Canadell said.

The findings were published on Friday in the international journal Science from the first study of its kind by Canadell, of Australia's government-backed Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and an international team of experts from the United States, Britain, Brazil and France.

Tropical deforestation released 1,5 billion tonnes of carbon each year into the atmosphere, the study showed.

"This will release an estimated 87 to 130 billion tonnes of carbon by 2100, which is greater than the amount of carbon that would be released by 13 years of global fossil fuel combustion," Canadell said.

Forests soak up vast amounts of carbon dioxide, which is released again when the land is cleared and burned.

The study shows tropical forests will continue to accumulate carbon, although they could become less efficient sponges as global temperatures rise from climate change. This reverses previous belief, Canadell told Reuters.

He said the research showed the need to preserve tropical forests such as those in the Amazon and Indonesia.

Indonesia's rainforests - especially those on Borneo island - are being stripped so rapidly because of illegal logging and palm oil plantations for biofuels, they could be wiped out altogether within the next 15 years, some environmentalists say.

Indonesia has a total forest area of more than 225 million acres, or about 10 percent of the world's remaining tropical forest, according to Rainforestweb.org, a portal on rainforests.

"If we invest in keeping climate change under control...it makes sense to invest in keeping that huge amount of carbon that's stored in the tropics," he told Reuters.

Copenhagen. Sunday December 20, 2009
At the eleventh hour of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, after 14 days of frustrating negotiation, contention, oration, and demonstration, personal negotiations between U.S. and Chinese leaders created an unexpected and possibly breakthrough outcome. Most of the 35,000 registered attendees gathered for the last two weeks were hopeful, but concerned throughout the COP-15 that no strong, legal agreement would be reached. This turned out to be true. On Saturday, the conference ended with a short note on the UN climate convention website, signaling both the lack of a binding agreement and a new direction for the major greenhouse polluters:
Advance unedited version
Decision -/CP.15
The Conference of the Parties
Takes note of the Copenhagen Accord of 18 December 2009.
That is the entire official record of the action, or as many saw it, inaction, taken by COP-15 on an international plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. The Conference of the Parties (COP), this huge meeting of 193 nations, the governing body of the UN climate convention, ended its long anticipated fifteenth meeting in Copenhagen without a negotiated, agreed to, and binding decision on firm targets, dates, and financing for slowing global warming.

“Takes note of …” means the COP recognizes that the three-page Copenhagen Accord, which President Barack Obama and leaders of China, India, South Africa, and Brazil agreed to on Friday but did not sign, has been proposed as a plan. Climate convention Secretary Yvo DeBoer called it a letter of intent. Negotiations based on it (and possibly on other proposals, such as the much more stringent limits proposed by cop 15Tuvalu and the African and island states) are to proceed through 2010. A final consensus decision with binding targets and dates will have to wait at least another year, until the COP meeting currently scheduled for next fall in Mexico. Many nations and human rights and environmental groups expressed their frustration over this delay; signs appeared around the halls: "Not Done Yet."
However COP-15 was successful in a very important way: Friday’s dramatic arrival and 13-hour involvement by President Obama, the presence of China’s Premier Wen Jiabao and of more than 100 other world leaders -- and the fact that major nations including the U.S. and China finally have acknowledged the urgency and stated some national goals to limit climate change -- are the most important advances in the international reaction to global warming since the Kyoto Protocol.
In the words of the Accord: “We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity.”

Before the COP officially ended on Saturday afternoon, many nations indicated that they want to be associated with this plan, agreed to in impromptu meetings between the leaders of just the U.S., China, India, South Africa, and Brazil. The Accord thus partly rescued what had until Friday been a stalled, fractured, and contentious two weeks.
However, how this new Accord is going to drive the world's response to climate change is in question, because it is seriously underpowered. The promises of the major polluting nations and proposals of the Accord fall very short of stopping many very dangerous global warming effects. President Obama acknowledged this in his closing press briefing. Environmentalists earlier had circulated a leaked United Nations analysis of the major proposals presented at COP-15, which said “global emissions will remain on an unsustainable pathway" that could lead to an additional 2.2 o C / 4 o F temperature rise from today.
cop 15
To read more about the COP-15, continue below and visit the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org

Click on this image to go to photo pages
Copenhagen, Friday, December 18, 2009
As the end of the COP-15 climate talks in Copenhagen neared on Thursday, officials cleared the halls of most of the thousands of non-governmental and civic group members, apparently acceding to the security demands of the presidents and prime ministers who were due to speak over the next two days. President Obama is due Friday; China's Wen Jibao was here today.
There were many calls to "Follow the science," from national delegations and environmentalists alike, to insure that any agreement actually would lead to a sharp change in emissions and lower temperatures. The alarms about the dire effects of global warming already evident have been sounding from many prominent scientists. Dr. Jane Lubchenco, oceanographer and now head of NOAA, told not only of the effects science knew to expect such as rising sea level and water temperatures, but also the changes that were unexpected. She warned of new dead zones in coastal waters from decreases in oxygen in the water, and acidification, a serious change in ocean chemistry from the huge amount of CO2 being absorbed by the seas.
Coral reef scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of Australia told me that we have already lost 20 to 30 percent of corals worldwide and that it looked like 70 percent would be gone by mid century. At a major briefing for the press, leaders of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said there had already been "unprecedented changes in the climate system." "CO2 remains in the atmosphere for 1000s of years," read one slide, "causing irreversible changes in the climate and ocean chemistry."
Other scientists, with an eye toward the stalled and compromised agreement from the COP-15 talks, warned that CO2 emissions were "completely out of control" and that there were only "rapidly narrowing options" to slow or stop the negative affects of global warming. Economist and scientist Dr. Richard England of the University of New Hampshire said estimates are there is still time to stop greenhouse gases before reaching what many believe to be the brink of widespread disastrous change -- but at the current rate we have only 20 years before we exceed this limit. We are, he said, moving rapidly "beyond the limit we have experienced on this planet during the civilized era."
Unfortunately, the leading proposals from the nations gathered here were far from enough to keep from breaching some of these limits, according to analysis provided by scientific groups. The major nations say they are aimed at not exceeding 450 parts per million of CO2 in the air and an additional increase in average world temperature of about 1.2 degrees C / more than 2 degrees F. However it appears the COP proposals will not be enough to stop there, and also may not be measurable, reportable and verifiable so we can actually see how we are doing. The science increasingly shows that CO2 levels must DECREASE within only a few decades. Tuvalu and other small and low-lying nations brought a proposal to limit at 350 ppm and no more than an additional 1.3 degrees F. Unchecked, the "out of control" rise of CO2 we are producing now may result in 7 to 10 degrees of additional heat by 2100. The world currently is at 387 ppm of CO2 and has experienced about .8 deg C / 1.4 degrees F rise in average surface temperature since the mid 1800s. The current decade is the hottest in the entire record.
COP 15
Negotiations continue at the Conference of the Parties of the UN Climate Convention ---- COP-15 --- in Copenhagen on Monday December 14. The battle continues between the small states, the most underdeveloped nations and those like Tuvalu in grave danger of increased sea level rise and storms, and the developed countries over the strength of a possible new agreement.
This week the talks reach a climax as the leaders of many nations including the United States join their negotiating teams at the Bella Center and in side meetings. Many US Senators are due in, and of course the entire meeting awaits the appearance of Barack Obama on Friday. By then, it is hoped that most of the framework for the world's official response to increasing global warming will be set: how much the developed world will promise to cut greenhouse gases by 2020 or 2030, the role of the developing world in increasing standards of living for their poor while keeping their contribution to pollution to a minimum, how China and India will react and what they will promise to do, and how funds to help the most at risk and provide less-polluting and carbon-sequestering technologies will be raised and spent.
Right now, the apparent total reductions being promised by the leading industrial nations, as analyzed by non-governmental environmental groups (http://www.climatenetwork.org/eco) is about 8-12 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. 1990 is the agreed baseline in the Kyoto Protocol, which many nations are using as a framework for a continuing agreement. But the most at risk nations, and many scientists, say the reductions in Greenhouse gases must happen much faster --- up to 40 percent under 1990 emission levels within the coming decade. The US negotiators here are following the bill passed by the House this year, claiming about 17 percent below 2005 greenhouse gas levels, which pencils out to only about 3 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 . This unacceptable to many nations -- and to the many thousands of environmental, social and renewable energy groups who are attending COP-15 as observers.
This is the largest COP ever, with 35,000 attendees registered --- the previous high attendance was about 10,000 --- but only 15,000 may enter the Bella Center halls due to fire and safety regulations. This is requiring groups to limit the staffs and volunteers they brought to Copenhagen. Everyone entering must pass through airline-style security, creating blocks long lines to get in. The subway line serving the center (actually above ground at the Bella Center station) was jammed up this morning by the entry lines being backed up to the exit stairways.
In the streets of downtown Copenhagen, even when demonstrators are not present as they were by the 10s of thousands on Saturday, there are reminders everywhere of climate change and the wish for strong, ambitious and binding greenhouse gas reductions to be the final result of the negotiations. Some 10 story buildings are completely covered by banners about the plight of the poor, there are many public photo displays, and both giant inflated balls and huge cubes showing the volume of a ton of CO2. The average American causes more than 20 of these each year --- about 80 times that of a Bangladeshi, for example -- and most people here seem to know the effect of this disparity.
Click this image to go to photos of Night March
Saturday December 12, 2009
Tens of thousands of marchers demanding a cooler world and action from the United Nations climate talks marched about 6 km Saturday from downtown Copenhagen to the conference center where the meetings are taking place. Police said 30,000 took part but organizers claimed many more. The streets were full of costumed, sign carrying people of all ages. They reached the conference center after dark, some carrying small torches. About 900 people were arrested earlier along the route, according to the BBC, from police reports. The marchers were allowed close to the site of the COP-15 climate negotiations, but most delegates used exits far from the crowd or were inside in meetings.
Click this photo to go to images from Copenhagen
Friday 11 December 2009: Copenhagen
It was 6 pm Thursday when I finally got to the climate talks venue in Copenhagen, having been delayed by weather. Delays also abound inside the vast Bella Center, where delegates from 192 nations are in dispute over how much to cut polluting gases and how much money this will cost and for whom. The plenaries -- meetings of all nations -- for both the Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Treaty itself have been suspended from time to time in deadlocks over greenhouse gas reduction and payments for poorer and less developed nations.
Tuvalu lead a group of smaller nations in demanding stronger reductions in emissions by 2020, and that split the bloc of developing nations. Unlike the majority of nations who are trying to keep total emissions this century below 450 parts per million (now at 387 ppm) and a temperature rise of another 2 degrees F, Tuvalu and other low-lying countries want the limit to be 350 ppm at most. The U.S. is negotiating over whether developing nations, including giants India and China, must have stringent reduction targets. Todd Stern, the US Chief Negotiator, told a press conference late Friday that "the U. S. is not going to do a deal (for strong greenhouse gas limits) without developing countries stepping up" with stringent limits also.
The issue of climate justice is very important this year -- the huge disparity from the years of heavy emissions from the 35 or so developed nations, the costs and effects of climate change on poorer nations, and the money it will take to limit emissions and protect billions from advancing sea level and water shortages. In the halls, the sea of about 15,000 attendees is treated to a constant babble of languages, thousand of brochures, and hundreds of skits and demonstrations about climate change.

The Harapan Rainforest Initiative

Sumatra's Rainforests in Crisis:

Indonesia’s shrinking resource
Indonesia’s forests have shrunk dramatically in the past few decades. They have been cut with increasing speed for their timber, and to clear land for agriculture and development. Lowland forest areas have disappeared with particular speed because they are most accessible. They are also among the most

C Artuso
The Rhinoceros Hornbill is the state emblem of Sumatra

commercially attractive forests: Indonesia’s lowland forests contain a large percentage of  Dipterocarps, hardwood trees whose timber fetches high prices on international markets.
The causes of forest loss are complex and interlinked, but a typical story unfolds as follows: Commercial loggers move in first to extract the most valuable tree species for timber and plywood. Then, with roads in place, illegal loggers follow suit and/or companies clear the remaining trees to use them for pulp fibre. Often, forests are burned to clear the ground underneath; such burning gave way to the uncontrolled fires that blanketed Southeast Asia in a deadly haze in 1997. Once forests have been cleared, companies convert them to palm oil or commercial pulpwood plantations.

Sumatra under pressure
Sumatra has been a target for the oil palm, timber and pulp and paper industries because of its easy access and relatively developed infrastructure. Ninety two percent of Indonesia’s oil palm plantations are located in Sumatra. In 1900, Sumatra had 16 million hectares of lowland forest; today that figure has dwindled to a mere 500,000 hectares. Lowland forests in Sumatra are now regarded as among the most threatened forests in the world.
Sumatra has some conservation forests – designated as such by the Indonesian government for conservation of nature and genetic resources. Most protected areas are in hilly regions because lowland forests have been earmarked for development – lowland forests have little formal protection. Satellite analysis shows that even in protected areas, 10% of the land is without forest cover thanks to encroachment and illegal logging.
This depressing outlook could now change, with the advent of Indonesia’s first ‘restoration forest’ in the centre of Sumatra. Harapan Rainforest represents the first block of commercially valuable lowland forest, under private management licence, that is earmarked for ecosystem restoration in Indonesia.