Climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.
It projects that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.
Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year — more than the all present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan's thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year.
It was meant, in Gordon Brown's words, to strike "a global green new deal" to tackle climate change and pull the world out of recession at the same time. In fact, the G20 meeting has sharply put back the chance of an international pact to stop global warming running out of control.
Far from being at the heart of last week's London summit, the looming climate crisis was relegated to a brief, vague and weaselly-worded afterthought at the very end of the communiqué. This has had an immediate dampening effect on negotiations on a new treaty supposed to be agreed at a vital meeting in Copenhagen at the end of the year.
The world's leading scientists yesterday issued a desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change, amid warnings that without action the world faces decades of social unrest and war.
In what was described as a watershed moment, more than 2,500 leading environmental experts agreed a statement that called on governments to act before the planet becomes an unrecognisable – and, in places, impossible – place to live.
After reading about the droughts in two major agricultural countries, China and Argentina, I decided to research the extent other food producing nations were also experiencing droughts. This project ended up taking a lot longer than I thought. 2009 looks to be a humanitarian disaster around much of the world.
To understand the depth of the food Catastrophe that faces the world this year, consider the graphic below depicting countries by USD value of their agricultural output, as of 2006.
The countries that make up two thirds of the world's agricultural output are experiencing drought conditions. Whether you watch a video of the drought in China, Australia, Africa, South America, or the US , the scene will be the same: misery, ruined crop, and dying cattle.
According to a newly published global oil supply report to be presented by the Energy Watch Group at the Foreign Press Association in
"The most alarming finding is the steep decline of the oil supply after peak", warns Jörg Schindler from the Energy Watch Group.
The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.
The shocking landmark will be passed – despite a second record worldwide harvest in a row – because people are becoming too destitute to buy the food that is produced.
At a high-level academic conference on global warming at Exeter University this summer, climate scientist Kevin Anderson stood before his expert audience and contemplated a strange feeling. He wanted to be wrong. Many of those in the room who knew what he was about to say felt the same. His conclusions had already caused a stir in scientific and political circles. Even committed green campaigners said the implications left them terrified.
Anderson, an expert at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, was about to send the gloomiest dispatch yet from the frontline of the war against climate change.
The risk to the UK from falling oil production in coming years is greater than the threat posed by terrorism, according to an industry taskforce report published today.
The report, from the Peak Oil group, warns that the problem of declining availability of oil will hit the UK earlier than generally expected - possibly within the next five years and as early as 2011.
John Kerry, who will lead the US Senate's delegation to the UN's climate meeting in Poznan, Poland, next month, said his country was now in a position to play a leading role on global climate change negotiations. But he also said Obama's administration would be constrained by the economic crisis in offering incentives to countries such as India and China to commit themselves to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Losses are great, and continuous, says the report
It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.
The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forsts perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.
The study, headed by a Deutsche Bank economist, parallels the Stern Review into the economics of climate change.
Between a quarter and a third of the world's wildlife has been lost since 1970, according to data compiled by the Zoological Society of London.
Populations of land-based species fell by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater by 29%, it says.
Humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the "great extinction episodes" in the Earth's history is under way, it says.
Pollution, farming and urban expansion, over-fishing and hunting are blamed.
James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.
Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech (pdf) to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.
Nasa scientist warns the world must urgently make huge CO2 reductions
Dr James Hansen. Photograph: AP Photos/The Daily Iowan/Melanie Patterson
One of the world's leading climate scientists warns today that the EU and its international partners must urgently rethink targets for cutting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of fears they have grossly underestimated the scale of the problem.
In a startling reappraisal of the threat, James Hansen, head of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, calls for a sharp reduction in C02 limits.
Hansen says the EU target of 550 parts per million of C02 - the most stringent in the world - should be slashed to 350ppm. He argues the cut is needed if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed".
A new paper suggests we have been greatly underestimating the impacts of climate change - and the size of the necessary response.
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 3rd July 2007
Reading a scientific paper on the train this weekend, I found, to my amazement, that my hands were shaking. This has never happened to me before, but nor have I ever read anything like it. Published by a team led by James Hansen at Nasa, it suggests that the grim reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change could be absurdly optimistic (1).
The IPCC predicts that sea levels could rise by as much as 59cm this century (2). Hansen’s paper argues that the slow melting of ice sheets the panel expects doesn’t fit the data. The geological record suggests that ice at the poles does not melt in a gradual and linear fashion, but flips suddenly from one state to another. When temperatures increased to 2-3 degrees above today’s level 3.5 million years ago, sea levels rose not by 59 centimetres but by 25 metres. The ice responded immediately to changes in temperature.
Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. It has been shown to be applicable to the sum of a nation’s domestic production rate, and is similarly applied to the global rate of petroleum production. It is important to note that peak oil is not about running out of oil, but the peaking and subsequent decline of the production rate of oil.
It has been shown to be applicable to the sum of a nation’s domestic production rate, and is similarly applied to the global rate of petroleum production. It is important to note that peak oil is not about running out of oil, but the peaking and subsequent decline of the production rate of oil.