From: Laura MacInnis, Reuters
Published February 8, 2007 12:00 AM

Global Warming to Require More Robust Disaster Monitoring

GENEVA -- Global warming will require more robust monitoring of hurricanes, typhoons and other disasters, mirroring systems in place to watch for tsunamis, a top United Nations official said on Wednesday.

Salvano Briceno, director of the U.N.'s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), said new scientific evidence presented last week in Paris signaled temperature and sea level increases that would "very likely" make natural disasters more frequent and more intense.

Better weather tracking and early-warning systems could help mitigate the impact of heat waves, heavy rains, mudslides and drought, Briceno said, while warning climate-related hazards cannot be prevented ' outright.

"Being prepared and being aware does not mean that we can avoid disaster," he told journalists in Geneva.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. panel of 2,500 scientists, said in a Feb. 2 report that average world temperatures would likely rise between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celcius (3.2 and 7.8 Fahrenheit) in the 21st century.

That group said more heatwaves and sea level increases could continue for more than 1,000 years even if greenhouse gas emissions -- released mainly by burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars -- were capped.

Replicating monitoring efforts strengthened after the deadly 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami could help address the "multi-hazards" expected to stem from climate change, Briceno said.

International donors should be careful to ensure the world's poorest countries are ready for natural disasters linked to global warming, he said, noting sub-Saharan African countries were especially vulnerable to disruption.

Aid ought to be well-coordinated to ensure houses, schools and hospitals are built away from landslide-prone areas, to protect coasts and farmlands and educate vulnerable people about ways to deal with natural disasters, he said.

Simple measures such a shift in Bangladesh to raise ducks -- which can float -- instead of chickens, which drown in floods, could help, he said. Efforts to plant drought-resistant crops in Cuba and India and to reinforce Costa Rican homes with storm-resistant bamboo were also good steps, he said.

Source: Reuters

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