The Tug-of-War Shaping the 2023 Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season commences on June 1, with meteorologists closely monitoring increasing ocean temperatures – not just in the Atlantic, but around the world. In the spring of 2023, global sea surface temperatures capable of energizing hurricanes have reached unprecedented levels. However, for Atlantic hurricanes, the crucial ocean temperatures lie in two regions: the North Atlantic basin, where hurricanes originate and intensify, and the eastern-central tropical Pacific Ocean, the birthplace of El Niño.

This year, these two factors seem to be at odds, potentially leading to opposing impacts on the vital conditions that determine the outcome of an Atlantic hurricane season. Consequently, this could spell positive news for the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts with a near-average hurricane season in store. Nonetheless, meteorologists caution that this hurricane forecast is contingent upon the development of El Niño.

The makings of a hurricane

Generally, hurricanes are more likely to form and strengthen when a tropical low-pressure system comes across an environment with warm upper-ocean temperatures, atmospheric moisture, instability, and minimal vertical wind shear. Warm ocean temperatures fuel hurricane development, while vertical wind shear – the difference in strength and direction of winds between the lower and upper parts of a tropical storm – disrupts convection organization (thunderstorms) and introduces dry air into the storm, hindering its growth.

The Atlantic Ocean’s contribution

The Atlantic Ocean’s role is relatively simple. Hurricanes extract energy from the warm ocean water beneath them. The warmer the ocean temperatures, the more favorable conditions are for hurricanes, assuming all other factors remain equal. Tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures were exceptionally high during the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons in recent history. The 2020 season saw a record 30 named tropical cyclones, and the 2005 season produced 28 named storms, with 15 becoming hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina.

The Pacific Ocean’s involvement

The tropical Pacific Ocean’s role in Atlantic hurricane formation is more complex. One may wonder how ocean temperatures on the opposite side of the Americas can impact Atlantic hurricanes. The answer lies in teleconnections – a series of processes where a change in the ocean or atmosphere in one region leads to large-scale alterations in atmospheric circulation and temperature, influencing weather elsewhere. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is a recurring pattern of tropical Pacific climate variability that initiates teleconnections.

When the tropical eastern-central Pacific Ocean is unusually warm, El Niño can form. During El Niño events, warm upper-ocean temperatures alter vertical and east-west atmospheric circulation in the tropics, initiating a teleconnection that affects east-west winds in the upper atmosphere throughout the tropics, ultimately resulting in stronger vertical wind shear in the Atlantic basin. This wind shear can suppress hurricanes.

Forecasters expect this to occur in the upcoming summer, with a 90% likelihood of El Niño developing by August and remaining strong throughout the fall peak of the hurricane season.

A tug-of-war between Atlantic and Pacific influences

Research by atmospheric scientists, including my own, has shown that a warm Atlantic and a warm tropical Pacific tend to counteract each other, resulting in near-average Atlantic hurricane seasons. Both observations and climate model simulations support this outcome. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2023 forecast predicts a near-average season with 12-17 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes, and 1-4 major hurricanes. An earlier outlook from Colorado State University forecasters anticipates a slightly below-average season, with 13 named storms compared to a climatological average of 14.4.

Wild cards to consider

While tropical Atlantic and Pacific Ocean temperatures often contribute to accurate seasonal hurricane forecasts, other factors should be considered and monitored. First, will the predicted El Niño and Atlantic warming occur? If one or both do not, it could tip the balance in the tug-of-war between influences. The Atlantic Coast should hope for El Niño to develop as forecasted, as such events often decrease hurricane impacts in the region. If this year’s anticipated Atlantic Ocean warming were paired with La Niña – El Niño’s opposite, characterized by cooler tropical Pacific waters – it could potentially lead to a record-breaking active season.

Two additional factors are also crucial: the Madden-Julian Oscillation, a pattern of clouds and rainfall that moves eastward through the tropics on a 30-90 day timescale and can either promote or suppress tropical storm formation, and dust storms from the Saharan air layer, which contains warm, dry, and dusty air from Africa that can inhibit tropical cyclones.

Global Warming’s Impact on Arctic, Antarctic, and Mountain Ice Sheets Threatens Water Supply for Billions

Greenland, the world’s largest island situated in the Arctic, is typically covered in ice. However, as temperatures in the far north are rising more rapidly than in most other regions on Earth, its vast ice sheets are melting into an increasingly warm ocean.

A recent study discovered that Greenland has not experienced such warmth in a millennium. This unprecedented Arctic thaw contributed to 40% of the global sea-level rise in 2019. Researchers are alarmed by the potential disintegration of Greenland’s Petermann Glacier. Located on the ocean’s edge, its retreat will leave the enormous ice sheets behind it exposed to warming seawater. Scientists who have been analyzing the glacier warn that the anticipated sea-level rise could potentially double.

The rapid shrinking of Earth’s largest ice sheet presents a significant risk to low-lying islands and coastal regions susceptible to rising sea levels. Meanwhile, the Indigenous Inuit population in Greenland is quite literally living on fragile ice, which signifies a diminishing habitat for native fauna such as seals, bears, and walruses.

In the southern polar region of Antarctica, the extent of sea ice had been growing by roughly 1% per decade since the 1970s. However, last year it reached its lowest recorded level. Concerns are mounting that the Thwaites Glacier, equivalent in size to Florida and the planet’s largest ice mass, is beginning to fracture due to warming Antarctic waters.

Given the southern polar region’s remoteness, researchers are still attempting to determine the full extent of the potential damage in the area.

Reasons Behind Faster Arctic Warming Compared to Antarctic

Between 1979 and 2021, a span of over four decades, the Arctic experienced warming at a rate four times faster than the rest of the world, according to scientists. Consequently, it is not surprising that researchers have confirmed that two-thirds of global ice melt is occurring in Greenland.

The situation is so dire that the majority of the vast Greenland ice sheet is projected to melt if global temperatures rise by 1.6 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels around 250 years ago. Currently, the world has warmed by approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius. If the ice sheet melts, sea levels could potentially rise by up to seven meters.

Experts suggest that the Arctic is warming more rapidly than the Antarctic due to the presence of significantly more liquid water surrounding the region during summer and autumn, when sea ice recedes. This water absorbs sunlight, unlike ice which reflects it, leading to increased ocean warming.

As the Arctic primarily consists of an ocean with sea ice, it has been more affected by rising ocean temperatures than the Antarctic, which is predominantly comprised of ice-covered land. Furthermore, the ocean currents in the Southern Ocean tend to draw up deep, cold water, which helps maintain cooler temperatures in the Antarctic region.

Nevertheless, ice melt in the Antarctic is on the rise, showing an increase of approximately 65% compared to the 1990s.

The Importance of Glaciers as “Water Towers”

Global warming, primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the subsequent release of greenhouse gases, is not only affecting polar glaciers but also the world’s mountain glaciers.

There are approximately 200,000 mountain glaciers worldwide, and they are currently melting at a rate faster than they can accumulate. Despite covering less than 0.5% of Earth’s surface, these “water towers” supply fresh water to nearly one-quarter of the global population. These glaciers also contribute to the rivers that irrigate crops essential for the sustenance of hundreds of millions of people across Asia, South America, and Europe. Without these glaciers, many individuals may face both thirst and hunger.

Scientists warn that the retreat of these water towers puts nearly 2 billion people at risk of water scarcity. In South America, cities like Santiago, Chile, have witnessed their drinking water supplies dwindle as nearby Andes Mountain glaciers recede. Furthermore, the European Alps’ glaciers, which provide a significant amount of fresh water throughout the region, have diminished by about half since 1900. If efforts to curb warming are not increased, these glaciers could be nearly ice-free by the end of the century.

The Impact of Rock and Dirt on Glacial Melting Rates

Rock and dirt-covered glaciers typically melt more rapidly than cleaner ice, as the darker materials absorb greater amounts of solar energy. Scientists report that these stones and rocks can reach temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius at high elevations, accelerating ice melting and potentially leading to a wider glacial meltdown.

However, a new issue has emerged in the western Greenland ice sheet: the unexplained appearance of purple algae. This algae darkens the ice surface, absorbing more sunlight. In response to UV radiation, the algae blooms turn purple as a protective measure, but eventually become a sooty black color, which further amplifies the heating process.

Southeast Asia Experiences Long Heat Wave as Temperature Records Tumble, Sparking Climate Crisis Concerns

Southeast Asia is in the midst of a weeks-long heat wave, breaking temperature records in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. In Vietnam, the temperature reached 44.2 degrees Celsius, the highest ever recorded in the country. Laos hit 43.5 degrees Celsius, breaking the national record. Thailand, suffering under temperatures in the upper 30s to low 40s Celsius, saw Bangkok record its hottest ever temperature of 41 degrees Celsius. The heatwave has brought misery to millions, with pollution levels spiking in Thailand’s capital due to increased levels of smog.

The heatwave in Southeast Asia is not a freak event, but the latest in a series of temperature extremes that experts warn will become more common as the climate crisis accelerates. A 2022 study predicts that temperatures of 39.4 degrees Celsius and above will occur between three and 10 times more often by the end of the century. Moreover, in the tropics–which includes much of Asia, days of “extremely dangerous heat”–defined as 51 degrees Celsius–could double, putting the populations of impacted countries at risk.

“By definition, we don’t know what could happen if large populations are exposed to unprecedented heat and humidity stress,” warns Lucas Vargas Zeppetello, the lead author of the study from Harvard University, “but heat waves in the past few decades have already been extremely deadly and there is serious cause for concern in the future.”

The scorching temperatures are causing significant problems in Southeast Asia, where the heat is being exacerbated by pollution from slash-and-burn agriculture. Moreover, the heat is also hindering vaccination efforts in the region. Thailand is among the countries that is struggling to get its population vaccinated, and the heat has further complicated efforts.

As heatwaves become more dangerous, it would become increasingly difficult for populations to adapt to the scorching temperatures. “We found this threshold at which populations begin to be meaningfully impacted by extremely high temperatures,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Climate change is pushing us closer to that threshold faster than we had expected.”

While the heatwave is expected to cool in the coming days, it remains to be seen how frequently such heatwaves will occur in the future as a result of the climate crisis. Research into the causes of these extreme weather patterns is ongoing, with many climate scientists calling for urgent action to be taken before it is too late. As the heatwave in Southeast Asia demonstrates, these extreme weather events can have devastating impacts on human health and well-being.

Record-High Ocean Surface Temperatures Could Trigger El Niño And More Extreme Weather

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has predicted that El Niño is on its way this fall, due to soaring ocean temperatures. The anomaly is likely to disrupt weather patterns and cause more extreme weather in the US and across the world. Forecasters suggest that the pattern may change rainfall patterns, increase average air temperatures and fuel more intense storm systems. El Niño will combine with climate change to raise air and sea temperatures still further, with a significant detrimental impact anticipated. In June, sea surface temperatures hit levels not seen for four decades.

John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas says that rising surface temperatures add moisture and heat to the atmosphere intensifying weather patterns resulting in extreme weather. El Niño and the broader trend of rising global temperatures are likely to lead to record temperatures and increase the harm caused by climate change.

The globe has experienced a La Niña trend for the previous three years, which has had a moderating effect. However, the WMO has now forecast an 80% chance of El Niño arriving by September 2018.

El Niño is generally associated with cooler, wetter weather in the southern half of the US and warmer weather in the north. The forthcoming phenomenon could lead to a prolonged dry season in parts of the US such as the Ohio River Valley. Ocean temperatures in turn are calculated by machines that monitor temperature movement in the sea. Rising sea temperatures indicate the beginning of the El Niño.

Ocean waters retain much more of the energy produced by human warming than the atmosphere does. More than 90% of the energy imbalance caused by human activity is absorbed by the oceans. This means that the rising temperatures are creating a significant issue for people, agriculture and societies, rather than just animals such as seals or polar bears.

Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography say that ocean heat content is the most important metric in predicting climate change because the added heat is largely contained beneath the sea surface. “Ocean heat content is the most important metric we should be paying attention to when we think about climate change because it’s really at the heart of what this global imbalance is,” said Sarah Purkey, assistant professor of physical oceanography. Within the ocean, scientists have found an unwavering warming trend.

Cold Salty Water Sinking To Great Depths Off The Coast Of Antarctica

Trillions of tons of cold salty water sinking to great depths off the coast of Antarctica drive the deepest flows of the “overturning” circulation – a network of strong currents spanning the world’s oceans. This circulation carries heat, carbon, oxygen, and nutrients around the globe and fundamentally influences climate, sea level, and the productivity of marine ecosystems.

However, there are concerns that these currents are slowing down and may even collapse, which could deprive the deep ocean of oxygen, limit the return of nutrients back to the sea surface, and potentially cause further melt back of ice as water near the ice shelves warms in response. Such a scenario would have major global ramifications for ocean ecosystems, climate, and sea-level rise. A new research published on March 29 in the journal Nature uses ocean model projections to show that the Antarctic overturning circulation will slow down, and the deep ocean will warm over the next few decades.

Physical measurements confirm that these changes are already well underway, and climate change is to blame. As Antarctica melts, more freshwater flows into the oceans, disrupting the sinking of cold, salty, oxygen-rich water to the bottom of the ocean. This disruption could end the normal spread of this water northwards, which ventilates the far reaches of the deep Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans, and all of this could happen in our lifetimes.

Antarctic Overturning Circulation: The Consequences of a Slowdown or Collapse

Approximately 250 trillion tons of frigid Antarctic surface water descends to the ocean abyss each year as part of the overturning process, which is offset by upwelling at different latitudes. The resulting overturning circulation brings oxygen to the deep ocean and eventually returns nutrients to the sea surface, providing support for marine life.

If the Antarctic overturning slows, nutrient-rich seawater will accumulate on the seafloor, potentially damaging fisheries. Furthermore, a change in the overturning circulation could increase the amount of heat reaching the ice, particularly in West Antarctica, accelerating global sea-level rise. A slowdown would also reduce the ocean’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, which would worsen the situation.

A weakening of the Antarctic overturning circulation caused by melting could shift tropical rainfall bands northward by around 1,000 kilometers. In summary, a reduction or collapse of the overturning circulation would have significant and potentially irreversible impacts on our climate and marine environment.

Antarctic Ocean Melting

Planning and executing field campaigns in the remote oceans surrounding Antarctica is a daunting task due to the challenging conditions. The long voyages, harsh weather, and sea ice make it difficult to access the area, resulting in limited data on the changes in the Antarctic margin.

However, the available data indicates an increase in warm water transport towards Antarctica, leading to ice melt in critical locations. The signs of melting around Antarctica’s edges are evident, with a considerable amount of freshwater flowing into the ocean, resulting in reduced salinity and density of the nearby waters. Consequently, the overturning circulation slows down as denser water sinks, and lighter water does not.

How was it found out?

Insufficient data and incomplete models have restricted our comprehension of ocean circulation in the Antarctic region, as per a recent study. The latest analysis of global coupled model projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change demonstrates biases in the region, limiting the models’ capacity to anticipate the future of the Antarctic overturning circulation. To explore potential changes, the researchers utilized a high-resolution global ocean model that realistically mimics the development and sinking of dense water near Antarctica.

They conducted three separate experiments to isolate the effects of changes in temperature, wind, and meltwater from Antarctica and Greenland. The study discovered that the overturning circulation around Antarctica is expected to slow by over 40 percent in the next 30 years, primarily due to pulses of meltwater. Moreover, the model also predicts a 20 percent reduction in the renowned North Atlantic overturning circulation, which moderates Europe’s climate, leading to a significant decrease in the renewal and overturning of the ocean interior. The study’s outcomes suggest that the Antarctic region will experience changes similar to those of its northern hemisphere counterpart.

Next Step

According to research, much of the abyssal ocean has experienced warming in recent decades, particularly near Antarctica, which is consistent with model simulations. However, the projections for the future extend only until 2050, beyond which continued warming and melting of ice sheets are expected without significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

As a result, the Southern Ocean’s overturning is predicted to continue slowing throughout the century and beyond, directly related to the influx of freshwater from melting ice. This meltwater flow is a direct consequence of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

The study also warns that continuing ice melt could alter the massive overturning circulation currents, leading to further ice melt, sea level rise, and climate and ecosystem damage worldwide. The study concludes that urgent action is necessary to address the climate crisis.

UN Secretary-General Apologizes To His Future Great-Great-Granddaughter

My dear great-great-granddaughter,

I wish I could be with you as you open this letter in the year 2100.

My mind is flooded with curiosity about your life, your hopes and dreams, and what kind of world is outside your window.

But I must confess, I am fixed on one question: Will you open this letter in a spirit of happiness and gratitude—or with disappointment and anger at my generation?

As I write you in 2023, humanity is losing the fight of our lives: the battle against climate upheaval that threatens our planet.

If I were with you now, you might ask if we saw disaster coming.

Yes, we did.

We are making a mess of our planet through bottomless greed, timid action, and an addiction to fossil fuels that is driving temperatures to unlivable new highs around the world every year.

Scientists, civil society, the U.N.—and most inspiring of all, young people—have led the charge for climate action. But too many leaders have failed to step up.

Today, our world stands at a crossroads, with two paths before us that will have a direct impact on your future.

The first leads to a future of relentless temperature rise, deadly droughts and famines, melting glaciers, and rising seas. Communities ravaged and erased by floods and wildfires. Extinction and biodiversity loss on an epic scale.

In short, a trail of destruction.

The second path leads to the legacy you deserve: breathable air, better health, sustainable food systems, clean water, and robust, circular economies. A future powered by renewable energy and high-quality green jobs.

I am determined that humanity follows this second path. We have the information we need. We have the tools and technology.

What we need is the political will to forge a peace pact with nature and transform how we grow food, use land, fuel transport, and power economies.

Wealthy countries must help less-wealthy ones cut carbon emissions and make huge investments in renewable energy and the protection of vulnerable communities.

Of course, even if we take all these actions, our climate will still change in dramatic fashion by the time you are born.

But we can limit the damage, and provide every country and community with ways to adapt and become more resilient.

A future with only 1.5°C (2.7°F) of global warming may not deliver us to climate heaven, but it will save us from climate hell.

So which path did my generation take?

My dear great-great-granddaughter, by the time you open this letter, you will have your answer. You will know whether we succeeded or failed in our fight for your future.

You are decades from birth, but I already hear you. The central question from you and all humanity both haunts and motivates me.

“What did you do to save our planet and our future when you had the chance?”

I will not relent in making sure my generation answers that essential call.

I will stand for climate action; climate justice; and the better, more peaceful, and sustainable world you and all generations deserve.

(António Guterres is one of TIME’s 2023 Earth Award honorees and is the Secretary-General of the U.N. – Courtesy:

How Ajay Banga Could Reshape World Bank To Tackle Climate Change

World Bank shareholders are gathered in Washington this week for their annual spring meetings, while the global financial institution is poised for new leadership that could change how it approaches climate and other global crises. Business executive Ajay Banga is expected to be confirmed as the bank’s president in the coming weeks.

Richard T. Clark is a political scientist who studies policymaking at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Clark says Banga could push the World Bank to tackle climate change more aggressively in three ways, but that each approach carries risk.

Clark says:

“The World Bank is at an inflection point – Ajay Banga is slated to take over for current President David Malpass, who has been labeled a climate-skeptic by some observers. Banga, who was nominated by the United States, faces pressure to reorient the World Bank’s lending portfolio to tackle climate change more aggressively. He could do this in several ways, but each has its pitfalls.

“First, he could ask member states, who fund the organization, for additional resources, but Janet Yellen – the U.S. Treasury Secretary – said the U.S. would not back such a move. Given that the U.S. is the Bank’s largest shareholder, this makes a capital increase unlikely.

“A second option is for Banga to ease capital requirements by expanding the Bank’s lending portfolio without additional funds from member states, but this could put the Bank’s AAA credit rating at risk, especially given that many of the Bank’s debtors are experiencing debt crises of their own, limiting their ability to repay future debt.

“Third, Banga could reallocate funds traditionally offered to developing countries for poverty reduction and physical infrastructure towards climate and clean energy initiatives – for instance, lending to middle-income countries to help them transition away from coal. Unsurprisingly, the world’s poorest nations oppose such a move since it limits their ability to draw on the Fund’s resources to promote growth. More generally, developing nations have long been frustrated with the fact that the World Bank is governed primarily by rich Western countries who may put their own needs ahead of those of the developing world.”

Water Bank Foundation Trust Brings Top 100 Innovations Of India To UN

The Water Bank Foundation (WBF) Trust, a non-profit, held five events at the United Nations World Water Day conference which falls annually on March 22.

The WBF Trust introduced 100 top innovations from India around World Water Day, related to water conservation, according to an April 3, 2023, press release from the organization.

The events included the global launch of next generation drinking water purifier, kick-starting tech enabled mission BarterWATER for sustainability, as well as virtual events to boost the role of social institutions like Academia & Panchayat for water action.

Picture : American Bazaar

The webinars in conjunction with the UN 2023 Water Conference, “allowed almost 250 experts to brainstorm to align to boost UN’s recognized Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) via India’s local self-governance model – Panchayat,” the press release said.

More than 30 academics, politicians, world leaders, and industry professionals took part in the March 24 sessions in New York, highlighting the “benefits of Healing Water Meditation, to highlight the importance of water within us, and around us.”

The global launch of OáS Well Drinking Water Purifier, a   leap in clean-water technology, part of the Top 100 innovations in India, topped the list of innovations in WASH (Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). The day ended with the introduction of Water Bank Foundation’s flagship mission, BarterWATER for sustainability, “to make water the basis of a local-sustainable economy, and to use drinking water as the basis to boost the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

At the live event, Rajat Gupta, chairman of  WHEELS Global Foundation and Ruyintan (Ron) Mehta, president of  WIN Foundation, signed an MOU with VAS Bros. Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., (Organic Aqua Solutions) in an effort to pilot a sustainable model for Arsenic-mitigation, in one panchayat (a cluster of Arsenic-poisoned villages) in Bihar.

“Apart from providing a sustainable solution to avail arsenic-free, pure, safe, and healthy drinking water to the villagers, we aim to demonstrate a robust rural WASH model using bartering water for the behavior change in sanitation,” Saket Kumar, president and managing trustee of Water Bank Foundation Trust, is quoted saying in the press release.

Founded by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) alumni, WGF focuses on their six pillars; water, health, education, energy, livelihood, and sustainability while WIN Foundation supports and facilitates innovation in the areas of Water and Sanitation (WatSan) and Maternal and Child Health (MCH), primarily in India and apply it in empowering and improving the lives of underprivileged sections in a sustainable manner.

The final UN event hosted by Water Bank Foundation focused on highlighting the role of academia to boost sustainable technology development, an event in which more than a dozen water action agenda commitments were taken by WBF, and its partner organizations.

Cold Is Beneficial For Healthy Aging

Newswise — Cold activates a cellular cleansing mechanism that breaks down harmful protein aggregations responsible for various diseases associated with aging. In recent years, studies on different model organisms have already shown that life expectancy increases significantly when body temperature is lowered.

However, precisely how this works has still been unclear in many areas.

A research team at the University of Cologne’s CECAD Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research has now unlocked one responsible mechanism.

The study ‘Cold temperature extends longevity and prevents disease-related protein aggregation through PA28γ-induced proteasomes’ has appeared in Nature Aging.

Professor Dr David Vilchez and his working group used a non-vertebrate model organism, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, and cultivated human cells. Both carried the genes for two neurodegenerative diseases which typically occur in old age: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Huntington’s disease. Both diseases are characterized by accumulations of harmful and damaging protein deposits – so-called pathological protein aggregations. In both model organisms, cold actively removed the protein clumps, thus preventing the protein aggregation that is pathological in both ALS and Huntington’s disease.

More precisely, the scientists explored the impact of cold on the activity of proteasomes, a cellular mechanism that removes damaged proteins from cells. The research revealed that the proteasome activator PA28γ/PSME3 mitigated the deficits caused by aging in both the nematode and in the human cells. In both cases, it was possible to activate proteasome activity through a moderate decrease in temperature. “Taken together, these results show how over the course of evolution, cold has preserved its influence on proteasome regulation – with therapeutic implications for aging and aging-associated diseases,” said Professor Vilchez.

Aging is a major risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases associated with protein aggregation, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and ALS. Vilchez added: “We believe that these results may be applied to other age-related neurodegenerative diseases as well as to other animal species.” A key finding was that the proteasome activity can also be increased by genetic overexpression of the activator. That way, disease-causing proteins can be eliminated even at the normal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. These results may provide therapeutic targets for aging and aging-associated diseases.

It has long been known that while extremely low temperatures can be harmful to organisms, a moderate reduction in body temperature can have very positive effects. For example, a lower body temperature prolongs the longevity of cold-blooded animals like worms, flies or fish, whose body temperature fluctuates with the temperature of the environment. However, the same phenomenon also applies to mammals, who maintain their body temperature within a narrow range no matter how cold or warm their environment is. For example, the nematode lives much longer if it is moved from the standard temperature of 20 degrees Celsius to a colder temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. And in mice, a slight decrease in body temperature of just 0.5 degrees significantly extends their lifespan. This supports the assumption that temperature reduction plays a central role in longevity in the animal kingdom and is a well-conserved evolutionary mechanism.

Even in humans, a correlation between body temperature and lifespan has been reported. Normal human body temperature is between 36.5 and 37 degrees Celsius. While an acute drop in body temperature below 35 degrees leads to hypothermia, human body temperature fluctuates slightly during the day and even reaches a cool 36 degrees during sleep. Interestingly, a previous study reported that human body temperature has steadily declined by 0.03 degrees Celsius per decade since the Industrial Revolution, suggesting a possible link to the progressive increase in human life expectancy over the last 160 years. (The research was conducted at the University of Cologne’s CECAD Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research.)

Hidden Ice Melt In Himalaya

Newswise — A new study reveals that the mass loss of lake-terminating glaciers in the greater Himalaya has been significantly underestimated, due to the inability of satellites to see glacier changes occurring underwater, with critical implications for the region’s future projections of glacier disappearance and water resources.

Published in Nature Geoscience on April 3, the study was conducted by an international team including researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Graz University of Technology (Austria), the University of St. Andrews (UK), and Carnegie Mellon University (USA).

Picture : The Guradian

The researchers found that a previous assessment underestimated the total mass loss of lake-terminating glaciers in the greater Himalaya by 6.5%. The most significant underestimation of 10% occurred in the central Himalaya, where glacial lake growth was the most rapid. A particularly interesting case is Galong Co in this region, with a high underestimation of 65%.

This oversight was largely due to the limitations of satellite imaging in detecting underwater changes, which has led to a knowledge gap in our understanding of the full extent of glacier loss. From 2000 to 2020, proglacial lakes in the region increased by 47% in number, 33% in area, and 42% in volume. This expansion resulted in an estimated glacier mass loss of around 2.7 Gt, equivalent to 570 million elephants, or over 1,000 times the total number of elephants in the world. This loss was not considered by previous studies since the utilized satellite data can only measure the lake water surface but not underwater ice that is replaced by water.

“These findings have important implications for understanding the impact of regional water resources and glacial lake outburst floods,” said lead author ZHANG Guoqing from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS.

By accounting for the mass loss from lake-terminating glaciers, the researchers can more accurately assess the annual mass balance of these glaciers compared to land-terminating ones, thus further highlighting the accelerated glacier mass loss across the greater Himalaya.

The study also highlights the need to understand the mechanisms driving glacier mass loss and the underestimated mass loss of lake-terminating glaciers globally, which is estimated to be around 211.5 Gt, or roughly 12%, between 2000 and 2020.

“This emphasizes the importance of incorporating subaqueous mass loss from lake-terminating glaciers in future mass-change estimates and glacier evolution models, regardless of the study region,” said co-corresponding author Tobias Bolch from Graz University of Technology.

David Rounce, a co-author from Carnegie Mellon University, noted that in the long run, the mass loss from lake-terminating glaciers may continue to be a major contributor to total mass loss throughout the 21st century as glaciers with significant mass loss may disappear more rapidly compared to existing projections.

“By more accurately accounting for glacier mass loss, researchers can better predict future water resource availability in the sensitive mountain region,” said co-author YAO Tandong, who also co-chairs Third Pole Environment (TPE), an international science program for interdisciplinary study of the relationships among water, ice, climate, and humankind in the region and beyond.

Yellen Says, Climate Change Is ‘Existential Threat’

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday pushed back against a GOP congressman who voiced skepticism about the threat of climate change, suggesting the issue was being used by the Biden administration to secure funding and was not a serious concern.

“Can you provide to me, or do you know any research on your own to justify this drastic climate change that we have to do today or the next four or five years this world’s going to come to an end?” Rep Jerry Carl (R-Ala.) asked Yellen at a hearing on the banking system.

When Yellen pointed to an “enormous amount of research” summarized by a United Nations group about the threat of climate change, Carl claimed that the global organization “makes a lot of money off the climate change scenario.”

“There is a strong scientific consensus and enormous body of research,” Yellen responded.

Picture : YouTube

Carl, who is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, downplayed the significance of the changing climate by pointing to the environment in his home state of Alabama. Carl noted one could go 300 feet above sea level and find oyster shells in an embankment, then travel 40 feet below sea level and find a petrified forest under water.

Carl said he believes the literal definition of climate change, but questioned the idea that it is a grave threat to the planet. He argued that the issue of climate change was being used by the Biden administration so it could secure funding for its various priorities.

“The way it’s being used now is like a Trojan horse. Everything you want to use it for to get into the conversation is climate change related,” Carl said.

“We’re seeing enormous increases in concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Yellen said. “Where in America are we seeing that?” Carl asked.

“It’s a global phenomenon; it’s not just in the United States,” Yellen replied, noting that an increase in the intensity of hurricanes is another cause of concern.

“Climate change, I believe, is an existential threat, and we will leave a world to our grandchildren and great grandchildren that will become uninhabitable if we don’t address climate change,” Yellen continued. “We have let decades pass in which we have understood that this was a problem and not taken meaningful action.”

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said he believed there is general skepticism among critics of the Biden administration that the billions of dollars being spent on the environment will meaningfully change the temperature of the planet.

Yellen has made fighting climate change a key part of her work as Treasury secretary, arguing that the U.S. economy will suffer if the planet continues to warm. The department previously created a climate hub, a division meant to drive investments toward projects to reduce carbon emissions and insulate the economy from extreme weather and other risks.

The Inflation Reduction Act, the administration’s signature piece of legislation passed last year, contains $27 billion in funding for green banks, credit unions, housing finance agencies and projects to cut pollution and energy costs.

Massive ‘Ocean’ Beneath Earth’s Surface Bigger Than All The Seas Above Land

Did you know that 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water?  Okay, maybe that one was too easy. But try this one on for size: Did you know that there’s an absolutely massive supply of water hidden underneath the Earth’s crust that’s three times bigger than the oceans that sit on the surface?

Back in 2014 scientists discovered that we essentially have a reservoir of water hidden beneath our feet – though it might not look that way at first.

This huge supply of water is buried a whopping 400 miles underground, so it’s not exactly accessible. Plus, it’s contained inside a blue rock known as ‘ringwoodite’ in the Earth’s mantel, which acts as a sort of sponge for that huge body of H2O.

Picture :UNILAD

So it’s not a liquid, solid, or gas, but a fourth molecular structure of water contained inside the mantle rock. “The ringwoodite is like a sponge, soaking up water, there is something very special about the crystal structure of ringwoodite that allows it to attract hydrogen and trap water,” said geophysicist Steve Jacobsen, who was part of the monumental discovery. “This mineral can contain a lot of water under conditions of the deep mantle.”

The watery rock was discovered by scientists from Northwestern University in Illinois using seismometers to measure the waves being generated by earthquakes across the US.

In their research, they found that the waves weren’t limited to the Earth’s surface, but moving throughout the planet’s core.

By measuring the speed and depth of those waves, researchers were able to work out what sort of rocks the water was being contained in – landing on ringwoodite in the end. Research has found that ringwoodite can contain up to 1.5 percent water.

If the ringwoodite under the surface has just 1 percent water in its molecular build-up, it would mean that it holds three times more water than all of the oceans on the Earth’s surface.

It’s also contained inside a rock called ringwoodite – so good luck getting to it. Credit: Pixabay

This discovery could help scientists determine how Earth was formed, furthering the theory that the Earth’s water ‘came from within’, rather than from asteroids and comets.

Jacobsen explained at the time: “I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet.

The watery rock was discovered by scientists from Northwestern University in Illinois using seismometers to measure the waves being generated by earthquakes across the US.

In their research, they found that the waves weren’t limited to the Earth’s surface, but moving throughout the planet’s core.

By measuring the speed and depth of those waves, researchers were able to work out what sort of rocks the water was being contained in – landing on ringwoodite in the end.

Research has found that ringwoodite can contain up to 1.5 percent water.

This discovery could help scientists determine how Earth was formed, furthering the theory that the Earth’s water ‘came from within’, rather than from asteroids and comets.

Jacobsen explained at the time: “I think we are finally seeing evidence for a whole-Earth water cycle, which may help explain the vast amount of liquid water on the surface of our habitable planet.

For now, researchers have only found evidence of the ringwoodite rock beneath the surface of the US. Now, Jacobsen and his team want to determine whether or not this layer wraps around the entire planet Earth.

39 Indian Cities Among World’s 50 Most Polluted

The Swiss firm IQAir in its ‘World Air Quality Report’ released last week ranked India the world’s eighth most polluted country in 2022, dropping from fifth place the previous year. In the list of most polluted cities in the world, out of the 50 cities, 39 are in India.

Chad, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Kuwait, India, Egypt and Tajikistan were the top 10 most polluted countries while Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland, and New Zealand met the World Health Organization (WHO) PM2.5 guideline (annual average of 5 Aug/m3 or less).

The data from 131 countries was taken from over 30,000 ground-based monitors, either government or non-government operated.

As per the report, In India, the transportation sector causes 20-35 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution while other sources of pollution are industrial units, coal-fired power plants and biomass burning.

After the two top most-polluted cities, Lahore in Pakistan and Hotan in China, Rajasthan’s Bhiwadi is in third place and Delhi ranked fourth.

Delhi’s PM2.5 level is almost 20 times the safe limit, the report stated.

Delhi has so far been the most polluted capital in the world and the report made a distinction between ‘greater’ Delhi and New Delhi the capital. Both are in the top 10 and the infamous distinction of being the world’s most polluted capital goes to Chad’s N’Djamena.

National Capital’s peripherals– Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Faridabad have seen a decline in pollution levels. The report said that there is a 34 per cent decline in Gurugram to 21 per cent in Faridabad if compared to the average PM2.5 levels reported in previous years.

Delhi has seen a decline of eight per cent.

The report said that worldwide, poor air quality accounts for 93 billion days lived with illness and over six million deaths each year.

“The total economic cost equates to over $8 trillion dollars, surpassing 6.1 per cent of the global annual GDP. Exposure to air pollution causes and aggravates several health conditions which include, but are not limited to, asthma, cancer, lung illnesses, heart disease, and premature mortality,” the report said.

According to the report, 31 cities including 10 cities in Uttar Pradesh and seven in Haryana, have seen a steep percentage decline in pollution levels.

“A total of 38 cities and towns have seen a rise in pollution compared to an average of previous years,” stated the report.

As per the report, among the six metro cities, Kolkata was ranked the most polluted after Delhi. However, Chennai was stated to be the cleanest with pollution ‘just’ 5x the WHO’s safe level. The metro cities — Hyderabad and Bengalurua — saw pollution levels uptick over the average since 2017. (IANS)

Pope Francis Has Changed Climate Action

It was clear from day one that Pope Francis was going to shake things up in the climate world. On March 13, 2013, the newly elected Pope, then Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, took the name Francis, after the 13th century saint of Assisi. Upon hearing the voice of Jesus instructing him to repair a collapsing chapel, St. Francis revitalized both the chapel and the Catholic Church while celebrating the natural world. It was like the new pope “heard the same message,” says Father Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, coordinator of the ecology and creation department at the Vatican’s ministry for promoting integral human development. “It was ‘Francis, Go and repair my house, which is falling into ruin.’ And it’s not just the Church, but planet earth, which, as we know, is in a very bad state.”

The Pope’s reign, now entering its 10th year, carries a mixed legacy—celebrated for his efforts to protect refugees and broaden the Church’s reach, marred by finance scandals and sexual assault cover-up controversies. But from a climate perspective, his efforts to repair the house of planet earth may be his most enduring.

What started as a quasi-mystical nod to St. Francis, patron saint of ecology and animals, quickly morphed into a well-constructed strategy to bring the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics into alignment on climate change. On June 18, 2015, he published Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home , a landmark encyclical, or pastoral letter, to the entire Catholic congregation. The 184-page document lamented environmental degradation and global warming, critiqued consumerism and irresponsible development, and warned of “serious consequences for all of us” if current trends continued. The timing of the encyclical, released six months ahead of the pivotal U.N. climate conference in Paris, was calculated, according to Kureethadam, with a goal of convincing world leaders to set clear targets to limit global warming

“The impact was tremendous,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who served as co-chair of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the eight years leading up to the 2015 negotiations. The document paved the way for an influential Vatican presence at the meetings, translating into strong climate commitments from the Polish and Latin American delegations. The Pope’s climate teachings, he says, were “a powerful symbol.”

Six years on, that influence is starting to wane. The controversies over the past 10 years—even if they don’t involve the Pope directly—have taken a toll. “When the Pope was elected, there was an enormous amount of goodwill,” says Edenhofer. “The world was ready for his message. But the Catholic Church is no longer a credible institution.” The Pope has repeatedly called on Catholic institutions worldwide to divest from fossil fuel investments, but not all have heeded his message.

Tomas Insua, the executive director of the Laudato Si’ Movement, a climate advocacy and activism network that sprung up in the wake of the encyclical, agrees that the Church as a whole could do much more in terms of divestment. But that doesn’t mean that the Pope’s climate message has faded. If anything, says Insua, he was the spark that launched a global climate movement that now counts nearly 1,000 Catholic organizations and parishes in 150 countries. “Care for the climate, care for the earth, this is now part of the Church teachings. People around the world are taking up the message and turning it into real action. That is his legacy, and it will endure.” (TIME.COM)

Temperatures Are Trending Upward

A tweet shared by thousands by Steve Milloy, founder of Junk Science and former member of the EPA transition team under the Trump Administration, says, “Zero US warming in 18 years, per US Climate Reference Network temp stations. That’s no US warming despite 30% of total manmade CO2.”

This claim is similar to ones in the past where skeptics of human-caused climate change cherry-pick data (using a fraction of the data to prop up claims that are false globally) to suit their ideology. It is simply false to claim that data from the Climate Reference Network show no warming over the last 18 years. There is a warming trend. Even if it was true, the US represents only 1.9 % of the Earth’s surface. It’s hard to extrapolate much about global temperature change from an 18-year period in 2% of the globe.

Picture : TheUNN

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), nine of the top 10 warmest years on record for the contiguous 48 states have occurred since 1998, and 2012 and 2016 were the two warmest years on record. Some parts of the United States have experienced more warming than others. According to NOAA, the North, the West, and Alaska have seen temperatures increase the most, while some parts of the Southeast have experienced little change. This warming trend is consistent with the long-term trend of global warming, primarily driven by human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Chris Cappa, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis has this to say…

As usual, Steve Milloy is contributing to a disinformation campaign about the reality and seriousness of climate change through selective cherry picking of information. He conveniently ignores the undeniable global trend in surface temperatures to mention only the continental US, which is only 2% of the total Earth surface area. He misleads the public here by spinning a tale that is the equivalent of someone living in Chicago and saying they don’t believe that hurricanes are real because they’ve never seen one. Milloy peddles this same nonsense year after year and refuses to engage with the actual science.

Digital Tool Helps Understand The Past, Predict Evolution Of The Earth’s Surface

Most detailed geological model reveals Newswise — Climate, tectonics and time combine to create powerful forces that craft the face of our planet. Add the gradual sculpting of the Earth’s surface by rivers and what to us seems solid as rock is constantly changing.

However, our understanding of this dynamic process has at best been patchy.

Scientists today have published new research revealing a detailed and dynamic model of the Earth’s surface over the past 100 million years.

Working with scientists in France, University of Sydney geoscientists have published this new model in the prestigious journal Science.

For the first time, it provides a high-resolution understanding of how today’s geophysical landscapes were created and how millions of tonnes of sediment have flowed to the oceans.

Picture : TheUNN

Lead author Dr Tristan Salles from the University of Sydney School of Geosciences, said: “To predict the future, we must understand the past. But our geological models have only provided a fragmented understanding of how our planet’s recent physical features formed.

“If you look for a continuous model of the interplay between river basins, global-scale erosion and sediment deposition at high resolution for the past 100 million years, it just doesn’t exist.

“So, this is a big advance. It’s not only a tool to help us investigate the past but will help scientists understand and predict the future, as well.”

Using a framework incorporating geodynamics, tectonic and climatic forces with surface processes, the scientific team has presented a new dynamic model of the past 100 million years at high resolution (down to 10 kilometres), broken into frames of a million years.

Second author Dr Laurent Husson from Institut des Sciences de la Terre in Grenoble, France, said: “This unprecedented high-resolution model of Earth’s recent past will equip geoscientists with a more complete and dynamic understanding of the Earth’s surface.

“Critically, it captures the dynamics of sediment transfer from the land to oceans in a way we have not previously been able to.”

Dr Salles said that understanding the flow of terrestrial sediment to marine environments is vital to comprehend present-day ocean chemistry.

“Given that ocean chemistry is changing rapidly due to human-induced climate change, having a more complete picture can assist our understanding of marine environments,” he said.

The model will allow scientists to test different theories as to how the Earth’s surface will respond to changing climate and tectonic forces.

Further, the research provides an improved model to understand how the transportation of Earth sediment regulates the planet’s carbon cycle over millions of years.

“Our findings will provide a dynamic and detailed background for scientists in other fields to prepare and test hypotheses, such as in biochemical cycles or in biological evolution.”

Authors Dr Salles, Dr Claire Mallard and PhD student Beatriz Hadler Boggiani are members of the EarthColab Group and Associate Professor Patrice Rey and Dr Sabin Zahirovic are part of the EarthByte Group. Both groups are in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney.

The research was undertaken in collaboration with French geoscientists from CNRS, France, Université Lyon and ENS Paris.

‘Historic’ Deal To Protect High Seas Agreed By UN Member States

More than 100 UN member-states have finally agreed, following years of talks, to a draft of the first international UN treaty to protect the high seas, a fragile and vital treasure that covers nearly half the planet. After years of negotiations, negotiators from more than 100 countries completed the UN treaty – a long-awaited step that environmental groups say will help reverse marine biodiversity losses and ensure sustainable development.

Once adopted, the treaty will be legally binding on the member-states. Pending for 15 years. Aimed at conserving and ensuring the sustainable use of ocean biodiversity, this treaty’s draft was agreed upon on Saturday, a day after the original deadline, in New York after 15 years of negotiation.

Among the contentious issues was an agreement to share the benefits of “marine genetic resources” used in biotech and other industries, dragging out the talks.

In June 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had declared an “ocean emergency” at the UN Ocean Conference in Portugal, citing threats to the world’s oceans.

What are the high seas?
High seas are oceanic areas beyond the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) — beyond 200 nautical miles from the coastlines — of the countries. They are under the jurisdiction of no country.

High seas comprise more than 60% of the world’s oceans, and nearly half the planet’s surface.

Only about 1% of the high seas are currently protected.

Nearly 10% of marine species are facing the risk of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Oceans regulate global climate in — providing oxygen for human and animal life, driving weather systems and storing about 25% of the carbon dioxide generated by human activities.

The legally binding pact to conserve and ensure the sustainable use of ocean biodiversity, under discussion for 15 years, was finally agreed after five rounds of protracted UN-led negotiations.

The treaty is seen as a crucial component in global efforts to bring 30 percent of the world’s land and sea under protection by the end of the decade, a target known as “30 by 30” agreed in Montreal, Canada, in December last year.

The treaty will also oblige countries to conduct environmental impact assessments of proposed activities on the high seas.

Economic interests were a major sticking point throughout the latest round of negotiations, which began on February 20, with developing countries calling for a greater share of the spoils from the “blue economy”, including the transfer of technology.

An agreement to share the benefits of “marine genetic resources” used in industries like biotechnology also remained an area of contention until the end, dragging out talks.

What are high seas?

The high seas begin at the border of countries’ exclusive economic zones, which extend up to 370km (200 nautical miles) from coastlines.  Beyond that point, the seas are under the jurisdiction of no country.

Even though the high seas comprise more than 60 percent of the world’s oceans and nearly half the planet’s surface, they have long drawn far less attention than coastal waters and a few iconic species.

Ocean ecosystems create half the oxygen humans breathe and limit global warming by absorbing much of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities. But they are threatened by climate change, pollution and overfishing.

Only about 1 percent of the high seas are currently protected.

‘Victory for multilateralism’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the delegates, according to a spokesperson, who said the agreement was a “victory for multilateralism and for global efforts to counter the destructive trends facing ocean health, now and for generations to come”.

“It is crucial for addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution,” a UN statement said.

Greenpeace says 11 million square km (4.2 million square miles) of ocean needs to be put under protection every year until 2030 to meet the target.

“Countries must formally adopt the treaty and ratify it as quickly as possible to bring it into force, and then deliver the fully protected ocean sanctuaries our planet needs,” said Laura Meller, a Greenpeace oceans campaigner who attended the talks.

“The clock is still ticking to deliver 30 by 30. We have half a decade left, and we can’t be complacent.”

India’s Sinking Holy Town Faces Grim Future

(AP) — Inside a shrine overlooking snow-capped mountains, Hindu priests heaped spoonfuls of puffed rice and ghee into a crackling fire. They closed their eyes and chanted in Sanskrit, hoping their prayers would somehow turn back time and save their holy — and sinking — town.

For months, the roughly 20,000 residents in Joshimath, burrowed in the Himalayas and revered by Hindu and Sikh pilgrims, have watched the earth slowly swallow their community. They pleaded for help that never arrived, and in January their desperate plight made it into the international spotlight.

Picture : AP

But by then, Joshimath was already a disaster zone. Multistoried hotels slumped to one side; cracked roads gaped open. More than 860 homes were uninhabitable, splayed by deep fissures that snaked through ceilings, floors and walls. And instead of saviors they got bulldozers that razed whole lopsided swaths of the town.

The holy town was built on piles of debris left behind by years of landslides and earthquakes. Scientists have warned for decades, including in a 1976 report, that Joshimath could not withstand the level of heavy construction that has recently been taking place.

“Cracks are widening every day and people are in fear. We have been saying for years this is not just a disaster, but a disaster in the making… it’s a time bomb,” said Atul Sati, an activist with the Save Joshimath Committee.

Joshimath’s future is at risk, experts and activists say, due in part to a push backed by the prime minister’s political party to grow religious tourism in Uttarakhand, the holy town’s home state. On top of climate change, extensive new construction to accommodate more tourists and accelerate hydropower projects in the region is exacerbating subsidence — the sinking of land.

Located 1,890 meters (6,200 feet) above sea level, Joshimath is said to have special spiritual powers and believed to be where Hindu guru Adi Shankaracharya found enlightenment in the 8th century before going on to establish four monasteries across India, including one in Joshimath.

Visitors pass through the town on their way to the famous Sikh shrine, Hemkund Sahib, and the Hindu temple, Badrinath.

“It must be protected,” said Brahmachari Mukundanand, a local priest who called Joshimath the “brain of North India” and explained that “Our body can still function if some limbs are cut off. But if anything happens to our brain, we can’t function. … Its survival is extremely important.”

The town’s loose topsoil and soft rocks can only support so much and that limit, according to environmentalist Vimlendu Jha, may have already been breached.

“You can’t just construct anything anywhere just because it is allowed,” he said. “In the short term, you might think it’s development. But in the long term, it is actually devastation.”

At least 240 families have been forced to relocate without knowing if they would be able to return.

Prabha Sati, who fled Joshimath in a panic last month when her home began to crack and tilt, came back to grab the television, idols of Hindu gods and some shoes before state officials demolished her home.

Joshimath town is seen along side snow capped mountains, in India’s Himalayan mountain state of Uttarakhand, Jan. 21, 2023. For months, residents in Joshimath, a holy town burrowed high up in India’s Himalayan mountains, have seen their homes slowly sink. They pleaded for help, but it never arrived. In January however, their town made national headlines. Big, deep cracks had emerged in over 860 homes, making them unlivable. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Developing Countries Could Drive Global Success And Local Prosperity With Climate Action

A new narrative needs to capture the interwoven nature of the world’s climate and economic development challenges, anchored in the evolving and diverse perspectives of developing countries themselves.

An updated portrayal begins with the stark reality of climate change’s devastating consequences already hindering economic development around the world. It underscores the need for urgent investments in adaptation, resilience, and nature to avoid development setbacks while paying heed to the world’s narrow window for climate action. It requires empathy for many developing countries’ profound energy conundrum: a tension between the need to expand access for people who need it most while facing pressures to pursue low-carbon opportunities, often in the face of local political and financing headwinds. It implies practical urgency in tackling the broken threads of the international financing system for climate and development.

To set a more robust global path to net-zero emissions by 2050, the world needs to pay greater attention to the needs of emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs), even when holding aside the special case of China. Over the coming several decades, no part of the world will play a greater role in both experiencing and affecting global climate change outcomes than EMDEs themselves.  They need greater international support to tackle growth-enhancing sustainable development strategies.

With their growing leverage, developing countries have new opportunities to lean forward with a unified “ask” in global climate and development negotiations. The broader prize and aspiration amount to a full-fledged re-conception of models for sustainable development and of international cooperation. Falling short by losing sight of the big picture or wrangling excessively over details will dim the prospects for prosperity around the world. Rising to the occasion, however, can help usher in a new era of prosperity for all.

This edited volume brings together a cross section of distinguished academics and leading policy voices from a variety of developing country geographies and contexts. First, it presents perspectives on the local climate and development challenges and opportunities in Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and South Africa. Then, broader case studies focus on issues spanning East Africa, the African continent as a whole, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Vulnerable Twenty (V20) Group of Ministers of Finance of the Climate Vulnerable Forum. The volume concludes with a chapter focused on systemic issues in financing development and climate-driven prosperity.

Pope Francis Is Concerned About Climate Change. Do U.S. Catholics Care?

Pope Francis has frequently spoken about climate change during his decadelong leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. In 2015, he devoted an entire encyclical to the matter, citing scientific consensus that the Earth is warming due to human activity. He predicted “serious consequences for all of us” if current trends continue.

Despite Francis’ outspokenness on the subject, not all Catholics in the United States share his concerns, and their views vary by political affiliation, race and ethnicity, and age.

How we did this


While 82% of Catholics who are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party say global climate change is an extremely or very serious problem, just a quarter of Republican or Republican-leaning Catholics say the same, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey.

When it comes to race and ethnicity, 71% of Hispanic Catholics see climate change as an extremely or very serious problem, compared with 49% of White, non-Hispanic Catholics. (There were not enough Black or Asian Catholics in the 2022 survey to analyze separately.)

In addition, Catholics ages 18 to 49 are somewhat more likely than Catholics ages 50 and older to express a high level of concern about climate change (61% vs. 53%).

Broadly speaking, Catholics are no more likely than Americans overall to view climate change as a serious problem. An identical share in each group say global climate change is either an extremely or very serious problem (57%).

But views among Catholics differ, reflecting similar splits in the wider U.S. population. U.S. adults who are 49 or younger, Democratic, or identify as a race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic White are generally more likely than those who are 50 or older, Republican, or White to express concern about climate change.

Among U.S. adults overall, opinion about climate change is strongly tied to political partisanship. Democrats and Democratic leaners are far more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say that global climate change is an extremely or very serious problem (83% vs. 25%). This gap underlies much of the apparent differences in views among religious groups, including Catholics. Generally speaking, U.S. Catholics are politically evenly divided. But Catholics who are White or older are far more likely than those who are Hispanic or younger to be Republican.

Partisan and demographic differences in Catholics’ views of climate change extend to other environment-related topics, too. For example, just over half of Catholics (54%) say the Earth is warming mostly due to human activity – in line with the pope’s stance. A quarter say it is mostly warming due to natural patterns, while 9% say there is no solid evidence the planet is getting warmer. Catholics who are Democratic, younger or Hispanic are far more likely than those who are Republican, older or White to say the Earth is mostly warming due to human activity.

In addition to asking Americans about their own views on climate change, the 2022 Center survey asked respondents how much they hear about the topic in sermons.

Among those who attend religious services at least monthly, U.S. Catholics indicate that climate change is not discussed frequently from the pulpit. About one-in-ten (8%) say there is a great deal or quite a bit of discussion on climate change in sermons, while 50% say there is either some or a little discussion of it. About four-in-ten (41%) regular Mass attenders say there is no discussion of climate change.

Overall, 58% of Catholic service attenders say there is at least a little discussion of climate change in sermons, similar to the share of mainline Protestant attenders (62%), and much higher than the share of evangelical Protestant attenders who report this (40%).

Among Catholics who attend Mass at least monthly, 36% say they have heard at least a little about climate change in sermons and that those sermons always or often express the view that “we have a duty to care for God’s creation.” Smaller shares say sermons at their congregation always or often express “support for actions to limit the effects of climate change” (23%); “concern that policies aimed at reducing climate change give too much power to the government” (9%); or “the view that we don’t need to worry about climate change” (8%).

Honda, GM To Jointly Build Hydrogen-Powered Cars

Honda is set to launch the first hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric CR-V in 2024 and it is getting a little help. The automaker has revealed that the Ohio-built SUV will use technology developed in partnership with General Motors.

Fuel cells combine hydrogen stored in tanks with atmospheric oxygen through a catalyst to create water, the process generating electricity and H2O vapor. The power systems are lighter than battery packs and can be refueled as quickly as a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Both automakers have been experimenting with the technology separately, with Honda briefly selling a fuel cell-powered Clarity car that was hamstrung by high costs and a lack of public fueling infrastructure outside of California, where it was sold.

According to Honda, the next-generation system will cut production costs to one-third of what they are now and by half again in the coming years. Honda is exploring using the technology in cars, commercial vehicles, stationary power systems and even in space. The ramp-up to commercialization will be slow, however.

Honda only expects to build 2,000 of the CR-Vs in 2025 and up to 60,000 fuel cell vehicles annually in 2030, but sees the output growing to hundreds of thousands by the middle of the next decade.

Several other automakers are keen on both hydrogen combustion and fuel cell technology as an alternative to battery-power, including Toyota and Hyundai, which both currently offer low-volume models for sale.

Honda will also start selling the battery-powered Prologue SUV in 2024, which will be built in the U.S. the GM Ultium electric car platform that underpins the Cadillac Lyriq today. Pricing and other specifications for the fuel cell CR-V and Prologue have not yet been announced.

India the Most Important Country in the Climate Fight

The drive from Ranchi to Hazaribagh in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand is only 65 miles, but it takes nearly three hours. We swerve to avoid schoolchildren chatting with friends and meandering down the highway, honk at cows to get out of the way, and accelerate past pickups reconfigured as makeshift transport vehicles overflowing with workers. Men in sandals push bicycles overloaded with bags of coal down the highway, while on the back roads close to Hazaribagh, women carry buckets of the stuff on their heads.

Coal is what brought me to Jharkhand, one of India’s poorest and most polluted states. The pedestrian colliers, illegal miners trying to make ends meet, are just the start. All along the route to our destination, the Topa Open Coal Mine, a caravan of large, colorful trucks filled to the brim with coal barrel toward us in the opposite lane. When we finally reach the mine, I see the source of it all: an explosion has blasted through a wall of rock, opening access to new tranches of coal to feed the country’s fast-growing power and industrial needs. says JK John, the senior mining supervisor on site employed by a subsidiary of the state-owned Coal India Ltd.: “Here, coal is in demand.”

Two flights and more than 900 miles away, the northwestern state of Rajasthan is a world apart. Along a smoothly paved highway from the Jaisalmer airport, wind turbines dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Farther from the town’s center, we approach a field of solar panels, comprising a 300-MW power plant opened in 2021 by the Indian company ReNew Power, providing electricity for the growing population of the state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai. Even as the region expands its renewable-energy industry, the atmosphere remains clean and pleasant enough to support a thriving tourist trade.

Jharkhand and Rajasthan, so different in appearance, are being shaped by the same fundamental force: India is growing so rapidly that its energy demand is effectively insatiable. But the two states present starkly different answers to that demand. Historically, fossil fuels from places like Jharkhand powered industrialization. But today, with climate concerns rising, many experts are calling for India to ditch coal as soon as possible and embrace the green-energy model so prevalent in Rajasthan.

Much rides on which approach dominates India’s energy future. In the three decades since reducing emissions became a discussion point on the global stage, analysts have portrayed the U.S., China, and Europe as the most critical targets for cutting pollution. But as the curve finally begins to bend in those places, it’s become clear that India will soon be the most important country in the climate change effort. In December, I spent 10 days in India, visiting coal communities, touring renewable-energy sites, and talking with leaders in the country’s political and financial hubs to understand India’s approach to the energy transition.

The picture that emerged is of a government following an approach uncharted for a country of its scale: pursue green technologies in the midst of industrialization while leaving the fate of coal to the market. “India, as a responsible global citizen, is willing to make the bet that it can satisfy the aspiration for higher living standards, while pursuing a quite different energy strategy from any large country before,” says Suman Bery, who leads NITI Aayog, the Indian government’s economic policy-making agency. India, Bery says, will pursue clean energy while seeking a “balance between energy access and affordability, energy security, and environmental considerations.”

Where that balance is struck could tip the climate scales worldwide. India contributes 7% of the emissions that cause global warming today, a percentage that will expand alongside its economy. This growth will help determine whether—and by how far—the world blows past the goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C. Equally important, India’s approach is being watched elsewhere. If it can use low-carbon development to bring prosperity to its 1.4 billion people, others will follow. Failure could lead to a retrenchment into fossil fuels across the Global South.

What the Global North does matters too. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates India needs $1.4 trillion in additional investment in coming decades to align its energy system with global climate targets; that will very likely require reforms at international lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to facilitate the flow of money. The best outcome, observers say, is one where India gets the help it needs to make the best choice for everyone. “India has to do it for itself,” says Rachel Kyte, the dean of the Fletcher School of international affairs at Tufts University. “And India needs to do it for the world.”

In a bitter irony, coal-rich Jharkhand cannot provide reliable electricity even to hospitals, schools, and other essential service providers. India’s second poorest state may be an extreme example, but such problems pervade every corner of the country and are the crux of its energy and climate challenge. It is, fundamentally, a developing nation, and its leaders do not want to write off any fuel source while energy demand continues its meteoric rise. As the country’s population swells to as high as a projected 1.8 billion over the next 40 years, and its economy grows at an even faster rate, the country will need to add a power system equivalent in size to that of the entire European Union, according to the IEA.

Historically, development at that scale happened one way: fossil fuels built a country’s industrial base, and then leaders pivoted to a lower-carbon, service-oriented model. China, one of history’s most successful examples of rapid modernization, built its industrial capacity by relentlessly adding coal-fired power plants and now boasts the second largest economy in the world, run primarily on coal. With that base established, the country has recently begun its full-fledged expansion of renewable energy.

India, with its abundant coal resources, could simply do the same. While research shows that a rapid expansion of renewable energy could provide the country with reliable electricity given adequate investment, no other country has tried it at India’s scale. Attempting a renewable revolution comes with some inevitable risks, like technical challenges and vulnerability to foreign supply chains. Meanwhile, coal is tried and tested. Above all, leaders in India insist that they have the right to power up using coal. In the lingo of the climate world, every country has its own population-based “fair share” of emissions it can produce before the world hits unsafe levels of global warming. In this formulation, the U.S. and European countries have already far exceeded their limits; India, on the other hand, has contributed only 4% of global emissions since 1850, despite being home to 18% of the world’s population, according to a 2019 U.N. report.

Whatever the reasoning, no one I spoke with in India, from academics to renewable-energy executives, would endorse a swift transition away from coal. “India’s not married to coal,” says Rahul Tongia, a senior fellow at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress in New Delhi. “It’s just that’s what India’s got.” Instead, government officials are working to promote renewable energy without actively working to shut down coal.

At the center of this approach sits Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi, whose support for solar power extends back to his time as the top official in the state of Gujarat in the 2010s, has set bold renewable-energy targets, saying at COP26 in 2021 that the country would install 500 gigawatts of renewable-energy capacity by 2030. That’s equivalent to 15 times California’s current renewable capability.

To get there, the Modi government has merged its renewable-energy and clean-technology objectives with its policy of liberalizing the economy and boosting the private sector. Bery, of NITI Aayog, describes the government’s approach as market-based: creating a context for clean technologies to “edge out coal in the market” rather than relying on government mandates. India, he tells me in his New Delhi office, should be “backing all these other technologies, so that it’s a pure commercial choice, rather than a regulatory choice to phase out coal.”

Industry insiders say this approach is working. The government-backed Solar Energy Corp. of India, for example, all but eliminated the risk that states would renege on their agreements—a significant worry for the banks that finance such projects—by serving as an intermediary between private-sector developers and states. If states don’t pay, the agency can essentially force them to do so—an innovation that has played a “fundamental” role in allowing the industry to grow, says Sumant Sinha, who has led ReNew Power since 2011. Using policy to drive private-sector investment is the norm in places like the U.S., but it’s new for India. For decades, electricity production and distribution in India was controlled by state-owned enterprises, from state-owned coal mines to state-owned power plants to the state-owned grid. With the new approach, the private sector deploys clean-energy technologies, and the government facilitates.

This is a fundamental, ideological change in Indian governance. The preamble to India’s constitution declares it a “socialist” state. But the investment in renewable energy that has led capacity to double since Modi took office has come almost entirely from private companies—and it isn’t slowing down. “The most natural thing for India to meet this burgeoning electricity requirement is to meet it through renewable energy, because it’s the cheapest, most commercially sound thing to do,” says Sinha. The IEA projects that solar power will make up around 30% of India’s electricity generation by 2040, matching coal’s share. This private-sector vitality was on full display in Rajasthan, where I saw massive wind and solar farms that belong to the country’s biggest private players, including the mega-corporations Tata and Adani.

But the focus on markets also reflects hard politics. Driving around Jharkhand, a state of 33 million people, it’s impossible to miss how entrenched the coal industry has become. Livelihoods depend on it, from educated supervisors running the show to indigent locals scrounging for scraps of coal. On the outskirts of the Topa mine, I saw an entire village abandoned to make way for miners to open a new coal seam.

Displacing such a colossus, policymakers say, cannot be done with a regulation here and there. “The minute you say ‘no coal’ there will be political implications. There will be riots,” says Amitabh Kant, who is leading India’s G-20 conference this year. “But if coal becomes commercially nonviable, that will be acceptable because the market will do it.”

A smooth transition matters not only for India but also for the rest of the world—it is a test case for how to implement an energy shift in developing countries while supporting their economic growth.

India’s leaders are keenly aware of the global stakes. Wherever I traveled there, I saw signs celebrating India hosting this year’s G-20, the annual forum for the world’s largest economies, at which the host is keen to make climate a central topic. India will tout its efforts to spur behavioral change among consumers, and its nascent use of hydrogen as an energy-storage medium. The meetings, Kant says, could lead countries to come to agreement on how to reform institutions like the IMF and World Bank so they can help developing countries decarbonize. The energy transition globally will cost untold trillions of dollars, and most countries now agree that these international financial institutions need to create instruments to make investing in places like India less risky for private financiers.

To actually deliver on such an agenda, though, India must first convince the rest of the world that its model for low-carbon development can work. Modi and others have already begun a campaign to show the rest of the world how serious it is—and to point out Western hypocrisy. At COP27, the annual U.N. climate conference held in November in Egypt, India lobbied for countries to agree to phase out “all fossil fuels” rather than just coal, an implicit challenge to the U.S. and other Western countries that are rich in oil. “Why should only coal be phased out?” Kant asks me rhetorically. And Modi’s LiFE campaign, which focuses on the role behavioral change can play in cutting emissions, stems from a recognition that India’s per capita emissions are just 40% of the global average.

India’s energy future remains India’s “choice.” But for all of the country’s insistence on sovereignty, by marrying its energy policy to its economic liberalization it has chosen a path of interdependence. In leaving the speed of its green transition to the whims of the market, India has accepted a dependence on price signals, investment choices, and economic trends far beyond the control of New Delhi or Mumbai. “The political signals, the policy evolution, or even the international commitments are also contingent on how quickly the market participants are able to respond,” says Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, an Indian environmental NGO.

Which means our future on the planet, once again, depends on a collective choice. Political leaders across the Global North and South can reform the institutions that govern the global economy, ensuring that the market decisively favors clean energy over fossil fuels. Or, we can all bid farewell to global climate targets and gird ourselves for the far more costly dangers that come next. (With reporting by Solcyre Burga and Leslie Dickstein/New York:

World’s Coldest Air In 2023 Recorded

It’s been a big swing and a miss when it comes to a typical Canadian winter so far this season. In fact, without any major pattern changes, Canadian cities are on pace for the warmest winter on record.

As we creep towards the seasons’ halfway mark, you may be wondering where has winter gone? Don’t worry, it exists and it’s coming.

Per reports, an astonishing -62.4°C was recorded in Tongulakh, Siberia on January 14th. In addition to becoming Earth’s coldest temperature recorded in 2023, the all-time station record was broken in Tongulakh.

This was the coldest temperature Russia has experienced in over a decade. For perspective, this temperature is a mere 0.3°C from the average temperature on Mars and would freeze exposed skin in seconds.

In contrast, major cities across eastern Canada are pacing towards the warmest winter on record. Halifax would need a significant cold snap in the second half of this season to drop this winter’s average temperature by 1.5°C towards the warm winter record holder of 2015-2016.

Additionally, if Canada’s mild conditions continue, Toronto could see its first winter with an average temperature above freezing.

How could this be?

It all comes down to the global pattern. The core of the polar vortex has taken an extended vacation in Russia, ushering in this extreme cold and giving mild air across Canada a consistently winning hand.

The recent zonal Pacific jet stream has kept these conditions in place for a prolonged period, but long-range models hint that change is coming.

Closing out the month of January, the jet stream trends into an amplified pattern. This is a signal for a more active pattern and gives extreme arctic cold more opportunities to travel south over Canada.

Thought your winter was cold? Temperatures in the world’s coldest city have plunged to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit).

The city of Yakutsk in east Siberia, widely identified as one of the coldest places in the world, has seen an abnormally long cold snap. January is its coldest month and, although they’re accustomed to freezing temperatures, residents in the remote region are taking extra precautions to keep warm.

“You can’t fight it,” one resident dressed in two scarves and multiple layers of gloves, hats and hoods told Reuters. “You either adjust and dress accordingly or you suffer.”

Layering, according to another resident selling frozen fish at a local market, was the key. “Just dress warmly. In layers, like a cabbage,” she said.

In 2018, it got so cold that some residents said their eyelashes froze.

Home to fewer than 1 million residents, Yakutsk winters can be extreme — even by Russian standards.

But the city drew international attention in July when haze from nearby wildfires tore through forests, blanketing the region in thick smoke.

Scientists expressed grave concerns about the increasing frequency of the fires brought about by climate change in the Siberian arctic.

A Severe Arctic Storm Threatens Holiday Travel Across The U.S.

An Arctic blast surged across a wide swath of the United States on Wednesday, gripping much of the nation with bitter cold and life-threatening wind chills ahead of a powerful winter storm expected to complicate holiday travel for millions of Americans.

About 200 million people in the Lower 48 states were under extreme weather alerts as a freezing air mass descended from the Northern Plains, sending temperatures into a nosedive, said Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the National Weather Service (NWS).

The latest bulletin from the National Weather Service (NWS) names the cause as a “strong arctic high pressure system,” which swept down from Canada, leaving a wake of life-threatening weather systems across 17 states.

The extreme weather coincided with the start of a holiday travel season shaping up as one of the busiest in decades. Nearly 113 million people could travel more than 50 miles (30 km) from their homes beginning Friday, according to the American Automobile Association, assuming winter conditions don’t scupper their plans. Holiday travelers should proceed with extreme caution, forecasters say.

The impending storm, fed by moisture from the Great Lakes, could dump up to a foot (0.3 m) of snow on the Upper Midwest between Wednesday and Friday, with blizzard conditions stretching from the Northern Plains states to the Great Lakes region.

By Thursday night, a so-called “bomb cyclone” will likely form as the strong Arctic front sweeps across the Great Lakes, driving temperatures to record-breaking lows on the Gulf Coast and the eastern United States by Friday, Oravec said.

Wind-chill and hard-freeze warnings extended through much of Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, with a hard-freeze watch posted for the Florida panhandle.

By Friday, temperatures could hit the season’s lowest in what is only the first week of winter. Even northern Florida cities like Jacksonville and Tallahassee could see a chill as low as 20 F on Christmas Eve.

“Low visibility will create even more dangerous travel conditions on top of snow covered roadways,” the NWS says. “Additionally, the strong winds could lead to potential power outages from the Midwest to the Northeast. It is imperative that travelers check the latest forecast before venturing out.”

More than 1,900 flights have been canceled so far across the US. “Life-threatening” wind chill: The Midwest will see more than a foot of snow and possible blizzard conditions, as the weather service warns of “life-threatening” wind chills for millions.

The cold will stick around for Christmas weekend, making this the coldest Christmas in roughly 40 years for portions of the Plains and Midwest.

Frostbite is a major risk for those trying to brave the cold, the NWS says. Subzero temperatures in some parts of the U.S. this week could lead to frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes. Those venturing outside should dress in layers, cover their skin and change into dry clothing as soon as possible. But, experts say, the best prevention by far is simply to stay indoors.

A Historic Deal To Protect Biodiversity

After four years of fractious talks, nearly 200 countries, including India, approved a historic Paris-style deal on Monday to protect and reverse dangerous loss to global biodiversity following an intense final session of negotiations at the UN COP15 summit in Canada. The summit started on December 7.

Amid loud applause from assembled delegates, the president of the COP15 biodiversity summit, Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu, declared the Kunming-Montreal Agreement adopted. The Chinese-brokered deal is aimed at saving the lands, oceans and species from pollution, degradation and climate change, reported news agency PTI. Read more here.

Sharp drop in wildlife

Monitored wildlife populations – mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish – have seen a devastating 69% drop on average since 1970, according to the Living Planet Report 2022 of the World Wildlife Fund.

Key features of the deal

Picture : NPR

The deal commits to progressively increase the level of financial resources from all sources by 2030, mobilising at least $200 billion per year. This represents roughly a doubling from a 2020 baseline.

A major achievement is also the commitment to $20 billion in international finance flows by 2025 and $30 billion by 2030.

The 23 targets in the accord also include cutting environmentally “destructive” farming subsidies, reducing the risk from pesticides, and tackling invasive species.

Farming subsidy is tricky issue

Last week, India said a numerical global target for pesticide reduction in the agriculture sector is unnecessary and must be left for countries to decide. It also said the agriculture sector in India, like other developing countries, is the source of “life, livelihoods, and culture for hundreds of millions,” and support to it cannot be targeted for elimination.

Greta Thunberg On How We Can All Be Climate Positive Travelers

The Swedish Climate Activist’s Upcoming Book Offers Advice On How To Travel Better.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg first came to the world’s attention as a teenager when she spoke up at a United Nations summit in 2019, imploring all to take the climate crisis more seriously. Now, she’s created The Climate Book in collaboration with the founder of the FridaysForFuture global youth movement.

The book—which is available for pre-order now—is a comprehensive compendium of essays, scientific facts, anthropologic observations, and think pieces from some of the most respected minds and writers, including Kate Raworth, Naomi Klein, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, and George Monbiot. One thing is clear: we don’t have time to waste, and we need to strive for more climate positivity whenever, however, and wherever, we roam.

As the United Nations climate conference COP27 happens in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, sustainability editor Juliet Kinsman shares thoughts and advice from Greta Thunberg and some of the world’s leading climate-action communicators as featured in The Climate Book.

Educate yourself

“Educating yourself about the climate crisis is one of the most powerful things we can do,” Greta told the audience of the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre at the global launch of The Climate Book. A good start is to watch the talk Greta gave, then read this five-part tome, which breaks down the facts with emotive stories, graphs, and powerful photographs. As Margaret Atwood puts it in the book: “We have a lot of knowledge: we know what the problems are, and we know—more or less—what must be done to solve them.”

Understand the science

Picture : Mail _ Guardian

“The sustainability crisis is a crisis of information not getting through,” says Greta. In using her high profile and platform to promote this 400-page-plus book, she’s upping awareness in everything from melting ice shelves to economics, as well as fast fashion and the loss of species. Global warming is, of course, caused by too many human-generated emissions fueling the Greenhouse Effect, where gases are trapped in the atmosphere causing the planet to heat up to dangerous levels that sparks extreme weather, such as wildfire-inducing heatwaves, devastating droughts but also flash floods.

Meanwhile, our oceans are under siege: the melting of the ice caps results in rising sea levels, and increased temperatures cause acidification which messes with all manner of marine life. Our planet’s functions are all interconnected. Concerns such as the loss of fertile soils, air pollution, and water shortages are part of a bigger picture that has implications for all eight billion of us.

Travel better

Consider greener modes of travel, opt for electric options, and take public transport: trains, trams, buses, and ferries. Greta urges authorities to offer low-carbon logistics free of charge and subsidize trains instead of planes, while we explore car-pooling and car-sharing options. And, of course, Greta highlights that the tourism industry makes up around eight percent of global emissions and flags that the world’s wealthiest are guilty of 50 percent of all aviation’s emissions. This is why we need to make those contrails count when we travel, and support communities in developing nations, by leaving as much in local pockets as possible.

Do away with disposability

Our addiction to plastic is killing us. Microplastics are contaminating every aspect of our environment. Plus, plastics are made using petrochemicals—we need to reuse all that we can. It’s clear a shift back to longer-lasting products that stay in circulation is key. Generations ago, this was how so many cultures rolled, yet today we don’t give a second thought to so much single-use. Help swerve the plundering of natural resources and energy used to produce all those throwaway goods, and keep extending the life span of all you use.

Support rewilding efforts

Help the restoration of forests, wetlands, savannahs, reefs, and other depleted ecosystems by choosing nature-positive activities and, in turn, help the regeneration of life on Earth, which will also draw down much of the carbon we have released into the atmosphere. “We must start working with nature instead of against it,” says George Monbiot in the book. “Rewilding enables us to begin to heal some of the great damage we have inflicted on the living world.”

Boost biodiversity

All ecosystems are interconnected, and every cog is required to keep this machine called planet Earth functioning. Us paying for trips and activities that provide revenue for wildlife conservation is critical since countless plants and animal species face extinction—and with the loss of each species, we are one step closer to destroying the web of life that sustains us all. Climate change is accelerating the loss of species, and the loss of species is accelerating climate change. Both problems must be solved at the same time to protect our way of life. Greta’s short film #ForNature released to mark Biodiversity Day 2021 was a potent reminder.

Be more conscious, considerate consumers

We need to move away from our voracious consumption of goods and things, be less individualistic and make more responsible choices to reduce negative ecological impact, emphasizes Kate Raworth, author of Donut Economics. Among the economist’s tips for lower-carbon living in The Climate Book are keeping electronic products for much longer, buying less brand-new fashion, minimizing short-haul flights—in summary, possessing and using less, and sharing more.

Shift towards a plant-based diet

We may not be able to fix everything in a click of our fingers by going vegan, Greta shrugged in her talk at the Southbank. But as Michael Clark notes in The Climate Book, a drop in meat and dairy production will drastically reduce emissions from farming and spare land from deforestation. The more of us eating and drinking fewer animal-origin goods the better.

Challenge greenwashing

With antennae that are finely tuned to pick up on hollow promises and hot air aimed at earning the declarant a halo they don’t deserve, Greta makes a call to call out greenwash and false sustainability claims. Her particular bugbear is the greenwashing of sustainable consumerism, challenging the brands that try and tell us we can buy and pamper our way out of this mess; we need to take a more holistic view of the causes and symptoms of the climate emergency.

Be an activist

“In order to change things, we need everyone—we need billions of activists,” says Greta. Advocate for climate change by marching, boycotting, striking, and talking loudly about social injustices and inequities and asking more questions.

This article was originally published on Condé Nast Traveller U.K.

Huge Leap In Climate Discussions At COP27: Delivering For People And The Planet

For the first time, the nations of the world decided to help pay for the damage an overheating world is inflicting on poor countries, but they finished marathon climate last week without further addressing the root cause of those disasters — the burning of fossil fuels.

On November 20th, 2002, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), which took place in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh, concluded with a historic decision to establish and operationalize a loss and damage fund.

The COP27 global climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, wrapped with an agreement to compensate developing countries for the damages they have suffered from climate change. While developing countries have long pushed for a “loss and damage” fund for suffering they say they have endured from climate change, wealthy countries, including the U.S., had resisted the idea.

Picture : Reuters

But that changed this year, and those developing nations got a fund establishing such climate reparations. Still, questions linger over how that fund will actually secure monetary backing. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres heralded the agreement as an “important step towards justice.”

“I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period,” Guterres said in a statement. “Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.”

“The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5 degree temperature limit,” he stressed, urging the world not to relent “in the fight for climate justice and climate ambition. We can and must win this battle for our lives,” he concluded.

The historic event was host to more than 100 Heads of State and Governments, over 35,000 participants and numerous pavilions showcasing climate action around the world and across different sectors. The deal, gaveled around dawn in this Egyptian Red Sea resort city, established a fund for what negotiators call loss and damage.

It was a big win for poorer nations which have long called for money — sometimes viewed as reparations — because they are often the victims of climate-worsened floods, droughts, heat waves, famines and storms despite having contributed little to the pollution that heats up the globe.

It has also long been called an issue of equity for nations hit by weather extremes and small island states that face an existential threat from rising seas.

“Three long decades and we have finally delivered climate justice,” said Seve Paeniu, the finance minister of Tuvalu. “We have finally responded to the call of hundreds of millions of people across the world to help them address loss and damage.”

Pakistan’s environment minister, Sherry Rehman, said the establishment of the fund “is not about dispensing charity. It is clearly a down payment on the longer investment in our joint futures,” she said, speaking for a coalition of the world’s poorest nations.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Molwyn Joseph, who chairs the organization of small island states, described the agreement as a “win for our entire world. We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve,” he said.

Picture : NYTimes

The deal followed a game of chicken, with nations that supported the fund also signaling they would walk away if there was any backsliding on language on the need to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Early Sunday morning, delegates approved the compensation fund but had not dealt with the contentious issues of an overall temperature goal, emissions cutting and the desire to target all fossil fuels for phase down. Through the wee hours of the night, the European Union and other nations fought back what they considered backsliding in the Egyptian presidency’s overarching cover agreement and threatened to scuttle the rest of the process.

The package was revised again, removing most of the elements Europeans had objected to but adding none of the heightened ambition they were hoping for.

“What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet,” a disappointed Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the European Union, told his fellow negotiators. “It does not bring enough added efforts from major emitters to increase and accelerate their emissions cuts.

“We have all fallen short in actions to avoid and minimize loss and damage,” Timmermans said. “We should have done much more.” Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock likewise voiced frustration. “It is more than frustrating to see overdue steps on mitigation and the phase-out of fossil energies being stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers,” she said.

The agreement includes a veiled reference to the benefits of natural gas as low emission energy, despite many nations calling for a phase down of natural gas, which does contribute to climate change.

While the new agreement doesn’t ratchet up calls for reducing emissions, it does retain language to keep alive the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The Egyptian presidency kept offering proposals that harkened back to 2015 Paris language which also mentioned a looser goal of 2 degrees. The world has already warmed 1.1 degrees (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.

Nor did the final deal expand on last year’s call to phase down global use of “unabated coal” even though India and other countries pushed to include oil and natural gas in language from Glasgow. That too was the subject of last minute debate, especially upsetting Europeans.

Last year’s climate talks president chided the summit leadership for knocking down his efforts to do more to cut emissions with a forceful listing of what was not done.

“We joined with many parties to propose a number of measures that would have contributed to this emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary. Not in this text,” the United Kingdom’s Alok Sharma said emphasizing the last part. “Clear follow through on the phase down of coal. Not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels. Not in this text. And the energy text weakened in the final minutes.”

And in his remarks to negotiators, U.N. climate chief Simon Stiell, who hails from Grenada, called on the world “to move away from fossil fuels, including coal oil and gas.”

However, that fight was overshadowed by the historic compensation fund. “Quite a few positives to celebrate amidst the gloom and doom” of not cutting emissions fast enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, said climate scientist Maarten van Aalst of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center, which responds to climate disasters.

It’s a reflection of what can be done when the poorest nations remain unified, said Alex Scott, a climate diplomacy expert at the think tank E3G. “I think this is huge to have governments coming together to actually work out at least the first step of … how to deal with the issue of loss and damage,” Scott said. But like all climate financials, it is one thing to create a fund, it’s another to get money flowing in and out, she said. The developed world still has not kept its 2009 pledge to spend $100 billion a year in other climate aid — designed to help poor nations develop green energy and adapt to future warming.

Next year’s talks will also see further negotiations to work out details of the new loss and damage fund, as well as review the world’s efforts to meet the goals of the Paris accord, which scientists say are slipping out of reach.

According to the agreement, the fund would initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources such as international financial institutions. While major emerging economies such as China wouldn’t automatically have to contribute, that option remains on the table. This is a key demand by the European Union and the United States, who argue that China and other large polluters currently classified as developing countries have the financial clout and responsibility to pay their way.

The fund would be largely aimed at the most vulnerable nations, though there would be room for middle-income countries that are severely battered by climate disasters to get aid.

Martin Kaiser, the head of Greenpeace Germany, described the agreement on a loss and damage as a “small plaster on a huge, gaping wound.”

“It’s a scandal that the Egyptian COP presidency gave petrostates such as Saudi Arabia space to torpedo effective climate protection,” he said.  Many climate campaigners are concerned that pushing for strong action to end fossil fuel use will be even harder at next year’s meeting, which will be hosted in Dubai, located in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. (Wanjohi Kabukuru, David Keyton, Theodora Tongas and Kelvin Chan contributed to this report.)

In essence, the World Climate Summit 2022 catalysed the bold commitments we need to tackle the urgent global issue of climate change. Throughout the last 13 years, World Climate Summit has become a key platform for connecting markets with policies and is the leading business and investment forum alongside the annual international climate negotiations.

​Building on the success of the last decade, the Summit leveraged its expertise and experience in bringing together public and private sector leaders from across the world. It facilitated the collaboration necessary for the innovation, investments and policies needed to achieve ambitious climate targets. With the Decade to Deliver on Climate Action more crucial now than ever.

At COP 27, India Lists Long-Term Goals, Ups The Ante Against Rich Countri

India on November 14, 2022 announced its long-term strategy to transition to a “low emissions” pathway at the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) ongoing in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, which is premised on expanding its nuclear power capacity by at least three-fold in the next decade, apart from becoming an international hub for producing green hydrogen and increasing the proportion of ethanol in petrol.

These steps, Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav said, were consonant with India’s “five-decade journey” to net zero, or being carbon neutral by 2070 — a commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Glasgow, where the 26th COP was held last year.

India on Monday released its long-term climate action strategy, detailing how it will take steps like rapidly expanding renewable energy sources and exploring a greater role for nuclear power to reach net zero emissions by 2070, but separately also turned up the heat on developed countries to do more.

Environment minister Bhupender Yadav, representing India at the UN Climate Conference (COP 27) at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, used two occasions at the summit to call on rich countries to do more: first, he said, some of them must reach net zero emissions even before 2030, and, second, they must elaborate on their immediate plans on how they plan to reach their targets since some have “turned back to fossil fuels” due to the ongoing energy crisis.

The first stance was made during the ministerial high-level roundtable on the pre-2030 ambition, where Yadav pointed out that rich nations had not met their commitments for the 2020 deadline. “So pre-2030 ambition must be measured in terms of whether countries are staying within their fair share of the carbon budget, taking note of both the historical period and in the future. By this scientific criterion, some developed countries must reach net zero even before 2030 and 2050 is not enough at all,” Yadav said in his intervention.

The other calls on rich countries to do more were articulated during the launch of India’s long-term low emission development strategy (LT-LEDS), which India released on Monday, becoming one of only 57 countries to do so.

“We also call upon developed countries to elaborate on their immediate plans on how they would achieve their targets. We see that following the current energy crisis, many have turned back to increased fossil fuels for energy security. It is not enough to say that targets for emissions reduction will be met, when the reality is that they will unequally consume even more of the carbon budget,” Yadav said.

“In a COP of Implementation, it is essential to make progress on adaptation and loss and damage. Now is the time to tell the developing world how the promise of USD 100 billion is to be met. We, at Glasgow, noted with regret that it is indeed not being met. The world would like to know how the resources for meeting the world’s adaptation needs, whose estimates are rising constantly, are to be mobilised.”

First, India has contributed little to global warming despite being home to a sixth of the world’s population; Second, India has significant energy needs for development; Third, India is committed to pursuing low-carbon strategies for development and, fourth, India need’s climate resilience.

“The LT-LEDS has been prepared in the framework of India’s right to an equitable and fair share of the global carbon budget. This is the practical implementation of India’s call for “climate justice,” he said.

Developments over recent days suggest rifts are widening over developing nations such as India and developed countries over the climate crisis action plan.

US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry said on Sunday that a few countries have resisted mentioning a global goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C in the official text of the COP 27, Euronews reported.

Picture : Outlook India

A senior delegate from India also said on Saturday that during meetings on mitigation work programmes (MWP) – measures that relate to lowering emissions — rich countries outlined the top 20 emitters and insisted that the measures be addressed to these.

This is key because many of the top emitters in absolute terms are developing countries like India, China and Brazil, but in per capita terms, and when historical emissions are considered, their role in the warming of the planet has demonstrably lower than industrialised western nations.

Observers also said US and other Annex 1 countries were trying to selectively push a language on 1.5°C goal that goes against principles of equity and “common but differentiated responsibilities” that were agreed upon under the Paris Agreement, and indirectly pushes all countries to embrace net zero emission goals by 2050.

“You cannot selectively use the 1.5°C goal for cover text when finance to achieve that goal has not come through. We will oppose such moves because it’s not equitable” said a member of the Indian delegation, asking not to be named.

Scientists and independent experts have already said that the 1.5 degree C goal seems practically impossible to achieve under current circumstances and the world needs to immediately cut emissions to levels last recorded in 2020, when widespread lockdowns shut industrial and civilian activity across the world for months on end.

“It’s developing countries who will face far more severe consequences if we breach the target of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Rich industrialised countries are cherry-picking language from the climate talks at COP 27 to shift the blame to poorer nations, while using all possible tricks to delink emissions reduction targets with equity and their obligation to provide scaled up finance,” said Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International.


The submission to the LT-LEDS builds on India’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs) declared at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in August, as part of the binding commitments that have to be made under the Paris Agreement.

Picture : The New YOrk Times

The NDCs articulate a net zero commitment by 2070, and vow that India will reduce the emissions intensity of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 46% from 2005 levels by 2030, and achieve about 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-renewable sources by the end of this decade.

The long-term plan now builds on the 2070 goal with six elements: These include: expanding renewables and strengthening the grid; exploring a greater role for nuclear energy and enhancing support for R&D into future technologies such as green hydrogen, fuel cells, and biofuels; appropriate demand-side measures such as energy efficiency improvements; rational utilisation of fossil fuel resources; enabling a focused transition towards low carbon development; and optimum energy mix complimenting national development scenarios.

The strategic transitions will be sectors including electricity, transport, urbanisation, industry, CDR (carbon dioxide removal), forests, finance and investment, research and innovation, adaptation and resilience, LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment, and international cooperation. Under electricity for example, the focus will be on expanding renewables and strengthening the grid.

On carbon removal, the focus will be on economic, technical and political feasibility of carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS), which is highly uncertain according to officials from the Indian delegation.

A transition to a low-carbon development pathway will involve costs, pertaining to the deployment of new technologies, development of new infrastructure, and other transaction costs. “In the longer term, such a transition will also have broader economic impacts. Several estimates regarding India’s financial needs exist. Many of them focus on the energy sector, including industry, buildings, and transport. Estimates vary across studies due to differences in assumptions, coverage, and modelling approaches, but fall in the range of trillions of dollars by 2050. In general, finance needs – and the domestic financing gap – are considerable, indicating a need for greater international support,” the LT-LEDS report has said.

Meeting finance needs require mobilising and scaling up financial resources internationally as well as mobilising domestic finance. International sources include multilateral and bilateral sources, dedicated climate funds, international institutional investors, and the private sector will be key.

“India’s LT-LEDS is an important statement of intent to pursue low-carbon strategies for development, and a sound beginning toward doing so,” said Navroz K Dubash, professor, Centre for Policy Research, which anchored the research for India’s long-term strategy. The strategy is firmly, and appropriately, anchored in considerations of climate equity. It calls for developed countries to undertake early net-zero and to provide adequate finance and technology in support of India’s plans for low-carbon development, CPR said in a statement.

“India’s LT-LEDS should be viewed as a living document. Future iterations should emphasize robust and transparent modelling towards net-zero by 2070, clearer identification of sectoral co-benefits and trade-offs, and more detailed discussion with states,” Dubash added.


At the ministerial that Yadav addressed earlier, India also made it clear that carbon offsets of the kind US announced on November 9, called the Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA), may not be able address climate finance needs of developing countries. “Leaving it to markets alone will not help. Markets function well in normal times, but either do not function or function very inequitably in moments of crises. We see this with the energy crisis in developed countries,” Yadav said.

Yadav called for an “ambitious flow of financial resources from various sources”, with “with developed countries playing a pivotal role in incentivising flows to developing countries so that finance-the key means of implementation- is at grant/concessional rates”.

“Access to finance and technology in developing countries is a must-have if we expect to protect our Earth and ourselves from apocalyptic changes. The commitment made by the developed countries to mobilize $100bn from diverse sources by 2020 was a meagre amount and remains unachieved till now. The current needs of developing countries are estimated to be in the order of trillions,” Yadav said.

There are several estimates of climate finance flown till now. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates the flows to be USD 83.3 billion in 2020 and USD79.9 billion in 2018, while Oxfam estimates the amount to be in the range of US$19-22.5 billion per year since 2017-18. Other estimates from UNFCCC put it at $ 45.4 billion in 2017 and $51.8 billion in 2018, the minister’s statement said.

“Evidently, there is no understanding of what really comprises climate finance. Transparency and Trust are the backbones of all multilateral discussions,” Yadav said.

Cop27 Begins In Egypt

(AP) — “Cooperate or perish,” the United Nations chief told dozens of leaders gathered Monday for international climate talks, warning them that the world is “on a highway to climate hell” and urging the two biggest polluting countries, China and the United States, to work together to avert it.

This year’s annual U.N. climate conference, known as COP27, comes as leaders and experts have raised increasing alarm that time is running out to avert catastrophic rises in temperature. But the fire and brimstone warnings may not quite have the effect as they have had in past meetings because of multiple other challenges of the moment pulling leaders’ attention — from midterm elections in the U.S. to the Russia-Ukraine war.

More than 100 world leaders will speak over the next few days at the gathering in Egypt. Much of the focus will be on national leaders telling their stories of being devastated by climate disasters, culminating Tuesday with a speech by Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Sharif, whose country’s summer floods caused at least $40 billion in damage and displaced millions of people.

“Is it not high time to put an end to all this suffering,” the summit’s host, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, told his fellow leaders. “Climate change will never stop without our intervention… Our time here is limited and we must use every second that we have.”

El-Sisi, who called for an end to the Russia-Ukraine war, was gentle compared to a fiery United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said the world “is on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

He called for a new pact between rich and poor countries to make deeper cuts in emissions with financial help and phasing out of coal in rich nations by 2030 and elsewhere by 2040. He called on the United States and China — the two biggest economies — to especially work together on climate, something they used to do until the last few years.

“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish,” Guterres said. “It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact – or a Collective Suicide Pact.”

Guterres insisted, “Today’s urgent crises cannot be an excuse for backsliding or greenwashing.” But bad timing and world events were hanging over the gathering.

Most of the leaders are meeting Monday and Tuesday, just as the United States has a potentially policy-shifting midterm election. Then the leaders of the world’s 20 wealthiest nations will have their powerful-only club confab in Bali in Indonesia days later.

Leaders of China and India — both among the biggest emitters — appear to be skipping the climate talks, although underlings are here negotiating. The leader of the top polluting country, U.S. President Joe Biden, is coming days later than most of the other presidents and prime ministers on his way to Bali.

“There are big climate summits and little climate summits and this was never expected to be a big one,” said Climate Advisers CEO Nigel Purvis, a former U.S. negotiator.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was initially going to avoid the negotiations, but public pressure and predecessor Boris Johnson’s plans to come changed his mind. New King Charles III, a longtime environment advocate, won’t attend because of his new role. And Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine created energy chaos that reverberates in the world of climate negotiations, won’t be here.

“We always want more” leaders, United Nations climate chief Simon Stiell said in a Sunday news conference. “But I believe there is sufficient (leadership) right now for us to have a very productive outcome.”

In addition to speeches given by the leaders, the negotiations include “innovative” roundtable discussions that “we are confident, will generate some very powerful insights,” Stiell said.

The leaders showing up in droves are from the host continent Africa, who are pressing for greater accountability from developed nations.

“The historical polluters who caused climate change are not showing up,” said Mohammed Adow of Power Shift Africa. “Africa is the least responsible, the most vulnerable to the issue of climate change and it is a continent that is stepping up and providing leadership.”

“The South is actually stepping up,” Adow told The Associated Press. “The North that historically caused the problem is failing.”

For the first time, developing nations succeeded in getting onto the summit agenda the issue of “loss and damage” — demands that emitting countries pay for damage caused by climate-induced disasters.

Nigeria’s Environment Minister Mohammed Abdullahi called for wealthy nations to show “positive and affirmative” commitments to help countries hardest hit by climate change. “Our priority is to be aggressive when it comes to climate funding to mitigate the challenges of loss and damage,” he said.

Monday was heavily dominated by leaders of nations victimized by climate change — not those that have created the problem of heat-trapping gases warming up the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuel. It will be mostly African nations and small island nations and other vulnerable nations that will be telling their stories.

And they are dramatic ones, droughts in Africa and floods in Pakistan, in places that could least afford it. For the first time in 30 years of climate negotiations, the summit “should focus its attention on the severe climate impacts we’re already seeing,” said World Resources International’s David Waskow.

“We can’t discount an entire continent that has over a billion people living here and has some of the most severe impacts,” Waskow said. “It’s pretty clear that Africa will be at risk in a very severe way.’’

Leaders come “to share the progress they’ve made at home and to accelerate action,” Purvis said. In this case, with the passage of the first major climate legislation and $375 billion in spending, Biden has a lot to share, he said.

While it’s impressive that so many leaders are coming to the summit, “my expectations for ambitious climate targets in these two days are very low,” said NewClimate Institute’ scientist Niklas Hohne. That’s because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine which caused energy and food crises that took away from climate action, he said. (Follow AP’s climate and environment coverage at

COP27 Need To Priorities Climate Or Face Catastrophe – UN Chief

Countries must re-prioritise climate change or the world faces catastrophe, the UN chief has told BBC News. Secretary General António Guterres was speaking in New York ahead of a major climate conference in Egypt.

“There has been a tendency to put climate change on the back burner,” he said. “If we are not able to reverse the present trend, we will be doomed.”

The conference, known as COP27, will bring together countries to discuss tackling climate change.

Mr Guterres said that current global problems such as inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the high prices of energy and food were distracting governments.

“Bring back climate change to the centre of the international debate,” he urged.

The UN chief insisted that leaders should not abandon key goals, including keeping global temperature rise to 1.5C, in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

He said he would like to see both King Charles III and new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attending COP27, saying King Charles has been a “constant voice” calling attention to the problem of climate change.

Picture: Reuters

He also called on the US and China to work together at the conference, saying the world relies on their leadership. In August, China said it was ending co-operation with the US on climate change after a leading US politician visited Taiwan.

“This is the defining issue of our time, nobody has the right to sacrifice international action on climate change for any reason,” he warned.

“We need to tell the truth. The truth is that the impact of climate change on a number of countries in the world, especially hotspots, is already devastating,” he added.

Governments must deliver the $100billion of finance promised to developing countries facing the harshest impacts of climate change, Mr Guterres insists.

Climate change threatening global health – report

What is the Egypt climate conference and why is it important? 

Pakistan was devastated by floods this year that scientists say were made more likely by climate change

A windfall tax on fossil fuel energy profits could help to find the remaining money, he suggested.

And he called on countries not to invest in more fossil fuels and said they should instead support renewable energy. “The most stupid thing is to bet on what has led us to this disaster,” he said.

Asked if he should himself attend climate protests, Mr Guterres said he organised demonstrations when he was younger, but his job now was not to go “from barricade to barricade”. Instead, he said, it was to put pressure on governments for change.

The UN leader said that the presence of young activist Greta Thunberg at COP27 would be” very much welcome”, even though she has said she would not attend. He also praised the leadership of young people around the world in calling attention to climate change.

The interview coincided with a report warning that in 2021 there were more greenhouse gases warming our atmosphere than ever.

Atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – reached record highs in 2021, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) found.

It also said concentrations of the powerful gas methane jumped by the highest amount in 40 years, mystifying experts.

The COP27 conference will see global leaders meet in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt from 6-18 November to discuss what progress has been made on meeting climate goals.

Last year at COP26, in Glasgow, governments pledged to cut back or stop using fossil fuels, end deforestation, and provide money to developing countries facing the worst of climate change.

The negotiations this year will focus on what progress has been made and implementing those promises.

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi Appointed As C20 Chairperson

Ahead of assuming presidency of the G20 in December 2022, the Indian government has appointed renowned spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi Devi as the chairperson of the country’s Civil 20 (C20), an official engagement group of the Group of 20 (G20).

Amma as she is fondly known, will serve as the chair of the India C20 Engagement Group , which consists of Sri M from Satsang Foundation as a participant; Sudha Murthy , President of the Infosys Foundation as a participant; Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini as secretary, and Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari as institutional par

C20 is a group of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) around the world to voice non-government and non-business people’s aspirations to G20 world leaders. India will assume the Presidency of the G20 for one year from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023. The pinnacle of events is September 9-10, 2023 when the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place in New Delhi at the level of Heads of State and Government, it said. But in advance, India will host more than 200 meetings across the country, an endeavour that involves intense work by ministerial meetings, working groups, and engagement groups.

Upon accepting her role as Chair of India’s C20 engagement group, Amma expressed she was grateful to the Indian government for arranging such a high-level representation of the voices of the common people. “Hunger, conflict, extinction of species, and environmental destruction are the most important issues facing the world today. We should put in sincere effort to develop solutions,” Amma said in the initial C20 online meeting. 

If scientists of all fields—computer science, mathematics, physics, engineers, etc—would all work together, then we would be able to create more innovative methods of predicting environmental catastrophes, and thereby we would be able to save so many lives, she said. “Often, we see a lack of multi-disciplinary and integrated effort. This is the need of the hour,” Amma said She explained that poverty in rural areas is a key issue to address in terms of moving ahead as a society overall, especially since it is the people there who grow most of our food. 

The G20 consists of 19 countries plus the European Union, and India has been a member since its inception in 1999. Overall, the G20 accounts for about 80 per cent of gross world product (GWP), 59-77 per cent of international trade, two-thirds of the world’s population, and roughly half of its land area. 

Under the auspices of the G20, C20 engages more than 800 civil societies, representatives, and networks of various countries, including organisations from countries who are not G20 members, to ensure that people of all strata of society are heard at the G20 Leaders’ Summit. Representation of CSOs among G20 member nations began in 2010 and was launched as an official G20 engagement group in 2013.

2,560-pound pumpkin wins California contest; sets record

(AP) — A horticulture teacher from Minnesota set a new U.S. record Monday for the heaviest pumpkin after raising a giant gourd weighing 2,560 pounds. 

Travis Gienger, of Anoka, Minnesota set the new record and won an annual pumpkin-weighing contest in Northern California. 

“Minnesota has a great midyear, but our spring in our parts is really, really tough. So to do it in Minnesota, it just shouldn’t happen,” Gienger said. “It’s like winning the Tour de France on a big wheel. You know, you can only hope, but it worked.”

Gienger drove the gargantuan gourd for 35 hours to see his hard work pay off at the 49th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco.

“You think driving in a snowstorm is bad? Try driving one of these things,” he said. 

Gienger, who also won the same contest in Northern California in 2020, broke a record set last week in New York where a grower raised a massive pumpkin weighing 2,554 pounds.

A grower in Italy holds the world record for the heaviest pumpkin. He grew a 2,702-pound squash in 2021, according to Guinness World Records.

Hyderabad bags ‘World Green City Award 2022′

Hyderabad bagged the coveted ‘World Green City Award 2022’ instituted by the International Association of Horticulture Producers (AIPH) at a ceremony held in Jeju, South Korea on Friday. Hyderabad also won the ‘Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth’ category award, which acknowledged the greening of the Outer Ring Road. In the category ‘Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth’, the greening of the Outer Ring Road was submitted as Hyderabad’s entry. 

The category focuses on creating systems and solutions that allow all residents to overcome economic distress and thrive and the ORR greenery called as ‘Green Garland to the State’ was adjudged the best in this category.MAUD Minister KT Rama Rao has been emphasising on improving greenery along the ORR. 

Chief Minister Sri K. Chandrashekar Rao expressed happiness over Hyderabad city winning the prestigious “International Association of Horticulture Producers” (AIPH) awards.

Hon’ble CM congratulated Municipal Administration & Urban Development Minister Sri KT Rama Rao, Special Chief Secretary Sri Arvind Kumar and GHMC staff on Hyderabad being adjudged the winner of “Green City Award 2022” and “Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth” Award.

These international awards have further strengthened the reputation of Telangana and the country. They are a proof that the Telangana Govt.’s urban development programs like Haritha Haram are bearing ‘green’ fruits for India, CM said.

“It is a matter of pride for Telangana that Hyderabad is the only city from India to be selected for these international awards,” CM KCR said. Called upon the people, public representatives and officials of the State to continue the efforts for greener Telangana to realise a Green India.

CM said that, the efforts of the State Government through Haritha Haram and the environment-friendly policies have positioned not just Telangana but India as a country on the global green stage. And this is something the whole world should be proud of.

Indian Musical Based On Ancient Text Takes Center Stage Off-Broadway In November


PRESS PREVIEW has announced The Off-Broadway premiere of Rimli Roy’s RAMAAVAN, the story of Prince Ram and King Ravan, based on the ancient Indian literary text, “The Ramayana.” The musical is performed in English by an international cast including Caucasians, African Americans, LatinX, and South Asians. 

It is a story of duty, honor, love, courage, and revenge told through verse, traditional (classical and folk), and experimental Indian dance and music, along with world genres of musical theatre, opera, contemporary, jazz, ballet, and modern dance. The concept, script, costumes, and music are all original and were workshopped and performed in 2019 in Jersey City and Hoboken. RAMAAVAN is an evolving theatrical experience that appeals to a global audience today.

Though the tale is ancient, the modern-day interpretation of the story challenges the ‘Status Quo.’ Some of the dominant themes include:

Peace, mutual respect, and understanding,

Women’s rights and Shakti (power)

Racism and color consciousness

Cultural representation

Brotherhood and harmony

WHEN: Wednesday, October 19, 2022, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Consulate General of India in New York,
3 E 64th St., between Madison and 5th Avenue

Performances will take place from Wednesday, Nov. 2nd to Sunday, Nov. 6th at The American Theatre of Actors – Cullum Theatre at 314 W 54th St. in Times Square. For showtimes and ticket information, please click HERE. To watch select excerpts from the show, please click HERE. For high-resolution photographs from the New Jersey shows, please click HERE

India Can Lead G20 On Education, Climate And Debt Sustainability: World Bank President

World Bank President David Malpass points to India’s involvement in restructuring debts in Sri Lanka and it being a major creditor to African nations; calls the country a leader in education 

Debt sustainability, education, and climate action are three areas of potential for India when it takes on the presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) in December this year, according to World Bank President David Malpass.

“There’s a potential focus on debt,” Mr. Malpass told reporters on a Friday morning briefing call ahead of the World Bank IMF Annual Meetings here in Washington.

“I think the world is at a point where there can be progress made for a more effective common framework,” he said, highlighting the fact that India is a creditor for Sri Lanka and also some of the “heavily indebted countries of Africa”. India has provided some $4 billion in assistance to Sri Lanka this year and is involved with restructuring its debt.

“So as G20 Chair [sic] India has an opportunity there,” Mr. Malpass said. His comments on debt sustainability being a priority echo remarks made by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during his United Nations and U.S. visit that concluded last week.

“I’ve spoken with Prime Minister Modi about that and …he… and India is aware of there being debt distress in countries near it as well, so it’s very relevant to India,” Mr. Malpass said.

The World Bank’s president said there had been a very concerning increase in education poverty — with 70% of children in developing countries unable to read the basic texts — and that India could play a leadership role in education. He went on to describe the backsliding in education caused by COVID-19 school closures, including children losing interest because they could not keep up with their grade/class, and the decline in educational spending.

“For India’s G20, this is a big opportunity. India’s been a leader in education,” Mr. Malpass said, adding that climate too would be a major focus, as advanced and developing countries work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate issues 

“You’ll see the importance of [climate change] adaptation for many of the countries in terms of saving lives on the ground. That’ll be a focus of [the November 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in] Sharm el Sheikh and it’s also incredibly important for India and for the G20 as a whole,” Mr. Malpass said.

In terms of his assessment of the Indian economy, Mr. Malpass said India had suffered from rising interest rates and inflation, globally, as well as climate events . However, expansion of the social safety net during the COVID pandemic was a mitigating factor as was digitisation, Mr. Malpass said. The World Bank has downgraded India’s growth estimate for FY22-23 by 1 percentage point to 6.5%.

Developed Economies “Shutting The Door” On Limiting Global Temperature, Says UN Chief

With the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties 27 or COP27 barely a month away, Secretary General António Guterres has stepped up his warnings about the follies of ignoring “a life-or-death struggle” that the world is in the grip of.

“A third of Pakistan flooded. Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years. The Philippines hammered. The whole of Cuba in black-out. And here, in the United States, Hurricane Ian has delivered a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from the climate crisis,” Guterres told journalists painting an increasingly dire picture of the climate catastrophe.

His observations come in the run-up to the COP27, which begins on November 6 and ends November 18 at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

Guterres has been particularly critical of the G20 industrialized nations in stalling any major action. He said that the collective commitments of G20 leading industrialized nations governments are coming “far too little, and far too late”.

“The actions of the wealthiest developed and emerging economies simply don’t add up,” Guterres said, pointing out that current pledges and policies are “shutting the door” on limiting global temperature to 2°C, let alone meet the 1.5°C goal.

His comments acquire particular significance since they come just before the pre COP27 planning meetings being organized in Kinshasa, in the Congo. Guterres said, “we are in a life-or-death struggle for our own safety today and our survival tomorrow,” even while counseling that there is no time for pointing fingers or “twiddling thumbs” but instead requires “a quantum level compromise between developed and emerging economies”.

Perhaps part of that compromise is the $100 billion in pledges that Guterres expects from the developed world to fulfil in order to support climate action in developing countries.

He called the COP27 is “the number one litmus test” of how seriously governments take the growing climate toll on the most vulnerable countries.

“This week’s pre-COP can determine how this crucial issue will be handled in Sharm el-Shaikh,” he said as he called for clarity from developed countries on the delivery of their $100 billion pledge.

In Kinshasa, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed warned environment ministers and others that the window of opportunity to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis is closing.

“Mohammed recalled that at last year’s COP26 conference in Glasgow, developed nations had promised to double adaptation support to $40 billion dollars a year by 2025,” according to an official UN statement.

“The UN deputy chief called for a clear roadmap on how the funding will be delivered, starting this year. She added that $40 billion is “only a fraction of the $300 billion that will be needed annually by developing countries for adaptation by 2030,” the statement said.

In the run up to the COP27, the most disturbing realization is that the goal keeping Earth’s average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above its preindustrial level is all but dead. As pointed out by Guterres repeatedly, the wealthiest economies are “shutting the door” on limiting the temperature to 2°C, let alone meet the 1.5°C goal.

That makes the work of the COP27 so much harder even as the world daily experiences extreme consequences of climate change caused by a warming planet.

As pointed out by Guterres, global emissions have continued to rise since 2018 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations–led panel of scientists and scholars, said the goal of 1.5°C had become impossible. While it is often said the goal is “technically” possible to achieve but it invariably runs into global development compulsions and challenges, particularly in the developing world.

Since the 2018 IPCC report all the dire scenarios of extreme droughts, famines, hurricanes and other related catastrophes have become a reality around the world. Guterres has used his powerful platform to unrelentingly talk about the climate crisis as the defining challenge for humanity.

The best that is hoped for by many experts is that even as the world will overshoot the goal through the century there are expectations that by 2050 the world will control the temperature by removing vast amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Longer, Hotter And More Frequent Heat Waves In Cities

Newswise — Hot days followed by sweltering nights without any temperature relief in between might become a new norm towards the end of the 21st century. Researchers from the University of Zurich have analyzed the frequency, intensity and length of such extreme events for five Swiss cities. Lugano and Geneva would be most affected.

Climate change is making extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods and droughts more frequent and intense. The hot summers in recent years already had severe impacts on human health, particularly in cities, due to heat accumulation during the day and lack of cooling at night. Such compound concurrent hot day and night extremes are of greater concern for health than individual hot days or hot nights, and they will become longer lasting and more pervasive in Swiss cities in the future, as a UZH study shows.

Heat waves might become up to eight times more frequent

Researchers from the Department of Geography have investigated how adaptation options and various future scenarios affect the frequency and intensity of compound concurrent hot day and night extremes in the five Swiss cities Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lugano and Zurich. Their projections suggest that the frequency of compound extreme heatwaves, exceeding previous day and night temperature highs, could increase by up to 7.8-fold and that their duration might increase by up to 5.3-fold in all cities in Switzerland by the end of century. “Our findings underline the need for Swiss cities to adapt to extreme heatwaves by reducing daytime heating, improving cooling at night and strengthening the resilience of the population toward more severe heatwaves,” says first author Saeid Ashraf Vaghefi.

Three metrics applied on three time periods

In their study, the researchers defined three metrics to analyze heat waves: a) the annual number of concurrent hot days and nights, where the threshold for both day and night is exceeded, b) the annual frequency of such events, where the threshold is exceeded for at least two days in a row, and c) the duration of the events. These metrics were combined with three emission scenarios (low, moderate, high) and adapted to three time periods of 30 years each: the past (1980–2020), the near future (2020–2050) and the distant future (2070–2100).

Lugano and Geneva are more strongly affected

The results demonstrate a significant rise in the number of hot day and night events in all cities, but more notably in the cities at low latitude. The highest increase occurs in Lugano with 65.8 days in the past period, 110 days in the near future and 371 days in the distant future, followed by Geneva with 48 days in the past, 108 and 362 in the near and distant future respectively. Still significant, but less pronounced, are the increases in Basel (48/74/217 days), Bern (15/44/213 days) and Zurich (14/50/217).

“In our study, the projections consistently show that the compound hot day and night extremes will become more likely and more intense in all cities and under all emission scenarios, but notably significant under high emissions scenarios and after the 2050s,” says Vaghefi. “A hot day followed by a hot night without relief may become a new norm towards the end of the century. Therefore, we suggest that policymakers and stakeholders perform a systematic adaptation analysis prior to the implementation of any adaptation options.”

In an ongoing project, UZH researchers are investigating how different adaptation measures such as increasing vegetation density, improving usage of existing water bodies, reducing anthropogenic heat by using green and renewable energy, and changing the hours of outdoor activities can help to manage the thresholds of different drivers of extreme events.

South Asia’s Most Cutting-Edge Artists To Be Featured In New York

Even as artists of color begin to gain a foothold in the upper echelons of the art world, naming widely celebrated Asian diasporic artists with cemented legacies in the art historical canon remains challenging. Oftentimes, it feels as though we’re constantly excavating long overlooked or ignored artistic practices.

Some of the rising artists of the Asian diaspora are currently based in the United States. Many of these artists have been experiencing substantial career momentum in recent months, exhibiting in art institutions or international biennials one after the other. Some have honed their craft and bypassed educational barriers, exhibiting in solo shows at leading galleries without an MFA, and sometimes even without a BFA.

Techné Disruptors, an upcoming exhibition from the Global South that will focus on works by South Asia’s most cutting-edge artists will be held in New York for 3 long weeks starting September 12. Along with it, the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), New York is also set to commence on the same day.

Curated by curator Myna Mukherjee, the exhibition will showcase some of South Asia’s leading artists. The works that will be displayed are hand-picked from NFT (Non-fungible token) collections and are curated by international curator and cultural producer Myna Mukherjee at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi, with the support of the American Center & Italian Embassy Cultural Center.

The exhibition begins with the opening panel for the Jaipur Literature Festival in New York City titled ‘State of the Contemporary: NFTs and the Global South’. There will also be panel discussions and participation from mainstream institutions, including MIT Media Labs, MoMa Web3 and Polygon Studios. Mukherjee, an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, is a trained Odissi dancer, cultural producer and curator, speaking about the exhibition.

Billionaire Gives Fashion Firm Away To Fight Climate Change

The billionaire founder of the outdoor fashion brand Patagonia has given away his company to a charitable trust.  Yvon Chouinard said any profit not reinvested in running the business would go to fighting climate change.

The label has amassed a cult following due to sustainability moves like guaranteeing its clothes for life and offering reasonably priced repairs.

It is famous for an advert titled “Don’t buy this jacket” asking shoppers to consider costs to the environment. The brand’s website now states: “Earth is now our only shareholder.” Chouinard has always said he “never wanted to be a businessman”.

A rock climbing fanatic, he started out as making metal climbing spikes for himself and his friends to wedge into rocks, before moving into clothing and eventually creating a hugely successful sportswear brand with a cult following.

Founded in 1973, Patagonia’s sales were worth around $1.5bn this year, while Mr Chouinard’s net worth is thought to be $1.2bn.

But he has always shied away from his wealthy status, telling the New York Times he was “horrified to be seen as a billionaire”.

‘Exceeded the limits’

He claimed that profits to be donated to climate causes will amount to around $100m (£87m) a year, depending on the health of the company.

“Despite its immensity, the Earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits,” the entrepreneur said of his decision to give up ownership.

The firm’s marketing campaigns – focused around asking people to buy only what they need – have not dampened sales and critics have argued by raising its prominence it has encouraged more spending rather than less.

Prices are relatively high with jumpers, for example, costing around £200 and T-shirts around £40, but the company argues that the cost reflects the fact its clothes are meant to last a lifetime.

Patagonia’s chairman, Charles Conn, acknowledged the higher prices but said cheap fast fashion was “anathema” to the brand.

“We invest in making sure we use the least water, the least dangerous chemistries and dyes, and use the least carbon in the production of our products, which often means they cost a little bit more,” he told the BBC.

Sandra Halliday, UK editor for, a global fashion news website, told the BBC Mr Chouinard’s move could ironically end up boosting its sales further.

However, she said the “maverick” founder had always been more committed to the environment than “simply making money”.

“If this was simply a marketing ploy it would be an inspired one, but it’s not, it’s actually a genuine move to try to do something better for the planet.”

People who have donated their wealth

Microsoft founder Bill Gates this year vowed to “drop off” the world’s rich list as he made a $20bn donation to his philanthropic fund. The tech boss, who is thought to be worth $118bn, had pledged to give his wealth away to charity in 2010 but his net worth has more than doubled since then.

Last year the boss of the Hut Group, which owns a range of online beauty and nutrition brands, donated £100m to a charitable foundation after becoming a billionaire when his firm was listed. Matthew Moulding said of his newfound wealth that he “couldn’t even comprehend the numbers” and was trying to make a difference.

In 2019, Julian Richer who founded hi-fi chain Richer Sounds handed over 60% of the business to staff

The Californian firm was already donating 1% of its annual sales to grassroots activists and committed to sustainable practices. But in an open letter to customers, the apparently reluctant businessman said he wanted to do more.

Chouinard said he had initially considered selling Patagonia and donating the money to charity, or taking the company public. But he said both options would have meant giving up control of the business and putting its values at risk.

Instead, the Chouinard family has transferred all ownership to two new entities. The Patagonia Purpose Trust, led by the family, remains the company’s controlling shareholder but will only own 2% of its total stock, Mr Chouinard said.

It will guide the philanthropy of the Holdfast Collective, a US charity “dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis” which now owns all of the non-voting stock – some 98% of the company.

“Each year the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis,” Mr Chouinard said.

Patagonia combines high-end outdoor fashion with its own brand of environmental and social activism. It’s a heady combination that certainly appeals to a loyal, if predominantly well-heeled following.

Part of the attraction comes from the fact that its environmentally conscious stance isn’t new. It was preaching eco-awareness years before sustainable fashion became fashionable.

But it’s still pretty hard to save the planet, if your business depends on selling stuff, however many recycled or renewable products you use.

By ringfencing future profits for environmental causes, Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard has done his best to square that circle.

But he is also clearly trying to ensure that Patagonia brand is future-proofed and can never fall into the hands of the kind of companies he has accused of greenwashing in the past.

And if that doesn’t appeal to wealthy outdoorsy types with a social conscience, nothing will.

NGO Retracts ‘Waste Colonialism’ Report Blaming Asian Countries For Plastic Pollution

An environmental watchdog has retracted an influential report that blamed five Asian countries for the majority of plastic pollution in the ocean.

The report, Stemming the Tide, from the US-based environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservancy, also included incineration and waste-to-energy as “solutions” to the plastics crisis. Published in 2015, it was decried as “waste colonialism” by hundreds of environmental, health and social justice groups across Asia.

The watchdog has now publicly apologised for unfairly “creating a narrative” about who is responsible for producing plastic waste and removed the report from its website. Its apology was welcomed on Wednesday as “long overdue” by Gaia, an alliance of 800 waste-reduction groups in 90 countries, and by Break Free From Plastic, a global movement of more than 2,000 organisations.

The report had caused years of harm, the groups said, by ignoring the role of countries in the global north for overproduction of plastic and for exporting plastic waste to developing countries in the guise of trade.

“This unprecedented report retraction is an opportunity to interrupt decades of waste colonialism,” said Froilan Grate, Gaia’s Asia-Pacific coordinator.

“Ocean Conservancy is in a position to raise awareness among other organisations and policymakers about the false narrative propagated by the report.”

When contacted by Guardian about the apology, Ocean Conservancy referred it to the statement on its website, which it published in July.

The report not only “wrongly blamed” five countries – the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand – for the bulk of plastic pollution, but “misled, for years, governments and the public into thinking that burning plastic waste was a solution to the problem”, Grate said.

Gaia also said that Ocean Conservancy had underestimated the true cost of incineration in terms of climate and public health.

Moreover, Ocean Conservancy has admitted its error in failing to look at the contributions of Asia-Pacific communities seeking solutions to plastic waste, whom Grate said had been “disproportionately impacted” by the report. It is now engaged in a process of “restorative justice” by engaging with groups in Asia, he said.

Stemming the Tide was written by the consultancy McKinsey, with a steering group including the World Wildlife Fund, the Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical and the American Chemistry Council.

Christie Keith, Gaia’s international coordinator, said the five Asian countries named in the report were not to blame for plastic waste. “That fault lies with the corporations that make and push out ever-increasing quantities of plastic,” she said. “And those fighting for zero-waste community solutions deserve to be honoured and celebrated, not attacked.”

Satyarupa Shekhar, Asia-Pacific coordinator for Break Free From Plastic, said Ocean Conservancy’s report “diluted existing restrictions on incineration and opened the doors to false solutions and controversial techno-fixes to deal with the plastic pollution crisis”.

In the Philippines, a national ban on incineration is threatened by new proposals to allow waste-to-energy plants, while in Indonesia, the government continues to push for waste incineration despite a supreme court ruling revoking presidential regulations to speed up the development of waste-based power plants or incinerators.

Stemming the Tide has frequently been cited by lawmakers and US federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sonia Mendoza, chair of Mother Earth Foundation in the Philippines, said: “Each country should be responsible for the waste it generates and not export it under the guise of ‘trade’.”

Understanding of ocean plastic waste, including its origins, has evolved in recent years.

In the statement on its website, Ocean Conservancy said it “failed to confront the root causes of plastic waste or incorporate the effects on the communities and NGOs working on the ground in the places most impacted by plastic pollution”. Including incineration and waste-to-energy as acceptable solutions to the plastic crisis was wrong, it said.

“We did not consider how these technologies support continued demand for plastic production and hamper the move to a circular economy and a zero-carbon future.”

“Further, by focusing so narrowly on one region of the world (east and south-east Asia), we created a narrative about who is responsible for the ocean plastic pollution crisis – one that failed to acknowledge the outsized role that developed countries, especially the United States, have played and continue to play in generating and exporting plastic waste to this very region. This too was wrong.”

Stemming the Tide was based on a paper published in Science on February 2015, which estimated for the first time how much plastic entered the ocean from mismanaged waste on land, and ranked all 192 coastal countries accordingly.

Since then, data has been published showing that the US ranks third among countries contributing to coastal plastic pollution and challenges the widely held belief that the US is adequately managing its pollution, underlining its waste footprint to developing nations.

Other research, which Ocean Conservancy is now promoting, recommends interventions to reduce, reuse and better manage plastic across all economies.

There can be no more hiding, and no more denying. Global heating is supercharging extreme weather at an astonishing speed. Guardian analysis recently revealed how human-caused climate breakdown is accelerating the toll of extreme weather across the planet. People across the world are losing their lives and livelihoods due to more deadly and more frequent heatwaves, floods, wildfires and droughts triggered by the climate crisis. At the Guardian, we will not stop giving this life-altering issue the urgency and attention it demands. We have a huge global team of climate writers around the world and have recently appointed an extreme weather correspondent.

Our editorial independence means we are free to write and publish journalism which prioritises the crisis. We can highlight the climate policy successes and failings of those who lead us in these challenging times. We have no shareholders and no billionaire owner, just the determination and passion to deliver high-impact global reporting, free from commercial or political influence.

And we provide all this for free, for everyone to read. We do this because we believe in information equality. Greater numbers of people can keep track of the global events shaping our world, understand their impact on people and communities, and become inspired to take meaningful action. Millions can benefit from open access to quality, truthful news, regardless of their ability to pay for it.

An environmental watchdog has retracted an influential report that blamed five Asian countries for the majority of plastic pollution in the ocean.

The report, Stemming the Tide, from the US-based environmental advocacy group Ocean Conservancy, also included incineration and waste-to-energy as “solutions” to the plastics crisis. Published in 2015, it was decried as “waste colonialism” by hundreds of environmental, health and social justice groups across Asia.

The watchdog has now publicly apologised for unfairly “creating a narrative” about who is responsible for producing plastic waste and removed the report from its website. Its apology was welcomed on Wednesday as “long overdue” by Gaia, an alliance of 800 waste-reduction groups in 90 countries, and by Break Free From Plastic, a global movement of more than 2,000 organisations.

The report had caused years of harm, the groups said, by ignoring the role of countries in the global north for overproduction of plastic and for exporting plastic waste to developing countries in the guise of trade.

“This unprecedented report retraction is an opportunity to interrupt decades of waste colonialism,” said Froilan Grate, Gaia’s Asia-Pacific coordinator.

“Ocean Conservancy is in a position to raise awareness among other organisations and policymakers about the false narrative propagated by the report.”

When contacted by Guardian about the apology, Ocean Conservancy referred it to the statement on its website, which it published in July.

The report not only “wrongly blamed” five countries – the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand – for the bulk of plastic pollution, but “misled, for years, governments and the public into thinking that burning plastic waste was a solution to the problem”, Grate said.

Gaia also said that Ocean Conservancy had underestimated the true cost of incineration in terms of climate and public health.

Moreover, Ocean Conservancy has admitted its error in failing to look at the contributions of Asia-Pacific communities seeking solutions to plastic waste, whom Grate said had been “disproportionately impacted” by the report. It is now engaged in a process of “restorative justice” by engaging with groups in Asia, he said.

Stemming the Tide was written by the consultancy McKinsey, with a steering group including the World Wildlife Fund, the Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical and the American Chemistry Council.

Christie Keith, Gaia’s international coordinator, said the five Asian countries named in the report were not to blame for plastic waste. “That fault lies with the corporations that make and push out ever-increasing quantities of plastic,” she said. “And those fighting for zero-waste community solutions deserve to be honoured and celebrated, not attacked.”

Satyarupa Shekhar, Asia-Pacific coordinator for Break Free From Plastic, said Ocean Conservancy’s report “diluted existing restrictions on incineration and opened the doors to false solutions and controversial techno-fixes to deal with the plastic pollution crisis”.

In the Philippines, a national ban on incineration is threatened by new proposals to allow waste-to-energy plants, while in Indonesia, the government continues to push for waste incineration despite a supreme court ruling revoking presidential regulations to speed up the development of waste-based power plants or incinerators.

Stemming the Tide has frequently been cited by lawmakers and US federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sonia Mendoza, chair of Mother Earth Foundation in the Philippines, said: “Each country should be responsible for the waste it generates and not export it under the guise of ‘trade’.”

Understanding of ocean plastic waste, including its origins, has evolved in recent years.

In the statement on its website, Ocean Conservancy said it “failed to confront the root causes of plastic waste or incorporate the effects on the communities and NGOs working on the ground in the places most impacted by plastic pollution”. Including incineration and waste-to-energy as acceptable solutions to the plastic crisis was wrong, it said.

“We did not consider how these technologies support continued demand for plastic production and hamper the move to a circular economy and a zero-carbon future.”

“Further, by focusing so narrowly on one region of the world (east and south-east Asia), we created a narrative about who is responsible for the ocean plastic pollution crisis – one that failed to acknowledge the outsized role that developed countries, especially the United States, have played and continue to play in generating and exporting plastic waste to this very region. This too was wrong.”

Stemming the Tide was based on a paper published in Science on February 2015, which estimated for the first time how much plastic entered the ocean from mismanaged waste on land, and ranked all 192 coastal countries accordingly.

Since then, data has been published showing that the US ranks third among countries contributing to coastal plastic pollution and challenges the widely held belief that the US is adequately managing its pollution, underlining its waste footprint to developing nations.

Other research, which Ocean Conservancy is now promoting, recommends interventions to reduce, reuse and better manage plastic across all economies.

There can be no more hiding, and no more denying. Global heating is supercharging extreme weather at an astonishing speed. Guardian analysis recently revealed how human-caused climate breakdown is accelerating the toll of extreme weather across the planet. People across the world are losing their lives and livelihoods due to more deadly and more frequent heatwaves, floods, wildfires and droughts triggered by the climate crisis. At the Guardian, we will not stop giving this life-altering issue the urgency and attention it demands. We have a huge global team of climate writers around the world and have recently appointed an extreme weather correspondent.

Our editorial independence means we are free to write and publish journalism which prioritises the crisis. We can highlight the climate policy successes and failings of those who lead us in these challenging times. We have no shareholders and no billionaire owner, just the determination and passion to deliver high-impact global reporting, free from commercial or political influence.

And we provide all this for free, for everyone to read. We do this because we believe in information equality. Greater numbers of people can keep track of the global events shaping our world, understand their impact on people and communities, and become inspired to take meaningful action. Millions can benefit from open access to quality, truthful news, regardless of their ability to pay for it.

Extreme Weather Getting Wilder Across The Globe

From season to season and year to year, weather events that were once rare occurrences are now increasingly commonplace. After human kind has been through once in a century like the Covid pandemic that has killed over a million people, now the world is faced with yet another once in a century like catastrophic climatic conditions around the world.

Soaring and record-breaking temperatures, hotter air holding more moisture, extreme weather getting wilder, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, wild fires, and floods that are inundating parts of the world that has proven 2022 to be yet another year that will go down in history.

Unprecedented heat waves have occurred recently from Delhi to the Pacific Northwest, and the number of these deadly events is expected to increase. New research from the University of Washington and Harvard University gives a range of heat impacts worldwide by the end of this century, depending on future emissions of greenhouse gases.

The study was published Aug. 25 in the open-access journal Communications Earth & Environment. “The record-breaking heat events of recent summers will become much more common in places like North America and Europe,” said lead author Lucas Vargas Zeppetello, who did the research as a doctoral student at the UW and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard. “For many places close to the equator, by 2100 more than half the year will be a challenge to work outside, even if we begin to curb emissions.”

“Our study shows a broad range of possible scenarios for 2100,” he added. “This shows that the emissions choices we make now still matter for creating a habitable future.”

The study looks at a combination of air temperature and humidity known as the “heat index” that measures impact on the human body. A “dangerous” heat index is defined by the National Weather Service as 103 F (39.4 C). An “extremely dangerous” heat index is 124 F (51 C), deemed unsafe to humans for any amount of time.

“These standards were first created for people working indoors in places like boiler rooms — they were not thought of as conditions that would happen in outdoor, ambient environments. But we are seeing them now,” Vargas Zeppetello said.

Across the world “intense rain storms are getting more intense,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer. And he said mountains, like those in Pakistan, help wring extra moisture out as the clouds pass. The flooding has all the hallmarks of a catastrophe juiced by climate change, but it is too early to formally assign blame to global warming, several scientists told the media.

At least 1,136 people have been killed since June and roads, crops, homes and bridges washed away across the country. This year’s record monsoon is comparable to the devastating floods of 2010 – the deadliest in Pakistan’s history – which left more than 2,000 people dead.

The “recent flood in Pakistan is actually an outcome of the climate catastrophe … that was looming very large,” said Anjal Prakash, a research director at India’s Bharti Institute of Public Policy. “The kind of incessant rainfall that has happened … has been unprecedented.”

“This year Pakistan has received the highest rainfall in at least three decades. So far this year the rain is running at more than 780% above average levels,” said Abid Qaiyum Suleri, executive director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute and a member of Pakistan’s Climate Change Council. “Extreme weather patterns are turning more frequent in the region and Pakistan is not a exception.”

Pakistan’s Climate Minister Sherry Rehman said “it’s been a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions.” Pakistan “is considered the eighth most vulnerable country to climate change,” said Moshin Hafeez, a Lahore-based climate scientist at the International Water Management Institute. Its rain, heat and melting glaciers are all climate change factors scientists warned repeatedly about.

“Clearly, it’s being juiced by climate change,” said Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts. There’s been a 400% increase in average rainfall in areas like Baluchistan and Sindh, which led to the extreme flooding, Hafeez said. At least 20 dams have been breached.

If the rains are a huge factor that impacted millions, the heat has been as relentless as the rain. In May, Pakistan consistently saw temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit). Scorching temperatures higher than 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) were recorded in places like Jacobabad and Dadu.

The extreme heat accelerates the long-term glacier melting then water speeds down from the Himalayas to Pakistan in a dangerous phenomena called glacial lake outburst floods. “We have the largest number of glaciers outside the polar region, and this affects us,” climate minister Rehman said. “Instead of keeping their majesty and preserving them for posterity and nature. We are seeing them melt.”

As per reports, the disaster is hitting a poor country that has contributed relatively little to the world’s climate problem, scientists and officials said. Since 1959, Pakistan has emitted about 0.4% of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, compared to 21.5% by the United States and 16.4% by China.

“Those countries that have developed or gotten rich on the back of fossil fuels, which are the problem really,” Rehman said. “They’re going to have to make a critical decision that the world is coming to a tipping point. We certainly have already reached that point because of our geographical location.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the world to come to Pakistan’s aid as he launched a $160m appeal to help the tens of millions affected in the disaster. He blamed “the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding”.

As global temperatures rise, the hottest temperatures — and the number of areas impacted by extreme heat — are also rising. That means more scorching hot days in more places.

Take the Texas cities of Austin and Houston, for example. Over the past 50 years, Austin has seen the number of days with temperatures above 100°F increase by one month, while Houston has recorded an additional month with temperatures above 95°F. In California, temperatures are estimated to have increased 3°F in the past century.

In recent years, California has become ground zero for meteorological turmoil. With record dry, hot conditions across the state, seasonal high winds (known as Diablo in Northern California and Santa Ana in the southern part of the state) caused destructive wildfires to grow and spread at an unprecedented rate.

When global temperatures rise, moisture evaporates from waterbodies and soil. Droughts in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world have become more severe and long-lasting thanks to climate change. The American West is currently in the midst of a mega drought that ranks among the worst in the past 1,200 years.

Hurricanes are growing more powerful as global temperatures rise because these storm systems draw their energy from warm ocean water. One of the most powerful storms to ever hit the United States struck the Gulf Coast in August 2020. Hurricane Katrina ripped into the Gulf Coast in August 2005, devastating entire cities and hitting communities like those in low-lying New Orleans parishes especially hard.

As the planet warms, ocean waters are also warming — and expanding. At the same time, warmer temperatures are causing land ice — think glaciers and ice caps — to melt, which is adding water to the world’s oceans. As a result, average global sea level has increased eight inches in the last 150 years.

Ice Melt from Greenland will raise sea level 10 inches

Greenland’s rapidly melting ice sheet will eventually raise global sea level by at least 10.6 inches (27 centimeters) — more than twice as much as previously forecast — according to a study published on August 29th.

That’s because of something that could be called zombie ice. That’s doomed ice that, while still attached to thicker areas of ice, is no longer getting replenished by parent glaciers now receiving less snow. Without replenishment, the doomed ice is melting from climate change and will inevitably raise seas, said study co-author William Colgan, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.

“It’s dead ice. It’s just going to melt and disappear from the ice sheet,” Colgan said in an interview. “This ice has been consigned to the ocean, regardless of what climate (emissions) scenario we take now.” Study lead author Jason Box, a glaciologist at the Greenland survey, said it is “more like one foot in the grave.”

One of the study authors said that more than 120 trillion tons (110 trillion metric tons) of ice is already doomed to melt from the warming ice sheet’s inability to replenish its edges. When that ice melts into water, if it were concentrated only over the United States, it would be 37 feet (11 meters) deep.

The figures are a global average for sea level rise, but some places further away from Greenland would get more and places closer, like the U.S. East Coast, would get less. Although 10.6 inches may not sound like much, this would be over and above high tides and storms, making them even worse, so this much sea level rise “will have huge societal, economic and environmental impacts,” said Ellyn Enderlin, a geosciences professor at Boise State University, who wasn’t part of the study. “This is a really large loss and will have a detrimental effect on coastlines around the world,” said NYU’s David Holland who just returned from Greenland, but is not part of the study.

According to scientists, the year 2012 (and to a different degree 2019 ) was a huge melt year, when the equilibrium between adding and subtracting ice was most out of balance. If Earth starts to undergo more years like 2012, Greenland melt could trigger 30 inches (78 centimeters) of sea level rise, he said. Those two years seem extreme now, but years that look normal now would have been extreme 50 years ago. That’s how climate change works. Today’s outliers become tomorrow’s averages.”

Giant Sharks Once Roamed The Seas, Feasting On Huge Meals

(AP) — Today’s sharks have nothing on their ancient cousins. A giant shark that roamed the oceans millions of years ago could have devoured a creature the size of a killer whale in just five bites, new research suggests.

For their study published Wednesday, researchers used fossil evidence to create a 3D model of the megalodon — one of the biggest predatory fish of all time — and find clues about its life.

At around 50 feet (16 meters) from nose to tail, the megalodon was bigger than a school bus, according to the study in the journal Science Advances. That’s about two to three times the size of today’s great white shark. The megalodon’s gaping jaw allowed it to feed on other big creatures. Once it filled its massive stomach, it could roam the oceans for months at a time, the researchers suggest.

The megalodon was a strong swimmer, too: Its average cruising speed was faster than sharks today and it could have migrated across multiple oceans with ease, they calculated.

“It would be a superpredator just dominating its ecosystem,” said co-author John Hutchinson, who studies the evolution of animal movement at England’s Royal Veterinary College. “There is nothing really matching it.”

It’s been tough for scientists to get a clear picture of the megalodon, said study author Catalina Pimiento, a paleobiologist with the University of Zurich and Swansea University in Wales.

The skeleton is made of soft cartilage that doesn’t fossilize well, Pimiento said. So the scientists used what few fossils are available, including a rare collection of vertebrae that’s been at a Belgium museum since the 1860s.

Researchers also brought in a jaw’s worth of megalodon teeth, each as big as a human fist, Hutchinson said. Scans of modern great white sharks helped flesh out the rest.

Based on their digital creation, researchers calculated that the megalodon would have weighed around 70 tons, or as much as 10 elephants.

Even other high-level predators may have been lunch meat for the megalodon, which could open its jaw to almost 6 feet (2 meters) wide, Pimiento said.

Megalodons lived an estimated 23 million to 2.6 million years ago.

Since megalodon fossils are rare, these kinds of models require a “leap of imagination,” said Michael Gottfried, a paleontologist at Michigan State University who was not involved in the study. But he said the study’s findings are reasonable based on what is known about the giant shark.

60 Million Years Of Climate Change Drove The Evolution And Diversity Of Reptiles

Artistic reconstruction of the reptile adaptive radiation in a terrestrial ecosystem during the warmest period in Earth’s history. Image depicts a massive, big-headed, carnivorous erythrosuchid (close relative to crocodiles and dinosaurs) and a tiny gliding reptile at about 240 million years ago. The erythrosuchid is chasing the gliding reptile and it is propelling itself using a fossilized skull of the extinct Dimetrodon (early mammalian ancestor) in a hot and dry river valley.

Newswise — Just over 250 million years ago during the end of the Permian period and start of the Triassic, reptiles had one heck of a coming out party.

Their rates of evolution and diversity started exploding, leading to a dizzying variety of abilities, body plans, and traits, and helping to firmly establish both their extinct lineages and those that still exist today as one of the most successful and diverse animal groups the world has ever seen. For the longest time, this flourish was explained by their competition being wiped out by two of the biggest mass extinction events (around 261 and 252 million years ago) in the history of the planet.

A new Harvard-led study has rewritten that explanation by reconstructing how the bodies of ancient reptiles changed and by comparing it against millions of years of climate change.

Harvard paleontologist Stephanie Pierce’s lab shows that the morphological evolution and diversification seen in early reptiles not only started years before these mass extinction events but instead were directly driven by what caused them in the first place — rising global temperatures due to climate change.

“We are suggesting that we have two major factors at play — not just this open ecological opportunity that has always been thought by several scientists — but also something that nobody had previously come up with, which is that climate change actually directly triggered the adaptive response of reptiles to help build this vast array of new body plans and the explosion of groups that we see in the Triassic,” said Tiago R. Simões, a postdoctoral fellow in the Pierce lab and lead author on the study.

“Basically, [rising global temperatures] triggered all these different morphological experiments — some that worked quite well and survived for millions of years up to this day, and some others that basically vanished a few million years later,” Simões added.

In the paper, which published Friday in Science Advances, the researchers lay out the vast anatomical changes that took place in many reptile groups, including the forerunners of crocodiles and dinosaurs, in direct response to major climate shifts concentrated between 260 to 230 million years ago.

The study provides a close look at how a large group of organisms evolve because of climate change, which is especially pertinent today as temperatures continually rise. In fact, the rate of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere today is about nine times what they were during the timeframe that culminated in the biggest climate change-driven mass extinction of all time 252 million years ago: the Permian-Triassic mass extinction.

“Major shifts in global temperature can have dramatic and varying impacts on biodiversity,” said  Stephanie E. Pierce, Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and curator of vertebrate paleontology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology. “Here we show that rising temperatures during the Permian-Triassic led to the extinction of many animals, including many of the ancestors of mammals, but also sparked the explosive evolution of others, especially the reptiles that went on to dominate the Triassic period.”

The study involved close to eight years of data collection and took a heavy dose of camerawork, CT scanning, and loads of passport stamps as Simões traveled to more than 20 countries and more than 50 different museums to take scans and snapshots of more than 1,000 reptilian fossils.

With all the information, the researchers created an expansive dataset that was analyzed with state-of-the-art statistical methods to produce a diagram called an evolutionary time tree. Time trees reveal how early reptiles were related to each other, when their lineages first originated, and how fast they were evolving. They then combined it with global temperature data from millions of years ago.

Diversification of reptile body plans started about 30 million years before the Permian-Triassic extinction, making it clear these changes weren’t triggered by the event as previously thought. The extinction events did help put them in gear though.

The dataset also showed that rises in global temperatures, which started at about 270 million years ago and lasted until at least 240 million years ago, were followed by rapid body changes in most reptile lineages. For instance, some of the larger cold-blooded animals evolved to become smaller so they could cool down easier; others evolved to life in water for that same effect. The latter group included some of the most bizarre forms of reptiles that would go on to become extinct such as a giant, long-necked marine reptile once thought to be the Loch Ness monster, a tiny chameleon-like creature with a bird-like skull and beak, and a gliding reptile resembling a gecko with wings. It also includes the ancestors of reptiles that still exist today like turtles and crocodiles.

Smaller reptiles, which gave rise to the first lizards and tuataras, went on a different path than their larger reptile brethren. Their evolutionary rates slowed down and stabilized in response to the rising temperatures. The researchers believe it was because the small-bodied reptiles were already better adapted to the rising heat since they can more easily release heat from their bodies compared to larger reptiles when temperatures got hot very quickly all-around Earth.

The researchers say they are planning to expand on this work investigating the impact of environmental catastrophes on evolution of organisms with abundant modern diversity, such as the major groups of lizards and snakes.

Rising Global Temperatures Impact Children’s Fitness

Record levels of obesity and physical inactivity among children mean they are set to bear the brunt of poorer health effects from rising global temperatures, warns a new comprehensive review of studies.

While physical fitness is key to tolerating higher temperatures, children are more obese and less fit than ever before, argues Dr Shawnda Morrison, an environmental exercise physiologist, from Slovenia’s University of Ljubljana.

This could put them at greater risk of suffering heat-related health problems, such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

She noted that current climate change policies fail to adequately address child health needs and that encouraging children to make exercise part of their everyday lives must be prioritised if they are to cope with living in a hotter world.

In the peer-reviewed journal Temperature, her team assessed a comprehensive review of over 150 medical and scientific studies into how children maintain physical activity, exercise, cope with heat, and how this might change as global temperatures rise.

The research, she highlights includes a study of 457 primary school 5-12 year old boys in Thailand, which found that overweight youngsters were more than twice as likely to have difficulty regulating their body temperature as those of normal weight when exercising outdoors.

In another study, data from emergency departments at children’s hospitals in the US, found attendance was higher during hotter days. Younger children were particularly likely to need emergency care.

The research also found children’s aerobic fitness is 30 per cent lower than that of their parents at the same age.

There are rapid declines in children’s physical activity globally, especially over the last 30 years.

Most children are not meeting the World Health Organization’s guideline of performing an average of at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Physical inactivity was accelerated, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when schools and other societal infrastructures were closed.

Higher temperatures and changes in weather patterns are projected to also lead to outbreaks of new diseases entering the human population. If there are more movement restrictions put in place to contain the novel diseases, this will have potentially devastating consequences to children’s physical fitness, mental and physical health.

“Yet, as the world warms, children are the least fit they have ever been. It is imperative that children are encouraged to do daily physical activity to build up, and maintain, their fitness, so that they enjoy moving their bodies and it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ or ‘a chore’ to them,” Morrison said. (IANS)

Temperature Rise To Cause Larger Extinction Of Species

Newswise — A professor emeritus at Tohoku University has unearthed evidence pointing to a strong relationship between the magnitude of mass extinctions and global temperature changes in geologic times.

The research was published in the journal Biogeosciences on July, 22, 2022.

Abrupt climate change, accompanied by environmental destruction from large volcanic eruptions and meteorites, has caused major mass extinctions throughout the Phanerozoic Eon – covering 539 million years to the present.

To date, there have been few quantitative evaluations of the relationship between land temperature anomalies and terrestrial animal extinctions. Moreover, marine animals and terrestrial animals have experienced divergent extinction rates, and this phenomenon remains under-explored.

Professor Emeritus Kunio Kaiho demonstrated that marine invertebrates and terrestrial tetrapods’ extinction rates corresponded to deviations in global and habitat surface temperatures, regardless of whether it was cooling or warming. Loss of species during the ‘big five’ major extinctions correlated with a > 7°C global cooling and a > 7-9°C global warming for marine animals, and a > 7°C global cooling and a > ~7°C global warming for terrestrial tetrapods.

“These findings indicate that the bigger the shifts in climate, the larger the mass extinction,” Kaiho said. “They also tell us that any prospective extinction related to human activity will not be of the same proportions when the extinction magnitude changes in conjunction with global surface temperature anomaly.”

Kaiho cites an earlier study, which claimed a 5.2°C temperature increase in average global temperature would result in a mass extinction event comparable to previous ones. Yet, based on this study’s analysis, the temperature will need to change by 9°C, and this will not appear until 2500 in a worst-case scenario.

“Although predicting the extent of future extinctions is difficult because causes will differ from preceding ones, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that any forthcoming extinction will not reach past magnitudes if global surface temperature anomalies and other environmental anomalies correspondingly change,” Kaiho said.

Kaiho also found a lower tolerance for terrestrial tetrapods than marine animals for global warming events. However, marine animals had a smaller tolerance to the same habitat temperature changes than terrestrial animals. This is because the temperature anomaly on land is 2.2 times higher than sea surface temperature. These phenomena fit ongoing extinction patterns.

Looking ahead, Kaiho seeks to predict future animal extinction magnitudes occurring between 2000-2500.

Pope Francis Urges International Cooperation For Saving The Earth

(RNS) — Pope Francis made an impassioned appeal for the environment on Thursday (July 21), urging countries to divest from fossil fuels as temperatures rise all over the globe and put vulnerable communities at risk.

“If we learn how to listen, we can hear in the voice of creation a kind of dissonance. On the one hand, we can hear a sweet song in praise of our beloved Creator; on the other, an anguished plea, lamenting our mistreatment of this, our common home,” the pope said in a video message presented at a Vatican news conference.

“It is necessary for all of us to act decisively,” he said, “for we are reaching a breaking point.” 

Francis urged nations to cooperate on four principles that combine the need to “combat the loss of biodiversity” while giving “priority to people in vulnerable situations.”

Francis praised the “demanding” goals set out by the Paris Agreement to limit Earth’s temperature increase to1.5 degrees Celsius and said that the COP27 summit of world leaders in Egypt in November as well as the COP15 meeting on biodiversity in Canada in December represent opportunities for nations to come together in combating climate change and the extinction of species.

On July 8, the Vatican joined the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.

Francis urged Catholics to listen to the cry of the Earth, “prey to our consumerist excesses,” and all creatures “at the mercy of our tyrannical anthropocentricism.” The pope remembered the many poor and Indigenous peoples in the world who most directly feel the impact of drought, flooding, hurricanes and heat waves.

“Finally, there is the plea of our children,” Francis said. “Feeling menaced by shortsighted and selfish actions, today’s young people are crying out, anxiously asking us adults to do everything possible to prevent, or at least limit, the collapse of our planet’s ecosystems.”

He underlined the fact that richer countries have an “ecological debt” to the world, as they have polluted the air and water more than their poorer neighbors in the last two centuries. They must therefore shoulder the costs not only within their borders, but for those nations “which are already experiencing most of the burden of the climate crisis.”

At the same time, he added, poorer countries still have a responsibility since “delay on the part of others can never justify our own failure to act.”

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, July 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Since 2015, the Catholic Church has participated in an ecumenical event called the Season of Creation, which starts this year on Sept. 1 with the World Day for the Care of Creation and ends on Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the environment. The ecumenical effort, whose slogan is “Listen to the environment,” urges people to pray and reflect on the environment with an emphasis on the concerns of Indigenous peoples and the communities suffering the most due to climate change.

Cardinal Michael Czerny, who heads the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, presented the pope’s message for this year’s Season of Creation at Thursday’s news conference, saying: “Enough is enough. All new exploration and production of coal, oil and gas must immediately end, and existing production of fossil fuels must be urgently phased out.”

Czerny said the Vatican backed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, meant to work alongside the already existing Paris Agreement with an eye to holding countries and companies accountable for their dependence on fossil fuels. It is supported by Nobel Peace Prize winners, academics and a growing number of political and religious leaders.

It also focuses on ensuring that the energy transition doesn’t harm the livelihoods of workers and Indigenous peoples.

Czerny echoed Francis’ appeal that the signers to international accords aimed at reducing reliance on fossil fuels fully commit to their goals. He also praised Catholic institutions that have already done so. He joined the pope in calling for a U.N. agreement to protect the Earth and its oceans so that “ravaged ecosystems” can be restored while “upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

As heat waves rage across Europe and water grows scarce in more and more places, Christina Leaño, associate director of the Laudato Si’ Movement, which aims to realize the vision laid out in Francis’ 2016 “green encyclical,” said that her group will bring their message to the upcoming U.N. summits.

In a statement on Thursday, Leaño called for “a necessary community reconversion to adopt a new multilateral agreement that will stop the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species.”

The Laudato Si’ Movement will also call for “more ambitious national contributions to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as possible,” she said.

$2 Trillion Damage Inflicted On Other Countries By US Emissions

A new study has provided the first measurement of its liability in the climate crisis. The US has inflicted more than $1.9tn in damage to other countries from the effects of its greenhouse gas emissions, The huge volume of planet-heating gases pumped out by the US, the largest historical emitter, has caused such harm to other, mostly poor, countries through heatwaves, crop failures and other consequences that America is responsible for $1.91tn in lost global income since 1990.

While the losses to the world is enormous, the impact on the US itself is even greater. Floods, drought, wildfires and hurricanes made worse by climate change could cost the U.S. federal budget about $2 trillion each year — a 7.1% loss in annual revenue — by the end of the century, the White House said in an assessment recently. 

John Detrixhe wrote in Quartz: “Poor countries, rocked by storms and flooding from climate change, have spent years trying to hold the big carbon-emitters accountable. While most rich nations have fiercely resisted this liability, attendees at COP26 will give it another try in Glasgow.” 

According to Richard Tol, an economics professor at the University of Sussex. The US and Europe have pumped the most carbon into the atmosphere since the industrial era began, although China is quickly narrowing the gap. “Loss and damage” is the moral and legal principle that if you cause damage to a party then you are responsible for compensating them for it, Tol said.

In many cases, poorer countries that have produced hardly anything in the way of greenhouse emissions will be the hardest hit by these environmental dangers. Rich countries, and the US in particular, bear the heaviest responsibility because they’ve pushed out the overwhelming majority of carbon dioxide that’s accumulating in the atmosphere, according to most academics’ reckoning. India is among the countries seeking compensation for the losses caused by disasters tied to climate change.

Climate change can be a natural process where temperature, rainfall, wind and other elements vary over decades or more. In millions of years, our world has been warmer and colder than it is now. But today we are experiencing unprecedented rapid warming from human activities, primarily due to burning fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gas emissions.

Over a dozen years ago, at a United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, rich nations made a significant pledge. They promised to channel US$100 billion a year to less wealthy nations by 2020, to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature.

That promise was broken. A recent report for the UN1 concluded that “the only realistic scenarios” showed the $100-billion target was out of reach. “We are not there yet,” conceded UN secretary-general António Guterres.

Compared with the investment required to avoid dangerous levels of climate change, the $100-billion pledge is minuscule. Trillions of dollars will be needed each year to meet the 2015 Paris agreement goal of restricting global warming to “well below” 2 °C, if not 1.5 °C, above pre-industrial temperatures. And developing nations (as they are termed in the Copenhagen pledge) will need hundreds of billions of dollars annually to adapt to the warming that is already inevitable. “But the $100 billion is iconic in terms of the good faith of the countries that promised it,” Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Dhaka says.

The world has already warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and is on track to experience global temperature rise of 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100. An analysis by the US government warned that intensifying wildfires could increase federal fire suppression costs by between $1.55 billion and $9.60 billion each year, representing an increase between 78% and 480% by the end of the century. Meanwhile, more frequent hurricanes in the US alone could drive up annual spending on coastal-disaster response to between $22 billion and $94 billion by 2100.

UN Summit Opens With Call To Tackle Ocean Emergency

With climate change, bio-diversity loss and pollution exacting a devastating toll on the world’s ocean — critical to food security, economic growth and the environment — the 2022 UN Ocean Conference opened in Lisbon on Monday with a call for a new chapter of ocean action driven by science, technology and innovation.

“Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted, and today we face what I would call an ‘Ocean Emergency’,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates at the opening of the conference. “We must turn the tide. A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future.”

The theme of the conference, “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: Stocktaking, partnerships and solutions”, in line with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, stresses the critical need for scientific knowledge and marine technology to build ocean resilience.

Human activities are placing the health of the ocean in peril.

According to the World Meteorological Organization’s State of the Global Climate in 2021 report, sea level rise, ocean heat, ocean acidification and greenhouse gas concentrations set new records in 2021.

Additionally, marine pollution is increasing at an alarming rate, and if current trends continue, more than half of the world’s marine species may be all but extinct by 2100.

The Secretary-General also stated there is good news with a legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction; a new treaty that is being negotiated to address the global plastics crisis that is choking our oceans; and a week ago multilateral action on display with a World Trade Organization agreement on ending harmful fishery subsidies. But he also noted much more needs to be done.

“Oceans are central in geopolitical balance of power,” said President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in opening remarks. “Healthcare, economic resources, energy, mobility, migrations, scientific and technological development, climate change, all of this is present either in the context or in the outcome of a pandemic, of war and of crisis.”

“We must recover too much time (that) we have lost and give hope a chance, once again, before it is too late.”

In line with Sustainable Development Goal 14, human health, strong economic growth and a stable climate depend on a healthy ocean. The ocean is a vital buffer against climate change, absorbing about 25 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions. More than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for their food security, while approximately 120 million people work directly in fisheries and aquaculture-related activities.

The majority of these workers live in developing countries, specifically Small-Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

“The United Nations proclamation of a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) supports efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for the sustainable development of the ocean,” said President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, in his introductory statement.

More than 20 heads of state and government together with thousands of young people, business leaders, scientists and civil society representatives, will present fresh, bold and innovative solutions to ignite transformational change to effectively address the challenges the ocean is facing.

In addition to the plenary sessions, there will be eight Interactive Dialogues, which will deep dive into salient areas such as addressing marine pollution, minimizing and addressing ocean acidification, deoxygenation and ocean warming and promoting and strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, in particular for Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries. (IANS)

The World’s Rivers Are Changing

Newswise — The way rivers function is significantly affected by how much sediment they transport and where it gets deposited. River sediment — mostly sand, silt, and clay — plays a critical ecological role, as it provides habitat for organisms downstream and in estuaries. It is also important for human life, resupplying nutrients to floodplain agricultural soils, and buffering sea level rise caused by climate change by delivering sand to deltas and coastlines. However, these functions are under threat: in the past 40 years, humans have caused unprecedented, consequential changes to river sediment transport, according to a new Dartmouth study published in Science.

Using satellite images from NASA Landsat and digital archives of hydrologic data, Dartmouth researchers examined changes in how much sediment is carried to the oceans by 414 of the world’s largest rivers from 1984 to 2020.

“Our results tell a tale of two hemispheres. The north has seen major reductions in river sediment transport over the past 40 years, while the south has seen large increases over the same period,” says lead author Evan Dethier, a post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth. “Humans have been able to alter the world’s biggest rivers at rates that are unprecedented in the recent geologic record.” Dethier says. “The amount of sediment rivers carry is generally dictated by natural processes in watersheds, like how much rain there is or whether there are landslides or vegetation. We find that direct human activities are overwhelming these natural processes, and even outweighing the effects of climate change.”

The findings show that massive 20th century dam building in the global hydrologic north — North America, Europe/Eurasia and Asia — has reduced global in river suspended sediment delivery to the oceans by 49% relative to pre-dam conditions. This global reduction has occurred despite major increases in sediment delivery from the global hydrologic south — South America, Africa and Oceania. There, sediment transport has increased on 36% of its rivers in the region due to major land use change.

The changes to sediment transport in the south have been driven mainly by intensive land use changes, most of which are associated with deforestation. Notable examples include logging in Malaysia; alluvial gold mining in South America and sub-Saharan Africa; sand mining in Bangladesh and India; and palm oil plantations across much of Oceania. (In prior research, Dethier found that artisanal gold mining in Peru is associated with increases in suspended sediment levels).

In the north, dam building has been the dominant agent of change for rivers in the past several centuries.

“One of the motivations for this research has been the global expansion of building large dams,” says co-author Francis Magilligan, a professor of geography and the Frank J. Reagan ’09 Chair of Policy Studies at Dartmouth, who studies dams and dam removal. “In the U.S. alone, there are more than 90,000 dams listed in the National Inventory of Dams.” Magilligan says, “One way to think about this is that we, as a nation have been building on average, one dam per day, since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.”

Rivers are responsible for creating floodplains, sandbars, estuaries, and deltas due to the sediment that they transport. However, once a dam is installed, that supply of sediment, including its nutrients, is often shut off.

In the U.S. and other countries in the Northern Hemisphere, however, many dams are more than a half-century- old and fewer dams are being built in the 21st century. Recent declines in sediment transport are relatively minimal, as a result. Dam building in Eurasia and Asia in the past 30 years, especially in China, has driven ongoing reductions in global sediment transport.

“For low lying countries (countries that live at, near or below sea level) in delta regions, sediment supply from rivers has in the past, been able to help offset the effects of sea level rise from climate change,” says Magilligan “but now you’ve got the double drivers of declining sediment from dam construction and rising sea levels.” He says, “This is particularly worrisome for densely populated places like Vietnam, where sediment supply has been reduced significantly by dam activity along the Mekong River.”

The results in the north are striking and could foreshadow future changes to come for the south, as the study reports that there are more than 300 dams planned for large rivers in South America and Oceania. The Amazon River carries more sediment than any other river in the world and is a major target for these dams.

“Rivers are pretty sensitive indicators of what we’re doing to the surface of the Earth — they are sort of like a thermometer for land use change,” says co-author Carl Renshaw, the Evans Family Distinguished Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth. “Yet, for rivers in the Northern Hemisphere, dams are now blocking that signal for sediment coming to the ocean.” Renshaw says that, “It’s well-established that there’s a soil loss crisis in the U.S. but we just don’t see it in the sediment export record because it’s all getting stuck behind these dams, whereas, we can see the signal for rivers in the global south.”

Dethier says, “In many cases throughout the world, we have built our environment around rivers and the way that they operate, for use in agriculture, industry, recreation and tourism, and transportation, but when human activity suddenly disrupts the way rivers function, it may become difficult to adapt in real-time to such impacts.”

How dams retain sediment and how land use is increasing downstream erosion are principles which the researchers hope can be used to help inform planning decisions and land use and environmental management policies in riparian and coastal zones in the future.

By, Dartmouth College

Indian Artisans Make Eco-Friendly Idols Of Hindu God Ganesh

Ganesh Chaturthi is just days away and like every year there are discussions about celebrating the festival popular in several parts of India with devotion and fervor. As people are busy preparing majestic idols for the festival, there are people trying to bring awareness about eco-friendly Ganeshas.

Joining them, BJP MP from Bengaluru and the Union Cabinet Minister for Chemicals, Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs Ananthkumar urged people to go for an environment friendly Ganesh Chaturthi with Eco-Ganesha.

He shared an image and an article by an NGO highlighting how Lord Ganesha is a god of nature representing natural elements, and mentioned that using artificial and harmful material used for the idol won’t please the god. His tweet was well received on social media as many going for the same last year were appreciated and even PM Modi urged people to use natural clay idols.

Asa per reports, artisans in the Indian city of Hyderabad have begun making eco-friendly idols of the Hindu god Ganesh ahead of a religious festival. The statues of the elephant-headed deity are being made from a special clay known as “Kolkata ganga”. The Ganesh Chaturthi festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturti, celebrates the arrival of Ganesh to earth from Kailash Parvat with his mother Goddess Parvati/Gauri. This year the religious festival falls on September 10.

Ahead of Ganesha Chaturthi, an organisation based in Gujarat’s Vadodara has made eco-friendly ‘Vedic Ganesha idols’ for the occasion.

Mukesh Gupta, the Director of Kamdhenu Gau Amrita said that the eco-friendly Ganesha idols would benefit the environment as they can be dissolved in water or be used as fertilisers.

“With Ganesh Chaturthi coming up, we are making Ganesha idols using cow dung. The biggest advantage is that these idols can be dissolved in water at the time of visarjan (immersion) so one need not go to a river, they can immerse the idols in water tubs also, and they can be used as fertilisers. The second advantage is that this idol is cheaper than the idols made of plaster of Paris (POP) or clay,” he said. 

Meanwhile,m reports suggested, eco-friendly Ganesha idols made from cow dung by Kanta Yadav and her family in Bhopal are in great demand among people. “These Ganesha idols are made from cow dung. After the cow dung is dry, we add wood dust and maida powder to it. We pour the mixture into a mould and make an idol from it. We use natural ccolors In Hindu culture, cow dung is considered sacred and that is why we chose to make idols from it,” Kanta Yadav told ANI.

She further said, “These idols can be made in 15 minutes but it takes four to five days to dry them. After that, they are coloured and are ready in 8 days.”

These idols are inexpensive and can be bought by all Kanta said, and added “Apart from Bhopal, I get orders from other places, including Pune and Delhi. People are really keen on buying these idols. Many people want to learn how to make them too.”

No New Petrol And Diesel Cars In Europe After 2035

Come 2035 and no new cars that run either on petrol or diesel will be allowed to be sold in the European Union (EU) after the EU parliament voted to ban their sales outright.

The European Parliament has thrown its weight behind a proposed ban on selling new cars with combustion engines in 2035, seeking to step up the fight against climate change by boosting the development of electric vehicles.

The European Union assembly voted to require automakers to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 100 per cent by the middle of the next decade. The mandate would amount to a prohibition on the sale in the 27-nation bloc of new cars powered by gasoline or diesel. Attempts by some lawmakers to weaken the target to a 90 per cent cut in CO₂ emissions by 2035 were rejected.

While 339 Members of the European Parliament (MEP) voted in favor of the ban — which was proposed by the European Commission (EC), the parliament’s executive branch — 249 MEPs voted against while 24 abstained.

The new legislation is expected to help the EU achieve its target of cutting emissions from cars and light commercial vehicles by 100% by 2035 — when measured against the emissions in 2021. In fact, by 2030, while emissions from cars have to be reduced by 55%, those from vans need to be cut by 50%. According to the EC, cars and vans account for 12% and 2.5% of EU’s total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, respectively.

The MEPs will enter into negotiations with the EU’s 27 member nations about the plans to implement this ban. The UK, which exited the EU on January 31, 2020, aims to ban the sale of new cars and vans running on petrol and diesel from 2030 and from 2035, all new cars and vans need to have zero tailpipe emission.

Environmentalists hailed the parliament’s decisions. Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based alliance, said the vote offered “a fighting chance of averting runaway climate change”.

But Germany’s auto industry lobby group VDA criticised the vote, saying it ignored the lack of charging infrastructure in Europe.

The group also said the vote was “a decision against innovation and technology” – a reference to demands from the industry that synthetic fuels be exempt from the ban, which European lawmakers rejected.

The governments of EU member states will need to give their verdicts in the coming weeks or months before a final agreement on the tougher car emission requirements is approved.

If approved by EU nations, the 2035 deadline will be particularly tough on German automakers, who have focused on powerful and expensive vehicles with combustion engines while falling behind foreign rivals when it comes to electric cars.

India Ranks At The Bottom Of Environmental Performance Index

India scored the lowest among 180 countries in the 2022 Environment Performance Index (EPI), an analysis by researchers of Yale and Columbia University which provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world. The EPI ranks 180 countries on 40 performance indicators including climate change, environmental public health, biodiversity, among others.

Meanwhile, India has questioned its bottom ranking among 180 nations on the Environmental Performance Index. The newly released Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2022, measured by Yale and Columbia universities, ranks India at the bottom position among 180 countries. The Environment Ministry has issued a rebuttal saying the indicators used in the assessment are based on “unfounded assumptions”.

India ranked at the bottom with a total score of 18.9, while Denmark was the top scorer as the world’s most sustainable country. “…For the overall performance and ranking EPI, each country’s performance is viewed across numerous (18) categories like ecosystem vitality, biodiversity and habitat, ecosystem services and grassland loss. Unfortunately, India is consistently ranking either at the bottom or close to the bottom in almost all the categories, both regionally and globally,” as per a statement by EPI.

“This is fundamentally a question of the development model and pathways we want to pursue and the lifestyles that we as citizens want to adopt. Destroying the environment and nature in the name of ‘development’ should no longer be the path, whatever might be the justification. Such an approach is just not tenable any more,” said Ravi Chellam, CEO, Metastring Foundation & Coordinator, Biodiversity Collaborative.

The United States placed at the 20th spot of the 22 wealthy democracies in the global west and 43rd overall. The relatively low ranking reflects the rollback of environmental protections during the Trump administration. “The withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and weakened methane emission rules meant that US lost time to mitigate climate change while many of its peers in the developed world enacted policies to significantly reduce their greenhouse emissions.”

The conclusions from the EPI analysis suggest that efficient policy results are directly associated with GDP per capita. The economic prosperity makes it possible for the nations to invest in policies and programs that help lead desirable outcomes.

For the pursuit of economic prosperity manifested in industrialisation and urbanisation, trends that pose climate change strains ecosystem vitality, especially in the developing world where air and water emissions remain significant.

Data suggests, according to EPI, that developing countries do not have to sacrifice sustainability for economic security. The steps taken for climate action initiated by policymakers and stakeholders in leading countries demonstrate that focused attention can mobilise communities to protect natural resources and human well being.

The Consequences of Climate Change Are Visible From Space

Newswise — Global warming has a particularly pronounced impact on the Alpine region. Like the Arctic, this European mountain range is becoming greener. Writing in the journal Science, researchers from the University of Lausanne and the University of Basel have now used satellite data to show that vegetation above the tree line has increased in nearly 80% of the Alps. Snow cover is also decreasing, albeit so far only slightly.

Melting glaciers have become a symbol of climate change in the Alps. Now, the reduction in snow cover is already visible from space but this is by no means the biggest change. This is the conclusion of a research team led by Professor Sabine Rumpf from the University of Basel and Professor Grégoire Mariéthoz and Professor Antoine Guisan from the University of Lausanne.

Working with colleagues in the Netherlands and Finland, the researchers investigated the change in snow cover and vegetation using high-resolution satellite data from 1984 to 2021. Over this period, plant biomass above the tree line increased in more than 77% of the observed area. This phenomenon of “greening” due to climate change is already well documented in the Arctic and starts also to be detected in mountains.

Greater plant biomass in three-quarters of the Alps. “The scale of the change has turned out to be absolutely massive in the Alps,” says Sabine Rumpf, lead author of the study and, since February, assistant professor at the University of Basel. The Alps are becoming greener because plants are colonizing new areas and the vegetation is generally becoming denser and taller.

Previous studies have primarily focused on the influence of global warming on Alpine biodiversity and changes in the distribution of plant species. Until now, however, no one had conducted such a comprehensive analysis of the changes in vegetation productivity in the Alps. The authors show that the increase of plant biomass is primarily due to changes in precipitation and longer vegetation periods as a result of rising temperatures.

“Alpine plants are adapted to harsh conditions, but they’re not very competitive,” says Rumpf. As environmental conditions change, she says, these specialized species lose their advantage and are outcompeted: “The unique biodiversity of the Alps is therefore under considerable pressure.”

Already a slight reduction in snow cover. In contrast to vegetation, the extent of snow cover above the tree line has only changed slightly since 1984. For their analysis, the researchers excluded regions below 1.700 meters, glaciers and forests. In the remaining regions, they found that snow cover had decreased significantly in almost 10% of the area. This may not sound like a lot, but the researchers are keen to highlight that it is nevertheless a worrying trend.

“Previous analyses of satellite data hadn’t identified any such trend,” explains Antoine Guisan, one of the two senior authors of the study. “This may be because the resolution of the satellite images was insufficient or because the periods considered were too short.”

“For years, local ground-based measurements have shown a decrease in snow depth at low elevations,” adds Grégoire Mariéthoz. “This decrease has already caused some areas to become largely snow-free.” Based on the satellite data, it’s possible to distinguish whether a specific area is covered with snow or not, but doesn’t allow to draw conclusions about snow depth.

As global warming continues, the Alps will turn more and more from white to green, creating a vicious circle: “Greener mountains reflect less sunlight and therefore lead to further warming – and, in turn, to further shrinkage of reflective snow cover,” says Rumpf. Warming also causes further melting of glaciers and the thawing of permafrost, which may lead to more landslides, rockfalls and mudflows. Furthermore, Rumpf emphasizes the important role of snow and ice from the Alps in the supply of drinking water and, not least, for recreation and tourism.

Government Rejects Yale’s Environmental Performance Index On India

Rejecting the bottom rank in environmental performance index by the Yale Centre for Environmental Law & Policy, India on Wednesday said that many indicators used for assessing the EPI are based on “unfounded assumptions” with some of them “extrapolated and based on surmises and unscientific methods”.

Rejecting the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2022 released recently by the American University that had put India at the bottom most 180th rank, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) announced that it does not accept Yale’s analysis and gave a longish explanation for the same.

As per Yale Centre for Environmental Law & Policy website, EPI 2022 provides a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability for 180 countries using 40 performance indicators across 11 issues.

“A new indicator in the Climate Policy objective is Projected GHG Emissions levels in 2050. This is computed based on average rate of change in emission of the last 10 years instead of modeling that takes into account a longer time period, extent of renewable energy capacity and use, additional carbon sinks, energy efficiency etc. of respective countries,” the Ministry statement said, adding: “Both forests and wetlands of the country are crucial carbon sinks, which have not been factored in while computing the projected GHG emissions trajectory up to 2050 given by EPI 2022.”

India has already achieved the target of 40 per cent of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel based sources.

India also said that the historical data on the lowest emission trajectory has been ignored in the computation and said: “The weight of indicators in which the country was performing well has been reduced and reasons for change in assignment of weights has not been explained in the report.”

“The principle of equity is given very low weightage in the form of indicators such as GHG emission per capita and GHG Emission intensity trend. The CBDR-RC principle is also barely reflected in the composition of the index,” the Ministry said.

The indicators on water quality, water use efficiency, waste generation per capita which are closely linked to Sustainable Consumption and Production are not included in the Index, the statement said, adding: “The Index emphasises the extent of Protected Areas rather than the quality of protection that they afford. Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Protected areas and eco-sensitive regions is not factored into the computation of Biodiversity Indices.”

Indicators such as agro biodiversity, soil health, food loss and waste are not included even though they are important for developing countries with large agrarian populations, the statement said, and gave detailed analysis of the flaws in various categories such as Climate Change Issue Category; Environmental Health indicators; Ecosystem Vitality Policy Objective; Biodiversity & Habitat; Ecosystem Services; Agriculture and Fisheries.

Bonn Climate Change Conference To Lay Groundwork For Success At COP27

UN Climate Change News, 6 June 2022 – This year’s Bonn annual UN Climate Change Conference kicked off today, designed to lay the groundwork for success at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Governments are meeting for the first time since the conclusion of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow last November, at which the operational details of the Paris Agreement were finalized, thereby ringing in the era of implementation of the agreement.

In Bonn, governments will focus on work in the key areas of mitigation, adaptation, support to developing countries – particularly finance – and loss and damage. Speaking to delegates at the opening of the Bonn sessions, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said:

“We urgently require political-level interventions and decisions in each of these areas in order to achieve a balanced package. Doing so will send a clear message to the world that we are headed in the right direction. Because the world is going to have one question in Sharm El-Sheikh: what progress have you made since Glasgow?”

The UN’s top climate change official warned that climate change is progressing exponentially. With the world currently on track to more than double the 1.5 Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement by the end of the century, ambition must urgently be raised to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and immediate action and progress in Bonn are needed.

“We must move these negotiations along more quickly. The world expects it. They know that while nations made a commitment to meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees C goal, that commitment entailed accelerated action and increased climate ambition.  It is not acceptable to say that we are in challenging times — they know that climate change is not an agenda we can afford to push back on our global schedule,” she said.

COP27 in Egypt will primarily focus on implementation, and nations are expected to show how they will, through legislation, policies and programs, and throughout all jurisdictions and sectors, begin putting the Paris Agreement into practice in their home countries.

In an emotional address, Patricia Espinosa announced the end of her term in office after six years at the helm of the UN Climate Change secretariat. She implored delegates to continue to support the work of the secretariat and inclusive multilateralism, which encompasses the work of all key stakeholders to address climate change. Looking back at key milestones of the UN Climate Change process, she said: “Look at what we’ve accomplished in the last six years. Look at what we’ve accomplished in the last 30. While we are still very much behind the climate curve, the world is in a better position because of the UNFCCC, because of the Kyoto Protocol, because of the Paris Agreement. Because of collaboration. Because of multilateralism. Because of you. But we can do better, we must.”

With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

ITC Classmate Celebrates World Environment Day By Engaging Students In Chennai To Create Urban Forests

Encouraged by the ITC’s large-scale afforestation initiative, Classmate, the company’s leading stationery brand, has taken up a local tree plantation initiative in Chennai along with students on the occasion of the World Environment Day.

Over the past two decades, ITC Limited has been supporting a sustainable and inclusive forestry value chain for its Paperboards and Specialty Paper Business, contributing to carbon sequestration by creating a large green cover, whilst supporting large-scale livelihoods for tribals and marginal farmers.

The business has adopted an indigenous fibre-sourcing strategy by supporting the growing of renewable plantations, thus contributing to import substitution. ITC’s large-scale afforestation programme has greened over 9,50,000 acres of land and provided over 170-million-person days of sustainable livelihood to farmers to date in India.

The efforts made by ITC to promote responsible sourcing and sustainable plantations have led to the Forest Stewardship Council certification as well as membership of WWF-Global Forest and Trade Network.

ITC Classmate’s small but significant afforestation drive involving school students aims to complement the efforts of volunteers combating climate change at a local level. It has partnered with the Environmentalist Foundation of India, who have been invited by the Chengalpet district administration to create a forest patch at Vengadamangalam which is a fast-growing residential suburban pocket of Chennai and is witnessing contamination of land, water, and air with a profound shift in land use, growth, and ecology at large.

It is developing this project as an urban forest as part of a collaboration between the government, industry, students, and civic society. The objective of this afforestation project is also to motivate school students fully understand the importance of environment positive actions and develop eco-consciousness.

To ensure that, ITC Classmate has planned a dedicated orientation program in 24 schools in the city from June 10 to July 31. The program aims to enhance their understanding of nuances of resource utilization, biodiversity preservation, and sustainability.

After attending the orientation program, students are expected to volunteer at the afforestation site in Vengadamangalam and get involved in post-plant maintenance like plant watering, manuring, nourishment, etc.

Speaking about the initiative, Vikas Gupta, Chief Executive, Education and Stationary Products Business Division, ITC Ltd., said: “Climate change is today impacting us in myriad ways. Going forward, the young generation will have to play a significant role in environment conservation. At ITC, responsible capitalism is an abiding strategy that focuses on extreme competitiveness but in a manner that replenishes the environment and supports sustainable livelihood. As part of this ethos, we, at ITC Classmate, have taken it upon ourselves to enhance understanding of the youth about the afforestation and take actions that would support their hope and trust in active actions for the future. We are endeavouring to embed awareness, know-how & capability amongst students on how they can foster sustainability in their daily way of life.”

The Vengadamangalam panchayat dedicated the land parcel for the development of an urban forest with an aim to mitigate issues related to pollution and recreate lost habitats by encouraging biodiversity. ITC Classmate, through its NGO partner Environmentalist Foundation of India (E.F.I), cleaned this land parcel of any non-degradable trash and invasive plants, completed trench work, and created nourishment beds. It planted 1350 saplings of native plants in addition to planting berry-bearing, nectar-bearing, and fruit-bearing varieties on the entire plot besides fencing it with a dedicated water source for the growth of the saplings. (IANS)

Vatican Astrophysicists Offer New Way To Study Gravity After The Big Bang

Two Catholic priests, both astrophysicists from the Vatican Observatory, have suggested a radically new mathematical approach to studying the initial moments following the Big Bang that gave birth to our universe.

Little is known about the first seconds of the universe’s existence, and one of the deeper puzzles is accounting for the role gravity played in those early moments. The Rev. Gabriele Gionti, a Jesuit, and the Rev. Matteo Galaverni, a priest in the Diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla in Northern Italy, set out to propose a new technique that explains how gravity might have behaved as the cosmos expanded rapidly at its inception.

Their research, published in the prestigious Physical Review D journal on April 15, proposes an alternative to the Jordans-Brans-Dicke theory of gravitation, which solves difficulties with Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity in describing gravity after the Big Bang, but which has its own inconsistencies.

Einstein’s theory works well in explaining the way matter behaves on a large scale but clashes with the way quantum physics describes the gravity among the smallest observable particles. For years, Gionti has attempted to reconcile the two.

The priests’ work is “a tassel within this search that the scientific community has been conducting for many years on quantum gravity, meaning that gravity is capable of affecting (matter) even at a very, very small scale,” said Galaverni in a Zoom interview conducted by RNS with the two priests on Thursday (May 5).

“We realized that within limits, when the gravitational constant is very high, it’s possible for the speed of light to go to zero, meaning that nothing propagates because gravity is too high,” said Gionti.

“This might be a way to explain what happened after the Big Bang,” he said. In layman’s terms, Gionti said, “It’s like being in a theater, and until now we have seen the musicians and the orchestra with our eyes. Now with gravitational waves we can also hear the music. This is revolutionizing and will revolutionize the next decades of astronomy,” he added.

Gionti clarified that their “research is based on a very speculative and theoretical mathematical approach,” which will have to be tested in its physical and observable consequences.

They wrote their theory at the Specola Vaticana, the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo, the pope’s summer residence, drawing up their abstract calculations both on computers and  blackboards as they compared and discussed their ideas.

Pope Leo XIII created the Specola in 1918 “in a time of modernism where society accused the church of obscurantism,” Gionti said. The Vatican trials against astronomers and thinkers like Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruni in the 16th century had pegged the Catholic Church as a “determined opponent to scientific progress,” he explained.

“The Vatican created the Vatican observatory for priests, nuns and religious to prove to the world that the church directly contributed to science by providing it with an astronomical observatory that worked scientifically like all other observatories,” Gionti said.

Gionti and Galaverni’s work stands on the shoulders of great scientists as well as on the work of religious people. It was a diocesan priest from Belgium, Georges Lemaître, who first theorized the Big Bang in the early 20th century. Numerous priests and religious contributed to today’s understanding of gravity and astronomy. The Jesuit Angelo Secchi laid out the principles for how we classify stars today from the roof of the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome.

Science and religion are “two complementary approaches that must be respected in their diversity,” Galaverni said, who added that studying the universe is “not something that proves my faith, it’s something that enriches it.”

“Science also teaches me a certain humility in looking at the universe and recognizing our smallness and seeing the greatness of God in this,” he added. While studying the laws of physics and nature, the universe seems harmonious and well-ordered, he said, adding that “for someone of faith it’s an easy step to recognize in this order the footprint of God.”

Their work has been well received by their scientific peers, “but we are not finished yet. There are other questions that we haven’t answered,” Gionti said.

Biden Plans $3.1 Billion Investment For Electric Car Batteries

The Biden administration has announced it will begin a $3.1 billion plan to boost domestic manufacturing of batteries, in a broader effort to shift the country away from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles.

The electrification of the transportation sector will be critical to mitigating human-caused climate change. The transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, representing roughly one-third of emissions each year.

The funding will support grants aimed at building, retooling or expanding manufacturing of batteries and battery components, as well as establishing battery recycling facilities, according to the Department of Energy. The grants will be funded through President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, which includes more than $7 billion to bolster the country’s battery supply chain.

The move comes after the president in April invoked the Defense Production Act to encourage domestic production of minerals required to make batteries for EVs and long-term energy storage. That order could help companies receive federal funding for feasibility studies on projects that extract materials for EV production, such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese.

“These made-in-America batteries are going to help reduce emissions and create opportunities across the country,” White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said during a call with reporters on Monday.

The White House, which has set a goal of 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030, is also working to construct a national network of EV charging stations and to create tax incentives for consumers who buy EVs. The administration has also pledged to replace its federal fleet of 600,000 cars and trucks to electric power by 2035.

The U.S. is the world’s third-largest market for EVs, behind China and Europe. Just 4% of new cars sold in the U.S. last year were electric, according to market research company Canalys.

“Positioning the United States front and center in meeting the growing demand for advanced batteries is how we boost our competitiveness and electrify our transportation system,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement on Monday.

Oceans’ Memory Decline Due To Global Warming

Most of the world’s oceans are steadily losing their year-to-year ‘memory’ under global warming, researchers have warned.

Ocean memory decline is found as a collective response across the climate models to human-induced warming. As greenhouse-gas concentrations continue to rise, such memory decline will become increasingly evident.

The study published in the journal Science Advances compared the fast weather fluctuations of the atmosphere to find that the slowly varying ocean exhibits strong persistence, or “memory,” meaning the ocean temperature tomorrow is likely to look a lot like it does today, with only slight changes.

“We discovered this phenomenon by examining the similarity in ocean surface temperature from one year to the next as a simple metric for ocean memory,” said Hui Shi, lead author and researcher at the Farallon Institute in Petaluma, California. “It’s almost as if the ocean is developing amnesia.”

Ocean memory is found to be related to the thickness of the uppermost layer of the ocean, known as the mixed layer. Deeper mixed layers have greater heat content, which confers more thermal inertia that translates into memory.

However, the mixed layer over most oceans will become shallower in response to continued anthropogenic warming, resulting in a decline in ocean memory.

Along with ocean memory decline, the thinning mixed layer is also found to increase the random fluctuations of the sea surface temperature.

As a result, although the ocean will not become much more variable from one year to the next in the future, the fraction of helpful signals for prediction largely reduces.

“Reduced ocean memory together with increased random fluctuations suggest intrinsic changes in the system and new challenges in prediction under warming,” said Fei-Fei Jin, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Hawaii.

Ocean memory loss doesn’t just impact the prediction of physical variables, but could also influence the way we manage sensitive marine ecosystems.

Besides ocean prediction, forecasting land-based impacts on temperature, precipitation as well as extreme events might also be affected by ocean memory decline due to their dependence on the persistence of sea surface temperature as a predictability source, the team said. (IANS)

Bitcoin Miners Seek Ways To Dump Fossil Fuels

For the past year a company that “mines” cryptocurrency had what seemed the ideal location for its thousands of power-thirsty computers working around the clock to verify bitcoin transactions: the grounds of a coal-fired power plant in rural Montana.

But with the cryptocurrency industry under increasing pressure to rein in the environmental impact of its massive electricity consumption, Marathon Digital Holdings made the decision to pack up its computers, called miners, and relocate them to a wind farm in Texas.

“For us, it just came down to the fact that we don’t want to be operating on fossil fuels,” said company CEO Fred Thiel.

In the world of bitcoin mining, access to cheap and reliable electricity is everything. But many economists and environmentalists have warned that as the still widely misunderstood digital currency grows in price — and with it popularity — the process of mining that is central to its existence and value is becoming increasingly energy intensive and potentially unsustainable.

The Hardin Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant that is also home to the cryptocurrency “mining” operation Big Horn Data Hub, is seen on April 20, 2022, in Hardin, Mont. Energy from burning coal is used to power thousands of computers that are kept on site to produce the digital currency known as bitcoins. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

Bitcoin was was created in 2009 as a new way of paying for things that would not be subject to central banks or government oversight. While it has yet to widely catch on as a method of payment, it has seen its popularity as a speculative investment surge despite volatility that can cause its price to swing wildly. In March 2020, one bitcoin was worth just over $5,000. That surged to a record of more than $67,000 in November 2021 before falling to just over $35,000 in January.

Central to bitcoin’s technology is the process through which transactions are verified and then recorded on what’s known as the blockchain. Computers connected to the bitcoin network race to solve complex mathematical calculations that verify the transactions, with the winner earning newly minted bitcoins as a reward. Currently, when a machine solves the puzzle, its owner is rewarded with 6.25 bitcoins — worth about $260,000 total. The system is calibrated to release 6.25 bitcoins every 10 minutes.

When bitcoin was first invented it was possible to solve the puzzles using a regular home computer, but the technology was designed so problems become harder to solve as more miners work on them. Those mining today use specialized machines that have no monitors and look more like a high-tech fan than a traditional computer. The amount of energy used by computers to solve the puzzles grows as more computers join the effort and puzzles are made more difficult.

Marathon Digital, for example, currently has about 37,000 miners, but hopes to have 199,000 online by early next year, the company said.

Determining how much energy the industry uses is difficult because not all mining companies report their use and some operations are mobile, moving storage containers full of miners around the country chasing low-cost power.

The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index estimates bitcoin mining used about 109 terrawatt hours of electricity over the past year — close to the amount used in Virginia in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Center. The current usage rate would work out to 143 TWh over a full year, or about the amount used by Ohio or New York state in 2020.

Cambridge’s estimate does not include energy used to mine other cryptocurrencies.

A key moment in the debate over bitcoin’s energy use came last spring, when just weeks after Tesla Motors said it was buying $1.5 billion in bitcoin and would also accept the digital currency as payment for electric vehicles, CEO Elon Musk joined critics in calling out the industry’s energy use and said the company would no longer be taking it as payment.

Some want the government to step in with regulation. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul is being pressured to declare a moratorium on the so-called proof-of-work mining method — the one bitcoin uses — and to deny an air quality permit for a project at a retrofitted coal-fired power plant that runs on natural gas.

A New York State judge recently ruled the project would not impact the air or water of nearby Seneca Lake. “Repowering or expanding coal and gas plants to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis is literally insane,” Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardians, said in a statement.

Anne Hedges with the Montana Environmental Information Center said that before Marathon Digital showed up, environmental groups had expected the coal-fired power plant in Hardin, Montana, to close.

“It was a death watch,” Hedges said. “We were getting their quarterly reports. We were looking at how much they were operating. We were seeing it continue to decline year after year — and last year that totally changed. It would have gone out of existence but for bitcoin.”

The cryptocurrency industry “needs to find a way to reduce its energy demand,” and needs to be regulated, Hedges said. “That’s all there is to it. This is unsustainable.”

Some say the solution is to switch from proof-of-work verification to proof-of-stake verification, which is already used by some cryptocurrencies. With proof of stake, verification of digital currency transfers is assigned to computers, rather than having them compete. People or groups that stake more of their cryptocurrency are more likely to get the work — and the reward.

While the method uses far less electricity, some critics argue proof-of-stake blockchains are less secure. Some companies in the industry acknowledge there is a problem and are committing to achieving net-zero emissions — adding no greenhouse gases to the atmosphere — from the electricity they use by 2030 by signing onto a Crypto Climate Accord, modeled after the Paris Climate Agreement.

“All crypto communities should work together, with urgency, to ensure crypto does not further exacerbate global warming, but instead becomes a net positive contributor to the vital transition to a low carbon global economy,” the accord states.

Marathon Digital is one of several companies pinning its hopes on tapping into excess renewable energy from solar and wind farms in Texas. Earlier this month the companies Blockstream Mining and Block, formerly Square, announced they were breaking ground in Texas on a small, off-the-grid mining facility using Tesla solar panels and batteries.

“This is a step to proving our thesis that bitcoin mining can fund zero-emission power infrastructure,” said Adam Back, CEO and co-founder of Blockstream.

Companies argue that cryptocurrency mining can provide an economic incentive to build more renewable energy projects and help stabilize power grids. Miners give renewable energy generators a guaranteed customer, making it easier for the projects to get financing and generate power at their full capacity.

The mining companies are able to contract for lower-priced energy because “all the energy they use can be shut off and given back to the grid at a moment’s notice,” said Thiel.

In Pennsylvania, Stronghold Digital is cleaning up hundreds of years of coal waste by burning it to create what the state classifies as renewable energy that can be sent to the grid or used in bitcoin mining, depending on power demands.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection is a partner in the work, which uses relatively new technology to burn the waste coal more efficiently and with fewer emissions. Left alone, piles of waste coal can catch fire and burn for years, releasing greenhouse gases. When wet, the waste coal leaches acid into area waterways.

After using the coal waste to generate electricity, what’s left is “toxicity-free fly ash,” which is registered by the state as a clean fertilizer, Stronghold Digital spokesperson Naomi Harrington said.

As Marathon Digital gradually moves its 30,000 miners out of Montana, it’s leaving behind tens of millions of dollars in mining infrastructure behind.

Just because Marathon doesn’t want to use coal-fired power anymore doesn’t mean there won’t be another bitcoin miner to take its place. Thiel said he assumes the power plant owners will find a company to do just that. “No reason not to,” he said.

No Obituary For Earth: Scientists Fight Climate Doom Talk

It’s not the end of the world. It only seems that way. Climate change is going to get worse, but as gloomy as the latest scientific reports are, including today’s from the United Nations, scientist after scientist stresses that curbing global warming is not hopeless. The science says it is not game over for planet Earth or humanity. Action can prevent some of the worst if done soon, they say.

After decades of trying to get the public’s attention, spur action by governments and fight against organized movements denying the science, climate researchers say they have a new fight on their hands: doomism. It’s the feeling that nothing can be done, so why bother. It’s young people publicly swearing off having children because of climate change.

University of Maine climate scientist Jacquelyn Gill noticed in 2018 fewer people telling her climate change isn’t real and more “people that we now call doomers that you know believe that nothing can be done.” Gill says it is just not true. “I refuse to write off or write an obituary for something that’s still alive,” Gill told The Associated Press, referring to the Earth. “We are not through a threshold or past the threshold. There’s no such thing as pass-fail when it comes to the climate crisis.”

“It’s really, really, really hard to walk people back from that ledge,” Gill said. Doomism “is definitely a thing,” said Wooster College psychology professor Susan Clayton, who studies climate change anxiety and spoke at a conference in Norway last week that addressed the issue. “It’s a way of saying ‘I don’t have to go to the effort of making changes because there’s nothing I can do anyway.’”

Gill and six other scientists who talked with The Associated Press about doomism aren’t sugarcoating the escalating harm to the climate from accumulating emissions. But that doesn’t make it hopeless, they said.

“Everybody knows it’s going to get worse,” said Woodwell Climate Research Center scientist Jennifer Francis. “We can do a lot to make it less bad than the worst case scenario.”

The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just issued its third report in six months. The first two were on how bad warming is and how it will hurt people and ecosystems, with today’s report focusing on how the extent of disruption depends on how much fossil fuels are burned. It shows the world is still heading in the wrong direction in its fight to curb climate change, with new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure and forests falling to make way for agriculture.

“It’s not that they’re saying you are condemned to a future of destruction and increasing misery,” said Christiana Figueres, the former U.N. climate secretary who helped forge the 2015 Paris climate agreement and now runs an organization called Global Optimism. “What they’re saying is ’the business-as-usual path … is an atlas of misery ’ or a future of increasing destruction. But we don’t have to choose that. And that’s the piece, the second piece, that sort of always gets dropped out of the conversation.”

United Nations Environment Program Director Inger Andersen said with reports like these, officials are walking a tightrope. They are trying to spur the world to action because scientists are calling this a crisis. But they also don’t want to send people spiraling into paralysis because it is too gloomy.

“We are not doomed, but rapid action is absolutely essential,” Andersen said. “With every month or year that we delay action, climate change becomes more complex, expensive and difficult to overcome.”

“The big message we’ve got (is that) human activities got us into this problem and human agency can actually get us out of it again,” James Skea, co-chair of Monday’s report, said. “It’s not all lost. We really have the chance to do something.”

Monday’s report details that it is unlikely, without immediate and drastic carbon pollution cuts, that the world will limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, which is the world’s agreed upon goal. The world has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit). And earlier IPCC reports have shown that after 1.5 degrees, more people die, more ecosystems are in trouble and climate change worsens rapidly.

“We don’t fall over the cliff at 1.5 degrees,” Skea said, “Even if we were to go beyond 1.5 it doesn’t mean we throw up our hands in despair.”

IPCC reports showed that depending on how much coal, oil, and natural gas is burned, warming by 2100 could be anywhere from 1.4 to 4.4 degrees Celsius (2.5 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, which can mean large differences in sickness, death and weather disasters.

While he sees the increase in doom talk as inevitable, NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said he knows first-hand that people are wrong when they say nothing can be done: “I work with people and I’m watching other people and I’m seeing the administration. And people are doing things and they’re doing the right things for the most part as best they can. So I’m seeing people do things.”

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said scientists used to think Earth would be committed to decades of future warming even after people stopped pumping more carbon dioxide into the air than nature takes out. But newer analyses in recent years show it will only take a few years after net zero emissions for carbon levels in the air to start to go down because of carbon being sucked up by the oceans and forests, Mann said.

Scientists’ legitimate worries get repeated and amplified like in the kids game of telephone and “by the time you’re done, it’s ‘we’re doomed’ when what the scientist actually said was we need to reduce or carbon emissions 50% within this decade to avoid 1.5 (degrees of) warming, which would be really bad. Two degrees of warming would be far worse than 1.5 warming, but not the end of civilization,” Mann said.

Mann said doomism has become far more of a threat than denialism and he believes that some of the same people, trade associations and companies that denied climate change are encouraging people who say it is too late. Mann is battling publicly with a retired University of Arizona ecologist, Guy McPherson, an intellectual leader of the doom movement.

McPherson said he’s not part of the monetary system, hasn’t had a paycheck in 13 years, doesn’t vote and lived off the grid for a decade. He said all species go extinct and humans are no exception. He publicly predicted humanity will go extinct in 2026, but in an interview with The Associated Press said, “I’m not nearly as stuck on 2026,” and mentioned 2030 and changes to human habitat from the loss of Arctic summer sea ice.

Woodwell’s Francis, a pioneer in the study of Arctic sea ice who McPherson said he admires, said while the Arctic will be ice free by the summer by 2050, McPherson exaggerates the bad effects. Local Arctic residents will be hit hard, “the rest of us will experience accelerated warming and sea-level rise, disrupted weather patterns and more frequent extreme weather. Most communities will adapt to varying degrees,” Francis said. “There’s no way in hell humans will go extinct by 2026.”

Humans probably can no longer prevent Arctic sea ice from disappearing in the summer, but with new technology and emissions cuts, Francis said, “we stand a real chance of preventing those (other) catastrophic scenarios out there.”

Psychology professor Clayton said “no matter how bad things are, they can always be worse. You can make a difference between bad and worse… That’s very powerful, very self-affirming.

Months After Pledge, India Yet To Submit Emissions Targets

NEW DELHI (AP) — Four months after India announced its “net-zero” target at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, the country has yet to submit its targets for cutting greenhouse emissions, underscoring the difficulty of overhauling energy policy amid a growing population.

When asked about the delay during an unrelated event in the capital New Delhi on Tuesday, Indian environment minister Bhupender Yadav downplayed it, saying that several ministries were still discussing the matter to chart out a roadmap.

India’s Ministry of Environment, which drafts the targets and submits them to the UN Climate Agency, and the country’s top federal official in the Ministry of Power, did not respond to requests for comment this week.

“We don’t have time anymore” to wait for all countries to start reducing emissions, said New Climate Institute scientist Niklas Höhne, who tracks emission pledges for Climate Action Tracker.

Höhne added that it would be useful if India specified targets achievable with its own resources and formulated a clear plan for what could achieved with financial help from other nations.

During November’s conference in Glasgow, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his nation would stop adding greenhouses gases to the atmosphere by 2070 — two decades after the U.S., and 10 years after China. He said that India would increase its current capacity for non-fossil fuel electricity to 500 gigawatts and use energy from clean sources to meet half of its needs. Modi also said that India would cut carbon emissions by a billion tons compared with the previous target and reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45%.

Since these 2030 targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions haven’t yet been submitted to the U.N. climate agency, they can’t yet be counted towards the global effort.

India is not the only country to be slow to turn in targets. The 2015 Paris agreement on climate, which India signed, required countries to submit their climate targets, called Nationally Determined Contributions, by the end of 2020. Many nations missed that deadline. The more urgent deadline was to get submission in before the November negotiations in Glasgow and most nations did. Of the five top emitting nations, only India has not submitted its plans.

The delays underscore the challenges that India faces in achieving these goals. A parliamentary committee calculated that India would require over $20 billion in investment to meet its clean energy targets while only half of that was available — prompting the opposition to ask the government whether it formulated a clear roadmap before committing internationally.

India’s role is key for the world’s climate targets. It has the third-highest emissions in the world, after China and the United States, and its energy needs are expected to grow faster than any other country in the coming decades. At the same time, historically it has contributed least to the world’s cumulative emissions among the group of 20 industrial nations known as the G20.

The typical American, for instance, uses 16 times more electricity than the average Indian, according to data from the World Bank.

Many in the South Asian country of 1.4 billion residents still live in poverty and its leaders have consistently argued that it needs the “carbon space” to grow. Even in the most optimistic scenario, some of India’s future energy needs will have to be met through coal — the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

This was partly why the country had demanded a last-minute change to crucial language during the U.N. climate conference to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal power. India said that developing countries were “entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels” for their growth and blamed “unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns” of rich countries for the current climate catastrophe.

In any case, India faces the same reality that other nations do: Unless emissions are drastically reduced, large parts of the world will become uninhabitable due to climate shocks like deadly fires, floods, and unlivable heat, a new U.N. report said Monday. The country lost $87 billion in 2020 because of natural disasters like cyclones, floods and droughts, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

At Glasgow, Modi had stressed that India’s goals couldn’t be achieved without adequate climate finance, a stand that India has long reiterated, and called for rich countries to provide $1 trillion in help.

The lack of finance is a vital stumbling block, said Harjeet Singh, an advisor with the Climate Action Network International. He said that if he were to put himself in the shoes of a finance minister of a developing country like India, “How do I do it if I don’t see a stream of funding? Rich countries are failing in their commitment.”

Singh said that there was some hope in the plan announced by the U.S., Britain, France and Germany to provide $8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to help South Africa phase out coal, a source of 90% of its electricity. But he added that it remained to be seen if that money would make it to those most impacted.

India’s opposition parliamentarians criticized the government for not consulting with chief ministers or state leaders before announcing India’s net-zero targets in December in the parliament. Parliamentarian Kanimozhi Karunanidhi said that India had only a fraction of the solar energy needed to meet what had been promised at Glasgow.

“I want to know how can we achieve so much? What we’ve done is nothing compared to what we’ve promised to the world,” said Karunanidhi, from Thoothukkudi in southern India.

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receive support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

20 Countries Account For 80 Percent Of All Emissions: John Kerry

Stating that only 20 countries on the planet account for 80 per cent of all emissions, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry said, unfortunately not all countries are adopting scientific plans to restrict temperature rise.

“Unfortunately some of those countries are not yet adopting plans to do what the science tells us we do, which is needed to reach the 1.5 degrees Celsius and cut our emissions by 45 per cent in the course of this next eight year period,” he said at the 21st edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) being held virtually on Wednesday.

Asserting that the climate crisis is the single greatest security challenge that the world faces, Kerry called for “monumental transformation” in the way “we deal with the concept of sustainability”.

“Given the population growth rate on the planet, the level of current resource utilisation is rapacious and not at all geared to the prospect of sustainability,” he said at the ministerial session on ‘Ambition and Action in the Critical Decade for addressing Climate Change and Realising Sustainable Development’.

Commending the ambitious goals of 500 GW renewables by 2030 set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Glasgow (where the annual climate change summit was held in November 2021), Kerry said: “The criticality of achieving that goal was very simple. It is the only way that India itself becomes compliant with the 1.5 degrees goal, which we all ratified in Glasgow recently.”

The session that was moderated by former Ambassador and Distinguished Fellow, TERI, Manjeev Singh Puri, was also addressed by Ministers of Environment from Canada, Norway, Germany, Finland, France, and Spain.

Before moving on to the next speaker, Puri, said he would leave for him (Kerry) two thoughts in terms of global action. “The most important thing is what you want to do in the USA. You may not understand the huge role model impact that would have. The best practices that you would do, for example, electrification of public transport, or the use of green energy or the fact that the coal would be wound down, each and every one matter and then for all of us (remaining countries) they become the comfort zones to turn to,” he said.

“At Glasgow, who announced India’s huge commitment on renewable energy, also spoke about LIFE, which is Lifestyle for Environment. We count on you again, as leaders, the Europeans, the Americans, the Canadians, and of course, all of use, in terms of Lifestyle, if we can move away from profligate consumption, I am sure, there is lots of action in the area of production in any case.” (IANS)

Climate Change Forces Rapid Melt Of Earth’s Highest Glacier

The highest glacier on Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, “may already be a relic from an older, colder, time,” says the scientist who collected the highest ice core on the planet from it for a new study. The South Col Glacier is now losing several decades of ice accumulation every single year, the international team of scientists is reporting.

From April to May 2019, the multidisciplinary team from eight countries conducted a comprehensive scientific expedition to Mt. Everest in the Khumbu Region of Nepal as part of National Geographic and Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Expeditions partnership.

Team members, including 17 Nepali researchers, explored five areas of science that probe environmental changes and their impacts: biology, glaciology, meteorology, geology, and mapping.

They found that Earth’s warmer climate is causing melting and what the scientists call “sublimation.” This happens when the snow top gets removed and the exposed ice, which is darker, absorbs more sunshine than when the top layer of snow was intact. This, in turn, accelerates the glacier’s melt rate, they explain in a new paper in the latest issue of the “Nature Portfolio Journal Climate and Atmospheric Science.”

“The sublimation is like the drip from a leaking dam and the rapid ice loss is what happens when the dam breaks,” explained Mariusz Potocki, a glaciochemist and doctoral candidate in the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, who collected the highest ice core.

The research team investigated the timing and cause of the rapid ice mass loss on the South Col Glacier. At 7,900 meters (26,000 feet) above sea level and just a kilometer below the peak of Mount Everest, this is the highest glacier and one of the sunniest spots on Earth.

“Once South Col Glacier ice was regularly exposed,” Potocki said, “approximately 55 meters of glacier thinning is estimated to have occurred in a quarter-century – thinning over 80 times faster than the nearly 2,000 years it took to form the ice at the surface.”

“It also suggests that the South Col Glacier may be on the way out,” he said. “It may already be a relic from an older, colder, time.”

Potocki and his fellow scientists have three main concerns:

  • The faster the ice accumulation disappears, the more quickly the glacier’s capacity to provide water for the more than the one billion people who depend on it for drinking and irrigation, will also disappear.
  • New impacts can increase the risk of avalanches in the region.
  • Future expeditions to Mount Everest could encounter more exposed bedrock as snow and ice cover continues to thin in the coming decades, potentially making the mountain more challenging to climb. On the other hand, the warming air will mean more oxygen for climbers.

The impacts of climate change on the South Col Glacier have been most intense since the late 1990s, the research team learned.

The study’s lead author Paul Mayewski, serves as scientific and expedition lead, and director of the Climate Change Institute University of Maine.

“It answers one of the big questions posed by our 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition – whether the highest glaciers on the planet are impacted by human-source climate change. The answer is a resounding yes, and very significantly since the late 1990s,” Mayewski declared.

The warming will have a compounding effect on the experience of climbing Mount Everest, the researchers predict. They say the surface on some sections of the route will gradually shift from snowpack to ice to exposed bedrock, and avalanches will become more dynamic due to the instability of the ice.

Glacier melt is even likely to destabilize the Khumbu base camp, home to many Mount Everest climbers and logistics teams throughout the climbing season.

One Third Of US Population Experiences Warmer Temperature

More than a third of the American population is currently experiencing rapid, above-average rates of temperature increase, with 499 counties already breaching 1.5C (2.7F) of heating, a Guardian review of climate data shows.

The US as a whole has heated up over the past century due to the release of planet-warming gases from burning fossil fuels, and swaths of the US west, north-east and upper midwest – representing more than 124.6 million people – have recorded soaring increases since federal government temperature records began in 1895.

Though the climate crisis is convulsing the US, it is doing so unevenly. Hotspots of extreme warming have emerged in many of America’s largest cities, and places as diverse as California’s balmy coast to the previously frigid northern reaches of Minnesota, while other places, particularly in the south, have barely seen their temperatures budge.

“The warming isn’t distributed evenly,” said Brian Brettschneider, an Alaska-based climate scientist who collated the county temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). “Many places have seen dramatic changes, but there are always some places below the average who will think, ‘It didn’t seem that warm to me.’ The impacts differ depending where you are.”

Ventura county in California has heated up more than any other county in the contiguous US, according to the Noaa data, experiencing a 2.6C (4.75F) increase in total warming in the period from 1895 to 2021. Meanwhile, counties that include many of America’s largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston, have all seen their average temperatures rise far beyond the national average, which stands at about a 1C (1.8F) increase on pre-industrial times.

Mark Jackson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service based in Oxnard in Ventura county said the county’s temperature increase was “a remarkable number, it’s a scary number when you consider the pace we are looking at”. Jackson said the county had seen a large increase in heatwaves, including a spell above 37C (100F) last summer that “really stressed” the local community.

Ventura county, which hugs the Californian coast north-west of Los Angeles, is known for a pleasant Mediterranean climate cooled slightly by the proximity of the ocean. But Jackson said that recent heatwaves have seen warm air flow down from mountains in the nearby Los Padres national forest to the coast, while the ocean itself is being roiled by escalating temperatures. “It’s been really remarkable to see it get that hot right up to the coast,” he said.

California is in the grip of its most severe drought in 1,200 years and scientists say this is fueling the heat seen in many places in the state – Los Angeles has warmed by 2.3C (4.2F) since 1895, while Santa Barbara has jumped by 2.4C (4.38F) – by reducing moisture in soils, which then bake more quickly.

Higher temperatures are also worsening the risk of wildfires in the state. “We lost everything,” said Tyler Suchman, founder of online marketing firm Tribal Core who in 2017 fled with his wife to escape a huge wildfire that razed their home in Ojai, in Ventura county. “It was harrowing. The winds were blowing like crazy and the hills lining the highway were all on fire, I had never seen anything like it.”

Just 11 months later, a separate wildfire destroyed the couple’s next home, in Malibu, as their neighbor scooped up water from his hot tub in a desperate attempt to tackle the flames. “No one wants us to move next to them now,” Suchman said. “You can see how the area has changed over the 18 years since we moved to Ojai. It’s a beautiful place but regrettably we can’t live there now, the risk is too great.”

Hotspots of above-average warming are found across the US. Grand county in Utah, a place of sprawling deserts, cliffs and plateaus, is the second fastest warming county in the lower 48 states, while every county in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut has warmed by more than 1.5C (2.7F) since 1895.

It’s the more northern latitudes that have experienced the most extreme recent heat, however, with counties in Alaska making up all of the top six fastest warming places since 1970 (comparable temperature data for Alaska does not go back further than the 1920s). Alaska’s North slope, situated within the rapidly warming Arctic, has heated up by an enormous 3.7C (6.6F) in just the past 50 years.

“There really is a climate shift under way in Alaska, everyone can see things are different than they used to be and everyone is concerned about what the future here will look like,” said Brettschneider, who added that even his teenage children had noticed the retreat of sea ice, an elongating fire season and a dearth of cold days.

The warmth is also melting frozen soils, known as permafrost, causing buildings to subside and roads to buckle. “If you drive on the roads near Fairbanks you better have a strong stomach because it feels like you’re riding a rollercoaster,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy.

Other locations traditionally used to severe cold have also seen sharp temperature increases. Roseau and Kittson counties, in northern Minnesota, are both in the top five fastest warming counties in the lower 48 states, with their warming driven by winters that have heated up by around 3.8C (7F) in the state since modern record keeping began.

Winters are warming more quickly than summers because more heat usually escapes the land during the colder months, but it is now being trapped by greenhouse gases. “Some might say ‘well I like warmer winters’ but people are noticing negative impacts, such as changes to the growing season and the loss of cultural practices such as cross-country skiing races,” said Heidi Roop, a climate scientist at the University of Minnesota. “Even small temperature changes have big consequences.”

Globally, governments set a goal in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to avoid a temperature rise of 1.5C (2.7F) above the pre-industrial era. Beyond this point, scientists say, the world will face increasingly punishing heatwaves, storms, flooding and societal unrest.

While certain areas of the US have already passed 1.5C, the important metric is still the global average, Hayhoe said. “In some places a 2C increase is fine but 2.5C is when the wheels fall off the bus, some locations are OK with 5ft of sea level rise because of their elevation while others can’t cope with 5 in because they are low-lying,” she said. “Local vulnerability is very customized. What’s relevant for communities is whether the world meets its targets or not, it’s a collective target for the world.”

That global threshold is in severe peril, with some forecasts warning that 1.5C (2.7F) could be breached within a decade without drastic cuts to carbon emissions. Communities will need to brace themselves for the consequences of this, according to Roop.

“The warming we are seeing is pushing at the bounds of lived human experience, of what we thought was possible,” she said. “We are paying the costs for that and we need to prepare for the changes already set in motion, as well as to prevent further warming.”

The map of US counties on this article was amended on 6 February 2022 to correct the temperature conversions.

Ancient Indian Temples Are Designated ‘Iconic,’ Worrying Preservationists

Promises of ‘better connectivity, more jobs and more tourists’ sound more like threats to some locals and conservationists.

The ancient, ornately carved Hindu and Jain temples outside this central Indian city have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, and they are on the Archaeological Survey of India’s list of national treasures.

Now, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is moving toward designating the Khajuraho group of Hindu and Jain temples an “iconic tourist destination,” causing many in this area to despair for their future.

V.D. Sharma, a local member of Parliament who belongs to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, recently proclaimed that Khajuraho is on its way to becoming “a world-class tourist destination” with “better connectivity, more jobs and more tourists” — prospects that sound more like threats to some locals and conservationists.

Built over more than a century beginning about 850 A.D. by the warrior kings of the Chandela dynasty, these monuments stand out as the pinnacle of temple architecture in northern India.

Sitting atop ornate terraced platforms, the 25 surviving buildings rise abruptly from their environs in imitation, some say, of Mount Kailash — the Himalayan peak known as the abode of the gods. The structures are carved with numerous scenes from their faiths’ mythological repertoires — both sacred and profane, contributing to India’s reputation as the land of Kama Sutra.

According to news reports, the Modi government has greenlighted more than $6 million for projects in and around Khajuraho. A $4.5 million convention center was launched last year.

“The ‘iconic city’ label is a flawed concept,” said Chinmay Mishra, a cultural activist based in Indore. “Profiteers with no vision are turning spiritual centers into amusement parks.”

Brijendra Singh, a 77-year-old tour guide, has shown visitors around the famed Khajuraho group of Hindu and Jain temples for 52 years.

Singh weaves stories around the profusely carved sculptures depicting acts of worship, human emotions, domestic scenes, amorous couples. He worries that insensitive development could threaten the material remains of Khajuraho culture, while admitting that “sustaining outstanding universal value of heritage is critical.”

Locals are also concerned that a four-lane highway now being built to deliver tourists much closer to Khajuraho will destroy the traditional fabric of Indigenous communities.

“Many houses and temples have been demolished and thousands of trees have been uprooted to widen this highway,” said Devendra Chaturvedi, a local journalist.

Another issue is the possibly destructive effect of increased air traffic. The Khajuraho airport — located a few miles from the main group of temples — has been spruced up with a new terminal building and infrastructure to accommodate more flights. Two flying training academies are being set up on the premises for training aspiring pilots.

The director of the Khajuraho airport, Pradeepta Bej, said no heritage impact assessment has been ordered, to his knowledge. In the late 1990s, a report by the National Physical Laboratory of New Delhi noted occasional higher levels of acoustic excitation around the various temples of Khajuraho.

A former chief scientist of the Delhi-based laboratory, Mahavir Singh, said, “Vibrations above five millimeters per second for a single event could cause cracks in the monuments and heritage properties, so the situation should be monitored at the airport and surrounding areas.”

Others worry that with tourists will come increased encroachments outside the temple grounds.

“Tourism isn’t the only economy,” said Nagvendra Singh, a lawyer who plans to start a grassroots organization aimed at saving the temple town. “What is the government doing about urban encroachments, vehicular pollution, dust pollution and upkeep of monuments?”

Conservationists say the government restoration is a threat in itself. Shoring up temples with plain stones, they worry, and the use of abrasive cleaning techniques could also hasten their deterioration.

A monument attendant said that the temples are being cleaned by unskilled workers who are mostly unsupervised. Further, he noted there are no scientific or chemical restoration plans for their upkeep, posing a threat that they could become piles of plain stones.

Mrudula Mane, a conservation architect based in Ahmedabad, said monuments can’t be frozen in time but proper mitigation measures would arrest their speed of decline. “Chemical treatment has to be done under close supervision,” said Mane. “Abrasive cleaning techniques could exfoliate the sandstone monuments too much and cause erosion.”

According to Mishra, similar government rebuilding efforts elsewhere have harmed their aesthetic value. He pointed to a major refurbishment of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges; Jallianwala Bagh; and Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram in Gujarat.

Residents say Hindu nationalists are also pushing for more rituals at the temples that would misrepresent the Hindu thought and practice the temples stood for. “We can’t change people’s approach to religion,” said Anurag Shukla, a local historian, “but opening up these sites to more rituals or pujas may severely impact heritage.”

According to Shukla, the government’s primary aim is not preservation but to whip up Hindu pride.

In 2018, the Indian Parliament passed the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, allowing the government in New Delhi to finance and carry out “urgent” public works within 100 meters of monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. The original act prohibited any construction around the 100-meter radius.

Shivakant Bajpai, a superintending archaeologist at the Archaeological Survey of India’s Jabalpur circle, under which Khajuraho falls, said the current development scheme would not interfere with conservation, but he deferred questions about an impact assessment at the airport.

“The airport is far away from the protected area,” he said. “We are custodians of cultural heritage, so the airport authorities should be contacted for the fallouts of development.”

Nearby residents said the government has kept them in the dark about what the “iconic” designation means or its implications.

“We are being treated like outsiders in our own lands,” said Om Dubey, who works for a grassroots civil rights group in Khajuraho.

Conservationists said the protection of sacred sites must involve both government agencies and people. Shared responsibility, they say, would spark better dialogues on developing sites versus preserving heritage.

“Preserving Khajuraho’s sacred roots is critical,” said Brijendra Singh. “If development gets precedence over our faith traditions and monuments, what will remain iconic here?”

Hitting Net-Zero Without Stopping Flying

One of the largest producers of carbon emissions is air travel, yet many view flying as a necessary enabler of tourism and international business. One promising way for consumers to take responsibility for their carbon emissions are voluntary carbon offsets (VCOs), which offer air travellers the opportunity to make a small donation to neutralise their carbon footprint. Yet there are conflicting recommendations as to how to encourage consumers to opt into these green initiatives.

Researchers from Copenhagen Business School designed three online experiments to test strategies for increasing consumer participation, which contribute to the aviation carbon offset literature and offer useful new insights for airline companies.

In this study the researchers argue that VCOs have the potential to balance the practical need for air travel with the larger considerations of sustainability, yet current VCO programmes are not effective.

“Despite their potential, few existing studies have explained how to present VCOs so they can effectively appeal to the sensibilities of individual travellers with different travel requirements. More broadly, more participation in VCOs may also increase collective awareness and creates market pressure on institutions to decide to behave responsibly,” says Associate Professor Qiqi Jiang, Department of Digitalization, Copenhagen Business School.

The main findings

The evidence from the research shows that travellers booking flights in the near future are more likely to opt-in to VCOs when they are presented with concrete messages that emphasise specific actions.

In contrast, the research found that travellers flying in the distant future are more likely to opt-in to VCOs when they are presented with abstract messages that emphasise general initiatives.

“We also found choice is useful, especially for those travellers  flying in the near future and receiving concrete messages,” adds Qiqi Jiang.

Specifically, the study suggests that airlines should adjust the presentation of VCO programmes according to the temporal distance to the flight during booking and provide travellers opportunities to select their preferred way to neutralise their carbon footprint.

The study has been published in the Journal of Travel Research.

Promoting sustainable behaviors

“At present, most airlines present only one project that individuals can support with their VCO contribution. Our findings highlight specific conditions (consumers booking flights in the near future) in which multiple options can help encourage consumers to opt in,” says co-author Associate Professor Rob Gleasure, Department of Digitalization, Copenhagen Business School.

The researchers point to the fact that current research on VCO mainly focuses on how personal attributes affect intention to opt into VCO. For example, a certain socioeconomic status or psychological factors were found to significantly influence individual willingness to opt into VCO. Besides, some studies discussed which remedies, e.g., reforestation, renewable energy or helping local communities, can best promote VCO opt-in for specific groups of users. Despite the importance of these findings, the researchers argue they offer limited practical value for practitioners in aviation, as much of the insights require extensive personal data.

“Our proposed strategies only require the airlines to know the date of the flight being booked and provide the options to offset carbon footprint,” adds Rob Gleasure.

Creating actionable solutions

The findings afford actionable solutions for both airline companies and policymakers. “For airline companies, they can adopt our suggestions on the dynamic presentation of VCO messages to increase the likelihood of VCO opt-in. Consequently, the airline companies can raise more money from VCOs to fight against the climate challenge and boost social responsibility. Growing adoption of VCOs may also highlight the practice and motivate policymakers to enforce additional regulation on corporate VCO projects and expenditures,” adds Qiqi Jiang.

In addition to the practical focus of the research, the researchers highlight that much of what persuades consumers to opt into sustainable behaviours is not the projects themselves but the manner in which they are presented.

“We also reconcile some contradictory advice by showing why appealing to principles is useful in some circumstances and not in others, why providing details is useful in some circumstances and not in others, and why providing options is useful in some circumstances and not in others. This helps to accommodate a range of green causes and users with different values and interests,” Qiqi Jiang concludes.

Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status May Impact Patient Outcomes after Heart Surgery

India’s Environment Minister Yadav Discusses Climate With US Envoy John Kerry

India’s Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav on Monday had a telephonic call with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry where the two of them discussed wide range of issues including India’s ambitious climate action targets announced during the COP26.

Taking to Twitter after he spoke with Kerry late in the evening, Yadav tweeted: “Productive phone call with US Climate Envoy Mr John Kerry. We agreed to take forward India-US Climate Actions & Finance Mobilisation Dialogue. a India is on track to achieve Paris Accord & COP26 commitments in accordance with PM Shri Narendra Modi ji’s LIFE mantra. (sic)”

Both the leaders discussed taking forward the India US Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue (CAFMD) through the four identified pillars, Climate Ambition, Finance Mobilisation, Adaptation and Resilience, and Forestry, a statement from the Environment, Forests and Climate Change Ministry said.

Yadav highlighted the importance and need to focus on L.I.F.E i.e., Lifestyle For Environment, the one-word campaign championed by Prime Minister Modi at Glasgow during the high-level segment at the annual climate change summit COP26.

The leaders also discussed the upcoming meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF), the statement said.

The US on November 10 had joined the International Solar Alliance (ISA) as the 101st member country. Kerry had signed the framework agreement of the ISA to catalyse global energy transition through a solar-led approach.

Prior to it, on September 13, Yadav and Kerry had jointly launched the CAFMD, which is one of the two tracks of the India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 partnership launched at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April 2021 by Prime Minister Modi and US President Joe Biden.

Earth, One Of God’s Failed Experiments?

Could the Earth be one of the trillions of experiments God is running throughout the universe? If so, will it be a failed experiment?

Humankind’s sacred Scriptures, written in prescientific times, often portray the Earth and humanity as the center of the universe. Recent scientific discoveries have suggested that this is not so. It is time to update our theological imaginations.

I spent New Year’s weekend bingeing on NOVA’s five-part series on astronomy, “Universe Revealed,” which premiered in October. It beautifully describes the findings of NASA’s astronomical satellites, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope.

We have learned that our Milky Way is one of 2 trillion known galaxies in the universe. Our galaxy alone has 200 billion stars and most of these stars appear to have planets. The probability of intelligent life somewhere in our galaxy or in another galaxy is high, given these numbers.

Why would God create such a huge universe with so many possible sources of life if he did not want thousands of species to bloom? Do we think that God has so little imagination that we are the only possibility he could come up with?

This is humbling for the human species, which thinks that it is the most important thing in the universe. It means that we are just one of God’s many children — and probably not the most important. We may be in our infancy in comparison with our siblings in other parts of the universe.

A Hubble photo shows but a small portion of one of the largest seen star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. Captured here are the top of a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and the dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. Photo courtesy of NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Perhaps the universe is incredibly huge so that God could provide “social distance” between all his experiments so that they would not cross-contaminate.

As for us, God has granted us a very beautiful and rich planet, made from star dust. He has given us intelligence with which we have gained great power for both good and evil.

And yet he appears to have included a fail-safe in the human experiment: If we do not evolve morally, we will destroy ourselves before we can reach the stars and pollute the rest of the universe.

The human experiment can fail, and if so our failure will not be God’s failure. God gives us every chance, but we can blow it. That is what we call free will. But he has other experiments running throughout the universe, and some of them will succeed.

On the other hand, we may also succeed and join our other siblings in the universe in discovering God’s plan for uniting himself with the cosmos

Pope Benedict XVI described the risen Christ as the next step in human evolution. That evolution is a spiritual consciousness that puts service above domination, puts generosity above greed and puts love above self-indulgence.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit paleontologist, had a similar vision of the universe, infused with the Spirit, evolving into the Cosmic Christ. Do we want to be part of that evolution or will we fight it?

Perhaps we do have a special place in the universe. Perhaps like Bethlehem, Earth is a backwater in the universe that has something worth sharing. I hope so. But unless our spiritual development matches our scientific development, the human experiment will fail.

International Day of Mountains: Rescuing the Stone Giants

December 11, 2021 was the International Day of Mountains and this year’s theme is “Sustainable Mountain Tourism”. For me, mountains are both a source of recreation and an important resource.

Mountains are home to 15% of the world’s population and they attract nearly 15-20% of global tourism. Mountains host almost 50% of the biodiversity hotspots worldwide and provide freshwater to humanity for survival every day.

However, mountains have not escaped the climate crisis. Himalayan glaciers are melting faster than anywhere in the world and plastic microfibers have been found even in the highest peaks.

And this is why, I give back to the Himalayas by keeping them litter free and reintroducing a circular economy at the third pole of the world. A circular economy is possible only if we factor in the carrying capacity of our mountains, an aspect we often overlook. The never ending demands of tourists and dying belongingness of indigenous communities is adding fuel to the fire. I believe that local growth comes from locally sourced produce and local skills. Small is beautiful and sustainable – just think of homestays over luxury hotels for example!

To further this vision across the Himalayas, our team at Healing Himalayas strives to preserve our mountains and make our planet a better, safer place. We have collected more than 800 thousand kilos of non-biodegradable solid waste and engaged more than 7000 volunteers on ground. We have built one waste collection center in Kinnaur so far to handle source segregation and eventually recycling. In the year 2022 we are aiming to build another three centers in Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti.

Along with the ground action we encourage travellers and communities to be ethically mature, adopt sustainable lifestyle changes, and respect every species that inhabits our planet with us. It is through this that I believe we can bring about true change and see our mountains as providers and not as a resource.

Why India, Russia Blocked Move To Take Climate Change To UNSC

India and Russia have blocked a proposal that would have allowed the UN Security Council to deliberate on climate-related issues. What is the UNSC’s role in such issues, and why was the proposal opposed?

A contentious proposal to authorise the UN Security Council to deliberate on climate change-related issues was rejected on Monday after veto-wielding Russia and India voted against it. The draft resolution, piloted by Ireland and Niger, had been in the making for several months, and sought to create a formal space in the Security Council for discussions on climate change and its implications on international security.

This was the second time in weeks that India went against the tide to block a climate change-related proposal that it did not agree with. At the annual climate change conference in Glasgow last month, India had forced a last-minute amendment in the final draft agreement to ensure that a provision calling for “phase-out” of coal was changed to “phase-down”.

The UN already has a specialised agency, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC, for discussing all matters related to climate change. The parties to the UNFCCC — over 190 countries — meet several times every year, including at a two-week year-ending conference like the one at Glasgow, to work on a global approach to combat climate change. It is this process that has given rise to the Paris Agreement, and its predecessor the Kyoto Protocol, the international instrument that is designed to respond to the climate change crisis.

The Security Council, on the other hand, exists primarily to prevent conflicts and maintain global peace.

For the last few years, however, a few European countries, led by Germany, have been pushing for a role for Security Council in climate change discussions as well, arguing that climate change had an international security dimension. Climate change-induced food or water shortage, loss of habitat or livelihood, or migration can exacerbate existing conflicts or even create new ones. This can have implications for the UN field missions that are deployed across the world in peacekeeping efforts.

The draft resolution piloted by Ireland and Niger was not the first attempt at bringing climate change on Security Council’s agenda. Last year, a similar, stronger resolution was proposed by Germany. However, it was never put to vote because of possible objections from the United States, which had made it clear that it would block any such attempt with a veto. Germany’s two-year term at the Security Council was over last year, but the proposal had other backers, and Ireland and Niger agreed to refresh the draft resolution. With the US position shifting decisively under new President Joe Biden, the draft resolution had realistic chances of getting approved if China and Russia, the known opponents of the proposal, had agreed to abstain.

Telling Numbers |Changing monsoon patterns over 30 years, and 2021 trends

On the face of it, the draft resolution seemed academic in nature. It called for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to submit a report on security aspects of climate change in the next two years. It also asked the Secretary General to appoint a special envoy for climate security. Further, it asked UN field missions to regularly report on climate change assessments in their areas of operation and take the help of climate experts in carrying out their routine functions.

UNSC and climate change

Although it is not the forum to discuss climate change, the Security Council and its secretariat has hosted a few debates and informal discussions on the subject in the past. According to a recent research report, the frequency of such discussions has increased significantly since 2017, with climate change finding a mention in several Security Council decisions as well. It said several European countries, initially led by Sweden and the Netherlands, began to make efforts towards integration of the security implications of climate change in the Security Council’s work.

The same year, one of the UN’s visiting missions in Lake Chad region heard from Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou about how the shrinking of Lake Chad, a direct consequence of climate change, had contributed to the rise of the Boko Haram. Issoufou told the mission that the lake had lost 90 per cent of its surface area since the 1960s, which had destroyed livelihoods of local communities which became fertile ground for Boko Haram to grow. The research paper said this account of the Nigerian President left an impression on several UNSC members.

The objections

Russia and China, two permanent members with veto powers, have always been opposed to the move to bring climate change on the Security Council agenda. While the US switched sides this year, India, which started a two-year term in January, joined ranks with Russia and China. Brazil, which will join the Security Council next year, is also known to be against this move.

The opposing countries have been arguing that the UNFCCC must remain the appropriate forum for addressing all climate change-related issues, and claim the Security Council does not have the expertise to do so. They have also been pointing out that unlike UNFCCC, where decisions are taken by consensus of all the 190-plus countries, the UNSC would enable climate change decision-making by a handful of developed countries.

“We therefore need to ask ourselves what is it that we can collectively do under this draft resolution which we cannot achieve under the UNFCCC process. Why is it that one needs a UN Security Council resolution to take action on climate change when we have commitments made under UNFCCC towards concrete climate action. The honest answer is that there is no real requirement for this resolution except for the purpose of bringing climate change under the ambit of the Security Council and the reason for that is now decisions can be taken without involvement of most developing countries and without recognising consensus,” India’s permanent representative to the UN T S Tirumurti said. “Today, climate change decisions are sought to be taken out of the wider international community represented in the UNFCCC and given instead to the Security Council. Ironically, many of the UNSC members are the main contributors of climate change due to historical emissions. If the Security Council indeed takes over the responsibility on this issue, a few states will then have a free hand in deciding on all climate related issues. This is clearly neither desirable nor acceptable,” he said.

While the draft resolution was said to have the support of more than 100 countries, Russia said many developing countries had been backing it in the hope that they would get some assistance in fighting climate change.

Asia Society Calls For Art Addressing Climate Change As Part Of New Awards

Responding to the urgency of accelerating climate change, Asia Society and the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation are launching the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards, which will recognize visual artists currently enrolled in or recently graduated from MFA programs in the United States whose work directly addresses the climate crisis. Organized in collaboration with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Gallery of Art, and The Phillips Collection, the award is designed to foster climate change awareness through the imagination and insights of an upcoming generation of visual artists. The Environmental Defense Fund will join these cultural institutions to share expertise and propagate the award in the environmental advocacy community.

Through an open call launching on January 10, 2022, the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards will be conferred to three winning artists, selected by a jury comprised of leaders from the collaborating institutions. Each artist will receive $15,000 and be honored in April 2022 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The awards have been organized in conjunction with COAL + ICE, an immersive exhibition featuring more than 40 documentary photographers and video artists from around the world, that seeks to visualize the climate crisis. COAL + ICE will be on view at the Kennedy Center from March 15 through April 22, 2022.

“Building on the Foundation’s recent Frankenthaler Climate Initiative, which supports U.S. art museums in mitigating their own environmental impacts, the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards seeks to raise further awareness by recognizing artists whose work sheds light on and responds to the climate crisis. We are pleased to be partnering with Asia Society in the creation of these new awards,” said Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Smith.

“A new generation is bringing fresh perspectives to our global response to climate change and we look forward to discovering what young emerging artists, whose lives are inextricably enmeshed with the climate crisis, have to say about this pivotal issue for humanity,” said Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations, who spearheaded the COAL + ICE exhibition.

Speaking on behalf of the collaborating organizations and the jury, Dorothy Kosinski, Vradenburg Director & CEO of The Phillips Collection, said, “The importance of this topic is reflected in how our institutions have come together to spotlight a new generation of artists tackling the climate crisis. Climate awareness is among our most consequential priorities as cultural institutions working today.”

Starting January 10, 2022, eligible artists and collectives will be invited to submit video artworks (e.g. digital video art, animation, film) or videos about visual artworks (e.g. documentation of tactile artworks, such as sculptures or paintings, or performance works) that tackle the climate change emergency via an online portal at Videos must not be longer than 5 minutes. Applicants must be either currently enrolled in a U.S.-based fine/visual art MFA program or will have graduated from such a program in the past 5 years. They must reside in the United States, with the exception of students currently enrolled in U.S.-based programs but pursuing their studies remotely due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

A shortlist of finalist artists will be released in February, and their videos will be made accessible online at The shortlisted videos will also be displayed on a dedicated channel and as featured selections on the homepage of ikonoTV, the global art media aggregator. The three winners will then be selected from among the finalists by a jury comprised of leaders from four of the collaborating institutions: Melissa Chiu, Director, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Molly Donovan, Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Art; Dorothy Kosinski, Vrandenburg Director & CEO, The Phillips Collection; and Michelle Yun Mapplethorpe, Vice President for Global Artistic Programs at Asia Society and Director of Asia Society Museum, New York.

Further details of the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards, including application guidelines, may be found at and on Instagram.
@ClimateArtAwards. #ClimateArtAwards #ArtForClimateAction

Strategic and operational support provided by András Szántó LLC.

András Szántó LLC assists museums, cultural organizations, commercial brands, foundations, and educational institutions worldwide in all phases of the conceptualization and implementation of cultural initiatives, from strategy to execution to the creation of exceptional content.

Quest Begins To Drill Antarctica’s Oldest Ice

Efforts are about to get under way to drill a core of ice in Antarctica that contains a record of Earth’s climate stretching back 1.5 million years. A European team will set up its equipment at one of the highest locations on the White Continent, for an operation likely to take four years. The project aims to recover a near-3km-long cylinder of frozen material.

Scientists hope this ice can help them explain why Earth’s ice ages flipped in frequency in the deep past.

“Beyond EPICA”, as the project is known, is a follow-up to a similar venture at the turn of the millennium called simply EPICA (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica).

The new endeavour will base itself a short distance away from the original at Little Dome C, an area located roughly 40km from the Italian-French Concordia Station, on the east Antarctic plateau

At an altitude of 3,233m above sea level and over 1,000km from the coast, Little Dome C will be an inhospitable place to work. Even in summer, temperatures won’t get much above -35C.

The camp where the drill team will base itself was set up in the 2019/20. This coming season will largely be about putting in the necessary drilling infrastructure. But the technicians do aim to at least start on their core quest by getting down beyond the first 100m.

This should take the borehole past the lightly compacted snow layers, or firn, into the impervious ice layers that are the real interest for scientists. The deep ice in Antarctica contains tiny bubbles of air. These little gas pockets are a direct snapshot of the historic atmosphere.

Scientists can read off the levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping components, such as methane.

Analysing the atoms in the water-ice molecules encasing the gases also gives an indication of the temperature that persisted at the time of the snowfall that gave rise to the ice.

The previous ice core showed temperature and carbon dioxide moving in lock-step

When researchers drilled the original EPICA core, they uncovered a narrative of past climate temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide stretching back 800,000 years.

It’s become one of the key climate data-sets of recent decades.

It showed that CO2 and temperature moved in lock-step. Whenever the Earth went into an ice age and temperature fell, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would also decline. And when the climate warmed back up again, the CO2 rose in parallel.

These cycles occurred roughly every 100,000 years – a phasing that is most likely linked to slight shifts in the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit (a larger or smaller ellipse) around the Sun.

But it is recognised from an alternative record of past climate, which has been deciphered from ocean sediments, that deeper back in time the ice age cycle was much shorter – at about every 41,000 years.

That is a period probably dominated by the way the Earth tilts back and forth on its axis. But why the switch occurred, no-one is really sure. The new Beyond Epica core may contain some clues if its ices can extend the climate narrative back to 1.5 million years ago.

“We believe this ice core will give us information on the climate of the past and on the greenhouse gases that were in the atmosphere during the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT), which happened between 900,000 and 1.2 million years ago,” said team-leader Carlo Barbante, the director of the Institute of Polar Sciences of the National Research Council of Italy.

“During this transition, climate periodicity between ice ages changed from 41,000 to 100,000 years: the reason why this happened is the mystery we hope to solve.” Beyond EPICA camp was set up during the 2019/20 Antarctic summer season.

To achieve an 800,000-year record, the original EPICA project drilled to a depth of 2,774m. The bedrock at Little Dome C is just over 2,800m down. The extra 700,000 years being sought by the new project should be in the additional metres of layered ice.

“We already have the 800,000 years of ice, so much of the first few years of drilling will simply be a repeat of ice we already have,” explained Robert Mulvaney from the British Antarctic Survey.

“In practice, with many new PhD students coming online, and new groups getting involved, and new analytical techniques always being developed, we will make good use of the ice younger than 800,000 years.

“We will also use the younger ice to ensure our techniques are working well by the time we get to the deep ice, where we only get one chance to get all the analyses right,” he told BBC News.

Beyond EPICA is funded by the European Union. UK scientists are allowed to participate because the money comes from a period when Britain was still a part of the 27-member-state bloc.

UN Plans To Drastically Expand Plastic Waste Management In India

The United Nations Development Programme aims to almost triple its plastic waste management to 100 cities in India by 2024, A UNDP executive said, to combat the damaging effects of plastic pollution.

Across India’s many towns and cities, which are often ranked among the world’s most polluted, the absence of an organized management of plastic waste leads to widespread littering and pollution.

The UNDP program, which began in 2018, has so far collected 83,000 metric tonne of plastic waste. India generates about 3.4 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, according to official estimates.

 “In India although about 60% of plastic is recycled, we are still seeing the damage that plastic pollution is causing,” Nadia Rasheed, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP India, said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference broadcast on Friday.

The UNDP is working with federal think tank, NITI Aayog and have jointly developed a ‘handbook’ model for local municipalities as well as the private sector.

“In a country like India with nearly fifth of the world’s population, a key challenge is how do we make these models scalable,” Rasheed said in an interview recorded on Nov. 22.

The government needs stricter enforcement on controls around dumping of plastic waste and has a “long way to go” to raise awareness among households, Rasheed said, adding there was a need for investment into research for alternatives.

The program suffered a setback after the COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread increase in waste, including medical plastic waste, and hit livelihoods of collectors, who often work in hazardous conditions.

“There was a real need to expand waste collection efforts and that was coming at the same time as lot of (COVID-19 related) restrictions were disrupting the normal waste collection,” Rasheed said.

Plastic pollution is set to triple by 2040, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has predicted, adding 23-37 million metric tons of waste into the world’s oceans each year.

India, also the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, has set 2070 as a target to reach net-zero carbon emissions, much later than those set by others and twenty years after the U.N.’s global recommendation.

Fisker Unveils ‘World’s Most Sustainable Vehicle’ As Electric Vehicle Competition Heats Up

It seems among the investor community, all everyone talks about are the EV (electric vehicle) stocks – and only the big ones at that – Tesla (TSLA), Rivian (RIVN), and Lucid (LCID).

One EV company that’s been flying under the radar, that is until it had big news at this year’s Los Angeles Auto show is Fisker Inc (FSR).

Fisker, founded and run by legendary automotive designer Henrik Fisker, unveiled the production version of its Ocean EV SUV.

Overall it’s a competitive package, penned by Henrik himself, and in top trim form the Ocean is targeting over 350 miles of range from an all-wheel drive, dual motor setup pumping out 540 horsepower.

While those are noteworthy figures, there are other EVs that can match these figures in that price range (around $65,000 for the higher end Ocean). The real twist here is the base Ocean, called the Ocean Sport, that will use a smaller range battery (targeting around 250 miles of range), and a single-motor front wheel drive, that will start — before any state and local incentives — at $37,499.

At that price level, no one so far, even Tesla, can match that price in the premium EV landscape. Yahoo Finance spoke to Henrik Fisker at the LA auto show about how the company plans to make this pricing work.

“We have a whole asset-light business model — it’s a little bit like Apple (AAPL), Foxconn, if you want — in terms of we concentrate on the product, the marketing, the design, the development, and then we outsource manufacturing,” Fisker said from the company’s imposing stand on the convention floor. “We don’t have to put thousands of dollars [in] each car because we have to keep the lights on in the factory, and pay real estate taxes and whatever it all is.”

Fisker is using large contract manufacturer Magna (MGA) to build its Ocean SUV. Magna makes cars and large components for clients like BMW (BMWYY), GM (GM), and even Ferrari (RACE).

In addition, one area that puts upward pressure on the price tags of EVs are batteries. Fisker is using CATL, the world’s largest battery manufacturer, to make a custom package for the Ocean, using cheaper LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery cells for the Ocean Sport model, and more energy dense nickel manganese cobalt cells for the extended range Ocean trim levels.

On top of all that, Fisker wants this car to be the most sustainable car on the planet — hence the name “Ocean.”

“So the idea with this vehicle is to make it the world’s most sustainable vehicle, so we’ve got a solar roof that can give you up to 1,500 miles for a year, we’ve got a fully vegan interior with recycled materials,” he says. Even all the carpets are made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets from the ocean, and the carbon fiber elements on the car and the wheels are, you guessed it, recycled.

With 20,000 reservations in the order book right now, the company is seeing good interest in a car that won’t see the streets until the third quarter of 2022. But this is according to plan.

Fisker understands that production, versus prototyping, is hard. Tesla’s Elon Musk says this almost on a weekly basis. It’s in an extremely complicated process that requires proper systems, technical partners, and of course, capital, to get right.

The challenge for EV startups, Fisker says, is how to ramp up and produce several hundred thousand vehicles a year — and not take 10 years to do it. This is where Fisker’s partner Magna comes into a play, with its capability to produce thousands of cars of year, coupled with new capital raises the Fisker has made this year ($1 billion through its SPAC IPO and $600 million in a debt offering), to invest in R&D and acquire know-how and parts from technical partners. It’s the only way startups can compete with the GMs and Fords (F) of the world.

“A car is made of about 1,500 parts or even more, depending on how many screws you count, and all these parts have to come in just in time. They have to be put together exactly at the right time in the right sequence,” Fisker says. “I think most EV startups underestimate that. it has taken the traditional car industry many, many decades to perfect this, and that’s what they’re really good at.”

Earth Has A Second Moon

It’s easy to be brand loyal to the moon. We’ve only got the one, after all, unlike Jupiter and Saturn, where you’d have dozens to choose from. Here, it’s luna or nada. Or not. The fact is, there’s another sorta, kinda moon in a sorta, kinda orbit around Earth that was discovered only in 2016. And according to a new study in Nature, we may at last know how it was formed.

The quasi-moon—named Kamo’oalewa, after a Hawaiian word that refers to a moving celestial object—is not much to speak of, measuring less than 50 m (164 ft) across. It circles the Earth in a repeating corkscrew-like trajectory that brings it no closer than 40 to 100 times the 384,000 km (239,000 mi.) distance of our more familiar moon. Its odd flight path is caused by the competing gravitational pulls of the Earth and the sun, which continually bend and torque the moonlet’s motions, preventing it from achieving a more conventional orbit.

“It’s primarily influenced just by the sun’s gravity, but this pattern shows up because it’s also—but not quite—on an Earth-like orbit. So it’s this sort of odd dance,” says graduate student Ben Sharkey of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, the lead author of the paper.

None of this means that Kamo’oalewa has to have especially exotic origins. The solar system is littered with asteroids, some of which are captured by the gravity of other planets and become more conventional—if fragmentary—moons. Others don’t orbit other planets in the common way but fall into line in front of them or behind them and pace them in their orbits around the sun, like the flocks of so-called Trojan asteroids that precede and trail Jupiter.

Either way, Kamo’oalewa was bound to get attention because its composition posed a stubborn mystery. Asteroids tend to reflect brightly in certain infrared frequencies, but Kamo’oalewa just doesn’t. It’s dimmer somehow—clearly made of different stuff, which suggests a different origin.

To investigate the mystery, Sharkey, under the guidance of his PhD adviser, planetary scientist Vishnu Reddy, first turned to a NASA-run telescope in Hawaii routinely used for studying Earth-vicinity asteroids. But even through the usually reliable instrument, the infrared signature seemed too faint. Instead they switched to a University of Arizona-run monocular telescope that, as Sharkey says, could “squeeze every last ounce of photons out of that object.”

That produced better, clearer results, but still they were incomplete. The rock was made of common silicates like other asteroids, but they were common only in their general composition, not in their infrared signature, which remained stubbornly off.

At last, the answer suggested itself. If Kamo’oalewa was behaving like a sort of quasi-moon, perhaps it was an artifact of the actual moon. Earlier in Sharkey’s PhD program, one of his advisers published a paper on lunar samples brought back by the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. When Sharkey compared the data he was getting in his telescope with what the earlier geologists came up with in the rock lab, the results matched perfectly. The kind of space-weathering lunar silicates undergo when they’re still on the surface of the moon precisely accounted for the differences in the infrared reflectivity between common asteroids and Kamo’oalewa.

“Visually, what you’re seeing is weathered silicate,” says Sharkey. “The eons of exposure to space environment and the micrometeorite impacts, it’s almost like a fingerprint and it’s hard to miss.”

How Kamo’oalewa shook free of our lunar companion is no mystery. The moon’s been getting bombarded by space rocks for billions of years, resulting in all manner of lunar debris getting ejected into space (nearly 500 bits of which have made it to the surface of the Earth as meteorites). Kamo’oalewa is one such piece of lunar rubble that spiraled away from the moon. But rather than landing on Earth or simply tumbling off into the void, it found itself a quasi-satellite in its own right.

“We see thousands of craters on the moon, so some of this lunar ejecta has to be sticking around in space,” says Sharkey. Kamo’oalewa won’t stick around all that long, as its current trajectory is not entirely stable. According to estimates from Sharkey and others, the object will remain an earthly companion for only about 300 more years—nothing at all on the cosmic clock—after which it will break free of its current gravitational chains and twirl off into the void. Originally a part of the moon, then a companion of Earth, it will spend the rest of its long life traveling on its own.

Glasgow, Greta, And Good Intentions

Both anxiety and hope are increasing in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. There is anxiety because, barring a handful of the willfully blind, we can all see the damage we are doing to the planet. Fires, floods, and rising sea levels are creating havoc around the world, while environmental destruction and the resulting conflict are triggering large-scale refugee movements that evoke biblical images.

But there is also hope, because some—not least the climate activist Greta Thunberg, with her longstanding and heartening call for more ambitious action—recognize the scale of the challenge facing humanity. In that spirit, the European Union has launched the European Green Deal, which aims to make the EU carbon-neutral by 2050.

The United States also aims to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, and recently announced that it would double its financial contribution to help developing countries tackle the climate crisis, to $11.4 billion per year. Some U.S. lawmakers, notably Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, have proposed a Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to redesign the U.S. economy and eventually eliminate all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

When we see climate action trail so far behind rhetoric, we inevitably wonder if all the talk is just hypocrisy. But it need not be.

Yet, despite these efforts, the fact is that we started out late in combating climate change and now need to accelerate corrective action if humans are not to go the way of the dinosaurs. The climate crisis is a global issue and requires action from all countries, but many developing economies, including some of the most climate-vulnerable ones, lack the financial wherewithal to do enough on their own. Some emerging economies, including South Africa and much of South and Southeast Asia, are hugely reliant on coal, and will have to undergo a disruptive green transition.

We therefore need a collective commitment to design support systems—financial and scientific—to help all countries do their part. The 2015 Paris climate agreement was a diplomatic success, marshaling the support of almost 200 countries. But the world is falling woefully short of meeting the target—limiting global warming to 1.5º Celsius, relative to preindustrial levels—that was agreed in Paris.

Will the gathering in Glasgow catalyze genuine action? Thunberg recently warned that “the leaders will say we’ll do this and we’ll do this, … and then they will do nothing.” And the widespread frustration at leaders’ insufficient climate ambition is not limited to young people. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II expressed a similar sentiment, saying that “it’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.”

Such despair is natural. When we see climate action trail so far behind rhetoric, we inevitably wonder if all the talk is just hypocrisy.

But it need not be. If we want to bequeath a livable planet to future generations, it is crucial to understand why there may be a disjuncture between what each person intends to do and what the group actually delivers. Iconic games like the prisoner’s dilemma have shown this to be the case in the domain of selfish decision-making. Mobilizing the determination and commitment needed to address the climate crisis is a problem for the social sciences and moral philosophy as much as it is for politicians.

Contrary to what neoclassical economics would have us believe, the modern economy does not operate as a series of impersonal markets driven purely by the aspirations of individual actors. Rather, as Mariana Mazzucato notes in her book “Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism,” markets are “embedded in rules, norms, and contracts affecting organizational behavior, interactions, and institutional designs.”

It is therefore a mistake to equate collective action with the sum of individual intentions. When people say they want to do everything to avert climate disaster but do little, this may not be hypocrisy. They may be in the grip of what I have described in a recent paper as “Greta’s Dilemma.”

In this game, a group of people initially pursue their own interests, with no concern for how the environmental damage caused by their actions will harm future generations. If people then become environmentally conscious and take corrective action, traditional economic models would predict that such a shift will lead to improvements in future generations’ welfare.

But in the complex, strategically connected world that we inhabit today, the outcome may be different. Greta’s Dilemma illustrates the paradoxical result whereby individuals who become environmentally conscious collectively do greater damage to the environment. Akin to one of those paradoxical paintings by M.C. Escher, it is the intertwining of small individual steps that lead the group to a destination they did not seek. Far from helping future generations, they end up hurting them.

Admittedly, this game is crafted deliberately to highlight the paradox. But it shows that, in today’s complex global economy, we need to devote much greater attention to the strategic foundations of human interaction in order to design policies that can help us turn away from the brink of climate disaster.

This may sound like a narrow academic argument, but it is not. If we are to realize Thunberg’s ambition, which I believe many people—including many leaders—genuinely share, we need to use Greta’s Dilemma as a basis for designing the policies and institutions we need.

So, although we are right to fret that leaders may not do enough at COP26, we also have to be aware that there is a scientific problem here. On climate change and other issues, we need to understand the social and economic game we are playing, and try to alter its rules so that our individual moral intentions are reflected better in collective outcomes.

Reshma Kosaraju Wins Children’s Climate Prize

A teenager from Saratoga, California, has won the prestigious Children’s Climate Prize for Reshma Kosaraju, 15, of Saratoga, California, won the Children’s Climate Prize for 2021.

The Children’s Climate Prize is an international prize annually awarded to young people taking actions to bring sustainable solutions for the planet, according to the website of the organization.

Fifteen year-old Reshma Kosaraju’s project notes that fires are a natural part of a forest’s ecosystem, but the underlying conditions have changed.

The project, ‘AI against forest fires’ created by her can predict forest fires with almost 90% accuracy, said the press release.

Reshma uses open data, such as temperature, humidity, wind speed, soil moisture and human behavior to, with the help of AI, calculate where and when the probability of a forest fire occurring is greatest.

“Reshma hopes the Children’s Climate Prize will draw attention to her project, so that more people can become aware of the AI model’s existence,” the website said.

Forest fires have become a global problem, causing over 339,000 premature deaths worldwide – and threatening biodiversity by destroying animals and nature, the press release says.

The jury which selected Reshma as the winners had the following to say about her work —

Climate change and forest fires mutually reinforce each other and wildfires, today, are in many locations larger, more intense and longer lasting. Forest fires have increasingly become a global and topical issue.

Reshma represents the best of youth entrepreneurship: brave, innovative and solution-oriented. Her model uses AI and technology in an innovative and savvy way in order to accurately predict the risk of forest fires while also accounting for the independent variables of climate, weather and human behavior. A clear and scalable business concept, with a global approach to accessibility. This is an example of an extraordinary and creative solution based on a systemized approach.

The prize celebrates and sheds light on young innovators, entrepreneurs, changemakers and conservators in order to spread hope and inspire others, the website said.

The Children’s Climate Foundation awards the prize annually, works for a long-term perspective and makes it possible for others to partner in the initiative.

The winners of the Children’s Climate Prize are celebrated at a gala event in Stockholm, Sweden. They receive a diploma, medal and prize money of SEK 100,000 to continue developing their projects.

The Children’s Climate Prize was founded in 2016 by Telge Energi, the Swedish frontrunner in renewable energy. Winners over the last several years have been of Indian origin – Aadya Joshi, 17, of Mumbai, in 2020 for her project ‘The Right Green’ on deforestation; Vinisha Umashankar,13, of Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, also in 2020, for her project ‘The Solar Ironing Cart’; Shreya Ramachandran, 16, of Fremont, in 2019 for her project ‘The Grey Water Project’’; and Nav & Vihaan Agarwal, 12 and 15 years old respectively, also in 2019, for their project ‘One Step Greener.’

Glossing Over in Glasgow – Some Thoughts on COP26

A week has gone by since COP 26 with 197 Parties ended in the Scottish city of Glasgow on extended time last Saturday. Climate change which covers wide array of issues affecting all living beings engaged the people around the world for COP 26 in a way never experienced since COP1 was held in Berlin in 1995.

Extensive and round-the-clock media coverage, huge presence of the civil society, activism by the young people, substantive advocacy by large number of non-governmental organizations, even the creatively decorated conference venue – all gave COP 26 a profile never seen before.

Before Glasgow, 25 annually convened sessions of COPs have been held by Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted in New York in May 1992 which “determined to protect the climate system for present and future generations”. But never in the history of COPs there was an occasion when the Parties publicly negotiated to change the outcome document which was televised around the world as in the Glasgow COP.

As is natural for such multilateral gatherings, reactions to the question whether COP 26 was successful were different from the Parties and other entities engaged in the process. Efforts to gloss over following COP 26 left the common people uncertain and unsure whether there was really any forward movement in Glasgow.


What was somewhat intriguing that speaking for the United Nations system as a whole, the Secretary-General expressed his disappointment about the compromise reached in the outcome commenting “…unfortunately the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions.”

He even warned “It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero.” At the same time, Secretary-General’s rather confusing, ill-composed comment in his remarks at the conclusion of COP 26 that “We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe” left many wondering what he was trying to convey.

Even more intriguing is that where was his leadership as the universally accepted global leader in getting rid of those contradictions he was complaining about.? On the other hand, the Executive Secretary entrusted with the responsibility of organizing COPs was upbeat about the outcome and may be reflecting another contradiction in Glasgow. COP 26 also invited the UN Secretary-General to convene world leaders in 2023 to consider ambition to 2030 dangling the traditional carrot of expectation to the people of the world.

Alok Sharma touch

Let me bring out a very uniquely remarkable thing that happened in COP 26 as its UK-appointed full-time President Alok Sharma openly and visibly choked back tears saying “I am deeply sorry” as he banged his gavel for the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact.

His emotions and true feelings came out spontaneously as he was considerably upset by the proposal of India, joined by China, to change the expression “phase out” relating to coal consumption as agreed to by all till the moment of adoption.

India replaced that phrase with “phase down” thereby watering down the consensus intent of the Parties at COP 26. President Sharma expressed his apologies for the way things evolved in changing the agreed COP 26 outcome negotiated under his leadership and which he was about to gavel down. In my half a century of engagement in multilateral diplomacy,

I am not aware of any conference chair apologizing ever for his inability to protect the best interest of the participants in the outcome. Bravo to Alok Sharma for that honesty and integrity! He has shown the way to all future chairs that they can openly and courageously pronounce their failure identifying those who are dragging their feet destroying a forward-looking outcome.

It was also impressive the way President Sharma asserted the reality with his pithy comment that we have kept 1.5 Celsius alive “but its pulse is weak”.

Loss and Damage

The insensitivity of the Parties and their self-centered policy positions were starkly manifested in the decision relating to a major issue known as “Loss and Damage”. Not much media highlight was given to this very relevant item on COP 26 agenda. Even the UN’s Climate Change website does include in its list of topics.

I am sure many readers are picking their brains trying to recall the issue. “Loss and damage” is used within the COP process to refer to the harms caused by anthropogenic climate change. Establishing liability and compensation for loss and damage has been a long-standing goal for vulnerable and developing countries in the Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries Group in negotiations.

However, developed countries have resisted this. At Glasgow, the developing countries lamented the outcome on loss and damage. They had called for a financial mechanism for loss and damage, but the outcome on loss and damage only included strengthening the existing technical support functions, and expectedly more empty and rejectionist talks to convene from 2022 to 2024.

The existing UNFCCC mechanism created by COP 19, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, focuses on research and dialogue rather than liability or compensation.
Tasneem Essop, Executive Director, Climate Action Network succinctly described COP 26 as “a clear betrayal by rich nations – the US, the EU and the UK- of vulnerable communities in poor countries.”

She went on to say that by blocking the proposal of the developing countries representing 6 billion people, on the creation of a Glasgow Loss and Damage Finance Facility “rich countries have once again demonstrated their complete lack of solidarity and responsibility to protect those facing the worst of the climate impacts.

Referring to close-door pressure tactics, Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) regretted that “The COP Presidency has overnight been bullied into dropping the Glasgow Loss and Damage Finance Facility. The UK’s words to the vulnerable countries have been proven to be totally unreliable.”

Natalie Lucas, Executive Director, Care About Climate very forcefully spoke about the loss and damage issue and expressed total disappointment commenting that “Developed nations, including the US, have not risen to the challenge to do what is necessary to protect people. We have missed the train on mitigation, on adaptation, and now it is colliding into the most vulnerable people.”

At the end the Glasgow Climate Pact pitifully agreed “to enhance understanding of how approaches to averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage can be improved”. It clearly reflects how the “powerful” of the world impose their totally irrelevant and illogical position on the poorest and most vulnerable humanity.

About the Glasgow outcome, globally respected eminent economist Jeffrey Sachs rightly opined “That leaves us stuck between the reality of a devastating global climate crisis and rich countries’ nationalist politics…” He articulated further that “The financial failures at COP26 are both tragic and absurd … Financing for “losses and damages,” that is, to recover and rebuild from climate disasters, fared even worse, with rich countries agreeing only to hold a “dialogue” on the issue.”

Kowtowing to the obstinacy of the developed countries, UN Secretary-General insensitively tried to console the developing world by his non-committal words saying “I want to make a particular appeal for our future work in relation to adaptation and the issue of loss and damage.”

He was oblivious that the Climate Change Convention of 1992 of which he is the depository asserts that “The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology and will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”

Civil society

At Glasgow, the civil society engagement and advocacy for forward-looking actions fell on deaf ears of the leaders and negotiators. The civil society was separated from the so-called Blue Zone at the conference center where the wheeling-dealing was taking place.

If the civil society seriously wants a space to be heard and make an impact on the outcome of COP processes, it should ask for that opportunity clearly offered to them in all future climate negotiations. Protesting outside and commenting on the social media have limited value in influencing the decision-makers.

Even Greta Thunberg’s disparaging slogan “blah, blah, blah …” was laughed away by the leaders. COP 26 outcome proves that in a terribly frustrating manner. For COP 27 next year, the mode of operations for the civil society participation needs to change.

American climate scientist and author Peter Kalmus articulated that “The one thing the climate summit in Glasgow made clear is that human society remains in business-as-usual mode, with no meaningful curb on fossil fuel use. The soft pledges made at COP 26 might have been acceptable decades ago, but not now.”

He went on to highlight that “Unless COP26’s failure is recognized as failure, there is no way to learn from it. Allowing global leaders to feel that what happened in Glasgow was acceptable – and spinning it as some sort of success – would be a disastrous mistake.”

The whole COP process is flawed if the powerful Parties can brush aside the wishes of countries representing a huge majority of the world population just like that. Developing countries need to join together to stop this circus and find another approach.

“Phase down” – the new mantra

There has been strong criticism of the last-minute and veto-like proposal to replace “Phase out” by “Phase down” at the final moments of the Glasgow gathering. But “phase down” has always been the position of the worst and historically responsible polluters of the world who would prefer to follow their own pace for addressing the climate crisis.

Be it emissions control, be it fossil fuels, be it financing, be it adaptation, be it mitigation, be it loss and damage, be it transfer of technology, “phase down” mode has always been the preferred way of doing business by the developed world. India has only taken a dubious lead in actually introducing the phrase in a formal COP outcome.

The global community would find more and more such instances as the climate change negotiations evolves in the coming years. “Phase down” is the new mantra of the climate change negotiators. Be prepared for that. Sorry!  (Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury is former Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations and former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations.)

Climate Change Will Destroy Environments, Undermine Efforts To Protect Sea Life

Newswise: Climate change is altering familiar conditions of the world’s oceans and creating new environments that could undermine efforts to protect sea life in the world’s largest marine protected areas, new research from Oregon State University shows.

The changing conditions also have cultural and economic implications for the people whose traditions and livelihoods are dependent on ocean resources, said James Watson, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and the paper’s co-author.

“What we’re looking at here is the potential extinction of a whole environment,” said Watson, who specializes in marine social-ecological systems and understanding complex adaptive systems. “In some places, the environments we have today are not going to exist in the future. We won’t be able to go visit them or experience them. It is an environmental, cultural and economic loss we can’t replace.”

The researchers’ analysis of multiple climate scenarios showed:

60% to 87% of the ocean is expected to experience multiple biological and chemical changes, such as increases in water temperature, higher levels of acidity and changes in oxygen levels, by the year 2060.

The rate of change is expected to be even higher, 76% to 97%, in very large marine protected areas such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve in Ecuador.

Increases in pH, which measures ocean acidity, are expected as soon as 2030. Ocean acidification reduces the amount of carbonate in seawater, which is necessary for marine organisms, such as corals and mollusks like oysters, to develop their shells and skeletons.

The findings were published this week in the journal One Earth. The paper’s lead author is Steven Mana‘oakamai Johnson, who conducted the research as part of his doctoral dissertation at Oregon State. Johnson, who earned his Ph.D. earlier this year, is now a postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University.

The concept for the paper was borne from conversations between Johnson, a native of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Western Pacific Ocean, and Watson, a native of England, about what is likely to be lost due to climate change. One thing is the disappearance of ocean conditions they each experienced as children.

“All of us have experiences we define as normal under a given set of environmental conditions,” said Johnson, who is has already witnessed climate change impacts such as a devastating coral bleaching event in Saipan.

“Properties such as temperature, acidity and oxygen levels define what a given part of the ocean looks like. For both James and me, the ocean experience we grew up with and have memories of will likely not exist for our grandchildren.”

Using the last 50 years of ocean conditions as a measure of stability, the researchers used several climate models to see how six variables affecting ocean conditions might change as the planet warms. They used three warming scenarios with increasing degrees of severity.

“Our scenarios included likely, unlikely and highly unlikely degrees of warming, all of which are warmer today than they were 20 years ago,” Johnson said. “In all three scenarios, conditions in more than half of the ocean are going to be novel, meaning new and significantly different, than they have been in the last 50 years.”

Much of the change occurs in the ocean’s two extremes: the tropics and the Arctic. The warmest places are seeing warming conditions never seen before, and the coldest places, like the Arctic, are no longer as cold as they once were. The researchers also found that most of those changes will occur by 2060, though most of the change in pH, or acidity, levels is expected much sooner, by the end of the decade.

The change is more pronounced for the very large marine protected areas that are designed to preserve threatened species and rare habitats such as coral reefs around the world. As ocean conditions change, animals in those protected areas are likely to seek other locations that are more favorable for their survival.

“These marine protected areas are an important tool for achieving conservation goals and can take a lot of political and social will to establish and work as intended,” Johnson said. “In our analysis, 28 out of 29 of these areas will experience changes in conditions that could undermine conservation goals.”

The researchers’ findings present a picture of what the future might hold as the planet continues to warm, Johnson said. The research also offers important information to communities, policymakers and managers of protected habitats about how changing ocean conditions might impact them and how they might address those changes.

“For example, tuna thrive in certain ocean conditions. If the ocean gets too warm, the tuna may move to another area,” Johnson said. “If your country depends on tuna for food or livelihood, what impact will that have?

“Or if you’re a manager of a protected area, and you’re protecting a species that is no longer in the area, what do you do?”

This type of forecasting advances how climate change is quantified, Watson said. It also gives people an opportunity to come to terms with the trauma of what is being lost as well as begin to make plans for a future without those resources.

“This kind of work has been done before for changes on land due to climate change, but not for the ocean,” he said. “It’s important to acknowledge and accept what were are likely to lose, and that loss can also help motivate people to begin to adapt.”

Indian Panorama At IFFI 52 Held In Goa

With a promise to unfold stories collected from nook and corners of India on the big screen, the Indian Panorama Section opened on Sunday at the 52nd International Film Festival of India held in Goa.

Anurag Singh Thakur, Union Minister of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting inaugurated the opening ceremony of the 52nd IFFI. Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, Governor of Himachal Pradesh was also present on the occasion. The inaugural ceremony introduced the audiences to IFFI’s official selection of 24 Feature and 20 Non-Feature films under the Indian Panorama 2021 category for this year.

Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, Governor of Himachal Pradesh along with the Thakur felicitated the filmmakers and the cast and crew of the opening films, ‘Semkhor’ (Feature) and ‘Ved- The Visionary’ (Non-feature), and presented to them Certificates of participation.

Congratulating the filmmakers, the Union Minister, said, “You all have attempted and struggled to bring stories from the remote corners of the country. Now, content is king and if you create the right content, it will go not only National but to the International level. We have the talent among us and with all your help; we will take IFFI to new heights”. He also remembered Late Manohar Parrikar, who was instrumental in bringing IFFI to Goa’s shores.
Thakur also said that “Earlier we saw that only actors, directors, and producers were being awarded in Film festivals but now we are also honoring the technicians, the background people whose work make to a film complete.” He also urged international filmmakers to come and shoot in India.

Addressing the gathering Arlekar, said “I am not a Film Critic or an ardent follower of Films, but I have always watched the Indian Panorama, how our films reflect our society. I say this with pride that the Indian films have beautifully reflected and showed the aspirations, needs, and struggles of our society.”

The opening film in the Feature film category, ‘Semkhor’, which was screened in the Indian Panorama Section is the first-ever Dimasa language film to be screened in the Indian Panorama Section. Aimee Baruah, Director of the film, thanked IFFI for the honor and recognition of the film. She added that the film Semkhor deals with social taboos and through the film, she tried to bring forth the struggles faced by the Dimasa Community in Assam.

Rajiv Prakash, Director of the opening film in the Non-feature film category, ‘Ved- The Visionary’, remarked that, “It is the story of my father’s resilience, fortitude in the field of film-making. The movie shows his endeavors which shall remain embedded in history of cinema.”

The Jury members of the feature and non-feature films were also honored with Certificates of participation on the occasion.

The Indian panorama is a flagship component of the IFFI under which the best contemporary Indian films are selected for the promotion of film art. It was introduced in 1978 as part of the IFFI umbrella to promote Indian Films and India’s rich culture and cinematic art.

Actress and Mathura MP Hema Malini was honoured with the Indian Film Personality of the Year Award at the 52nd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here on Saturday.

The award, which is conferred upon an outstanding Indian film personality for his or her extraordinary contribution to the world of cinema, was presented to the actress jointly by the Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Loganathan Murugan, and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

Hema Malini, who made her acting debut in 1963 with the Tamil film ‘Idhu Sathiyam’ and later made her entry into Hindi cinema as the lead actress of ‘Sapno Ka Saudagar’ in 1968, has acted in a number of films, many of which, including ‘Sholay’, went on to become superhits.

When TV host and comedian Manish Paul, who was co-hosting the event with Karan Johar, asked Hema Malini for her favourite character from among the scores she had played in her long career, the actress replied, “All of them. Everyone does a role thinking that this will be her best.”

When Paul persisted, she first said ‘Lal Pathar’, and then went on to reel out a series of names. ‘Lal Pathar’, incidentally, was one of the rare films where Hema Malini played a negative role, that of a jealous mistress of a zamindar.

The 52nd edition of the International Film Festival of India that commenced on November 20 in Goa will run till November 28. (ANI)

Pope Urges Youth To Protect Environment

Pope Francis on Sunday praised young people for their efforts to protect the Earth’s environment and told them to “be the critical conscience of society.” Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, filled with hundreds of young faithful, to mark a church day focused on youth in dioceses worldwide. “You have

Pope Francis on Sunday praised young people for their efforts to protect the Earth’s environment and told them to “be the critical conscience of society.”

Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, filled with hundreds of young faithful, to mark a church day focused on youth in dioceses worldwide.

“You have been entrusted with an exciting but also challenging task,” the pontiff said, ”to stand tall while everything around us seems to be collapsing.”

Francis expressed thanks “for all those times when you cultivate the dream of fraternity, work to heal the wounds of God’s creation, fight to ensure respect for the dignity of the vulnerable and spread the spirit of solidarity and sharing.”

He noted that many young people have criticized environmental contamination.

“We need this,” Francis said.

The pontiff said that in a world that “thinks only of present gain, that tends to stifle grand ideals, you have not lost the ability to dream.”

“Be free and authentic, be the critical conscience of society,” Francis exhorted young people.

Social justice and care of the environment have been key messages of his papacy.

The pope is expected to meet with young people from all over the world at the Catholic church’s jamboree in Lisbon, Portugal, in August 2023.

Indian Brothers Win Children’s Peace Prize For Waste Project

Indian brothers Vihaan and Nav Agarwal won a prestigious children’s prize Saturday for a project they launched that aims to reduce waste and pollution and plant trees in their home city of New Delhi.

Vihaan, 17, and his 14-year-old brother, Nav, were handed the International Children’s Peace Prize by Indian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi at a ceremony in The Hague, Netherlands. They said they plan to use the prize and the recognition it brings to expand their network across India and beyond.

“Our thought process is that we need to get the whole world zero waste. And that means not only India, not only going to every single city, every town, every village, but to actually share this message with the whole world,” Vihaan told The Associated Press in an interview a day before the award ceremony.

The brothers got the idea to begin their garbage separation and recycling project, One Step Greener, following a collapse in 2017 at a Delhi landfill and a cloud of pollution that descended over the city the next day. Vihaan has and poor air quality often requires him to stay inside.

The One Step Greener project now visits more than 1,500 homes, schools and offices throughout sprawling Delhi as the brothers and their organization work toward a goal they call “Zero Waste India.”

Vihaan said the success of One Step Greener should serve as a lesson for world leaders tackling climate change and pollution. “You have to be practical and think of solutions that are easy for people,” he said.

“As we saw with One Step … when we did a door to door pickup, it was exceptionally easy for people to just leave their waste outside. So you have to find these solutions, and there are plenty of young people who are finding these solutions all over the world. You have to encourage them.”

The award includes a study and care grant for the brothers and a fund of 100,000 euros, half of which goes to their project. The other half is invested by prize organizer KidsRights in other projects to support children’s rights.

KidsRights founder Marc Dullaert urged governments to do more to reduce pollution. “All children have an inherent right to life and to health,” he said. “How are more than 90% of children in the world breathing toxic air?”

Previous winners of the prize include include Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

200 Nations Agree On Pact To Save Earth From Climate Change Glasgow Climate Pact Diluted After India, China Force Amendment On Emission From Coal

The two-week global conference ended with a historic agreement between the 200 national delegations who agreed to, for the first time, to target fossil fuels as a key driver of global warming in a bid to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050 in an effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The historic and much needed Glasgow Climate Pact 2021 was adopted on Saturday, November 13th, which is a mixed bag of modest achievements and disappointed expectations. The achievements include a tacit consensus on a target of keeping global temperature rise down to 1.5 degrees Celsius with the Paris Agreement target of 2 degrees being no longer appropriate to the scale of the climate emergency. The notional target of 2 degrees remains but the international discourse is now firmly anchored in the more ambitious target and this is a plus.

The Pact is the first clear recognition of the need to transition away from fossil fuels, though the focus was on giving up coal-based power altogether. The focus on coal has the downside of not addressing other fossil fuels like oil and gas but a small window has opened.

Even as the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres conceded that the final agreement was “a compromise”, several vulnerable nations were left disappointed as the deal made no mention of the $100 billion a year in funding that high-income countries had promised, in 2009, for five years starting 2020 to help low-income countries move away from fossil fuels. While the UN will come out with a report next year on the progress of delivering the funding, the issue of finance will now be taken up only in 2024 and 2026.

“This is just a very small step forward. The pace is extremely slow. We are moving in inches when we need to gallop in miles,” said Harjeet Singh, senior advisor with Climate Action Network International, a large group of NGOs working in climate space.

The original draft had contained a pledge to “phase out” coal. India introduced an amendment at the last moment to replace this phrase with “phase down” and this played negatively with both the advanced as well as a large constituency of developing countries. This was one big “disappointment”.

This amendment reportedly came as a result of consultations among India, China, the UK and the US. The phrase “phase down” figures in the US-China Joint Declaration on Climate Change, announced on November 10. As the largest producer and consumer of coal and coal-based thermal power, it is understandable that China would prefer a gradual reduction rather than total elimination. India may have had similar concerns. However, it was inept diplomacy for India to move the amendment and carry the can rather than let the Chinese bell the cat. The stigma will stick and was unnecessary.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken centerstage at Glasgow during its early high-level segment thanks to the absence of Xi Jinping. His commitment to achieving net-zero carbon by 2070 compared favorably with China’s target date of 2060. His announcements of enhanced targets for renewable energy were also welcomed. However, the favourable image wore thin by the end of the conference with India declining to join the initiatives on methane and deforestation. India’s ill-considered amendment on the phasing out of coal pushed the positives of its position off the radar.

According to India’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav, the change in phraseology was reflective of “national circumstances of emerging economies” as the agreement had initially “singled out” coal but was turning a blind eye to emissions from oil and natural gas, with the final agreement reflecting a “consensus that is reasonable for developing countries and reasonable for climate justice.”

According to UNEP, adaptation costs for developing countries are currently estimated at $70 billion annually and will rise to an estimated $130-300 billion annually by 2030. A start is being made in formulating an adaptation plan and this puts the issue firmly on the Climate agenda, balancing the overwhelming focus hitherto on mitigation.

There is now a renewed commitment to delivering on this pledge in the 2020-2025 period and there is a promise of an enhanced flow thereafter. But in a post-pandemic global economic slowdown, it is unlikely these promises will be met. In any event, it is unlikely that India will get even a small slice of the pie. As long as ambitious targets are not matched by adequate financing, they will remain ephemeral.

The same applies to the issue of compensation for loss and damage for developing countries who have suffered as a result of climate change for which they have not been responsible. This is now part of the multilateral discourse and the US has agreed that it should be examined in working groups. That is a step forward but is unlikely to translate into a meaningful flow of funds any time soon.

The most important is an agreement among 100 countries to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. India is not a part of this group. Methane is a significant greenhouse gas with a much higher temperature forcing quality than carbon — 28 to 34 times more — but stays in the atmosphere for a shorter duration.

Another group of 100 countries has agreed to begin to reverse deforestation by 2030. Since the group includes Brazil and Indonesia, which have large areas of forests that are being ravaged by legal and illegal logging, there is hope that there will be progress in expanding one of the most important carbon sinks on the planet.

Going beyond the Glasgow summit and climate change, a noteworthy development was the US-China Joint Declaration on Climate Change. This was a departure for China, which had held that bilateral cooperation on climate change could not be insulated from other aspects of their relations. The November 10 declaration implies a shift in China’s hardline position but this may be related to creating a favourable backdrop to the forthcoming Biden-Xi virtual summit on November 15. US Climate Envoy John Kerry and China’s seasoned climate negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, were seen consulting with each other frequently on the sidelines of the conference. It appears both countries are moving towards a less confrontational, more cooperative relationship overall. This will have geopolitical implications, including for India, which may find its room for manoeuvre shrinking.

How should one assess the Glasgow outcome?

There is more ambition in the intent to tackle climate change but little to show in terms of concrete actions. These have been deferred to future deliberations. Enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are expected to be announced at a meeting next year and further deliberations are planned on the other pledges related to Adaptation and Finance. There are no compliance procedures, only “name and shame” to encourage delivery on targets. As in the past, the can has been kicked down the road, except that the climate road is fast approaching a dead-end. What provides a glimmer of light is the incredible and passionate advocacy of urgent action by young people across the world. This is putting enormous pressure on governments and leaders and if sustained, may become irresistible.

Glasgow delivered some important successes. In response to the demands from the developing countries, and in keeping with the commitment of Paris Agreement, a new process has been initiated to define a global goal on adaptation. The Paris Agreement has a global goal on mitigation, defined in terms of temperature targets. It seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in amounts sufficient to keep the rise in global temperatures to within 2 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times, while pursuing efforts to limit this under 1.5 degree Celsius.

But a similar goal for adaptation has been missing, primarily because of difficulties in setting such a goal. Unlike mitigation efforts that bring global benefits, the benefits from adaptation are local or regional. There is no uniform global criteria against which adaptation targets can be set and measured.

In a big concession to major economies like India, China or Brazil, the COP26 has allowed old carbon credits, earned under the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms, to be traded in the new carbon market being set up, provided these credits have been earned after 2012. Countries have been allowed to use these credits to achieve their emission reduction targets till 2025.

Climate Talks Draft Agreement Expresses ‘Alarm And Concern’

Governments are poised to express “alarm and concern” about how much Earth has already warmed and encourage one another to end their use of coal, according to a draft released Wednesday of the final document expected at U.N. climate talks.

The early version of the document circulating at the negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland, also impresses on countries the need to cut carbon dioxide emissions by about half by 2030 — even though pledges so far from governments don’t add up to that frequently stated goal.

In a significant move, countries would urge one another to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels” in the draft, though it has no explicit reference to ending the use of oil and gas. There has been a big push among developed nations to shut down coal-fired power plants, which are a major source of heat-trapping gases, but the fuel remains a critical and cheap source of electricity for countries like China and India.

While the language about moving away from coal is a first and important, the lack of a date when countries will do so limits the pledge’s effectiveness, said Greenpeace International Director Jennifer Morgan, a long-time climate talks observer.

“This isn’t the plan to solve the climate emergency. This won’t give the kids on the streets the confidence that they’ll need,” Morgan said.

The draft doesn’t yet include full agreements on the three major goals that the U.N. set going into the negotiations — and may disappoint poorer nations because of a lack of solid financial commitments from richer ones. The goals are: for rich nations to give poorer ones $100 billion a year in climate aid, to ensure that half of that money goes to adapting to worsening global warming, and the pledge to slash emissions that is mentioned.

The draft does provide insight, however, into the issues that need to be resolved in the last few days of the conference, which is scheduled to end Friday but may push past that deadline. Still, a lot of negotiating and decision-making is yet to come since whatever emerges from the meetings has to be unanimously approved by the nearly 200 nations attending.

The draft says the world should try to achieve “net-zero (emissions) around mid-century.” That means requiring countries to pump only as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as can be absorbed again through natural or artificial means.

It also acknowledges “with regret” that rich nations have failed to live up to the climate aid pledge.

Poorer nations, which need financial help both in developing green energy systems and adapting to the worst of climate change, are angry that the promised aid hasn’t materialized.

“Without financial support little can be done to minimize its debilitating effects for vulnerable communities around the world,” Mohammed Nasheed, the Maldives’ parliamentary speaker and the ambassador for a group of dozens of countries most vulnerable to climate change, said in a statement.

He said the draft fails on key issues, including the financial aid and strong emission cuts. “There’s much more that needs to be done on climate finance to give developing countries what they need coming out of here,” said Alden Meyer, a long-time conference observer, of the European think-tank E3G.

The document reaffirms the goals set in Paris in 2015 of limiting warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, with a more stringent target of trying to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) preferred because that would keep damage from climate change “much lower.”

Highlighting the challenge of meeting those goals, the document “expresses alarm and concern that human activities have caused around 1.1 C (2 F) of global warming to date and that impacts are already being felt in every region.”

Small island nations, which are particularly vulnerable to warming, worry that too little is being done to stop warming at the 1.5-degree goal — and that allowing temperature increases up to 2 degrees would be catastrophic for their countries.

“For Pacific (small island states), climate change is the greatest, single greatest threat to our livelihood, security and wellbeing. We do not need more scientific evidence nor targets without plans to reach them or talking shops,” Marshall Islands Health and Human Services minister told fellow negotiators Wednesday. “The 1.5 limit is not negotiable.”

Separate draft proposals were also released on other issues being debated at the talks, including rules for international carbon markets and the frequency by which countries have to report on their efforts.

The draft calls on nations that don’t have national goals that would fit with the 1.5- or 2-degree limits to come back with stronger targets next year. Depending on how the language is interpreted, the provision could apply to most countries. Analysts at the World Resources Institute counted that element as a win for vulnerable countries.

“This is crucial language,” WRI International Climate Initiative Director David Waskow said Wednesday. “Countries really are expected and are on the hook to do something in that timeframe to adjust.’’ Greenpeace’s Morgan said it would have been even better to set a requirement for new goals every year.

In a nod to one of the big issues for poorer countries, the draft vaguely “urges” developed nations to compensate developing countries for “loss and damage,” a phrase that some rich nations don’t like. But there are no concrete financial commitments.

“This is often the most difficult moment,” Achim Steiner, the head of the U.N. Development Program and former chief of the U.N.’s environment office, said of the state of the two-week talks.

“The first week is over, you suddenly recognize that there are a number of fundamentally different issues that are not easily resolvable. The clock is ticking,” he told The Associated Press.

November 19th Will Have Longest Partial Lunar Eclipse In 580 Years

On November 19, stargazers can enjoy a partial lunar eclipse which will also be the last lunar eclipse of the year. This will also be the longest eclipse in 580 years.

On November 19, stargazers can enjoy a partial lunar eclipse which will also be the last lunar eclipse of the year. The last time such a lengthy partial eclipse occurred was on February 18, 1440, and the next time a similar one will occur on February 8, 2669.

A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon, but not in a perfect line. A small part of the moon gets covered by the Earth’s shadow and we can see a reddish Moon. It is also called the frost moon or beaver moon. Full moons in November earned this name as this is the time of first snowfall and frost, and beavers start building their dams or traps.

The partial lunar eclipse will be visible from North America, South America, Eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Region.

In India, a small part of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam will experience the partial eclipse, and those from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand can see the end part of the penumbral eclipse. A penumbral lunar eclipse takes place when the Moon, Sun, and Earth are imperfectly aligned and the Moon moves through the outer part of Earth’s shadow called the penumbra.

Dr Debiprosad Duari, Director, Research & Academic at MP Birla Planetarium, Kolkata explains: “The partial eclipse will start around 12:48 IST and will end at 16:17 IST. The duration of the partial eclipse hence will be for 3hrs 28 minutes and 24 seconds, making it the longest eclipse of the 21st century and the longest in almost last 600 years.”

“The penumbral eclipse preceding and succeeding the umbral partial eclipse will begin at around 11:32 IST and end at 17:33 IST. At the maximum partial eclipse, at around 14:34 IST, 97% of the Moon will be covered by the Earth’s shadow and the Moon may appear to be blood red in colour, which happens when the red part of the sunlight passes through the Earth’s atmosphere get least deflected and falls on the Moon giving it a reddish tinge.”

The next total lunar eclipse will be on May 16, 2022, but it will not be visible from India. India will experience a total lunar eclipse on November 8, 2022.

Obama Urges World To Do More At Climate Summit

Former President Obama made an appearance at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow where he praised the global community for making “meaningful progress” on tackling the climate crisis, while warning “we are nowhere near where we need to be yet.” 

Obama, whose administration helped negotiate the 2015 Paris Agreement that pledged to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), said nations “have not done nearly enough to address this crisis.”

The 44th U.S. president commended the private sector’s push to set net-zero emissions targets and also touted emissions reductions targets set in the U.K. and the European Union, while pointing out the absence of Chinese and Russian leaders from the summit.

GLASGOW, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Barack Obama returned to the international spotlight Monday in Glasgow, urging young people to pressure their leaders to do more to combat climate change.

Agreeing with youth campaigners, Obama said “time is really running out.” “You are right to be frustrated,” he said. “Folks in my generation have not done enough to deal with a potentially cataclysmic problem that you now stand to inherit.”

Obama told U.N. delegates that he found it “particularly discouraging” to see the leaders of China and Russia skip the Glasgow talks. Minutes later, he called out Republican politicians back home for hindering progress on climate action.

Russian, Chinese and others’ “national plans so far reflect what appears to be a dangerous lack of urgency and willingness to maintain the status quo on the part of those governments, and that’s a shame,” he said. Obama arrived at the start of the crucial second week of the U.N. summit, as negotiators work to iron out the details of an agreement that will clarify and strengthen the 2015 Paris Agreement climate pledges.

He also sought to assure world leaders that the United States was indeed back at the negotiating table as a credible partner. “I recognize that we are living in a moment when international cooperation has atrophied – in part because of the pandemic, in part because of the rise of nationalism and tribal impulses around the world, in part because of a lack of leadership on America’s part for four years” under former U.S. President Donald Trump, who weakened climate protections.

Obama appeared on a panel with leaders from island nations vulnerable to climate-fueled sea level rise. Speaking directly to Obama, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama noted that the United States and other developed nations failed to meet a 2020 deadline for offering $100 billion a year in promised funding for those countries. Rich nations now say the funds will be available in 2023.

“Among others, the USA is woefully short of paying its fair share of climate finance,” Bainimarama said. “Now we, the most vulnerable, are told to suck it up and wait.”

Obama tried to shine a light on progress made since the Paris deal, which his administration helped broker. But he acknowledged that deal was only meant as a starting point, with countries expected to “constantly ratchet up” their ambitions. “Most nations have failed to be as ambitious as they need to be,” he said.

Biden is “constrained in large part by the fact that one of our two major parties has decided not only to sit on the sidelines but express active hostility toward climate science,” Obama lamented. Obama said he is convinced that President Joe Biden, his former vice president, will get the U.S. Congress to pass a bill to spend $555 billion on climate change.

105 Countries At Climate Summit Pledge To Limit Methane

The  announcement on November 2nd, 2021 by 105 countries, representing two thirds of the global economy, joining a U.S. and E.U.-led coalition to cut up to 40% of methane emissions by 2030 has been the most positive outcome from the ongoing Climate Summit from Glasgow.

Despite the fact that the world’s biggest methane emitters—China, Russia and India, which together contribute 35% of methane emissions—have not signed on, it’s a significant step that could go a long way toward meeting the climate conference’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The Global Methane Pledge announced today at COP26 in Glasgow, UK, commits signatories to reducing their overall emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, compared with 2020 levels. The US government also published a detailed blueprint of how it intends to meet the goal.

The new initiative emphasises making cuts by tackling methane leaking from oil and gas wells, pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure. Significant amounts of the gas also come from other sources, such as livestock farming and decaying waste in landfill sites.

While international climate summits usually focus mostly on carbon dioxide, the dominant driver of the 1.1°C of global warming that has occurred since pre-industrial levels, methane is responsible for about 30 per cent of global warming to date, and atmospheric concentrations of the gas have surged since 2007, sparking concern from scientists.

Methane is the second-largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide and is responsible for more than a quarter of current global warming, says Ilissa Ocko, senior climate scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). “Cutting methane is the fastest, most effective way to slow down warming now.” The pledged reductions alone would slash warming projections by 0.2°C, according to the United Nations Global Methane Assessment.

According to analysts, Methane emission reductions from oil and gas production are the low-hanging fruit of the climate crisis: easy to fix with existing technology, and easy to track. Methane is the principal component of the natural gas used for cooking, heating and energy generation.

Human activity accounts for about 60% of global methane emissions annually, and about a third of that comes from the fossil fuel industry, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2020 Methane Tracker. Unlike carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of fossil fuel combustion, no one wants to actually emit methane, it’s just that up until recently, no one noticed, or cared, if it escaped into the atmosphere.

The Paris Agreement called for holding temperature rise to “well below 2°C,” and the countries gathered in Paris called upon the U.N.’s climate science arm to research the effects of climate change at a 1.5°C limit. The resulting report warned that even that seemingly low level of temperature rise would be catastrophic and, in doing so, galvanized a push for a more ambitious climate agenda. Today, 1.5°C is the reference point for business leaders, government officials and activists alike.

The Glasgow pledge has been hailed as “game-changing” by US president Joe Biden, who has worked with the European Union to lead the initiative. “One of the most important things we can do to keep 1.5°C in reach is reduce our methane emissions,” he said. Biden said he would tackle US methane emissions using regulations from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department for Transportation, which has responsibility for some gas pipelines.

In yet another big announcement made, over 100 countries have pledged to end global deforestation by 2030, with rich countries agreeing to send $19 billion dollars in public and private finance to help forested countries keep trees in the ground. It’s not the first such promise—40 countries already committed to the 2030 target in 2014. But advocates say the scale of the new deal, which covers 85% of the world’s forests, is promising, as are accompanying initiatives announced by businesses and the finance sector.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced his country would cut methane emissions from its sizeable oil and gas industry by 75 per cent by 2030. That is how fast the International Energy Agency says methane emissions will need to be cut if the world is to reach net zero by mid-century.

The voluntary pledge is backed by 15 of the world’s biggest methane emitters including the European Union, Indonesia and Iraq. In total, 105 countries have signed up and John Kerry, the US president’s special envoy on climate, said he expects the number to grow.

India Announces Net Zero Emissions Goal For 2070

India has promised to cut its emissions to net zero by 2070 – missing a key goal of the COP26 summit for countries to commit to reach that target by 2050. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged on Monday, November 1st, 2921 in his speech at the opening of the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, a target that climate advocates recognized as further off than is ideal but potentially transformative for the world’s third-largest emitter.

The announcement—which was accompanied by four other climate-related targets, all light on detail—caught climate advocates by surprise, given that Indian officials have previously rejected global pressure to make such a commitment, saying as recently as last week that net-zero goals were not the solution to the climate crisis. The Indian leader is one of more than 120 leaders to have gathered in Glasgow for the two-week conference.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Glasgow, England for the climate summit, has announced that the country would make one billion-ton reduction in projected emissions from now until 2030.  He also increased India’s previous climate targets on renewable energy and non-fossil fuel energy made during the Paris Agreement.

India is the world’s fourth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, the US and the EU. But its huge population means its emissions per capita are much lower than other major world economies. India emitted 1.9 tons of CO2 per head of population in 2019, compared with 15.5 tons for the US and 12.5 tons for Russia that year.

A net-zero target refers to the date by which a country plans to be adding no more carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases to the earth’s atmosphere than it sucks out of it, using carbon-absorbing plants and still-developing technologies. Dozens of countries have set net-zero targets over the last few years, with most wealthy nations, including the U.S., the U.K., Japan and others, opting for a 2050 goal. China, Saudi Arabia and Russia have all recently pledged to hit net-zero by 2060.

It’s not immediately clear if India’s 2070 net-zero target refers only to carbon dioxide emissions, which is responsible for around 80% of the warming effect that is driving up global temperatures, or to emissions of all greenhouse gases.

The 20-year lag behind other powerful nations’ targets may make India’s goal seem unambitious. If other major emitters were to align efforts along similarly extended time frames, the world would have no hope of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.

But Ulka Kelkar, climate director of the India chapter of the World Resources Institute, a prominent scientific research group, says India’s goal has to be considered in the context of a developing country. Developed countries have used fossil fuels to power their industrialization for centuries and therefore have more resources available now to transition away from them.

“If it is net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, then I would say it’s on par with Western commitments,” Kelkar told a press call Monday evening. “The fair comparison, I would say, is not with the U.S. and Europe as of today, but with the U.S. and Europe of 20 or 30 years ago. That’s where we are in our development trajectory.”

India’s developing economy is still heavily reliant on coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, which makes up 70% of its energy production. Coal consumption in the country has increased by 39% over the last decade, and, because it has a population of 1.3 billion people, almost half of them under 25, the International Energy Agency says that India’s energy needs will rise by more than any other country over the next 20 years.

Kelker admitted that it would “of course” have been better to have an earlier target, but said that the announcement would have a significant impact by setting a “direction of travel” for India’s economy. ”Net zero became a topic of public discourse only six months ago. Just having this concept understood in India is going to give a very strong signal to all sectors of industry and society. So this coming from the Prime Minister is going to be pretty transformative.”

Modi also announced that by 2030, India would shave 1 billion metric tons off its projected carbon emissions and reduce the carbon intensity of its economy—how much carbon is emitted to generate a unit of economic activity—by 45% from 2005 levels. That’s up from the 33%-35% target it submitted in Paris in 2015. The country also plans to get half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, increasing its non-polluting energy capacity to 500GW, up from a 450GW goal set in 2015.

A lot remains unclear about these targets. Modi did not specify, for example, against what baseline the plan to reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion metric tons by 2030 is set. In 2019, India emitted 2.62 billion metric tons of CO2. The baseline that the government ends up using will likely be higher, Kelker says.

In any case, reaching these targets will be a challenge. As of July 2021, India had 96.96 GW of renewable-energy capacity—representing 25.2% of its total power generation capacity. Reaching Modi’s 2030 targets will require huge investments in updating India’s electricity grid and setting up new clean energy projects.

Modi also used his speech to call on developed countries to mobilize $1 trillion of climate finance to help developing countries decarbonize and adapt to climate change. That is far higher than the current $100 billion commitment—which originally had a 2020 deadline but has now been pushed back to 2023.

6/10 Americans Are Concerned About Climate Change

President Joe Biden heads to a vital U.N. climate summit at a time when a majority of Americans regard the deteriorating climate as a problem of high importance to them, an increase from just a few years ago.

About 6 out of 10 Americans also believe that the pace of global warming is speeding up, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

As Biden struggles to pass significant climate legislation at home ahead of next week’s U.N. climate summit, the new AP-NORC/EPIC poll also shows that 55% of Americans want Congress to pass a bill to ensure that more of the nation’s electricity comes from clean energy and less from climate-damaging coal and natural gas.

Only 16% of Americans oppose such a measure for electricity from cleaner energy. A similar measure initially was one of the most important parts of climate legislation that Biden has before Congress. But Biden’s proposal to reward utilities with clean energy sources and penalize those without ran into objections from a coal-state senator, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, leaving fellow Democrats scrambling to come up with other ways to slash pollution from burning fossil fuels.

For some of the Americans watching, it’s an exasperating delay in dealing with an urgent problem.

“If you follow science, the signs are here,” said Nancy Reilly, a Democrat in Missouri who’s retired after 40 years as a retail manager, and worries for her children as the climate deteriorates. “It’s already here. And what was the first thing they start watering down to get this bill through? Climate change.”

“It’s just maddening,” Reilly said. “I understand why, I do — I get the politics of it. I’m sick of the politics of it.”

After President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, the Biden administration hoped to help negotiate major emissions cuts globally to slow the rise of temperatures. But it’s unclear whether Biden will be able to get any significant climate legislation through Congress before the U.N. summit starts Sunday.

In all, 59% of Americans said the Earth’s warming is very or extremely important to them as an issue, up from 49% in 2018. Fifty-four percent of Americans cited scientists’ voices as having a large amount of influence on their views about climate change, and nearly as many, 51%, said their views were influenced by recent extreme weather events like hurricanes, deadly heat spells, wildfires and other natural disasters around the world.

Over the last 60 years, the pollution pumped out by gasoline and diesel engines, power plants and other sources has changed the climate and warmed the Earth by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit, making the extremes of weather more extreme.

In east Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, leaf-peeper websites this year are advising fall foliage tourists that leaves are taking days longer than normal to turn from green to fiery orange and red. It’s not evidence of climate change as a one-off instance, but typical of the changes Americans are seeing as the Earth heats up.

“Normally you get the four seasons, fall, spring, and winter, and it goes in that way. But lately, it’s not been that,” said Jeremy Wilson, a 42-year-old who votes independent and works the grounds at a scenic chairlift park that runs people up to the top of the Smoky Mountains. “It’s been either way hotter, or way colder.”

Seventy-five percent of Americans believe that climate change is happening, while 10% believe that it is not, the poll found. Another 15% are unsure.

Among those who say it is happening, 54% say that it’s caused mostly or entirely by human activities compared to just 14% who think — incorrectly, scientists say — that it’s caused mainly by natural changes in the environment. Another 32% of Americans believe it’s a mix of human and natural factors.

And while Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say climate change is happening, majorities of both parties agree that it is. That breaks down to 89% of Democrats and and 57% of Republicans.

The poll also gauged Americans’ willingness to pay for the cost of cutting climate-wrecking pollution as well as mitigating its consequences.

Fifty-two percent said they would support a $1 a month carbon fee on their energy bill to fight climate change, but support dwindles as the fee increases.

“I would say, like 5, 10 dollars, as long as it’s really being used for what it should be,” said Krystal Chivington, a 46-year-old Republican in Delaware who credits her 17-year-old daughter for reviving her own passion for fighting climate change and pollution.

It’s not ordinary consumers who should bear the brunt of paying to stave off the worst scenarios of climate change, said Mark Sembach, a 59-year-old Montana Democrat who works in environmental remediation.

“I think it needs to fall a great deal on responsible corporations that’s — and unfortunately … most corporations aren’t responsible,” Sembach said. “And I think there needs to be a lot of pushback as to who ultimately pays for that.”

Artificial Intelligence Can Predict The Future Of The Earth

Newswise — AI offers additional possibilities, greater accuracy for climate models. Computer simulations that scientists use to understand the evolution of the Earth’s climate offer a wealth of information to public officials and corporations planning for the future. However, climate models — no matter how complex or computationally intensive — do contain some degree of uncertainty. Addressing this uncertainty is proving increasingly important as decision makers are asking more complex questions and looking to smaller scales.

To improve climate simulations, scientists are looking to the potential of artificial intelligence (AI). AI has offered profound insights in fields from materials science to manufacturing, and climate researchers are excited to explore how AI can be used to revolutionize how the Earth system, and especially its water cycle, can be simulated in order to dramatically improve our understanding and representation of the real world.  In particular, AI offers the potential to dramatically increase the accuracy of predictions down to the scales of interest to scientists, and even stakeholders focused on designing, financing and deploying equitable climate solutions to America’s most disadvantaged communities.

Motivated by this opportunity, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a comprehensive workshop: Artificial Intelligence for Earth System Predictability (AI4ESP). After the collection of more than 150 white papers from the scientific community, AI4ESP is kicking into high gear by hosting a workshop beginning October 25. The workshop will include 17 sessions over a six-week period designed to create a new scientific community that marries climate research with artificial intelligence, applied math and supercomputing.

“Earth system predictability refers to the intersection of climate with hydrology, ecology, infrastructure and human activities,” said Nicki Hickmon, an Argonne scientist, director of operations for the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility and the lead for the AI4ESP workshop.

By linking researchers in Earth system predictability and computer sciences, AI4ESP seeks to create a paradigm shift in simulating the Earth system. AI4ESP seeks to inspire a new generation of AI algorithms specifically aimed at Earth system predictability.

According to Hickmon, continuous improvements will enhance the ability of current simulations to provide deeper insights into community-scale issues and those involving extreme weather, potentially allowing stakeholders a better grasp of the uncertainties that surround such events.

“AI for climate is still in its infancy,” said Hickmon. ​“However, it is still essential that we explore the potential of AI to see how it can better inform our models and prepare us for the future.”

Click here to see the agenda and register for the workshop, which will open with an address by Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk. The public is welcome to attend any of the open sessions. Some components of the workshop are invitation-only in order to gather the required materials for the workshop report.

The workshop is sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research and Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience

Record Rainfall Drenches East To West Coasts In US

A powerful storm that swept through California this week has set rainfall records and helped douse wildfires. But it remained to be seen how much of a dent it made in the state’s drought., causing mudslides that closed roads in the San Bernardino Mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

In the northern part of the state, drenching rains caused widespread flooding and rock slides over the weekend. Strong winds knocked down trees and even toppled two big rigs on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge near San Francisco. Pacific Gas & Electric reported that 380,000 homes and businesses lost power, though most had it back Monday.

Despite the problems, the rain and mountain snow were welcome in Northern California, which is so dry that nearly all of it is classified as either experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. The wet weather also greatly reduces the chances of additional wildfires in a region that has borne the brunt of another devastating year of blazes in the state.

The National Weather Service called preliminary rainfall totals “staggering,” including 11 inches (28 centimeters) at the base of Marin County’s Mount Tamalpais and 4 inches (10 centimeters) in downtown San Francisco, the fourth-wettest day ever for the city.

“It’s been a memorable past 24 hours for the Bay Area as the long talked-about atmospheric river rolled through the region,” the local weather office said Monday. “We literally have gone from fire/drought conditions to flooding in one storm cycle.”

A rainfall record was shattered in Sacramento. Northeast of San Francisco, 5.44 inches (13.82 centimeters) fell on downtown Sacramento, shattering the one-day record for rainfall that had stood since 1880.

Interstate 80, the major highway through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Reno, Nevada, was shut down by heavy snow early Monday. In California’s Colusa and Yolo counties, state highways 16 and 20 were shut for several miles because of mudslides, the state Department of Transportation said.

The same storm system also slammed Oregon and Washington state, causing power outages that affected tens of thousands of people. Two people were killed when a tree fell on a vehicle in the greater Seattle area.

Christy Brigham, chief of resource management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, said the rain was a huge relief after the Caldor Fire torched an unknown number of the giant trees in the park, along with thousands of pines and cedars. “This amount of rainfall is what we call a season-ending event,” Brigham said. “It should end fire season, and it should end our need — to a large degree — to fight this fire.”

The impact of the nor’easter was centered across the entire New England region.  A storm offshore of the Mid-Atlantic explosively intensified Monday night, and enveloped the Northeast with strong winds and flooding rains as it comes up the coast. Flash flood watches are up from northern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania into most of southern New England. Up to five inches of rain are possible, falling on soils that are largely saturated following an exceptionally wet summer. Parts of New Jersey have already seen more than 4 inches, with rainfall rates topping an inch per hour.

“We know how quickly these storms can escalate, so everyone, especially those living in basement apartments, should plan accordingly,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) tweeted Monday.

Wind advisories also stretch from the nation’s capital to the coastline of Maine, with a high-wind warning up for the shorelines of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, where gusts could top 70 mph. The nor’easter is the first of two sprawling storm systems that will bring inclement weather to the East Coast this week. Its rate of intensification is expected to qualify it as a “bomb cyclone,” or a storm that strengthens with unusual haste. High water rescues, numerous road closures and rising rivers have been reported in the region, the weather service said, including rescues reported in New Jersey’s northern Monmouth County.

A state of emergency was declared in New Jersey and New York on Monday due to the anticipated storm hazards. New York City issued a travel advisory through Wednesday morning, advising commuters to allow extra travel time and use mass transit.

Focus On China, US At UN Climate Change Conference

For two weeks in early November, the nations of the world will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, to negotiate updates to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, the landmark agreement in which more than 190 countries pledged to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

With temperatures rising and extreme weather occurring across the globe, all eyes at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be on China, the leading producer of greenhouse gases, and the United States, the largest emitter both historically and on a per capita basis.

Keeping an eye on the results of the conference will be Phillip Stalley, the endowed professor of environmental diplomacy in DePaul University’s Grace School of Applied Diplomacy. Stalley’s research centers on building diplomatic bridges in environmental policy across the globe, with a special focus on China’s evolving approach to environmental diplomacy. He’s the author of “Foreign Firms, Investment, and Environmental Regulation in the People’s Republic of China.”

In this Q&A, Stalley discusses the upcoming climate conference and the roles of the U.S. and China.

With recent studies affirming the dire climate situation, what do you anticipate the U.S. and China — the two largest climate polluters — will say at the Glasgow conference?

A recent report by Chatham House estimates that, even if countries implement their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the original Paris Agreement, we still have a less than 5% chance of keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, which is the stated goal of Paris. Without stronger action, the fires, floods and other extreme weather we have all witnessed recently will be a lot worse.

The key question for Glasgow and beyond is whether China and the U.S. can be convinced to offer more ambitious climate targets in their NDCs. For instance, China currently has its “30-60” pledge, which refers to its twin goals of peaking emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. Neither is consistent with the 2 degree target. The hope is that China, either in Glasgow or in the not too distant future, will move forward its peak dates and offer a specific cap for its total energy-related CO2 emissions, rather than just a peak year.

On the U.S. side, some of the biggest questions involve implementation and finance. President Joe Biden has pledged to slash U.S. emissions in half by 2030, but given Republican opposition, can he pass the domestic legislation necessary to achieve that goal? In terms of finance, Biden recently announced he will work with Congress to provide $11.4 billion to aid developing countries fighting climate change. If the U.S. wants other countries to do more, it will need to prove it can contribute more to the $100 billion climate finance goal agreed to in Paris.

Will other countries be willing to listen to a new U.S. administration talk about the need for climate action now when the U.S. only a few years ago left the Paris Climate Accord?

It is certainly true that the U.S.’s uneven track record undermines its credibility in international negotiations and inhibits its ability to influence other countries. U.S. diplomats will struggle in Glasgow if Biden cannot get the infrastructure and budget bills through Congress, both of which provide extensive funding for programs to combat climate change.

It’s worth noting, however, that U.S. state and municipal governments also play an important role in climate change diplomacy. After former President Donald Trump announced America’s decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord, governors from roughly two dozen states formed the U.S. Climate Alliance, pledging to abide by the Paris targets. Additionally, despite the Trump administration’s public stance against climate regulations, more coal power was retired during his four years than were in former President Barack Obama’s second term.

Are there other types of non-traditional diplomacy and advocacy that could help persuade the U.S. and China to take action around climate change?

There are many opportunities for non-traditional diplomacy to exert influence on both countries’ approach to climate change. This is evident, for instance, in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent announcement that China will stop supporting coal power projects overseas. The reasons for this decision are complex and include commercial considerations, but part of the explanation is that Beijing was facing a great deal of pressure, from not only foreign governments, but also activists, experts and NGOs across the world. Beijing’s decision represents a victory for all the diplomats and activists who have been fighting for years to stop the funding of overseas coal.

Mullaperiyar Dam- A Ticking Time Bomb In Kerala

Damocles Sword- we have heard about it or sometimes felt around a situation like that. But an old dam in Kerala has been scaring millions of people with a fear of its disastrous breach at any time.

Once again, due to the alarming flood in Kerala State, the good old  Mullaperiyar Dam is a ticking time bomb, waiting to detonate to give way to nature’s fury. As a result, the people of Idukki and the adjoining districts of Kerala have been living in constant fear of losing their livelihood or even lives. It may wipe away two or three densely populated districts of the Kerala State itself. Google says that the average lifespan of a dam is often estimated to be 50 years. In that case, this particular dam would have been in the process of rebuilding for the third time.

As per the long history cut short; Mullaperiyar dam was built in the late 1800s in the princely state of Travancore (present-day Kerala) and given to British-ruled Madras Presidency on a 999-year lease in 1886. The agreement granted full rights to the secretary of state of Tamil Nadu, a British official, to construct irrigation projects on the land. The dam was built to divert a part of the west-flowing Periyar river eastwards to feed the arid areas of Tamil Nadu. Now there is no princely state or British rule, so better forget about the 999 year lease. Only thing we need to care is the safety and  fraternity among neighboring states and mutual help by each other.

Current safety concerns relate to several issues. First, we need to understand that the dam was constructed using stone rubble masonry with lime mortar grouting, following prevailing 19th-century construction techniques that have now become archaic. As a result, seepage, cracks and leaks from the dam have caused concern.

Considering the endangered situation, the level of water in the Mullapperiyar Dam was restricted to 136 feet. Mullaperiyar dam continues to be an issue of an ongoing disagreement between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Multiple interpretations on everything from the integrity of the 1886 agreement governing its use to the project’s structural safety are being questioned at various stages and platforms.

Mullaperiyar dam located above Southern Naval Command is a threat to national safety, and it should be decommissioned immediately. We cannot compromise on national security. The Kerala government is hiding this potential threat to the Navy.(Aug 26, 202). If the Mullaperiyar Dam bursts, three reservoirs downstream Idukki, Cheruthoni, and Kolamavu would face the brutal onslaught of unleashed water. If these dams cannot hold the force, the lives of 3.5 million people living in the region will be changed forever.

In case the Dam bursts, with a water level at 136 feet, the resultant flood will submerge at least 50 square kilometers of land downstream. The thundering water would flow at the height of 36 feet, inundating buildings, uprooting trees, and filling muddy destruction all over the way.

On the other hand, Kerala contends it is not safe to raise the water level as Idukki district, where the dam is located, is earthquake-prone and has experienced multiple low-intensity quakes. Scientists, too, have said the dam cannot withstand an earthquake measuring over six on the Richter scale and that if such a calamity were to happen, the lives of more than three million people would be imperiled.

Tamil Nadu claims that though it has undertaken periodic repairs on the dam, the Kerala government has not raised the water level. As a result, it says it has suffered huge losses from not using the dam to its total capacity.

We remember that the 1979 Morvi Dam failure which killed up to 15,000 people, Kerala Government has repeatedly brought to the attention of the Supreme Court, the fear and safety concerns of the aging Mullaperiyar dam and alleged cracks and leaks in it’s structure. Kerala has abundant water resources, and they have no objection to giving it out to Tamilnadu. Tamilnadu is the only benefactor of this dam, providing sufficient water for irrigation and electric power generation.

While considering the extraordinary method of construction, everybody knows it is not safe. So many temporary fixings helped to survive the minor earthquakes and flooding. But there may not be the next time.  Both Kerala and Tamilnadu governments need to safeguard the lives and properties of millions of Keralites living under the shadow of vanishing at any time. If Tamilnadu wants to enjoy the water resources from Kerala exclusively for their use, let them build a new dam with no delay; keralites will gladly agree to it. But delaying an immediate action, can cause unexpected disasters in Kerala State. If so, the so far gentle nature of the public, may not be reflecting indeed.

Elections are over. Let this be the utmost important issue in southern India, lest humanity will never forgive the negligence of the judiciary and governments, who ignore the hazardous situation of tormenting millions of Keralites in the struggle.

Almost All Studies Show, Humans Cause Climate Change

Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. – More than 99.9% of peer-reviewed scientific papers agree that climate change is mainly caused by humans, according to a new survey of 88,125 climate-related studies.

The research updates a similar 2013 paper revealing that 97% of studies published between 1991 and 2012 supported the idea that human activities are altering Earth’s climate. The current survey examines the literature published from 2012 to November 2020 to explore whether the consensus has changed.

“We are virtually certain that the consensus is well over 99% now and that it’s pretty much case closed for any meaningful public conversation about the reality of human-caused climate change,” said Mark Lynas, a visiting fellow at the Alliance for Science at Cornell University and the paper’s first author.

“It’s critical to acknowledge the principal role of greenhouse gas emissions so that we can rapidly mobilize new solutions, since we are already witnessing in real time the devastating impacts of climate-related disasters on businesses, people and the economy,” said Benjamin Houlton, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell and a co-author of the study, “Greater than 99% Consensus on Human Caused Climate Change in the Peer-Reviewed Scientific Literature,” which published Oct. 19 in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

In spite of such results, public opinion polls as well as opinions of politicians and public representatives point to false beliefs and claims that a significant debate still exists among scientists over the true cause of climate change. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that only 27% of U.S. adults believe “almost all” scientists agreed climate change is due to human activity, according to the paper. A 2021 Gallup poll pointed to a deepening partisan divide in American politics on whether Earth’s rising observed temperatures since the Industrial Revolution were primarily caused by humans.

“To understand where a consensus exists, you have to be able to quantify it,” Lynas said. “That means surveying the literature in a coherent and non-arbitrary way in order to avoid trading cherry-picked papers, which is often how these arguments are carried out in the public sphere.”

In the study, the researchers began by examining a random sample of 3,000 studies from the dataset of 88,125 English-language climate papers published between 2012 and 2020. They found only four out of the 3,000 papers were skeptical of human-caused climate change. “We knew that [climate skeptical papers] were vanishingly small in terms of their occurrence, but we thought there still must be more in the 88,000,” Lynas said.

Co-author Simon Perry, a United Kingdom-based software engineer and volunteer at the Alliance for Science, created an algorithm that searched out keywords from papers the team knew were skeptical, such as “solar,” “cosmic rays” and “natural cycles.” The algorithm was applied to all 88,000-plus papers, and the program ordered them so the skeptical ones came higher in the order. They found many of these dissenting papers near the top, as expected, with diminishing returns further down the list. Overall, the search yielded 28 papers that were implicitly or explicitly skeptical, all published in minor journals.

If the 97% result from the 2013 study still left some doubt on scientific consensus on the human influence on climate, the current findings go even further to allay any uncertainty, Lynas said. “This pretty much should be the last word,” he said.

Support for the Alliance for Science is provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

U.S. Bishops Silent On Moral Issue Of Climate Change

Newswise — According to a new study by professors and an alumna from Creighton University, the vast majority of U.S. Catholic bishops were silent about climate change around Pope Francis’s 2015 ecological encyclical Laudato Si’. The study also found bishops were denialist and biased about climate change in ways that correlate with conservative political identity/ideology.

The study, “U.S. Catholic bishops’ silence and denialism on climate change,” was published Oct. 19, in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters. The authors examined more than 12,000 columns published from June 2014 to June 2019 by bishops in official publications for 171 of the 178 U.S. Catholic dioceses (representing 96% of all U.S. dioceses). Among the study’s findings:

Less than 1% of columns in the study (0.8%, or 93 columns out of 12,077) mentioned “climate change,” “global warming,” or variations.

Less than 1% of columns in the study (0.46%, or 56 columns out of 12,077) described climate change as something that is real or currently happening.

Less than 1% of columns in the study (0.24%, or 29 columns out of 12,077) discussed climate change as something that is urgent.

74% of the 201 bishops in the study did not once mention climate change.

69% of the 171 dioceses studied did not publish a bishop’s column that mentioned climate change.

The study was conducted by Sabrina Danielsen, MA, PhD, an assistant professor of sociology; Daniel R. DiLeo, PhD, a Catholic theologian, associate professor, and director of the Justice and Peace Studies Program; and Emily E. Burke, BS, a 2021 undergraduate and current doctoral student in the joint Sociology and Community & Environmental Sociology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The research shows U.S. Catholic bishops’ diocesan communications largely ignored Catholic teachings on climate change,” says Danielsen. “This is surprising given the climate crisis we’re in and indicates that the top U.S. Catholic leaders have not capitalized on the spark of Laudato Si’.”

When bishops did address climate change, they often downplayed parts of Laudato Si’ that conflict with a conservative political identity/ideology. The encyclical repeatedly calls for public policies to address climate change, while U.S. political conservatives often oppose climate policies. Among the 93 bishops’ columns that do mention climate change, only 14 columns (15%) reference climate change politics.

“Our data suggest that as individuals, U.S. bishops failed their duty to teach the fullness of Catholic faith that includes Church teaching on climate change,” says DiLeo. “Our findings also raise questions about whether U.S. bishops will support Vatican advocacy at the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference in November. The U.S. Catholic Church has tremendous potential to shape climate policy, but this requires bishops’ commitment to justice as essential to the Church’s mission.”

The bishops also disproportionately prioritized social issues that correspond to conservative political identity/ideology. Laudato Si’ mentions climate change 24 times and mentions abortion once, but bishop columns addressed them with equal frequency when discussing the encyclical. Among the 211 columns that reference Laudato Si’, 59 mention climate change and 59 mention abortion or pro-life.

“Climate change is a deep concern for so many young people because it threatens every aspect of our future,” says Burke. “As a young Catholic, I want leaders who understand these hopes and anxieties and are willing to faithfully embrace Church climate change teaching.”

World’s Oldest Rubies Linked To Early Life

Newswise — While analyzing some of the world’s oldest coloured gemstones, researchers from the University of Waterloo discovered carbon residue that was once ancient life, encased in a 2.5 billion-year-old ruby.

The research team, led by Chris Yakymchuk, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Waterloo, set out to study the geology of rubies to better understand the conditions necessary for ruby formation. During this research in Greenland, which contains the oldest known deposits of rubies in the world, the team found a ruby sample that contained graphite, a mineral made of pure carbon. Analysis of this carbon indicates that it is a remnant of early life.

“The graphite inside this ruby is really unique. It’s the first time we’ve seen evidence of ancient life in ruby-bearing rocks,” says Yakymchuk. “The presence of graphite also gives us more clues to determine how rubies formed at this location, something that is impossible to do directly based on a ruby’s colour and chemical composition.”

The presence of the graphite allowed the researchers to analyze a property called isotopic composition of the carbon atoms, which measures the relative amounts of different carbon atoms. More than 98 per cent of all carbon atoms have a mass of 12 atomic mass units, but a few carbon atoms are heavier, with a mass of 13 or 14 atomic mass units.

“Living matter preferentially consists of the lighter carbon atoms because they take less energy to incorporate into cells,” said Yakymchuk. “Based on the increased amount of carbon-12 in this graphite, we concluded that the carbon atoms were once ancient life, most likely dead microorganisms such as cyanobacteria.”

The graphite is found in rocks older than 2.5 billion years ago, a time on the planet when oxygen was not abundant in the atmosphere, and life existed only in microorganisms and algae films.

During this study, Yakymchuk’s team discovered that this graphite not only links the gemstone to ancient life but was also likely necessary for this ruby to exist at all. The graphite changed the chemistry of the surrounding rocks to create favourable conditions for ruby growth. Without it, the team’s models showed that it would not have been possible to form rubies in this location.

The study, Corundum (ruby) growth during the final assembly of the Archean North Atlantic Craton, southern West Greenland, was recently published in Ore Geology Reviews. A companion study, The corundum conundrum: Constraining the compositions of fluids involved in ruby formation in metamorphic melanges of ultramafic and aluminous rocks, was published in the journal Chemical Geology in June.

Floods In Kerala Devastate Life, Properties

After heavy rains triggered a series of landslides in Kerala, residents of the particularly hard-hit areas of Kottayam and Idukki districts are reeling under the devastation. A large number of people residing in some of the affected villages have been displaced from their homes and forced to relocate to rehabilitation camps. So far, the death toll has reached 27, PTI reported.

Torrential rain has battered the coastal state of Kerala last week, causing rivers to swell and flooding roads that left vehicles submerged in muddy waters, with some houses reduced to rubble.

State Revenue Minister K Rajan said the rescue workers have recovered 15 bodies from the debris of the landslides on Saturday. “The rescue workers have recovered 15 bodies till now. This includes 12 bodies from Koottickal in Kottayam, one body from Peerumedu and two which were recovered yesterday from Kanjar in Idukki district,” PTI quoted Rajan as saying.

Rescue efforts have continued since Saturday, with the Indian army, navy and air force assisting. The National Disaster Response Force has deployed 11 teams across south and central parts of Kerala.

At least 27 people have been killed after heavy rain triggered floods and landslides in southern India. Thirteen people were killed in a landslide in the Kottayam district, according to state officials. Nine bodies have also been recovered from the site of another landslide in the district of Idduki, officials said, adding that two people are still unaccounted for. Three fishermen in the Malappuram district also remain missing.

Five children are among the dead. There are fears the death toll could rise further as many people are missing. Several houses were washed away and people became trapped in the district of Kottayam in Kerala state.

Military helicopters are being used to fly in supplies and personnel to areas where people are trapped, officials said. Thousands of people have been evacuated and 184 relief camps have been set up across the state, where over 8,000 people are being provided food, bedding and clothing.

The government has also announced financial aid for those who have lost houses and crops. It has decided to leave the decision of whether various dams in the state should be opened to an expert committee.

In 2018, some 400 people died when heavy rains flooded the state. There was controversy over the fact that dams were opened without any warning to people living in low-lying areas. Kerala’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the committee will decide which dams need to be opened.

“District collectors will be notified hours before opening the dams so that local people have enough time to evacuate,” his office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, India’s meteorological department has predicted heavy, isolated rainfall in the state for up to four more days.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Sunday that he had spoken to Mr Vijayan about the situation. “It is sad that many people have died due to the heavy rains and landslides in Kerala. My condolences to the bereaved families,” Mr Modi wrote.

Officials from Alleppey city told BBC Hindi that the situation in the city was worrying. Alleppey has a network of canals and lagoons and it is vulnerable to flooding.

Meanwhile, several tragic stories are coming out from the affected districts.

A family of six – including a 75-year-old grandmother and three children – were confirmed dead after their home in Kottayam was swept away, news agency PTI reported.

Fishing boats are being used to evacuate survivors trapped in Kollam and other coastal towns, as sections of road have been swept away and trees uprooted. It is not uncommon for heavy rainfall to cause flooding and landslides in Kerala, where wetlands and lakes that once acted as natural safeguards against floods have disappeared because of increasing urbanisation and construction.

The 2018 floods were the worst in Kerala in a century, and displaced more than one million people. An assessment carried out by the federal government that same year found that the state, which has 44 rivers flowing through it, was among the 10 most vulnerable in India to flooding

Reliance Acquires Norway-based REC Group For $771 Million

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) on Sunday acquired Norwegian-headquartered solar module maker REC Solar Holdings (REC Group) for an enterprise value of $771 million (around Rs 5,800 crore) from China National Bluestar. REC Group is a leading international solar energy company for pioneering innovations. It is known for its high-efficiency, long-life solar cells and panels for clean and affordable solar power.

“Reliance New Energy Solar Ltd (RNESL), a wholly owned subsidiary of RIL, has acquired REC Solar Holdings AS (REC Group) from China National Bluestar (Group) Co Ltd., for an enterprise value of $771 million,” RIL said in a statement. Speaking about the acquisition, RIL chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said, “I am immensely pleased with our acquisition of REC because it will help Reliance tap the unlimited and year-long power of Soorya Dev, the Sun God, that India is fortunate to be blessed with.”

RIL said that REC has more than 1,300 employees globally and they will become proud members of the Reliance Family after the successful completion of the transaction and become an integral part of the team that is driving one of the world’s most ambitious mission to drive green energy transition.

In the company’s annual general meeting earlier this year, Reliance Industries chairman had announced the company’s mega plan to invest Rs 75,000 crore in the next three years to set up four renewable energy gigafactories in Jamnagar, Gujarat. As a part of the plan, the oil-to-telecom-to-retail conglomerate has already started developing Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex over 5,000 acres in Jamnagar. “It will be amongst the largest integrated renewable energy manufacturing facilities in the world…,” Ambani had said while revealing RIL’s green energy plan.

The complex will cover entire spectrum of renewable energy with four gigafactories —— an integrated solar photovoltaic module factory, an advanced energy storage battery factory, an electrolyser factory for the production of green hydrogen and a fuel-cell factory. Talking about why green hydrogen is important for the planet, Mukesh Ambani had, at the International Climate Summit 2021, said, “Green Hydrogen is zero-carbon energy. It is the best and cleanest source of energy, which can play a fundamental role in the world’s decarbonisation plans.”

Norway’s REC Group has an annual solar panel production capacity of 1.8 gigawatts (GW). Incorporated in 1996, REC Group is one of the biggest player in the market. It has installed around 10GW capacity globally till now. The Norway company has regional hubs in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. By 2030, Reliance Industries plans to develop capacity to generate at least 100 gigawatts of electricity from renewable sources, which can be converted into carbon-free green hydrogen, Mukesh Ambani had earlier said.

Health Of The Human Race & Survival Of The Planet In Danger

(IPS) – Addressing the UN General Assembly last month President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka raised several concerns, two that had to do with health. One concerned the health of the human race; the other the health of Planet Earth on which man struggles increasingly to survive. It is understandable for the President to draw the world’s attention to the current pandemic that plagues the people of Sri Lanka as it does the populations of most other nations that constitute the UN family that have struggled in the last two years to overcome COVID-19 which has brought some nations almost to their knees.

As we know some countries have dealt with the spreading virus more effectively and efficiently than others because they relied on the correct professional advice and had the right people in the places instead of dilettantes with inflated egos. The immediacy of the pandemic with its daily effects on health care and peoples’ livelihoods is seen as urgent political and health issues unlike the dangers surrounding our planet which, to many, appear light miles away while still others treat it with large doses of skepticism.

Quite rightly President Rajapaksa pointed to the dangers ahead for the survival of the planet – as underscored in the recent report of the Inter-government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — due to human activity and said that Sri Lanka, among other measures, aims to increase its forest cover significantly in the future.

What really matters is whether those on the ground — like some of our politicians and their acolytes who seem to think that saving the planet is somebody else’s responsibility but denuding the forests and damaging our eco-systems for private gain is theirs — pay heed to the president’s alarm signals that should appropriately have been sounded at least a decade ago. But what evoked a quick response was not the call for international action to save the people from the pandemic or the planet from climate change as President Rajapaksa told the UN but what he told the UN chief Antonio Guterres at their New York meeting.

While reiterating Sri Lanka’s stance that internal issues should be resolved through domestic mechanisms what aroused interest was the president’s sudden and unexpected readiness to invite the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora scattered across the Global North and in smaller numbers elsewhere, for discussions presumably on reconciliation, accountability and other outstanding matters. One would have thought that there would be a gush of enthusiasm from some sections of the Tamil diaspora which had previously shown an interest in being involved in a dialogue with the Sri Lanka Government over a range of issues that concern the Tamil community.

But the few reactions that have been reported from a few Tamil organisations appear lukewarm. Yes, the Non-Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka (NRTSL), a UK-based group, welcomed the President’s announcement saying that “engagement with the diaspora is particularly important at the time when multiple challenges face Sri Lanka”. However, there was a caveat. The NRTSL is supportive of “open, transparent and sincere engagement of the government of Sri Lanka,” the organization’s president V. Sivalingam was quoted as saying.

The better-known Global Tamil Forum (GTF) called it a “progressive move” and welcomed it. But its spokesman Suren Surenderan questioned what he called President Rajapaksa’s “sudden change of mind”. Surendiran said that in June President Rajapaksa was due to meet the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) but that meeting was put off without a new date been fixed. “When requests are made by democratically elected representatives of Tamil people in Sri Lanka to meet with the President, they are “deferred with flimsy excuses”, {and} now from New York he has declared that he wants to engage with us, Tamil diaspora,” Surendiran said rather dismissively in a statement.

Though the Sri Lanka Tamil diaspora consists of many organisations and groups spread across several continents there has been a studied silence from most of them, a sign that many of them are sceptical about how genuine the gesture is. In March this year, after the UN Human Rights Council passed a highly critical resolution on Sri Lanka, the Rajapaksa government proscribed several Tamil diaspora organisations and more than 300 individuals labelling them terrorist or terrorist linked. These included Tamil advocacy organizations such as the British Tamil Forum, Global Tamil Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress, Australian Tamil Congress and the World Tamil Coordinating Committee. Precisely seven years earlier in March, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government banned 424 persons and 16 diaspora organizations.

The problem for the present administration is that if it is intent on inviting Tamil organisations to participate in talks it would have to lift the existing bans on individuals and groups without which they are unlikely to talk with the government. As transpired before peace talks at various times between the government and the LTTE, the Tamil groups are most likely to insist on participation as legitimate organisations untainted by bans. That is sure to be one of the key conditions, if not the most important pre-condition.

It is also evident that the Tamil diaspora is not a homogenous entity. It consists of moderate organizations that are ready to resolve the pressing issues within a unitary Sri Lanka, to those at the other end of the spectrum still loyal to the LTTE ideology and demanding a separate state. If the Government cherry-picks the participants-particularly the ones that are more likely to collaborate with the administration, it would be seen as an attempt to drive a huge wedge in the Tamil diaspora. That could well lead to the excluded groups strengthening their existing links with political forces in their countries of domicile including politicians in government as one sees in the UK and Canada, for instance, and Tamil councillors in other elected bodies to increase pressure on Sri Lanka externally.

That is why some Tamil commentators already brand this as a “diversionary move” to lessen the international moves against Colombo. What would be the reactions of powerful sections of the Buddhist monks and the ultranationalist Sinhala Buddhists who strongly supported a Gotabaya presidency?.

And across the Palk Strait there are the 80 million or so Tamils in Tamil Nadu and an Indian Government watching developments with a genuine interest and concern.

“Mystery Plant” From The Amazon Declared A New Species

Newswise — In 1973, a scientist stumbled upon a strange tree in the Amazon rainforest, unlike anything he’d ever seen. It was about 20 feet tall, with tiny orange fruits shaped like paper lanterns. He collected samples of the plant’s leaves and fruits, but all the scientists he showed them to wound up scratching their heads– not only were they unable to identify the plant as a species that had previously been described by scientists, but they couldn’t even declare it a new species, because they couldn’t tell what family it belonged to. But in a new study in the journal Taxon, scientists analyzed the plant’s DNA and determined where it belongs in the family tree of trees, finally giving it a name meaning “Mystery of Manu,” after the park in Peru it came from.

“When I first saw this little tree, while out on a forest trail leading from the field station, it was the fruit — looking like an orange-colored Chinese lantern and juicy when ripe with several seeds — that caught my attention,” says Robin Foster, the scientist who originally collected the mystery plant in Peru’s Manu National Park, a retired curator at Chicago’s Field Museum and now a researcher with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. “I didn’t really think it was special, except for the fact that it had characteristics of plants in several different plant families, and didn’t fall neatly into any family.  Usually I can tell the family by a quick glance, but damned if I could place this one.”

Foster wasn’t the only one who couldn’t figure it out. Nancy Hensold, a botanist at the Field Museum, remembers him showing her a dried specimen of the plant more than 30 years ago. “I came to work at the Field Museum in 1990, and Robin showed me this plant. And I tried to get it identified using little fine technical characters like boiling up the ovaries of the flowers and taking pictures of the pollen, and after all that, we still didn’t know,” she recalls. “It really bugged me.”

The mystery plant sat in the Field Museum’s herbarium, a library of dried plant specimens, for years, but Hensold and her colleagues didn’t forget about it. “When you have a plant no one can put in a family, it can fall through the scientific cracks. I felt for it,” she says. The team eventually got a grant to study the plant, funded by the Field Museum’s Women’s Board, and the search was on.

The team attempted to analyze the plant’s DNA using the dried specimens, but when that didn’t work, they enlisted the help of Patricia Álvarez-Loayza, a scientist who works in the Manu National Park and has spent years monitoring the forest there, to find a fresh specimen of the plant. She did, and when the researchers back at the Field analyzed it in the museum’s Pritzker DNA Laboratory, they were shocked by what they found. “When my colleague Rick Ree sequenced it and told me what family it belonged to, I told him the sample must have been contaminated. I was like, no way, I just couldn’t believe it,” recalls Hensold.

The DNA analysis revealed that the mystery plant’s closest relatives were in the Picramniaceae family, which was a big deal to the botanists because it didn’t look anything like its closest relatives, at least at first glance. “L​​ooking closer at the structure of the tiny little flowers I realized, oh, it really has some similarities but given its overall characters, nobody would have put it in that family,” says Hensold. The researchers sent specimens to Wayt Thomas, a curator emeritus at The New York Botanical Garden and an expert in Picramniaceae. “When I opened the package and looked at the specimens, my first reaction was, ‘What the heck?’ These plants didn’t look like anything else in the family,” says Thomas, the lead author of the paper in Taxon. “So I decided to look more carefully–once I looked really carefully at the tiny, 2-3 milimeter long flowers, things fell into place.” With the DNA finally revealing what family the plant belonged to, the researchers were able to give it a formal scientific name, Aenigmanu alvareziae. The genus name, Aenigmanu, means “mystery of Manu,” while the species name is in honor of Patricia Álvarez-Loayza, who collected the first specimens used for the genetic analysis. (It’s worth noting that while Aenigmanu alvareziae is new to scientists, it has long been used by the Indigenous Machiguenga people.)

The researchers say that finally getting a scientific classification for Aenigmanu alvareziae could ultimately help protect the Amazon rainforest in the face of deforestation and climate change. “Plants are understudied in general. Especially tropical forest plants. Especially Amazon plants.  And especially plants in the upper Amazon. To understand the changes taking place in the tropics, to protect what remains, and to restore areas that have been wiped out, plants are the foundation for everything that lives there and the most important to study,” says Foster.  “Giving them unique names is the best way to organize information about them and call attention to them. A single rare species may not by itself be important to an ecosystem, but collectively they tell us what is going on out there.”

Young Climate Activists Of Indian Origin Join Hands With UN Showcasing Achievements

The United Nations in India launched its climate campaign ‘We The Change’, which aims to showcase climate solutions pioneered by young Indians as a celebration of India’s climate leadership on Monday last week. Through the WeTheChangeNow call to action, 17 young climate champions invited fellow young Indians to join the movement by sharing their climate action stories on the campaign website, also launched on Monday.

“The campaign – inspired by the stories of India’s young climate leaders – encourages us to adopt a more solution-based, innovative approach to fight climate change. We know solutions are already within reach to solve the present climate crisis. We hope that through the WeTheChangeNow campaign, we will inspire bolder climate action from people, communities and the national and state governments,” said UN Resident Coordinator in India, Deirdre Boyd. The campaign celebrates and curates innovative, sustainable and equitable climate solutions and actions being pioneered by young people in India. The focus is on strengthening engagement with governments and civil society for a more collaborative approach to climate action, a release said.

“We need enabling spaces for co-learning and collaboration for effective climate action. It’s inspiring to be part of a journey that allows me to meet other young people who are championing climate action and advocacy while collaborating with various policymakers and other climate stakeholders,” young climate campaigner and member of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, Archana Soreng said.

“India has shown great leadership in combating climate change through its strategic and timely climate policies. Currently, India is on track to meet its Paris Climate Agreement commitments and is likely to outperform its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in critical sectors, including renewable energy. Challenges remain, and the valuable contributions of young people in green action and recovery, can propel breakthrough innovations to protect India and the world, especially the most vulnerable, from the impact of climate change,” the release said.

“Over the course of the campaign, we will create spaces for young people, civil society, climate groups, media, and governments to collaborate through online dialogues, discussions, and face-to-face interactions,” it said. “The campaign’s 17 young climate leaders represent innovation and action across diverse sectors, including renewables, forest management, financing, climate entrepreneurship, sustainable agriculture, disaster risk reduction, ecosystem restoration, water conservation and waste management,” it added.

UN Secretary-General’s Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals, actor and producer, Dia Mirza, who has lent her support to the digital campaign, said: “We can still make a difference, restore our planet, and make peace with nature. These 17 young climate leaders, the faces of the ‘We The Change’ movement, are showing us the way ahead towards climate justice and climate action. Their stories have inspired me and I hope they inspire people everywhere to share their climate actions, big or small, using #WeTheChange now.” The Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), a Delhi-based organization that uses the judicial system to advance environmental goals and empower vulnerable populations, has won the Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel”.

It shared the award with three activists: Marthe Wandou, a gender and peace activist who has worked to prevent sexual violence against girls in the Lake Chad area of Cameroon; Russian environmental campaigner Vladimir Slivyak; and indigenous rights campaigner Freda Huson of the Wet’suwet’en people in Canada.

Founded in 2005 by lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, LIFE’s attorneys are among India’s leading public interest lawyers. It has represented tribals in Odisha against Vedanta over its Bauxite mines in the Niyamgiri Hills, local communities against the Jindal Steels and Power’s mine in Chhattisgarh, horticulturalists opposing Lafarge’s limestone mining in Himachal Pradesh, and mango farmers in Ratnagiri against JSW’s thermal power plant, among others. (A 2013 profile of Dutta here on ET)

LIFE has helped communities fight against some of India’s most significant environmental threats: the construction of ecologically destructive projects in violation of the law, preventing deforestation and making industrial polluters pay for the damage caused to the environment and public health, the Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation, which awards the prize, said.

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