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Make poverty and climate change history Jowett to urge engineers

ICE news

'CLIMATE CHANGE is real, ICE vice president Paul Jowett told the audience for this year's Brunel lecture.

He pointed out that in June 2005 the science academies of 11 countries - Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, USA and the UK issued a joint statement It warned: 'Human activities are now causing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to rise well above preindustrial levels. Carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 parts per million in 1750 to over 375 ppm today ? higher than any previous levels in the last 420,000 years.

'Even if greenhouse gas emissions were stabilised instantly at today's levels, the climate would still continue to change as it adapts to the increased emission of recent decades. Further changes in climate are therefore unavoidable. Nations must prepare for them.

'Developing nations that lack the infrastructure or resources to respond to the impacts of climate change will be particularly affected. It is clear that many of the world's poorest people are likely to suffer the most from climate change.

'The task of devising and implementing strategies to adapt to the consequences of climate change will require worldwide collaborative inputs from a wide range of experts, including physical and natural scientists, engineers, social scientists, medical scientists, those in the humanities, business leaders and economists, ' it says.

Jowett added that the statement calls on the G8 leaders to identify steps to deliver substantial and long-term reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. It called for mobilisation of the engineering, science and technology community to develop and deploy clean energy technologies, energy efciency.

And it demanded that knowledge be shared with the developing nations, to enable them to develop innovative solutions to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Jowett pointed out that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected that over the next century average global surface temperatures will rise by between 1.4C and 5.8C. The combined effects of ice melting and sea water expansion are projected to cause the global sea-level to rise by between 0.1m and 0.9m by 2100.

In Bangladesh alone, a 0.5m sealevel rise would place about 6M people at risk from flooding. The IPPC also predicted:

Increased storminess and drought with major impacts on agricultural production in many parts of the developing world.

A range of impacts on human health, aggravated in many parts of the world by problems of water supply, and hunger and malnutrition.

Massive increases in species extinction rates.

Jowett said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that climate change already accounts for at least 5M cases of illness and more than 150,000 deaths per year through causes such as diarrhoea, malaria, bacterial contamination of food and malnutrition.

The effects of climate change are also manifest in the increased occurrence of shortterm episodes of extreme behaviours such as hurricanes and typhoons, ' he will say.

'Even without the effects of hurricanes, oods, earthquakes and landslides, the immediate prospects for both the urban and rural poor in many parts of the world are bleak, with little or no access to even the most basic of infrastructure, education, and health care, and with little, or at best tenuous, legal tenure to land or property'.

Jowett added that six of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) concern people's physical health, their economic and social well-being and their capacity to play a role in the world. Two of them relate to the condition we are in and how we deal with it.

'One way or another, all of the MDGs depend critically on the delivery ? and the processes of delivery ? of the underpinning infrastructure upon which civilisation depends.

Just as addressing climate change will involve engineers, so too will addressing the UN MDGs, he said.

'Of all the UN MDG targets, those that could have the most impact are those relating to safe water supplies and waste water disposal. Never has there been a truer statement than that which rst appeared on a Water Aid poster over 20 years ago: To judge the health of a nation, count the taps not the hospital beds.

'Two billion people worldwide currently are without access to an adequate water supply.

The UN's target is to halve that number by 2015. And that in the face of a world population that is becoming more and more urbanised.

Providing safe water for 1bn people by 2015 means connecting more than 250,000 people per day, every day, for the next 10 years. Can it be done? And if so how?' Bono, the lead singer of U2, laid down the challenge, said Jowett. The singer said: 'We are the rst generation that can look extreme poverty in the eye, and say this and mean it ? we have the cash, we have the drugs, we have the science. Do we have the will to make poverty history?' Jowett will concluded by saying that in the past, engineers have driven highways and railroads across continents, dammed mighty rivers, tunnelled under the sea and put men on the moon. As engineers, we are a key profession in the implementation of society's desires and needs.

'Yet, our profession needs to change in response to new social and environmental challenges ? where we claimed to 'direct the powers of nature for the use and convenience of mankind ' we now need to focus on 'working with the powers of nature for the use and benet of society.

'International development and poverty reduction are now mly on both the international political agenda and the ICE's.

'We need to start the process of engineering civilisation out of poverty and away from the threat of climate change.

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