Who started the fire?

Who started the fire?

1Hopenhagen or Flopenhagen The year 2009 was in a sense a build-up to the Copenhagen summit that was held in December. When the summit did happen, there were many political blame games and protests. Opinions were divided over whether it was the starting point, the first baby step towards something more substantial, or whether it fell apart. Flopenhagen or Hopenhagen? Were the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) countries to blame? Or were the developed nations holding the rest of the world to ransom? Did US President Obama actually come as a saviour or was he walking away with too much credit? Then, there were the hacked emails from the University of East Anglia that seem to advocate manipulating data on climate change. The email fuss threatened to dampen the conference, with some calls to boycott the summit altogether. Copenhagen is not going away in a hurry from our collective consciousness.

2Maldives government sinks low Politics in the Maldives sank to a new low this year with the nation’s cabinet holding its first meeting underwater. Maldives is a collection of atolls and islands in the Indian Ocean, which stands less than two meters above sea level, and as climate change causes seas to rise it will probably be the first nation to sink beneath the waves. President Mohamed Nasheed held the meeting to bring to attention the serious threat facing the country as a result of global warming. Ministers clad in wetsuits and shouldering compressed-air tanks, met about 20ft underwater on October 17.

3Cabinet meeting at Everest Nepal’s cabinet met on Mount Everest in December this year, to highlight the threat of global warming to the glaciers and mountains of the Himalayas. The government, represented by ministers wearing thick jackets, woollen hats and in some cases oxygen masks, endorsed a resolution on climate change. The 20-minute meeting, which took place at Gorak Shep, a plateau at 5,262 mts. On the Himalayan slopes, ministers posed for pictures, signed a commitment to tighten environmental regulations and pledged to expand the nation’s conservation areas.

4Ocean acidification The world’s oceans are becoming acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the last 55m years, threatening disaster for marine life and food supplies across the globe, marine scientists warned. A report by more than 100 of Europe’s leading marine scientists, states that the seas are absorbing dangerous levels of carbon dioxide as a direct result of human activity. This is already affecting marine species, for example by interfering with whale navigation and depleting planktonic species at the base of the food chain. Ocean acidification – the facts says that acidity in the seas has increased 30% since the industrial revolution.

5Ice sheet melting The world’s largest ice sheet has started to melt along its coastal fringes. The East Antarctic ice sheet, which makes up three-quarters of the continent’s 14,000 sq km, is losing around 57bn tonnes of ice a year into surrounding waters, according to a satellite survey of the region. Scientists had thought the ice sheet was reasonably stable, but measurements taken from Nasa’s gravity recovery and climate experiment show that it started to lose ice from 2006.

6Black carbon from Asia Glaciers in the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau that feed the river systems of almost half the world’s people are melting faster because of the effects of clouds of soot from diesel fumes and wood fires, according to scientists in India and China. The results, show for the first time that clouds of soot – made up of tiny particles of “black carbon” emitted from old diesel engines and from cooking with wood, crop waste or cow dung – are “unequivocally having an impact on glacial melting” in the Himalayas.  

7Warmer ocean surfaces Ocean surface temperatures were the warmest for any August since record keeping began in 1880. For the June to August summer months, average ocean surface temperatures rose to 16.9C (62.5F), which is 1.04F above the 20th century average, said the report from the climate centre, which is a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.The world’s combined average land and ocean surface temperatures were the second warmest on record for August, and the third warmest for the summer months.asa predicted at the start of this year that 2009 and 2010 could see the setting of new global temperature records.

8Reef in trouble In September came a report from the Australian government agency that looks after the nation's emblematic Great Barrier Reef that “the overall outlook for the reef is poor and catastrophic damage to the ecosystem may not be averted”. The Great Barrier Reef is in trouble, and it is not the only one. Animal, vegetable and mineral, a pristine tropical coral reef is one of the natural wonders of the world.

9New species A pretty ultramarine blue flower which changes colour in response to temperature, a flying frog and the world’s oldest mushroom preserved in amber are among the 350 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas over the past 10 years. A report published by the WWF, The Eastern Himalayas – Where Worlds Collide, lists 242 new types of plants, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, two birds and two mammals and 61 new invertebrates. The cache, quality and diversity of species newly discovered between 1998 and 2008 make the mountainous region one of the world's most important biological hotspots.

10G8 summit in Italy World’s major industrialised nations, came together at Italy, reaching a historic consensus that they will cut down greenhouse emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. In addition, they also agreed limiting global warming to 2C above preindustrial levels, reducing their use of fossil fuels and switching to renewable energy sources as soon as possible. (DHNS)

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