Friday, December 12, 2008

Aid agencies say overwhelmed by rising climate disasters

Aid agencies say overwhelmed by rising climate disasters

POZNAN, Poland, Dec 3 (AlertNet) -
The humanitarian community is overwhelmed by rising weather-related disasters and tens of billions of dollars are needed each year to reduce the risks from global warming, aid officials at U.N. climate change talks said on Wednesday.

The number of natural disasters had doubled in the past 20 years from around 200 to 400, Kasidis Rochanakorn, director of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva, told journalists.

There were 200 floods in 2005 compared with 50 in 1985, and they were damaging larger areas, he said. "Floods, droughts, storms do not have to end in disaster, they don't have to kill, people don't have to die. They die because they are not prepared," he said. "The problem today is that capacity has been overwhelmed because of the frequency and intensity of natural disasters." He called on governments negotiating a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming to provide more support for the humanitarian community to improve its ability to prepare and respond.

Maarten van Aalst of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre said it was not clear what proportion of the increase in weather-related disasters was due to global warming, but "we do know that climate change is already playing a role". The U.N. climate change panel has predicted that rising global temperatures will bring more heatwaves, droughts, heavy rains and stronger storms.

Reid Basher, policy coordinator for the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), warned that harmful development practices - such as stripping forests, destroying wetlands and poor construction - are making disasters more likely just as the impact of climate change begins to bite. "We are making things worse for ourselves and really putting almost like a time bomb there, waiting for climate change to reveal the hazards and the risks that we have been developing over many years," he said.

Basher said a large proportion of the estimated $50 billion needed each year to cover the cost of adapting to climate change would be required to cut the risk of disasters. The humanitarian community knows how to help people prepare for increasing disasters - including giving them better climate information and strengthening early warning systems - but there is a lack of capacity to put this into practice on a large enough scale, he added. José Riera, policy adviser for the U.N. refugee agency, said aid agencies and governments should sit down and work out how to deal with the increasing number of people who will be forced to flee their homes by climate change. "Climate has always been one of the reasons forcing people to move ... but what we risk seeing in the coming months and years is climate suddenly becoming the main driver of population movements," he said. Riera said climate change could increase the number of displaced people by around 6 million per year.

Statistics from the refugee agency show that 67 million people were uprooted around the world at the end of 2007, 25 million of them because of natural disasters. The aid officials called on the international community not to treat climate change only as an environmental issue but to focus on the needs of vulnerable people. "They know that disasters are coming with more intensity, more severity, they want to be supported, and governments around the world ... have to consider seriously the humanitarian aspects, because in the final analysis people matter," said Bekele Geleta, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.


Mother nature on display

Dalyellup resident Jaco Bosman snapped this image of a water spout forming off the coast of Bunbury on Saturday afternoon.
Dalyellup resident Jaco Bosman snapped this image of a water spout forming off the coast of Bunbury on Saturday afternoon.

A DALYELLUP resident in the right place at the right time witnessed a marvel of Mother Nature on the weekend – a waterspout off Bunbury’s coast.

Jaco Bosman was driving past Dalyellup Beach on Saturday evening when the meteorological phenomenon caught his eye.

Mr Bosman pulled over and watched the water spout for about a minute or two before it disappeared out of sight.

“I just caught the last of the show,” he said.

“It is the kind of thing you see on the Discovery Channel.

“I didn’t expect to see it happen in real life.”

A waterspout is an intense columnar vortex usually appearing as a funnel-shaped cloud that occurs over a body of water and is connected to a cumuliform cloud.

Waterspouts have long been recognised as serious marine hazards and history is filled with examples of ships being destroyed or damaged by them.

Meteorologist Joe Courtney said the waterspout formed due to unstable weather conditions on Saturday and rotating columns of air.

Lockheed wins $1.1 billion weather satellite contract

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Lockheed Martin Corp. has scored a $1.1 billion U.S. contract to build the country's next-generation of weather satellites, beating out rivals Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp. in a three-way race.

In a news release late Tuesday, Bethesda, Md., Lockheed (LMT) said it would build two generation-R spacecraft for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system. The deal also provides for an option to build one additional craft.

The first satellite is scheduled for delivery in 2014 with the second satellite's delivery a year after that. Launch of the first satellite is planned for 2015.

had built the most recent generation in series.Shares of Lockheed were up a fraction at last check to $73.92. Shares of Boeing Boeing Co. (BABA) slipped 2% to $39.80 and Northrop fell 1.3% to $38.70, trending the wider market.

GOES satellites circle the Earth at 22,300 miles above the surface and scan for severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms, and hurricanes. The first in the series was launched in 1994.

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the new generation of GOES satellites will result in more timely and accurate weather forecasts, directly affecting public safety and ultimately, economic health and development.

The contract value includes options. Last year Lockheed sales were $41.9 billion.



Thursday, 27 November 2008

OPENING IMO's Maritime Safety Committee meeting this week the body's secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos has expressed concern at the number of seafarers killed at sea this year, mainly in domestic ferries and small vessel, and at the prospect of the economic crisis leading to dangerous practices.

He said that there are grounds for genuine concern over a number of issues, one of them being the overall safety record of certain sectors of the shipping industry. He continued: “While the recent delivery of many new ships built to the highest IMO standards has injected a welcome element of youth into the age profile of the world merchant fleet and, as a consequence, a higher degree of safety, we cannot ignore the fact that, since the beginning of the year, well over 1,600 seafarers are estimated to have lost their lives in accidents mainly involving ferries in domestic service and small cargo ships caught up in adverse weather conditions.”

Mr Mitropoulos said: “I find these figures both disturbing and unacceptable – a real setback at a time when so many efforts are being made to enhance safety at sea and so many endeavours are coming to fruition, including the International Safety Management Code, the first phase of which entered into force 10 years ago.”

“Also of concern,” he said, “is the current financial crisis, which analysts predict will continue for some time to come and which is already negatively impacting on economies worldwide, triggering fears of a global recession. A prolonged crisis of the sort we have been experiencing since the summer will leave no sector unscathed and, along with the world trade, it has already affected the shipping industry. The situation may be exacerbated by the release of new tonnage into the market place from the recent years’ unprecedented world order book, which, in spite of the anticipated withdrawal of further single-hull tankers in 2010, may lead to a substantive imbalance between supply and demand of shipping capacity worldwide forcing ships to lay up.”

He cautioned: “In this difficult time ahead, when it will be prudent to seek economies to face the storm, it would also be necessary to guard against measures that may have a negative impact on the safety of ships and shipping operations. While recommending that we should all exercise patience and perseverance in weathering the crisis, I would advise against adhering to savings and practices that might play a contributory part in any decline in the safety record of shipping and in the efforts of the maritime community to protect and preserve the marine environment.”

Antarctic cruise vessel refloated


December 9, 2008

The Antarctic cruise vessel MV Ushuaia has been successfully refloated. The ship grounded December 4 at position 64¼35.5'S 062 ¼25'W, at the entrance of Wilhelmina Bay near Cape Anna in the NW Antarctic Peninsula. On board were 82 passengers and 42 crew.

Two diesel tanks were punctured and/or damaged (tank Nr.4 port side, and Nr.5 center), and spilled MGO.

The passengers, who may have gotten a little more adventure than they signed on for, were transferred to Chilean Naval Vessel Achiles next day using Zodiac landing craft from the MV Ushuaia and from another Anarctic tourist vessel, the MV Antarctic Dream, which had been standing by. The crew of the Ushuaia remained on board.

On the afternoon December 7, the crew of the MV Ushuaia and the crew of the Chilean Naval Tug Lautaro started to transfer 120 cu.m of diesel from MV Ushuaia to storage tanks on the Lautaro and 100 cu.m of fresh water was discharged into the sea. This was done to improve the buoyancy of the MV Ushuaia. Transferring fuel off the vessel also reduced the potential for additional spillage should anything go wrong with the refloating.

Efforts to refloat the vessel began at high tide (approximately 0400UTC/0100LT). The vessel was fully free at 0545UTC/0245LT. Escorted by Lautaro, MV Ushuaia began making way under its own steam towards Paradise Bay. No oil has been seen leaking from the vessel while underway; however, this could be due to wind and wave action causing any fuel leaked to be rapidly dispersed. To minimize any further oil spill, fuel from the damaged tanks is being transferred into tanks that are not compromised. Once the MV Ushuaia is in the relatively sheltered waters of Paradise Bay, a further inspection of the hull will take place.

You can read a blow by blow account of the incident from the International Association of Arctic Tour Operators HERE

You can get a somewhat different perspective on the incident from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition HERE.

The Ushuaiia is the former NOAA vessel Baldridge, which was retired from the agency in 1996 and which was originally delivered to NOAA as the Researcher from American Shipbuilding, Toledo, Ohio in 1978.

Messing About In Ships Podcast

12 more days to Christmas! Enjoy!