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The Rich/Poor Divide

Nepalís Women Farmers Discard Imported Hybrid Seeds and Husband Local Varieties in Co-Op Seed Banks

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Sudeshna Sarkar | Inter Press Service

Kathmandu - Learning a lesson from crop failures attributed to climate change, Nepal’s women farmers are discarding imported hybrid seeds and husbanding hardier local varieties in cooperative seed banks.

"I had a crop failure two years ago," says Shobha Devkota, 32, from Jibjibe village in Rasuwa, a hilly district in central Nepal which is part of the Langtang National Park, a protected area encompassing two more districts, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk.

"The maize was attacked by pests, the paddy had no grain and the soil grew hard. I had a tough time trying to feed my three daughters and sending them to school."

Since her marriage 17 years ago, Shobha had been sharing farming chores with her husband Ram Krishna. However, when he left for Dubai four years ago to work as a security guard, farming became her responsibility entirely.

Though she has never been to school and can only scrawl her name, Shobha and other women in the village who share similar backgrounds, are keenly aware of changing climate and its adverse impact on livelihoods.

"Daytime temperatures are rising, rainfall has become erratic and there are frequent landslides and hailstorms," she says.

In 2007, when World Wildlife Fund-Nepal (WWF-Nepal) launched its Langtang National Park and Buffer Zone Support Project to conserve biodiversity and enhance livelihood opportunities by integrated management of land, forest and water resources, it commissioned a study on the impact of climate changes in Rasuwa.

The study by Resource Identification and Management Society-Nepal, after consultations with villagers and analysing data from 1978 to 2007, came up with alarming findings: There was an increase in seasonal, yearly and monthly temperatures in summer and monsoon while winter temperatures were decreasing.

Even more critically for agriculture, the average annual rainfall distribution showed a decreasing trend of nearly one mm per year.

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A country with no time for climate change scepticism

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March 3rd, 2011

Adam Corner | New Scientist

The attitude of those at the sharp end of climate change has important lessons for us all

THE struggle to persuade the inhabitants of industrialised nations to rein in their carbon emissions is well documented, but how is climate change viewed by people in developing countries? My research in Uganda provides some surprising insights. Opposing the scientific consensus on climate change has become something of an article of faith for the socially conservative religious right in the US. But in Uganda - a deeply religious and superstitious nation infamous for its rampant homophobia - climate change scepticism is nowhere to be seen.

The climate is a constant topic of conversation among ordinary Ugandans. More than 80 per cent of them are farmers, and people are in no doubt that the climate is changing. The seasonal rains that once arrived with precision are now erratic and unpredictable. When your living depends on the fertility of your farmland, the climate is vitally important. In an office in London or New York it is less of a big deal - and the invisibility of climate change in developed countries is a barrier to communicating the risks.

The fact that climate change is viewed through a local lens in Uganda has another important implication: there seems to be very little anger or resentment directed towards the nations that bear the historical responsibility for climate change. Instead, the national conversation focuses on the ways in which Ugandans can make their environment as resilient as possible. The stark reality is that even though Uganda has done little to cause climate change it will be forced to adapt to its effects.

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Climate Deal Failure Could Devastate World's Poor, IPCC Chief Says

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by: Stacy Feldman  |  SolveClimate

Cancun, Mexico - Further delay in international action to slow warming would endanger vast numbers of lives in the world's poorest countries, but Cancun can still deliver decisive progress to help avert disaster, the head of the UN climate science panel said.

In an interview with SolveClimate News, Rajendra Pachauri said he "would think" that the Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 negotiations taking place in the Mexican resort would achieve at least some success toward a new climate pact.

"I have every reason to believe — given the compelling logic that science provides — that negotiators will see the need for moving ahead quickly with us," he said on the sidelines of the talks.

"We really need to take action."

But at the crucial midway point in the 194-nation meeting, a rich-poor divide still dogs negotiations, observers say, failing to dispel fears that talks could end in deadlock.

Countries on both sides of the battle have attacked a new 33-page text designed to break the logjam on key issues, including saving carbon-absorbing rainforests and transferring clean technologies.


Reflections of a climate veteran

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Tan Copsey | China Dialogue

November 17, 2010

Tan Copsey: You’ve been involved in climate science for roughly 30 years now. Are you surprised at how little action governments have taken on the issue in that time?

Jim Hansen: Well, I’m no longer surprised. But if I had thought 30 years ago about what the government response might be, I would have expected that they would take account of what the science was saying, because we had experience with the ozone problem. When the science exposed that problem, governments were actually very prompt in their response. Initially they put in mild constraints on chlorofluorocarbons (which were depleting the ozone layer) and as the science became clearer, they put in stronger and stronger constraints. Now the amount of chlorine in the atmosphere is actually decreasing.

That problem was dealt with very effectively. But the climate problem is much more difficult. All they had to do to solve the ozone problem was develop new chemicals for refrigeration and other things that chlorofluorocarbons were used for. But with the climate problem, because of the central role of energy in national economies, there is a great reluctance to take the steps that are needed.

Governments say the right words about how they understand that we have a planet in peril and they set goals. But if you look at the actual emissions of greenhouse gases, they keep increasing globally. The reason they keep increasing is because fossil fuels are the cheapest energy source right now. In part, this is because they receive subsidies. But the main reason they’re cheapest is that fossil-fuel companies don’t have to pay for their costs to society. The effect on human health is quite enormous. There are more than a million people a year who die from air and water pollution, most of which is from fossil-fuel use of one sort or another. But all of those costs are borne by the public. They also do not need to pay for the damage they do to the environment.

The solution would be to move to the post fossil-fuel era sooner, rather than waiting until we’ve burned up all the fossil fuels on the planet. That would mean emphasising energy efficiency, renewable energies, nuclear power and other things that do not produce carbon dioxide. The one bright spot I see is the fact that China is investing a lot in all of these. It’s now investing more than any other country and that’s the right path to a solution.


Indigenous Lakota Women Face Harsh Winter Wrath Under Climate Change

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Tuesday 02 November 2010

by: Lys Anzia  |  Women News Network

Pine Ridge, South Dakota - U.S. Oglala Sioux Lakota Elder women and families suffering from severe poverty are bracing themselves to face a harsh winter season spurred on by climate change this year, according to NOAA – the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

With poverty conditions that rival some global developing regions and the lowest life expectancy in the Western hemisphere, second only to Haiti, the average current lifespan for women on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is 52 years, for men it’s 48 years.

Death rates for members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation suffering under severe poverty are shockingly 533% higher than their ‘non-Indian’ U.S. counterparts for tuberculosis, 249% higher for diabetes and 71% higher for pneumonia and influenza, says the U.S. Department of Health – Indian Health Services.

With conditions of extreme poverty inside the country, why are U.S. poverty statistics for Native American Indian reservations so often left out of global poverty studies made by international agencies? The answers are complex and tied to the ongoing curse of global indigenous invisibility.

Numerous Lakota Oglala Sioux women Elders, are now facing extreme poverty on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They also face real danger with threats of hypothermia during the winter season. “An average of 689 (reported) deaths per year in the United States results from excessive environmental cold exposure,” says educational resource group, the (U.S.) College of American Pathologists.

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