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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More