Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Climate Change Killing 300,000 Per Year

LONDON (May 29) -- The first comprehensive report into the human cost of climate change warns the world is in the throes of a "silent crisis" that is killing 300,000 people each year.

More than 300 million people are already seriously affected by the gradual warming of the earth and that number is set to double by 2030, the report from the Global Humanitarian Forum warns.

"For the first time we are trying to get the world's attention to the fact that climate change is not something waiting to happen. It is impacting seriously the lives of many people around the world," the forum's president, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, told CNN.

Speaking to CNN's Becky Anderson in London on Friday, Annan said the migration of people from newly uninhabitable areas presents a security issue that needs to be addressed by the United Nations Security Council.

"This is one of the reasons why I've described climate change as all encompassing," he told CNN. "This threat to our health, this threat to food production, this threat to security. It raises political tensions, it will have people on the move -- and they are on the move -- and many more which will bring tensions."

The report, titled "Human Impact Report: Climate Change -- The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis" comes just six months before the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen to forge a post-Kyoto climate agreement for 2012 and beyond.



Embedded video from CNN Video




Annan called on Member States to reach a "global, effective, fair and binding" outcome on climate change, as the report warned that the talks could "well be the last chance for avoiding global catastrophe."

He told CNN: "The U.S. administration has joined the mainstream about fighting climate change and that is a big step, and I hope that will also put a new momentum into the negotiations."

The report's startling numbers are based on calculations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the Earth's atmosphere warmed by 0.74 degrees Celsius (1.33 degrees Fahrenheit) from 1906 to 2005, with much of that increase coming in recent decades. The panel predicts that by 2100 temperatures will have increased a minimum of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels regardless of what's agreed in Copenhagen.

"No matter what," the report concludes, "the suffering documented in this report is only the beginning." A rise of two degrees, it says, "would be catastrophic."

Of the 300,000 lives being lost each year due to climate change, the report finds nine out of 10 are related to "gradual environmental degradation," and that deaths caused by climate-related malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria outnumber direct fatalities from weather-related disasters.

The vast majority of deaths -- 99 percent -- are in developing countries which are estimated to have contributed less than one percent of the world's total carbon emissions.

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