The Regional Impacts of Climate Change


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11.1. Regional Characterization and Baseline Conditions

11.1.1. Introduction

This chapter is concerned with Tropical Asia, which extends over 80 degrees of longitude (from 70E to 150E) and 40 degrees of latitude (from 30N to 10S). The 16 countries that make up the region (see Box 11-1) range in area from about 61,000 ha (Singapore) to 300 million ha (India). Three states in the region (Nepal, Bhutan, and Laos) are landlocked. The region is physically diverse and ecologically rich in natural and crop-related biodiversity. The present total population is about 1.6 billion, and the population is projected to increase to 2.4 billion by 2025 (see Table 11-1); although the majority of this population is rural, in 1995, the region included 6 of the 25 largest cities in the world. Exploitation of natural resources associated with rapid urbanization, industrialization, and economic development has led to increasing pollution, declining water quality, land degradation, and other environmental problems.


Box 11-1. Countries in Tropical Asia
Bangladesh
Bhutan
Brunei Darussalam
Cambodia
India
Indonesia
Laos
Malaysia
Myanmar
Nepal
Papua New Guinea
Philippines
Singapore
Sri Lanka
Thailand
Viet Nam

 

Table 11-1: Tropical Asia population: 1995 and 2025.

Country Land Area (000 ha) Population in 1995 (millions) Estimated Population in 2025 (millions) Urban Population in 1995 (%) Estimated Urban Population in 2025 (%)

Bangladesh
13,017
120.433
196.128
18
40
Bhutan
4,700
1.638
3.136
6
19
Brunei
527
0.285
0.389
58
Cambodia
17,652
10.251
19.686
21
44
India
297,319
935.744
1,392.086
27
45
Indonesia
181,157
197.588
275.598
35
61
Laos
23,080
4.882
9.688
22
45
Malaysia
32,855
20.140
31.577
54
73
Myanmar
65,755
46.527
75.564
26
47
Nepal
13,680
21.918
40.693
14
34
Papua New Guinea
45,286
4.302
7.532
16
32
Philippines
29,817
67.581
104.522
54
74
Singapore
61
2.848
3.355
100
100
Sri Lanka
6,463
18.354
25.031
22
43
Thailand
51,089
58.791
73.584
20
39
Viet Nam
32,549
74.545
118.151
21
39
Total
815,007
1,585.827
2,376.720

Source: WRI, 1996-Data Tables A.1 and 9.1.


Climate change represents an additional stress. Projected climate changes in the region include strengthening of monsoon circulation, increases in surface temperature, and increases in the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfall events. Climate-related effects also will include sea-level rise. These changes could result in major impacts on the region's ecosystems and biodiversity; hydrology and water resources; agriculture, forestry, and fisheries; mountains and coastal lands; and human settlements and human health.

This chapter is based primarily on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Second Assessment Report (SAR) (IPCC, 1996), along with results from recent regional studies, such as the Regional Workshop on Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in Asia and the Pacific held in Manila in January, 1996; national studies, such as the Malaysian National Conference on Climate Change held at the University of Agriculture in August, 1996; and other independent studies.

 


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