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Asia most vulnerable to warming

By Juliet Eilperin

Several countries in Asia are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change over the next three decades, according to a new study done by a British firm specializing in risk analysis.

The Climate Change Vulnerability Index, created by the firm Maplecroft, looks at 42 social, economic and environmental factors pertaining to three core areas: exposure to climate-related natural disasters and sea-level rise; human sensitivity to global warming in areas ranging from farming to population shifts; and individual governments' ability to cope with climate impacts.

Out of 170 countries the firm evaluated, 16 rank at "extreme risk," including Bagladesh at the top of the list with India as number two. The United States comes in on the safer end of the spectrum, receiving a "medium risk" placement at 129 out of all 170 nations.

Several other Asian countries made it into the highest-risk category, including the Philippines at 6 on the list, Vietnam at 13 and Pakistan at 16.

Matthew Bunce, principal environmental analyst at Maplecroft, said multinational businesses should take these findings into account when investing in developing nations in Asia and elsewhere, since firms "with operations or assets in these countries will become more exposed to associated risks, such as climate-related natural disasters, resource security and conflict. Understanding climate vulnerability will help companies make their investments more resilient to unexpected change."

Nordic countries are best positioned to cope with global warming, the report suggests, with Norway at 170, Finland at 169,, Iceland at 168, Sweden at 166 and Denmark at 165. Iceland is the one non-Scandinavian nation to receive a lowest-risk ranking of 167.


Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2011 (Maplecroft)

See the map larger.

By Juliet Eilperin  | October 25, 2010; 1:35 PM ET
 
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Comments

Solar flares: A little recognized threat that can lever strong response to Global Warming.

Imagine New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle and most of the Eastern U.S. without electricity from the power grid for several weeks. Now visualize the same disaster affecting most of the world’s cities!

WIDESPREAD potential power grid failures are a serious threat to national security. Rapid development of inexpensive green energy has become a wise insurance policy - as well as a surprising way for disruptive technologies to start to supersede the costly need for imported oil!

Twice this year large ejections from Solar Flares, had they hit Earth’s magnetic field, might have caused massive, long-term, power outages. Strong magnetic storms having that capability may remain a very real prospect for the next ten years.

A new 11 year sunspot cycle has begun. A solar flare released a huge coronal mass ejection (CME) in September. An earlier one occurred in April. Luckily, neither came close to Earth. Should a CME strike Earth's geomagnetic field, strong geomagnetic storms could result.

In the U.S., a strong geomagnetic storm could cause 130 million people to suffer a long-term shortage of electricity. The cost is estimated to be $1-2 trillion the first year. Roughly the combined price tag, to date, of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan!

A NASA map illustrates a possible catastrophic failure of U.S. power grids due to a strong geomagnetic storm. It can be viewed at: www.aesopinstitute.org

A chart on the same Aesop Institute site illustrates the predicted total number of sunspots, some of which could cause massive power outages, during each year of the current, eleven year, Solar Sunspot Cycle.

Full recovery in some areas could take between 4 and 10 years! That time span is similar to the time needed to recover from a severe hurricane such as Katrina.

What can be done to protect us from solar flare activity knocking out the power grids?

In addition to other sensible steps toward risk reduction, some of which are under way, we can rapidly implement inherently decentralized renewable power systems to minimize the impact. Rooftop solar is but one example. It can power individual homes and buildings. Fuel cells and other local power sources can also help.

Simultaneously, accelerate development of disruptive technologies to generate inexpensive green power. Superseding grid dependency has now become a wise insurance policy for the U.S. and the entire planet.

Posted by: magneticpower | October 25, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

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