News / Science & Technology

    Climate Change Real, Human-Caused

    An aerial view of a remote island of Suluan, Samar, devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in central Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
    An aerial view of a remote island of Suluan, Samar, devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in central Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
    Rosanne Skirble
    2013 was among the hottest years ever, spurred by the highest accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on record.

    2013 was another year of extreme weather. It began in January with sweltering temperatures in Australia. According to Joes Lisonbee of Australia's Alice Springs weather bureau, “Alice Springs airport has seen the most consecutive days above 42 (degrees Celsius) for any time of the year. So far, including today, we have had nine consecutive days.”  

    Climate Change Real, Human-Causedi
    X
    December 26, 2013 8:09 PM
    2013 was among the hottest years ever, spurred by the highest accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on record. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.

    The year was marked around the globe by deadly wildfires and floods, unrelenting drought and one of the strongest typhoons ever in the Philippines that left nearly 6,000 dead and more than four million homeless.

    While research indicates a warmer atmosphere makes bad weather worse, Richard Kerr, a veteran writer for Science Magazine, says no single weather event can be linked to climate change.

    “Beyond heat waves and heavy precipitation, heavy rain storms, heavy snow storms, scientists are being much more cautious about making a connection between typhoons or tornadoes and global warming,” he said.

    But leading scientists spoke definitively in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report released in September.  In it, they affirmed with overwhelming confidence that global warming is real and humans are largely to blame.  

    The report makes note of a slowdown in the acceleration of warming, an argument climate change deniers use to support their claims that the higher global temperatures are part of a natural climate fluctuation. But Kerr says the IPCC report concludes the excess heat is being absorbed by the deep ocean rather than the atmosphere.
     
    “There is a strong conclusion that it is not particularly out of the ordinary and that it does not mean in any way that global warming has stopped ... and there is no sign in the ocean that the warming has slowed,” Kerr said.
        
    Announcing the panel's findings in Stockholm, World Meteorological Organization Secretary General Michel Jarraud underscored the threat.

    “It should serve as yet another wake-up call that our activities today will have a profound impact on society, not only for us, but for many generations to come,” he said. 

    That wake-up call came shortly before the annual U.N. talks in Warsaw, where delegates from 192 countries met to lay the groundwork for a new climate treaty to replace one that expired in 2012.

    Center for Climate and Energy Solutions policy expert Elliott Diringer says that while the Warsaw meeting did little to develop a plan to reduce global emissions, it provided a clue about what a new treaty might look like.  He sees the accord as one more stitched together by national politics and less by decisions made by negotiations on the global stage.    

    “Instead, this time countries will be setting their own numbers," said Diringer. "And I think this is an important recognition that in fact the effort needs to come from the bottom up, that the agreement has to reflect the political will that is being generated at the national level, as well as the policies that are taking shape at the national level.”

    Diringer points to some positive signs: emissions trading efforts in China, the new climate law in Mexico and the U.S. Climate Action Plan announced by President Obama in June.

    Diringer applauds these actions as a global treaty takes shape. He says, "Certainly countries, cities, states do not have to wait for the international agreement and they should not wait for the international agreement.  I think instead their efforts need to be brought together and coalesced in the international agreement and only if we are seeing progress at the local and national level that we will be able to produce a strong international agreement.”  

    Diringer adds that the solution to climate change must come from every level of government, the public and private sectors and each of us as individuals.

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.