Parts 6,7 Geography AS Unit 1 Global Challenges World at Risk

Geography AS Unit 1 Global Challenges World at Risk whole topic in cards! 

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6.Kyoto Protocol

an international agreement formed in 1997 between 190 countries, the main idea was to reduce GHG emissions between 2008 and 2012 to be 5.2% lower than 1990 levels. Developed countries have agreed to cut emissons by 5%, developing countries don't have to cut emissions, but need to monitor and report their countries. During negotiations the treaty became increasingly complex:

- For treaty to enter force, 55 countries had to ratify it (including countries accounting to 55% of emmisions) This wasnt achieved until 2005 when Russi signed it.

-Complex systems were introduced allowing trading of carbon credits, carbon sinks were allowed as carbon offsetting (some argue this allows polluters to carry on polluting)

- The protocol was undermined by the USA in 2001, when it pulled out of the protocol stating that the costs were too high and would damage the US economy

Success: progress has been made in some countries, it shows a united global front, allows flexible ways of meeting targets and somewhat adapts to countries needs, examples of success such as Denmark, further agreements such as EU carbon trading have been made

Failures: there are no real consequences for not meetng intended levels, many countries have made no progress - global emissions have infact risen by 38% betwwen 1992 and 2007, targets are often considered

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6.Key players in climate change

Governments - develop strategies on an international, national and local scale.

Businesses - can be responsible for contributing to climate change, or can help slow it down, they may lobby governments to reduce restrictions and allow them to continue producing greenhouse gases, or the may help by investing in new technologies to combat climate change. (TNC's such as Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell, Ford and General motors funded the Global Climate Coalisition between 1989 and 2002, this opposed action on climate change, and funded research to counter the warnings about global warming) Companies are however beginning to change their views, could be through: moral and public pressures to protect, fears about energ supply, increasing taxes by governments, demands from investors, new markets created by environmentally sound technologies e.g hybrid cars

NGO's - can have many roles and views depending on what they're se up to do and who their members are, e.g Greenpeace is an environmenal pressure group that tries to persuade governments to recognise and take action against climate change.

Communities and individuals - strategies developed on a larger scale are carried out at a local level, e.g a government may decide to encourage recycling, but the recycling is actually done by individuals. Without local strategies it is hard for individuals to do their bit. (London's climate change strategy, in 2007 the mayor of London launched the 'Action Today to Protect Tomorrow' commiting the city to reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 30% of 1990 levels by 2025 e.g clean efficient public transport systems - all 8,000 London buses

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6.Act local, think global!

International agreements help at the largest scale, but changes need to be co-ordinated at all levels, individuals can make small changes that can help the global problem, e.g reducing their carbon footprint.

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6.Why is progress on mitigation/global agreements

Uncertainty - We cannot say for sure how the climate will change in the future, the counter argument is that uncertainty makes it all the more neccersary to do something 

Costs - the costs of mitigating are high, and would damage economic growth. Against this we have evidence such as the stern review which suggests the costs of mitigation will be lower than not doing anything

Political inertia - mitigation policies, such as carbon taxes, are vote losers. This is one reason why progress is likely to be gradual, and based on consensus

Economic systems - business and inevitably pollute. Major investment is needed to implement clean systems and businesses are reluctant to invest in something which does not make profit for them

International agreements - these take time to negotiate, and not all countries agree. However, the Montreal and Kyoto agreemets have partially worked. Does ever country in the world need to sign up for an agreement to work? China, the USA and the EU account for over 50% of all carbon emissions.

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7.The enormity of the challenge

Climate change has implications for economic growth, human security and social wellbeing, especially for the poorest and most marginalised people. how countries cope with climate change will depend on wealth, poverty leads to poor health, malnutrition and an inability to cope with extreme weather events  

there is a vicious cycle of problems generated by climate change:

higher temperatures (more hazardous world, great impact on water and food supplies)

lead to increased evaporation (more water vapour, more ice sheets melting, accelerating changes due to positive feedback)

leads to worsening greenhouse effect (major issue is rising sea levels, global warming impacts)

leads to more uncertainty (more extreme weather with more uncertainty - changes in precipitation patterns, growing incidence of floods and severe storms)

leads to more impacts (more food insecurity, conflicts over water insecurity, more vunerable people, environmental refugees)

(the cycle repeats itself)

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7. Global warming will impact other global issues

Population increase = ^ demand on water supplies, for agriculture and indusry, estimates suggests that water demand could rise by 50%. World bank estimate: up to 50% world population (concentrated in Africa) will face water shortages by 2025.

Currently 1.2 billion experience stress because of physical scarcity, 1.6 billion experience economic water scarcity because of poverty and poor governance. 

Problem increased by climate issues; high temps in cities, unreliable rain supplies, dissaperance of glaciers (e.g himalayas) private companies in some countries have been allowed to provide water to large cities, disasterous for the urban poor.

Water stresses can lead to conflicts; Egypt relies heavily on the river Nile for its water supply, but it is an internationally owned river, Egpyt build a dam which created a large lake to store water, in 1980's Sudan and Ethiopia suffered droughts that lead to famine, Egypt wasnt affected because it had enough water stored in lake Nasser

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7. Global warming will impact other global issues

Food security means that populations have access to enough food for an active and healthy life, food insecurity results from lack of available food because of physical factors like climate/when food is available but people too poor to access it.

- Higher temperatures stress crops and reduce yields, yet prolong growing seasons allowing a wider range of crops to be grown

- Higher temperatures can promote the growth of crop pests and diseases

- Higher concentration of CO2 speeds plant growth and increases resilience to water stress, favourable in some areas up until a certain point (midwest USA)

- Certain areas (east Africa) will have more rainfall

In theory agriculture is adapatable, there are many techniques to overcome water stress and therefore food insecurity but these techniques can not be adopted by many as they require money and skills. Vital food crops (rice, wheat and corn) could plummet by over a third in the next 20 years

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7. The IPCC

  • They collected evidence during the 1990s to show that global warming was really happening by collecting data about the atmosphere, observing sea levels, measuring greenhouse gas concentrations and used supercomputers to predict the impacts of global warming.
  • The fear is a sequence of events leasing to irreversible change.
  • It could be so great that it causes shifts in climate belts which would be irreversible
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7. Stern Review

  • It focuses on the environmental impacts of global warming per degree C increase and the actions needed to deal with them.
  • Example - 1C rise = small Andes glaciers disappears, 10% land species face extinction, 80% coral bleaching, thermohaline circulation weakened
  • Example - 4C rise = potential 30-50% decreased water availability in Africa & Mediterranean, loss of around 1/2 Arctic tundra, rising risk of collapse of entire West Antarctic ice sheet


  • Options for change - reduce consumer demand, make global energy more efficient and prevent further deforestation, promote cleaner energy technology,
  • UK government response - set targets to reduce carbon emissions byt 30% by 2020 and 60% by 2050, pass laws to set carbon reduction, invest in green technology, create a $20 billion world bank fund to help poor countries adjust to climate change.
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7. HFA (Hyogo Framework for Action)

The HFA is a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards and control their severity.

168 countries agreed

It shows how closely disaster risk reduction is linked to escaping poverty

It is made up of 5 prioritised action plans -with the first being that disaster risk reduction is made a national and local policy.

UK- 2007, various flood warnings put in place, emergency services well prepared

Bangladesh- 2007, death toll nearly 500

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7. El Nino and La Nina

El Nino and La Nina result from changes in the circulation, air pressure and weather patterns in the Pacific ocean, they are part of a continually oscillating climate pattern pattern called the El Nino Southern Oscillation. 

Normal conditions- trade winds move warm water towards the western Pacific

El Nino conditions - east to west trade winds disrupted, water sloshes eastwards, air pressure over wast coast of South America becomes unusually low

La Nina conditions - The easterly trade winds are more intense than normal, air pressure is unusually high over the west coast of South America

(high pressure = hot and dry, low pressure = humid and wet)

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El Nino & La Nina effects

El Nino 

Peru (floods, fires, drought, famine) - 3 years of normal rainfall in three months, infrastructure destroyed - 30 major bridges lost, 370 miles of road destroyed, wildlife patterns destroyed, 250 deaths, thousands evacuated, 350,000 homeless, economy stopped

Also effected California (droughts, forest fires) Mississippi (snow) North America (tornadoes) Mexico (hurricanes, floods)

La Nina 

Carribean and North America (hurricanes) - Oct 1998, Hurricane George, destroyed infrastructure, created mudslides, more than 300 people died, 100,000 left homeless

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