From: Meraiah Foley, Associated Press
Published October 10, 2006 12:00 AM

Climate Change May Hurt Asian Economies

SYDNEY, Australia -- Hotter temperatures and higher sea levels could devastate Asian economies, displace millions of people and put millions more at risk from infectious disease, according to a climate change report released Monday.

Global temperatures will rise by up to 4 degrees by 2030, particularly in the arid regions of northern Pakistan, India and China, predicted the report, conducted by Australia's main research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

It said there is "little room for optimism" about the effects of climate change in the Asia-Pacific region unless governments take immediate action to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

Higher temperatures coupled with changing rainfall patterns, including more tropical cyclones, flooding and heavier monsoons, could put millions of people at a greater risk of malaria, dengue fever and other infectious diseases, the report warned.

It also predicted that millions of people living in low-lying coastal communities in Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and many Pacific islands could become displaced as sea levels rise by up to 20 inches over the next 65 years.

"Local and regional economies will be hit hard from chronic food and water insecurity and epidemic disease, as well as extreme weather events," said the report, which was commissioned by 12 environmental, church and nongovernment organizations.

The report's author, research scientist Ben Preston, said the region's poorest countries would bear the brunt of climate change.

"For many of these nations, they rely on agriculture not only for subsistence, but also it's a major component of their economies," he said. "So significant impact to agricultural productivity affects the ability of people not only to feed themselves, but also to make money."

Global warming could also alter or destroy the coastal ecosystems upon which millions of people depend for fishing or tourism-related income, Preston said.

He said many Asian countries have little or no information about the risks of climate change, and are totally unprepared to deal with its impact on their economies.

The report calls on the Australian government to help developing countries in the region invest in renewable energy sources and better prepare for large-scale natural disasters.

It also encourages Australia to review its immigration laws to take in people displaced by climate change.

Source: Associated Press


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