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World Bank Report: Turn Down the Heat Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience

Jun 28, 2013 17:47 IST

World BankWorld Bank in June 2013 came up with an executive Summary Report named by Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience which focuses on the risks of climate change to development in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and South Asia.

The Report is a said extension to World Bank report in November 2012 which was named by Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided which concluded that the world would warm by 4°C by the end of this century if we did not take concerted action now.

The Report Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience is totally based on scientific analysis which examines the likely impacts of present day, 2°C and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, and coastal vulnerability for affected populations. The Report finds many significant climate and development impacts that are already being felt in some regions, and in some cases multiple threats of increasing extreme heat waves, sea level rise, more severe storms, droughts and floods are expected to have further severe negative implications for the poorest.

The best example to support the above fact can be cited from Vietnam where livelihoods are under threat. Livelihoods in Vietnam, which is part of vulnerable Southeast Asia, are facing threats from sea-level rise, ocean warming, and more severe storms and floods caused by an increasing possibility of the temperature rising by four degrees Celsius, the World Bank warns in a report.

Effects of the rising temperature in major Part of the world:

Thailand:
Rising sea levels indicates that Bangkok could be flooded by the 2030s

Africa: Droughts and heat signifies that 40 per cent of the land now used for growing maize in Sub-Saharan Africa will no longer be able to support the crop.

South Asia: A potential change in the regularity of the monsoon season in South Asia could also cause a crisis. The floods which hit Pakistan in 2010 affecting 20 million people could become common.

The report basically presents an alarming scenario for the days and years ahead—what we could face in our lifetime. As per the scientists if the world warms by 2°C—warming which may be reached by 2040 which can cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could batter the slums even more and greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature.

Climate related extreme events could push households below the poverty trap threshold. High temperature extremes appear likely to affect yields of rice, wheat, maize and other important crops, adversely affecting food security.

Promoting economic growth and the eradication of poverty and inequality will thus be an increasingly challenging task under future climate change. Immediate steps are needed to help countries adapt to the risks already locked in at current levels of 0.8°C warming, but with ambitious global action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, many of the worst projected climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2°C

Some of the Important Environmental Issue Highlighted as per the report


Rising Sea Levels

Rising sea level is matter to high concern in the last two decades which is partly due to melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets; the rapid growth in melt area observed since the 1970s in Greenland’s ice sheet is a clear illustration of its increasing vulnerability. Arctic sea ice also reached a record minimum in September 2012. As per the Report there are indications that the greatest melt extent in the past 225 years has occurred in the last decade.


Ocean Acidification
Coral reefs are always extremely sensitive to changes in water temperature and acidity levels. The report warns that by the time the warming levels reach 1.4° C in 2030s, coral reefs may stop growing. This would be a result of oceans becoming more acidic as a result of higher CO2 concentrations. And with 2.4° C, coral reefs in several areas may actually start to dissolve. This is likely to have profound consequences for people who depend on them for food, income, tourism and shoreline protection.
Heat Extremes

A 4°C warmer world would also suffer more extreme heat waves, and these events will not be evenly distributed across the world, according to the report.


Sub-tropical Mediterranean, northern Africa, the Middle East, and the contiguous United States are likely to see monthly summer temperatures rise by more than 6°C. Temperatures of the warmest July between 2080-2100 in the Mediterranean are expected to approach 35°C – about 9°C warmer than the warmest July estimated for the present day. The warmest July month in the Sahara and the Middle East will see temperatures as high as 45°C, or 6-7°C above the warmest July simulated for the present day.

Lower agricultural yields

Hotter weather could in turn lower crop yields in a 4°C world—raising concerns about future food security. Field experiments have shown that crops are highly sensitive to temperatures above certain thresholds. One study cited in the report found that each “growing degree day” spent at a temperature of 30 degrees decreases yields by 1% under drought-free rain-fed conditions.

The Report asserts that  drought-affected areas would increase from 15.4% of global cropland today, to around 44% by 2100. The most severely affected regions in the next 30 to 90 years will likely be in southern Africa, the United States, southern Europe and Southeast Asia, says the report.

Supporting the fact, In Africa, the report predicts 35% of cropland will become unsuitable for cultivation in a 5°C world.

Risks to Human Support Systems

The report also identifies severe risks related to adverse impacts on water availability, particularly in northern and eastern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. River basins like the Ganges and the Nile are particularly vulnerable. In Amazonia, forest fires could as much double by 2050. The world could lose several habitats and species with a 4°C warming.


Non-linear impacts
There is a high risk of triggering nonlinear tipping elements as global warming approaches and exceeds 2°C.

The most relevant examples include the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet leading to more rapid sea-level rise, or large-scale Amazon dieback drastically affecting ecosystems, rivers, agriculture, energy production, and livelihoods which would further add to 21st-century global warming and impact entire continents.

The projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur—the heat must be turned down. Only early, cooperative, international actions can make that happen.

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