Tag Archives: Asia

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Glaciers’ global melt may leave Alps bare

High mountain ice is vital to millions. As the world warms, the glaciers’ global melt could see the frozen peaks vanish.

LONDON, 12 April, 2019 – Many of the planet’s most scenic – and most valued – high-altitude landscapes are likely to look quite different within the next 80 years: the glaciers’ global melt will have left just bare rock.

By the century’s end, Europe’s famous Alps – the chain of snow- and ice-covered peaks that have become a playground of the wealthy and a source of income and pleasure for generations – will have lost more than nine-tenths of all its glacier ice.

And in the last 50 years, the world’s glaciers – in Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa and the sub-Arctic mountains – have lost more than nine trillion tonnes of ice as global temperatures creep ever upwards in response to profligate combustion of fossil fuels.

And as meltwater has trickled down the mountains, the seas have risen by 27mm, thanks entirely to glacial retreat.

“Present mass-loss rates indicate that glaciers could almost disappear in some mountain ranges in this century”

In two separate studies, Swiss scientists have tried to audit a profit and loss account for the world’s frozen high-altitude rivers, and found a steady downhill trend.

Glacial ice is a source of security and even wealth: in the poorest regions the annual summer melt of winter snow and ice banked at altitude can guarantee both energy as hydropower and water for crops in the valleys and floodplains.

In wealthy regions, the white peaks and slopes become sources of income as tourist attractions and centres for winter sport – as well as reliable sources of power and water.

Swiss focus

In the journal The Cryosphere, a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, almost always known simply as ETH Zurich, looked into the future of the nation’s own landscape, and beyond.

They made computer models of the annual flow of ice and its melting patterns and took 2017 as the reference year: a year when the Alpine glaciers bore 100 cubic kilometres of ice. And then they started simulating the future.

If humankind kept the promise made by 195 nations in Paris in 2015, to drastically reduce fossil fuel use, lower emissions of carbon dioxide, restore the forests and keep global warming to no more than 2°C above historic levels, then the stores of high ice would be reduced by more than a third over the next eight decades. If humankind went on expanding its use of fossil fuels at the present rates, then half of all the ice would be lost by 2050 and 95% by 2100.

Time lag

But there will be losses in all scenarios: warming so far has seen to that. Ice reflects radiation and keeps itself cold, so change lags behind atmospheric temperature.

“The future evolution of glaciers will strongly depend on how the climate will evolve,” said Harry Zekollari, once of ETH and now at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, who led the research. “In the case of a more limited warming, a far more substantial part of the glaciers could be saved.”

The Alpine glaciers were made world-famous first by Romantic painters and poets of the 19th century, among them JMW Turner and Lord Byron. But their contribution to rising sea levels is, in a global context, negligible.

When Swiss researchers and their Russian, Canadian and European partners looked at the big picture, they found that the mass loss of ice from the mountains of AlaskaCanada, parts of Asia and the Andes matched the increasing flow of water from the melting Greenland ice cap, and exceeded the flow of melting water from the Antarctic continent.

Europe’s modest melt

They report in Nature that glaciers separate from the Greenland and Antarctic sheets covered 706,000 square kilometres of the planet, with a total volume of 170,000 cubic kilometres, or 40 centimetres of potential sea level rise.

And in the five decades from 1961 to 2016, according to careful study of satellite imagery and historic observations, the seas have already risen by 27mm as a consequence of increasing rates of glacial retreat. This is already between 25% and 30% of observed sea level rise so far.

Europe did not figure much in the reckoning. “Globally, we lose three times the ice volume stored in the entirety of the European Alps – every single year,” said Michael Zemp, a glaciologist at the University of Zurich.

He and his colleagues warn: “Present mass-loss rates indicate that glaciers could almost disappear in some mountain ranges in this century, while heavily glacierised regions will continue to contribute to sea level rise beyond 2100.” – Climate News Network

High mountain ice is vital to millions. As the world warms, the glaciers’ global melt could see the frozen peaks vanish.

LONDON, 12 April, 2019 – Many of the planet’s most scenic – and most valued – high-altitude landscapes are likely to look quite different within the next 80 years: the glaciers’ global melt will have left just bare rock.

By the century’s end, Europe’s famous Alps – the chain of snow- and ice-covered peaks that have become a playground of the wealthy and a source of income and pleasure for generations – will have lost more than nine-tenths of all its glacier ice.

And in the last 50 years, the world’s glaciers – in Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa and the sub-Arctic mountains – have lost more than nine trillion tonnes of ice as global temperatures creep ever upwards in response to profligate combustion of fossil fuels.

And as meltwater has trickled down the mountains, the seas have risen by 27mm, thanks entirely to glacial retreat.

“Present mass-loss rates indicate that glaciers could almost disappear in some mountain ranges in this century”

In two separate studies, Swiss scientists have tried to audit a profit and loss account for the world’s frozen high-altitude rivers, and found a steady downhill trend.

Glacial ice is a source of security and even wealth: in the poorest regions the annual summer melt of winter snow and ice banked at altitude can guarantee both energy as hydropower and water for crops in the valleys and floodplains.

In wealthy regions, the white peaks and slopes become sources of income as tourist attractions and centres for winter sport – as well as reliable sources of power and water.

Swiss focus

In the journal The Cryosphere, a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, almost always known simply as ETH Zurich, looked into the future of the nation’s own landscape, and beyond.

They made computer models of the annual flow of ice and its melting patterns and took 2017 as the reference year: a year when the Alpine glaciers bore 100 cubic kilometres of ice. And then they started simulating the future.

If humankind kept the promise made by 195 nations in Paris in 2015, to drastically reduce fossil fuel use, lower emissions of carbon dioxide, restore the forests and keep global warming to no more than 2°C above historic levels, then the stores of high ice would be reduced by more than a third over the next eight decades. If humankind went on expanding its use of fossil fuels at the present rates, then half of all the ice would be lost by 2050 and 95% by 2100.

Time lag

But there will be losses in all scenarios: warming so far has seen to that. Ice reflects radiation and keeps itself cold, so change lags behind atmospheric temperature.

“The future evolution of glaciers will strongly depend on how the climate will evolve,” said Harry Zekollari, once of ETH and now at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, who led the research. “In the case of a more limited warming, a far more substantial part of the glaciers could be saved.”

The Alpine glaciers were made world-famous first by Romantic painters and poets of the 19th century, among them JMW Turner and Lord Byron. But their contribution to rising sea levels is, in a global context, negligible.

When Swiss researchers and their Russian, Canadian and European partners looked at the big picture, they found that the mass loss of ice from the mountains of AlaskaCanada, parts of Asia and the Andes matched the increasing flow of water from the melting Greenland ice cap, and exceeded the flow of melting water from the Antarctic continent.

Europe’s modest melt

They report in Nature that glaciers separate from the Greenland and Antarctic sheets covered 706,000 square kilometres of the planet, with a total volume of 170,000 cubic kilometres, or 40 centimetres of potential sea level rise.

And in the five decades from 1961 to 2016, according to careful study of satellite imagery and historic observations, the seas have already risen by 27mm as a consequence of increasing rates of glacial retreat. This is already between 25% and 30% of observed sea level rise so far.

Europe did not figure much in the reckoning. “Globally, we lose three times the ice volume stored in the entirety of the European Alps – every single year,” said Michael Zemp, a glaciologist at the University of Zurich.

He and his colleagues warn: “Present mass-loss rates indicate that glaciers could almost disappear in some mountain ranges in this century, while heavily glacierised regions will continue to contribute to sea level rise beyond 2100.” – Climate News Network

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Rising carbon will mean shrunken harvests

Higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere don’t just mean a warmer world: they could also mean both shrunken harvests and a less nourishing diet.

LONDON, 5 September, 2018 – A greenhouse world could be a more malnourished one, trying to survive on shrunken harvests. Researchers have confirmed that as carbon dioxide ratios in the atmosphere double later this century, the protein, iron and zinc content of many of the world’s staple crops could dwindle by between 3% and 17%.

Since an estimated two billion people are already affected in some way by hunger or malnutrition, the consequences are alarming. An extra 175 million people could become deficient in dietary zinc – a vital trace element in plant foods. An additional 122 million people will no longer get enough protein.

And 1.4 billion children below the age of 5 and women of child-bearing age already live in regions where the prevalence of anaemia reaches 20%, and stand to lose 4% of their dietary iron intake.

Almost two thirds of all the world’s dietary protein is provided by plants, along with four-fifths of its dietary iron and more than two thirds of the dietary zinc.

“Decisions we are making every day – how we heat our homes, what we eat, how we move around, what we choose to purchase – are making our food less nutritious”

Human civilisation and human food staples – wheat, rice, maize, potatoes, fruit, brassicas, beans and nuts – evolved together, and for most of human history carbon dioxide ratios in the atmosphere hovered around 280 parts per million. But since the start of the Industrial Revolution, these have reached 400ppm.

Two US scientists report in the journal Nature Climate Change that they used computer simulations to look at the effect of extra carbon dioxide – the consequence of ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels over the past 200 years – on the nutritional value of 225 different foods in the population of 151 countries around the planet. They settled on an upper limit of 550ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2050 as their test case.

And they found that the prevalence and severity of nutritional deficiency would be increased worldwide, particularly in Africa, south and south-east Asia and the Middle East.

Risk to millions

In just one country, India, an additional 50 million will start to suffer from zinc deficiency, 38 million will go short of protein and more than 500 million women and children will be at greater risk of anaemia and other diseases linked to insufficient dietary iron.

Other researchers have already made the same case using different approaches: they have repeatedly raised the alarm about the nutritional content of humanity’s favourite staples in a greenhouse world, made direct connections between carbon dioxide levels and plant protein productivity, and tested the hypothesis with common varieties of humanity’s most important food plant, rice.

More ominously, higher ratios of the greenhouse gas also mean a warmer world with greater extremes of heat, drought and rainfall: under such conditions plant toxins could become more dangerous, and yields for both fruit and vegetables and for staples such as wheat and maize could begin to fall.

Smaller harvests are likely to mean higher food prices: once again, those already poorest and most at risk of hunger and malnutrition will suffer.

Different future possible

It doesn’t have to happen this way: drastic and concerted efforts to limit global warming by switching to sun and wind power, and to accelerate development in the poorest parts of the world, could reduce the risk.

“Our research makes it clear that decisions we are making every day – how we heat our homes, what we eat, how we move around, what we choose to purchase – are making our food less nutritious and imperilling the health of other populations and future generations,” said Samuel Myers, principal research scientist in planetary health at the Harvard TH Chan school of public health in Boston, who led the research.

“We cannot disrupt most of the biophysical conditions to which we have adapted over millions of years without unanticipated impacts on our health and wellbeing.” – Climate News Network

Higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere don’t just mean a warmer world: they could also mean both shrunken harvests and a less nourishing diet.

LONDON, 5 September, 2018 – A greenhouse world could be a more malnourished one, trying to survive on shrunken harvests. Researchers have confirmed that as carbon dioxide ratios in the atmosphere double later this century, the protein, iron and zinc content of many of the world’s staple crops could dwindle by between 3% and 17%.

Since an estimated two billion people are already affected in some way by hunger or malnutrition, the consequences are alarming. An extra 175 million people could become deficient in dietary zinc – a vital trace element in plant foods. An additional 122 million people will no longer get enough protein.

And 1.4 billion children below the age of 5 and women of child-bearing age already live in regions where the prevalence of anaemia reaches 20%, and stand to lose 4% of their dietary iron intake.

Almost two thirds of all the world’s dietary protein is provided by plants, along with four-fifths of its dietary iron and more than two thirds of the dietary zinc.

“Decisions we are making every day – how we heat our homes, what we eat, how we move around, what we choose to purchase – are making our food less nutritious”

Human civilisation and human food staples – wheat, rice, maize, potatoes, fruit, brassicas, beans and nuts – evolved together, and for most of human history carbon dioxide ratios in the atmosphere hovered around 280 parts per million. But since the start of the Industrial Revolution, these have reached 400ppm.

Two US scientists report in the journal Nature Climate Change that they used computer simulations to look at the effect of extra carbon dioxide – the consequence of ever-increasing combustion of fossil fuels over the past 200 years – on the nutritional value of 225 different foods in the population of 151 countries around the planet. They settled on an upper limit of 550ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2050 as their test case.

And they found that the prevalence and severity of nutritional deficiency would be increased worldwide, particularly in Africa, south and south-east Asia and the Middle East.

Risk to millions

In just one country, India, an additional 50 million will start to suffer from zinc deficiency, 38 million will go short of protein and more than 500 million women and children will be at greater risk of anaemia and other diseases linked to insufficient dietary iron.

Other researchers have already made the same case using different approaches: they have repeatedly raised the alarm about the nutritional content of humanity’s favourite staples in a greenhouse world, made direct connections between carbon dioxide levels and plant protein productivity, and tested the hypothesis with common varieties of humanity’s most important food plant, rice.

More ominously, higher ratios of the greenhouse gas also mean a warmer world with greater extremes of heat, drought and rainfall: under such conditions plant toxins could become more dangerous, and yields for both fruit and vegetables and for staples such as wheat and maize could begin to fall.

Smaller harvests are likely to mean higher food prices: once again, those already poorest and most at risk of hunger and malnutrition will suffer.

Different future possible

It doesn’t have to happen this way: drastic and concerted efforts to limit global warming by switching to sun and wind power, and to accelerate development in the poorest parts of the world, could reduce the risk.

“Our research makes it clear that decisions we are making every day – how we heat our homes, what we eat, how we move around, what we choose to purchase – are making our food less nutritious and imperilling the health of other populations and future generations,” said Samuel Myers, principal research scientist in planetary health at the Harvard TH Chan school of public health in Boston, who led the research.

“We cannot disrupt most of the biophysical conditions to which we have adapted over millions of years without unanticipated impacts on our health and wellbeing.” – Climate News Network

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Rain and heat extremes set to grow

Millions of people in Asia and Europe can expect fiercer heat extremes, even if the world makes promised emissions cuts.

LONDON, 23 February, 2018 – The big heat is on the way: over 50% of Europe, and across more than a quarter of east Asia, the probability of record-breaking heat extremes will increase fivefold.

Over more than 35% of North America, Europe and East Asia, the chance of record-breaking rainfall will increase by more than threefold.

And this will happen even if the world’s nations honour the commitments they have already made to contain global warming by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

That would result in an average rise in global temperatures of between 2°C and 3°C by 2100. If the 195 nations that signed a climate accord in Paris in 2015 actually honour their collective vow to contain planetary average warming to about 1.5°C above historic averages, there will still be record-breaking temperatures and more intense extremes of wet and dry – but over a smaller proportion of the globe, according to a new study.

“We can use this kind of research to make decisions that both build resilience now and help us be prepared for the climate that we will face in the future”

That is, a difference of even 1°C in outcome means a huge difference in impact across the planet. The study confirms once again, with a different methodology, that action planned now to meet the Paris targets is not enough: nations must do more.

Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University in California and colleagues report in the journal Science Advances that they took a statistical framework already tested on drought in California and floods in northern India and applied it to the entire planet to see what difference global action might make.

The point of such research is to prepare national and civic authorities for extremes to come, and Professor Diffenbaugh and his fellow researchers have already used their statistical approach to connect human-induced global warming with drought in California, and changes in monsoon rainfall in Asia.

Conflict link

They have also applied mathematical techniques to connect climate change to the greater likelihood of conflict and violence.

The scientists warn that their methodology is conservative, and based not just on sophisticated computer simulations of climate, but also direct observations of climate extremes of temperature, drought and flood.

“Damages from extreme weather and climate events have been increasing, and 2017 was the costliest year on record. These rising costs are one of many signs that we are not prepared for today’s climate, let alone for another degree of global warming,” said Professor Diffenbaugh.

“But the good news is we don’t have to wait to play catch-up. Instead we can use this kind of research to make decisions that both build resilience now and help us be prepared for the climate that we will face in the future.” – Climate News Network

Millions of people in Asia and Europe can expect fiercer heat extremes, even if the world makes promised emissions cuts.

LONDON, 23 February, 2018 – The big heat is on the way: over 50% of Europe, and across more than a quarter of east Asia, the probability of record-breaking heat extremes will increase fivefold.

Over more than 35% of North America, Europe and East Asia, the chance of record-breaking rainfall will increase by more than threefold.

And this will happen even if the world’s nations honour the commitments they have already made to contain global warming by switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

That would result in an average rise in global temperatures of between 2°C and 3°C by 2100. If the 195 nations that signed a climate accord in Paris in 2015 actually honour their collective vow to contain planetary average warming to about 1.5°C above historic averages, there will still be record-breaking temperatures and more intense extremes of wet and dry – but over a smaller proportion of the globe, according to a new study.

“We can use this kind of research to make decisions that both build resilience now and help us be prepared for the climate that we will face in the future”

That is, a difference of even 1°C in outcome means a huge difference in impact across the planet. The study confirms once again, with a different methodology, that action planned now to meet the Paris targets is not enough: nations must do more.

Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University in California and colleagues report in the journal Science Advances that they took a statistical framework already tested on drought in California and floods in northern India and applied it to the entire planet to see what difference global action might make.

The point of such research is to prepare national and civic authorities for extremes to come, and Professor Diffenbaugh and his fellow researchers have already used their statistical approach to connect human-induced global warming with drought in California, and changes in monsoon rainfall in Asia.

Conflict link

They have also applied mathematical techniques to connect climate change to the greater likelihood of conflict and violence.

The scientists warn that their methodology is conservative, and based not just on sophisticated computer simulations of climate, but also direct observations of climate extremes of temperature, drought and flood.

“Damages from extreme weather and climate events have been increasing, and 2017 was the costliest year on record. These rising costs are one of many signs that we are not prepared for today’s climate, let alone for another degree of global warming,” said Professor Diffenbaugh.

“But the good news is we don’t have to wait to play catch-up. Instead we can use this kind of research to make decisions that both build resilience now and help us be prepared for the climate that we will face in the future.” – Climate News Network

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Warmer, wetter world faces lethal future

The thermometer rises, the air becomes saturated, and the warmer, wetter world turns potentially lethal. By 2100, billions could be in danger.

LONDON, 3 August, 2017 – If humans go on burning fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate – the notorious “business as usual” scenario – then potentially more than a billion people could be exposed to lethal levels of heat and humidity in this warmer, wetter world.

But if, instead, the world manages to act upon a global promise made in Paris in 2015, and to contain global warming to no more than an average rise of 2°C, the number at risk would be measured only in millions.

The threat comes not just from the extremes of heat of the kind that in 2015 killed an estimated 3,500 in India and Pakistan. It comes from the deadly double punch of heat and rising humidity.

Human safety under such conditions is measured on a scale called “wet bulb temperature”. Once this combined measure of temperature and air moisture reaches 31°C, perspiration can no longer be easily evaporated. Since perspiration is part of the machinery for keeping cool in intemperate conditions, human health and even survival is threatened.

Threshold nears

And researchers report in the journal Science Advances that unless there are serious reductions in global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that drive global warming and could trigger catastrophic climate change, the most extreme, once-in-25-years heat waves could increase wet bulb temperatures now at around 31°C to 34.2°C. At 35°C, few humans could survive more than a few hours.

“It brings us close to the threshold of survivability,” said Elfatih Eltahir, an environmental engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

And the people most likely to be at risk from such extremes live in northern India, Bangladesh and southern Pakistan. These regions are home to 1.5bn people, one fifth of the world’s population, many of whom survive on subsistence farming: they are among the world’s poorest. They are more likely to work out of doors, and are less likely to have access to air conditioning.

“With the disruption to agricultural production, it doesn’t need to be the heat wave itself that kills people. Production will go down, so potentially everyone will suffer”

“That makes them very vulnerable to these climatic changes, assuming no mitigation,” said Professor Eltahir. 

The forecasts are based on computer simulations of scenarios that nobody would wish to see repeated as real life experiments. They are backed by inexorable logic: for every 1°C rise in temperature, the potential saturation levels of the air rise by 7%, so where there is water to be evaporated, local humidity rises with the thermometer.

Professor Eltahir and his colleagues in 2015 examined conditions in the relatively wealthy Gulf region, and predicted potentially lethal wet bulb temperatures by 2100. He recently examined the effect of climate change on the flow of the River Nile, which provides food for millions in Egypt and Sudan.

Then he and colleagues looked at the possible future consequences for the most densely populated, food-growing regions of South Asia. Other researchers have repeatedly warned that heat extremes will increase, both in temperature and in frequency,  and in particular in parts of Asia.

Not inevitable

These heat waves will make air temperatures so high that some planes will have difficulty taking off, and will certainly reduce harvests in ways that will once again put the world’s poorest at highest risk.

“With the disruption to agricultural production, it doesn’t need to be the heat wave itself that kills people. Production will go down, so potentially everyone will suffer,” said Professor Eltahir. But this doesn’t have to happen: serious emissions reductions could reduce the risk.

“With mitigation, we hope we will be able to avoid these severe projections. This is not something that is unavoidable.” – Climate News Network

The thermometer rises, the air becomes saturated, and the warmer, wetter world turns potentially lethal. By 2100, billions could be in danger.

LONDON, 3 August, 2017 – If humans go on burning fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate – the notorious “business as usual” scenario – then potentially more than a billion people could be exposed to lethal levels of heat and humidity in this warmer, wetter world.

But if, instead, the world manages to act upon a global promise made in Paris in 2015, and to contain global warming to no more than an average rise of 2°C, the number at risk would be measured only in millions.

The threat comes not just from the extremes of heat of the kind that in 2015 killed an estimated 3,500 in India and Pakistan. It comes from the deadly double punch of heat and rising humidity.

Human safety under such conditions is measured on a scale called “wet bulb temperature”. Once this combined measure of temperature and air moisture reaches 31°C, perspiration can no longer be easily evaporated. Since perspiration is part of the machinery for keeping cool in intemperate conditions, human health and even survival is threatened.

Threshold nears

And researchers report in the journal Science Advances that unless there are serious reductions in global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that drive global warming and could trigger catastrophic climate change, the most extreme, once-in-25-years heat waves could increase wet bulb temperatures now at around 31°C to 34.2°C. At 35°C, few humans could survive more than a few hours.

“It brings us close to the threshold of survivability,” said Elfatih Eltahir, an environmental engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

And the people most likely to be at risk from such extremes live in northern India, Bangladesh and southern Pakistan. These regions are home to 1.5bn people, one fifth of the world’s population, many of whom survive on subsistence farming: they are among the world’s poorest. They are more likely to work out of doors, and are less likely to have access to air conditioning.

“With the disruption to agricultural production, it doesn’t need to be the heat wave itself that kills people. Production will go down, so potentially everyone will suffer”

“That makes them very vulnerable to these climatic changes, assuming no mitigation,” said Professor Eltahir. 

The forecasts are based on computer simulations of scenarios that nobody would wish to see repeated as real life experiments. They are backed by inexorable logic: for every 1°C rise in temperature, the potential saturation levels of the air rise by 7%, so where there is water to be evaporated, local humidity rises with the thermometer.

Professor Eltahir and his colleagues in 2015 examined conditions in the relatively wealthy Gulf region, and predicted potentially lethal wet bulb temperatures by 2100. He recently examined the effect of climate change on the flow of the River Nile, which provides food for millions in Egypt and Sudan.

Then he and colleagues looked at the possible future consequences for the most densely populated, food-growing regions of South Asia. Other researchers have repeatedly warned that heat extremes will increase, both in temperature and in frequency,  and in particular in parts of Asia.

Not inevitable

These heat waves will make air temperatures so high that some planes will have difficulty taking off, and will certainly reduce harvests in ways that will once again put the world’s poorest at highest risk.

“With the disruption to agricultural production, it doesn’t need to be the heat wave itself that kills people. Production will go down, so potentially everyone will suffer,” said Professor Eltahir. But this doesn’t have to happen: serious emissions reductions could reduce the risk.

“With mitigation, we hope we will be able to avoid these severe projections. This is not something that is unavoidable.” – Climate News Network

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Asia can gain by welcoming refugees

Welcoming refugees instead of seeing them as a drain on national economies could offer huge opportunities to Asian countries’ private sectors.

LONDON, 2 August, 2017 – Asian countries whose private business sectors are good at welcoming refugees as an opportunity, not a problem, can create benefits for everyone, says a sustainability expert.

Writing in the journal CSR Asia Weekly, Aaron Sloan says: “In the midst of the highest levels of displacement on record, it’s time to reconsider the relationship between the private sector and refugee populations, and how responsible businesses in Asia can leverage opportunities related to refugees that create shared value for all stakeholders.”

The Asia and Pacific region is home to 11% of the world’s displaced people, including 3.5 million refugees. The Asian Development Bank says Asia will continue to provide about 60% of global growth over 2017-18.  

But the Brookings Institute reported last year: “Asia lacks good regional models of constructive refugee policy and capacity-building to host the strangers at the gates,” adding: “For Asian countries to continue their economic growth and political rise, they’ll need better national and regional efforts to open up to the world’s diverse people and cultures.” 

Neglected human capital

Nearly two-thirds of all refugees have been or will be displaced for at least three years. In fact almost half have been displaced for over a decade, and more than 60% live in towns and cities, not camps.  

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has described Asia’s refugees as “a rich source of human capital that we are failing to cultivate.” 

Across the globe, Sloan writes, tensions are high from concerns that influxes of displaced people will result in increased crime levels and related social problems.

For businesses facing labour shortages, refugee workers – who are often more motivated and highly-adaptable than local employees – can ease tensions and promote stability, while also encouraging local people to see refugees as adding value to the communities in which they are hosted, as well as paying their share of taxes.

Multiple methods

The positive contribution refugees can make is also clear from Africa. Although, unlike in most Asian countries, refugees face substantial restrictions on their right to work and to move freely, they still actively contribute to the local economy.

A 2014 report on the right to work in 15 countries found “that working refugees bestow a range of benefits upon their host countries.

“Refugee entrepreneurs stimulate economies, creating businesses and jobs. They bring new skills into the country and place new demands for goods and services, diversifying markets and expanding trade. They pay taxes and prevent wage-depression.”

Sloan says there are three important ways the private sector can address the refugee crisis: the first is by exploiting its agility to respond quickly to market opportunities or humanitarian crises.

“The Syrian crisis is simply a dress rehearsal for an immense climate-fuelled disaster, which I think will begin to be felt within the next decade”

It can also fill humanitarian response gaps and seize the business opportunities offered as new arrivals offer their talents and knowledge to forward-thinking firms.

And the private sector can also welcome the skillset diversity and perspectives that refugees bring: “the business community’s reaction can highlight the long-term advantages of migration, something that politicians in fear of (or in thrall to) xenophobic currents have struggled to accomplish.” 

Other possible courses of action include:

  • offering private sponsorship to refugees (Canada is an example); 
  • empowering refugees by providing mobile phones and internet platforms, enabling them to protect themselves better and identify opportunities;
  • providing refugee-matching and job-matching services that put refugees in touch with local businesses using high-tech jobs platforms;
  • supporting risk-sharing investments that aim to address problems created in countries of first asylum by providing entrepreneurship and employment for both refugees and local people. 

By the end of this century, with the human population projected possibly to have reached 11 billion people, 2bn of them could be climate refugees. In 2015 a former British diplomat said: “The Syrian crisis is simply a dress rehearsal for an immense climate-fuelled disaster, which I think will begin to be felt within the next decade, perhaps within five or six years from now.” – Climate News Network

Welcoming refugees instead of seeing them as a drain on national economies could offer huge opportunities to Asian countries’ private sectors.

LONDON, 2 August, 2017 – Asian countries whose private business sectors are good at welcoming refugees as an opportunity, not a problem, can create benefits for everyone, says a sustainability expert.

Writing in the journal CSR Asia Weekly, Aaron Sloan says: “In the midst of the highest levels of displacement on record, it’s time to reconsider the relationship between the private sector and refugee populations, and how responsible businesses in Asia can leverage opportunities related to refugees that create shared value for all stakeholders.”

The Asia and Pacific region is home to 11% of the world’s displaced people, including 3.5 million refugees. The Asian Development Bank says Asia will continue to provide about 60% of global growth over 2017-18.  

But the Brookings Institute reported last year: “Asia lacks good regional models of constructive refugee policy and capacity-building to host the strangers at the gates,” adding: “For Asian countries to continue their economic growth and political rise, they’ll need better national and regional efforts to open up to the world’s diverse people and cultures.” 

Neglected human capital

Nearly two-thirds of all refugees have been or will be displaced for at least three years. In fact almost half have been displaced for over a decade, and more than 60% live in towns and cities, not camps.  

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has described Asia’s refugees as “a rich source of human capital that we are failing to cultivate.” 

Across the globe, Sloan writes, tensions are high from concerns that influxes of displaced people will result in increased crime levels and related social problems.

For businesses facing labour shortages, refugee workers – who are often more motivated and highly-adaptable than local employees – can ease tensions and promote stability, while also encouraging local people to see refugees as adding value to the communities in which they are hosted, as well as paying their share of taxes.

Multiple methods

The positive contribution refugees can make is also clear from Africa. Although, unlike in most Asian countries, refugees face substantial restrictions on their right to work and to move freely, they still actively contribute to the local economy.

A 2014 report on the right to work in 15 countries found “that working refugees bestow a range of benefits upon their host countries.

“Refugee entrepreneurs stimulate economies, creating businesses and jobs. They bring new skills into the country and place new demands for goods and services, diversifying markets and expanding trade. They pay taxes and prevent wage-depression.”

Sloan says there are three important ways the private sector can address the refugee crisis: the first is by exploiting its agility to respond quickly to market opportunities or humanitarian crises.

“The Syrian crisis is simply a dress rehearsal for an immense climate-fuelled disaster, which I think will begin to be felt within the next decade”

It can also fill humanitarian response gaps and seize the business opportunities offered as new arrivals offer their talents and knowledge to forward-thinking firms.

And the private sector can also welcome the skillset diversity and perspectives that refugees bring: “the business community’s reaction can highlight the long-term advantages of migration, something that politicians in fear of (or in thrall to) xenophobic currents have struggled to accomplish.” 

Other possible courses of action include:

  • offering private sponsorship to refugees (Canada is an example); 
  • empowering refugees by providing mobile phones and internet platforms, enabling them to protect themselves better and identify opportunities;
  • providing refugee-matching and job-matching services that put refugees in touch with local businesses using high-tech jobs platforms;
  • supporting risk-sharing investments that aim to address problems created in countries of first asylum by providing entrepreneurship and employment for both refugees and local people. 

By the end of this century, with the human population projected possibly to have reached 11 billion people, 2bn of them could be climate refugees. In 2015 a former British diplomat said: “The Syrian crisis is simply a dress rehearsal for an immense climate-fuelled disaster, which I think will begin to be felt within the next decade, perhaps within five or six years from now.” – Climate News Network