The rise of ocean levels, the acidification of oceans, the intensification of infectious diseases and other climate change impacts should be considered environmental system risks, the same way that we think of the risk of a global economic collapse due to the current financial crisis.
This analogy was proposed by climatologist Carlos Nobre, keynote speaker of the International EcoHealth Forum held in Merida from 1-4 December.
Nobre criticized the amount spent so far by the US government – 5 trillion dollars (and counting) – to tackle the economic crisis.
This sum is roughly 30 times the investment announced by president-elect Barack Obama in renewable energy – 150 billion dollars to be invested in a 10-year plan.
Nobre urges policy makers to deal with the threat of climate change with the same urgency that has been addressed to the economic crisis.
“The same precaution principle should be adopted to environmental issues”, he claims. “We should talk of environmental systemic risks as well”.
The risk of a collapse of the Amazon is one of the many catastrophic outcomes of climate change that he mentioned.
Studies carried by his group in Brazilian National Institute of Space Research show that most of the world’s largest remaining rainforest might be replaced by savannahs in a few decades in the scenario of a 4 centigrade degrees temperature rise.
If you can understand Portuguese, read also this report of the opening ceremony of EcoHealth Forum in Ciencia Hoje On-line, the website that I regularly write for.