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Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 2013 Special Edition


The Face of Climate Change: Why can’t we talk about the environment, disaster risk reduction and development without talking about climate change? 
By Pablo González

As we celebrate Earth Day, we remember the fundamental environmental concerns that prompted millions of Americans to demonstrate for a healthy and sustainable environment on that day of April 22, 1970. Their concerns then are our concerns today, as population growth and patterns of increasing consumption result in increasing pressure on our ecosystems and the resources and services they provide. Competing uses of land and water, in a changing climate, combined with growing inequity in the access to and use of natural resources are responsible for recurrent droughts and floods, landslides and mudslides that affect millions of people in the Americas every year. With about 80% of the population living in urban areas in the Americas and a trend that may take us to a 90% urban population by 2050, the situation can only get worse if we do not act now.

In concert with this year’s Earth Day theme, The Face of Climate Change, I was asked to write about the impacts of climate change and community-based risk management and adaptation. However, I feel compelled to question why we can’t talk about the environment, disaster risk reduction and development without talking about climate change? Is change not an intrinsic element of climate and the environment? What is the real issue here?...
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Where do we go from here? 
By Ruben Contreras Lisperguer

Despite the evidence provided by the UNFCC that some of the changes currently taking place in the Climatic System do not fit into natural patterns and can be attributed to the human emissions of different chemical compounds to the atmosphere, there are many natural long cycle variations (thousands or million years) in the global climate system that the scientific community still is not aware or are poorly understood (i.e. Solar activity variability impacts over the global climate system). Climate variability and change has an astounding grade of complexity, much of which remains poorly understood...
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Urban overgrowth: The next great development challenge
By Judith Hermanson

Cities are becoming exponentially bigger by the day. As a result, the development problems and the danger of large-scale human tragedies are growing with them. Many people look to the influence of climate change. But should we pay more attention to the phenomenon of rapid urban growth?
Climate Change Series: Adapting To A New Reality
by Brian Helmuth, Larry Atkinson and Pablo Suarez

Even if we drastically cut carbon emissions, we still have to face the realities of a changing climate. So, while we have to think about reducing greenhouse gasses, now and in the future, we also have to begin implementing strategies to adapt to this new world of increasingly extreme and, to some extent, unknowable weather and climactic conditions. We need to adapt our cities, our farms and our way of life. We also need to understand how climate change will impact the plants and animals our ecosystems depend on.

Sustainable Cities: Defining a development horizon, seeking to extend the limits of adaptability
By Alejandro Martínez and Pablo González

The concept of sustainable cities is not a new one. However, in the last twenty years, given the rapid urbanization processes and changes in consumption patterns in the Americas, urban planners, policy and decision-makers, as well as the international community have placed a high priority to this issue…
The cities of the Americas are experiencing dramatic changes, which are compromising their integrity, affecting negatively their functions.
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Society Impacts & Adaptation
By the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA has provided an outlook to better comprehend the impacts on society that the changing climate will produce in relevance to citizens of the United States. It focuses on the impacts on vulnerability and equality, concerning the geographical location and the inequality among citizens of the United States. Also in detail, it explains the impacts on economical activities and services e.g., the production of agriculture; the industry of tourism and recreational activities; and the industry of the housing market.

Climate Change: Is Latin America prepared for temperatures to rise 4 degrees?
By The World Bank Group

Potential increase of temperatures would specifically affect the regions of Latin America and the Caribbean and cause unavoidable damage to those living such areas. Regions in the Americas must adapt in order to maximize their resilience to the changes in climate. Offering a snapshot of the latest climate science, the report warns that global temperatures are on the path to a 4°C rise and current greenhouse gas commitments will not reduce this by much. Although, a sustained commitment to greener, more inclusive growth could help limit the rise to 2°C.

UNICEF: Climate food crisis a disaster for children
By Natasha Adams

The affects that the changing climate will have on the production of food. This is a disaster for millions of smallholder farmers, dependent on rain-fed agriculture and already struggling to feed their families. It is also a disaster for the urban poor – as dwindling harvests push up food prices, parents can’t afford to buy as much food, and children get less to eat.

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