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Climate Change Could Lead To More Failed States Warns British FM

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Oct 24, 2006
Global warming is exacerbating disputes over access to water and food resources, and could lead to more failed states, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett warned in an interview published in the Financial Times on Tuesday. "There are nations in a very delicate condition and (global warming) will tip some of them over into being failed states," Beckett told the newspaper in Berlin.

Beckett is making her first visit to the German capital and is expected, the FT said, to use the opportunity to call on Germany to stress climate change as it takes over the presidencies of both the European Union and the Group of Eight industrialised nations grouping next year.

The foreign secretary told the newspaper that, in particular, states in "eastern Europe, Asia and Africa are suffering great tensions", and referred specifically to the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur as an example. She said that water disputes between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were also a concern.

Beckett added that the United States might reverse its stance of opposition to the Kyoto protocol if smaller-scale initiatives being launched within the country are successful.

California, for example, has agreed to work more closely with Britain to tackle the environmental and economic consequences of climate change, and has started its own energy-saving initiatives.

If these efforts, along with others, are successful, it would "have an effect" on US President George W. Bush's administration, Beckett said.

earlier related report
Climate change creating 'environmental refugees': report
London (AFP) Oct 20 - Chronic water shortages caused by climate change could force millions more people to become "environmental refugees", according to a report by British charity Tearfund published Friday. In "Feeling The Heat", Tearfund says that 25 million people have already been forced to move because of environmental problems, and predicts that number could rise to 200 million in 50 years.

It adds that, while extreme drought currently affects around two percent of the planet, it will rise to 10 percent over the next five decades.

Many Nigerian farmers are moving to cities as desert swallows up farmland at a rate of 1,350 square miles a year, while in China, people are leaving home as the Gobi desert grows by 4,000 square miles a year, the report says.

Although rich countries have promised 240 million pounds (358 million euros, 452 million dollars) a year to help, they have delivered far less, according to Tearfund.

Now the NGO wants urgent action at the UN climate change conference in Nairobi, Kenya in November -- it is calling for a timetable for the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol and funding to help poor nations tackle the issue.

Tearfund advocacy director Andy Atkins said: "One of the most devastating impacts of climate change is on the water supply.

"In some parts of the world, floods, storms and poor rainfall are beginning to have catastrophic effects, threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people."

earlier related report
British wildlife head north as planet warms
London (AFP) Oct 20 - Biologists in Britain have discerned a mass migration of fauna over the past 25 years as animals try to outrun global warming by heading for cooler climes in the north.

Studies by the University of York have shown that 80 percent of some 300 monitored species are on the move, abandoning areas they have inhabited for millennia and heading 70 to 100 kilometres (40 to 60 miles) north.

"Our sample is large enough to be sure about the pattern of change," said Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at the university.

"Eighty percent is a surprisingly large percentage ... It's amazing how strong and already visible is the signature of climate change."

Animals studied by the university included insects, mammals, vertebrates and invertebrates. Seventy percent of the species found to be on the move were heading to higher ground, up to 150 metres (495 feet) above their normal habitats.

Some scientists predict that average temperatures in Britain will increase by 3.5 degrees Celsius (38.3 degrees Fahrenheit) between now and 2080. Over the past century they have climbed just 0.6 degrees, but the 1990s was the hottest decade on records going back some 400 years.

"Average global temperatures in 2100 will probably be higher than for at least two, and quite probably 10 million or more years," Shaw said.

"The average lifetime of species is mainly between one and 10 million years. Thus, approximately 10 to 99 percent of species will experience global average conditions that they have not encountered previously. "About 10 to 15 percent of land species seem to be at risk of eventual extinction from climate change."

London's Kew Gardens are an unlikely setting for wildlife discoveries but even here scientists have found depressing signs of a planet in flux, in the form of hairy, stinging caterpillars which normally live in southern Europe.

Britain's butterflies are also sending out warning signals. From 1970 to 1982 the number of new species of butterflies found in Britain was only about a third of what had been expected, meaning less biodiversity.

"Climate change is expected to reduce the number of species globally," the Royal Society, Britain's national academy of science, said recently.

Scientists are now asking how, years from now, species from the south are going to interact with those from the north as they increasingly start to compete for food and habitats.

"We think that the southern species, already adapted to a warmer climate and which have in general two breeds in a year, are going to win," said Thomas.

"Evolution of the northern species will take place but not fast enough to stop ... some species going extinct."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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New measurements of soot produced by traditional cook stoves used in developing countries suggest that these stoves emit more harmful smoke particles and could have a much greater impact on global climate change than previously thought, according to a study scheduled to appear in the Nov. 1 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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