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Intolerance to inaction on climate change: Modi can be the difference maker

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The attacks overshadowed the G20 summit as they will the Paris climate change talks two weeks from now. However, if the climate summit ends without any legally binding and ambitious treaty, the global community would certainly repeat President Obama’s statement, albeit replacing the word “terrorism” with “climate change”.

US President Barack Obama made his emblematic statement at the G20 summit in Turkey on November 15 that the Paris attacks were an “attack on the civilized world. If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States”.

Minutes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 60,000-strong audience at London’s Wembley stadium, terrorists struck in Paris, just across the English Channel with deadly bombs and gunfire.

Modi, in his speech, had said: “It is the responsibility of every human living in this world to fight global warming and terrorism…India will show the world the path to fight both.”

While the climate messiah, former US Vice President Al Gore, has described global warming as “inconvenient truth”, Modi has demonstrated, when he was chief minister of Gujarat, by implementing ambitious renewable energy projects there, that the mitigation of global warming is in fact, a “convenient action”.

The convenient action was, however, lacking in the informal meeting of the 62 ministers, hosted by the French government, in Paris November 8-10.

The objective was to avail the final opportunity before the Paris summit to bridge the nagging gaps in the negotiating debates.

When the meeting ended, the inconvenient truth seems to have emerged that there are very few items of agreement among the participants.

It started emerging that legally binding targets would not be decided in Paris but over the years that would follow.

The last high-level opportunity to converge on certain seminal issues seems to have been lost.

The political momentum, particularly in committing to ambitious targets, fairness in delivering climate justice, post-2020 financing for the developing countries and pre-2020 action by the developed countries, has been frittered away.

A day after the start of that meeting, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which monitors global warming, signaled the crying need of action on climate change.

“The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached yet another new record high in 2014…In spring 2015, the global average concentration of CO2 crossed the 400 parts per million (ppm) barrier,” it declared.

Thus, levels of 400 ppm will now be the new “normal” that the world has to live with. At such rising rate, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere will reach to the level of 1200 ppm by the end of this century. And, the global thermometer will show an average temperature rise of about 5 degrees Celsius – against the aimed figure of 2 degrees Celsius.

Sadly, the process of negotiating the treaty in Paris has now become “business-as-usual” diplomacy. Its success elements could include “agreement on continuing post-2015 negotiations” on all major issues of financing and the emission reduction targets.

Modi stands to make the difference at this crucial juncture. He had, in the past, conveyed to the world that two most formidable challenges today are terrorism and climate change.

India is now being hailed globally as a genuine player in addressing climate change, mainly due to its thoughtful INDCs and steps already taken in the area of energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry. It has acquired a legitimate position by declaring that India is not part of the problem but would like to be part of the solution.

As the leader of the world’s largest democracy and a proponent of inclusive development, Modi knows well that addressing climate change means using clean energy that would reduce air pollution – thereby reducing 1.4 million premature deaths in India.

It means enhancing renewable energy generation that would reduce energy-poverty and provide electricity to the remaining 80,000 villages of India.

It means deploying sustainable agricultural practices for farmers to conserve water and quality of soil, increase their income and reduce their suicides.

It means increasing energy efficiency of the air conditioners by us of non-HFC refrigerants to reduce the peak loads during the summer and subsequent power blackouts. It means reducing poverty – the key sustainable development goal in the post-2015 era.

Modi has convinced the world on International Yoga Day. Can he convince the world to be intolerant towards inaction on climate change?

The G20 leaders observed a minute of silence to remember victims of the Paris attacks. Would Modi lead a minute of silence at the Paris climate summit if the world leaders do not agree on an ambitious and legally binding treaty in the December of 2015? Yoga teaches us to be tolerant, but not towards terrorism and inaction on climate change.

(Rajendra Shende, IANS)

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Starfish, Jellyfish To Benefit From Climate Change, Says Study

"These pioneer species are likely to benefit from the opening of new habitats through loss of sea ice and the food it provides."

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Jellyfishes are virtually immortal.
Jellyfishes are virtually immortal.

Seafloor predators and open water feeding animals like the starfish and the jellyfish will benefit from climate change, while those associated with sea ice for food or breeding are most at risk, a study said on Thursday.

Marine Antarctic animals closely associated with sea ice for food or breeding, such as the humpback whale and emperor penguin, are most at risk from the predicted effects of climate change, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

Using risk assessments like those used for setting occupational safety limits in the workplace, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) determined the winners and losers of Antarctic climate change impact, which includes temperature rise, sea ice reduction and changes in food availability.

They show that seafloor predators and open water feeding animals, like starfish and jellyfish, will benefit from the opening up of new habitats.

“One of the strongest signals of climate change in the Western Antarctic is the loss of sea ice, receding glaciers and the break up of ice shelves,” said lead author Simon Morley from the BAS.

“Climate change will affect shallow water first, challenging the animals who live in this habitat in the very near future. While we show that many Antarctic marine species will benefit from the opening up of new areas of sea floor as habitat, those associated with sea ice are very much at risk.”

A growing body of research on how climate change will impact Antarctic marine animals prompted the researchers to review this information in a way that revealed which species were most at risk.

Starfish, jellyfish to benefit from climate change: Study. VOA

“We took a similar approach to risk assessments used in the workplace, but rather than using occupational safety limits, we used information on the expected impact of climate change on each animal,” said seabird ecologist Mike Dunn, co-author of the study, which forms part of a special article collection on aquatic habitat ecology and conservation.

“We assessed many different animal types to give an objective view of how biodiversity might fare under unprecedented change.”

They found that krill — crustaceans whose young feed on the algae growing under sea ice — were scored as vulnerable, in turn impacting the animals that feed on them, such as the adelie and chinstrap penguins and the humpback whale.

The emperor penguin scored as high risk because sea ice and ice shelves are its breeding habitat.

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Dunn added: “The southern right whale feeds on a different plankton group, the copepods, which are associated with open water, so it is likely to benefit. Salps and jellyfish, which are other open water feeding animals are likely to benefit too.”

The risk assessment also revealed that bottom-feeders, scavengers and predators, such as starfish, sea urchins and worms, may gain from the effects of climate change.

“Many of these species are the more robust pioneers that have returned to the shallows after the end of the last glacial maximum, 20,000 years ago, when the ice-covered shelf started to melt and retreat,” said co-author David Barnes.

“These pioneer species are likely to benefit from the opening of new habitats through loss of sea ice and the food it provides.” (IANS)