Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Noticable Climate Change

The weather during November was noticeably warmer and drier than usual. Those visiting the countryside could realise that many plants started to flower earlier than usual and that insects that by this time of the year are usually dead or hiding remained active.

Some species of butterflies were especially common in areas where nectar-rich flowers such as those of the ivy were in bloom.

This unseasonal weather should get us thinking about the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 which is set to start next week in Copenhagen. The aim of this conference is to get the leaders of all the countries of the world to agree on how to fight global climate change and to ratify any agreement reached during the conference before 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 expires.

There is general agreement nowadays that climate change is taking place and that immediate action must be taken to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being produced by the burning of fossil fuels which are responsible for the rise in global temperature. Fossil fuels are the main source of energy production in both the developed and underdeveloped world.

In 1997 the USA was the largest consumer of fossil fuels but it has now been superseded by China and India both of which are arguing that their per capita consumption of fossil fuels is less than that of the United States and that therefore they should not be bound by the same commitments to reduce carbon dioxide production as developed nations.

Malta, as a member of the European Union, is committed to use more renewable sources of energy and rely less on fossil fuels on which we now depend for all our energy needs. Malta has a long way to go to be able to reach the targets to which it is committed. Other EU countries are way ahead. In 2007 Denmark obtained just under 17 percent of its energy from renewable sources. The target is to increase this to 20 percent by 2010 and 30 percent by 2020.

Combating global warming is of importance to Malta because climate change will have a negative effect on the Maltese islands. The rise in sea level will claim low lying areas and will reduce the amount of water in the sea-level aquifer on which we depend for much of the water we consume. Extreme weather will be more common creating havoc and hardship to all and the change in rainfall patterns will cause serious problems to the agricultural sector.

The Maltese government is responsible for the implementation of international pacts and agreements but it is the responsibility of everybody to avoid waste of energy and reduce energy consumption and thus lessen the production of damaging greenhouse gasses.

This article was published in The Times on 2 December 2009.

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