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Global warming

Material World: Rising Sea Levels

Material World

Tuvalu is one of the smallest countries in the world. It has a population of only 11,500 and has been inhabited for almost 3,000 years. In 1997 the then Tuvalu Prime Minister Koloa Talake addressed world leaders at the Kyoto conference. He petitioned countries around the world to take immediate action on global warming and make the changes needed to stop it in its tracks. He explained his low-lying country was sinking into the Pacific Ocean because of rising sea-levels. The current Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, said climate change was the ‘Enemy Number One’ for his country. The people of Tuvalu don't require scientists to explain it to them. They can see it for themselves. Salt water is flooding the land and the people are having difficulties growing their crops because of salination of the soil. Groundwater is increasingly becoming undrinkable due to sea-water contamination. It is brackish and salty. Islanders are relying on catching rain water.

Cooking the Books: ‘I’m Not Going First’

’I don’t want UK to be at the forefront of tacking climate change, says Osborne’, ran the headline in the Guardian (28 September) reporting on an interview George Osborne gave just because last year’s Tory conference. His exact words were:

‘I want to provide for the country the cheapest energy possible, consistent with having it reliable, in other words as a steady supply, and consistent with playing our part in an international effort to tackle climate change. But I don’t want to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world. I certainly think we shouldn’t be further ahead of our partners in Europe.’

Material World: The Future of Climate Talks

Material World

At 5am on 27 September, after days of discussion at a plenary meeting in Stockholm culminating in an all-night session, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finalized its Fifth Assessment Report. Each successive report – the earlier reports appeared in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007 – has contained stronger predictions than the one before. Thus, the new report envisions sea level rise of up to one meter by 2100, as compared to an upper limit of 60 cm in the fourth report.


Wooster sauce

Well, we finally made it. The human race has pushed through the CO2 400 parts per million ceiling for the first time in five million years (‘Scientists call for action to tackle CO2 levels’, BBC Online, 11 May). This was the symbolic threshold above which climatologists stated global warming would be inevitable. Predictably, scientists are once again leading the demand for governments to do something.

In the UK, the Tory government has been keen to trumpet its ‘global leadership’ in reducing emissions, a claim somewhat undermined by April’s report from its own Climate Change Committee which pointed out that the UK’s net emissions have gone up, not down, because it has been importing more goods with ‘embodied’ emissions (‘UK CO2 emissions rising, government advisers warn,’ BBC Online, 24 April).

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