The latest UN report on the potential impacts of climate change gives a grim verdict, with some effects now deemed unavoidable. But there are also lessons on disasters and violent conflicts which could help save lives and create safer societies regardless of human-caused climate change.
IPCC scientists are appointed by member states and these contributing researchers do not produce new science. They summarise the tens of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate change since the previous assessment (the last major IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities was published in 2014).
The scientists then receive thousands of review comments on drafts requiring textual revisions or responses. In making a series of statements on our understanding of climate change, the report assigns confidence levels such as “low” or “very high” to indicate how certain the authors are of each one.
The current report has been overshadowed by Ukrainian scientists having to leave the approval session to take care of themselves and their families during Russia’s invasion of their country. Nonetheless, around 90 scientists from all inhabited continents and balanced between women and men drafted the document. As frequently occurs, reports emerged of political pushes to remove scientific content which emphasises the political nature of the material.
Disasters and climate change
As an academic who researches disasters and health, I was particularly interested in how the report examined climate change as a cause of disasters, including violent conflicts, and set out actions to avoid them.
The IPCC’s summary entirely avoids the phrase “natural disaster”. This reflects decades of work explaining that disasters are caused by sources of vulnerability – such as unequal and inequitable access to essential services like healthcare or poorly designed or built infrastructure like power plants – rather than by the climate or other environmental influences.
The report states, with high confidence, that “climate change is contributing to humanitarian crises where climate hazards interact with high vulnerability”. In other words, vulnerability must exist before a crisis can emerge. Climate change is not the root cause of disaster. The report explains that places with “poverty, governance challenges and limited access to basic services and resources, violent conflict and high levels of climate-sensitive livelihoods” are more vulnerable to climate change impacts.
For example, cyclones still lead to disasters in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, the country has substantially reduced deaths and damage through concerted efforts to reduce vulnerabilities. These include building thousands of storm shelters and issuing early warnings by multiple means. These measures have made cyclones less deadly even as the storms have become more intense due to climate change.
Weather disasters which kill more people tend to occur where communities and infrastructure are more vulnerable, according to the report. Heat is rightly highlighted as a major concern, since it causes crops to fail and forces people to halt work. That said, it is surprising that the health impacts of humidity, which can combine with extreme heat to deadly effect, are not mentioned.
The report explains that disaster risk and impacts can be reduced by tackling fundamental issues which cause vulnerability, no matter what the weather and climate do. It places high confidence in risk management, risk sharing, and warning strategies as key tasks for adapting to climate change.
Violent conflict and climate change
As with disasters, the report cannot attribute violent conflict to climate change. With high confidence, the report states that “compared to other socioeconomic factors the influence of climate on conflict is assessed as relatively weak”. This corroborates other research which argues peace and conflict are more determined by social and political factors than by climate or weather.
The authors identify, with high confidence, actions to reduce the “underlying vulnerabilities” which raise the risk of violent conflict. These can be based on research and might include redistributing wealth and resources to make societies more equal and equitable, while providing diverse livelihoods. Adapting to climate change is only part of the solution. Scientific analyses note how development, rather than climate change adaptation only, is the most effective overall.
In fact, despite frequent assumptions that climate change caused or was linked to violent conflicts in the past, the summary implies that no single conflict should be attributed to climate change, natural or anthropogenic. This conclusion matches analyses for Darfur in 2003 and Syria in 2011.
Summary of the summary
The IPCC’s press release on the new report was headlined “Climate change: a threat to human wellbeing and health of the planet”. Its stark opening detailed “dangerous and widespread disruption”. Yet its subtitle, “Taking action now can secure our future,” needs emphasising. This is particularly the case for disasters and violent conflicts which, the summary document states with high confidence, are not significantly influenced by human-caused climate change.
Perhaps the press release mentions neither disasters nor violent conflict because they represent comparatively positive news among the bleakness. Ultimately, “taking action now” means applying the science of disasters and conflict for prevention. Then, we save lives and livelihoods, no matter what climate change does.
The World Bank at a time when according to the IMF, the MENA region is on track for a recovery, despite some rising social unrest threatening the ‘fragile’ progress of low-income economies, produced the following enthusiastic remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass address to the Arab Governors of the World Bank Group.
Remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass to the Arab Governors of the World Bank Group
Let me begin by congratulating Minister Khalil. Your appointment as Minister of Finance comes at a crucial moment in Lebanon’s history. The World Bank Group will work with you to support the critical reforms needed to address Lebanon’s challenges. Thank you for mentioning Hela in your opening. She’s the new IFC Vice President for the region, and I want you all to know the high priority we place on private sector advancement in the region. All parts of the World Bank Group are making that a high priority.
Dear Governors and distinguished guests, it is a pleasure to be with you again to discuss the challenges and opportunities in your region. Thank you for your recent annual letter outlining the key and urgent development challenges of the region. Let me also thank our Dean Dr Merza Hassan for helping to convene this meeting and for his unwavering support to the MENA region.
We meet today against a backdrop of uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to reversals in development gains in many regions, threatening jobs, social stability – and lives.
MENA was hit particularly hard by Covid 19. Even before the pandemic, growth had stalled, poverty was on the rise, and the social contract between citizens and the state was strained. Climate change adds a further burden to the development challenge.
During my recent visits to the region, to Sudan, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, I saw firsthand the impact of this multi-pronged crisis. I was concerned by low investment levels, high unemployment rates, and low female labor participation rates.
I also saw potential via regional integration, pro-growth investment, and improvements in the enabling environment for business. The recovery in global growth provides opportunities to make positive changes, and I was encouraged by my discussions with officials and businesses.
As you know, MENA is the least economically integrated region in the world. We have expressed our support for any initiative aimed at developing economic ties between countries in the region, and we are thus looking at ways to support the gas and electricity potential connection between Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
While we are not in a position to engage in Syria, we nevertheless are concerned about the Syrian people’s economic woes due to the degradation of the situation in the country. Our position has always been to look after the people, and we are doing so for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.
In the year leading up to the next annual meetings in Marrakesh, my message will remain focused on the importance of improving access to vaccines; recovering from Covid; overcoming conflict; mitigating and adapting to climate change; containing debt; and creating strong sustainable jobs for the youth of this region.
Morocco has made progress on all of these, and I want to thank you for graciously hosting us in 2022.
As a region, MENA will need to generate 300 million new jobs by 2050. These will be created largely by the private – not public – sector. Reaching this critical goal of sustainable job creation needs governance and transparency, rule of law, and an attractive business environment.
IBRD, IFC and MIGA are fully engaged. I’m interested in hearing from you where the World Bank Group can position itself better.
As we move toward Marrakesh in 2022 and Cop27 in Egypt, how can the Bank Group assist in making these events a launching pad for more sustained and comprehensive development in MENA?
Thank you again for inviting me and let’s now open our discussion.
Dezeen reports that in the United Kingdom architectural professions top the list of all elite occupations. For millennia, humans make and build the most things in the world, but also contaminate it the most, as it is getting more and more obvious these latter days. Would this impact this article’s assertion if generalised to the rest of the world, mean that those privileged society elites are responsible for what we got now?
This means architectural careers such as architects, town planning officers and technicians rank as number one in the study’s list of the 25 most elite occupations in the UK.
The report also found that class-based exclusion is more prominent in the creative industries than in other sectors of the economy, with other creative occupations ranking in the top 25 including artists, journalists and musicians.
Architecture sector “dominated by the privileged”
“Creative occupations such as architects; journalists and editors; musicians; artists; and producers and directors are, in fact, as dominated by the privileged as doctors, dentists, lawyers and judges,” the report states.
“They are even more elite than management consultants and stockbrokers.”
The report also found that in 2020, those from privileged backgrounds were twice as likely to be employed in the creative industries as those from working-class backgrounds (9.8 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.)
The Social Mobility in the Creative Economy report was carried out by Heather Carey, Dave O’Brien and Olivia Gable as part of a three-year programme led by the Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) exploring class in the creative industries.
In the report, privilege is defined as people who had at least one parent who worked in a “higher or lower managerial, administrative or professional occupation” when they were 14 years old.
This references the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC), which clusters various occupations together into eight groups. The report considers those who belong to groups I or II, which includes doctors, CEOs and lawyers, to be privileged.
One in four creative roles filled by working class people
The report also states that in 2020 just one in four people working in the creative industries sector were from lower socio-economic backgrounds and this has remained largely unchanged since 2014.
This means that the UK’s creative industries would need to employ 250,000 more working-class people to become as socio-economically diverse as the rest of the economy.
“To put this figure in perspective, this deficit is greater in scale than the size of the creative workforce in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined,” the report states.
As such, the authors of the report have also called on the government and industry to adopt a 10-point plan to establish a socially inclusive creative economy.
Recommendations include prioritising creating fair foundations for success and widening access to higher education, eliminating unpaid internships and accelerating the progression of diverse talent.
Nobody running Lebanon, says central bank boss, as reported by Laila Bassam and Nafisa Eltahir, whilst hitting back at criticism over fuel subsidy removal. The above image is a general view of Beirut central district, Lebanon, August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
BEIRUT, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Lebanon’s central bank governor said nobody was running the country as he defended his decision to halt fuel subsidies that have drained currency reserves, saying the government could resolve the problem quickly bypassing necessary legislation.
In an interview broadcast on Saturday, governor Riad Salameh pressed back against government accusations that he had acted alone in declaring an end to the subsidies on Wednesday, saying everyone knew the decision was coming. read more
Part of Lebanon’s wider financial meltdown, the steadily worsening fuel crisis has hit a crunch point, with hospitals, bakeries and many businesses scaling back operations or shutting down completely as fuel runs dry. read more
Deadly violence has flared in fuel lines, protesters have blocked roads, and fuel tankers have been hijacked this week.
The central bank’s move to end subsidies, which will mean a sharp increase in fuel prices, is the latest turn in the financial crisis that has sunk the Lebanese pound by 90% in less than two years and pushed more than half the population into poverty.
Salameh said Lebanon could recover but it was not possible to say how long that would take. “So far you have nobody running the country,” he told Radio Free Lebanon.
The central bank has effectively been subsidising fuel and other vital imports for the last two years by providing dollars at exchange rates below the real price of the Lebanese pound – most recently at 3,900 pounds to the dollar compared to parallel market rates above 20,000 – eating into a reserve which Salameh said now stood at $14 billion.
In order to continue providing such support, the central bank has said it needs legislation to allow use of the mandatory reserve, a portion of deposits that must be preserved by law.
“We are saying to everyone: You want to spend the mandatory reserve, we are ready, give us the law. It will take five minutes,” Salameh said.
The government has said fuel prices must not change, leaving fuel importers, who say they cannot import at market rates and sell at subsidised rates, demanding clarity.
“HUMILIATION OF THE LEBANESE”
Critics of the subsidy scheme say it has created huge incentives for smuggling and hoarding by selling petroleum products at a fraction of their real price.
Salameh said the bank had been obliged to finance traders who were not bringing product to market, and that more than $800 million spent on fuel imports in the last month should have lasted three months.
Despite an unprecedented wave of imports, Salameh noted there was no diesel, gasoline or electricity. “This is humiliation of the Lebanese,” he said.
Lebanon’s sectarian politicians have failed to agree on a new government since Prime Minister Hassan Diab quit last August after the catastrophic Beirut port blast. He has continued in a caretaker capacity since then.
Salameh said Lebanon could exit its crisis if a new government was formed that would embark on reforms. The Lebanese pound was “hostage to the formation of a new government and reforms”, he added.
The government has said steps to end subsidies must wait until prepaid cash cards for the poor are rolled out. Parliament approved these in June, but the financing has yet to be determined.
“When is the card? Let’s assume in the best case after two or three months … we will spend $3 billion while waiting,” Salameh said.Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir/Laila Bassam; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Kirsten Donovan
SAN FRANCISCO, California — Historically, the indigenous, tribal peoples of the Middle East, called the Bedouins or the Bedawi, have often been excluded or overlooked compared to the settled populations within the Levant region. Although a majority of the Bedouin community reside in the Negev desert, which is located in southern Israel by the border of Egypt, Bedouin individuals also live across the Levant, sometimes traveling into Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Iraq, among other countries. Bedouins come from a diverse range of ancestors, with a portion of the Bedouin community in Palestine originating from Sudan and other African nations.
The Modern Plight of the Desert Dwellers
Unfortunately, poverty and food insecurity are prevalent in Bedouin communities. The families within these groups are largely unable to access government programs and resources to aid them financially due to their nomadic lifestyles. Although research materials on the Bedouin community are difficult to find, some studies have been executed to investigate the population’s economic situation. As part of a study performed in 2008, Suleiman Abu-Bader and Daniel Gottlieb found that less than 9% of Bedouin females were part of the workforce in 2004 and more than three-quarters of the population experienced poverty in unregistered villages.
The nonprofit organization Bedouins Without Borders, created in 2015, aims to create awareness of the Bedouin community and advocate for the rights of Bedouins. As with other indigenous populations, the Bedouin people’s records are difficult to find, and thus, it is more difficult for them to access the resources they need. Therefore, part of the Bedouins Without Borders’ mission is to survey the Bedouin population and analyze the challenges they face in daily life.
Creating Bedouin Records
To aid in better serving the community and keeping track of the resources that families need, Bedouins Without Borders has established the Bedouin Data Bank for collecting basic information and the Bedouin Map to maintain a better understanding of the Bedouin movement over time. In working with mobile communities such as the Bedouin community that are always passing from place to place, it is necessary to log the activity of each tribal group and assess how their current circumstances shape factors such as food security.
The Bedouin youth themselves run these documentation programs, receiving training under the ALFURSAN initiative that Bedouins Without Borders developed to empower and motivate young people in the community. Organizational efforts such as these are crucial in providing the future skills that the Bedouin youth may need for their careers and bridging the cultural gap between the Bedouin community and other communities, making it beneficial on two fronts.
How Bedouins Without Borders Helps
One example of a program that Bedouins Without Borders offers to encourage development is Guardians of the Desert. Like the ALFURSAN program, Guardians of the Desert centers on self-empowerment and community strengthening efforts simultaneously through the youth’s direct engagement. Each of these programs offers valuable leadership positions to Bedouin teenagers and gives young Bedouin individuals the chance to spread awareness about their community and advocate for expanding economic opportunities.
As the Bedawi way of life shifts due to climate change, water shortages and the commercialization of desert areas, community leaders must rise to meet the challenge and tackle the economic issues faced with new methods. In response to increased financial insecurity, young adults in the Bedouin community have opted to become tour guides and implement their knowledge of the environment to educate others and produce revenue in the process.
In this pivot toward sustainable development and practices, ecotourism has become integral to creating a balanced way of life for the Bedouin people. To describe this economic sector succinctly, ecotourism is a method of promoting increased tourism to more remote areas of the world such as the Sahara Desert while also protecting the local ecosystem and informing visitors of how to support conservation efforts. In this manner, Bedouin nomads can produce the income needed for their daily lives without endangering the spaces they inhabit.
Thanks to the Bedouins Without Borders organization, Bedouin leaders and volunteers have designated specific regions as environmentally protected. The goals of establishing a protected area such as the Oasis include preserving land for animals to feed and ensuring that the Bedawi food sources remain abundant and plentiful despite climate change.
The Road Ahead
As a relatively new organization, Bedouins Without Borders has already established a dedicated group of volunteers and launched some promising projects to support its cause. As settlement conflicts continue in Palestine and Israel, Bedouins Without Borders remains diligent in protecting Bedouin interests and ensuring community safety. Currently, Bedouins Without Borders proceeds in its mission to inform people about the community and raise awareness by spotlighting young voices in the Bedouin Monitor section of its website. In 2021, it is hopeful that Bedouins Without Borders will further develop its environmental conservation and poverty reduction efforts for a better tomorrow.
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