Scientists demand better political response on world’s biggest problems

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Scientists from 15 countries called for a better political response to improve the provision of water and energy to meet the needs of 9 billion people in next 30 years.

The joint statement was issued by world’s leading science academics. The decision to draw the attention and focus on the critical issues was made as scientists argue that shortage of water and energy supplies should be considered as a single crucial issue.

“Major stresses on availability of energy and water are already being felt in many countries and regions and more are foreseeable,” the joint statement said.

Fossil fuel, nuclear and hydropower are still providing the bulk of the world’s energy and they all rely heavily on the supply of water for cooling, running steam turbines or direct power generation. Conversely, large amounts of energy are used in pumping, purifying and desalinating water around the globe.

Political responsibility must come with the knowledge to integrate and also emphasise the importance of conservation and improve efficiency across the borders, the scientists’ joint statement added.

“Without considering water and energy together, inefficiencies will occur, increasing shortages of both,” the scientists warned.

Averting disasters

The world also needs to increase its resilience against disasters like those which result from tsunamis, earthquakes and levees that fail in the face of rising sea levels.

“Disasters are absolutely certain to happen and it is more important that we design for resilience,” Michael Clegg of US National Academy of Sciences said adding that the global population growth is increasing and so the focus shifts more on to concentrate on the coastal areas where the probability of disasters is even more.

The scientists said global annual losses from natural disasters exceeded $200 billion in 2005, 2008 and 2011 but loss of life was generally much lower in developed countries.

The governments should be fully focussed on the systems that help public health improvement, better infrastructure, information technology and uncertainty recovery actions, the academics emphasised.

Signatories of the statement are from the leading science academies in the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco and South Africa.

Important improvement measures are also called for conservation of natural resources like forests, planet warming greenhouse gas emissions which absorb the damaging carbon emissions.

“More accurate and standardised methods for estimating human and natural sources and sinks of greenhouse gases are needed as a prerequisite for an international climate treaty and to determine the effectiveness of national emission-reduction programs,” they said.

There is a lack of standardisation and improvement methods for measurement of emissions despite the acceptance of need for the greenhouse gases reduction, Clegg said.

“There is a great need to develop more accurate approaches,” he said, adding that it was a fundamental building block for the world’s response to climate change but “getting a correct measurement … is challenging.”

The statement urges politicians to “give greater consideration to the vital role science and technology could play in addressing some of the planet’s most pressing challenges”.

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