The Great Debate UK

Changing weather patterns mean meteorology is more important than ever

–Julian Hunt is former Director-General of the UK Met Office, and a Visiting Professor at Delft University of Technology. The opinions expressed are his own.–

Since the 1990s, the United Kingdom has celebrated National Science and Engineering Week every year to coincide with World Meteorological Day (which this year is Sunday 23 March). This is fitting, given that meteorologists, whose original interest was more in the effects of outer space (especially meteors and lightning) than weather, work with scientists and engineers ever more closely, both in the use of modern measurement techniques and in making conceptual advances in mathematics and physics.

Some of the first applications of telegraph in the 1850s, radio around 1910 and satellites in the 1960s were for transmitting and measuring weather data. The Oxford University and Harwell teams designed and installed some of the earliest micro-wave temperature instruments on U.S. Tiros satellites.

Although Lee Fry Richardson’s idea of numerical weather forecasting began in the 1920s with great inaccuracies, these led to Edward Norton Lorenz’s understanding of chaos in the 1960s and modern mathematical methods for minimising errors and making best of weather data.

Britain’s floods: How do we pay the £14 billion bill?

Nikolas Scherer is researcher at the Hertie School of Governance and Visiting Fellow at LSE IDEAS. The opinions expressed are his own.–

In some parts of the United Kingdom, the recent floods are the worst on record. Since December 2013, over 5,800 homes have been flooded in England alone. The cost to the UK economy had been estimated at as much as £14 billion, from damage, lost business and general economic slowdown. Whatever the exact figures, the bill will be immense.

Europe’s carbon trading system needs radical reform, not stop-gap measures

–Laurens de Vries is an assistant professor, Joern Richstein is a doctoral candidate, Emile Chappin is an assistant professor, and Gerard Dijkema is an associate professor at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. The opinions expressed are their own.–

The European Parliament voted on December 10 to delay sales of around 900 million carbon permits for the EU greenhouse-gas Emission Trading System (EU-ETS). The deferral (or so-called back-loading) may help correct the substantial oversupply of permits which have caused the carbon price to fall below 5 euros, a sixth of the price in 2008.

How social media can play a major role in disaster forecasting and recovery

–Julian Hunt is Visiting Professor at Delft University of Technology and the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre. Joy Pereira is Deputy Director of SEADPRI, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. The opinions expressed are their own.–

The UN Climate Change Summit in Qatar will be negotiating levels of funding for adaptation against climate change. Social media, which can reduce impacts of disasters through community involvement and improved real-time management, must receive effective and rapid use of such funds.

Strong storms could be even more dangerous in future

–Lord Hunt is a Visiting professor at Delft University, and former Director-General of the UK Met Office. The opinions expressed are his own.–

Sandy has been called, by some, the ‘perfect storm’ and the storm of the century’.  But there are reasons to believe that strong storms could be even more dangerous in the future.

When national disasters go global

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Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell are founding directors of the Center for Climate and Security. This blog first appeared on the center website. The opinions expressed are their own.

** This post is part of AlertNet’s special report on water: The Battle for Water

Mexico legislation underlines transformation in global warming debate

–Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, is President of Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and former UK Secretary of State for the Environment, and Rt Hon John Prescott, Lord Prescott, is a Member of GLOBE, and former UK Deputy Prime Minister and Europe’s Lead Negotiator at Kyoto. The opinions expressed are their own.–

Below the global radar-screen, the Mexican Parliament gave final passage on April 19 to the General Law on Climate Change, a landmark piece of national environmental legislation.  This is a truly significant move and comes at a time when the country has also just approved a far-reaching REDD+ law that will set a benchmark for international best practice on tacking deforestation and forest degradation.

Imperceptibly, the tide of debate is turning on climate change

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By John Prescott, John Gummer and Michael Jay. The opinions expressed are their own.

The forthcoming Durban conference comes at a major crossroads in international relations, with continuing economic malaise in the West being counterpoised with the increasingly rapid shift of power to emerging economies.  Mirroring this structural change is a fundamental shift in the centre of gravity of the global climate change debate that few have yet to recognise.

from Global News Journal:

Hope and Fear at the World Bank

It was early March and Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner of International Cooperation Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, was traveling in Asia. Her plan was to attend a 7.5 magnitude earthquake simulation that would hit Indonesia and generate a tsunami. A few things, however, changed in her itinerary: The destination turned out to be Japan, the earthquake was 9.0 and it not only generated a huge tsunami, but also a nuclear catastrophe. Plus, it was real.

“Usually our fears are bigger than reality. In this case our reality was worse than our fears,” Georgieva said recently at a World Bank panel on the climate, food and financial crises the world is facing today and the way they all intertwine. Georgieva’s strong Slavic optimism brightened the gloomy panel, but the data she threw in didn’t back up her positive view:

from Environment Forum:

Is Earth due for a mass extinction?

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extinction2_h1It has all the signs of a sick good-news/bad-news tale. The bad news is that Earth may be ripe for a mass extinction, where 75 percent or more of the life on the planet vanishes forever.

The good news is it's unlikely to happen for at least three more centuries.

Scientists writing in the journal Nature warn that we could be on the brink of a mass extinction, the kind of species loss that has happened just five times in the last 540 million years.

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