Asia and Africa: Living on the Edge

Climate Change, Global Warming

Follow these links to more on the latest news, policy decisions and science around climate change, including sustainable scenarios for a future without dependency on fossil fuels.


In 2007, China took over from the United States as the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Learn more about the roots of the Kyoto Protocol, the countries that have ratified the agreement, and more on how the treaty is enforced.

Energy Revolution -- A Sustainable World Energy Outlook (pdf)
This 2007 summary report from Greenpeace outlines future scenarios of energy use, including renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines, photovoltaic solar panels, and power plants run on biomass. Projections run by the International Energy Agency forecast that using these cleaner technologies along with energy efficiency can reduce worldwide energy demand by 47 percent by 2050.

Current Understanding of Antarctic Climate Change
A report from the PEW Center on Global Climate Change in 2007 explains why the northern hemisphere is warming more rapidly than the southern hemisphere. It also describes changes to the Antarctic ice sheet, which stores 60 percent of the Earth’s fresh water, and the impact on sea levels worldwide.


Climber and filmmaker David Breashears holds up a photograph of the Rongbuk Glacier, taken by British climber George Mallory in 1921. Breashears compares the old photograph to the glacier today, which has retreated more than 30 percent since the photograph was taken.

Worldwatch Institute: China Watch
A collaboration between Worldwatch and the Global Environmental Institute in Beijing, this news site provides reports and analysis on what China is doing nationally and regionally to tackle environmental problems. One report describes how the country’s environmental crises have spurred a growing environmental movement. Another reports on how China is dealing with the issue of being the largest dumping ground in Asia for e-waste.

Gateway to the U.N. System’s Work on Climate Change
The U.N. gateway lists all the latest international conferences and negotiations around climate change. Working with various partners, from the World Health Organization to the International Monetary Fund, the U.N. provides ongoing climate policy and investment recommendations to governments and corporations.

The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC)
Learn more about how the IPCC works, why it was created, and some of the latest research findings from the scientific body. 

BBC Interactive Climate Change Map
A series of maps reproduced on the BBC website predicts how surface temperatures are likely to rise over the next century. In all of the warming scenarios illustrated, the most dramatic temperature rises are predicted in the North Pole.

NASA Finds Greenland Snow Melting Hit Record High in High Places
Using microwave satellite imaging, NASA scientists have graphically mapped warming trends in Greenland. The space agency reports that the amount of snowmelt on the landmass in 2007 would cover more than twice the surface area of the United States. At the highest altitudes, ice is melting at 150 percent more than average.


Reports by Christian Aid and other NGOs working in Africa warn that falling crop yields and diminishing water supplies from persistent drought threaten the subsistence life of hundreds of thousands of pastoralists living across the continent.

Thematic Map on Global Impacts of Climate Change
Broken down by continent, this interactive map produced by the BBC calibrates the effects of climate change on food production, coastal waters, health, industry, and fresh water supplies. Drawing on the findings of the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), future scenarios provide grim reading. Glacier melts in the Himalayas will lead to temporary flooding and longer-term chronic water shortages for hundreds of millions of people living in China, Nepal and India over the next 20 to 30 years. Present research shows that some glaciers are retreating by up to 39 feet a year, and an unprecedented number of glacier lakes have appeared over the past 50 years. Also, crop yields in Africa could drop by 50 percent in some regions because of increasing droughts.  Most of Europe is also expected to feel negative impacts from climate change.

BBC Climate Change Portal
For the latest reports and opinion on climate change, the BBC has combined its considerable resources into a dedicated site on the looming climate crisis. Besides news reports, you can find scientific analysis on changing weather patterns, basic primers on what individuals can do, and interactive games that challenge your assumptions about the consequences of global warming.

The International Energy Agency (IEA)
A report released in June 2008 by the International Energy Agency, a key advisor to industrialized nations on energy policy, predicts that global carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 57 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The report rings the alarm bell for a fundamental shift in political priorities to tackle CO2 emissions. It notes that there is a huge disconnect between how the global energy sector is investing today and what it should be doing to prevent environmental catastrophe down the line.  Citing the proliferation of coal-fired power plants operating in Asia and the United States and more planned for the future, the agency suggests that carbon emissions will be locked at current or higher levels for at least the next 40 years, making the drastic carbon reduction targets recommended by the IPCC impossible to meet.

U.S. Power Plant CO2 Emissions
This interactive map on shows which U.S. states emit the largest amounts of CO2 per megawatt hour of electricity produced.  According to a 2008 study by the Brookings Institute, Lexington, Kentucky, carries the largest carbon footprint of 100 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas studied. The results were derived from transportation and residential energy use.

Alternative Energy
Covering a range of alternative options on the market, including biomass, nuclear, solar, and wind, this energy news site keeps abreast of developments in the burgeoning alternative energy sector. It provides a good indicator of what countries are adopting alternative energy solutions most aggressively and the latest underlying technologies in the transition away from fossil fuels. A lively blog also follows the national political debate around energy consumption.

-- Jackie Bennion