WEEKLY WEB WATCH: A climate of change on the internet

Organisation: Friends of the Earth

Organisation: Friends of the Earth

Issue: Climate Change Summit

At: www.foei.org

So, can we blame the growing incidence of global flooding and savage winds on the cumulative effect of tons of CFC-rich gases and industrial fumes belched into the atmosphere every day?

It would seem that we can, and that politicians are finally going to at least discuss doing something about it. It really needs the world to get together round a big table and sort it all out. That, in a roundabout way, is the purpose of the Climate Change Summit that takes place in The Hague from 13 to 24 November. The United Nations site (www.un. org) posts a press release which gives background on the event.

The Friends of the Earth web site (www.foei.org) home page posts a press release about the summit. 'While Governments wriggle and prevaricate, climate disasters are wrecking lives', it tells the user. As politicians have now acknowledged, the site tells us that 'it is no longer a question of whether the earth's climate will change, but rather when'.

The home page also provides a link to a sub-site called 'The Dike'. Users can register to join supporters of FoE in surrounding the convention centre in the Hague with a barricade of people and sandbags protesting against what FoE foresees as a weakening of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. For the protocol to come into force, it must be ratified by at least 55 industrialised countries. So far only 30 developing countries have signed up.

FoE also provides a section that links the user to a variety of sites, such as Harvard Medical School's database on the health and economic consequences of extreme weather events and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

There is also a link to www. climatevoice.org, a co-operation between organisations, such as FoE, Greenpeace, the WWF and 22 other supporters.

Moving on to the Greenpeace site at www.greenpeace. org, a box appears that invites users to choose one of four names for the organisation's new ship. On the home page there is a picture of the toxic slick, legacy of the sunken Mobil Exxon chartered tanker. There is also a link proclaiming, 'Act now against climate change'.

Users are told about the climate summit and that Greenpeace will be following its chairman, Dutch environment minister Jan Pronk, over its duration. Users can also send an e-mail to Pronk.

The WWF web site's (www. panda.org) lead story is about the 'doomed' tanker in the North Sea. On the right-hand side of the screen is the site's 'Major Campaigns' section, which transports the user to a comprehensive sub site, branded with the slogan 'Let's leave our children a living planet'. There is also a link to the WWF managed site, www. climatevoice.org which is centred around the forthcoming summit.

All of the sites offer a wealth of information on the complex science and international politics surrounding climate change.

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