Thursday, November 29, 2007

Africa is the 'worst victim' climate change

Engineering News (South Africa): Findings in an intergovernmental panel on climate change’s fourth assessment synthesis report states that arid and semiarid land in Africa is set to increase by bewteen 5% to 8% (between 60-million hectares and 90 million hectares) by 2080s under a range of climate-change scenarios.

“Africa has become the worst-off victim of worldwide climate change,” said equality management and climate change chief director Peter Luckey in a keynote address delivered on behalf of Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk on Wednesday. He added that Africa had a good response mechanism for dealing with drought, but the reality with climate change was that there was major pressure on resilience.

“Africa faces challenges of unequal access to resources, enhanced food insecurity and poor health-management systems. These stresses will be enhanced by climate variability and change, and will further enhance the vulnerabilities of many people in Africa,” he said. He continued that a decline in agricultural yields was likely owing to drought and land degradations, especially in marginal areas. “Ecosystems in Africa are likely to experience major shifts and changes in species range and possible extinctions. What this means is that 25% to 40% of sub-Saharan species are at risk for extinction. The cost for adaptation will exceed 5% to 10% of gross domestic product.

“Climate change is taking place, because annual fossil carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions increased from an average of 6,4 GtC a year in the 1990s, to 7,2 GtC a year between 2000 and 2005. CO2 radioactive forcing increased by 20% from 1995 to 2005, which is the largest in any decade in at least the last 200 years,” he said. “We have to mitigate and adapt and do it now. There will come a time when we cannot adapt our way out of the problem, so we have to mitigate to avoid an unimaginable impact. There has to be a global effort, as no country, region, or continent can go it alone,” he concluded.

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