Satellite photos of the river Parrett on the Somerset Levels taken before the recent flooding and on 8 February. Photograph: UK Space Agency/SWNS.com
quinta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2014
Vento forte junta-se à chuva no Reino Unido, provocando um morto.Flooding and storms in UK are clear signs of climate change, says Lord Stern. Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict. / THE GUARDIAN
Enquanto os efeitos devastadores do clima se fazem sentir em Portugal e no Reino Unido, ainda é possível ler OPINIÃO em Portugal onde estes sérios temas na sua associação com o Aquecimento Global, são tratados com a maior das ligeirezas e pseudo - ironia relativizadora ...
Aconselho-os a LER o artigo de Nicholas Stern HOJE no GUARDIAN(em baixo )
António Sérgio Rosa de Carvalho
Vento forte junta-se à chuva no Reino Unido, provocando um morto
AGÊNCIAS 13/02/2014 -
Mau tempo deixou mais de 130 mil pessoas sem electricidade.
Um homem morreu, provavelmente electrocutado, quando tentava retirar uma árvore de cima de cabos de distribuição eléctrica em Wiltshire, no Sudoeste de Inglaterra. Os ventos fortes são agora outra preocupação, a par das cheias, no Reino Unido.
Foram registadas rajadas de vento de mais de 160 quilómetros por hora na parte ocidental de Inglaterra e País de Gales (uma rajada chegou mesmo a
com as autoridades a decretar o alerta vermelho, o grau máximo, para ventos.
No final do dia de quarta-feira, havia mais de 130 mil pessoas sem electricidade, segundo a associação que representa as empresas de fornecimento de energia. Engenheiros já restabeleceram as ligações em 145 mil casas e empresas, acrescentou a associação, e continuavam a trabalhar.
Por outro lado, as cheias não dão sinais de abrandar no Sudoeste de Inglaterra. O responsável do exército que coordena as operações de salvamento e recuperação falou à Reuters de uma “crise natural quase sem paralelo”, e os serviços de emergência disseram ter já retirado mais de 850 pessoas das suas casas ao longo do Tamisa, cujas águas subiram, em alguns locais, ao nível mais alto dos últimos 60 anos. Há registo de inundações em mais de 5800 propriedades.
O mau tempo levou à interrupção da circulação de comboios em algumas zonas, com árvores levadas pelo vento a cair nos carris. Auto-estradas e pontes tiveram também a circulação interrompida.
O primeiro-ministro, David Cameron, prometeu que o dinheiro não seria um problema na ajuda, mas foi criticado por ter demorado a reagir, apenas quando as águas do Tamisa já estavam a subir perto de Londres.
“Este não é um incidente que vá passar a curto-prazo”, disse o director da agência do Governo que gere as crises naturais, numa conferência de imprensa em Londres. “Este é um acontecimento excepcional. As maiores chuvas em Janeiro desde 1776 – e pensamos que é provável que a chuva de Dezembro, Janeiro e Fevereiro seja a mais alta dos últimos 250 anos.”
A área afectada pelas cheias é semelhante à das cheias de 2003, e nos próximos dias pode chegar a níveis registados pela última vez há 70 anos. Esta quinta-feira, 16 localidades estavam com avisos de alerta máximo para cheias, um nível que implica perigo de morte, e havia centenas de avisos e alertas para cheias menos graves. Esperava-se ainda que na sexta-feira e o fim-de-semana houvesse um agravamento das chuvas.
A associação britânica de seguradoras estimou os custos dos danos em 429 milhões de libras (quase 520 mil euros) e anunciou que só fará nova estimativa quando as águas começarem a descer.
Um antigo ministro do Ambiente, John Gummer, um conservador que lidera o comité sobre Alterações Climáticas na Câmara dos Lordes, disse que os efeitos do mau tempo foram exacerbados por 30 anos de desinvestimento e gestão mal organizada da resposta às cheias.
Peritos dizem que as cheias deverão ter efeitos na recuperação económica britânica, mas não serão suficientemente graves para a pôr em causa, garantem.
Flooding and storms in UK are clear signs of climate change, says Lord Stern
Author of 2006 report says recent weather is part of international pattern and demonstrates urgent need to cut carbon emissions
theguardian.com, Thursday 13 February 2014 / http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/13/flooding-storms-uk-climate-change-lord-stern
The devastating floods and storms sweeping Britain are clear indications of the dangers of climate change, according to Lord Stern, the author of a 2006 report on the economics of climate change.
Writing in the Guardian, the crossbench peer said the flooding and storm damage demonstrate the need for Britain and the rest of the world to continue to implement low-carbon policies to reduce the probability of greater tragedies in the future.
He said the five wettest years and the seven warmest years in the UK have happened since 2000, which is explained by a clear body of evidence showing that a warmer atmosphere contains more water and causes more intense rainfall. When this is combined with higher sea levels in the English Channel, the risk of flooding increases.
Recent UK weather is part of an international pattern of extreme weather which proves the dangers of climate change and the need to cut carbon emissions, Stern said.
"If we do not cut emissions, we face even more devastating consequences, as unchecked they could raise global average temperature to
4C or more above pre-industrial
levels by the end of the century.
"The shift to such a world could cause mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people away from the worst-affected areas. That would lead to conflict and war, not peace and prosperity."
Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, noted that Australia has just had its hottest year on record, Argentina one of its worst heatwaves in late December, while parts of Brazil were struck by floods and landslides following record rainfall.
He said that delay is dangerous: "Inaction could be justified only if we could have great confidence that the risks posed by climate change are small. But that is not what 200 years of climate science is telling us. The risks are huge."
Britain must continue to implement the 2008 Climate Change Act, he said. This commits the UK to cut its emissions by at least 80% by 2050.
Stern said that the risks were greater than he anticipated in his 2006 report for the government. "Since then, annual greenhouse gas emissions have increased steeply and some of the impacts, such as the decline of Arctic sea ice, have started to happen much more quickly.
"We also underestimated the potential importance of strong feedbacks, such as the thawing of the permafrost to release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, as well as tipping points beyond which some changes in the climate may become effectively irreversible."
Satellite image shows scale of storm that hit the UK. Photograph: Neodass/University of Dundee/PA
Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict
Extreme weather events in the UK and overseas are part of a growing pattern that it would be very unwise for us, or our leaders, to ignore, writes the author of the influential 2006 report on the economics of climate change
The Guardian, Friday 14 February 2014 / The Guardian / http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/13/storms-floods-climate-change-upon-us-lord-stern
The record rainfall and storm surges that have brought flooding across the UK are a clear sign that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.
Many commentators have suggested that we are suffering from unprecedented extreme weather. There are powerful grounds for arguing that this is part of a trend.
Four of the five wettest years recorded in the UK have occurred from the year 2000 onwards. Over that same period, we have also had the seven warmest years.
That is not a coincidence. There is an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, in line with what is expected from fundamental physics, as the Met Office pointed out earlier this week.
A warmer atmosphere holds more water. Add to this the increase in sea level, particularly along the English Channel, which is making storm surges bigger, and it is clear why the risk of flooding in the UK is rising.
But it is not just here that the impacts of climate change have been felt through extreme weather events over the past few months. Australia has just had its hottest year on record, during which it suffered record-breaking heatwaves and severe bushfires in many parts of the country. And there has been more extreme heat over the past few weeks.
A ship washed ashore by typhoon Haiyan at Anibong in Tacloban, Philippines, 5 February 2014. Photograph: Mark Tran for The Guardian
Argentina had one of its worst heatwaves in late December, while parts of Brazil were struck by floods and landslides following record rainfall.
And very warm surface waters in the north-west Pacific during November fuelled Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall anywhere in the world, which killed more than 5,700 people in the Philippines.
This is a pattern of global change that it would be very unwise to ignore.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last September pointed to a changing pattern of extreme weather since 1950, with more heatwaves and downpours in many parts of the world, as the Earth has warmed by about 0.7C.
The IPCC has concluded from all of the available scientific evidence that it is 95% likely that most of the rise in global average temperature since the middle of the 20th century is due to emissions of greenhouse gases, deforestation and other human activities.
The upward trend in temperature is undeniable, despite the effects of natural variability in the climate which causes the rate of warming to temporarily accelerate or slow for short periods, as we have seen over the past 15 years.
If we do not cut emissions, we face even more devastating consequences, as unchecked they could raise global average temperature to
4C or more above pre-industrial
levels by the end of the century.
This would be far above the threshold warming of
2C that countries have already
agreed that it would be dangerous to breach. The average temperature has not
above pre-industrial levels for about 115,000 years, when the ice-caps were
smaller and global sea level was at least five metres higher than today.
Sussex police search and rescue officers evacute residents through a flooded street in Egham, Surrey. Photograph: Sang Tan/AP
The shift to such a world could cause mass migrations of hundreds of millions of people away from the worst-affected areas. That would lead to conflict and war, not peace and prosperity.
In fact, the risks are even bigger than I realised when I was working on the review of the economics of climate change for the UK government in 2006. Since then, annual greenhouse gas emissions have increased steeply and some of the impacts, such as the decline of Arctic sea ice, have started to happen much more quickly.
We also underestimated the potential importance of strong feedbacks, such as the thawing of the permafrost to release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, as well as tipping points beyond which some changes in the climate may become effectively irreversible.
What we have experienced so far is surely small relative to what could happen in the future. We should remember that the last time global temperature was
different from today, the Earth was gripped by an ice age.
So the risks are immense and can only be sensibly managed by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which will require a new low-carbon industrial revolution.
History teaches us how quickly industrial transformations can occur through waves of technological development, such as the introduction of electricity, based on innovation and discovery.
We are already seeing low-carbon technologies being deployed across the world, but further progress will require investment and facing up to the real prices of energy, including the very damaging emissions from fossil fuels
Unfortunately, the current pace of progress is not nearly rapid enough, with many rich industrialised countries being slow to make the transition to cleaner and more efficient forms of economic growth.
The lack of vision and political will from the leaders of many developed countries is not just harming their long-term competitiveness, but is also endangering efforts to create international co-operation and reach a new agreement that should be signed in Paris in December 2015.
Christian Gander makes his way through floodwater as he leaves his home on Waterworks Road in Worcester. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA
Delay is dangerous. Inaction could be justified only if we could have great confidence that the risks posed by climate change are small. But that is not what 200 years of climate science is telling us. The risks are huge.
Fortunately poorer countries, such as China, are showing leadership and beginning to demonstrate to the world how to invest in low-carbon growth.
The UK must continue to set an example to other countries. The 2008 Climate Change Act, which commits the UK to cut its emissions by at least 80% by 2050, is regarded around the world as a model for how politicians can create the kind of clear policy signal to the private sector which could generate billions of pounds of investment. Weakening the Act would be a great mistake and would undermine a strong commitment made by all of the main political parties.
Squabbling and inconsistent messages from ministers, as well as uncertainty about the policies of possible future governments, are already eroding the confidence of businesses. Government-induced policy risk has become a serious deterrent to private investment.
A car lies half submerged after the Thames flooded in Datchet, Berkshire. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Instead, the UK should work with the rest of the European Union to create a unified and much better functioning energy market and power grid structure. This would also increase energy security, lower costs and reduce emissions. What better way is there to bring Europe together?
The government will also have to ensure the country becomes more resilient to those impacts of climate change that cannot now be avoided, including by investing greater sums in flood defences.
It should resist calls from some politicians and parts of media to fund adaptation to climate change by cutting overseas aid. It would be deeply immoral to penalise the 1.2 billion people around the world who live in extreme poverty.
In fact, the UK should be increasing aid to poor countries to help them develop economically in a climate that is becoming more hostile largely because of past emissions by rich countries.
A much more sensible way to raise money would be to implement a strong price on greenhouse gas pollution across the economy, which would also help to reduce emissions. It is essential that the government seizes this opportunity to foster the wave of low-carbon technological development and innovation that will drive economic growth and avoid the enormous risks of unmanaged climate change.
• Nicholas Stern is chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE and president of the British Academy.