Friday, February 26, 2010

Climate change task force says early warning is key to adaptation

Voice of America: A high level task force aimed at helping poor, vulnerable countries adapt to climate change has kicked off in Geneva. The 14-member task force, which was set up during the September 2009 World Climate Conference, says information is power and can help countries better overcome climate change related hazards.

…. They say hundreds of millions of people are at risk of losing their lives and livelihoods from natural disasters….. But, they note advances in science and technology, advances in long-range seasonal forecasting can blunt these dangers and allow communities to prepare and adapt to changing weather patterns. Statistics presented at the meeting here in Geneva show that fewer people now are dying from natural climate-caused disasters than before. This is because of better disaster preparedness and prevention.

Former U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator and Co-Chair of the task force, Jan Egeland says these gains are mainly occurring in rich countries. "However, tens of millions of livelihoods are lost because of the information not reaching those who need it most," he said. "

….If the nomads had had this information, Egeland says they would have been able to sell their cattle beforehand. And, this would have given them the means to restock when the crisis was over. He says it is crucial to provide people in poor countries with the scientific know-how and information they need to help their communities to adapt to climate change.

He says the task force will be working on how to provide small island States, African countries and other vulnerable communities with the information they need to help them survive future disasters. "Our report should come with a number of recommendations, which are the gaps, where do we need to invest, what kind of information and observations do we need that we do not have. And, how can this be tailor made so that there will be the best possible predictions for those who need it the most," he said…..

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