Joining forces to prevent climate disasters

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Joining forces to prevent climate disasters

The newspaper recently carried a shocking report. A group of eminent scientists for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in a recent draft report on the global warming trend, issued the strongest warning yet that if civilization continues business as usual, using fossil fuels and emitting massive amounts of greenhouse gases, the Earth will be 4 degrees warmer by the end of this century. The temperature rise would drastically change the planet, sending ocean levels 1 meter (3.3 feet) higher and submerging coastlines and islands.

The phenomenon is already in progress. Many countries are struggling with drastic climate changes. China and India suffered major human and property losses from a series of floods and storm rain. Central Europe has been inundated by torrential rain that sent the Danube River to its highest level in 500 years. Record-breaking temperatures pushed thermometer numbers beyond 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in China, costing human lives. Korea, too, endured a long and extreme heat wave this summer, causing heavy rainfall in the central region and draughts in the southern area.

Scientists warned that catastrophic and unpredictable climate disasters will likely worsen if serious mitigation actions are not taken. Governments and private sectors around the world must be better prepared for climate instability and changes. The array of incidents in the 21st century underscore that nowhere in the world is safe from natural disasters as a result of climate change.

The Korean government has been preparing and responding to climate changes and disasters according to a comprehensive plan drawn up in 2011. The outline comprises an advanced network of weather forecasts; reinforcement on rain water control in urban areas and flood control against record-level rainfall; buttress against landslide; protection in farming areas, ports and coastlines against rising sea levels; upgrades in disaster prevention; and enhancement of insurance against natural disasters.

The measures are pre-emptive steps against disasters from climate change. If thoroughly prepared, we may be able to better cope and reduce damages when disasters cannot be avoided. But the government’s will and endeavor cannot be sufficient. Everyone in society must be alerted against various climate disruptions and disasters, and join forces in preventive and preparatory steps.

* Han Sang-won Head of the bureau of safety and environment policy at Office of Government Policy Coordination.

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