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Climate Change

  • Written by Niamh Griffin

Political will must be mobilised to implement and extend UN climate deal - Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson spoke in Dublin recently on the subject of Climate Justice and Food Security. Also pictured (from left): Dr. Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity; Prof. David Taylor (TIDI and Geography Chair, TCD); and Prof. Patrick Walsh (HDI Director and Chair in International Development Studies, UCD). Photo: Mohd Amir Anwar.Agreement reached at the UN climate conference in Durban this month has been welcomed by former Irish President Mary Robinson.

Dr Robinson said she is relieved the hard-won agreement is legally binding on the 194 countries rather than being a voluntary agreement.

“Now, we must ensure that the necessary political will is mobilised to meet this deadline and to increase the ambition of emissions reductions targets in order to protect the most vulnerable people whose most basic rights to food, water and health are undermined by the impacts of climate change,” she said in a statement.

Negotiations will be carried out by 2015 and implemented from 2020 focusing on finance and development of technology as well as social information according to documents released after the conference.

  • Written by Benjamin Kolb

Eating insects 'could cut greenhouse gas emissions'

Eating insects is common in many parts of the world. Photo: Flickr/katesheets.Dining on crickets, locusts, or even cockroaches, instead of cattle or pigs, could ease both food insecurity and climate change, according to researchers.

Insects caught in the wild are already eaten widely in the developing world. Now a study says that farming them on a large scale for food would damage the environment far less than equivalent livestock production.

Scientists compared emissions, by livestock and by insects, of the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, which have a greater warming effect than carbon dioxide. They also measured ammonia production, which harms the environment by acidifying soil and water.

  • Written by Servaas van den Bosch

Namibia: When every drop counts

The government of Namibia predicts climate change will cause a temperature rise of 2-6°C in Namibia, while annual rainfall could fall by 200mm.All over Northern Namibia farmers tell the same story: the growing season is getting shorter and shorter and the rains more and more unpredictable. The Namibian government is predicting severe effects from climate change.

"The kids drive me crazy," laments Ndaafetwa Hifekepunye. "After going through all that trouble to collect rainwater, they open the tap on the tank and spray the water around. If it wasn’t for that the water would last longer." Then Hifekepunye laughs and asks with a shrug, "What can you do? All children like to play with water." But her smiles fail to hide a sense of desperation.

Yes of course all children play with water, but here - in one of the driest places in Africa – a severe hiding is the appropriate response to such foolishness, Hifekepunye seems to think. Water is precious, not a plaything.

Adapting to a failing rainfall

The Omusati Region of northern Namibia is on the margins of what any farmer would consider arable land, with temperatures routinely hitting 40 degrees Celsius or more and rainfall seldom exceeding a pitiful 270 millimeters per year. To make matters worse 83 per cent of the little rain that does fall evaporates as soon as it hits the ground.

  • Written by Carol Smith

Getting graphical about climate change

Expected impacts of climate change in 2050 (extract). Image: Nieves López Izquierdo, UNEP/GRID-Arendal.Whether you are glued to the final details or were completely uninspired to follow this year’s climate summit, one thing is for certain: you are unlikely to have heard of, much less read, more than a fraction of the reports launched there.

You would not be the only one, however. As the author of one such study reportedly told Earth Journalism Fellow Alexander Kelly last week:

“Negotiators don’t take studies into consideration. You know, you don’t expect them to pick it [the report] up and have it make a difference to what they’re saying now. That takes time.”

Indeed, the author confided that climate conferences actually double as a sort of trade show, a marketplace of ideas, where his particular report (that assesses and rates the vulnerability of 184 countries to different climate impacts) will hopefully make an impression and be stuffed into briefcases and read sooner or later.

  • Written by IRIN jk/mw

Climate change: Adoption policy shift could help the poor

Forests along the Indus have made way for agricultural land, now also flooded. Photo: Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN.[JOHANNESBURG] If the Indus delta in southern Pakistan were protected by mangroves, a few hundred villages would have been saved from the floods, say Pakistani environmentalists.

Thriving mangroves are a sign of healthy ecosystems, which require fresh water and a bit of investment. "Unfortunately we have not had both," said Ghulam Hussain Khwaja, president of Sindh Radiant, an environmental NGO based in the delta region in Pakistan's southern Sindh province.

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