Tuesday, October 2, 2012

UN warns over impact of rapidly ageing populations - The world needs to do more to prepare for the impact of a rapidly ageing population, the UN has warned - particularly in developing countries. Within 10 years the number of people aged over 60 will pass one billion. The demographic shift will present huge challenges to countries' welfare, pension and healthcare systems.
The UN agency also said more had to be done to tackle "abuse, neglect and violence against older persons". The number of older people worldwide is growing faster than any other age group. The report, 'Ageing in the 21st Century: A Celebration and a Challenge', estimates that one in nine people around the world are older than 60. The elderly population is expected to swell by 200 million in the next decade to surpass one billion, and reach two billion by 2050. This rising proportion of older people is a consequence of success - improved nutrition, sanitation, healthcare, education and economic well-being are contributing factors.
But the UN says the ageing population is being widely mismanaged. "In many developing countries with large populations of young people, the challenge is that governments have not put policies and practices in place to support their current older populations or made enough preparations for 2050." The report warns that the skills and experience of older people are being wasted, with many under-employed and vulnerable to discrimination. More countries need to introduce pension schemes to ensure economic independence and reduce poverty in old age. It stressed that it was not enough to simply pass legislation - the new schemes needed to be funded properly. The UN report used India as an example, saying it needed to take urgent steps in this area.
Almost two-thirds of India's population is under 30. But it also has 100 million elderly people - a figure that is expected to increase threefold by 2050. Traditionally, people in India live in large, extended families and elderly people have been well looked after. But the trend now is to have smaller, nuclear families and many of the country's elderly are finding themselves cast out. It is slowly becoming a widespread social problem, particularly in urban areas, one which India still has not got to grips with.
By contrast, the UN report cited the case of Bolivia as an example of good practice in the developing world. All Bolivians over the age of 60 get a pension that is the equivalent of about $30 (£19) a month. Bolivia suffers from frequent flooding and landslides, and older people there have been organised into "Brigadas Blancas" - White Haired Brigades. They help with preparations for emergencies, and accessing humanitarian aid.

No update on Wednesday.

**Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.**
Dennis P. Kimbro

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In the Atlantic -
- Tropical storm Nadine was located about 700 mi [1125 km] WSW of the Azores, a little over 1,000 miles west of Portugal. As of Monday, Nadine has survived for about 20 days. Nadine is expected to retain tropical cyclone strength for another three to four days, in which case it could become one of the top five longest-lasting cyclones. Tropical storm conditions are expected in the Azores by Wednesday night. Nadine is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 1 to 2 inches over portions of the Azores through Thursday.

In the Western Pacific -
- Tropical storm Maliksi was located approximately 315 nm south-southeast of Iwo-to, Japan.
- Tropical storm Gaemi was located approximately 450 nm east of Hue, Vietnam. Expected to make landfall early Saturday along the central coast of Vietnam.

Tropical depression Gaemi, now a tropical storm, might enter the Philippines territory within 24 hours, the state weather bureau said Tuesday. The storm, with international name Gaemi was last spotted 530 kilometers west of Northern Luzon with maximum winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of 80 kph. It will be called Marce once it enters the Philippine area of responsibility. Gaemi is expected to bring occasional light to moderate rains (1.5-7.0 mm/hr) over Northern Luzon, Zambales, Bataan, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Cavite and Laguna. Fishing boats and other seacraft were advised not to venture out into the western seaboard of Luzon due to the big waves generated by Gaemi.
Tropical storm Gaemi forming in the South China Sea is expected to hit Thailand this weekend, threatening the Northeast and the Central Plains, including Bangkok, with heavy downpours. If the forecast is correct, it will be the first tropical storm to hit the country this year.
The warning, which raises new concerns over flooding, was announced by the Meteorology Department. It said a tropical depression, located about 600 kilometres east of Da Nang, Vietnam, is expected to turn into a storm in the middle of this week and is likely to hit central Vietnam between Thursday and Friday. The storm is expected to move westward on Saturday and Sunday bringing heavy rains on its path through Laos, northeastern and central Thailand to Tak's Mae Sot district and Myanmar.
Affected provinces will be mainly those located downstream from various dams, so people in these areas need to brace for flooding. "But the storm will not last long. It will keep on moving. That means it will only stay in Thailand a short time, for only three days." Water levels in the Chao Phraya River have been regulated to stay between two and four metres below the banks in Ayutthaya and Nakhon Sawan to cope with the extra run-off.
Bangkok is also preparing for the impact of the storm, which is expected to bring an average rainfall of 90 millimetres. Floodwaters from the rain will be drained from the streets in one hour, except in 206 flood-prone spots where drainage times may last two to three hours. The city is expected to experience drier weather this week, allowing officials to reinforce flood prevention measures. The canals must be drained so they can handle more water from rainfall that is expected to continue until next Wednesday. In inner Bangkok, water levels in Khlong Lat Phrao and Khlong Saen Saep are being reduced to make room for more water.
Still vulnerable to floods are Bangkok's outer districts of Klong Sam Wa, Min Buri, Nong Chok and Lat Krabang as they are located outside the city's flood wall. Meanwhile, the city's Department of Drainage and Sewerage has decided to raise the sluice gate at Khlong Song in Sai Mai district by 15 centimetres after locals threatened to block a road. The residents have demanded that the city raise the sluice gates at Khlong Song, Khlong Lam Mo Taek and Khlong Phraya Suren, which have been shut to protect Bangkok from floods. The closure has caused floods in communities near Khlong Hok Wa and in tambon Khukhot in Pathum Thani.


Stubborn drought maintains grip on U.S. lower 48 states - The nation's WORST DROUGHT IN DECADES consumed a larger portion of the lower 48 states last week with the Midwest corn harvest in full swing, according to the latest update by U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.

Drought Hits Shippers on U.S. Great Lakes - The Midwest drought is lowering water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to near-record lows, putting pressure on the shipping industry and turning some beaches into long mud flats.

Drought, then rain turn produce 'wonky' in Britain - Poor weather, one of the driest Marches and the WETTEST JUNE EVER has turned British produce "wonky" or misshapen, but officials say it tastes the same.

Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6 percent annually from global GDP, according to a new study.

Climate change to shrink fish by 25% by 2050 as oceans warm - "The reductions in body size will affect whole ecosystems."

Two years left to curb climate change, Government warned. The Government has been accused of being "reckless and short-sighted" over green policies, as it was warned there were just 50 months to take action to prevent catastrophic climate change.
The heads of organisations from Greenpeace to the Women’s Institute, business leaders and experts called on politicians to grab the opportunity to deal with climate change, which they said was one of the greatest threats to human progress. They warned that despite record ice-loss in the Arctic, and drought and soaring temperatures in the US, the issue had slipped down the political agenda. They said that on current trends there were just 50 months before the world crossed a critical threshold, beyond which it would be unlikely to limit temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees C. The 2 degrees C mark has been set by the UK and the European Union among others as a line which the world should not cross to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
"There is so much to gain from investing with speed and scale in a modern, low-carbon economy, that the failure to do so appears both reckless and short-sighted. Some recent policies seem even to take us backwards. More of the same, old, economics will not work. To create jobs, more secure energy systems and less pollution, investing in a massive energy efficiency drive, and a programme to expand renewable energy are just two of the more obvious steps that could benefit the economy and the environment."
The individuals and groups are all outlining things they will do differently over the next 50 months to ensure the world does not cross the threshold that makes it unlikely to avoid dangerous climate change. These include efforts to give every child practical skills such as cooking, to tackle obesity and instil the value of food, and growing food which gives them an appreciation of the natural environment.

The Arctic's changing climate - By the last days of September the ground would normally be white and the sea would be starting to freeze in the more sheltered bays and fjords. But this hasn't been a normal year in the arctic - and as if to reinforce the point September 29th's snowfall in northern Greenland was melting as soon as it fell.
Earlier this month the amount of sea ice in the arctic ocean reached its minimum extent since records began. Though it still envelops to the very north of this vast island - and will continue to do for many years yet - parts of the ocean that were once iced-over even in summer were exposed for the first time in possibly centuries. Scientists who are "not paid to worry" reacted with alarm. Though sea ice has come and gone before over the last millennia, no-one expected it to melt this far, this fast.
In Uummannaq - one of the arctic's northernmost towns - people see no argument about whether or not the climate is changing. For the last decade they've been noticing glaciers retreating further inland, less sea ice on which seal hunting and fishing used to take place, and the fact it is tangibly, palpably, warmer. This year has surprised even them. In July a short, very mild, spell melted a number of vast lakes in the vast Greenland Ice Sheet that covers 60 per cent of the island. It drained quickly off the ice cap and sent a catastrophic flood down a narrow valley in Kangerlussuaq home to the international airport. The water swept away a new, steel-and-concrete reinforced bridge designed to withstand a one-in-a-thousand year event out into the sea. How do you go about replacing it? No scientist on earth could tell you what sort of conditions it may have to withstand in future.
The climate change "debate" that lingers on further south just isn't happening here. There might still be a fringe argument over whether it's man-made or due to some natural variability in the arctic climate, but the majority opinion is that climate change isn't something that "might" happen. It's something that is most definitely happening and faster than anyone thought possible. Here the debate is a new one. How should the country adapt? And can it adapt fast enough?
Some see Greenland on the brink of becoming a new arctic power. Strategically well positioned for international trade in an ocean free of summer ice - its rocks packed full of unexploited minerals and oil. Others see traditional ways of life and one of the world's last great wildernesses about to disappear forever. A country like Greenland would be ruined trying to "climate-proof" itself against every eventuality - so how do you plan for a future which no-one can predict. When asked what he thought the arctic's future would look like one scientist said "who knows, we are currently in the middle of a vast global experiment, and we can't know what the outcome is going to be."