The pastoral letter on water "Danos hoy el agua de cada día" that we blogged about yesterday is getting the attention that it deserves. Héctor Carrillo reports that thanks to Bishop Luis Infanti's letter, the Chilean Catholic bishops' conference has decided to take up the theme of water and the environment at their next meeting April 20-24. Pope Benedict XVI is also expected to release a new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" that month which will focus on social issues including climate change and the environment.
The bishop of Aysén also visited Italy and had conversations with the directors of Enel which a few days ago acquired a 92% interest in Endesa, the company that has a monopoly on the water in the region. He described the conversations as cordial. "I got a good impression", he said. "I felt Enel had a different position than Endesa in that they are respectful of the environment and the culture of the people in the areas where they have projects."
Also on the water front comes a warning from the scientific community that the rise in sea levels due to global warming is expected to be even greater than what was predicted in 2007 by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Advances in the understanding of the mechanisms that control how quickly ice sheets melt show that sea levels are likely to rise a by at least a meter by 2100 -- twice the 20 - 54 cm that the IPCC originally thought -- and probably more. Speaking at a conference in Copenhagen, Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change, said that unless greenhouse gas emissions are controlled within 50 years the planet will be locked into rises of "tens of metres". "Sea level is rising faster than expected. It's rising much faster than in the models," he told the audience of hundreds of climate change researchers.