Annual Frontiers Report of UNEP

News: Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its Annual Frontiers Report named Noise, Blazes and Mismatches. The document has been released 10 days ahead of the UN Environment Assembly. The Frontiers report identifies and offers solutions to three environmental issues: urban noise pollution, wildfires and phenological shifts that merit attention and action from governments and the public at large to address the triple planetary crisis of climate changepollution and biodiversity loss.

Details:

  • The unwanted, prolonged, and high-level sounds from road traffic, railways, or leisure activities, impair human health and well-being. Chronic annoyance and sleep disturbance caused by traffic can result in severe heart diseases and metabolic disorders with the very young, and mostly affect the elderly and marginalised communities near busy roads.
  • The trends towards more dangerous fire-weather conditions are likely to increase due to rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gasses and the attendant escalation of wildfire risk factors. Climate change can prompt extreme wildfires, generating lightning that can ignite other fires, far beyond the fire front and creating a so-called hazardous feedback loop. Such extreme events are disastrous for human health and the environment. Wildfires have also become more common in the Savannah ecosystem, which has affected over one-fourth of species in the Savannah ecosystem.
  • Wildfires are also responsible for air pollution. According to a global study published in September 2021, there is a link between the impact of wildfire-related pollution and human deaths. Wildfires seldom spread to humid tropical forests in the past. But these forests are now more vulnerable due to deforestation and forest fragmentation.
  • Plants and animals in terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems use temperature, day length or rainfall as cues for when to bear fruit, migrate or transform in other ways. However, climate change disrupts these natural rhythms as plants and animals are being pushed out of sync with their natural rhythms, leading to mismatches, such as when plants shift life cycle stages faster than herbivores.
  • Phenology is the timing of recurring life cycle stages, driven by environmental forces, and how species interacting within an ecosystem respond to changing conditions.

Way forward:

  • Appreciating and adopting indigenous fire management techniques. preventive approach, rather than reactive approach by engaging vulnerable groups, will help adapt to the wildfires.
  • It is important to enhance fire-fighting capabilities and strengthen community resilience-building programmes It is important to focus on long-range weather forecasting. Focus on remote-sensing capabilities such as satellites, ground-based radar, lightning detection as well as data handling.