From Reuters Alertnet 16 Oct 2009 Written by: Kathleen Mogelgaard
Much of the focus leading up to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December is on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change: who should have to cut, by how much, and in what time frame.
We hear a lot about cap and trade, clean energy, promoting energy efficiency, and other technological solutions. For years, reducing emissions has been the focus of efforts to address climate change.
But we know now that reducing emissions is not enough. Millions of lives are being upended by the effects of changes in climate - food scarcity, water scarcity, vulnerability to natural disasters and infectious diseases, and population displacement. Women and children are the most vulnerable groups to climate change.
So how does reproductive health fit into this picture? A new study by the UK-based Optimum Population Trust and the London School of Economics shows the connection between contraceptives and climate change.
The study concludes that universal access to reproductive health could be one of the most cost effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
This helps to broaden our thinking around the diversity of strategies that will be needed for meaningful and lasting solutions to climate change as world leaders try to hammer out a new global climate treaty.
Investing in contraceptives and reproductive health is about more than reducing emissions. It is also a critical piece of reducing vulnerability and building resilience to the impacts of climate change.
This is true from a demographic perspective, as well as at the individual and household level.
VULNERABILITY HIGH WITH RAPID GROWTH
Rapid population growth can exacerbate existing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
Population growth rates in highly vulnerable low-elevation coastal zones in Bangladesh and China are nearly twice as high as national averages.
In Ethiopia, the combination of rapid population growth and climate-induced declines in agricultural production will heighten food insecurity.
At the household level, a woman with access to reproductive health services is healthier and has healthier children. She has greater opportunities to diversify income sources. And she is more likely to be able safeguard herself and her family in the event of disaster.
All of these things contribute to resilience in the face of the impacts of climate change.
Slowly but surely, the larger reproductive health and rights community is paying attention to these important linkages in the lead up to Copenhagen.
Last month, Population Action International's Karen Hardee participated in an event hosted by U.N. Population Fund to highlight this critical but often overlooked aspect of climate change.
Karen spoke of the link between meeting needs for reproductive health and fostering resilience in countries hard hit by the effects of climate change. She highlighted a recent working paper that examines national climate change adaptation plans for 41 least developed countries.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of these plans identify rapid population growth as a factor that exacerbates vulnerability in their countries. Unfortunately, only two propose adaptation projects that include aspects of reproductive health.
In a world where 200 million women have an "unmet need" for family planning, increasing access to contraceptive services can and should be one of the tools for addressing the impacts of climate change.
As heads of state gather in Copenhagen, they should broaden their view beyond the technological fixes that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and remember the human face of climate change - a face that is frequently female, and in need of fundamental support that will enable her to take care of herself, her family, and our world.
In an unprecedented move Wednesday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee rescinded the Peace Prize it awarded in 2007 to former US vice president Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, amid overwhelming evidence that global warming is an elaborate hoax cooked up by Mr. Gore.
A press release from the committee quotes a chagrined Rajendra Pachauri, the UN climate panel’s chair, who claims that he was the victim of a “cunning deception spanning decades”:
“I am deeply ashamed for having unwittingly perpetuated such a massive fraud on the governments of the world,” said Mr. Pachauri.
“It turns out that all that data from satellites and radiosondes, surface temperature readings, borehole analysis, measurements of rising sea levels, melting glaciers and permafrost, phenological data, and proxy reconstructions of paleoclimatic conditions were all fabricated out of thin air by my former friend, Al Gore. Now that I think about it, I suppose that we should have instituting some sort of peer-review process before publishing such alarming conclusions. Once again, I’m very sorry.”
After revoking the 2007 prize from Gore and the IPCC, the Nobel committee retroactively awarded it to the more than 31,000 people who signed the Oregon Petition – an appeal challenging the notion that there exists a scientific consensus regarding global warming – “for their efforts to pursue pure, objective science that is free from the influence of any special interest group.”
The prize of about $1.53 million will be divided equally among the petition’s signatories, whose expertise ranges from astrology to Intelligent Design.
For his part, Al Gore has owned up to duping the scientific community. In a blog post on his website, the ex-Nobel Laureate explains the genesis of his scheme, “now that the jig is up.”
As long as I can remember, my only goal in life has been to destroy free-market capitalism and replace it with global totalitarian socialism. But it seemed that traditional methods, such as guerrilla warfare, were proving unsuccessful. Then, one day in 1988, as I was strolling through the halls of my giant mansion, it hit me: carbon dioxide.
By striking at the molecule that lies at the heart of industrial civilization, I could bring the whole system to its knees and usher in a workers’ paradise.
The rest just sort of fell into place. I wrote a book, held some Congressional hearings, made a movie, dashed off a few pseudonymous journal articles on radiative forcing, and the next thing you know, I was on TV with Dave Matthews and Ludacris convincing people to purchase carbon offsets. Carbon offsets!
I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for that darn petition.
The New York Times quotes NASA climate scientist James Hansen, one of the most outspoken advocates of limiting greenhouse gas emissions, who says he bought Mr. Gore’s ruse “hook, line, and sinker.”
“I have to admit, Al got me good,” said Mr. Hansen as he packed up his personal belongings at his office at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. “Despite my decades of experience in climate modeling and satellite meteorology, I would just get mesmerized whenever he started showing me all those fancy charts and tables. The man is a real Svengali.”
Not all scientists were fooled by Mr. Gore’s ruse, but many remained silent nonetheless. The Associated Press quotes an anonymous marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who says she knew all along that “this climate change stuff was completely bogus.”
“But I played along,” she said. “The opportunities for securing global-warming-related grant money were just too great for me to resist.”
“Sweet, sweet grant money,” she added.
Following the Nobel committee’s announcement, national scientific academies from 187 countries hastily drafted a joint statement denouncing the theory of anthropogenic global warming and expressing a renewed humility in the face of complex natural phenomena:
It is our hope that, whenever future generations find themselves swayed by the notion that one can derive generalizations about the physical world by gathering measurable data and subjecting it to logical analysis, they will recall the humbling and extraordinary events of today, April Fools Day, 2009.
The only major scientific body not to sign the statement was the Royal Society of Canada, whose country has been brought to a standstill by a massive infestation of polar bears.
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