Viktor Danilov-Danilyan, director of the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences, for RIA Novosti
Climate change on our planet are becoming less and less predictable. We keep calculating the losses caused by abnormal heat waves, floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes. According to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, since the last decade, natural disasters have become twice as frequent. Their growing number is a typical sign of climate change.
Some argue that nothing special is happening today in the world, if not quite natural climate variability - it was the case in the past, and it will be the same in the future. Others argue that the problem simply lies in the uncertainty of our knowledge, etc. Anyway, it is precisely in the context of uncertainty to think to climate risks because they are just as serious as the risks of nuclear war.
Global warming is already an undeniable fact, but the problem is not limited to this, because the entire climate system is unbalanced today. The global average surface temperature of the earth is rising, but the gaps are also increasing. Natural disasters are included. As in many other countries of the world, is observed more often in Russia of large floods and floods with dramatic consequences. They are the source of more than 50% of all economic losses caused by all hydrometeorological events.
On the territory of the Federal Region of Southern Russia, floods and droughts succeed. Everything starts with the big spring floods that followed heavy rainfall in early summer, causing flooding, but throughout the next three months, not a single drop of water falling. Result, seeds that have not been washed away by the floods were completed by drought. Such a threat still hangs over the territories of Krasnodar and Stavropol are, moreover, the main granaries of Russia, and the loss of the crop in these lands would be very painful for the entire country. We must recognize that such scenarios, related to abnormal climatic phenomena and which show, as a rule, by huge economic losses occur more and more often these days. According to estimates from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), annual losses after various hydrometeorological events, the consequences of climate change vary from Russia to 30 60 billion rubles.
The Far East of Russia, including Primorye, the Khabarovsk Territory, Kamchatka, Sakhalin and Kuril Islands, is also exposed to floods which are mainly caused by typhoons. Winter floods are typical of rivers and rivers of the Arctic Ocean basin. In 2001, Lena, are among the largest rivers in Eurasia, prevailed during a great flood the port city of Lensk. It took move people, build a new city with all its infrastructure. The volume of losses is hard to imagine.
The warming is an average of one degree through Russia, but in Siberia it is much more important (to 4 6 degrees). Therefore, the permafrost border moves constantly, and serious process that are related have already started, whether, for example, the border change between taiga and forest tundra, on one hand, or the boundary between the forest tundra and tundra on the other. Compared space shots of thirty years ago with those of today, we will not fail to note that the boundaries of these areas recede northward. This trend does not just threaten major pipelines but also the entire infrastructure of Western Siberia and Northwest Siberia. For now, these changes are not severe enough to damage infrastructure due to melting permafrost, but we should probably prepare for the worst.
Rising temperatures represents a huge risk to biota. The latter begins to recover, but the process is extremely painful. If indeed rising temperatures is important, a change in ecosystems is inevitable. Thus, the taiga, or coniferous forest, interspersed with bogs, will be replaced by broadleaf trees. But like any warming is accompanied by loss of climate stability, in the context of a trend of rising temperatures, those summer and winter can be as high as extremely low. After all, such conditions are particularly unfavorable to both types of forests, as the heat is bad for conifers, while very cold winters are not suitable at all to hardwood forests. For this reason, the redesign process of nature to climate stabilization promises to be dramatic and unstable.
Rising temperatures is a very dangerous factor in the marshes and permafrost, as this will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide and methane from decaying plants. Gas hydrates contained in the continental shelves of the North Sea, are sure to pass gas. All this will increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and strengthen therefore the global warming.
After such radical changes, ecological balance deteriorated (and deteriorating already), and the lives of many animals and plants worsen. For example, the polar bear's range is much reduced today. In 20 to 40 years, millions of geese, eiders, barnacles and other birds can lose half of nesting areas. If temperatures rise by at 3 4 degrees ecosystem food chain of the tundra will risk being disrupted, which inevitably will impact on many species.
The invasion that reflects, too, the restructuring of the biota is arguably one of the most unpleasant manifestations of global warming. The invasion is the penetration of alien species into ecosystems. Thus, a parasite such dangerous fields that cricket never ceases to progress northwards. For this reason, the region of Samara (on the Volga) and a range of other areas are threatened by these herbivores and voracious insects. The tick range has expanded sharply, too, since lately. Moreover, these parasites are now migrating to the north much faster than the border, for example, the taiga or the tundra wooded rolling backwards. Penetrating in different ecosystems, these parasites are involved in cash-gangsters, their own active reproduction having a devastating effect. No doubt the current climate change creates conditions for all these negative phenomena, as well as the spread of diseases of any kind. Thus, already in the Moscow region Anopheles - this inhabitant of the subtropics.
Some scientists claim that migration from the agricultural frontier to the North is a good for Russia. Indeed, the period of vegetation increases. However, this "benefit" is rather illusory as it may be accompanied by a growing risk of strong spring frosts killing the rising plants.
Could it be that with the warming, Russia can save energy through being obliged to heat less? And there, there would be useful to mention the example of the United States that spend more energy for space cooling that Russia spends for heating.
But how can the human community cope with the threats emanating from climate change? Trying to oppose nature is a notoriously thankless venture. However, it is possible to minimize this damage that men inflict on nature. This task has been brought to the political agenda in the last century. In 1988, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a forum for thousands of researchers, including scientists from Russia. In 1994, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into force in which 190 countries of the world are now favorable. This document defined the framework for international cooperation, of which the Kyoto Protocol (Japan), adopted in 1997, is the first fruit. As there is already considerable certainty that intense economic activities are having a negative impact on climate, the Kyoto Protocol has set itself the task of reducing the anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere by reducing, in particular, the release of including carbon dioxide and methane. Having ratified the Kyoto Protocol together with the other 166 countries signatory to this document, Russia is contributing to the reduction of the anthropogenic load on the atmosphere. But how to act? By the implantation of new "clean" technologies, by the general elevation of the culture of production and life. By cleansing the atmosphere, humanity will undoubtedly help the climate.
The views expressed in this article are strictly those of the author.