Thursday, July 5, 2012

Key Findings of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5)

The fifth edition of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5) was published on June 6, 2012. Some to the reports key findings include projections that see substantial GHG and temperature increases. The report also covers air and water pollution, economic implications, agricultural impacts, extinction risks, and fishing. Here are some key facts and figures from the report:

Under current models, greenhouse gas emissions could double over the next 50 years, leading to rise in global temperature of 3 degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century.

Indoor air pollution from particulate matter is responsible for nearly 2 million premature deaths annually - including 900,000 deaths in children under the age of five.

Outdoor particulate matter may be responsible for around 3.7 million deaths annually.

Ground-level ozone is responsible for 700,000 respiratory deaths, over 75 per cent of which occur in Asia.

Global economic losses due to reduced agricultural yields caused by air pollution are estimated at US $14-26 billion annually.

The extinction risk is increasing faster for corals than for any other group of living organisms, with the condition of coral reefs declining by 38 per cent since 1980. Rapid contraction is projected by 2050.

Though catches more than quadrupled from the early 1950s to the mid-1990s, they have stabilized or diminished since then - despite increased fishing. In 2000, catches could have been 7-36 percent higher were it not for stock depletion. This translated into economic losses to the value of $4-36 billion.

Water quality in at least parts of most major river systems still fails to meet World Health Organization (standards. More than 600 million people are expected to lack access to safe drinking water by 2015, while more than 2.5 billion people will lack access to basic sanitation. By 2030, an estimated $9-11 billion will be spent annually on additional infrastructure to provide sufficient quantities of water, especially in developing countries.

The number of flood and drought disasters rose by 230 per cent and 38 per cent respectively between the 1980s and 2000s, while the number of people exposed to floods rose by 114 per cent.

The cost of coastal adaptation to climate change is estimated to reach between US $26 billion and US $89 billion by the 2040s, depending on the magnitude of sea-level rise.

To download the full report click here.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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