Climate Change Effects In Asia

FACTBOX - Climate change predictions for Asia

Mon Aug 14,

Reuters - Asia, home to more than half the world's 6.3 billion people, could be badly affected by climate change, many experts warn, as the predicted rising sea levels, melting glaciers, droughts, floods, and food and water shortages take their toll.

Here is an overview of how climate change might affect Asia:

TROPICAL STORMS:

- The western Pacific already experiences more typhoons than any other part of the world. Scientists fear Asia will be hit by more frequent and severe storms, the U.S. Climate Institute says.

- While nations like Japan, Korea and Taiwan can afford better protection, others around the Bay of Bengal such as Bangladesh probably will not, and their flat, dense settlements already make them badly susceptible to cyclones.

RISING SEA LEVELS

- India and Bangladesh will have to draw up permanent relocation plans for millions of people as sea levels rise. Around 15 percent of Bangladesh would be under water if the sea level rose by a metre in the next century, a leading climatologist said last year. Japan's major coastal cities, and island nations are also threatened.

- Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and China, could suffer sharp cuts in their gross domestic product because of rising sea levels, the World Bank said in April 2006.

MELTING GLACIERS, SCARCE WATER

- Glaciers around the world have been retreating since the 1850s, as the climate has warmed. Around 67 percent of Asia's Himalayan glaciers in Nepal, west China and north India, are now melting more rapidly because of global warming, conservation group the WWF said in a March 2005 report.

- Their melting poses a major threat to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and parts of China, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says.

- Water scarcity will worsen because seven of Asia's main rivers, including the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra and the Mekong, begin in the Himalayas. Summer glacial meltwater is crucial to hundreds of millions of people downstream, who rely on it for irrigation and hydroelectric power.

- Asia already has 60 percent of the world's population but only 36 percent of the globe's freshwater, the UN World Food Programme has said.
DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHTS

- Northern China, already threatened by the advance of Mongolia's Gobi desert, faces the further loss of arable land to desertification. Warmer winters and less rainfall make topsoil more susceptible to being blown away by strong winds.

- Over a quarter of China's huge landmass is classified as desert, and up to 400 million people are threatened by fast-advancing deserts, Greenpeace said in 2003.


EXTINCTION OF SPECIES

- Climate-related risks to Asia's rich array of species are climbing. As many as 1,250 of India's 15,000 higher plant species are threatened, and similar trends are evident in China, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand, the IPCC said in 2001.

- Many of Asia's mammals and birds are likely to be wiped out because of the combined effects of climate change and habitat fragmentation, the IPCC says.

Sources: Reuters, IPCC, WWF, WFP, Greenpeace
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Do we have a moral obligation to do all we can to help mitigate this crisis? And is there not only one answer to this question? This problem isn't going away, and by our behavior contributing to these conditions, we are morally accountable for the effects of our actions. We do have what we need to alleviate the suffering of millions of people. Will we continue to allow politics to stand in our way? Or will we for once prove that human will is more important and stronger than political powerplaying? My next entry will be on the severe water crisis in China which has left millions without water.

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