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Climate change threatens agricultural crisis: UN
Gordon Bell, Reuters via Yahoo! News
Immediate steps are needed to avert a potential catastrophe as climate change dries up water resources in drought affected areas, hitting poor farmers, a
United Nations report said on Thursday.
The vast majority of the world's malnourished people, estimated at about 830 million people, are small farmers, herders and farm laborers, pointing to devastating effects from global warning and requiring a tripling of yearly farming aid to poor countries.
"Climate change threatens to intensify water insecurity on an unparalleled scale," the annual U.N. Human Development Report said.
"Even with drastic reductions in carbon emissions, past emissions mean that the world now has to live with dangerous climate change."
Higher temperatures and less rainfall will cut water to some of the world's most water-stressed areas, while water flows will become less predictable and more subject to extreme events.
East Africa, the Sahel and southern Africa will see huge rainfall reductions with productivity losses in basic foods.
Projections for rain-fed areas in East Africa -- already suffering damaging drought and hunger -- point to potential productivity losses of up to 33 percent in maize and more than 20 percent for sorghum.
(9 Nov 2006)
Related from the BBC: Global climate efforts 'woeful'.
Water Flow in China's Yellow River Hits Record Low
Reuters via Planet Ark
BEIJING - Water levels in the upper reaches of the Yellow River, China's second longest, have hit a historic low, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday, after a senior official warned that China might run out of water by 2030.
Hot weather and low rainfall led to the dry-up, with water flow over the first 10 months of the year down nearly 33 percent from the long-term average.
The river, which supplies water to over 150 million people and irrigates 15 percent of the country's farmland, is also at serious risk from over-exploitation, Li Guoying, director of the Yellow River Conservancy Committee, told Xinhua.
Nearly two-thirds of the river's water is used for residential and industrial supplies, while international guidelines suggest a 40 percent limit, Li said.
(8 Nov 2006)
Expert says oceans are turning acidic
Anthony Mitchell, AP via Yahoo! News
The world's oceans are becoming more acidic, which poses a threat to sea life and Earth's fragile food chain, a climate expert said Thursday.
Oceans have already absorbed a third of the world's emissions of carbon dioxide, one of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming, leading to acidification that prevents vital sea life from forming properly.
"The oceans are rapidly changing," said professor Stefan Rahmstorf on the sidelines of a U.N. conference on climate change that has drawn delegates from more than 100 countries to Kenya. "Ocean acidification is a major threat to marine organisms."
(9 Nov 2006)
Billions Needed to Climate-Proof Africa
Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service (via Common Dreams)
Climate change will devastate Africa without substantial help from the world community, according to a new report released at the opening of a major U.N. climate change conference in Nairobi, Kenya Monday.
"Africa is the least responsible for climate change but will be hit the hardest," said Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
New scientific data shows that Africa is more vulnerable to the impacts than previously thought, Nuttall told IPS from Nairobi.
Seventy million people and 30 percent of Africa's coastal infrastructure face the risk of coastal flooding by 2080 linked to rising sea levels, the report found. More than one-third of the habitats that support African wildlife could be lost. Crop yields will fall due to warmer temperatures and more intense droughts.
By 2025, some 480 million people in Africa could be living in water-scarce or water-stressed areas.
"If Africa's weather gets any more fickle, then they are in very deep trouble," said Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace International. Sawyer is one of 6,000 people in Nairobi attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
(7 Nov 2006)