Egypt's stocks mixed on Tuesday as main gauge EGX 30 falls 0.63%    IMF upgrades Egypt's real GDP growth 2022 forecasts to 5.6%    Al Khair River starts trading on Egypt's stock exchange today    Egypt works on charting cooperation strategies with international institutions for 5 years: Al-Mashat    Maha karara joins AAIB as Head of Corporate Communications, Sustainability    Over 2.4 million newborns examined for hearing impairment: Health Ministry    Netflix releases trailer of Arab adaption of 'Perfect Strangers' film    Balqees to headline concert celebrating launch of streaming giant LIVENow in MENA    Sawsan Badr to be honoured at Aswan Women Film Festival    Al-Sisi follows up on 'Great Transfiguration Project' in St. Catherine    Cairo, London stress need to strengthen cooperation to face climate change    Foreigners account for 22.6% of Egypt's T-bills issuances in 1H 2021: CBE    MP Abdel Hady Al-Qasby calls government to facilitate and support NGOs    Egypt's ambassador to Italy passes away    Egypt confirms readiness to help African countries face terrorism and extremism    An estimated 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, an increase of 40% compared to 2020: IOM Egypt    Egypt, DRC discuss water cooperation during WYF    Egypt, DR Congo discuss boosting bilateral cooperation during WYF    Cameroonian police probe assault on three Algerian journalists covering AFCON    Pharaohs start AFCON 2021 campaign with fierce clash against Nigeria    Foreign Ministry opens capacity building course for French-speaking African diplomats    BRICS development bank admits Egypt as new member    Nermien Ismail Schools opens a new campus in O'West    Netherlands Embassy, E7kky Magazine celebrate success of 21 Egyptian women    Women make up 45% of Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority staff    Yas Island hosts travel partners at Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021    Olaf Scholz becomes Germany's new leader, ending Merkel 16-year historic era    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    







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Lime light: Too hot to handle
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 14 - 06 - 2007


Lime light:
Too hot to handle
By Lubna Abdel-Aziz
Are you feeling the heat? They say the temperature on planet Earth is rising to such dangerous levels, grilling, roasting, baking and boiling our globe to a predetermined course of death and destruction. General scientific opinion concurs that global warming has become one of the world's greatest concerns. Reason enough for universal panic, but the world G8 leaders have come to the rescue. Last week 7 June, in Heiligendamm, Germany, the great 8 agreed on a plan calling for "substantial cuts" in greenhouse gas emissions, the chief villain behind this grievous greenhouse gas phenomenon. Now we can sleep peacefully knowing that the UN, EU, and UK, and even the US, are capably handling this formidable crisis. There, by the fresh clean air of the German seaside resort, the clouds disappeared and all major matters like the Middle East, Kosovo, Darfur, etc, seemed rather minor among friends.
According to the American Meteorological Society, there is now clear evidence that the mean annual temperature at the earth's surface, averaged over the entire globe, has been increasing in the last 200 years. This assessment has been endorsed by the world's leading climate scientists, academies, institutes, societies, ad infinitum. They even agree on the cause of this drastic climate change, and we are it! Humans and their actions are "very likely" nearly 90 per cent, the cause of this global warming. Moreover, now that we have started it, we cannot stop it, not for centuries. Why would we do a thing like that? The answer is progress. Human progress is destroying humanity. What are we supposed to do? If we wish to endure we are to stand still or regress. Even floods, quakes, cyclones, and hurricanes are increasing as a result of global warming. This time we cannot lay the blame on Mother Nature. Natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in "global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of last century". We did it, and now we need to undo it. How do we impact the climate system? By increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, air pollutants, increasing concentrations of airborne particles and land alteration.
Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide may be rising faster than at any time in Earth's history "except possibly following rare events, like impact from large extra-terrestrial objects." While it started in the 1700s, 80 per cent of this increase has occurred since the 1900s. Such levels will remain in the atmosphere for "hundreds of thousands of years". Maybe "what's done" cannot be "undone," after all.
With such a joyful and peaceful name as "greenhouse" these gases are deadly. Discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1829, the name comes from the warming of air inside a greenhouse, but is a misnomer, as greenhouses are made of glass and operate differently. According to NASA the polar ice caps are now melting at the rate of nine per cent per decade. The current sea level is eight times the historical rate and appears to be accelerating. A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) determined that 154,000 people die every year from the effects of global warming. They predict the number will double by 2020. Professor Anderson Haines of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggested that while a warmer climate may lower cold-related deaths and provide greater crop yields, the spread of mosquitoes and malaria would outweigh any benefits.
Animals are at an even greater risk, as one million species are threatened with extinction between now and 2050, according to Professor Chris Thomas of the University of Leeds, UK. Moreover 25 per cent of all plant and animal species could disappear by 2100. Birds and animals are stressed by rising temperatures. Polar bears are now "vulnerable". Penguins and walruses, and other Arctic animals are also at risk. The Arctic sea has declined by one million square miles, the size of Norway, Sweden and Denmark combined.
While the G8 debated every letter of their accord in 2007 in Germany, governor of California better known as Arnold Schwarzenegger, started his "terminator" plan a year ago. California is the United States' most populous state, the world's sixth largest economy, as well as its 12th largest in emission of greenhouse gases. Schwarzenegger has put a cap on vehicle and industry emissions, making California a trendsetter in fighting global warming. This may be his best role yet.
How can we help save our race from self-destruction? Rising temperatures will cause a decrease in grain productivity. Future food supplies will weigh heavily on our expected nine billion population in 2050. Each global increase of 1 degree Celsius will reduce grain yields by 10 per cent.
Are you petrified by these alarming facts? There is some comfort in the knowledge that not all scientists agree with this general "consensus". While they concede that carbon dioxide levels are increased, the concentration in our atmosphere today has not been exceeded in the last 420,000 years, and likely not in the last 20 million years. On a global scale they see little evidence of sustained trends in climate variability or extremes. Some extra tropical cyclone activity may have increased in one area, but has decreased in another.
Earth has experienced warming and cooling many times in the past. A rapid build-up of greenhouse gases caused warming in the early Jurassic period (about 180 million years ago), with average temperatures rising about 5 degrees Celsius.
With some minor sacrifices we can contribute to reducing the atmospheric nasty gases. Driving more fuel-efficient cars is a major step. Recycling paper, plastics and glass can save 2,000 lbs of carbon dioxide per year. If we can remember to unplug electrical devices we can save 1,000 lbs of carbon dioxide, for even when they are turned off they use energy.
If you can plant a tree, start digging! Trees provide a micro-climate and sustain moisture. They suck up carbon dioxide and produce clean air for us to breathe. Is that not, after all, the crux of the matter? Cleaning our air should be an individual matter of conscience, from which eventually the whole human race will benefit. Perhaps, "what's done, can be undone" after all! We can at least give it a try.
Accuse not Nature, She hath done her part.
Do thou but thine
Paradise Lost, John Milton (1608-1674)


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