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Asunto:[LEA-Venezuela] Fw: [csdgen] Regional and Global Impacts of Vast Pollution Cloud Detailed In New UNEP Scientific Study
Fecha:Martes, 13 de Agosto, 2002  12:16:47 (-0400)
Autor:Sociedad de Amigos en defensa de la Gran Sabana-Orinoco Oil Watch <amigrans>

----- Original Message -----
From: "James Sniffen" <sniffenj@...>
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2002 8:14 AM
Subject: [csdgen] Regional and Global Impacts of Vast Pollution Cloud
Detailed In New UNEP Scientific Study

> Regional and Global Impacts of Vast Pollution Cloud Detailed In New
> Scientific Study
> Growing Threats to Food Security and Human Health in South Asia Challenges
> World Leaders at World Summit on Sustainable Development
> 30 Years UNEP: Environment for Development: People-Planet-Prosperity
> LONDON/NAIROBI, 12 August 2002 - A vast blanket of pollution stretching
> across South Asia is damaging agriculture, modifying rainfall patterns
> including those of the mighty monsoon and putting hundreds of thousands of
> people at risk, a new study suggests.
> The findings, by scientists working with the United Nations Environment
> Programme (UNEP), indicate that the spectacular economic growth seen in
> this part of the world in the past decade may soon falter as a result of
> the "Asian Brown Haze".
> Vital follow-up studies are needed to unravel the precise role this three
> kilometre-deep pollution blanket may be having on the region's climate and
> the world's.
> But the preliminary results indicate that the build up of the haze, a mass
> of ash, acids, aerosols and other particles, is disrupting weather
> including rainfall and wind patterns, and triggering droughts in western
> parts of the Asian continent.
> The concern is that the regional and global impacts of the haze are set to
> intensify over the next 30 years as the population of the Asian region
> rises to an estimated 5 billion people.
> Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, told a press conference in
> London where the report was launched, that action was needed to have a
> better understanding of the scientific complexities of the phenomenon as
> well as measures to reduce the haze.
> "The haze is the result of forest fires, the burning of agricultural
> wastes, dramatic increases in the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles,
> industries and power stations and emissions from millions of inefficient
> cookers burning wood, cow dung and other 'bio fuels'", he said.
> "More research is needed, but these initial findings clearly indicate that
> this growing cocktail of soot, particles, aerosols and other pollutants
> becoming a major environmental hazard for Asia. There are also global
> implications not least because a pollution parcel like this, which
> stretches three kilometres high, can travel half way round the globe in a
> week", said Mr. Toepfer.
> "We stand on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)
> which opens in Johannesburg on 26 August and comes 10 years after the Rio
> Earth Summit of 1992. The huge pollution problems emerging in Asia
> encapsulate the threats and challenges that the Summit needs to urgently
> address. These are how to achieve economic growth without sacrificing the
> long-term health and natural wealth of the planet. We have the initial
> findings, and the technological and financial resources available, let's
> now develop the science and find the political and moral will to achieve
> this for the sake of Asia, for the sake of the world", he added.
> The findings on the Asian Brown Cloud have come from observations gathered
> by 200 scientists working on the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX),
> supplemented by new satellite readings and computer modelling.
> The UNEP Scientific Panel who have produced the new report are leading
> academics in the field and include Professor V. Ramanathan of the Scripps
> Institute of Oceanography, in the United States, Nobel laureate Paul
> Crutzen of the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, and A.P.
> Mitra of the National Physical Laboratory in India.
> The researchers have looked broadly at the impacts of the haze on the
> region's climate, rainfall, human health and agriculture. The research is
> also trying to unravel links between the haze and its impacts on global
> warming.
> The Main Findings
> The haze appears to be having significant impacts on the climate and
> weather patterns of the region. This blanket of pollution is reducing the
> amount of sunlight or solar energy hitting the Earth's surface by as much
> as 10 to 15 per cent.
> Meanwhile, its heat-absorbing properties are estimated to be warming the
> lower parts of the atmosphere considerably.
> This combination of surface cooling and lower atmosphere heating appears
> be altering the winter monsoon, leading to a sharp fall in rainfall over
> northwestern parts of Asia and increase of rainfall along the eastern
> of Asia. However, the regional details of the predicted changes need to be
> verified with more comprehensive regional models and regional aerosol and
> climate observations.
> The global models used in the report suggest that the haze may reduce
> precipitation over northwest India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, western China
> and the neighbouring western central Asian region by between 20 per cent
> and 40 per cent.
> "One should note recent conditions", says the report. "There have been two
> consecutive droughts in 1999 and 2000 in Pakistan and the north-western
> parts of India, while increased flooding in the high rainfall areas of
> Bangladesh, Nepal and the north-eastern states of India."
> "For Bangladesh, there have been severe floods at intervals of seven to 10
> years, the recent floods occurring in 1988 and 1998. During the 1998
> as much as two thirds of the land area was inundated and nearly 1.6
> hectares of cropland was damaged", it adds.
> The aerosols and particles in the haze are also affecting rainfall in
> ways. Raindrops are becoming smaller and more numerous triggering less
> frequent rainfall and longer-lived clouds. One potential consequence is to
> move precipitation away from populated regions.
> A 10 per cent reduction in the levels of solar energy hitting the region's
> oceans in turn reduces the evaporation of the moisture that controls
> rainfall.
> The reduction in sunlight may be having significant impacts on
> the UNEP report says.
> Research carried out in India indicates that the haze may be reducing the
> winter rice harvests by as much as 10 per cent.
> Acids in the haze may, by falling as acid rain, have the potential to
> damage crops and trees. Ash falling on leaves can aggravate the impacts of
> reduced sunlight on the Earth's surface.
> The pollution that is forming the haze could be leading to "several
> hundreds of thousands" of premature deaths as a result of higher levels of
> respiratory diseases, the report suggests.
> Studies indicate that the level of fatalities is rising along with the
> levels of pollution. Results from seven cities in India alone, including
> Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai, estimate that some kinds of air
> pollution were annually responsible for 24,000 in the early 1990s. By the
> mid-1990s they resulted in an estimated 37,000 premature fatalities.
> While this study focuses on the impacts on South Asia, the haze problem is
> comparable, if not more severe, in Southeast and East Asia, including
> China.
> The scientists are calling for an action plan to address the threats
> Asia as a whole. The Project Asian Brown Cloud aims to establish
> observatories to study the haze as well as study the impacts on
> agriculture, health and water.
> It is hoped that such a project will not only shed more light on the
> complex science linking pollution hazes in the region with issues such as
> global warming, but also help policy makers plan strategies that will help
> reduce pollution and ensure the sustainability of the impressive economic
> growth rates in the region.
> Notes to Editors: The South Asian region includes the countries of
> Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri
> Lanka.
> "Asian Brown Cloud: Climate and Other Environmental Impacts" is a UNEP
> Assessment Report, commissioned by UNEP and prepared by the Center for
> Clouds, Chemistry and Climate and has been funded by UNEP, the National
> Science Foundation, of the United States, the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation
> and the Alderson Chair funds to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography,
> University of California, San Diego.
> A copy of the report is available at
> For more information, please contact: Nick Nuttall, Acting Director of
> Division of Communications and Public Information and Head of UNEP Media,
> tel: +254-2-623084, mobile: +254-733-632755, e-mail:
> or Jim Sniffen, UNEP Information Officer, New York, tel: +1-212-963-8094,
> e-mail: info@...
> UNEP News Release 2002/55

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