A one sized approach by the national government will not work. Scientists the region criticized Vientnam’s guiding climate plan, stating that it doesn’t address local issues or impacts.
Dr Duong Van Ni of Can Tho University said that different approaches were needed for each locality because the impact of climate change varied from area to area within the country.
“The risks from climate change include higher sea levels. But the upper part of the Mekong River is also affected, which means the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta needs a clear strategy to have reserves of fresh water,” he said.
“Water volume from the upper to the lower part has changed dramatically in recent years due to climate change and changes made in the upper basin. This could lead to a major water shortage in the next 20 years,” Ni added.
Prof Le Huy Ba, former lecturer at HCM City Industry University, said the ministry’s report incorrectly separated the two issues of climate change and the environment.
He said the report had an “inaccurate scientific approach” that focused on prevention rather than adaptation.
Ni of Can Tho University said the major risk from climate change is the spread of disease from rising temperatures and different weather conditions.
“There will be more mosquitoes because of increased flooding,” he said. Ni also said that the proposal focused on the delta’s inland areas but ignored the sea areas around the region.
You should by now have heard about the famine developing in the Sahel region of West Africa. Poor harvests and high food prices threaten the lives of some 18 million people. The global price of food is likely to rise still further, as a result of low crop yields in the United States, caused by the worst drought in 50 years. World cereal prices, in response to this disaster, climbed 17% last month.
We have been cautious about attributing such events to climate change: perhaps too cautious. A new paper by James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, shows that there has been a sharp increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers. Between 1951 and 1980 these events affected between 0.1 and 0.2% of the world’s land surface each year. Now, on average, they affect 10%. Hansen explains that “the odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small”. Both the droughts in the Sahel and the US crop failures are likely to be the result of climate change.
But this is not the only sense in which the rich world’s use of fuel is causing the poor to starve. In the United Kingdom, in the rest of the European Union and in the United States, governments have chosen to deploy a cure as bad as the disease. Despite overwhelming evidence of the harm their policy is causing, none of them will change course.
Biofuels are the means by which governments in the rich world avoid hard choices. Rather than raise fuel economy standards as far as technology allows, rather than promoting a shift from driving to public transport, walking and cycling, rather than insisting on better town planning to reduce the need to travel, they have chosen to exchange our wild overconsumption of petroleum for the wild overconsumption of fuel made from crops. No one has to drive less or make a better car: everything remains the same except the source of fuel. The result is a competition between the world’s richest and poorest consumers, a contest between overconsumption and survival. There was never any doubt about which side would win.
I’ve been banging on about this since 2004, and everything I warned of then has happened. The US and the European Union have both set targets and created generous financial incentives for the use of biofuels. The results have been a disaster for people and the planet.
Already, 40% of US corn (maize) production is used to feed cars. The proportion will rise this year as a result of the smaller harvest. Though the market for biodiesel is largely confined to the European Union, it has already captured seven per cent of the world’s output of vegetable oil. The European Commission admits that its target (10% of transport fuels by 2020) will raise world cereal prices by between 3 and 6%. Oxfam estimates that with every 1% increase in the price of food, another 16 million people go hungry.
By 2021, the OECD says, 14% of the world’s maize and other coarse grains, 16% of its vegetable oil and 34% of its sugarcane will be used to make people in the gas guzzling nations feel better about themselves. The demand for biofuel will be met, it reports, partly through an increase in production; partly through a “reduction in human consumption.” The poor will starve so that the rich can drive.
The rich world’s demand for biofuels is already causing a global land grab. ActionAid estimates that European companies have now seized five million hectares of farmland – an area the size of Denmark – in developing countries for industrial biofuel production. Small farmers, growing food for themselves and local markets, have been thrown off their land and destituted. Tropical forests, savannahs and grasslands have been cleared to plant what the industry still calls “green fuels”.
When the impacts of land clearance and the use of nitrogen fertilisers are taken into account, biofuels produce more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels do. The UK, which claims that half the biofuel sold here meets its sustainability criteria, solves this problem by excluding the greenhouse gas emissions caused by changes in land use. Its sustainability criteria are, as a result, worthless.
Even second generation biofuels, made from crop wastes or wood, are an environmental disaster, either extending the cultivated area or removing the straw and stovers which protect the soil from erosion and keep carbon and nutrients in the ground. The combination of first and second generation biofuels – encouraging farmers to plough up grasslands and to leave the soil bare – and hot summers could create the perfect conditions for a new dust bowl.
Our government knows all this. One of its own studies shows that if the European Union stopped producing biofuels, the amount of vegetable oils it exported to world markets would rise by 20% and the amount of wheat by 33%, reducing world prices.
Preparing for the prime minister’s hunger summit on Sunday, the international development department argued that, with a rising population, “the food production system will need to be radically overhauled, not just to produce more food but to produce it sustainably and fairly to ensure that the poorest people have the access to food that they need.” But another government department – transport – boasts on its website that, thanks to its policies, drivers in this country have now used 4.4 billion litres of biofuel. Of this 30% was produced from recycled cooking oil. The rest consists of 3 billion litres of refined energy snatched from the mouths of the people that David Cameron claims to be helping.
Some of those to whom the government is now extending its “nutrition interventions” may have been starved by its own policies. In this and other ways, David Cameron, with the unwitting support of various sporting heroes, is offering charity, not justice. And that is no basis for liberating the poor.
Bill McKibben for Rolling Stone, Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math
If you only occasionally read articles on climate change, make time for this one. Two degrees is the agreed upon number that the global average temperature cannot rise above or else we will face catastrophe, and 565 gigatons is the amount of carbon dioxide we can pump into the atmosphere without going over two degrees celsius - probably. The amount of carbon located in the fossil fuel industry reserves, which they plan to burn and on which their entire fortune lies, is five times more than what we can safely release, coming in at 2,795 gigatons.
Greenhouse gases from man-made sources are putting a lot of extra energy into the atmosphere. In fact, the radiative forcing of all the CO2 humans have dumped into the air is equal to about 1 million Hiroshima nuclear bombs per day.
Scientists often compare that extra energy to a baseball slugger on steroids. While it’s difficult to look at a specific home run and say steroids were the only reason it happened, it’s much easier to show that the drugs increased the likelihood the ball made it over the fence. The same is true for climate steroids like CO2. All that extra energy in the atmosphere increases the probability and intensity of extreme weather events, making the droughts, storms and wildfires Americans are facing this summer far more likely and far more destructive.
The article includes this excerpt from a PBS interview with Kevin Trenberth, a scientists with the National Center for Atmospheric Research:
“It’s easy to break an individual record because the weather system happens to be at that particular location. With an unchanging climate you expect that the number of highs and the number of low temperature records are about the same. And that was the case in the 1950′s, 60′s and 70′s. And then by the 2000′s, we were breaking high temperature records at a ratio of 2 to 1 over cold temperature records. But this year, we’ve been breaking high temperature records at a rate of about 10 to 1. Ironically, there are still some cool spots — mainly in the Pacific Northwest and cold temperature records continue to be broken. So breaking records is not an indication of climate change, but breaking records at a rate of 10 to 1 versus the cold records, that’s a clear indication of climate change.”
“This is a view of the future, so watch out.”