Huffington Post Blog by Dr. Jessica Hellmann
Climate change has been in the headlines for years. I tell my undergraduate students that the U.S. has been discussing climate change for their entire lives. It was 1992 when countries around the world came together in Rio de Janeiro and committed to preventing dangerous climate change. At that time, the U.S. ratified an international agreement that Americans, together with other rich countries, would take the lead in greenhouse gas emission reduction, but so far, we've done little to follow through on that commitment. The climate change issue lingers. Uncertainty about what to do and when to do it seems to plague our politics and our dinnertime conversations. Many of us have simply put our head in the sand. It would just be a lot easier if we could pretend that it isn't true.
That might be about to change. This week we expect a major statement, an encyclical, from Pope Francis about environmental protection and its significance to the Church, and we expect climate change to feature prominently in it.
I am not a theologian and can't comment on the religious dimensions of what Pope Francis is likely to say, but I have been studying climate change for decades. As a scientist I know that it is time to heed the Pope's words and embrace his call to action.
There are many reasons why the Pope is concerned about climate change, and why you should care about it too. The science is not as controversial as you may have heard. Well-funded campaigns have been effective in confusing the public about climate change and science itself is poorly equipped to explain its findings to the public. Nothing in science is ever completely certain, but what we know about climate and human-caused climate change is about as certain as science gets. Atmospheric chemists understand well that carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases increase global average temperature, and climate observations, coupled with climatological models, tell us that the that the beginning effects of climate change are already happening around the world.
That's not to say that there isn't plenty of debate in climate science -- there is, and the debate is important because we are still learning about the local consequences of climate change, about where the greatest risks to climate change lie, and about crucial developments in the climate system that may intensify or soften the impact of greenhouse gases.
We have much to discover yet, but the science debate is simply not as uncertain as many newspapers, and many politicians, would have you believe. Many species and ecosystems will decline from climate change. Patterns of plants and animals around the globe are determined mainly by two forces: the effect of history, and the effect of climate. Species adapt to particular climates, whether they be hot and dry desert plants or salt and cold-tolerant marine fish. This means that when the climate changes, nearly everything on Earth is affected. Plants and animals will track the change in climate if they can, and if they cannot, they will decline and may even become extinct. We worry about some life forms that well reflect and take advantage of change: pests and disease, for example. We also worry that other species that filter our water, and provide us life-giving service as well as with our cultural heritage may decline. If only 10 percent of species now alive cannot adjust to climate change and go extinct (a conservative estimate of possible extinction, by the way) we would lose as many of 1,000,000 of our fellow earthlings. Climate change is not just about saving nature; it also is about saving people.
While humans inhabit almost the entire globe, we still live at the mercy of the climate. It brings the water -- not too little not to much -- that makes agriculture possible. It also brings natural disasters that threaten lives and livelihoods. The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, for example, reminds us that the greatest vulnerability to climate change is in the least developed parts of the world, places where public health, agricultural practices, access to clean water, and other basic capacities related to climate are limited. The Index shows that it would take more than 100 years for poorer countries to be as ready for climate change as developed countries are already. We cannot wait 100 years; the effects of climate change are appearing now, and will be even more conspicuous in the coming decades. We need rapid investment to resist the effects of climate change in hundreds of countries around the world. And while ahead of the developing world, hurricane Sandy and the California drought show that wealthy countries like the U.S. have much adaptation to do too.
Climate models suggest that we are dangerously close to a global tipping point, a level of greenhouse concentration in the atmosphere that will produce catastrophic amounts of climate change, but our fate is not sealed. We can do something about it.
Many of the technologies that we could effectively use to solve the climate crisis are already available. They just need the right political stimuli, the right economic incentives, to be put into place. Consumers need access to climate-smart energy alternatives. Economies that can provide such alternatives and develop clean, sustainable energy production are more likely to the lead the world in economic growth. The same goes for adapting to climate change: better incentives and understanding of climate change risk can drive investment that can both save lives and promote sustainable economic development. We are running out of time, but hope is not yet lost.
These are things that Pope Francis knows, and you should know them, too. With knowledge comes responsibility for action, a responsibility that the Pope will certainly insist that Catholics, and all human beings, must take up. We should listen carefully to what he has to say.
Pope Francis is expected to warn that climate change is largely the result of human activities
Pope Francis will go head-to-head with climate change sceptics this week when he issues a keenly awaited encyclical on the environment, in which he is expected to blame global warming on human activities.
What is the best place to weather climate change? Research by the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, or ND-GAIN, suggests it is Scandinavia. In a pinch, though, any developed country will do. As these maps by ND-GAIN illustrate, developed countries are far less vulnerable than developing countries to the risks of climate change.
ND-GAIN ranks 175 countries both by vulnerability and readiness to adapt to climate change. The group measures vulnerability by considering the potential impact of climate change on six areas: food, water, health, ecosystem service, human habitat and infrastructure. The readiness rank weights portions of the economy, governance and society that affect the speed and efficiency of adaptation projects.
The areas in red, including most of Africa and South Asia, are very vulnerable to climate change and ill-prepared to deal with its impact. The few countries in blue, including Vietnam, Ghana, Rwanda, Namibia and Botswana, are countries that are vulnerable but are relatively well equipped. Countries in yellow are less vulnerable but also less prepared. The countries in green, which include most of the world’s developed countries, are both less vulnerable and better equipped to deal with the challenge of climate change.
Here is the map broken down by readiness, with green indicating “more ready” and red indicating “less ready”:
And here is the map for vulnerability:
According to the index, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden and Finland are best equipped to deal with the pressures of climate change, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Burundi and Chad are the worst equipped.
The results of a new report show which countries are the most vulnerable to risk—and the most ready to respond when disaster strikes.
Bigger storms and more flooding are some of the most most obvious ingredients in the risk stew brewed up by climate change. But what happens after the storms subside? What about all the secondary and tertiary effects of climate change? What about the challenge of finding the money or doing the infrastructural planning necessary to adapt to a changed environment, or the political stability and leadership to see a country through a time of dire food or water scarcity?
That's the kind of cause-and-effect planning that the Global Adaptation Index or GAIN has been doing since 1995. Every year GAIN, which was based in DC until it moved to become part of Notre Dame two years ago, publishes a report that ranks every country in the world on a scale from 1 to 100. The metrics that determine a country's score are twofold: First, how vulnerable is the country to climate change, defined as "sensitivity to climate, population, infrastructure and resource stress, as well as the country's adaptive capacity to those stresses"? And second, how prepared is the country to deal with those risks, in terms of "social, governance and economic factors"?
The idea is to give leaders the ability to gauge and assess how a particular country will respond to the rising tides, and all the chaos they bring with them. In November, the group met for its annual meeting to release its latest report—and the results are fascinating, if troubling.
1) We're all better prepared today than 20 years ago
GAIN has been doing its rankings since 1995, and a comparison between the earliest and most recent risk maps show us that the world, in large part, is better prepared than it was in the 1990s.
2) Norway is the most prepared of all
Yep, the country with the 7th longest coastline in the world is also the most prepared for climate change. In fact, the report points out, it's been #1 for preparedness for two decades, thanks to high scores for food stability, healthcare, access to clean water, and energy infrastructure.
3) The most at-risk countries are war-torn (and mostly land-locked)
The countries most at risk and least prepared are in Africa, and all of them have been destabilized by war—from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Chad, which occupies the last spot on the list. Most have a dearth of agricultural and medical resources combined with infrastructural and political insecurity.
4) Russia and China are getting better, Jordan is getting worse
In its release notes, GAIN points out the countries that have risen the highest and dropped the lowest. While Russia and China are improving, Jordan fell by 31 points—seemingly because of its low scores when it comes to fresh water access and dam capacity, a big issue for plenty of Middle Eastern countries.
5) If you're looking for a safe haven, go to Scandinavia
Norway won the day, but all of Scandinavia made it into the top ten, alongside other Northern European countries, the US, Germany, and Australia and New Zealand. "Many do face moderate exposure to climate change, but they have good capacities to deal with the potential climate risks, including high access to amenities such as electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water," a release explains.
An index developed at the University of Notre Dame is giving us a glimpse of what countries are the best and worst to live in based on their ability to cope with the impacts of climate change.
The rankings come from the so-called ND-GAIN index, which is based on the vulnerability and readiness of each country to adapt to climate change's impacts.
Vulnerability to climate change is based on six factors: food, water, health, ecosystem service, human habitat and infrastructure. The readiness index is made up of three components: economic readiness, governance readiness and social readiness.
A formula is then used to come up with the overall rating for each country around the world on a scale of 0 to 100.
All but one of the top five best countries are located in Europe. The United States ranked eighth.
Of the top 10 worst countries, eight are located in Africa.
Originally published at edu.sina.com.cn
Climate change experts have released maps of the world revealing how prepared different countries are to cope with the effects of climate change。
In the maps, 192 countries are ranked by their ‘vulnerability’ and ‘readiness’, to produce an overall judgement on their fate。
The results reveal that Scandinavian countries and the UK are among the most likely to survive - butareas of sub-Saharan Africa will be hardest hit。
The maps were created by London-based company The Eco Experts, using data from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, known as the ND-GainIndex。
这张地图由伦敦The Eco Experts公司制作，数据来自印第安纳州的诺特丹大学，被称作ND-Gain Index。
They took into account location,terrain, pollution rates and national resources when calculating which countries would be most affected。
Countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark score well on the scale。
But places like Central America,Africa and India all appear at risk from natural disaster - and are poorly equipped to cope, said The Eco Experts。
|COUNTRIES THAT WILL BE MOST AND LEAST AFFECTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE
|1 - Norway
|82.7||1 – Chad
|2 - New Zealand
|3 - Sweden
|81.6||2 - Burundi
|4 – Finland
|81.5||4 - Democratic Republic of Congo
|5 – Denmark
|81.4||4 - Central Africa Republic
|6 – Australia
|80.1||6 – Sudan
|7 - United Kingdom
|80.0||7 – Niger
|8 - United States
|78.9||7 – Haiti
|9 – Germany
|9 – Iceland
|78.8||10 - Guinea-Bissau
Jon Whiting, of The Eco Expertswarned: ‘Hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, droughts and flooding are all real dangers for some of these areas, and this is compounded by a lack of national strategy to counteract the effects.’
The Eco Experts专家Jon Whiting警告说：“飓风、地震、暴风雪、干旱和洪水会严重威胁这些地区，而国家应对措施的缺失更会加剧这一风险。
Burundi, Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo produced some of the lowest scores, meaning these countries will be the biggest victims of weather disasters。
The map is based on data compiled by the ND-Gain index, which has been monitoring 45 internal and external indicators of climate change exposure of 192 countries since 1992.
这张图的数据来自于 ND-Gain index。自1992年以来，ND-Gain index就通过观察45个内部和外部指标，来评判全球192个国家的气候变化情况。
The index is built on two variables; ‘vulnerability’ and ‘readiness’ for which a country gets a separate mark for each. These scores tally up to produce an overall total indicating howa particular nation would fare。
On the scale, the country best equipped to cope with the effects of climate change was Norway. In fact, Norway has topped the ranking every year since the Index began in 1995.
Most countries across Europe will be not be severely affected by climate change, according to the map. It takes into accounts many factors such as access to clean drinking water and the risk of heat waves。
But places in sub-Saharan Africa (shown upper) will be most affected by a warming climate, while some countries in America like Bolivia (below) will also also be severely affected by global warming。
North America will also apparently be able to cope with the effects of climate change, thanks to high readiness scores for the USA and Canada。
Asia has a wide range of scores for different countries, owing to the vastly different climates and levels of infrastructure in various countries. Surprisingly, Australia comes out fairly well in the map, despite being a notoriously hot country。
Various islands such as Haiti will be severely affected by climate change, perhaps due to the effects of rising sea levels. Others like Barbados, though, will apparently avoid some of the worst effect。