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World Climate Conference Calls For Global Weather Surveillance System, Could Help Predict Disease Outbreaks

The U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Monday opened the World Climate Conference – a week of talks in Geneva aimed at establishing a better global weather surveillance system to provide countries with “earlier, more accurate warnings about hurricanes, droughts and floods,” the Associated Press reports. The conference “seeks to help developing countries generate better data on their own climate issues and share that information with other countries,” the AP writes. “A large U.S. delegation” is in attendance, “eager to highlight the new Obama administration’s commitment to combatting climate change,” according to the news service (Engeler, 8/31).

About 2,500 decision makers and scientists from 150 nations are attending the conference, which is the third of its kind, according to VOA News. “Until now, nations have focused almost solely on ways to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gases. This is the first global conference that aims to tackle the problems that result from climate change and devise strategies to help nations adapt to these changes,” the news service writes (Schlein, 8/31).   

Reuters reports that the conference aims “especially to help poor nations adapt in areas such as health, agriculture, fisheries, transport, tourism and energy” (Doyle/MacInnis, 9/1). Deutsche Welle reports that WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud “gave the examples of malaria and cholera, two potentially fatal diseases that spread in certain climate conditions. Better weather data can help health authorities know when and where an outbreak might occur” (8/31).

World Radio Switzerland interviewed Carlo Scaramella of the World Food Program about the effects climate change could have on food security and developing countries. The Obama administration’s Sherburne Abbott was also interviewed (Helmick, 9/1).

Seven South Asian Countries Attend Climate Change Meeting In Nepal

South Asian nations are attending a separate meeting in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, to discuss “how to prevent climate change in the Himalayan mountains, the world’s highest range, bringing more natural disasters to an area where 750 million people regularly face floods and drought,” Bloomberg reports.

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be represented at the meeting, according to Mani Muthu Kumara, a meeting organizer who is a senior environmental economist at the World Bank. “The two-day meeting, called ‘Kathmandu to Copenhagen’ is a prelude to the Copenhagen conference in December,” Bloomberg writes. The article includes information about how food and water shortages could proliferate as a result of climate change (Shankar, 8/31).