FRIDAY 30 NOVEMBER
Climate change and the human touch—Climate skeptics often contend that much of the evidence cited as climate change is simply nature being nature—it changes all the time, always has and always will. Representatives from the UK’s Met Hadley Centre Climate Programme, one of the foremost climate research programmes, were in Doha today to discuss some findings from observations and from models, many which show that the changes we are witnessing go well beyond what nature would do on its own. Most countries are already experiencing a change in “moderate temperature extremes”—fewer cool days and nights and more warm days and nights. The odds of certain extreme weather happening have also changed. The chances of the Texas heatwave of 2011 occurring in the 1960s were one in 100 years. Now the odds that it could happen are once every five or six years. And there is now more evidence that human activity is figuring more in the melting that is taking place in the Arctic, which is losing more than 4 per cent of its sea ice every decade and the extent of sea ice reached its lowest recorded level this summer. Now, more than 90 per cent of the extra heat in the atmosphere is being absorbed by the oceans and by 2025 or 2030, the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer. According to the Hadley Centre, rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions starting soon would greatly reduce the scale of climate change, but that no matter what we do, there will still be some climate warming and some adaptation measures will be necessary.
Impatient with the pace of talks?—UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres solicited questions via Twitter and one that came in asked “Why are the nations so SLOW in acting? Dont u lose patience as a person?” Figueres explained that while the nations were very clear about the science, particularly since recent reports have found that temperatures could rise by as much as four degrees Centigrade if present trends continue, the delegates still approach the negotiations from a national perspective, and that depends on the degree of public support and pressure they have. “I don’t see much public interest for governments to take on more ambitious and courageous decisions.” She called on everyone to take action on climate change.
Qatar food and water—Climate change is putting considerable pressure on Qatar’s food supply. According to Qatar National Food Supply Programme Chairman Fahad Bin Mohammed Al-Attiya, about 90 per cent of Qatar’s food is imported and now, with more countries facing severe droughts or floods, there is a tendency of more countries to impose export restrictions. “Climate change is having a direct impact on our livelihoods.” Al-Attiya also said the country would do more to tap its most abundant resource, solar radiation. He said that so far, it hasn’t been harnessed because of the availability of fossil fuel. In 2014, Qatar will start construction of a solar powered desalinization plant that will provide water for about 80 percent of Qatar’s needs. At present, most all of Qatar’s water presently comes from fossil fuel powered desalinization plants.