As scientists claim that the snows of Kilimanjaro are disappearing, where else in the world are the effects of climate change being most keenly felt?
People living in the flood-prone delta nation are feeling the full force of climate change. Frequent flooding wipes out crops, spreads disease and destroys homes. The UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) has pledged £75m over the next five years to help the people of Bangladesh cope with the impact of global warming.
Rising temperatures are causing the Sahara Desert to expand, eating into the farmland on the edge of the wastelands and causing immense pressure for food. Rainfall in the northern regions of Sudan, including war-torn Darfur, is down by 30 per cent over the past 40 years, with the Sahara advancing by well over a mile every year. Scientists believe that Darfur is an example of climate change conflict, with tribal disputes being exacerbated by increased demand for scarce fertile land and water reserves.
Warmer seas are believed to be bolstering the power of hurricanes, which rip through the Caribbean regions with increasing frequency and savagery. Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans in 2005, killing 1,600 people and causing an estimated $40 billion of damages, while research published in this summer in the science journal Naturesuggests that hurricanes in the Atlantic are more frequent than at any time in the last 1,000 years.
Australia’s arid climate means it has always been prone to forest fires, but scientists believe the ferocity of recent blazes is linked to climate change. The temperature has been rising steadily since the 1950s and this is increasing the intensity and frequency of outbreaks.
In one of the world’s last wildernesses, global warming is causing profound changes to the lives of its people. Winters that used to reach -50 degrees are now a comparatively mild -30, which is causing the permafrost to melt. Arctic houses are subsiding, and the nomadic people of the tundra find that their annual migrations are disrupted by unseasonably warm temperatures or unexpected snow falls.
The low-lying Pacific islands of Tuvalu face the very real threat that they could be wiped out by climate change. The highest point of the islands reaches only four and a half metres above sea level, and the coral upon which the islands are built is seeping sea water, making much of the land too salty to farm.
Great Barrier Reef
Climatologists believe that Australia is experiencing “accelerated climate change”, which puts the vast Great Barrier Reef at severe risk. Rising ocean temperatures cause bleaching of the coral, when the plants expel the tiny animals living inside them and turning into colourless calcium skeletons.
The much-loved European winter playground is increasingly under threat from warmer temperatures, disrupting the snowfall and causing the ice to melt. Scientists from the Convention for the Protection of the Alpspublished a report in June this year claiming that the Alps were gradually being split in two, with the southern regions receiving 10 per cent less precipitation over the past 100 years and the northern regions facing flooding and landslides.
Although climate change in Britain may not be as keenly felt as in Bangladesh or Tuvalu, scientists still maintain its effects are noticable. The National Trust warns of threats to historic properties and estates from flooding and storm surges, and highlights the worrying loss of wildlife habitats.