Climate Change, Floods and Campaigning

CREDIT: Photo by Senior Airman Jesse Lopez SOURCE:

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Senior Airman Jesse Lopez. SOURCE: Flikr

An article which came out today in Nature magazine: “Francis Zwiers of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Toronto and colleagues present the first evidence that human-generated greenhouse gas emissions have altered rainfall patterns in the 20th Century. In the region between 40 and 70 degrees North, covering northern Europe, Russia and parts of North America, rainfall increased by 62 millimeters per century between 1925 and 1999. Zwiers and colleagues say that 50-85% of this increase can be attributed to human activity. The activists have certainly been quick to pick this story up. On Greenpeace’s site there is a balanced view, taking its lead from the Nature paper: “Is the ‘Great Flood of July’ the result of human-made climate change? Is this the future for Britain? Our climate modelling techniques – and especially our ways of combining different models – are quickly becoming more sophisticated. But it’s still impossible to link a single weather event to climate change; we still don’t know if July’s floods were directly caused by fossil fuels. But what we can now say with confidence is that burning fossil fuel has changed rainfall patterns around the world, increasing the frequency and intensity of rainfall in the UK.” Meanwhile, acutely aware how politically sensitive the whole issue is, iCount have launched an email campaign targeting Gordon Brown: “Freak floods are bad enough – if they really were freak. But now new research suggests that a swill of sewage-laden water washing through our living rooms might just be something we have to accept on a regular basis. The research – just published in the journal Nature – proves for the first time that greenhouse gases are already changing rainfall patterns over large parts of the UK, Europe, Canada and Russia. We’re getting more rain and more freak weather. We need to act, and we don’t have much time. Through the I Count campaign you’ve already been part of, we have won the promise of a climate law from the Government. It’s a great start. This law will go before Parliament in early 2008, but this is the critical time – the law is being drafted now. Scientists are telling us we need at least an 80% cut in the greenhouse gases we pump out by 2050, or climate-wise we’re stuffed. But the temptation to set an easy, look-good target at less than 80% will be very strong. Rumors are that Gordon Brown is already beginning to wobble. If this happens, and the target’s wrong, we’ll be stuck with climate law that’s useless.” Posted by J.Grant

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