Monday, April 09, 2007

The Climate Project

Event Title: The Climate Project: A Slideshow on An Inconvenient Truth
Sponsor: Interaction
Location: Interaction
Date: Tuesday March 13, 2007
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Approximate Number of Attendees: 25
Intern Attending: Aramide Bajulaiye

Featured Speakers: Ms. Elisabeth Rhyne, Senior Vice President of ACCION International and Ms. Helen Seidler, Consultant in Environment/Development and Former Staff of World Education and CARE

Climate change affects the entire globe. After Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” was released last year, he formed the Climate Project. The Project is a grassroots organization formed to recruit and train a team of responsible and motivated individuals to represent a modified version of his slide show about global warming.

The panelists made it clear to the audience that there was a difference between global warming and climate change. Global warming is the wrong term when used in reference to climate change. Climate change refers to general shifts in climate, including temperature, precipitation, winds and other factors. Global warming refers specifically to any change in the global average surface temperature. Global warming is often misunderstood to imply that the world will warm uniformly.

Climate change occurs when the climate of a specific area is altered between two different periods of time. This usually occurs when something changes the total amount of the sun’s energy absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere and surface. It also happens when something changes the amount of heat energy that escapes to space over an extended period of time from the earth’s surface and atmosphere.

The changes can be caused by natural processes like volcanic eruptions, variations in the sun’s intensity, or very slow changes in ocean circulation and land surfaces. Humans, however, also cause climates to change by releasing greenhouse gases and aerosols into the atmosphere, changing land surfaces, and depleting the ozone layer. There is no doubt that man is primarily responsible for global climate change.

An international scientific consensus has emerged that our world is getting warmer. Temperatures are likely to rise over the next decade. The primary issue about sea level concerns is the likelihood that global warming will reach a level such that ice sheet disintegration begins to proceed in a rapid non-linear fashion on Greenland, West Antarctica or both. This sea level rise will cause damage to coastal regions through extreme flooding and erosion.

Droughts and forest fires are likely to increase in some regions as is currently occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean region and California. Climates in various regions will also change too quickly for many plants and animal species to adjust. Harsh weather conditions such as heat waves and droughts could also happen more often and more severely. Climate change could also affect health and well-being. Air pollution problems would increase, and increases in mold and pollens place children, the elderly and people suffering from respiratory problems at greatest health risks.

Existing buildup of greenhouse gases means that climate change in the coming decades is inevitable. Planning must start now to adapt our economy and society to these changes. Adaptation involves taking action to minimize the negative impacts of climate change, and taking advantage of new opportunities that arise. The types of adaptation measures adopted will depend on the impact of climate change on particular regions and economic sectors. Increasing our capacity to adapt reduces our vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

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