Climate witnesses demand climate solutions
Valencia, Spain – Real problems for real people caused by climate change demand real solutions, says the latest research from WWF, as it presents a new tool for concerned citizens to register and verify their observations of global warming.
The WWF initiative documents the experiences of people who are witnessing the impacts of climate change on their local environment and lifestyles.
"Around the world, people are witnessing the impacts of climate change and what they see is consistent with many of the findings of the IPCC’s latest global climate report," says Hans Verolme, Director of WWF's Global Climate Change Programme.
The testimony of these “Climate Witnesses” is reviewed by a member of the programme’s Science Advisory Panel to establish if the impacts reported are consistent with known trends, and if these stories can be placed in the context of climate change. Over 100 leading climate scientists from around the world have so far joined the panel.
“Climate change is still viewed by some as an abstract and distant threat,” Verolme adds.
“The Climate Witness Programme shows that it’s something that’s happening now and affecting the lives of people around the globe.”
Eye witness accounts
According to the IPCC, there have been eight mass bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef since 1979, triggered by unusually high sea surface temperatures.
“Aside from my concern about the impacts on the health of the reef, my thoughts turned to the impacts that coral bleaching may have on my business and community,” says John Rumney, a dive business owner in Australia.
“I have lost about 10 per cent of my dive sites in the past four years and I know what’s happened in the Caribbean and the Maldives. If that happens here, what will we show the guests?”
Climate research indicates that there will be higher temperatures and more precipitation, particularly in winter, in northern Norway. Icing, but also deeper snow cover, in mid-winter will probably cause problems for such activities as reindeer herding.
“The snow gets icy from the rain so that the reindeer cannot get through down to the food which they depend on to survive in the winter,” says reindeer herder Olav Mathis from Eira, Norway.
“I have three sons. One of them will hopefully keep to the family tradition of reindeer herding. But it is no longer a good life. It is an insecure future.”
By collecting these stories WWF wants to increase the awareness of people around the world that changes are already happening in many places. The global conservation organization also wants to impress upon decision-makers and the public the need for urgent and serious action to stop climate change.