Predictions are now certain:
planet Earth is undergoing a climate change that could
have dire consequences for all forms of life. Thousands
of delegates are gathered in India to try to reach
agreements aimed at confronting this problem, debating
at the conference known as COP 8.
Session of the Conference of Parties (COP 8) to
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) was convened Oct 23 to Nov 1 in New Delhi.
Officials and environmentalists alike hope that it
will mark a shift towards a negotiating phase for
compliance with past agreements.
Framework Convention (pdf), which dates back to
1992, has been signed by 185 countries. For the last
decade, the world's governments have carried out intense
negotiations to define a strategy to halt climate
change, attributed to the so-called "greenhouse
effect", caused by the accumulation in the Earth's
atmosphere of gases emitted in the combustion of fossil
fuels like petroleum or coal.
The main outcome of the negotiations
was the Kyoto
Protocol in 1997. After the COP 8, the possibility
for this legal instrument entering into force should
become clear. The idea is to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions overall by 2008- 2012 to 5.2 percent less
than they were in 1990.
The Protocol will take effect
after being ratified by at least 55 countries whose
total greenhouse gas emissions made up at least 55
percent of total emissions in 1990.
When the COP 8 got under way,
the Protocol had been ratified
by 96 countries, but their total greenhouse gas
output is just 37 percent of the total. The situation
could change dramatically if industrialized countries
like Russia or Japan were to ratify the accord.
The United States, responsible
for a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions,
will not ratify the Protocol, as President George
W. Bush has repeated on several occasions.
say it is urgent to reach an agreement on how to immediately
begin reducing emissions. Climate
change is considered a perturbing factor in atmospheric
conditions, sea level and harvest timeframes.
To learn more about this
issue, there is plenty to peruse on the Internet,
where numerous websites explain the greenhouse
effect and climate change.
Session of Conference of Parties
of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
of the Framework Convention
special coverage of COP 8
of the Convention and Kyoto Protocol
Thermometer: status of ratification
Climate change - vital climate graphics
A rare wild Asian camel, the
white shark, three types of whales and the river dolphin
are members of a new group of species protected by
an international convention that held its seventh
Conference of Parties (COP7) in the German city of
on Migratory Species (CMS), the signatories of
which meet every three years, studied the cases of
37 species at the latest meeting, in September, and
as a result issued new
directions for species protection.
The delegates at the Bonn
meeting also considered the impacts of wind energy
turbines, electrical transmission lines and certain
types of fishing activities on the populations of
sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program,
places on its Appendix I list those species that require
strict protection because otherwise their survival
is in danger. In Appendix II are those that require
intergovernmental agreements to ensure the stability
of their populations.
of the CMS is to achieve the preservation of migratory
species through actions that prevent their depredation
and protect their habitats, which in this case usually
involves more than one country.
The migration of animals is common
around the planet and involves a great diversity of
At the website of the Global
Registry of Migratory Species, an information
center highly specialized in this issue, there are
an estimate 5,000 "traveling" species.
Researchers have found that climatic
conditions, search for food or for appropriate nesting
areas are important motivations for animal migration.
But this behavior encompasses some mysteries:
Why do some species travel such great distances? How
do they know where they should go?
Among the known migratory species
there are numerous whale types, sea turtles, fish
and birds, the latter of which are probably the most
recognized because their annual journeys are so clearly
visible to humans.
Today, scientists use the latest
technological developments, such as transmitters and
tracking systems, to learn more about animal migrations.
on Migratory Species
to the Convention
Results of the CMS Conference (COP7)
Special COP7 coverage
Mystery of Bird Migration
Registry of Migratory Species
tracking of migratory species
Migration and Wind Turbines
On planet Earth, there are 11,167
species of animals and plants that are known to be
in danger of extinction, warns the latest edition
of the so-called "Red List" published by
the World Conservation Union (IUCN), considered an
important tool for evaluating the state of biological
List of Threatened Species 2002 includes 121 entries
more than in the previous edition, from 2000.
In an information
kit accompanying the Red List, the IUCN warns
that many species are diminishing to critical population
levels. The conservation organizations also states
that the loss of biodiversity is one of the most pressing
crises affecting the world, while acknowledging that
concern and awareness are increasing about how biological
resources are needed for human life as well.
The species included in the Red
List are categorized according to their level of risk:
critical, threatened or vulnerable. The IUCN estimates
that the threat of extinction today is 1,000 to 10,000
times greater than it would be naturally, without
the intervention of human activities and their impacts
on the Earth.
Habitat destruction, overexploitation
of resources, contamination, illegal trafficking in
plant and animal species, degradation of ecosystems
and phenomena related to climate change - caused by
human activities - are all factors that contribute
to species extinction.
Threats to biodiversity, understood
as the variety of plants, animals and microorganisms
that inhabit the planet, are a source of concern to
the international community, as evidenced by the sheer
amount of information available on the this issue
via the Internet.
This widespread worry about the
Earth's natural wealth has led to agreements among
the world's governments. Perhaps the most important
on this issue is the Convention
on Biological Diversity, signed in 1992. The website
of the Convention's secretariat reports that there
are 13 million identified living species.
But it is thought that the true
total is much higher. The All
Species Foundation is carrying out a project that
seeks to identify all living organisms within the
next 25 years. Its website allows the cybernaut to
ponder more than 800,000 species.
Another initiative aimed at protecting
species is the Convention on International Trade of
Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, known
the purpose of which is to fight the illegal trafficking
of protected plants and animals.
Red List of Threatened Species 2002
List 2002 Information Kit
Species Survival Commission
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
Connect Yourself to Biodiversity
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
websites on endangered species
Links on endangered species