Wednesday, March 25, 2009

U.N. plans guide to fighting climate-change disasters

Alister Doyle in Reuters: A proposed U.N. study of climate extremes will be a practical guide for tackling natural disasters and fill a gap in past reports focused on the gradual effects of global warming, experts said. Floods, mudslides, droughts, heatwaves or storms are often the main causes of destruction and human suffering tied to climate change, rather than the creeping rise in average temperatures blamed on a build-up of greenhouse gases.

"We are saying a lot about changes in mean temperatures but the impacts on real people, real companies, are taking place at the extremes," said Chris Field, a co-chair of a group in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Better knowledge of extreme climate events could help governments, companies or humanitarian organizations to cope with natural disasters, he told Reuters on Tuesday during a March 23-26 IPCC meeting in Oslo.

"Most importantly (a special study) will be a guide for how we can get going with practical measures in countries vulnerable to climate change," said Ellen Hambro, head of the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority which is hosting the talks. About 100 scientists are meeting in Oslo to map out a possible special U.N. report about climate extremes by Field's group, under a proposal by Norway and the U.N.'s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction….

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