The U.N.'s War On Global Warming
UPI U.N. Correspondent
New York (UPI) March 05, 2007
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reached back to his past to tell the students he was addressing how as a child he first became aware of the world organization he now heads and how his experience shapes the way he equates the fight against global warming with war. He spoke last Thursday at the U.N. International School in New York debating climate change.
Having taken over as secretary-general only 59 days earlier, from Kofi Annan, Ban said the speech was the first at the GA podium.
"A child of the Korean war, I grew up viewing the United Nations as a savior; an organization which helped my country, the Republic of Korea, recover and rebuild from a devastating conflict," the secretary-general said, referring to the 1950-1953 war. "Because of decisions taken in this building, my country was able to grow and prosper in peace," he said.
The prosperity helped Ban, from a farming village, rise up through his country's diplomatic ranks and become secretary-general.
But Ban said the big difference between the era in which he grew up and the world his audience would inherit was "the relative dangers we face."
"Yet there is one crucial difference," he said. "For my generation, coming of age at the height of the cold war, fear of a nuclear winter seemed the leading existential threat on the horizon.
"Today, war continues to threaten countless men, women and children across the globe," the secretary-general said. "It is the source of untold suffering and loss and the majority of the U.N.'s work still focuses on preventing and ending conflict. But the danger posed by war to all of humanity -- and to our planet -- is at least matched by the climate crisis and global warming."
Said Ban, "I believe that the world has reached a critical stage in its efforts to exercise responsible environmental stewardship. Despite our best intentions and some admirable efforts to date, degradation of the global environment continues unabated, and the world's natural resource base is being used in an unsustainable manner.
"Moreover, the effects of climate change are being felt around the world," he said. "The latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has established a strong link between human activity and climate change. The panel's projections suggest that all countries will feel the adverse impact."
Not for the first time, Ban warned, "It is the poor -- in Africa, small-island developing states and elsewhere -- who will suffer most, even though they are the least responsible for global warming."
He has mentioned such consequences previously, when listing climate change among his top priorities as new secretary-general.
"I am encouraged to know that, in the industrialized countries from which leadership is most needed, awareness is growing," Ban said. "In increasing numbers, decision makers are recognizing that the cost of inaction or delayed action will far exceed the short-term investments needed to address this challenge."
One of the issues he hoped the students would consider is "that there is an inextricable, mutually dependent relationship between environmental sustainability and economic development" around the world.
"Global warming has profound implications for jobs, growth and poverty. It affects agricultural output, the spread of disease and migration patterns," Ban said. "It determines the ferocity and frequency of natural disasters. It can prompt water shortages, degrade land and lead to the loss of biodiversity."
The secretary-general said in coming decades, "changes in our environment and the resulting upheavals -- from droughts to inundated coastal areas to loss of arable lands -- are likely to become a major driver of war and conflict.
"These issues transcend borders. That is why protecting the world's environment is largely beyond the capacity of individual countries," he said, arguing the need for concerted and coordinated international action will mean "the natural arena for such action is the United Nations."
Said the secretary-general, "We are all complicit in the process of global warming. Unsustainable practices are deeply entrenched in our everyday lives. But in the absence of decisive measures, the true cost of our actions will be borne by succeeding generations, starting with yours.
"That would be an unconscionable legacy; one which we must all join hands to avert," he said. "As it stands, the damage already inflicted on our ecosystem will take decades, perhaps centuries, to reverse, if we act now.
"Unfortunately, my generation has been somewhat careless in looking after our one and only planet," Ban said. "But, I am hopeful that is finally changing and I am also hopeful that your generation will prove far better stewards of our environment."
Source: United Press International
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Shillong, India (AFP) March 03, 2007
Rainfall in the unique "wet desert" of India's northeast has become unpredictable and the dry season longer in a disturbing sign of major changes in global weather patterns, scientists say. Cherrapunji, in northeast India's tiny Meghalaya state, has long been a top contender for the world's wettest spot, with approximately 12 metres (40 feet) of rainfall annually, most of it in the summer monsoon season.
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