UK introduces Google Earth maps showing temperature rises

7th September 2010 By: Christy van der Merwe

The UK government has produced an interactive Google Earth map, which highlighted the impacts that a 4 ºC average temperature increase would have on different regions of the world.

The map aims at stimulating the climate change debate, as the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16), in Cancun, in December approached.

The multi platform, interactive map focused on some of the changes that could occur if the global average temperature increased by 4°C above the pre-industrial climate average.

"It does not make pleasant reading and underlines the threat to human and national security if we don't act now," said the UK government of the information on the map.

It highlighted that Southern Africa could experience a temperature increase of about 7 ºC, which would increase risks of forest fires and could reduce maize yields by up to 40%. Droughts could occur twice as frequently and water resources could be affected by a 70% reduction in run-off water in the region.

The issue of restricted access to water was a particular concern, as it was considered a potential conflict multiplier in Southern African regions.

The interactive map allowed viewers to move over any region in the world and click on the symbol of a certain anticipated effect of temperature rise. Information on the effect was given, along with links to further information on the topic of forest fires for example. A viewer could then also click through to a link for more background information, or more scientific information.

The Google Earth layer also featured videos of climate scientists explaining the latest scientific research behind the climate impacts shown.

In addition, the map linked to videos of British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and British Council climate change projects currently taking place around the world.

The UK government said that it stood by the Copenhagen Accord which was a political agreement calling for ambitious action to ensure that global temperatures did not rise above 2 ºC.

There was no arguing about the science of climate change, and the UK government stated that the impact of man's emissions on the climate were irrefutable, as were the consequences of inaction.

The UK has committed to action to curb climate change, both domestically and internationally.

On the international scene, the British High Commission was working in a number of emerging economies, with the understanding that climate change was a global problem that could not only be dealt with at a local level.

The UK has committed £1,5-billion in assistance to 2012 to help other countries combat the negative effects of climate change - adaptation, and to reduce their emissions - mitigation. These funds formed part of the ‘fast-start finance' agreed to under the Copenhagen Accord.

Once South Africa had outlined its Nationally appropriate mitigation plans (Nama's), and possible projects under the Nama's, it could possibly tap into those funds as it is a developing country.

In South Africa, the British High Commission was involved in funding a number of projects under the climate change portfolio.

These included:

• A market analysis report of the commercial climate risks and opportunities for the economy to promote corporate leadership in South Africa on climate change, conducted by Camco.
• A greenhouse gas inventory for the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, which was researched and produced by the University of Witwatersrand.
• The establishment of a City energy support unit, which was done by Sustainable Energy Africa.
• A documentary addressing climate change related threats to human security in Southern Africa, which was produced by One World Sustainable Investment.
• Development of a framework for a future South African carbon market, which was implemented by Palmer Development Group.
• And analysis on enabling frameworks in the clean energy sector, focused on improving governance in the electricity sector, which was researched by the World Resources Institute.
• Assisting the City of Cape Town on a long-term mitigation strategy action plan, which was also conducted by Sustainable Energy Africa, and
• A parliamentary programme for climate change mitigation to promote debate among parliamentarians, implemented by Working with European Parliament Association.