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Greenrock: Warming world could have a significant impact on Bermuda

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Global warming could have a significant and direct impact on the Island and its residents, according to environmental group Greenrock.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted that average sea levels will rise between 26cm and 82cm by the end of the century as a result of global warming, and that man has been the dominant influence on climate change.

Greenrock president Judith Landsberg said: “The latest IPCC report says it is virtually certain, their highest level of probability, that the oceans have already warmed as a result of human activity.

“Warming oceans mean higher sea levels, and we know from Anne Glasspool's 2009 study that if the sea rises by two metres we would lose not only the low-lying areas of Hamilton (critical to our economy) but the airport (critical to all of us).

“Rising sea surface temperatures also result in more extreme storms — with a big impact on our homes and on the international businesses domiciled here.”

Dr Landsberg called on Government to stand by the commitment made in the Energy White Paper to reduce electricity consumption by 20 percent and for 30 percent of electricity to be produced from renewable sources by 2020.

“These sound like ambitious goals, but they are in fact very achievable,” she said. “But they are not getting the political or public attention they deserve.

“We think we are prioritising the economy and jobs and that ‘the environment' is something ‘nice to have' when Bermuda's economy is healthier. The IPCC report makes it very clear that climate change is very tightly linked to our economy.

“Our experience at Greenrock in working with Bermuda businesses is that they are starting to look seriously at reducing their energy use and their carbon footprint because this saves money.

“Reducing our carbon footprint means reducing the amount of energy we use, the goods that we buy, the fossil fuel we burn for transportation. This will save money, potentially a lot of money.

“Our government spends $20 million a year on electricity — this could be cut by a third. Paying attention to climate change will help our economy in the short term and is absolutely vital for the health of the Island in the long term.”

The IPCC report, the first in a series detailing climate change, found that the combined average land and ocean surface data show a temperature rise of 0.85C over the period between 1880 and 2012.

Temperatures have risen every decade for the last 30 years, and that period was likely the warmest in the northern hemisphere in the last 1,400 years.

Professor Nicholas Bates, senior scientist and associate director of research at BIOS and one of several scientists who contributed to the chapter on ocean acidification in the IPCC report, said the impact of climate change has been noticeable.

“We have seen warming in surface waters of ~1C over the last 60 years in the upper waters, and decrease in pH of 0.013 per decade over the past thirty years, the longest time-series of changes in pH in the global ocean,” he said. “This represents a 20 percent increase in the H ion content over the last thirty years.”

“The oceans are mildly alkaline, and ‘ocean acidification' is the process whereby the alkalinity of seawater reduces. Calcifying organisms and ecosystems such as coral reefs are very sensitive to small changes in the chemical state of seawater.”

A BIOS spokeswoman said that the Executive Summary of the report, intended for policymakers around the world, intentionally stops short of offering specific recommendations because every country has a different capacity to enact legislation and cause positive change.

However, she said there are widely acknowledged steps that the public can take to help address the issue on a local level.

Useful websites: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/, www.greenrock.org, www.bios.edu.

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Published October 09, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 09, 2013 at 1:27 am)

Greenrock: Warming world could have a significant impact on Bermuda

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