UNEP: Stadig flere støv- og sandstorme i det nordøstlige Asien


In “a globalization of environmental problems” dust and sand storms in northeast Asia have grown vastly in frequency and intensity, leading to widespread loss of livestock and crops, disrupted communications, respiratory problems and deaths far from their source, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said Wednesday.

– We are worried about the creep of environmental problems – their disrespect of political boundaries – and the way they threaten to compound and disrupt the functioning of major natural systems, UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer told the 8th Special Session of the agency’s Governing Council and the Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Jeju, Republic of Korea.

– We are seeing a globalization of environmental problems, linked to intensity and pattern of economic development, and we need urgent and coordinated action from governments, business and civil society groups to address it, Mr. Töpfer said, noting that northeast Asias dust and sand storms were part of a trend of increasing natural disasters across the globe.

The storms, which originate in the dry regions of northern China and Mongolia and blow across the Korean peninsula and Japan, are occurring nearly five times as often as in the 1950s and are also growing in intensity.

Scientists predict large storms over the coming spring months as cold air masses from Siberia whip deserts and soils eastward after the dry continental winter.

In April 2002 dust levels in Seoul, 1.200 kilometres from the source, reached 2.070 micrograms per cubic metre, twice the level deemed hazardous to health.

Recent scientific reports suggest other desert regions could also be having unexpected effects far from home: dust storms originating in the Sahara are being linked to algal infestation of Caribbean coral reefs, which provide crucial protection for small island developing States.

In China nearly 30 per cent of its land area is affected by desertification due to over-farming and grazing and cutting of forest, driven by population growth, and changing weather patterns, with annual direct economic losses of around 6,5 billion US dollar.

The Gobi Desert expanded by 52.400 square kilometres from 1994 to 1999, creeping ever closer to Beijing, with up to 400 million people under threat from the fast-advancing deserts, according to UNEPs Global Environment Outlook (GEO) Yearbook.

Mr. Töpfer said UNEP was aiding governments with monitoring and early warning aimed at standardizing data collection and sharing throughout the region.

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