Climate expert: International weather emergency alert system needed


The world community should establish a shared alert mechanism for weather-related emergencies, urged an Italian climatologist on Thursday. In light of the recent spate of major weather-related natural disasters, L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) has published his call for the developed world to step up and assist those without satellite and radar capabilities in the detection, warning and management of naturally-caused emergencies.

Flooding in Pakistan over the past two weeks has caused great loss of life and possessions among the people of the Swat Valley and joins numerous flooding disasters in China, Afghanistan, several African regions and Poland in recent days.

In an article printed in the Vatican newspaper's Thursday edition, famed Italian climatologist Franco Prodi noted that science is still uncertain if today's disasters are more intense on average than those in the past.

He also noted that while the role of climate change is being evaluated, there is something that can be done right now. What is needed at this point, Prodi said, is a centralized weather alert system for all nations.

There is a "common schema" to risk management across the world, noted Prodi, which includes, in the medium-term, predicting the possibility of floods through satellite and radar observation, and on a shorter term integrating all available statistics to give updates, provide danger alerts and eventually assist in emergency management.

Observing that these capabilities are not available in all at-risk areas, he pointed out that a "good part" of the capacity to predict, monitor and manage a natural disaster is "centralizable because of the enormous possibility of teledetection" by nations with the resources.

Therefore, these capabilities "should be implemented by a world body that provides for local deficiencies," Prodi underscored. This process, he said, should start with the centralization of precipitation intensity estimates.

"A global center with these characteristics of alert for risks and aid to local civil protection could be of great help to countries which still lack their own effective structure." It must come about, he concluded, "to anticipate the management of disasters ... and usher in an era of a less energy-consuming development, more respectful of the environment and of other living beings."

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