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The recently published 2015 Global Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace, said that although OECD countries became more peaceful in 2014, there has been substantial increase in annual war-related deaths since 2010, and there are now more refugees than at any time since the Second World War. It is currently difficult to give a definitive answer as to whether climate change could exacerbate these problems.
Climate change is likely to exacerbate a range of environmental problems including heat waves, water shortages, and extreme weather and flooding, but whether or not this will lead to increased rates of armed conflict is still the subject of research.
Today the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate announced the release of their new report “2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change: Policy Responses to Protect Public Health”.
Following a first report released in 2009, which concluded that “Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”, today’s report has a proactive, positive take-home: “tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century.”
Strategically released following the 68th World Health Assembly held last month and in the lead up to the UNFCCC’s COP21, to be held in Paris later this year, the report is the culmination of a second international (predominantly Chinese-European) working group assembled to assess the health impacts of climate change and to identify and accelerate effective mitigation and adaptation policies over the next 5 years.
Building resilience to extreme weather needs a systems approach, including institutional ‘software’ as well as technical, financial, and physical infrastructure – or ‘hardware’. Designing, financing, achieving and evaluating success in the intangible aspects of resilience is challenging. Illustrating the systems approach to this challenge, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has been supporting the government of Kenya to invest in social software as a means to manage variable resource availability in the northern drylands.
The term ‘sustainable development’ was first coined in 1987 in the UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development report, Our Common Future. Almost 30 years later, the concept of sustainable development is more relevant than ever.
The definition given in the report is, to this date, the most widely accepted modern definition of the term: ‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ Climate and society, energy, water, ecosystem health and monitoring, global health, poverty, urbanization, natural disasters, food, ecology and nutrition – these are some of the main problems that need to be tackled when discussing the possibility of sustainable development.
Our oceans are filthy with plastic. Most attention so far has focused on the bottles, carrier bags and other junk floating in the middle of our oceans. Some say that we ought to go out there and clean the stuff up. But a series of recent high-profile studies suggest that this stuff is only 1% of all the plastic in our oceans. The question on this World Oceans Day 2015 is, where is the other 99%?
It’s hard to imagine a life without plastics, and this awesome material has greatly advanced our standard of living.
Our planet is ill. Ongoing loss and endangerment of species, degradation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and their services, and manmade changes to the global climate are dramatic symptoms of a major decline in the planet’s environmental health.
In glaring contrast, human health has improved, in some cases radically. Decreases in malnutrition, mortality due to infectious diseases and infant mortality rates, accompanied by substantial increases in life expectancy, can be observed in every major region of the world.
So why is health winning a war, while the environment is losing one?
The marine renewable energy sector is poised and ready, waiting to harness the power of tides and waves with underwater tidal turbines and floating wave energy converters. A shift to renewable energy sources is essential to reducing global carbon emissions, but what are the consequences of these new technologies? Are we prepared for the effects of filling our already fragile oceans with rows of large, moving structures? Will we cause irreparable damage? Or might there even be some positive effects?
These are all questions relevant to my thesis and so, for two weeks, I attended a course on Marine Renewables and the Environment held at SAMS (the Scottish Association of Marine Science).
This blog post is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change event, organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
A recent event in London brought together emerging environmental scientists (PhD students and early career researchers) with leaders from business, policy and academia to explore the challenges posed by environmental change and opportunities to work in collaboration to respond to these.
Communities today find themselves and the environments they live in under increasing pressure. This is driven by growing populations, urban expansion and improving living standards that place increasing stress on natural resources.
This blog post by Jonathan Bosch, an SSCP DTP student, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
Natural resources are fundamental to human well-being, economic growth, and other areas of human development. Greater demand for food, water and energy resources against the current backdrop of climate change and population growth requires better management and more efficient use of natural resources to reduce the resulting stress on the earth’s natural systems.
This blog post by Malcom Graham, an SSCP DTP student, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
Environmental hazards are becoming more frequent and severe, with potentially serious impacts on people, supply chains and infrastructure globally. Advancing our knowledge and understanding of these hazards, and the processes involved, will allow us to better predict, plan for and manage the risks in order to increase resilience to these changes.
This blog post by Rebecca Emerton, a Scenario DTP student at University of Reading, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).
In addition to natural variability, human activities are causing rapid, large-scale climate and environmental change. Understanding how these processes work as a whole Earth system can improve our understanding of the impacts of these changes and inform responsible management.
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by Dr Karl Smith, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Every waking hour, I ingest water. Not always in its purest form, but near enough. Energy is important and right now (and rightly so), carbon is capturing headlines. But water is fundamental to our livelihoods.
The UN has designated 22 March World Water Day: “a day to celebrate water”. And why not? Never mind that it’s essential to all life forms. For modern living, it’s a necessity: we need 10 litres of water to make one sheet of paper; 182 litres to make a kilo of plastic.
by Bhopal Pandeya, Research Associate (ESPA Fellowship), Grantham Institute
Mountains are often referred to as ‘water towers’ as they provide fresh water to people and biodiversity. The Himalayan region is one of the few hot spots where several big rivers originate and supply water to hundreds of millions of people across the mountains and further downstream. However, higher up in the mountains especially in trans-Himalayan region, there is very little accessible water for local communities. The region receives very low rainfall and thus water supply is largely dependent on the timely occurrence of snow fall and ice melts in the upper mountains.
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By Dr Paul Parham, Honorary Lecturer in Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Many tropical diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease and dengue are transmitted to humans via mosquitoes and other carriers known as vectors. These vector-borne diseases continue to have a major impact on human health in the developing world: each year, more than a billion people become infected and around a million people die. In addition, around one in six cases of illness and disability worldwide arise from these diseases.
Malaria arguably continues to attract the most attention of all the vector-borne diseases by virtue of causing the greatest global disease burden.