Acid Test for Hippies

Well, it seems that India, that ‘spiritual’ holiday destination so beloved of hippies, is second from top in the list of countries threatened by climate change:-

Bangladesh and India are the two countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change over the next 30 years, according tocalculations by the British global risks analysis company Maplecroft.

The same study determined that the countries least at risk from climate change are the Scandinavian nations and Ireland. The U.S. and much of Europe are among the countries facing “medium risk.”

Assessing a number of variables to calculatethe vulnerability of 170 countries to the impacts of climate change,Maplecroft identified Bangladesh and India as the two countries “facing the greatest risks to their populations, ecosystems and business environments.”
Other South Asian countries ranked in the highest category were Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan..

The company’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) evaluates 42 social, economic and environmental factors to assess national vulnerabilities across three core areas, Maplecroft said in a news release.

“These include: exposure to climate-related natural disasters and sea-level rise; human sensitivity, in terms of population patterns, development, natural resources, agricultural dependency and conflicts; thirdly, the index assesses future vulnerability by considering the adaptive capacity of a country’s government and infrastructure to combat climate change.”

The index rates 16 countries as “extreme risk,” with the South Asian nations of Bangladesh (1), India (2), Nepal (4), Afghanistan (8) and Pakistan (16) among those with the most exposure to climate change, whilst Sri Lanka (34) is rated “high risk.”

Other countries rated as “extreme risk” include: Madagascar (3), Mozambique (5), Philippines (6), Haiti (7), Zimbabwe (9), Myanmar (10), Ethiopia (11), Cambodia (12), Vietnam (13), Thailand (14) and Malawi (15).

According to Maplecroft, the countries with the most risk are characterised by high levels of poverty, dense populations, exposure to climate-related events; and their reliance on flood and drought prone agricultural land. “Africa also features strongly in this group, with the continent home to 12 out of the 25 countries most at risk,” Maplecroft said.

“Throughout 2010, changes in weather patterns have resulted in a series of devastating natural disasters, especially in South Asia, where heavy floods in Pakistan affected more than 20 million people (over 10 percent of the total population) and killed more than 1,700 people,” maplecroft said in its release.

“Very minor changes to temperature can have major impacts on the human environment, including changes to water availability and crop productivity, the loss of land due to sea level rise and the spread of disease.”

“There is growing evidence climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of climatic events,” said Anna Moss, Environmental Analyst at Maplecroft. “Very minor changes to temperature can have major impacts on the human environment, including changes to water availability and crop productivity, the loss of land due to sea level rise and the spread of disease.”

Maplecroft rates Bangladesh as the country most at risk “due to extreme levels of poverty and a high dependency on agriculture, whilst its government has the lowest capacity of all countries to adapt to predicted changes in the climate.”

In addition, Maplecroft added,Bangladesh has a high risk of drought and the highest risk of flooding. “This is illustrated during October 2010, when 500,000 people were driven from their homes by flood waters created by storms. However, despite the country’s plethora of problems, the Bangladesh economy grew 88 percent between 2000 and 2008 and is forecast to by the IMF to grow 5.4 percent over 2010 and up to 6.2 percent over the next five years.

India, ranked 2nd, is already one of the world’s power brokers, but climate vulnerability could still adversely affect the country’s appeal as a destination for foreign investment in coming decades, Maplecroft said.

“Vulnerability to climate-related events was seen in the build up to the Commonwealth Games, where heavy rains affected the progress of construction of the stadium and athletes’ village.

“Almost the whole of India has a high or extreme degree of sensitivity to climate change, due to acute population pressure and a consequential strain on natural resources. This is compounded by a high degree of poverty, poor general health and the agricultural dependency of much of the populace.”

‘Low-risk’ countries

There are 11 countries considered “low risk” in the index, with Norway (170), Finland (169), Iceland (168), Ireland (167), Sweden (166) and Denmark (165) performing the best.

“However, Russia (117), USA (129), Germany (131), France (133) and the UK (138) are all rated as ‘medium risk’ countries, whilst China (49), Brazil (81) and Japan (86) feature in the ‘high risk’ category,” Maplecroft said.

Maplecroft researches, indexes and maps over 500 risks and issues to identify exposures and opportunities in both countries and companies, the company said.

It will be interesting to see how these people who apparently care so much about the planet and India manage to square the huge environmental impact of ‘plane travel to India with the fact that the country is right in line for being hit by the climate change juggernaut.

Interesting times indeed.

Why Don’t You Just Buy Some?

I decided the other day that I would use my Vigo fruit press to have a go at making some pear cider, as I have bought it now and am looking forward to making all kinds of exotic beverages with it!

I don’t actually know anyone with any pear trees though, so I decided to go down Bury Market and buy a rucksack full for the purpose. I thought that although I didn’t know the source of the pears, they were likely to be locally supplied and devoid of preservers.

When I asked the stall assistant, she looked at me quizzically. “I’m going to make pear cider,” I said. She said, “why don’t you just buy some?”

I was lost for words. In retrospect I could think of all sorts of things to say, such as, the stuff in the supermarkets tastes like fizzy alcoholic pear-flavoured water. “It’s nicer to make it yourself” I managed in the end. She shrugged and charged me £16 for a rucksack full of Conferences.

She had a point though – what I should really be doing is collecting pears from trees which would normally just go to waste, rather than buying them from the market. I will have to ask around in advance of next year’s season.

Going Underground?

In stark contrast to the brief flash of publicity generated by the 10:10 campaign’s short film “No Pressure”, the 10/10/10 “global work party” day of action for the campaign appears to have been subjected to a total news blackout.

According to the organisers, over 7,000 events were held worldwide, in over 180 separate countries. This would very likely make it the biggest global campaign ever. And yet, in the mainstream media there was not a peep about it.

Is this a deliberately concerted policy on the part of the media? There has been a recent suggestion that the BBC has decided to stop reporting stories about climate change:-

Maybe it has been decided that the world economic crisis is the story of the day, that people are bored with hearing about climate change and that the forthcoming energy crisis will make it necessary for us to burn whatever we can get our hands on that will burn. Who knows? But it seems fairly obvious that for the moment at least, the mainstream media does not see any value in reporting stories about climate change, or the growing strength of the global grass-roots movement to stop it.

Local Adventure 6

On Sunday I decided to cycle up to the Entwistle Reservoir again, as in stark contrast to last time the weather was absolutely glorious, clear blue skies and bright sunshine, so I thought I could get some decent photos.

After getting to the reservoir and going for a short stroll in the woods, the spirit of adventure possessed me and when I got to the A666, instead of turning left and heading back towards Bolton as I did last time, I turned right and headed up towards Darwen.

The countryside was just breathtaking, and I carried on until just South of Blackburn, halfway to Oswaldtwistle and turned right to head back towards Bury over the West Yorkshire moors.

The whole trip must have been about 40 miles, it took me 5 hours and when I got home I was absolutely exhausted. But it was an amazing experience, I really feel a connection with all of those places which I have never felt going through them in a car. And a real sense of achievement at actually doing it on a bike! Some of the looks I was getting from motorists going over the tops were quite incredulous, and I found myself thinking, I bet you couldn’t do what I am doing, dependent on your metal box with wheels!!

I’m still recovering today, both from the exhaustion and the mental high. Stunning!!

I’ve put up a couple of maps but my iPhone battery died eventually, I had to record it in two parts and I didn’t get to record the final leg of the trip.

In the first and last pictures you can see Scout Moor wind farm in the distance, from two completely different directions!!

No Pressure

With the release and subsequent withdrawal of the 10:10 climate change campaign’s controversial “No Pressure” short film written by Richard Curtis, I wonder whether 2010 will turn out to be a kind of tipping point for climate change activism.

In the despondency of post-Copenhagen failure for the world to agree a concerted approach to tackling the problem, it’s easy for climate activists to become increasingly radicalised in our approach to getting the urgency of the issue ‘out there’.

I think in private there is a lot of agreement amongst frustrated activists, who understand the sentiments expressed in the film, which is obviously just meant to be over-the-top funny with a serious point, in the Monty Python style tradition.

But coming as it does towards the end of a year which has seen heatwaves and wildfires in Russia, floods and landslides right across China, Pakistan and India, with around a third of Pakistan under the floodwaters, and huge quantities of crops destroyed, I really wonder whether 2010 will actually be remembered as the year when the pressure to act on climate change really started to become obvious to even the most hardened sceptics.

It has now got to the stage where climate change scepticism has started to sound less like a perfectly reasonable questioning of the situation, and more like obstructionism in the face of an urgent need to take swift, concerted and decisive action.

I wonder if the 10:10 film would have been more effective if it had shown the majority of people being blown up, leaving only those who have been prepared to make the sacrifices and put in the work to get on with the task.

Still, we live in hope that people are slowly but surely catching on. It’s either that or extinction.