Kofi Annan, Africa Climate Change, World Climate Conference
Sandro Campardo/AP Photo/Keystone
Kofi Annan, President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, listens to a speech during the opening
of the 3rd World Climate Conference of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Monday
Aug. 31, 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland.

New Technologies Could Protect Africa from Extreme Weather

September 01, 2009 05:00 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
Experts say developing countries need more funding for weather monitoring systems that would predict extreme weather associated with climate change, particularly in Africa.

Accurate Measurements Essential

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan discussed the need for "more innovative projects" to warn the public of extreme weather, such as tsunamis, droughts and hurricanes. Annan is already leading an initiative that places weather stations on cell phone towers in five African countries. The technology will bring "more accurate weather information to farmers and fishermen," according to Associated Press writer Alexander G. Higgins.

"We cannot hope to manage climate change unless we measure it accurately," Annan said to a gathering of 1,500 international officials and scientists at the U.N. World Climate Conference in Geneva. The weeklong conference addresses adaptive measures for countries dealing with climate change. Annan also called on wealthy nations to donate "large amounts of money, knowledge and equipment to the developing world," using his project as a model, according to Higgins.

A task force, determining how each country can contribute to "early warnings for tsunamis and hurricanes," will be set up this week.

Cell Phone Towers Predict Weather in Africa

Annan serves as president of the Global Humanitarian Forum, which teamed with Ericsson, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Columbia University's Earth Institute and a mobile telecommunications company called Zain to create "Weather Info for All." The project will install 5,000 weather stations "at new and existing mobile network sites throughout the continent over coming years," according to Aaron Ukodie, writing for the Daily Independent (Lagos).

At present, fewer than 200 of Africa's weather stations comply with WMO standards, "compared to several thousand each in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia." Furthermore, of the almost 300,000 deaths annually attributed to climate change, "Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for close to a quarter of these losses." The region also has the highest "immediate risk of droughts and floods," Ukodie explains.

Related Topic: Tsunami warning systems

Following the devastating 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, the Bush Administration led a $37.5 million effort to construct an improved tsunami warning system named Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting (DART2). According to Scott LaFee, writing in the San Diego Union-Tribune, companies have followed suit. A San Diego-based contractor, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) developed buoys meeting DART2 standards, and has set up two in Australia. Two more SAIC buoys will be deployed in the South China Sea as part of China's tsunami warning system.

Background: UN Climate Change Conference

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in an attempt to stymie federal carbon emissions regulations, is pressing for a public hearing with the Environmental Protection Agency that could end up in federal court.

The situation followed statements by Rajendra Pachauri, one of the U.N.'s top climate scientists, lending support to "ambitious goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions," the Australia Network News reported. Pachauri, who is also chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said he was in favor of the "call to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts per million," an important statement as world leaders prepare for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in December.

Reference: Climate Change

In "Nature Wages War: The Role of Climate Change," findingDulcinea discusses emerging evidence regarding man's role in global warming, myths about climate change, the costs of emissions reductions, the science of carbon and how climate change might be stopped or thwarted.

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