Climate Change: Humanity’s ticking time bomb

By Mushfik Khan

Climate change. I’m sure that most people reading this have heard those words before, but are we as aware or concerned of the causes and impacts of climate change as we should be?  I mean… when was the last time you saw it trending on Twitter?

Firstly, it is important to understand what ‘climate change’ actually means as a concept.

Earth’s climate has been changing for thousands of years and has remained relatively stable whilst doing so- as can be seen from the graph below. Therefore, it is of no surprise that it will continue to change. The thing which concerns scientists around the world is the rapid rate at which the earth’s climate has been changing in recent years.

Climate Change graph

For centuries, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere did not surpass the mark labelled with an arrow on the graph. However since the Industrial Revolution, human activity through the burning of fossil fuels has been increasing the level of greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at an  unstable rate.

Studies by NASA have shown that the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere are ramping up the natural greenhouse effect, causing more heat to become trapped and therefore raising the planet’s surface temperature. It is stated that the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, this may not seem significant but if it continues to increase any further, it will have devastating consequences for all life forms on earth.

We are already witnessing the impacts of climate change around the globe. In recent days the southern states of the USA have been hit with 3 category 5 hurricanes which have become more destructive as a result of climate change. Furthermore, large parts of East Africa are suffering extreme droughts, many areas around the world have experienced record breaking heatwaves and extremes in precipitation patterns.

Climate Change.jpg

Those are only a few of the effects of climate change. It is clear to see that we can no longer ignore the realness of climate change, it is time for nations to come together and figure out solutions and ways to prevent the impacts of climate change from growing worse. This was what the ‘Paris Climate Agreement’ aimed to do, to bring all of the world’s nations into a single agreement to tackle climate change and one of the key elements of the agreement was to keep global temperatures well below 2.0 degrees Celsius. However, despite the agreement being dubbed as ‘historic’, the President of the United States has refused to partake in the agreement, he has already voiced his controversial opinions on Twitter, claiming that climate change does not exist and that it is all a hoax. Without the United States as party to the agreement there is no chance of it succeeding. As the world’s wealthiest nation, it’s funds are vital to support developing nations to leap straight from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy and to set an example to other nations about the seriousness of the issue.

Despite the international stage looking murky on the topic of climate change, I can safely say from the research I have done that Wales as a nation has certainly been trying.

So far, the Welsh Government has passed two acts which both recognise the central importance of climate change. The first one is the ‘Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015’. This act requires public bodies across Wales to think in a more long term and sustainable way by setting seven ‘well-being goals’ which the public bodies must take into consideration when making decisions. Furthermore, ‘The Environment (Wales) Act 2016’ emphasises sustainable management of natural resources and requires public authorities to maintain and enhance biodiversity, it also puts an obligation on welsh ministers to meet targets for greenhouse gas emissions from Wales by calling for a reduction of at least 80% of emissions by 2050.

Clearly there is a lot more work that needs to be done globally regarding climate change but time is running out and we as the future generation need to try our best to do as much as we can to ensure that the planet that we call home now is not an apocalyptic scene in the future.

For more information on what you can do to save our planet, check out the links below:

https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/

https://www.wwf.org.uk/

 

 

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Key issues for the UN Climate Change Conference 2017

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The UN Climate Change Conference takes place on 6-17th November in Bonn, Germany and will be presided over by the Government of Fiji.

The location of the conference, the Fiji Islands, are among a number of nations around the world that are at risk of flooding as a result of higher sea levels, due to climate change. But what are the some of the issues that will be discussed at COP23 Fiji?

Flooding of low-lying islands

A rise in global temperatures results in the melting of glaciers, which contribute to sea level rise. This means low lying islands around the world are at high risk of flooding, with many inhabitants of these islands being required to migrate to higher ground, for good.

One report, written by the Environmental Research Letters journal studied the impacts of sea level rise on the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The report found that:

‘at least eleven islands across the northern Solomon Islands have either totally disappeared over recent decades or are currently experiencing severe erosion.’

This has a profound impact on the welfare of local inhabitants. According to an IPCC report, the risk of flooding has brought ‘social problems of economic insecurity, inadequate water supplies, and lower health standards.’ As a result, local inhabitants have had to relocate either to higher ground, or leave the islands completely. The impacts of forced migration are wide ranging: it can cause psychological stress and trauma, cause the separation of families, and can result in migrants losing their traditional culture in favour of adopting their host country’s culture. This can leave them feeling marginalised and alone.

The inequality of climate change

According to a study by Oxfam, findings indicate that “the poorest half of the global population is responsible for only 10 percent of total global emissions while nearly 50 percent can be attributed to the wealthiest 10 percent.”

This inequality is mostly out of a difference in lifestyles: the wealthier a person gets, the more the quality of their lifestyles improve. Moreover, the presence of large scale industrial centres in richer countries enhances their part in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

It is important that the UN COP23 address the rising inequalities of climate change, which can have generational impacts.

The United States’ Position on Climate Change

Following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, the United States’ position on climate change has changed, with many questioning the nation’s commitment to fighting the issue.

This issue was further intensified following the US’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, which sets targets for nations to lower their carbon dioxide emissions. As the United States is the second biggest global contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, the issue of addressing its role in fighting climate change is imperative.

In the journal Nature, Thomas Stocker, former co-chair of climate science for the IPCC, stated that “Trump’s decision to ignore scientific facts of climate disruption and the high risks of climate-change impacts is irresponsible not only towards his own people but to all people and life on this planet.”

Overall, as climate change continues to bring varying impacts to regions all around the world, it is hoped that this year’s Climate Change Conference will shed light on some of the issues faced, and allow the space for different countries to devise strategies on how best to respond to them.

Volunteer Voices: Anna Ratkai

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I am a student at Cardiff University and I was on a summer placement with the WCIA for 5 weeks. Throughout my placement I picked up multiple valuable skills, met numerous interesting people, and got involved in the organizing of a very fascinating project.

The atmosphere of the office was warm and welcoming, and the team was genuinely very keen on getting to know about me and about my interests. They also gave me ideas about where to volunteer and intern next to reach my future career goals. I found that I could easily make friends here, as all the other volunteers shared my interests and ambitions to help the ones in need, and learn more about international affairs. So altogether, the mood couldn’t have been any better.  But what did I actually do?

First, I started to work on a ‘Hidden History’ project. A Hidden History can be any topic that is not a mainstream object of history and is related to Wales and International Affairs. A Hidden History project can develop your research skills whilst it can also give you interviewing, writing, recording, or even video editing experience.

Later on I also had the chance to contribute to the blog of the WCIA by writing a post on a topic that is close to my heart – biodiversity loss. While writing this blog I learnt a lot about how Wales is contributing to biodiversity protection, and I discovered many volunteering opportunities for myself for the future if I were to engage in nature conservation activities.

The most interesting part however of my placement was being a part of the team that organizes the WCIA’s Human Library Festival. Organising such an important event gave me communication, time-management and coordination skills, while also giving me the opportunity to work alongside with refugees and get to know more about them as individuals and about their stories. I value this experience and I really hope the event will be a great success!

If you are interested in International Affairs, would like to gain valuable skills and get to know people who work in this field, the WCIA is the perfect place to volunteer and intern at!

You can find more information about volunteering with the WCIA here

Transforming our World: The 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda

Mark Bulmer, 2015 © Some rights reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://bit.ly/20s863K

Mark Bulmer, 2015 © Some rights reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://bit.ly/20s863K

Melanie Hawthorne, WCIA Volunteer

The United Nations Sustainable Development summit in New York on 25 -27 September 2015, agreed to 17 goals and 169 targets that build upon and develop from the eight Millennium Goals (MDG).  Broader in scope, the 15 year strategy of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) will include all 180 nations (both wealthy and poor) and not just focus on the developing nations as previously targeted by the MDG’s.

On November 4-6th, the DCF Uganda High-level Symposium will provide a first opportunity for a range of stakeholders to discuss development cooperation of the 2030 SD Agenda and explore ways to motivate, support and further shape cooperation as a critical means of implementation.

Initially, attention will be placed on what this means in terms of challenges and opportunities for development cooperation in Africa and the Symposium will focus on two overarching questions:

  1. How will the UN adapt development cooperation policies and interventions for implementing the SDGs?
  2. How will the UN monitor and review the impact of development cooperation in advancing the new sustainable development agenda.

The Symposium aims to bring to the table key issues related to ownership of the new global agenda, and will produce concrete evidence based policy guidance to be able to put into practice at international, regional, national and local level as part of the broader global partnership for sustainable development.

The report will be prepared in preparation for the 2016 meeting of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the UN platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will be the first HLPF after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Forum is expected to start effectively delivering on its mandates to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the Sustainable Development Agenda’s implementation and will meet from Monday, 11 July, to Wednesday, 20 July 2016, under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

*In order to informally contribute to the reflection, Major Groups and other Stakeholders were invited to provide their views and comments by completing an online questionnaire by 15 November 2015. Responses received will be made available on the website.

The Wales We Want

blog2As nations across the globe get to grips on how they will implement their own bottom up v’s top down policies through the framework guidelines, development cooperation is viewed as the main pillar of the global partnership for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Wales has a high profile in sustainable development and is recognised as being one of the first nations to take sustainable development seriously.

The Sustainable Development Charter managed by Cynnal Cymru/Sustain Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government encourages private, public and third sector organisations in Wales to become more resilient by using the principles of sustainable development – of improving decision making based on the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. Over 340 organisations have signed up on a voluntary basis and as more continue to do so as sustainable development continues to climb the agenda.

In April 2015, The Welsh Government passed into law The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act  that aims to improve the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales, and strengthen governance arrangements within public bodies to ensure that present needs are met without compromising the ability of future generations.

The legislation will place a statutory duty upon public bodies in Wales to adopt sustainable development as the central organising principle upon which all other organisational decisions are made and provide evidence on how this is implemented in practice.

The legislation identifies 7 key goals to improve the well-being of Wales:

  1. A Prosperous Wales
  2. A Resilient Wales
  3. A Healthier Wales
  4. A More equal Wales
  5. A Wales of Cohesive communities
  6. A Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh language
  7. A Globally responsible Wales

Delivered through Public Service Boards (PSB’s) and local wellbeing plans for all local authorities in order to improve wellbeing for people and their communities, Public bodies in Wales were asked to respond to the detailed draft guidance that aims to enable government bodies and agencies in responding to and complying with the statutory duties they are under as a result of the Act.   All public bodies are scheduled to commence statutory reporting on wellbeing indicators as from April 2017

These public Bodies include: Welsh Ministers, Local Authorities, Local Health Boards, Public Health Wales NHS Trust, Velindre NHS Trust, National Parks Authorities, Fire and Rescue Authorities, National Resources Wales, Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCW), Arts Council of Wales (ACW), Sports Council of Wales (SCW), National Library and the National Museum and Galleries Wales (NMGW).

The consultation documents closes for submission on the 16th November 2015

Alongside the Consultation the proposed national indicators,  How do you measure a nation’s progress? will measure and capture wellbeing statistics in Wales and the deadline for consultation is the 19th January 2016.

Picture Hope in the Thorns (2007), Dan Foy © Some rights reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license http://bit.ly/1WuB834

Climate Change – as viewed from Malaysia

Aaditya Rajaseharan

A flood-stricken family in Kota Tinggi.

Malaysia is a small but compact country located in South East Asia. It is divided into two parts: Peninsular Malaysia, the more urbanised region of the country, which includes the world famous Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Petronas Twin Towers and Sepang Formula One Circuit; and Eastern Malaysia which not only includes Sabah and Sarawak, two of the largest states in Malaysia, but also those that are populated by native Malaysians like the Kadazandusun, Kelabit and Ibanese people, who still practice their traditional beliefs today. Major cities like Kuching and Kota Kinabalu have very much become the soul of Eastern Malaysia.

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Is the U.S. drug war calling a ceasefire with marijuana?

Iwan Benneyworth

A cannabis store in Denver

The drugs debate in the UK has been somewhat stirred recently, with a Channel 4 documentary examining what cannabis does to the (Jon Snow) brain. This came in tandem with Nick Clegg announcing a Lib Dem election pledge to move drugs policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health, emphasising the public health rather than exclusively criminal nature of the issue.

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Lock and Load – Mexican vigilantes are on the rise

Mexican Army soldiers during a cleaning at Michoacán in August 2007

Anyone with even a passing interest in Mexico will be aware of the serious violence that has been underway in various parts of the country since 2006, as powerful cartels battle each other over the spoils of lucrative drug trafficking routes into the United States. Faced with local police forces that simply cannot cope due to under resourcing, intimidation or corruption, the Mexican state has often dispatched its armed forces to such semi-war zones in an effort to hold the line and clean house. Caught in the crossfire are the civilian populations, and after almost a decade of kidnappings, mass killings and intimidation, many of the worst affected communities in Mexico have responded by forming their own self-defence units, known as fuerzas autodefensas, or what are effectively vigilantes.

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