Friday, 6 April 2007

Climate Change and Physical Therapy

I went to my first session of physical therapy today. It went quite well. After an in depth discussion about my foot and checking to see what sort of manoeuvrability I had, the physical therapist started with electrical stimulation and an ice pack. It hurt a little bit at first but after the initial pain, it was just a bit uncomfortable. The electrical stimulation is supposed to increase muscle strength and promote blood supply and healing. After that, he used ultrasound, massaged my foot and ended with some stretches and exercises. The ultrasound is used in conjunction with a gel and while you don’t feel anything on the surface of the skin, it creates deep heat which in turn aids in vasodilation, relieves pain and accelerates healing. My foot actually felt much better when he was done and the heavy feeling and tightness is not as acute as before.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its second report for 2007 today, the findings of which are pretty much obvious to anyone with a brain and/or a conscience: climate change is getting worse and the affects of it are being and will be felt most by the poor and vulnerable, particularly in the poorest countries. In its first report published at the beginning of February, the IPCC had concluded that it was very likely that global warming was being caused by human activities. The Panel will issue two more reports this year to complete its Fourth Assessment Report. The First Assessment Report was published in 1990, the Second in 1995 and the Third in 2001.

The IPCC was founded in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The body does not carry out research of its own nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters and bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature.

While the evidence and the initial draft are provided by the scientists, the summaries in the reports are the result of discussions between the scientists and government officials from around the world. The end result of these negotiations is that the reports are not as strong as they originally were due to the various economic and political considerations of the many countries present. While some may argue that this compromise leads to reports being watered down and scientific certainties being turned into ambiguous language, pragmatists would argue that it is better to have governments at the table and making firm commitments to address the problem than for a group of scientists to publish an extremely strong document which is rejected by key countries and then have no action at all.

At the end of the day, the fact is that climate change is happening, it is getting worse each day and unless there is urgent action by the chief emitters of greenhouse gasses, our children will inherit a world from us that is not worth living in. I often wonder if those people who reject the notion of climate change because of greed and economics and actively contribute to the destruction of our planet do not think about their children and grandchildren.

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