World climate conference slidecastPresentation Transcript
World Climate Conference Geneva, Switzerland February, 1979 Chris Welsh HIST 3ES3: Environmental Sustainability in Global History
World Meteorological Organization (W.M.O) United Nations (U.N.) The Palace of Nations (Geneva, Switzerland - 2005)
Purpose “To review knowledge of climatic change and variability, due to both natural and anthropogenic causes...” “To assess possible future climatic changes and variability and their implications for human activities.”
WHO ? Scientists or Economists
F. Kenneth Hare (1939 – 2002)
Presented paper at WCC titled: Climatic Variation and Variability: Empirical Evidence from Meteorological and Other Sources
At the time this paper was presented, Hare was a professor for the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada
Wanted to answer the questions:
“Is there evidence that climate can and does change?” “If so, what do past records and present-day observations tell us about such changes?” “What is the nature of climatic variation and variability?”
Human activities are affected by climate variability on both long and short-term time scales.
Regional climatic stress may not be abnormal but a product of climate variability and it does not exclude short-term regional renewal.
The northern hemisphere has been cooling and pollution may be offsetting the cooling trend because of the heat it can trap in the atmosphere.
Countries in northern latitudes will be more affected by changes in variable surface temperature than countries in equatorial and southern latitudes.
Variable precipitation is more likely to have a greater impact on “sub-humid or semi-arid” regions.
Economic practices that are aware of the possible return of regional climatic stress are the best defence against their reoccurrence .
In essence, climate is resilient.
Hare’s Follow-Up - In 1980, Hare renewed his position in a published paper titled, The Planetary Environment: Fragile or Sturdy?
Hare writes, “The release of nearly one-third of the original soil carbon, and the destruction of half the world’s original forest since Neolithic times have not plunged us into a climatic convulsion. Somehow the natural systems that we study have adapted to the changes, modulated them and masked them. They may well keep up the good work – though they will now have to contend with vastly more rapid environmental change.”
Ralph C. d’Arge’s Arguments
In his paper, Climate and Economic Activity, d’Arge argues that a reduction of 1 degree Celsius in average temperature could cost the United States upwards of 7 billion dollars per year.
In order to regulate CO2 emissions drastic changes in energy and deforestation would be required.
Although there have been proposals that the Earth is experiencing a warming trend that could result in the possibility of greater rainfall, a possible cooling trend cannot be ruled out entirely.
There is no scientific evidence that CO2 emissions induce global climate change ; but there is “significant indirect evidence “and “crude estimates.”
Accurate evidence of effects cannot be reached for 10 – 20 years.
Conclusions of the World Climate Conference
The increase of carbon dioxide in the lower atmosphere should be of urgent concern to nations
Dependency on the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation is seen as “likely to result in a massive atmospheric CO2 increase in future decades and centuries;”
These changes in CO2 levels may result in “possibly major long-term changes of global climate;”
Natural removal of CO2 from the atmosphere will be slow and so the impact of its increase will last longer.
Research should be increased in order to properly assess the impact of CO2 on the climate and other areas.