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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid