Climate Change Alters Earth’s Rotation, Lengthening Days and Impacting Technology, Study Finds

Human-caused climate change is having profound impacts on the planet, including altering the length of a day, according to recent research. This effect is due to polar ice melt caused by global warming, which changes Earth’s rotation speed, increasing each day’s length. This trend is expected to accelerate throughout the century as humans continue to emit planet-heating pollution, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The changes in day length are minute, amounting to milliseconds each day, but they have significant implications for the high-tech, interconnected systems we depend on, such as GPS. “This is a testament to the gravity of ongoing climate change,” said Surendra Adhikari, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the report’s authors.

The length of a day on Earth is determined by the speed of Earth’s rotation, influenced by numerous factors including processes in the planet’s fluid core, the melting of massive glaciers since the last ice age, and the current melting of polar ice due to climate change. Historically, the moon has been the primary factor, gradually lengthening the day by a few milliseconds per century by exerting a gravitational pull that causes ocean bulges, slowing Earth’s rotation.

Previous research has linked polar ice melt to longer days, but this new study indicates that global warming is a more significant factor than previously thought. “In the past, the impact of climate change on time has not been so dramatic,” said Benedikt Soja, a study author and assistant professor of space geodesy at ETH Zurich. However, he notes that this is changing, with climate change potentially becoming the dominant factor over the moon if current pollution levels persist.

As humans warm the planet, glaciers and ice sheets melt, and the resulting meltwater flows from the poles toward the equator. This redistribution of mass changes Earth’s shape, flattening it at the poles and causing it to bulge at the equator, which in turn slows its rotation. This process is akin to a spinning ice skater extending their arms to slow their spin.

The international team of scientists examined a 200-year period from 1900 to 2100, using observational data and climate models to assess how climate change has influenced day length in the past and to predict future impacts. They found that climate change’s impact on day length has significantly increased. In the 20th century, sea level rise caused by climate change altered the length of a day by 0.3 to 1 millisecond. In the past two decades, the increase has been 1.33 milliseconds per century, a rate significantly higher than any time in the previous century.

If emissions continue to rise, warming the oceans and accelerating ice loss in Greenland and Antarctica, the rate of change is expected to increase dramatically. The report predicts that if emissions are not curbed, climate change could lengthen the day by 2.62 milliseconds by the end of the century, surpassing the natural effects of the moon.

“In barely 200 years, we will have altered the Earth’s climate system so much that we are witnessing its impact on the very way Earth spins,” Adhikari told CNN. While a few extra milliseconds per day might go unnoticed by humans, it affects technology. Accurate timekeeping is crucial for GPS and other communication and navigation systems, which rely on highly precise atomic time.

Since the late 1960s, the world has used coordinated universal time (UTC) to set time zones, relying on atomic clocks but keeping pace with Earth’s rotation. This means “leap seconds” must occasionally be added or subtracted to maintain alignment with Earth’s rotation.

Some studies have suggested a link between increased day length and an uptick in earthquakes, according to Mostafa Kiani Shahvandi, a study author and geoscientist at ETH Zurich. However, this connection remains speculative, requiring much more research to establish any definitive link.

A paper on the same topic published in March found that while climate change was increasingly slowing Earth’s rotation, processes in Earth’s core could counteract this by speeding it up, thus shortening day length. “What we have done is to go a little bit further and re-estimate these trends,” said Shahvandi, noting that their study found the influence of the molten core was outweighed by that of climate change.

Duncan Agnew, a professor of geophysics at the University of California San Diego and author of the March study, stated that the new study aligns with his research, extending its results further into the future and considering more climate scenarios. Jacqueline McCleary, an assistant professor of physics at Northeastern University not involved in the study, said the research contributes to a longstanding debate about the role of climate change in altering day length.

While there is now general consensus that climate change will have a “net lengthening effect on the day,” McCleary told CNN, there has been uncertainty about which processes will dominate this century. This study concludes that climate change is now the second most dominant factor. “We have to consider that we are now influencing Earth’s orientation in space so much that we are dominating effects that have been in action for billions of years,” said Soja.

The profound impacts of human activity on the planet are increasingly evident, not only in the environment but in the fundamental mechanisms of Earth’s rotation. This research underscores the far-reaching consequences of climate change, emphasizing the urgent need to address the root causes of global warming.

Florida Farmers Turn to Ancient Pongamia Trees for Sustainable Biofuel and Protein Solutions

An ancient tree from India, the pongamia, is now thriving in Florida where citrus trees once flourished and could potentially help provide renewable energy. The citrus industry in Florida has suffered due to diseases like greening and citrus canker, leading farmers to seek alternatives such as the pongamia tree, known for its resilience and potential to produce plant-based proteins and sustainable biofuel.

Historically, pongamia has been used as a shade tree, producing inedible legumes due to their bitterness. Unlike orange and grapefruit trees, pongamia trees require minimal care, no fertilizer or pesticides, and can thrive in varying weather conditions. Harvesting the beans is straightforward, requiring just a machine to shake them from the branches.

Terviva, a San Francisco-based company founded in 2010 by Naveen Sikka, uses a patented process to remove the bitter-tasting biopesticides, making the beans suitable for food production. “Florida offers a rare opportunity for both Terviva and former citrus farmers. The historical decline of the citrus industry has left farmers without a crop that can grow profitably on hundreds of thousands of acres, and there needs to be a very scalable replacement, very soon,” Sikka told The Associated Press. “Pongamia is the perfect fit.”

The pongamia tree, native to India, Southeast Asia, and Australia, is now being used to produce various products, including Ponova culinary oil and protein, featured in Aloha’s Kona protein bars. The tree also produces oil that can be used as a biofuel, especially in aviation, which has a low carbon footprint, according to Ron Edwards, Terviva’s chairman and a long-time Florida citrus grower.

Transforming pongamia from a wild to a domesticated tree has been challenging. “There are no books to read on it, either, because no one else has ever done it,” Edwards said. The tree supports local biodiversity by attracting bees and other pollinators to its flowers. An acre of pongamia trees can produce as much oil as four acres of soybeans. After extracting the oil, the remaining high-grade protein can be used in baking, smoothies, and other plant-based protein products, showing potential for both the food and petroleum industries.

Sikka emphasized the advantages of growing pongamia in Florida: “We know pongamia grows well in Florida, and the end markets for the oil and protein that come from the pongamia beans — biofuel, feed, and food ingredients — are enormous. So farmers can now reduce their costs and more closely align to the leading edge of sustainable farming practices.”

At a nursery near Fort Pierce, workers skilled in pongamia grafting techniques ensure the genetics and desired characteristics of the mother tree are perpetuated in all of Terviva’s trees.

Citrus was Florida’s premier crop until the 1990s when citrus canker and later greening began to devastate groves. Citrus canker, a bacterial disease, causes lesions on fruit, stems, and leaves, eventually making the trees unproductive. Citrus greening, or Huanglongbing, slowly kills trees and degrades the fruit, reducing citrus production in Florida by 75% since 2005. The disease has spread to Louisiana, Texas, and California. Hurricane Ian caused $1.8 billion in damages to Florida’s agriculture in September 2023, further impacting the citrus industry.

Global citrus production has also been affected by disease and climate issues. Brazil, the world’s largest orange juice exporter, is facing its worst harvest in 36 years due to flooding and drought, according to Fundecitrus, a citrus growers’ organization in Sao Paulo state.

However, pongamia trees are largely unaffected by climate and disease. “It’s just tough, a jungle-tested tree,” Edwards said. “It stands up to a lot of abuse with very little caretaking.” Pongamia also thrives in Hawaii, on land previously used for sugarcane.

John Olson, owner of Circle O Ranch west of Fort Pierce, has replaced his grapefruit groves with 215 acres of pongamia trees. “We went through all the ups and downs of citrus and eventually because of greening, abandoned citrus production,” Olson said. “For the most part, the citrus industry has died in Florida.” In the 1980s and 1990s, a grove of similar size was profitable, but the costs of combating disease eventually became too high.

Edwards shared his motivation for switching to pongamia: “What attracted me to pongamia was the fact that one it can repurpose fallow land that was citrus and is now lying dormant. From an ecological point of view, it’s very attractive because it can replace some of the oils and vegetable proteins that are now being generated by things like palm oil, which is environmentally a much more damaging crop.”

In December 2023, Terviva signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Corporation to provide biofuel feedstock that can be converted into biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel. “Our partnership with Mitsubishi is off to a great start,” Sikka said, noting that the company coordinates closely with Mitsubishi on tree plantings and product development and sales. “Terviva’s progress has accelerated thanks to Mitsubishi’s expertise and leadership around the globe on all facets of Terviva’s business.”

Research on pongamia’s food products is ongoing. Edwards mentioned they have successfully made graham crackers and other plant-based protein products, including flour and protein bars. Pongamia offers an alternative to soybean and yellow pea protein “if you don’t want your protein to come from meat,” he said.

Alaska’s Juneau Icefield Melting 4.6 Times Faster: Researchers Warn of Imminent Tipping Point

The Juneau Icefield in Alaska, encompassing over 1,000 glaciers, is experiencing an accelerated melt. A recent study reveals that the icefield’s snow-covered areas are shrinking 4.6 times faster than in the 1980s. Researchers have meticulously tracked snow levels since 1948, extending data back to the 18th century. The icefield has been steadily shrinking since its peak after the Little Ice Age around 1850, but the melting rate significantly increased about a decade ago, according to the study published in Nature Communications.

Bethan Davies, a glaciologist at Newcastle University and the study’s lead author, explained, “What’s happening is that as the climate is changing, we’re getting shorter winters and longer summers. We’re having more melt, longer melt season.” This accelerated melting is contributing to a substantial flow of ice into the water, averaging about 50,000 gallons per second, according to study co-author Mauri Pelto, a professor of environmental science at Nichols College.

“In fact, glacier shrinkage in Alaska from the year 2000 to the year 2020, we’re losing more ice in Alaska than anywhere else,” Davies added. The study highlights a stark increase in the number of glaciers disappearing: only four Juneau Icefield glaciers vanished between 1948 and 2005, but 64 disappeared between 2005 and 2019. Many of these glaciers were unnamed due to their small size, but notable larger glaciers like Antler Glacier have completely vanished.

Alaska climatologist Brian Brettschneider, not involved in the study, emphasized the alarming acceleration, warning of a “death spiral” for the thinning icefield. An icefield, different from an ice sheet, is a collection of glaciers. Ice sheets cover entire continents, with only two remaining in Greenland and Antarctica. The Mendenhall Glacier, a prominent glacier in the Juneau Icefield, is a popular tourist destination. The Arctic, including Alaska, is warming four times faster than the global average, with Alaska warming by 2.6 degrees (1.5 degrees Celsius) since 1980, according to federal weather data.

Pelto, who first visited the Juneau Icefield in 1981 aiming to join the U.S. ski team, has studied it ever since, forsaking competitive skiing for research. Reflecting on the changes, he said, “When you go there the changes from year-to-year are so dramatic that it just hits you over the head.” He noted the ease of accessing the glaciers back in 1981, “In 1981, it wasn’t too hard to get on and off the glaciers. You just hike up and you could ski to the bottom or hike right off the end of these glaciers.” Nowadays, melted snow forms lakes at the edges, and crevasses make skiing difficult.

The icefield now resembles a staircase of bare rocks. White snow and ice reflect sunlight, but dark rocks absorb it, warming the ground and accelerating the melting in a feedback loop. The critical factor is the snow elevation line; below this line, summer can melt the snow, while above it, snow remains year-round. Pelto explained that this snow line keeps moving upward, increasing the areas prone to melting.

Juneau’s flat icefield shape makes it particularly vulnerable to tipping points. Davies noted, “The shape of Juneau’s icefield, which is rather flat, makes it vulnerable to particular tipping points because once the snow line moves up, large areas are suddenly more prone to melt.” Pelto emphasized, “The tipping point is when that snow line goes above your entire icefield, ice sheet, ice glacier, whichever one. And so for the Juneau icefield, 2019, 2018, showed that you are not that far away from that tipping point.”

Despite the significant melting, the Juneau Icefield’s complete melt wouldn’t drastically affect global sea levels, though it remains a crucial tourist and cultural site. Julienne Stroeve, an ice scientist at the University of Manitoba, not part of the study, remarked, “It is worrisome because in the future the Arctic is going to be transformed beyond contemporary recognition. It’s just another sign of a large transformation in all the ice components (permafrost, sea ice, land ice) that communities depend on.”

The study team compiled their findings using satellite images, airplane overflights, archived photographs, and historical local measurements, creating a detailed long-term picture of the icefield’s melting. Michael Zemp, head of the World Glacier Monitoring Service, and five other outside experts affirmed the study’s findings, with Zemp stating, “We need urgent and tangible actions to save at least some of the remaining ice.”

Pelto, reflecting on his decades of study, pondered, “We’re 40 years from when I first saw the glacier. And so, 40 years from now, what is it going to look like? I do think by then the Juneau icefield will be past the tipping point.” The future of the Juneau Icefield appears bleak, with accelerated melting trends posing significant environmental challenges.

Cool Your Home Naturally: How Houseplants Can Help Beat the Summer Heat

Plants: Nature’s Air Conditioners

We are all aware that plants are pleasing to the eye, and with enough of them (or even one of those supercharged houseplants), you can purify your home’s air. However, these natural wonders may also help you endure a heatwave. Plants can actually cool the air in your home through a process called transpiration, according to plant expert Craig Morley of Budget Seeds. The plant specialist collaborated with home builders Barratt London to demonstrate how adding plants to your space may lower the overall temperature and reduce the need for air conditioning.

Understanding Transpiration

Transpiration is the process where water travels up from the soil through the plant to its leaves and stem. This process not only delivers water and nutrients but also keeps plants cool as water evaporates from their leaves.

How It Benefits Us

So, how does this benefit us? “Transpiration also cools the area around the plant,” says Morley. NASA’s Earth Science Division conducted a study showing that plants on a large scale help combat rising temperatures caused by global warming. On a smaller scale, adding plants to your home could help regulate indoor temperatures, although there is less research on transpiration’s effect on temperature at a smaller scale. But, as Morley suggests, it certainly can’t hurt to try.

Tips for Increasing Plant Transpiration

Morley shared some tips for enhancing your indoor houseplant’s transpiration to maximize their cooling effects:

  1. Keep Houseplants Well-Watered:Regular watering is crucial. If a plant isn’t watered often, it will reduce the rate of transpiration to conserve water.
  2. Increase Humidity:Placing your plant on a wet pebble tray can promote transpiration. As the water evaporates from the tray, it creates a bubble of humidity around the plant.
  3. Group Plants Together:Grouping plants helps create a humid microclimate, boosting overall humidity.
  4. Upsize Your Pot:Plants in containers may transpire less due to restricted root space. Using a larger pot can enhance transpiration.
  5. Avoid Pruning in the Summer:Pruning can reduce transpiration by decreasing the plant’s water uptake.

Best Houseplants for Cooling the Air

Is there anything houseplants can’t do? Here are seven of the best air conditioning plants to keep your home cool this summer. What do they have in common? Larger leaves.

“Plant species have different leaf structures which affect their rate of transpiration,” explains Morley. “A larger leaf size means more pores through which to release excess water and increased transpiration.”

  1. Areca Palm:This plant is known for its feathery, arching fronds. It not only cools the air but also adds a tropical touch to your interior.
  2. Boston Fern:Boston Ferns are excellent at adding humidity and cooling the air. Their lush, green foliage can also enhance the aesthetics of your home.
  3. Ficus Tree:With its large, glossy leaves, the Ficus tree is another great option for cooling the air. It’s also a popular choice for indoor decor.
  4. Rubber Plant:Rubber plants have broad, shiny leaves that are perfect for transpiration. They are also relatively low maintenance.
  5. Spider Plant:Spider plants are easy to care for and effective at cooling the air. Their long, arching leaves can fit well in various spaces.
  6. Peace Lily:Known for its beautiful white flowers, the Peace Lily is also great for transpiration. It can add a touch of elegance to any room.
  7. Aloe Vera:*Aloe Vera not only has cooling properties but also serves as a handy remedy for minor cuts and burns.

By incorporating these plants into your home, you can take advantage of their natural cooling properties and potentially reduce your reliance on air conditioning. It’s a simple and aesthetically pleasing way to enhance your living environment, especially during the sweltering summer months.

Summary

Plants are more than just decorative pieces; they have the ability to cool your home through transpiration. Craig Morley of Budget Seeds, in collaboration with Barratt London, has demonstrated how plants can lower indoor temperatures. Transpiration, where water moves from the soil through the plant to its leaves and then evaporates, cools the surrounding air. NASA’s Earth Science Division has shown that plants combat rising temperatures on a large scale, and while there is less research on their impact indoors, adding plants to your home certainly doesn’t hurt. Morley offers tips for maximizing plant transpiration, such as keeping plants well-watered, increasing humidity, grouping plants together, using larger pots, and avoiding pruning in the summer. The best plants for cooling the air include Areca Palm, Boston Fern, Ficus Tree, Rubber Plant, Spider Plant, Peace Lily, and Aloe Vera. With their larger leaves, these plants have higher transpiration rates, making them effective natural air conditioners for your home.

Record Heat Challenges Hajj Pilgrims: Over 500 Deaths Reported Amidst Unprecedented Temperatures

The Hajj, an obligatory pilgrimage for able Muslims, demands significant physical and spiritual commitment. This year’s pilgrimage saw temperatures in Mecca exceeding 115 degrees Fahrenheit, causing many to collapse and resulting in numerous deaths due to heat exhaustion.

The Hajj follows the lunar calendar, which means its timing varies each year. Despite this, a study indicates that Saudi Arabia is warming faster than other regions in the Northern Hemisphere. Ather Hussain, a British imam and Hajj guide with Bilal Tours, noted the unprecedented struggle among pilgrims due to the extreme heat. “It’s just really, really hard. I’ve never seen so many people struggle collectively at the same time, but at the same time, I saw people doing whatever they could to help,” Hussain told NPR from Saudi Arabia this week.

This year, over 1.8 million Muslims from around the globe participated in the Hajj, which concluded on Wednesday. The pilgrimage spans about five days but often involves weeks of travel, significant walking, physical exertion, and intense prayer.

Saudi Hajj authorities advised pilgrims to stay hydrated and avoid outdoor activities during peak heat hours. They also emphasized that walking to Mecca’s Grand Mosque, which houses Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba, was not necessary for every prayer.

While the exact death toll remains unclear, a leaked hospital list revealed 550 deceased pilgrims, suggesting a severe impact of the scorching temperatures. Saudi Arabia, which offers free healthcare to pilgrims, reported nearly 3,000 heat-related treatments during the Hajj.

Among those affected was Taha Assayid, a 40-year-old Egyptian. He was hospitalized after spending hours in the sun trying to enter the mosque where Prophet Muhammad is believed to have delivered his final sermon. “I am a young man and was hospitalized, so just imagine what it was like for people in their 60s and over 70-years-old,” Assayid remarked.

Pilgrims often push themselves beyond necessary limits, having saved up their entire lives for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, moderation is a key aspect of faith and the Hajj. Hussain, who led a group of about 140 pilgrims this year, advised older participants to delegate some rituals to others. “That education … is definitely something we need to do more. We need to explain to our people that, ‘look, you don’t need to go to extreme circumstances,'” he said. Yet, the extreme heat affected everyone. “Even the locals, you know, it hit them as well. And if the locals are telling you that the Mecca is hot, then you know it’s hot,” Hussain added.

Despite the heat, moments of reflection and inner peace were found in prayers at the Kaaba and on the Day of Arafat. Hosting the Hajj is a prestigious duty for Saudi Arabia, which has faced criticism for past mishaps but has taken measures to prevent such accidents since a deadly stampede in 2015.

The increasing temperatures present ongoing challenges. A study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine by the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre noted that during a hot summer in 1987, around 1,000 pilgrims died. Since then, Mecca’s temperatures have risen faster than other parts of the world.

To combat the heat, the Saudi government has planted more trees around Hajj sites, used heat-reflective pavement, and provided volunteers to distribute water, juice, and umbrellas. Pilgrims also walk under misting systems to stay cool. Egyptian pilgrim Ibrahim Omran, who has visited Mecca over 20 times, stated this was the hottest year he had experienced. He noted that many Egyptians walked everywhere and lacked hotel accommodations because they were on tourist visas instead of proper Hajj visas, a result of Egypt’s economic difficulties and inflated Hajj prices.

Omran emphasized the spiritual pull of Mecca but recognized the importance of safety. “I am not going to take risks and kill myself to perform the Hajj. I will do it legally and find the best official way to reach Saudi Arabia so I can find health care, and not expose myself to misery and suffering,” he said.

The Hajj is an expensive, physically taxing, and exhausting endeavor. However, for many, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people from around the world, dressed in simple white robes, and engaging in prayer and repentance is an unparalleled experience. “I saw adversity, but I also saw the best of humanity,” Hussain reflected. “And I think that is the message of the Hajj: Help one another.”

Early Puberty in Girls: The Role of Environmental Factors and Health Implications

For several decades, scientists worldwide have observed with growing concern that girls are entering puberty at increasingly younger ages compared to previous generations. Key indicators of adolescence, such as the onset of menstruation (age of menarche) and the commencement of breast development, are occurring progressively sooner.

Research indicates that American girls today begin menstruation up to four years earlier than girls a century ago. Recent data reveals that while girls born between 1950 and 1969 typically began menstruating at an average age of 12.5 years, this decreased to 11.9 years for girls born in the early 2000s. This trend is not limited to the United States but is evident globally. South Korean researchers, for instance, have noted a dramatic 16-fold increase in the number of girls showing signs of precocious puberty (either breast development or menstruation before age eight) between 2008 and 2020.

“We’re also seeing that these decreasing ages at puberty are even more pronounced in lower socioeconomic status groups and ethnic minority groups,” says Audrey Gaskins, an associate professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “This has important implications for long-term health.”

Researchers like Gaskins are particularly concerned that earlier puberty might trigger a cascade of events with significant consequences in adulthood. Data suggests it may shorten the fertility window, especially if these women enter menopause sooner, and could reduce overall lifespan. Precocious puberty has been repeatedly associated with a higher risk of diseases such as breast and ovarian cancers, metabolic syndromes like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Scientists are still exploring the reasons behind these associations. Brenda Eskenazi, a professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, explains one theory: “There’s some theories that having a longer window of exposure to hormones increases risk for reproductive cancers,” suggesting that prolonged exposure to sex hormones like estrogen might elevate tumor development risks by stimulating cell growth.

There are also potential social consequences. Eskenazi points out that girls who enter puberty earlier are more likely to become sexually active sooner. “There’s a scary situation in the United States when we have the trend of abortion becoming illegal and contraception not being available,” she says. “It’s going to lead to more unwanted teen pregnancies, so that confluence of factors is very frightening.”

The question then arises: why is child development being accelerated in this manner?

From Obesity to Air Pollution

Puberty onset is regulated by two key communication networks in the body: the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axes. These connect the brain’s hypothalamus, which regulates essential functions from hunger to temperature control, with hormone-secreting glands.

Gaskins notes that until recently, childhood obesity was considered the primary cause of premature puberty, with proteins produced by fat cells (adipokines) stimulating the HPA and HPG axes. “It’s only recently that people have been like, ‘Oh that doesn’t explain it all, and there have to be other factors involved,'” she says.

Recent studies, however, have identified another surprising cause: air pollution. Much of this research has emerged from South Korea, where cities like Seoul, Busan, and Incheon rank among the world’s most polluted. A review from Ewha Womans University in Seoul highlighted a consistent relationship between exposure to various pollutants and earlier puberty onset.

Toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone, released through vehicle emissions or industrial waste, are major culprits. A 2022 study in Poland, a country with significant air quality issues due to coal-burning factories, linked higher exposure to nitrogen gases with menstruation beginning before age 11.

An even greater concern is fine particulate matter (PM), tiny particles from sources like construction sites, wildfires, power plants, vehicle engines, and unpaved roads. In October 2023, Gaskins and colleagues found that U.S. girls exposed to high levels of PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) and PM10, both in utero and during childhood, were more likely to start menstruating earlier.

“PM2.5 particles can enter the bloodstream pretty readily,” Gaskins explains. “You inhale them into your lungs, and they’re not filtered out like some of the bigger particles would be, and they can then reach different organs. We’ve seen certain PM2.5 particles accumulating in the placenta, fetal tissues, the ovaries, they can get everywhere.”

Studies have shown that chemicals within these fine particles can interact with hormone receptors involved in development, particularly androgen and estrogen receptors, potentially triggering a chain reaction leading to puberty.

“That was our primary hypothesis, that the girls who had higher exposure to PM2.5 were also exposed to more chemicals that were either mimicking estrogen or just generally disrupting that HPA axis and its regular signals, prompting the body to go into puberty earlier,” says Gaskins.

Multiple factors likely contribute to premature puberty. Gaskins suggests that evidence related to PM2.5 and other pollutants is one example of how harmful environmental chemicals can infiltrate the body, causing significant hormonal changes.

“Pre-pubertal girls are an interesting group because another major route of exposure to chemicals which disrupt hormonal processes is through personal care products,” she says. “And there’s now a lot of companies actively going after that demographic and marketing products to them.”

Eskenazi adds that there is much we still don’t understand about the complex interplay between our changing environment and child development. Factors such as microplastics and climate change also remain largely unexplored. “I think we’re still just at the tip of the iceberg,” she says. “We don’t know how a hotter climate is affecting the menstrual cycle or even the role of social factors, pressurizing girls to grow up sooner. But this trend is very real, and it could be a multifactorial combination of environmental chemicals, obesity, and psychosocial issues which are combining to lower the age of menarche.”

Climate Records Shattered: Scientists Warn of Dire Consequences Without Urgent Action

Global temperatures continue to break records month after month, prompting concerns from scientists and climate policymakers about surpassing the warming target established during the historic Paris 2015 climate talks.

The Copernicus agency of the European Union recently announced that May had been the hottest on record, marking the 12th consecutive month of record highs. Similarly, the World Meteorological Organization has projected a nearly 50% chance that average global temperatures between 2024 and 2028 will exceed the desired warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius agreed upon in the Paris accords.

Moreover, a group of 57 scientists reported in the journal Earth System Science Data that the Earth warmed at a slightly faster rate in 2023 compared to 2022.

Climate scientists, however, are not surprised by these developments, as they align with their long-standing predictions based on the accumulation of carbon dioxide resulting from increased fossil fuel usage. In 2023, atmospheric levels of heat-trapping gases, particularly carbon dioxide, reached historic highs, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the third-highest increase in 65 years of recordkeeping.

The repercussions of these shattered records translate into heightened human suffering. Climate change induced by human activity has led to erratic weather patterns, more frequent and unpredictable storms, and prolonged heatwaves. For instance, an intense heatwave in Asia this spring led to school closures in the Philippines, fatalities in Thailand, and record temperatures in several countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, and Myanmar. In India, weeks of scorching heatwaves last month resulted in school closures and loss of life.

While exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold may not spell immediate catastrophe, scientists warn of worsening conditions. Previous United Nations assessments indicate that significant ecological changes are more likely to occur between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius of warming, including the eventual disappearance of coral reefs, Arctic sea ice, and certain plant and animal species. Additionally, extreme weather events are expected to intensify, resulting in more casualties and infrastructure damage.

Jennifer Francis, a scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts, emphasized that reaching the Paris threshold does not signify a sudden surge in the impacts already being observed.

Addressing these challenges requires a concerted effort to phase out fossil fuel usage, according to climate scientists. The combustion of fossil fuels—such as oil, gas, and coal—remains the primary driver of human-induced global warming. Francis stressed the need for greenhouse gas concentrations to stabilize to prevent further temperature records from being broken and to mitigate the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

While renewable energy sources have seen significant growth, there is a pressing need for accelerated expansion. Efforts to improve efficiency are underway across various sectors, including household heating, cooking methods, and cement production. However, scientists emphasize the urgency of adapting to these changes.

India’s Record-Breaking Heat: Mungeshpur Hits Potential 52.3°C Amid Severe Heat Wave Warnings

India, one of the hottest countries on Earth, potentially recorded its highest temperature ever on Wednesday. A weather station in Mungeshpur, a suburb of New Delhi, recorded a temperature of 52.3 degrees Celsius (approximately 126 degrees Fahrenheit), as reported by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

This unprecedented reading is currently under scrutiny by the government. Authorities are evaluating the data, noting that this temperature is an outlier compared to other measurements in the region. They suggest the possibility of an error in the sensor or an influence from unique local conditions.

The IMD reported that this temperature was more than 9 degrees Celsius higher than anticipated. The unusually high temperatures have been attributed to hot winds originating from northwestern India, as reported by New Delhi Television (NDTV), a partner of ABC News.

Previously, the highest recorded temperature at the Mungeshpur station was 49.2 degrees Celsius (120.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in 2002. The record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in India was set in Rajasthan in 2016, reaching 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the IMD.

In response to the forecast, the India Meteorological Department issued a severe heat wave warning for the region. In India, heat waves are classified as “severe” when temperatures exceed the norm by 6.5 degrees Celsius or more.

A red alert health notice was also issued in New Delhi, warning of a “very high likelihood of developing heat illness and heat stroke in all ages” among the vulnerable groups in the region’s population, which totals around 30 million.

Local government officials have imposed restrictions on water usage due to a shortage, threatening fines for non-essential water use, such as washing cars. Those caught using water unnecessarily could face fines of 2,000 rupees (approximately $24), as reported by Reuters.

The IMD also forecasted rain for Wednesday evening in New Delhi, which could potentially increase humidity levels.

India is renowned for its hot climate, characterized by tropical conditions and prolonged summers. These early-season high temperatures could signal an intensely hot summer ahead.

Copernicus, Europe’s climate change service, has recorded 11 consecutive months of record-warm temperatures, a trend likely to persist through May.

Climate scientists link rising global temperatures to more frequent and prolonged heat waves. A study by the World Weather Attribution found that the extreme heat experienced across Asia in late April was 45 times more likely due to climate change.

The exceptional temperature recorded in Mungeshpur stands out as a significant anomaly. The IMD’s ongoing review aims to verify the accuracy of the data. “The temperature soared to more than 9 degrees Celsius higher than expected,” highlights the severity of this heat event.

Local reports suggest that the hot winds from northwestern India played a crucial role in driving the temperatures up beyond typical expectations. NDTV corroborates this by reporting that “hot winds from northwestern India contributed to the hotter-than-expected temperatures.”

The severity of the heat wave in New Delhi prompted immediate action from the government. The red alert notice underscores the extreme risk to public health, particularly emphasizing the potential for heat illness and heat stroke among vulnerable populations. The scale of the alert reflects the urgency of the situation, given New Delhi’s large population.

In addition to health warnings, the government has taken steps to manage the strain on water resources. With a significant portion of the population potentially affected by water shortages, the authorities have implemented stringent measures to curb non-essential water use. Reuters reported on the enforcement of fines to deter wastage, stating, “Local government officials set limits on water usage, citing a shortage, and threatened to fine those using water unnecessarily.”

The forecasted rain for New Delhi introduces the potential for increased humidity, which could compound the discomfort and health risks associated with the high temperatures. The IMD’s prediction of rain suggests a dynamic weather pattern that may offer temporary relief from the heat but could also introduce new challenges.

India’s climate, already predisposed to high temperatures, faces an increasingly uncertain future as global warming intensifies. The record temperatures reported by Copernicus are a stark reminder of the ongoing trend towards warmer global conditions. “Copernicus, Europe’s climate change service, has recorded 11 consecutive months of record-warm temperatures,” illustrating the persistent nature of this trend.

The link between climate change and the increasing frequency of heat waves is well-established among scientists. The World Weather Attribution study provides a quantifiable measure of this connection, indicating that the recent extreme heat in Asia was significantly influenced by climate change. The study’s findings that the sweltering conditions were “45 times more likely because of climate change” emphasize the profound impact of human activities on weather patterns.

As the situation in Mungeshpur is closely monitored, it underscores the broader implications of climate change for regions already vulnerable to high temperatures. The potential record-setting temperature serves as a critical data point in understanding the trajectory of climate impacts. The IMD’s verification process will be crucial in confirming the legitimacy of this extraordinary measurement and understanding the underlying causes of such extreme weather events.

The reported 52.3 degrees Celsius in Mungeshpur highlights a significant climatic event in India, necessitating careful examination and response from authorities. The combination of immediate health risks, water scarcity, and the broader context of climate change illustrates the multifaceted challenges posed by extreme heat. As global temperatures continue to rise, the frequency and intensity of such events are likely to increase, demanding adaptive measures and heightened awareness of the impacts of climate change.

Indian Meteorological Department Forecasts Above-Normal Monsoon Rainfall, Easing Heatwave Concerns

The chief of the Indian Meteorological Department, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, announced today at a media briefing that there’s a likelihood of above-normal rainfall during the upcoming monsoon season across the nation, providing a much-needed respite from the prevailing heatwave. Mohapatra stated, “The South West Monsoon rainfall over the country as a whole is likely to be 106% of the long-period average with a model error of 4%. Thus, above-normal rainfall is most likely over the country as a whole.”

This forecast aligns with earlier predictions of heightened rainfall this monsoon, driven by favorable La Nina conditions anticipated to manifest between August and September.

The Indian Meteorological Department anticipates a decline in the ongoing heatwave across India starting from May 30, although it issued warnings regarding severe heatwave conditions prevailing over northwest India for the next three days. Earlier alerts had been released for Delhi and Rajasthan due to temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius in specific areas.

Attributing the recent heatwave in northwest India and certain parts of the central region to various factors, including deficient rainfall, intensified dry and warm winds, and the presence of an anti-cyclonic circulation over southwest Rajasthan and adjoining Gujarat, the IMD has been closely monitoring the situation.

Additionally, the IMD’s projections indicate the onset of western disturbances over northwest India starting Thursday, coinciding with the transition of El Nino conditions to a neutral state.

In the wake of Cyclone Remal’s landfall in Bangladesh last night, coastal Bengal is expected to experience heavy rainfall today, while the northeast region will likely witness extremely heavy rainfall until tomorrow, according to forecasts from the Meteorological Office.

Americans Brace for Hefty Water Rate Hikes Amidst Push for PFAS Removal

In return for purer water, Americans across the nation may soon face substantial financial burdens. Water systems are cautioning residents about significant rate increases as they gear up to implement technology to filter out harmful chemicals known as PFAS.

Utilities from South Florida to upstate New York are alerting customers that they might experience considerable price hikes following the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandate to eliminate these substances, linked to various cancers and other illnesses, from their systems. The EPA recently announced its requirement for utilities with water systems containing elevated levels of six types of PFAS to eradicate them from the water.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, represent a group of thousands of chemicals utilized in the production of nonstick and waterproof products as well as firefighting foam. These substances have become pervasive in the environment, persisting for extended periods without breaking down.

Exposure to these persistent chemicals has been associated with heightened risks of prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers, compromised immune systems, elevated cholesterol, and developmental issues in children. Now, utilities nationwide face the unprecedented task of removing them from drinking water to mitigate customer exposure. However, this endeavor comes at a cost.

Broward County officials in South Florida cautioned residents about potential drastic water rate increases. Alan Garcia, director of Broward County Water and Wastewater Services, indicated that average monthly water bills, currently around $26, could potentially double or triple as the county addresses PFAS filtration. Yet, the exact extent of the rate increase remains uncertain. With 66,000 accounts, representing an estimated 230,000 individuals, the utility is bracing for substantial changes.

Similarly, officials in Fort Worth, Texas, foresee repercussions for ratepayers in light of the recent EPA regulation. Chris Harder, Fort Worth Water Director, acknowledged the anticipated expenses and their impact on ratepayers, emphasizing efforts to secure federal funding support to alleviate the burden.

Reports from water suppliers in the Buffalo, N.Y., area also suggest that PFAS filtration efforts could influence rates, signaling broader implications beyond specific locales. According to Chris Moody, regulatory technical manager at the American Water Works Association, numerous systems nationwide may face rate increases as a consequence of the rule.

While it remains unclear which water systems will necessitate PFAS filtration, utilities have a few years to conduct tests to determine if their chemical levels surpass federal thresholds. Should they exceed these thresholds, utilities must install filtration technology, indicating that communities warned of rate increases may only represent the beginning. The EPA estimates that approximately 6 percent to 10 percent of water systems will ultimately require action, though Moody believes this figure may underestimate the extent of contamination nationwide.

Much of the financial strain will stem from the installation and maintenance costs of filters capable of eliminating these toxic substances. Despite recent settlements in a major class-action lawsuit against PFAS manufacturers, which could potentially offset treatment costs, Moody doubts these settlements will suffice.

He anticipates that any financial restitution will likely cover only a fraction of the overall expenses. While the added costs pose significant financial burdens, they offer the crucial benefit of reducing communities’ exposure to harmful substances. Garcia acknowledged the importance of PFAS treatment, characterizing it as a necessary measure. Nonetheless, he lamented that communities are bearing the brunt of companies’ past PFAS usage.

The Pastic Story By Dr B K Kishore

Plastic is the evil created by World War II, which also gave us some lifesaving medicines. During WWII, there was a steep rise in demand for metals to manufacture military hardware. To reduce the demand, plastic was introduced to replace metal wherever possible. So, plastic was deliberately made hard not to degrade and last long. Until WWII is over, the plastic was not available for civilian use. To get rid of the huge piles of raw plastic accumulated by the military, the US Congress permitred the use of plastic for civilian use and released several tons of plastic. The Congress did not seek the opinion of environmentalists before passing the law to release plastic for civilian use. Immediately, industry took advantage of this as people were excited to own plastic goods. When I was in school in the 1960s, Surf detergent company used to give one plastic bucket free for the purchase of two big surf packets. Soon, households were full of plastic buckets, replacing the metal containers wherever possible.
It takes decades or centuries for plastic to degrade in landfills. Every plastic toothbrush we have used since childhood is there intact somewhere in the landfills or soil. It is not difficult to introduce molecules that break apart due to sunlight and thus make plastic disintegrate. But then, the smaller pieces do not disappear. They stay intact in soil forever, causing more problems.
That said, plastic really helped us in many ways. For example, please look at the pharmacies full of plastic bottles, as well as the hospitals with plastic tunings, lines, gadgets, etc. It could cost a lot of money to use alternate materials to replace plastic in healthcare. Can we imagine a stethoscope without plastic tubing? Until the year 2000, we were using glassware in research labs. The high-quality glass used in labs is expensive and heavy. It is sold by weight. A 3 liter Pyrex glass container used to cost $600. And they can break during use. Washing and drying glassware to reuse was expensive, consuming tons of water and detergents plus energy and labor. Sterilizing glassware is another issue. So, a major chunk of research budget used to go for glassware. But slowly, plastic was introduced into research labs. In about 15 years, almost all glassware in research labs was replaced by single use plasticware from China. It was clean, available in sterile conditions also. Moving to plastics saved us substantial amount of research money.
So, plastic is like eating French Onion Soup. It is messy to eat, using both spoon and fork alrernatively. But it is so delicious, we do not give up eating. BTW, our profession is plastic-dependent. Our iPhone and Tesla are useless without plastic.

Turning Invasives into Fashion: How Sustainable Fabrics are Revolutionizing the Industry

Each year, Aarav Chavda, a former McKinsey analyst and mechanical engineer, goes scuba diving in the same Florida reefs. Over time, he has observed the corals turning white and species dwindling, except for the invasive lionfish. Local and federal authorities have tried various methods to eradicate the lionfish, a beautifully striped and spiny species with no natural predators in the Atlantic and Caribbean waters that preys on many other fish.

Chavda had a unique idea: turning the lionfish into a fashion statement. Along with two other diving enthusiasts, he founded Inversa, a start-up that transforms lionfish skin into attractive, supple leather. They expanded their efforts to include two other invasive species – Burmese pythons from the Florida Everglades and carp from the Mississippi River. Their innovative leather has been used by brands like Piper and Skye and Rex Shoes for products such as wallets, footballs, flip-flops, and a stylish python dagger and sheath.

The fashion industry’s environmental impact, including the companies that produce fabrics and clothing, is well-known. It’s responsible for up to 4 percent of global climate emissions and a significant amount of global water pollution, according to a McKinsey report. This presents a daunting challenge as humans need clothing and derive meaning from our fashion choices.

“It’s two sides of the coin,” says Monica Buchan-Ng, a sustainability expert at the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion. “[Clothes] can be this incredible creative force of self-expression and identity. But also we know that the way the fashion system works at present, it’s just destruction after destruction.”

Despite the industry’s negative impacts, its vast reach offers immense potential for innovation and change. Chavda is optimistic, stating that Inversa has removed 50,000 lionfish, Burmese pythons, and carp so far, and he hopes to increase this to tens of millions in the coming years. “I’m bullish,” Chavda says, “because I think the consumer cares.”

Julia Marsh, CEO of Sway, a company that makes seaweed-based plastic for companies like J.Crew, emphasizes the importance of “reuse and thrifting” in eco-friendly fashion. While cultural shifts towards lower consumption and stricter regulations are crucial, developing new, sustainable fabrics is also vital.

Fabric waste is a growing environmental issue. Clothing purchases nearly doubled from 2000 to 2015, with much of it ending up in landfills. Fast-fashion brands like Shein produce cheap, disposable clothing that exacerbates global waste. Many fabrics are harmful even before disposal. Synthetic fabrics like polyester shed microplastics into water systems when washed, and cotton farming often involves high pesticide use and forced labor. Leather production contributes to deforestation, water pollution, and high carbon emissions, while “vegan” leather often relies on fossil fuels.

Buying new, environmentally friendly clothing is currently difficult and expensive, but awareness is growing, leading to innovative solutions. Governments, especially in the EU, are starting to regulate fabric waste, pollution, and emissions. Efforts to create better recycling systems, repurpose old clothing, and develop non-toxic dye processes are emerging. Material development has also seen exciting advancements.

Uyen Tran, from Danang, Vietnam, grew up aware of the global impact of fashion waste. Her family shopped for brand-name clothing discarded by Westerners. After moving to the U.S. and studying at Parsons School of Design, she became interested in sustainable fabric manufacturing. Tran researched chitin, a natural polymer from shrimp shells, which she transforms into a leather-like material. Her company, TômTex, also uses chitin from mushrooms, which are popular among sustainable fabric innovators for their low environmental impact. TômTex has partnered with luxury brands like Peter Do to showcase its fully biodegradable fabric. “Waste is something that humans created,” Tran says. “For me, if we create something, it should biodegrade and decompose as nutrients back to the soil, so animals can feed on it, a tree can grow on it.”

Tran aims to scale up production to replace traditional materials significantly, needing substantial investment to build a factory. “Even brands that want to put in money … it’s not going to be $20 million,” she says. She is working on building brand relationships and pursuing venture capital.

Other sustainable fabric start-ups also seek capital, ranging from simple innovations like adding sustainably farmed nettle fiber to cotton blends, to complex bioengineering processes. Suzanne Lee, founder of Biofabricate, a consultancy for companies developing new materials, highlights the potential of biomaterials to have lower carbon footprints and less environmental impact. “We are at the frontier of new biomaterials,” Lee says, “which have the potential to have a lower carbon footprint, to use much less water and much less chemicals, and potentially biodegrade naturally at the end of their life, depending on how they’re treated.”

Some companies are succeeding. Japanese company Spiber raised about $64 million to mass-produce its plant-based, spider-silk-inspired fibers. However, others face challenges. Dan Widmaier, CEO of Bolt Threads, had to pause production on a mushroom-based leather alternative called Mylo due to fundraising issues. “The thing you learn about all these advanced materials is they always are super promising in the beginning, in the lab,” Widmaier says. “Can it work reproducibly at scale, meeting quality specs of the customer as they actually need them, meet their timelines and deliverables? Can it be financed to that scale? Those are the things that break all these.”

Earlier this year, Renewcell, a Swedish fabric recycling company, declared bankruptcy, causing concern in the industry. Renewcell had developed a process to turn old clothes into new cotton and had partnerships with major brands like H&M. Despite raising $10.6 million and opening a factory, it faced quality issues and insufficient orders to sustain production.

Lee believes the Renewcell failure might motivate brands to invest more in similar products. “We actually really need to back these things if we want them to happen,” she says.

Sustainable fabric companies are working to increase awareness. Finnish company Spinnova turns cellulose from wood pulp into biodegradable fiber, used by brands like Marimekko and Adidas. CEO Tuomas Oijala says, “I think that’s actually the thing that speaks best for itself: having brands publish actual product and being able to show that, hey, look, this is real. It works, it meets the needs of consumers and by the way, it’s also a good value for money deal.”

Inversa aims to reach a broader audience, confident their story will resonate with consumers. “I think when you tell the consumer, like, ‘Oh, buy this, you’re sustainable,’ you have to force them to acknowledge the guilt or the karma or whatever they were doing before,” Chavda says. “If you just tell them, ‘Hey, this wallet has saved these animals,’ or ‘You’re protecting these coral reefs,’ you just skip that whole piece.”

Inversa is also exploring other invasive species for their fabrics while maintaining partnerships with local fishing collectives, governments, and conservation NGOs to source invasive species responsibly. Chavda is optimistic about the future of sustainable fabrics. “We have different methodologies of doing it, but … whether that’s fiber made from seaweed or polyester spun in a different way that’s biodegradable, we’re all trying to do the same thing – make the planet a better place,” he says.

Pope Francis Calls for Urgent Global Action on Climate Resilience at Vatican Summit

On the morning of Thursday, May 16th, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis addressed participants of a summit on “From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience,” organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Here is a paraphrase of his speech, preserving the original quotes.

Pope Francis welcomed members of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences, as well as the mayors and governors from around the world who attended the summit. He acknowledged the growing severity of climate change and the urgent need for action to protect people and nature, commending the Academies for their leadership and efforts in drafting a universal document on resilience.

He highlighted the plight of the world’s poor, who contribute the least to environmental pollution but suffer the most. “The destruction of the environment is an offense against God, a sin that is not only personal but also structural, one that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable in our midst, and threatens to unleash a conflict between generations” (Address to COP28, Dubai, 2 December 2023). The Pope urged everyone to choose sustainable human development and heed the cry of the earth, the plea of the poor, and the aspirations of the young and children.

Pope Francis emphasized the interconnectedness of climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental decay, global disparities, food insecurity, and threats to human dignity. He warned that without urgent collective action, these issues pose existential threats to humanity, other living beings, and ecosystems. The Pope pointed out that the world’s poor suffer disproportionately despite contributing the least to these problems. Wealthier nations, representing about one billion people, produce more than half of the heat-trapping pollutants, while the poorest three billion people contribute less than 10% yet suffer 75% of the damage. He noted that 46 of the least developed countries, mostly in Africa, account for only 1% of global CO2 emissions, whereas G20 nations are responsible for 80%.

Research presented at the summit revealed the tragic fact that women and children bear a disproportionate burden. Women often lack the same access to resources as men, and their roles in household maintenance and childcare can prevent them from migrating during disasters. However, women also play a crucial role in resilience and adaptation. Nearly one billion children live in countries highly susceptible to climate-related disasters, making them particularly vulnerable to the physical and psychological impacts of climate change.

Pope Francis condemned the failure to protect the most vulnerable from human-caused climate change, calling it a serious offense and a grave violation of human rights. He criticized the pursuit of short-term profits by polluting industries and the spread of disinformation that hinders collective efforts for change. “Brothers and sisters, the road ahead is uphill and not without danger,” he said, noting the summit’s data showing that climate change affects all aspects of life, including water, air, food, and energy systems, as well as public health and welfare. He lamented the forced migration of communities and families due to climate change, with atmospheric pollution causing millions of premature deaths annually. Over 3.5 billion people live in areas highly susceptible to climate devastation, driving them to migrate. Defending the dignity and rights of climate migrants involves upholding the sacredness of each human life and respecting the divine command to care for our common home.

In response to the planetary crisis, the Pope called for a universal approach and rapid, decisive action to effect changes and political decisions. He stressed the need to halve the rate of global warming within a quarter-century, aim for global decarbonization, and eliminate dependence on fossil fuels. Additionally, he urged the elimination of large quantities of carbon dioxide through a multigenerational environmental management program, highlighting nature’s regenerative powers. He advocated for the protection of natural resources like the Amazon and Congo basins, peat bogs, mangroves, oceans, coral reefs, farmlands, and glacial icecaps for their role in reducing global carbon emissions.

The Pope emphasized a holistic approach to combat climate change, addressing the dual crises of biodiversity loss and inequality by nurturing ecosystems that sustain life. He called for cooperation and global solidarity, highlighting the need for a coordinated effort involving emissions reduction, lifestyle education, innovative financing, and nature-based solutions to reinforce resilience, particularly to drought.

Finally, Pope Francis urged the development of a new financial architecture to meet the needs of the global South and island states severely affected by climate catastrophes. He advocated for debt restructuring and reduction, alongside the creation of a new global financial charter by 2025, recognizing an “ecological debt.” “We must work

on this term: ecological debt,” he emphasized, suggesting that acknowledging and addressing it can significantly aid in mitigating climate change.

The Pope expressed gratitude for the participants’ efforts and encouraged continued collaboration to transition from the current climate crisis to climate resilience, emphasizing equality and social justice. He stressed the urgency, compassion, and determination required for this task, as the stakes could not be higher. Pope Francis concluded his speech by blessing the attendees, assuring them of his prayers, and requesting their prayers for him.

Turning Waste into Energy: India’s Biogas Revolution Gains Momentum

Rukmini Baburao Kumbhar, a member of a spiritual community in Maharashtra, India, diligently gathers approximately 50kg of fresh cow dung every day. The cow dung serves a unique purpose in their small ashram: it’s utilized to produce biomethane, a sustainable fuel source. Ms. Kumbhar elaborates on their motivation, stating, “Fuel has become extremely expensive. Biogas was a good option. The only requirement was space and cows. We had both.” This initiative has replaced the monthly purchase of 20 liters of natural gas, significantly reducing their dependence on external energy sources.

Ms. Kumbhar’s daily routine involves collecting cow dung, a task she doesn’t find burdensome due to the prevalent agricultural lifestyle in rural India. She remarks, “In most of the rural parts of India, agriculture is the main occupation. So, touching the cow dung is not a big deal.” However, not all guests share her enthusiasm initially, particularly those from urban backgrounds. Ms. Kumbhar acknowledges their initial reluctance but notes that they gradually acclimate to the practice. She assures, “The cows are of good quality, so the cow dung does not smell.”

India’s abundant cattle population generates approximately three million tonnes of cow dung daily, according to NITI Aayog, the government’s policy body. Recognizing the potential of cow dung and agricultural waste, the government aims to harness them for methane production through biogas plants. These facilities employ anaerobic digestion, a process involving the breakdown of organic matter by bacteria in airtight containers, yielding primarily methane and carbon dioxide.

India’s heavy reliance on imported natural gas prompts governmental efforts to promote domestic energy production. Mandates have been issued to blend natural gas with biomethane, starting with 1% by 2025 and escalating to 5% by 2028. Beyond reducing gas imports, biogas production offers environmental benefits by curbing air pollution, particularly from agricultural residue burning, and providing a valuable fertilizer byproduct.

Government support has facilitated the construction of larger biogas facilities across the country. Notably, the largest compressed biogas (CBG) plant in Asia, located in Lehragaga, Punjab, converts paddy straw into biogas. Although the plant currently operates below its capacity due to limited demand, efforts continue to expand its reach. Similarly, in Ludhiana, Punjab, where cow dung disposal poses challenges, a significant portion is diverted to a biogas reactor, mitigating river pollution.

Rajiv Kumar, tasked with cow dung collection in Ludhiana, recalls initial skepticism from farmers regarding the waste’s value. However, with time, cow dung has evolved into a lucrative income source for them, fostering community benefit amidst the challenges of handling the malodorous substance. Baljit Singh, inspired by the burgeoning biogas industry, has built a thriving business by collecting agricultural residue for biogas production, offering economic opportunities for farmers across multiple villages.

Despite these successes, obstacles persist in mainstreaming biogas as a fuel source. Kiran Kumar Kudaravalli from SKG Sangha highlights challenges such as space constraints and odor issues in urban areas. Additionally, affordability remains a concern in impoverished rural regions where free fuel sources are readily available. Overcoming these barriers requires innovative solutions and sustained efforts to promote the adoption of biogas technology.

The utilization of cow dung and agricultural waste for biogas production represents a promising avenue for sustainable energy in India. While significant strides have been made, addressing logistical and economic challenges will be crucial in realizing the full potential of biogas as a mainstream fuel source.

Renewable Energy Shines Bright: 2023 Marks Record Year, but Challenges Persist

In a recent report unveiled by Ember, a London-based think tank, it was highlighted that 2023 witnessed an unprecedented surge in the utilization of renewable energy sources worldwide, marking a significant milestone in the global energy landscape. The report underscores that a remarkable 30% of the electricity generated globally originated from clean energy sources, which do not discharge greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. This surge in clean energy adoption was primarily propelled by the rapid proliferation of solar and wind farms across various regions.

Despite the dominance of hydroelectric dams in clean energy generation, as observed in previous years, the debilitating impact of droughts in key regions like India, China, North America, and Mexico led to a notable decline in hydropower production, hitting a five-year low. Such adverse climatic conditions, exacerbated by the effects of climate change, underscore the urgency for transitioning towards more sustainable energy alternatives.

The escalating demand for electricity, which escalated by approximately 2% compared to the previous year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of Canada, was largely fueled by burgeoning adoption of technologies such as heat pumps for efficient building heating and cooling, electric vehicles, and electrolyzers utilized for hydrogen production from water—an essential step towards mitigating climate change impacts.

Furthermore, the burgeoning demand for electricity was propelled by the proliferation of data centers and the increased use of air conditioning systems, particularly in regions experiencing rising temperatures. Solar energy emerged as the frontrunner among clean energy sources, accounting for the largest share of new clean energy additions, surpassing coal power by more than double. Notably, this marked the 19th consecutive year of solar energy being the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, with a notable surge in solar installations towards the end of the year, foreshadowing even more substantial growth projections for 2024.

China emerged as a global leader in renewable energy adoption, accounting for a significant portion of new solar and wind power installations, followed by the European Union, the United States, and Brazil. However, despite these strides in renewable energy adoption, China remained heavily reliant on coal for electricity generation, contributing to a substantial portion of global coal generation and overall electricity production.

The report also highlights a concerning trend of increasing electricity generation from fossil fuels, primarily driven by countries like China, India, Vietnam, and Mexico, which compensated for the shortfall in hydropower caused by drought-induced reservoir depletion by resorting to coal-based electricity generation. This underscores a concerning feedback loop wherein climate change-induced events prompt further reliance on fossil fuels, exacerbating the very issue they aim to address.

Despite the significant growth in renewable energy adoption, fossil fuels retained their dominance in global electricity generation, resulting in a 1% increase in global power sector emissions. Scientists emphasize that even if all greenhouse gas emissions were halted immediately, the planet would continue to experience warming due to the cumulative effects of pollutants already present in the atmosphere.

Looking ahead, analysts anticipate a further surge in global electricity demand in 2024. However, the forecast also suggests an accelerated growth trajectory for renewable energy generation, potentially leading to a 2% reduction in energy generated from fossil fuels, signaling a positive shift towards a more sustainable energy paradigm.

Feature Article: Inequity IS the Disaster

The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence are researching ways to enhance disaster resilience in socially vulnerable communities.

The 2023 hurricane season was one of the more severe on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Academic and disaster resilience communities have documented empirically that disenfranchised communities are disproportionately impacted by these severe weather events. With NOAA predicting increasing impacts of hurricanes in the future, S&T is trying to identify ways to help fortify marginalized communities against this impending risk.

According to Dr. David Alexander, senior science advisor for resilience at S&T, since 1980, there have been more than 377 billion-dollar disasters, based on NOAA statistics. These are disasters that resulted in $1 billion dollars or more in damages and losses each. More significantly, these disasters have amounted to more than 16,000 fatalities.

“People are losing their lives, not just their homes and businesses,” Alexander said. “If you look at the resilience research, there is a common theme, and it is well-recognized that underserved communities are disproportionately affected and experience more disaster suffering.”

While many in the federal government seek to foster greater equity for marginalized communities during disasters, S&T is investing in tools and technologies to inform policy and support this mission.

This was the purpose of a recent Coastal Resilience Center (CRC) Disasters and Equity Workshop that brought together community leaders, practitioners, and researchers to discuss best practices for reducing risk throughout the disaster lifecycle (mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery) in an equitable way. The CRC is a nationwide consortium led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducting research to increase the resilience of people, infrastructure, economies, and the natural environment from coastal hazards.

“Our challenges have become more complex. Therefore, we need to ensure that we’re leveraging diversity of opinion, experience, and knowledge and really try to bring our communities, as well as practitioners and academics, together, and invite the private sector to partner with us so we can scale out solutions and deliver a broader impact to the nation,” Alexander said.

“The focus, using a science and technology lens, is recognizing a desire to push the envelope on participatory research,” he continued. “It’s about driving co-development of solutions to fill critical gaps in individual and community preparedness and developing solutions that help us to eliminate inequities in disaster resilience. The goal is to better link scientific experts and cutting-edge solutions to community partners and help them avoid disaster fatigue.”

S&T and CRC first studied existing planning frameworks underpinning disaster equity planning. They then studied what kind of data would be required to support more equitable planning. With an understanding of the policy and data, this workshop was a next step in contextualizing this research with evidence from front-line responders. The goal was to have participants help answer questions like: How can we achieve better outcomes after disasters strike and ensure those positive outcomes extend to all communities? What policies are in place and are they working? What do individual communities view as their critical needs and challenges? Are we investing in the right science and technology to close those gaps and support all segments and all geographies?

“The [CRC], eight or nine years ago, started pushing us hard and saying, ‘You’ve got to be grounded,’” says Dr. Phil Berke, one of CRC’s researchers. “Put boots on the ground and translate all this great research into action.”

Dr. Thomas John Cooper Jr., a Texas A&M University associate professor in Landscape Architecture and

Urban Planning, gave the workshop keynote, entitled: “Inequity IS the Disaster.” In the context of CRC’s research, the objective is equity, meaning justice and fairness, rather than equality, which refers to uniformity. For those with less, more aid and assistance will be required to achieve recovery after a disaster. A key theme that resonated throughout the March workshop was the need for “resiliency” over “recovery.” Workshops like this help to aggregate findings to iterate on a proper response model, which accounts for things like housing, transportation, disaster relief services, and fraud protections, among other factors.

Without external intervention and aid, there were other use cases cited where people perhaps would have continued to live in damaged homes with mold, mildew, and sickness. Participants emphasized the need to cultivate leaders within the community—the best approach is to have communities advocating for themselves to ensure people that may not be documented are not left behind and resources are properly allocated. In the end, the objective should be to build capacities not dependencies.

“Fringe communities in our country are poised to pay the highest human costs connected to a looming climate crisis,” said Bruce Rosenbloom, CRC communications manager. “We’ve created mathematical models that have had widespread impacts. But equations can’t put sandbags around a town. This research, this is for the people.”

Image released its most recent findings in 2023, as part of a study that shows how social stratification affects outcomes among disaster survivors. This ongoing research is designed to provide the academic and emergency response communities useful case studies to increase awareness of what might otherwise be considered an esoteric concept.

For instance, they released a video telling the story of Ironton, a small coastal town south of New Orleans that was almost wiped out after being battered by Hurricanes Katrina and Ida, one after the other. Living in the shadow of racial segregation and reduced from 52 to 10 homes, this town’s story of survival as captured by the CRC was aptly entitled: “Studying the Spirit of Resilience in Ironton.”

The CRC’s Disaster and Equity Workshop provided a forum to capture anecdotal evidence that, according to Alexander, is critical to identifying challenges and possible solutions. Data alone cannot tell a community’s story, he said. The hope is that drawing on the insights provided in this forum, the team can produce a seminal report that will provide recommendations on areas for future research and development and inform policy for disaster resilience. That report will also serve to inform S&T’s investments in disaster resilience and equity programs.

“It’s really about reducing suffering,” Alexander said. “It’s just about being a good human being and saying, ‘I don’t want you to suffer,’ which is a goal that all of us should be able to get behind.”

A key reason S&T partners with universities is to enable forward-looking research to inform future DHS operations. Visit S&T’s Centers of Excellence and Office of University Programs pages for additional information about the Directorate’s longstanding collaborations with academia. For related media inquiries, contact [email protected].

Torrential Rain Hits Dubai: Cloud Seeding’s Role Questioned Amidst Flooding Chaos

A surge of rainfall inundated sections of Dubai on Tuesday, transforming streets into waterways and causing a temporary shutdown of the world’s second-busiest airport. This downpour prompted inquiries into whether the United Arab Emirates’ cloud-seeding initiative was responsible for the deluge.

According to officials at the National Center of Meteorology in the UAE, the rain was not attributed to cloud seeding, as reported by CNN. The center has been approached for further comment.

Even if cloud-seeding operations were conducted preceding the storm, it’s highly improbable that these efforts could have generated more rain than what would have naturally occurred. Despite decades of attempts to extract additional moisture from clouds, there remains scant evidence of its efficacy.

Nevertheless, several countries, including the UAE, China, and the US, persist in their endeavors to manipulate weather patterns.

What exactly is cloud seeding?

Cloud seeding is a technique aimed at augmenting rainfall or snowfall beyond natural levels. Cloud droplets require nuclei for condensation to occur, akin to water condensing on a cold glass during hot weather. These nuclei are minuscule particles in the atmosphere onto which moisture can adhere.

By introducing additional particles, such as silver iodide, into clouds, aircraft seek to enhance the formation of water or ice droplets. Once these droplets coalesce sufficiently, they precipitate as rain or snow.

Typically, natural particles like dust and dirt serve as the catalyst for cloud condensation. Silver iodide serves a similar purpose in theory.

Does cloud seeding yield results?

Assessing the impact of cloud seeding on precipitation is immensely challenging. Conducting controlled experiments to quantify its effectiveness faces considerable obstacles.

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA, emphasized the difficulty in distinguishing between precipitation resulting from seeding and that which would have occurred naturally. The absence of a controlled environment complicates such assessments.

Despite efforts to study its effects, skepticism persists within the scientific community. A study published in 2020 suggested that one cloud seeding experiment may have increased precipitation by up to 10% compared to natural levels. However, conclusive evidence remains elusive.

What are the potential drawbacks of cloud seeding?

In light of escalating global temperatures due to human-induced climate change, certain regions are experiencing heightened heat and aridity. While cloud seeding may seem a solution to address water scarcity, it could exacerbate dry conditions elsewhere.

Swain cautioned that cloud seeding might inadvertently divert water from one area to another, potentially exacerbating dryness downstream.

Unprecedented flooding driven by an intense storm system

The torrential rain that triggered unprecedented flooding in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Iran was not solely a consequence of cloud seeding. Instead, it resulted from a large, sluggish storm system traversing the Arabian Peninsula and moving into the Gulf of Oman over multiple days.

This storm tapped into abundant tropical moisture near the equator, unleashing it across the region. Regardless of cloud seeding activities, the storm was part of an extreme weather pattern foreseen days in advance.

As the atmosphere warms, such intense rainfall events are projected to become more frequent, akin to a towel absorbing and wringing out moisture.

Rare 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles New Jersey: Experts Offer Reassurance on Future Risks

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck New Jersey on Friday morning, causing ripples of concern from Baltimore to New York City. This seismic event, rare for the area, left residents shaken but also prompted experts to reassure the public about the likelihood of future earthquakes in the eastern U.S.

Angie Lux, a seismologist at the University of California Berkeley Seismology Lab, stated to TIME, “There’s no clear trend that there are more earthquakes happening.” Data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reveals that since 1950, roughly 40 earthquakes with magnitudes of 3 or higher have occurred within 500 km of Friday’s earthquake epicenter near Whitehouse Station, N.J. The last earthquake of comparable magnitude in the region struck in 2011, causing widespread tremors across the East Coast.

Lingsen Meng, an associate professor of geophysics at the University of California Los Angeles, emphasized that earthquakes are infrequent along the East Coast and advised people to remain calm. He noted, “Small earthquakes occur much more often than big ones.” The most significant earthquakes historically recorded on the East Coast were the 1755 Cape Ann earthquake in Boston and a 7.2 quake in Charleston, S.C. in 1886, which Meng described as “much bigger than the ones we have today.”

Sarah McBride, a research social scientist at USGS, mentioned in a press briefing that at least two aftershocks related to Friday’s earthquake had been recorded. However, she added that the likelihood of an aftershock with a magnitude of five or greater in the coming weeks was only 3%.

Regarding the cause of the earthquake, USGS clarified that it did not occur at an active fault. A spokesperson explained, “There are dozens of older inactive faults that formed millions of years ago. And under the current stresses from tectonic plates moving, those faults can be intermittently reactivated.” Further research is required to fully understand the event’s origin.

Meng reassured the public about potential infrastructure damage, stating, “Building damage usually doesn’t happen until [magnitude] six or seven. So [today’s earthquake] is not going to cause any significant damage unless the building is really inadequate.” He did, however, acknowledge a potential concern regarding seismic waves traveling across the East Coast, which can be felt more widely due to differences in the Earth’s crust. Meng explained, “East Coast seismic waves tend to travel much longer distances. They don’t attenuate or decay as fast.” Nonetheless, he emphasized that significant earthquakes are rare in the East Coast, thus the likelihood of severe damage or building collapse remains low.

UN Report Exposes Global Food Waste Crisis: Over 1 Billion Meals Squandered Daily Amidst 800 Million Hunger Cases

A recent report by the United Nations has brought to light the alarming scale of food wastage globally, revealing that over 1 billion meals are thrown away every day while nearly 800 million people suffer from hunger. In 2022 alone, the world squandered a staggering 1.05 billion metric tons of food, equating to approximately one-fifth of the food available for consumption being wasted by households, eateries, and various segments of the food industry.

Moreover, an additional 13% of the world’s food is lost during its journey from production to consumption, culminating in a distressing one-third of all food being discarded in the production process. These findings sharply contrast with the fact that approximately one-third of the global population grapples with food insecurity, with 783 million individuals suffering from hunger.

The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Food Waste Index Report 2024, published recently, underscores the profound implications of food wastage on both global development and environmental sustainability. Inger Andersen, Director of UNEP, emphasized the severity of the situation, stating, “Food waste is a global tragedy. Millions will go hungry today as food is wasted across the world.” She further highlighted the significant costs incurred by such unnecessary waste on climate and natural resources.

The report makes a crucial distinction between food “loss” and food “waste.” Food loss refers to the disposal of food early in the supply chain, such as vegetables rotting in fields or meat spoiling due to lack of refrigeration, while food waste pertains to the disposal of food by households, restaurants, and retail outlets. Shockingly, households accounted for 60% of the total food waste in 2022, amounting to 631 million metric tons, while the food service sector and retail contributed 28% and 12%, respectively.

On an individual level, the average person wastes 79 kilograms (174 pounds) of food annually, translating to at least one billion wasted meals daily. However, these figures are likely conservative, as the report points out deficiencies in data collection despite improvements in recent years. While data points at the household level have nearly doubled since the UN’s 2021 food waste report, monitoring remains patchy across many countries.

Despite the significant environmental impact of food wastage, only 21 countries have included measures to address it in their national climate plans. Astonishingly, food waste generates 8% to 10% of global planet-heating emissions, surpassing emissions from the aviation sector by nearly fivefold. The report emphasizes that while the climate impact of activities like air travel has received substantial attention, the equally consequential issue of food waste has often been overlooked.

Furthermore, food production is resource-intensive, demanding vast amounts of land and water, and contributes significantly to global planet-heating emissions. Most food waste ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas with approximately 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Additionally, the report highlights that climate change exacerbates food wastage, with hotter countries experiencing higher levels of food waste due to challenges in storing and transporting food in warmer temperatures.

Importantly, the report dispels the misconception that food waste is solely a problem of affluent nations. The disparity in food wastage between high- and middle-income countries is minimal, with just a 7-kilogram (15-pound) difference per person annually. This underscores the need for global action to address food wastage comprehensively, acknowledging its multifaceted impact on food security, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation.

Carbondale, Illinois Gears Up for Rare Repeat Total Solar Eclipse Spectacle in 2024

How fortunate are the inhabitants of Carbondale, Illinois? According to celestial mechanics, a total solar eclipse should occur at any given location on Earth’s surface roughly once every 375 years on average. However, the 30,000 residents of this Midwestern city might find this statistic amusing, as they are gearing up to witness the Moon obscure the Sun’s disk for the second time in just seven years.

Moreover, the upcoming eclipse on April 8th promises to surpass the spectacle of the 2017 event. Lasting for an impressive 4 minutes and 9 seconds, the sky will plunge into darkness, nearly doubling the duration of the previous eclipse.

Anticipation is building as up to 200,000 people are expected to converge on prime viewing spots in southern Illinois for what has been dubbed “The Great American Eclipse, Part II.” However, the excitement extends beyond Illinois, as the eclipse’s path stretches from Mexico’s Pacific coast to Canada’s Atlantic seaboard, promising a blockbuster event.

In contrast to the 2017 eclipse, which traversed sparsely populated regions, the 2024 event will pass over major urban areas in the United States such as Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Dr. Kelly Korreck, the eclipse program manager at NASA, highlighted the significance, stating, “This is going to be the most populated eclipse in the US, with 31.5 million people able to just walk outside of their homes to experience it.”

NASA is gearing up for the event with a series of experiments, including launching rockets into the Moon’s shadow to study its effects on the Earth’s atmosphere and deploying instrumented jet planes to chase the shadow. Dr. Amir Caspi from the Southwest Research Institute explained the rationale behind the aerial pursuits, emphasizing the unique perspective they provide.

The journey of the 2024 total solar eclipse will commence over the Pacific Ocean, with the residents of Penrhyn Atoll in the Cook Islands witnessing a darkened Sun at dawn. From there, the Moon’s shadow will race across the Earth’s surface at speeds exceeding 2,500 km/h, crossing the Mexican coast and the US-Mexico border before traversing 13 states and skimming the Canadian border.

Unfortunately for Europe, the eclipse will only offer a partial view low on the horizon at sunset. However, enthusiasts around the world have been meticulously planning their viewing strategies, considering transportation, accommodation, and historical weather patterns. While Mexico and Texas offer the best chances of clear skies, weather unpredictability adds an element of uncertainty to eclipse viewing, even in locations like Carbondale.

Despite the abundance of space telescopes monitoring the Sun, total eclipses remain invaluable for studying the Sun’s outer atmosphere, known as the corona. This magnetized, superheated region plays a crucial role in generating the solar wind, which can disrupt satellites, communications, and electricity grids. Total eclipses provide a unique opportunity to study the corona’s elusive properties, as the Moon’s disk perfectly aligns with the Sun, allowing for unobstructed observations.

Collaborating with NASA, British scientists plan to deploy instruments in Dallas to study the corona’s directional qualities and the behavior of excited iron atoms using polarimeters and spectrometers. Dr. Huw Morgan from Aberystwyth University emphasized the importance of eclipse observations in understanding the Sun-solar wind connection.

In addition to professional research, citizen scientists can contribute to eclipse science through various projects. Initiatives like Sunsketcher, Eclipse Soundscapes, Globe Observer, and Eclipse Megamovie engage enthusiasts in measuring the Sun’s shape, recording environmental changes during eclipses, and capturing extended views of the event using DSLR cameras.

Dr. Liz MacDonald from NASA highlighted the value of citizen science in enhancing eclipse observations, emphasizing the collaborative nature of the endeavor. However, she also stressed the importance of safety precautions, advising against looking at the exposed Sun with the naked eye.

As excitement builds for the 2024 total solar eclipse, Dr. Korreck reminded enthusiasts of its uniqueness and encouraged everyone to experience it firsthand. While Montana and North Dakota will witness a partial eclipse in 2044, the next total solar eclipse spanning a broad swath of the US won’t occur until the following year.

Global Air Quality Report 2023: Asia Most Polluted, Oceania Cleanest, Africa Lacks Data

The fundamental principles of survival are straightforward: humans can endure weeks without food, days without water, but only moments without air. Air stands as the cornerstone of human existence, yet what much of the global populace inhales daily is tainted.

In the 2023 World Air Quality Report, issued on Tuesday by IQAir, a Swiss company monitoring real-time air quality worldwide and issuing annual assessments since 2018, merely 10 nations or territories in the past year maintained air quality meeting the World Health Organization’s cleanliness benchmark.

IQAir relied on the average concentration of PM2.5, or particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, across cities with publicly available data as the primary indicator of air quality for each country or territory. PM2.5, a harmful constituent of air pollution stemming from various sources such as emissions from coal and oil combustion, as well as dust storms and wildfires, can infiltrate the body through the lungs and bloodstream, impacting major organs. The WHO has outlined that exposure to PM2.5 can result in cardiovascular and respiratory health issues, including strokes or lung cancer, contributing to an estimated 7 million premature deaths annually.

WHO guidelines suggest an annual mean PM2.5 concentration of no more than 5 micrograms per cubic meter (5 µg/m3). Among the 134 countries and territories assessed by IQAir, only Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, Bermuda, Grenada, Iceland, Mauritius, and French Polynesia met this standard in 2023.

IQAir’s 2023 World Air Quality Report offers significant insights into various regions.

Asia:

Asia emerges as the most polluted region globally, with all but one of the 100 cities with the most polluted air situated there, with 83 of them located in India. These cities exceeded the WHO’s standard by at least 10 times. The Indian city of Begusarai, with over half a million inhabitants in Bihar, recorded PM2.5 levels at 118.9 µg/m3 last year, surpassing the WHO standard by 23 times.

Central and South Asia are home to the top four most polluted countries—Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Tajikistan—where 31% of cities reported PM2.5 levels exceeding the WHO standard by over 10 times, a proportion far surpassing any other region in the report. IQAir attributes Asia’s air pollution to various factors, including significant greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and peat bog burning, exacerbated by weather phenomena like El Niño delaying the onset of rainy seasons, which could have mitigated PM2.5 levels.

Oceania:

Oceania, comprising Australia, New Zealand, and French Polynesia, maintained the cleanest air in 2023, with each country and territory meeting the WHO standard. The region also boasts the highest proportion, 55%, of cities adhering to the WHO standard.

Europe:

Europe witnessed the most improvement among regions, with PM2.5 levels decreasing in 36 out of 43 monitored nations. Bosnia Herzegovina remains the most polluted country in the region, although its PM2.5 levels decreased by 18% from 2022. Croatia exhibited the most significant improvement, with PM2.5 levels dropping by over 40% compared to 2022. While 39% of European cities met the WHO standard in 2022, 54% achieved this threshold in 2023.

The Americas:

North America leads as the most-monitored region, with 3,242 cities analyzed, representing 40% of the total cities in the report. Latin America and the Caribbean are expanding their air-quality monitoring network significantly, with new monitoring stations emerging in various cities and countries. In North America, Canada surpassed the U.S. in air pollution due to extensive wildfires from May to October last year. The U.S. also experienced an increase in air pollution, partly due to southward-drifting smoke from Canadian wildfires. Columbus, Ohio, ranked as the most polluted major U.S. city for the second consecutive year, while Las Vegas, Nev., claimed the title of the least polluted major U.S. city.

Africa:

Africa faces air pollution challenges compounded by a lack of data. While Benoni, South Africa, emerged as the only non-Asian city among the 100 most polluted cities globally, the continent struggles with insufficient air quality data. Despite a rapidly growing urban population, only 24 out of 54 African countries, representing 66% of the population, have adequate air quality data for inclusion in IQAir’s report. Chad, the most polluted country in IQAir’s 2022 report, was excluded due to a lack of publicly available monitoring data.

Frank Hammes, IQAir’s global CEO, emphasizes the critical role of air quality data in saving lives and prompting action. He underscores that where air quality is reported, action is taken, leading to improved air quality.

Speculation Mounts as Aaron Taylor-Johnson Emerges as Frontrunner for Next James Bond

Speculation surrounding the next actor to portray the iconic character of James Bond is once again reaching a fever pitch, with reports suggesting that British actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been offered the role. The Sun has stated that the actor, known for his roles in films like Kick-Ass and various Marvel movies, has received a formal offer to step into the shoes of the famed 007 spy, a role previously inhabited by Daniel Craig. Craig’s departure from the franchise in 2021, after a tenure spanning five films over 16 years, has opened the door for a new face to grace the screen as Bond in the upcoming 26th installment following “No Time to Die.”

Although The BBC has approached Taylor-Johnson for confirmation, Eon Productions, the entity behind the Bond films, has declined to comment on the swirling speculation. However, an insider associated with the production informed BBC News that there’s “no truth in the rumours.” Speculation regarding the coveted role has been circulating for quite some time, and Taylor-Johnson himself acknowledged the buzz in an interview with Numero magazine, expressing his appreciation for the recognition, stating it was “charming and wonderful” that people envisioned him in the role of Bond. He embraced the notion as a compliment, further fueling anticipation.

Taylor-Johnson, aged 33, who notably portrayed John Lennon in the biopic “Nowhere Boy” in 2009, has emerged as a frontrunner according to bookmakers. His diverse acting portfolio includes acclaimed performances in films such as “Nocturnal Animals,” for which he garnered a Golden Globe in 2017, as well as “Anna Karenina,” “Godzilla,” and “Tenet.”

The anticipation over who will assume the mantle of 007 has led to a plethora of names being tossed into the ring over the past few years. Mark O’Connell, author of “Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan,” emphasized the multifaceted nature of the role, stressing that the ideal candidate must encompass qualities beyond mere on-screen charisma, serving as an ambassador for the franchise and British culture itself. O’Connell emphasized the necessity for the actor to possess global recognition and command attention on the grandest of scales.

Among the contenders, Henry Cavill, known for his roles in “Superman” and “Mission: Impossible,” stands out as a favorite. Cavill, who previously expressed his enthusiasm for the role, described the prospect as “very, very exciting” in an interview with GQ in 2020. Another contender, 32-year-old Damson Idris, gained prominence for his role in the US TV crime drama “Snowfall” and Netflix’s “Outside the Wire.” James Norton, recognized for his work in stage productions like “A Little Life” and films such as “Little Women,” also garners attention as a potential candidate. Norton, aged 38, has showcased his acting prowess in various gritty TV dramas, though he remains modest regarding speculation about his suitability for the role, deeming it “very flattering” yet speculative.

The pool of potential Bonds extends further, with names like Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, and Chris Evans also entering discussions. Elba, however, acknowledged concerns regarding his age, suggesting that at 51, he might be deemed “too old” for the role, particularly considering the longevity associated with portraying Bond. Producers, as history shows, may not always opt for the most high-profile actor, as evidenced by the selection of Daniel Craig, whose name initially wasn’t at the forefront following Pierce Brosnan’s departure from the franchise in 2002.

Speaking of Brosnan, the former Bond recently expressed his endorsement for fellow Irishman Cillian Murphy, citing him as a “magnificent” choice for the role. Brosnan had previously lauded Regé-Jean Page, of “Bridgerton” fame, as a “wonderful” potential Bond. As the speculation continues to swirl and discussions regarding the next 007 persist, the anticipation only intensifies, leaving fans eager to see who will ultimately assume the iconic mantle of James Bond.

Report Reveals Alarming Air Pollution Crisis: Asia Bears Brunt, Urgent Action Needed Worldwide

A recent report has shed light on the alarming state of air pollution worldwide, particularly in Asia. The findings reveal that of the 100 cities grappling with the worst air quality, almost all were located in Asia, indicating a profound crisis that imperils the health of billions of individuals globally.

The report, conducted by IQAir, an organization dedicated to tracking air quality on a global scale, underscores the severity of the situation. It discloses that a staggering 83 out of these 100 cities were situated in India alone, surpassing the air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) by more than tenfold.

Specifically focusing on the presence of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5, the study highlights its pervasive and hazardous nature. PM2.5, originating from various sources such as the combustion of fossil fuels, dust storms, and wildfires, poses severe health risks upon inhalation, penetrating deep into lung tissue and even entering the bloodstream. The consequences include a heightened susceptibility to asthma, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and cognitive impairments, particularly in children.

Frank Hammes, the CEO of IQAir Global, emphasizes the far-reaching impacts of air pollution on human lives, stating, “We see that in every part of our lives that air pollution has an impact.” He notes that in heavily polluted countries, individuals may be losing up to six years of their lives due to air pollution-related ailments, highlighting the urgent need for improved air quality.

India, in particular, faces a dire situation, with cities like Begusarai in Bihar state ranking as the most polluted globally, with PM2.5 concentrations exceeding WHO guidelines by 23 times. Across the country, a staggering 1.3 billion people, constituting 96% of the population, are exposed to air quality levels far surpassing WHO recommendations.

The report identifies Central and South Asia as the worst-performing regions globally, with countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and Tajikistan ranking among the most polluted. Notably, South Asia stands out, with nearly all of the 30 most polluted cities located in India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.

Addressing the root causes of this crisis, Hammes emphasizes the necessity for significant changes in energy infrastructure and agricultural practices to mitigate pollution levels effectively. He also underscores the interconnectedness of outdoor and indoor air pollution, stressing that actions like cooking with dirty fuel exacerbate indoor air quality issues.

The report’s global analysis reveals a bleak reality, with a staggering 92.5% of locations worldwide exceeding WHO’s PM2.5 guidelines. Only a handful of countries and territories, including Finland, Estonia, and New Zealand, boast healthy air quality levels.

Tragically, air pollution-related health issues claim millions of lives annually. The burning of fossil fuels alone leads to the premature deaths of 5.1 million individuals annually, while combined ambient and household air pollution accounts for 6.7 million deaths yearly, according to WHO.

The report underscores the pivotal role of the climate crisis in exacerbating air pollution levels globally. Changing weather patterns, intensified wildfires, and prolonged pollen seasons contribute to worsening air quality, with vulnerable communities bearing the brunt of these environmental shifts.

While North America grapples with the aftermath of devastating wildfires, Asia experiences a resurgence in pollution levels, with China witnessing a reversal in declining pollution trends. Despite previous efforts to curb pollution, Chinese cities experienced a resurgence in smog, underscoring the challenges in sustaining clean air initiatives.

Southeast Asia also faces escalating pollution levels, with Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand registering significant increases. Thailand, in particular, grapples with toxic smog, prompting authorities to implement measures such as remote work arrangements to mitigate health risks.

However, amidst these dire circumstances, there are glimmers of hope. The report highlights growing civic engagement and pressure from various stakeholders to monitor and address air quality issues, signaling a promising shift towards prioritizing environmental health.

As Frank Hammes aptly summarizes, “Ultimately that’s great because it really shows governments that people do care.” This collective effort is crucial in driving meaningful change and safeguarding the health and well-being of communities worldwide.

U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry Reflects on Landmark Climate Agreement as Retirement Nears

Time was ticking away, and U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry was acutely aware of the urgency of the situation. In the midst of mid-December international climate talks, progress had stalled, with no consensus in sight on phasing out the use of oil, gas, and coal—the very fuels driving global warming.

The looming deadline of the United Nations-sponsored conference, set just after Kerry’s 80th birthday, added to the pressure. Moreover, Kerry’s long-time Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, who had collaborated with him on previous agreements, announced his retirement, signaling a potential loss of opportunity at the COP28 summit in Dubai.

Reflecting on this critical juncture, Kerry remarked during a recent interview with The Associated Press, conducted prior to his impending retirement: “It made me bear down and get to a lot more meetings, one-on-one and otherwise, and frankly dragooned a few other people into the effort to persuade and make the difference.”

In the midst of negotiations, there was a surprising shift. The energy minister of Saudi Arabia, a nation historically resistant to diplomatic efforts to limit fossil fuels due to its oil wealth, agreed to language concerning “transitioning away” from carbon-emitting energy sources.

However, Kerry remained cautious, recalling previous victories that had slipped away at the last moment. Yet, this time proved different.

Instead, the resulting agreement marked a significant milestone, what Kerry now regards as the culmination of three decades of global efforts to combat climate change, all achieved within a mere 48 hours.

“This was a major breakthrough,” Kerry affirmed, expressing readiness to step down from his climate diplomacy role after three years. His retirement plans were announced in January, with Wednesday marking his final day in office.

Reflecting on his tenure from his office at the U.S. State Department, Kerry highlighted the significance of the Dubai agreement. He underscored that unlike the 2015 Paris Agreement, which primarily required nations to implement self-written plans, the Dubai consensus mandated an urgent transition away from fossil fuels, encompassing all greenhouse gases.

Nevertheless, not everyone shares Kerry’s optimism regarding international climate efforts. Climate negotiations historian Joanna Depledge cautioned against overstating the significance of the Dubai agreement, describing it as “overblown.”

Kerry’s departure from his climate role doesn’t signify a complete disengagement from the issue. He intends to participate in future negotiations, albeit in a different capacity, with White House senior adviser John Podesta leading the U.S. delegation.

Looking ahead, Kerry emphasized the pivotal role of the private sector in implementing plans to reduce fossil fuel usage and promote renewable energy. He stressed the need for significant investment, estimated at $2 trillion to $5 trillion annually, to address climate change effectively.

Despite stepping down, Kerry’s continued involvement in climate affairs aligns with his longstanding dedication to environmental causes. Historian Douglas Brinkley noted that Kerry’s commitment to conservation dates back to the early days of his career, reflecting a deeply ingrained personal mission.

The absence of Kerry’s counterpart, Xie, raises questions about future agreements. Former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres highlighted the exceptional trust and rapport between Kerry and Xie, crucial for fostering international cooperation.

Recalling past challenges, Kerry emphasized the resilience required to navigate the complexities of climate negotiations. His decades-long career, marked by both successes and setbacks, has equipped him with the fortitude to persevere.

Looking beyond politics and diplomacy, Kerry emphasized his broader contributions, including his work as a prosecutor and involvement in various social causes. While retirement beckons, Kerry remains committed to constructive engagement, believing that purposeful action is essential for personal fulfillment.

Kerry’s dedication to climate action endures, underscoring his belief that meaningful engagement is fundamental to a fulfilling life.

 

2023 Marks Record-High Temperatures, Highlighting Urgency of Climate Action

The latest report from the Copernicus Climate Change Service underscores the severity of global warming, with 2023 standing out as the warmest year on record. This period from February 2023 to January 2024 marked an unprecedented streak of 12 consecutive months with temperatures surpassing those of the pre-industrial era by 1.5 degrees Celsius, a worrying milestone indicating the acceleration of climate change.

The sequence from 2015 to 2023 witnessed successive years of record warmth, with the El Niño event of 2023 expected to exacerbate conditions further into 2024. El Niño phenomena traditionally contribute to significant spikes in global temperatures, amplifying the intensity of heatwaves, atmospheric disturbances, and oceanic anomalies, thus heightening the complexity of disaster risks worldwide.

The manifestation of 1.5-degree warming has manifested in a myriad of climate-related disasters, ranging from heatwaves and droughts to floods and cyclones. These events have not only occurred with increased frequency but have also exhibited a greater magnitude and impact, with cascading consequences for ecosystems, infrastructure, and human livelihoods.

Heatwaves, in particular, have gripped numerous Asian nations, with 2023 witnessing unprecedented temperatures. A study by the World Weather Attribution found that the likelihood of such extreme heat events in countries like India and Bangladesh has increased significantly due to climate change, emphasizing the direct link between rising temperatures and extreme weather occurrences.

The warming of oceans and the atmosphere has fueled the intensification of tropical cyclones, leading to more frequent and severe storms. Notable cyclones in 2023, including Mocha, Biparjoy, Typhoon Doksuri, and tropical storm Jasper, exemplify this trend, with their trajectories and intensities reflecting the influence of heightened global temperatures.

Coastal cities face escalating risks from climate-related hazards, with events like Cyclone Michaung inundating megacities such as Chennai and Typhoon Doksuri causing unprecedented flooding in Beijing. These events underscore the vulnerability of urban centers to the impacts of climate change, necessitating urgent adaptation and resilience measures.

The monsoonal flooding experienced across South-East and South and South-West Asia during the 2023 southwest monsoon season further highlights the multifaceted nature of climate-related disasters. Deviations from typical monsoon patterns, coupled with interactions between atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial systems, have exacerbated the frequency and severity of flooding and landslides in the region.

The economic toll of climate change is significant, with the Asia-Pacific region bearing a disproportionate burden of natural disasters. In 2023 alone, the region experienced 145 reported natural hazard events, resulting in thousands of deaths, millions of affected individuals, and economic damages exceeding $45 billion. Projections indicate that under a 1.5-degree warming scenario, potential losses from disasters could soar to nearly $1 trillion, representing a substantial share of regional GDP and exacerbating socio-economic vulnerabilities.

Despite these challenges, 2023 also witnessed significant advancements in climate resilience and disaster risk reduction efforts. Initiatives such as the midterm review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the establishment of the G20 Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction, and the creation of funds and networks dedicated to addressing loss and damage from climate change demonstrate a growing recognition of the need for concerted action at local, national, and international levels.

Looking ahead, ESCAP’s regional strategy on empowering transboundary solutions and enhancing resilience through subregional cooperation will be crucial in addressing the escalating risks posed by climate change. While the warmest year on record serves as a stark reminder of the urgency of climate action, the opportunities presented in 2024 offer hope for a more resilient and sustainable future.

Lakshadweep: Island Paradise Emerges as Prime Tourist Destination After PM Modi’s Visit

When preparing to touch down on the Lakshadweep archipelago, situated in the Arabian Sea about 490 kilometers west of Kochi, India, a captivating panorama of blues greets the eye. The closest strip to the pristine white shores, adorned with countless coconut palms, presents a gentle hue of light blue. As the view extends towards the sea, the water transitions into shades of turquoise, and further out, it deepens into an emerald blue expanse.

“It’s truly captivating,” remarked Shradha Menon, a geologist from the Indian Institute of Technology, who made multiple visits to the islands over the past two years to investigate carbon sedimentation. On each journey, she found herself among a select few passengers on the 36-seat flight from Kochi to Lakshadweep, mostly comprising island residents and government officials.

However, recent times have witnessed a surge of interest in the islands among Indian travelers, sparked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in January 2024. Images of him strolling along the pristine beaches and snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters were shared on his official social media accounts, garnering hundreds of thousands of views. In his message, he expressed, “The beauty of Lakshadweep can’t be described in words. To those who like to visit beaches and islands around the world, I urge them to visit Lakshadweep.”

Subsequently, the archipelago found itself thrust into the limelight. Google searches for “Lakshadweep” spiked to their highest level in 20 years, reported The Economic Times. Mainstream media outlets suddenly featured travel articles, while YouTube and Instagram were inundated with videos and reels. MakeMyTrip, a major Indian travel booking platform, reported a staggering 3,400% surge in searches for Lakshadweep after Modi’s visit.

The Society for Promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports (SPORTS), responsible for tourism in Lakshadweep, experienced an unprecedented influx of inquiries. Abdul Samad, one of SPORTS’ water sports instructors who accompanied Modi during his snorkeling excursion, noted a drastic increase from one or two inquiries per day to at least 10 since the previous month. Cordelia Cruises, operating routes from Mumbai, Kochi, and Goa to Lakshadweep since September 2021, witnessed a staggering 2,500% surge in booking queries post-Modi’s visit.

Plans are already underway for new beach and water villas on Suheli and Kadmat islands, confirmed Samad. Additionally, during India’s budget speech on February 1, Finance Minister Neermala Sitharaman highlighted Lakshadweep’s inclusion in discussions regarding improved connectivity to India’s islands to boost tourism.

Lakshadweep, a speck in the Arabian Sea, comprises 36 islands, including 12 atolls, three reefs, and five submerged banks. With a population of approximately 70,000 on its 10 inhabited islands, the region relies predominantly on fishing and coconut cultivation.

Distinguished by its pristine white sands, Lakshadweep’s beaches stand apart from those along India’s mainland coast. Vardhan Patankar, with 15 years of experience in the region and serving as conservation director of GVI, elucidated that the atolls, unique to India, hover just above sea level. These formations, remnants of ancient volcanoes, gradually submerged to their current level, fostering coral rings protruding from the ocean’s surface. “Lakshadweep, mere meters above sea level, finds protection in its coral reefs,” Patankar explained.

Like many islands worldwide, Lakshadweep confronts the impacts of climate change. According to The Lakshadweep Research Collective, rapid coastal erosion threatens the archipelago’s land cover, with the loss of an entire island, Parali 1 in Bangaram atoll, documented in 2017. Moreover, the region has endured four significant ENSO-related temperature anomalies and three devastating cyclones in recent years, leading to widespread coral bleaching.

“Based on conservative estimates by scientists, Lakshadweep could succumb to submersion by 2050,” Patankar cautioned. He emphasized that any additional strain on the islands due to tourism or development projects, coupled with industrial fishing, could exacerbate the situation, hastening their demise.

In an effort to mitigate the impact of escalating tourism, SPORTS intends to maintain restrictions via a permit system. Encouraging cruise ships and yachts to visit the islands is part of their strategy, aiming to minimize overnight stays and thereby regulate waste production and preserve groundwater resources.

However, concerns linger among scientists regarding potential damage to the delicate coral reef barrier by large vessels, critical for deflecting storm surges. Furthermore, the construction of high-end villas and associated carbon footprints raise apprehensions, along with the potential escalation of commercial fishing to meet tourist demands.

“Tourism growth must be carefully regulated to ensure the sustainability of Lakshadweep’s ecology,” Menon stressed.

For travelers venturing to Lakshadweep, practicing environmental consciousness is paramount. Fortunately, a plethora of low-impact activities awaits exploration.

Renowned for its shallow waters and diverse marine life, Lakshadweep offers unparalleled snorkeling and scuba diving experiences. “Underwater visibility is exceptional, enhancing the allure of the reefs during diving and snorkeling expeditions,” noted Patankar.

The underwater realm teems with a vibrant array of marine species, including snappers, groupers, moray eels, butterflyfish, and black-blotched stingrays. Green sea turtles often grace the waters, sometimes visible even from the shores. Among the fascinating sightings is the yellowmask surgeonfish, which undergoes a striking color transformation from yellow to purple as it matures.

The night sky, unperturbed by light and air pollution, provides a mesmerizing spectacle. “I’ve never witnessed such a profusion of stars, constellations, and shooting stars as during my three-day sojourn on the island,” shared Shalina CV, who visited Lakshadweep with her family in September 2023. She added, “Lakshadweep epitomizes a serene island where time seems to stand still, enveloping visitors in a surreal tranquility.”

Night fishing presents another captivating adventure, allowing tourists to join local fishermen on boating excursions and try their hand at pole-and-line fishing for skipjack and yellowfin tuna. Government-operated dive centers offer a range of water sports, including kayaking, windsurfing, and parasailing.

Several locally-run homestays, such as Abdul Rahman Homestay and Feroze Homestay on Agatti island, and Kinak on Kalpeni island, provide clean and comfortable accommodations. Some enterprising locals have also established private tourism enterprises, such as Landiago, offering unique experiences like visits to Minicoy Island’s Juma Masjid or exploration of an old lighthouse. Booking trips through local operators not only contributes directly to Lakshadweep’s economy but also facilitates a deeper engagement with the islands’ culture and heritage.

“I believe the islands are safest in the hands of locals. Collaborating with them to empower and bolster their capacity to safeguard the islands represents the best hope for their preservation,” asserted Patankar.

New Study Reveals Surprising Cooling Trend in Himalayan Glaciers Amidst Global Warming

Research recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience reveals a surprising trend amidst the escalating global temperatures due to climate change: glaciers surrounding the world’s tallest mountains are experiencing a slight cooling during the warm season. The study, conducted at the Pyramid International Observatory, situated about 3.1 miles above sea level on the southern face of Mount Everest in the Khumbu Valley, presents intriguing insights into high-elevation climate dynamics.

For nearly four decades, the observatory has diligently collected data on various meteorological parameters, including air temperature, precipitation, humidity, and wind speed. The analysis of this extensive dataset uncovered a peculiar pattern: a decline in maximum daytime temperatures during the warmer months from May to October, amounting to approximately 0.040°C per year over the past 15 years.New Study Reveals Surprising Cooling Trend in Himalayan Glaciers Amidst Global Warming

Upon scrutinizing the data further, scientists corroborated this cooling trend with observations from neighboring weather stations across the southernmost regions of the Tibetan plateau. Surprisingly, the phenomenon wasn’t confined to Mount Everest; it spanned across the entire Himalayan range. This revelation contradicts prior assumptions, as a recent report indicated accelerated melting of Himalayan glaciers between 2010 and 2019, implying an overall warming trend in line with global climate trends.

Experts attribute this unexpected cooling to katabatic winds, a well-understood meteorological phenomenon. As sunlight warms the glaciers during the day, the air near the surface heats up and ascends, creating a vacuum that draws cold air downwards from the surrounding peaks. This process generates local katabatic winds, which peak in the afternoon, often exceeding speeds of 100 mph. With rising global temperatures amplifying this effect, the intensified katabatic winds contribute to the observed cooling trend by facilitating the descent of colder air.

New Study Reveals Surprising Cooling Trend in Himalayan Glaciers Amidst Global Warming

Interestingly, researchers speculate that these chilly winds might have mitigated glacier melt to some extent, counteracting potentially more severe outcomes. However, the study highlights a caveat: while daytime temperatures exhibit a cooling trend, nighttime temperatures during colder months (November to April) are on the rise. This nuanced interplay results in a deceptive impression of temperature trends, ultimately underscoring the inevitability of glacier melt amidst climate change.

The intricate relationship between glaciers and local climate dynamics underscores the critical role of ice in modulating temperature variations. Glacier ice acts as a thermal buffer, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it at night, thereby tempering temperature extremes in the vicinity. Consequently, temperature readings farther away from the glacier provide a more accurate reflection of daily temperature fluctuations, which significantly influence glacial melting processes.

Franco Salerno, the lead author of the study and an environmental scientist at the National Research Council, Institute of Polar Sciences, Milan, expresses relief at finally unraveling this complex phenomenon after nearly a decade of observation. He anticipates that the findings will pave the way for further research into local weather dynamics, shedding light on the intricate mechanisms shaping mountain climates.New Study Reveals Surprising Cooling Trend in Himalayan Glaciers Amidst Global Warming

Beyond its scientific implications, the study underscores the profound impact of glaciers on local mountain environments, particularly for climbers. The intensification of katabatic winds poses heightened risks for mountaineers, necessitating careful route assessment and navigation. Gordon Janow, director of the mountain climbing guide service Alpine Ascents, laments the increasing technical challenges and extended durations required for summit attempts, attributing these changes to the evolving mountain environment.

Moreover, the melting of glaciers, driven by these local weather phenomena, poses challenges not only in the Himalayas but also in mountains worldwide. Mount Rainier, a renowned training ground for mountaineers, exemplifies this trend, with changing terrain and increased hazards complicating ascent routes. Janow emphasizes the need for a nuanced understanding of contemporary mountain environments, cautioning against presumptions based on past experiences.

In essence, the research illuminates the complex interplay between climate change, local weather dynamics, and glacial responses, underscoring the need for comprehensive strategies to mitigate the impacts on mountain ecosystems and mountaineering activities alike.

Study Reveals Greenland’s Ice Loss 36 Times Size of NYC, Rapidly Greening Landscapes Threaten Indigenous Livelihoods and Escalate Climate Concerns

The expanse of ice vanishing in Greenland over the last thirty years equates to roughly 36 times the size of New York City, a new study reveals. This area is swiftly transitioning into wetlands and shrubbery, as indicated by satellite analysis.

Between the mid-1980s and the mid-2010s, Greenland witnessed a twofold increase in vegetation. Previously glaciated regions now exhibit barren landscapes, wetlands, or shrub-covered terrains. Notably, wetlands expanded fourfold during this period.

Satellite imagery analysis unveiled a loss of 28,707 square kilometers (about 11,000 square miles) of ice across Greenland during the examined three decades. The researchers caution about a chain reaction of consequences with profound implications for climate change and rising sea levels.

Rising air temperatures have spurred ice loss, consequently elevating land temperatures. This has led to permafrost thawing, releasing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, amplifying global warming. Moreover, permafrost melt induces land destabilization, potentially jeopardizing infrastructure.

Jonathan Carrivick, one of the study’s authors, highlights secondary effects stemming from ice loss, such as the proliferation of vegetation in previously ice-covered areas. He explains, “We have seen signs that the loss of ice is triggering other reactions which will result in further loss of ice and further ‘greening’ of Greenland, where shrinking ice exposes bare rock that is then colonized by tundra and eventually shrub.”

The disappearance of ice initiates a feedback loop. With less ice to reflect solar energy, more heat is absorbed, escalating land temperatures and exacerbating the cycle of melting. Moreover, increased water from ice melt in lakes absorbs more heat than snow, further raising land temperatures.

Greenland has experienced double the global average rate of warming since the 1970s, suggesting more extreme temperatures in the future. As the world’s largest island, mostly covered in ice and glaciers, Greenland sustains approximately 57,000 inhabitants, predominantly indigenous peoples reliant on natural ecosystems for sustenance.

Lead author Michael Grimes emphasizes the adverse effects of sediment and nutrient runoff into coastal waters, particularly for indigenous communities dependent on fishing and hunters in other regions of the island. He states, “These changes are critical, particularly for the indigenous populations whose traditional subsistence hunting practices rely on the stability of these delicate ecosystems.”

Furthermore, the loss of ice mass in Greenland significantly contributes to global sea level rise, posing substantial challenges presently and in the future.

Winning Wildlife: Polar Bear Slumber Image Clinches Photographer of the Year

A mesmerizing depiction of a youthful polar bear settling into slumber atop an iceberg, captured by British hobbyist photographer Nima Sarikhani, clinched the esteemed Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.

Dr. Douglas Gurr, the director of the Natural History Museum, hailed Sarikhani’s composition, remarking, “Sarikhani’s breathtaking and poignant image allows us to see the beauty and fragility of our planet.” Gurr emphasized the significance of the image, highlighting its role as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness between animals and their habitats, and its portrayal of the adverse effects of climate change and habitat loss.

Sarikhani’s journey to produce this evocative image involved three days of scouring Norway’s Svalbard archipelago amidst dense fog in search of polar bears.

Enthusiasts of wildlife photography and nature enthusiasts worldwide were encouraged to cast their votes from a curated selection of 25 images. Alongside Sarikhani’s winning entry, four other exceptional finalists received “highly commended” recognition.

“The Happy Turtle” by Tzahi Finkelstein captured a serendipitous moment as the photographer, ensconced in his hide, observed shorebirds, only to chance upon a Balkan pond turtle wading in shallow waters, adorned with an unexpected visitor—a dragonfly perched upon its nose.

Daniel Dencescu’s “Starling Murmuration” unfolded after relentless hours trailing starlings across the urban and suburban landscapes of Rome, culminating in a mesmerizing spectacle as the birds coalesced into the form of a colossal avian figure on a cloudless winter day.

Mark Boyd’s “Shared Parenting” provided a touching glimpse into the familial dynamics of a pride of lions in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Mara, as two lionesses embarked on a hunting expedition, leaving their five cubs concealed amidst dense foliage overnight. Upon their return, the lionesses summoned the cubs onto the open grasslands, engaging in nurturing grooming rituals.

“Aurora Jellies” by Audun Rikardsen showcased a unique technical prowess, as Rikardsen shielded his equipment in a meticulously crafted waterproof housing to capture a single exposure of moon jellyfish enveloped by the ethereal glow of the aurora borealis in the brisk waters of a fjord outside Tromsø, in northern Norway.

These captivating images will be available for viewing both online and at London’s Natural History Museum until 30 June, inviting audiences to marvel at the beauty and complexity of the natural world captured through the lenses of talented photographers.

India’s Green Leap: Scaling Climate Performance on the Global Stage

India’s ascent to the 7th position in the 2023 Global Climate Performance Index (CCPI) is not just a climb up the rankings, but a transformative leap onto the world stage as a climate leader. This remarkable achievement reflects the nation’s unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship, spearheaded by a relentless pursuit of green initiatives under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Renewable Energy: Powering a Greener Future

At the heart of India’s climate action lies a resolute shift towards renewable energy. The Modi government has unleashed an ambitious renewable energy expansion program, propelling the country to become the world’s fourth-largest producer of solar power. As of January 2024, India boasts an impressive 72.02 GW of installed solar capacity, a testament to its dedication to clean energy generation.

“India’s rapid deployment of renewables is a game-changer in the fight against climate change,” remarked UN Secretary-General António Guterres during COP-28. “Their commitment to solar power is a beacon of hope for developing nations looking to decarbonize their economies while ensuring energy security.”

Electric Mobility: Revving Up Sustainability

Embracing the future of transportation, India has charted an ambitious course with the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMP) 2020. This visionary initiative aims to electrify the nation’s roads, targeting 6-7 million annual sales of electric vehicles by 2030. The government’s strategic mix of fiscal and monetary incentives is paving the way for a smooth transition to a cleaner, greener transportation landscape.

“India’s NEMP is a bold and necessary step towards curbing emissions and improving air quality,” stated Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action. “Their focus on electric mobility positions them as a pioneer in this critical domain, inspiring other developing nations to follow suit.”

International Solar Alliance: Illuminating the Global Path

Prime Minister Modi’s leadership extends beyond national borders, as he champions the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a global coalition dedicated to harnessing the sun’s potential. Founded in 2015 with France, the ISA has steadily grown into a formidable force, uniting nations between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn in their pursuit of solar energy solutions.

“The ISA is a shining example of international cooperation in the fight against climate change,” lauded French President Emmanuel Macron. “By empowering developing nations to tap into their abundant solar resources, the ISA is helping to alleviate energy poverty and mitigate climate change, paving the way for a more sustainable future for all.”

Beyond Rankings: A Holistic Approach to Climate Action

India’s commitment to climate action extends far beyond mere rankings. The nation has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 45% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2070, ambitious targets backed by concrete policies and initiatives. These include:

Graph of India’s Rise in the CCPI

  • Green Infrastructure Development: Promoting smart cities, eco-friendly buildings, and sustainable urban planning to create resilient communities.
  • Forestry and Wildlife Conservation: Restoring forests, protecting endangered species, and enhancing biodiversity to sequester carbon and maintain ecological balance.
  • Adaptation Strategies: Building resilience against climate change impacts through flood control, drought management, and early warning systems.

Voices from the Ground

Beyond statistics and policies, India’s climate action is impacting the lives of its citizens in real and tangible ways. Take, for example, Rakesh Yadav, a farmer in Rajasthan who switched to solar irrigation pumps. “Since using solar power, my electricity bills have come down significantly, and I am able to irrigate my land more efficiently,” he says. “It’s been a game-changer for my livelihood.”

Or consider Asha Devi, a resident of Delhi who now commutes to work via the city’s expanding metro network. “The cleaner air thanks to fewer cars on the road has made a noticeable difference in my health,” she shares. “I feel more energetic and have fewer respiratory problems.”

These are just a few examples of how India’s climate initiatives are creating a positive ripple effect across the nation, touching the lives of people from all walks of life.

Challenges and the Road Ahead

While India’s climate achievements are undeniable, challenges remain. Ensuring equitable access to clean energy solutions in rural areas, managing the integration of renewables into the grid

Stunning Transformation: World’s Largest Iceberg Reveals Spectacular Erosion as It Drifts from Antarctica, Highlighting Climate Change Impact

Erosion has sculpted massive arches and cavernous hollows into the world’s largest iceberg as it drifts away from Antarctica, as evidenced by stunning new photographs. The captivating images were taken by photographers aboard a vessel operated by EYOS Expeditions, navigating a section of the colossal A23a iceberg. The photos vividly depict the immense scale of the iceberg, surpassing twice the size of London, as it extends into the distant horizon.

The captured images showcase profound surface cracks and intricately carved caves on the iceberg’s surface. The A23a iceberg is undergoing a gradual erosion process as it travels northward from Antarctica, encountering milder air and warmer ocean temperatures. According to a spokesperson from EYOS Expeditions, the expedition team observed chunks of the iceberg breaking off and plunging into the sea.

After nearly three decades grounded on the seafloor in Antarctica, the A23a iceberg is now on the move. Originating from the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf in 1986, the massive ice mass calved and promptly grounded on the Weddell Sea floor in Antarctica. Measuring about 400 meters (1,312 feet) thick and covering an area of nearly 4,000 square kilometers (1,544 square miles), the iceberg is more than three times the size of Los Angeles.

A23a has held the title of the “largest current iceberg” multiple times since the 1980s, occasionally being surpassed by larger but shorter-lived icebergs such as A68 in 2017 and A76 in 2021. The colossal iceberg is destined to eventually vanish completely.

Scientists assert that while the detachment of this particular iceberg likely occurred as part of the natural growth cycle of the ice shelf, climate change is inducing alarming transformations in this expansive and secluded continent, potentially leading to catastrophic consequences for global sea level rise. In February of the previous year, Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest extent since records began, measuring at 691,000 square miles.

The photographs taken during the EYOS Expeditions showcase the dynamic nature of the A23a iceberg as it undergoes erosion and fragmentation. The deep surface cracks and hollowed-out caves on the iceberg’s surface are testament to the transformative effects of its journey away from Antarctica.

The A23a iceberg’s movement is a significant development after nearly thirty years of being grounded on the Antarctic seafloor. Having broken away from the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf in 1986, the iceberg has undergone a prolonged period of stability before its recent drift. The vast thickness of the iceberg, measuring at 400 meters (1,312 feet), adds to its impressive dimensions, making it a formidable presence in the ocean.

EYOS Expeditions, responsible for the captivating photographs, has been actively engaged in exploring the A23a iceberg’s trajectory. The expedition team, witnessing chunks of the iceberg breaking off and entering the sea, provides valuable insights into the ongoing process of erosion. The visual documentation of the iceberg’s transformation serves as a unique contribution to understanding the dynamics of such colossal ice masses.

The A23a iceberg, covering an expansive area of almost 4,000 square kilometers (1,544 square miles), has consistently claimed the title of the “largest current iceberg” since the 1980s. Despite occasional challenges from larger but short-lived icebergs like A68 in 2017 and A76 in 2021, A23a has maintained its position as a prominent feature in the Antarctic landscape.

The inevitable disappearance of the A23a iceberg is a natural progression, considering its detached status and the ongoing erosive forces at play. The iceberg’s journey away from Antarctica, encountering milder air and warmer ocean temperatures, accelerates its deterioration. The visual documentation of chunks breaking off into the sea serves as a poignant reminder of the transient nature of these colossal ice masses.

Scientists emphasize that while the detachment of the A23a iceberg aligns with the natural growth cycle of ice shelves, the broader context of climate change raises concerns for Antarctica. The continent’s isolation and vast expanse make it a critical indicator of climate-related shifts, with potential repercussions for global sea level rise. The visible impact on the A23a iceberg underscores the urgency of addressing climate change to mitigate its far-reaching consequences.

In a broader environmental context, the Antarctic sea ice’s record-low extent in February of the previous year serves as a troubling indicator of changing climate patterns. The extent, measured at 691,000 square miles, marks a historic low point since records began. This alarming trend further underscores the need for concerted efforts to address climate change and its cascading effects on polar regions and, consequently, global sea levels.

The captivating photographs of the A23a iceberg taken by EYOS Expeditions offer a visual narrative of its dynamic transformation as it journeys away from Antarctica. The erosion, surface cracks, and cavernous hollows captured in the images provide a unique perspective on the natural processes shaping these colossal ice masses. As the A23a iceberg continues its drift, scientists emphasize the broader implications of climate change on Antarctica, underscoring the urgent need for global efforts to address and mitigate environmental challenges. The visual documentation of the iceberg’s evolution serves as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance in polar ecosystems and the interconnectedness of climate-related changes on a global scale.

2023 Emerges as Earth’s Warmest Year on Record, Signaling Accelerated Warming

In a conclusive declaration, scientists affirm that Earth experienced its warmest year in 150 years, providing irrefutable evidence of the escalating global temperature crisis. The relentless surge in temperatures began gaining momentum midway through the year, shattering records month after month.

Quoting the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, last year’s global temperatures averaged 1.48 degrees Celsius (2.66 Fahrenheit) higher than the second half of the 19th century, surpassing the previous record-holder, 2016. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) concurred, with NASA reporting a 1.37-degree Celsius rise from preindustrial levels and NOAA indicating a 1.34-degree Celsius increase over the preindustrial average.

Despite variations in methodology, the consensus is unanimous: 2023 stands out as the hottest year on record by a considerable margin. Russell Vose, Chief of Climate Monitoring and Assessment at NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, remarked, “This is a big jump,” underscoring the gravity of the situation during the announcement of the agency’s findings.

The link between unrestrained greenhouse gas emissions and the surge in global temperatures comes as no surprise to climate scientists. The burning question now is whether 2023 signifies the onset of a trend where heat records are not just broken but obliterated, suggesting an acceleration in the planet’s warming.

Carlo Buontempo, Director of the European Union climate monitor, added a historical perspective, noting that when combining satellite readings with geological evidence, 2023 ranks among the warmest years in at least 100,000 years. “There were simply no cities, no books, agriculture, or domesticated animals on this planet the last time the temperature was so high,” he emphasized.

Each tenth of a degree in global warming amplifies thermodynamic fuel, intensifying heatwaves, storms, and contributing to rising seas, along with hastening the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. The repercussions were vividly apparent in 2023, with scorching temperatures affecting Iran, China, Greece, Spain, Texas, and the American South. Canada bore witness to its most devastating wildfire season on record, consuming over 45 million acres. Additionally, less sea ice formed around the coasts of Antarctica, both in summer and winter, than ever before.

NOAA’s Chief Scientist, Sarah Kapnick, stressed the need for preparedness in the face of climate change impacts, urging communities, businesses, and individuals to utilize the released data to build resilience for the future.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, nations pledged to restrict long-term global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees. However, current greenhouse gas emission rates are on track to render the 1.5-degree target unattainable in the near future.

2023 Emerges as Earth's Warmest Year on Record Signaling Accelerated Warming

While carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases remain the primary drivers of global warming, 2023 saw additional natural and human-induced factors contributing to the temperature surge. The underwater volcano eruption near Tonga in 2022 released substantial water vapor into the atmosphere, trapping more heat. Limits on sulfur pollution from ships also reduced aerosol levels, tiny particles that reflect solar radiation and aid in cooling the planet.

Another significant factor was El Niño, a cyclical shift in tropical Pacific weather patterns, often associated with global heat records. However, the unusual timing of last year’s El Niño, starting midyear, suggests it was not the primary driver of the abnormal warmth, leaving scientists wary of potentially higher temperatures in 2024.

Climate scientists caution against drawing sweeping conclusions from a single exceptional year like 2023. Nonetheless, other indicators point to an accelerated pace of global warming. Approximately 90 percent of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases accumulates in the oceans, and recent data indicates a significant acceleration in the oceans’ heat uptake since the 1990s.

Sarah Purkey, an oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, highlighted the non-linear nature of this acceleration, suggesting a rapid increase. In France, a group of researchers found that Earth’s overall heating across oceans, land, air, and ice had been accelerating since 1960, aligning with the trends of increased carbon emissions and reduced aerosols in recent decades.

However, scientists acknowledge the need for continued research to comprehend potential additional factors at play, emphasizing that “something unusual is happening that we don’t understand,” according to Karina von Schuckmann, an oceanographer at Mercator Ocean International in Toulouse, France.

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/09/climate/2023-warmest-year-record.html?smid=nytcore-android-share

India’s Dilemma: Balancing AC Boom and Climate Crisis as Rising Temperatures Push Demand

In the scorching heat of India’s capital this summer, Ramesh found himself laboring under the burning sun to provide for his family. Despite feeling faint, he had no choice but to continue working. Living in a congested suburb in western Delhi with his extended family, Ramesh experienced firsthand the unbearable heat that has become synonymous with the city in recent years.

“The heat is becoming unbearable,” he lamented. “But we do not have a choice, we have to work.”

To cope with the rising temperatures, Ramesh borrowed $35, nearly half of his monthly salary, to purchase a second-hand air conditioner for his home. Despite its imperfections, including noise and occasional dust release, the AC was a necessity for his family’s well-being.

This predicament reflects the paradox faced by India, where increasing wealth and temperatures drive the demand for air conditioners. By 2050, India is expected to be among the first places where temperatures exceed survivability limits, and the demand for air conditioners is projected to rise nine-fold, outpacing all other appliances, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Ramesh’s struggle highlights a broader question raised by climate scientists: should developing nations bear the cost of reducing emissions when they are among the least responsible for the surge in greenhouse gases? At the recent COP28 climate talks in Dubai, India, a rapidly growing economy, was not among the countries that pledged to cut emissions from cooling systems.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized the need for developing countries to have a fair share in the global carbon budget, but India finds itself at the forefront of the climate crisis. The challenge is how to balance development goals while ensuring environmental protection.

India’s population, especially in the more tropical southern regions, heavily relies on air conditioning for physical and mental well-being. Over the past five decades, the country has experienced over 700 heat wave events, claiming more than 17,000 lives. In June alone, temperatures soared to 47 degrees Celsius, resulting in at least 44 deaths and numerous heat-related illnesses.

According to a World Bank report, by 2030, India may account for 34 million of the projected 80 million global job losses from heat stress. With over 50% of the workforce engaged in agriculture, the risks are significant. As incomes rise and urban populations grow, the ownership of air conditioners has surged.

Electricity consumption in India from cooling, including AC and refrigerators, increased by 21% between 2019 and 2022, according to the IEA. By 2050, India’s total electricity demand from residential air conditioners is expected to surpass the total electricity consumption in all of Africa today. However, this demand exacerbates the global climate crisis, as many air conditioners use harmful greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and large amounts of electricity generated from fossil fuels.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that, if unchecked, air conditioning-related greenhouse gas emissions could contribute to a 0.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of the century.

India faces a dilemma, caught between the need for economic growth and the imperative to limit cooling-related emissions. At the COP summit, 63 countries pledged to cut their emissions from cooling systems by 68% by 2050. However, India did not join this group. Despite this, experts acknowledge India’s important leadership in sustainable cooling domestically, though international partners hope for future collaboration.

Under the 2016 Kigali Amendment, India is phasing out HFCs and replacing them with more climate-friendly options. Radhika Khosla, an associate professor at Oxford University, emphasizes the importance of providing assistance to countries lacking access to adequate cooling to meet the costs of energy improvement.

“Cooling is now on the global agenda,” she said. “But the hard work must begin to ensure everyone can stay cool without further heating the planet.”

Passive cooling strategies, such as planting trees, creating water bodies, promoting courtyard spaces, and enhancing ventilation, are suggested by Khosla as sustainable measures. Installing ceiling fans can reduce household energy consumption for cooling by over 20%.

India has committed to reducing its power demand for cooling purposes by 20-25% by 2038 under its Cooling Action Plan, seen as one of the first comprehensive national plans globally. Renewable energy is growing rapidly in India, putting the country on track to meet its emission reduction targets.

Despite being a significant contributor to the climate crisis, India remains proactive in finding climate solutions, as stated by Leena Nandan, India’s secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

“We have gone on to scale up our climate ambitions,” she asserted.

However, the visible impact of India’s AC boom is evident in urban areas, with construction sites dotting the capital and the rise of high-rise towers. While some, like businessman Penta Anil Kumar, consciously opt for energy-efficient models, others like laborer Ghasiram, who struggles to afford even a second-hand AC, remain unaware of the emissions contributing to rising temperatures.

“The heat has gotten worse over the years,” Ghasiram said. “When I need to step out to work in the heat, I feel nervous. I prefer to not go out.”

To Avoid Himalayan Disasters, We Must Heed To Geological Warnings

Frequent landslides, the Kedarnath tragedy, a sinking Joshimath and the most recent Silkyara tunnel collapse are among the disasters that have kept the spotlight on the Himalayan region and the debate about the dangers of construction in this fragile mountain terrain. The Himalayas are young and still under the mountain forming process or orogeny, resulting in stability issues and complex geological conditions. A situation which in this case is also aggravated by earthquake occurrences as it is an active seismic zone. These have led to the question repeatedly being asked, “how safe is it” to construct here.

It is a situation and a question that India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, countries located around these mountains, are constantly confronting. However, balanced with the need for roadways, tunnels, hydropower projects to harness the continuous water supply from perennial snow-fed rivers, there is no let-up in construction here.

Drawing attention to the hazards involved is the latest event, Silkyara. The Silkyara Bend–Barkot tunnel was being constructed as part of the Char Dham project, which is intended to connect the Char Dham pilgrimage sites with two-lane, all-weather paved roads. The tunnel located on the Yamunotri end of NH134, connects Dharasu with Yamunotri.

Avoid Himalayan Disasters We Must Heed To Geological Warnings (NYT)
Picture: NYTimes

“The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather connectivity to Yamunotri, one of the dham on the Chardham Yatra, encouraging regional socio-economic development, trade and tourism within the country,” said a Press Information Bureau release announcing clearance of the Silkyara Bend-Barkot tunnel by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister in February 2018.  The tunnel was approved as part of the Chardham Mahamarg Paryojana, the PIB release said. The little over 4.5km long tunnel shortens the route by about 20 kilometres and travel time by about an hour. On November 12 while work was in progress a section of the Silkyara Bend–Barkot tunnel collapsed trapping 41 construction workers inside. As everybody now knows, after a rescue operation that lasted 17 days and drew global attention, all 41 workers were safely rescued.

Multiple questions on tunnel cave-in

The tunnel cave-in has raised multiple questions about the reasons for the collapse. There have been many media reports on the collapse and often a recapitulation of earlier events. But most of them have made vague and generalised statements about the Himalayas being a ‘young’ and ‘fragile’ mountain chain and the terrain being ‘unsuitable’ for large infrastructure projects. Many media reports have also blamed ‘tectonic faults’ for the collapse.

However, these are generalisations and such reports do not provide a good understanding of the geological setup which is extremely important in comprehending the reasons for such mishaps. An understanding of geology would offer an insight into what went wrong and help prevent such occurrences in future. So, in cases like the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel, a better approach is to look at the local geological picture rather than making general remarks about the fragility of the Himalayan-mountain chain, which doesn’t really convey anything significant.

The tunnel passes through the Garhwal Himalaya, west of Uttarkashi. This region is characterised by multiple superimposed thrust faults. The most important among them is North Almora Thrust, which is known for neotectonic activity and earthquakes.  The North Almora Thrust itself is displaced by two steeply inclined, near vertical tear faults known as Koteshwar and Barkot Faults which are close to Barkot.

The broad lithology (general type of rocks) of this area consists mainly of metamorphic rocks such as phyllites and metavolcanic rocks. These rocks are known as the Chandpur Group in stratigraphy which is the branch of geology concerned with the order and relative position of strata and their relationship to the geological timescale. According to geologists, these metamorphic rocks are tightly folded, cut by faults at places, foliated and the foliation has a steep dip (38 to 550). It is not known for sure, whether the tunnel cuts across a major fault, but it probably passes through the tightly folded and deformed metamorphic rocks.

A geological report before the commencement of the Silkyara tunnel project has shown that the proposed tunnel could encounter weak rocks and adequate support structure would be needed to prop up the weak rocks. According to the report, the “rock type to be encountered along the diversion tunnels would be 20% good (Class 2), 50% fair (Class 3), 15% poor (Class 4) and 15% very poor (Class 4)”. The report has also highlighted possibility of wedge failure or rotational failure in the tunnel. When rotational failure occurs, the failed surface will begin to move outwards and downwards. It occurs when rotation by a slip surface causes the slope surface to curve.

Need for geological mapping

This draws attention to the need and extreme importance of detailed geological investigations in such situations. A detailed geological mapping followed by several exploratory drill holes and detailed core-logs help in deciphering the lithology and structure of the location and safety/precautionary measures, if any, can be put in place. This is followed by RMR (Rock Mass Rating) classification of the rock types which assigns ratings to the rock mass based on properties such as the number of discontinuities (such as fractures) in the rock, spacing between discontinuities, nature of the fractures, groundwater, and rock quality designation (RQD) index. RMR classifications help in understanding the possible behaviour of the rock and then engineers can decide the kind of construction and precautionary measures that need to be put in place.

Speaking about the tunnel project, in an interview to a newspaper, Prof. Navin Juyal, a prominent and respected geologist, has said “First of all if the 4.5 km road tunnel project in the sensitive Himalayas region was taken up based on this geological report, it is insufficient. One cannot know the type of rocks by just three exploratory drillings. Further, the report clearly says there was no very good quality rock in the area where the tunnel was being built. Only 20% of rock is of good quality, the rest is fair and poor and very poor. The report admits that the area was not geologically stable.”

This statement clearly points out and highlights the need for a meticulous geological survey, besides geological investigations, before undertaking any construction project in terra infirma like the Himalayan-mountain chain. A number of such disasters could have been avoided if local geology was understood or warnings from experts had been heeded.

(The author is a noted geologist. Views are personal. By special arrangement with The Billion Press)

Read more at: https://www.southasiamonitor.org/index.php/perspective/avoiding-himalayan-disasters-need-heed-geological-warnings

Himalayan Glaciers Unveil a Surprising Ally Against Climate Change

Glaciers in the Himalayas are rapidly melting, but a recent report reveals a remarkable phenomenon in the world’s tallest mountain range that might be mitigating the impacts of the global climate crisis.

In a study published on December 4 in the journal Nature Geoscience, researchers discovered that when warming temperatures affect high-altitude ice masses, it triggers an unexpected reaction—powerful cold winds that cascade down the slopes, providing a cooling effect in the lower areas of the glaciers and adjacent ecosystems.

Francesca Pellicciotti, a professor of glaciology at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria and lead author of the study, explained, “This leads to an increase in turbulent heat exchange at the glacier’s surface and stronger cooling of the surface air mass.”

As the cool, dry surface air becomes denser, it sinks and flows down the slopes into the valleys, creating a cooling effect in the lower regions of the glaciers. Given that the ice and snow from the Himalayan range feed into 12 rivers, supplying fresh water to nearly 2 billion people across 16 countries, understanding the sustainability of this self-preserving cooling effect is crucial in the face of anticipated temperature increases in the coming decades.

The alarming rate of glacier melt in the Himalayas was highlighted in a June report, indicating a 65% faster melt in the 2010s compared to the previous decade. Fanny Brun, a research scientist at the Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement in Grenoble, France, emphasized, “The main impact of rising temperature on glaciers is an increase of ice losses, due to melt increase.”

The lengthening and intensification of the melt season lead to glacier thinning and retreat, resulting in deglaciated landscapes that contribute to further temperature increases due to the albedo effect. Brun explained, “Light or ‘white’ surfaces such as clean snow and ice will reflect more sunlight (high albedo) compared with ‘dark’ surfaces such as the land that is exposed as glaciers retreat, soil, and oceans (low albedo).”

Surprisingly, at the base of Mount Everest, overall temperature averages appeared stable despite the region experiencing glacier melt. Franco Salerno, coauthor of the report and researcher for the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), noted, “While the minimum temperatures have been steadily on the rise, the surface temperature maxima in summer were consistently dropping.”

However, the cooling winds are insufficient to fully counteract the impact of increasing temperatures and glacier melt. Thomas Shaw from the ISTA research group with Pellicciotti commented, “The cooling is local, but perhaps still not sufficient to overcome the larger impact of climatic warming and fully preserve the glaciers.”

The scarcity of data in high-elevation areas globally prompted the study team to focus on using ground observation records from a climate station located at 5,050 meters (16,568 feet) on the southern slopes of Mount Everest—the Pyramid International Laboratory/Observatory. The station has recorded detailed meteorological data for almost 30 years.

Pellicciotti emphasized the global relevance of the process highlighted in the study, stating, “The process we highlighted in the paper is potentially of global relevance and may occur on any glacier worldwide where conditions are met.”

The study underscores the importance of collecting more high-elevation, long-term data to substantiate these findings and assess their broader impacts. Pellicciotti urged, “The new study provides a compelling motivation to collect more high-elevation, long-term data that are strongly needed to prove the new findings and their broader impacts.”

The Pyramid International Laboratory/Observatory climate station, located at a glacierized elevation of 5,050 meters, played a pivotal role in the research. Pellicciotti, Salerno, and their team utilized detailed meteorological observations from the station to conclude that warming temperatures trigger katabatic winds—a phenomenon where cold winds flow downhill, common in mountainous regions, including the Himalayas.

“Katabatic winds are a common feature of Himalayan glaciers and their valleys, and have likely always occurred,” Pellicciotti said. “What we observe, however, is a significant increase in intensity and duration of katabatic winds, and this is due to the fact that the surrounding air temperatures have increased in a warming world.”

The team also observed higher ground-level ozone concentrations correlated with lower temperatures, indicating that katabatic winds act as a pump transporting cold air from higher elevations down to the valley.

Comparing glacier loss in the Central Himalaya to Europe, Brun highlighted that, on average, glaciers in the Central Himalaya have thinned about 9 meters over the past two decades—a significantly lower rate than glaciers in Europe, which have thinned about 20 meters over the same period. Understanding how long these glaciers can locally counteract global warming is crucial for addressing climate change effectively.

Study coauthor Nicolas Guyennon, a researcher at the National Research Council of Italy, expressed optimism, stating, “We believe that the katabatic winds are the response of healthy glaciers to rising global temperatures and that this phenomenon could help preserve the permafrost and surrounding vegetation.”

However, further analysis is needed, and the research team aims to identify the glacial characteristics favoring the cooling effect. Pellicciotti emphasized the need for more long-term ground stations, stating, “Even if the glaciers can’t preserve themselves forever, they might still preserve the environment around them for some time. Thus, we call for more multidisciplinary research approaches to converge efforts toward explaining the effects of global warming.”

The surprising discovery of katabatic winds in the Himalayas provides a potential ally in the fight against climate change. While the glaciers are still under threat from rising temperatures, this natural cooling mechanism offers hope for the preservation of the delicate ecosystems and water sources dependent on the Himalayan ice and snow. The study underscores the need for continued research and data collection to fully understand the broader implications of this phenomenon and to develop effective strategies for addressing the challenges posed by a changing climate.

Faith Pavilion Adds Spiritual Dimension to Climate Crisis Resolution

(IPS) – For the first time at COP28, faith has a pavilion alongside science, technology, nations, and philanthropy, allowing religious leaders from all over the world to discuss the potential for using spiritual merits to protect the earth from climate change.
Syed Salman Chishty, representing India’s largest spiritual shrine, Ajmer Sharief, gave IPS the rationale for the pavilion: “As we gather at COP28, we are reminded of the importance of justice and compassion as guiding principles for transformation—this is the overarching theme of the event—the need for genuine change rooted in universal values found in diverse cultures.”

The Ajmer Sharief shrine is the tomb of Moinuddin Chishti, a 13th-century Iranian Sufi saint and philosopher who made India his final abode. People of all faiths venerate his shrine, which is often described as a symbol of India’s pluralism.

The Faith Pavilion at COP28 has also brought together heads of countries, religious leaders, scientists, and activists in a united front against the looming threat of climate change. Among the dignitaries present at its opening was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with spiritual luminaries, climate activists, and representatives of global think tanks.

Faith Pavilion Adds Spiritual Dimension to Climate Crisis Resolution (BNN)
Picture: BNN

The Coalition of Faith Partners and the USA both supported the initiative, which has co-hosts like the UAE’s Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence, Judge Mohamed AbdlSalaam of the Muslim Council of Elders in Abu Dhabi, and Iyad Abumoghil, Director of Faith for Earth at the UN Environment Program (UNEP) in Nairobi.

The Faith Pavilion at COP28 aims to tap into the power of faith communities and religious institutions to address the climate crisis. A diverse array of leaders congregated to explore the potential of spirituality in combating environmental challenges. The discussions were not merely about policies and technologies; rather, they delved into the profound realms of justice, compassion, and conscious transformation.

The Call to Consciousness event panel featured international delegates such as Audrey Kitagawa, founder and President of the International Academy for Multicultural Cooperation in the USA; Ben Bowler, Executive Director of Unity Earth in Australia; Ambassador Mussie Hailu of the United Religious Initiative in Ethiopia; Surender Singh Kandhari, chair of Gurudwara Gurunanak Darbar in Dubai; and Rocky Dawuni, a musician and Global Peace Ambassador of UNEP from Ghana.

The leaders at the Faith Pavilion, says Chishty, emphasized the cultivation of three attitudes towards nature: sunlight-like grace, river-like generosity, and earth-like hospitality. These attitudes, they argued, could serve as a blueprint for individuals to integrate into their daily lives. By doing so, they believed that these principles could bridge differences and divisions in the collective service of others.

“The call for unity in diversity echoed through the discussions, inspired by the teachings of our saint, Khwaja Garib Nawaz, also known as the patron saint of the poor. It was a celebration of the interconnectedness of humanity and nature, urging everyone to look beyond borders and backgrounds in the pursuit of a shared goal: combating climate change,” Chishty said.

He added that the Faith Pavilion at COP28 became a platform not only for dialogue but also for the formulation of actionable strategies. “The leaders recognized the urgency of the situation and committed to translating the discussions into tangible initiatives. The combination of spiritual wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the collective will of diverse faith communities generated a sense of hope and purpose,” Chishty.

According to him, the event marked a departure from conventional approaches to climate change discussions. “It acknowledged that addressing the environmental crisis requires more than technological advancements and policy changes; it necessitates a profound shift in consciousness and values. The Faith Pavilion was a testament to the understanding that faith, when aligned with a shared vision, has the potential to drive transformative change on a global scale,” Chisty said.

According to him, once the deliberations in the Faith Pavilion were concluded, the participants left with a renewed sense of purpose and a shared commitment to take concrete actions in the fight against climate change.

“The fusion of faith, science, and activism paved the way for a new chapter in the global response to environmental challenges—a chapter written with the ink of unity, compassion, and a deep reverence for the interconnectedness of all life on Earth,” Chishty concluded.

IPS UN Bureau Report

Global Climate Negotiations at Crossroads: Phasing Out or Down Fossil Fuels Sparks Intensity at Cop28 Summit

Negotiations on how the world can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the impacts of the climate crisis are set to intensify over the next few days at the Cop28 UN climate summit in Dubai. Nations are grappling with the crucial decision of whether to phase out or phase down fossil fuels, a central point of contention in the talks.

The remaining five negotiating days will see ministers engaging in a series of meetings to break the impasse and formulate a text outlining a roadmap to limit global heating to a rise of 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. Simon Stiell, the UN climate chief, emphasized the urgency of the situation, urging countries to prioritize ambitious actions. He stated, “Now all governments must give their negotiators clear marching orders – we need the highest ambition, not point-scoring or lowest common denominator politics. Good intentions won’t halve emissions this decade or save lives right now.”

As the negotiations approach their conclusion, the host country, the United Arab Emirates, plays a crucial role in determining the next steps. Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber, also the chief executive of the UAE national oil company Adnoc, is tasked with appointing pairs of ministers representing both developed and developing countries. Their mandate is to facilitate dialogue and find compromises.

Despite Al Jaber’s role in the oil industry, he expressed a desire for an ambitious outcome from the talks. He told negotiators, “What we have collectively accomplished only in a week is nothing short of historic. In just seven days, we have demonstrated that multilateralism does actually work. It is alive and well.”

The Cop28 president is set to convene a plenary session, promising to use “all the tools available” to forge an agreement. Al Jaber stated, “The presidency will assess the status of the different items [under negotiation] and lay out a tailored approach to conclude all outstanding elements.”

The transparency of the negotiation process is expected to improve this year, with the UAE hosting a larger team and having greater resources to manage the task of involving more than 190 countries in the discussions.

A critical aspect of the negotiations revolves around the global stocktake, a requirement of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. This comprehensive assessment evaluates progress toward the Paris goals of limiting global temperature increases to “well below 2°C” while making efforts to restrict temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The most contentious lines within this text concern the potential phase out or phase down of fossil fuels. Over 100 countries support a phase-out, but they face opposition from countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, and India. The inclusion of language on fossil fuels in the final text remains uncertain.

Negotiators have highlighted the transition from technical discussions, overseen by civil servants, to political negotiations involving ministers. The lack of clarity on a compromise adds to the challenges as the talks approach the Tuesday evening deadline.

Despite early optimism, the talks faced obstacles, particularly regarding loss and damage – funds required for the rescue and rehabilitation of countries affected by climate disasters. This issue, one of the longest-running in climate negotiations, saw unprecedented resolution on the first official day of the summit, with more than $800 million pledged. While a promising start, the amount falls far short of the expected needs reaching into the hundreds of billions.

With loss and damage addressed, countries shifted their focus to other segments of the talks, including the global stocktake and the “mitigation work programme.” Developing countries are advocating for a significant increase in climate finance to help them adapt to extreme weather impacts. The key issues for these nations center around equity, justice, human rights, and finance.

Madeleine Diouf Sarr, Chair of the Least Developed Countries Group, emphasized the importance of the global stocktake, stating, “This is a big fight, the global stocktake. We are already at 1.2°C, so we need to really close the gap to get to net zero emissions. Developed countries must take the lead [on cutting emissions]. It’s not easy, it requires a lot of negotiation, but the guiding principle must be of common but differentiated responsibilities – historical responsibility [for emissions].”

Cyclone Michaung Leaves Chennai in Deluge Crisis: Rescuers Battle Flooding as City Grapples with Devastation

In the aftermath of Cyclone Michaung’s assault on India’s southern coast, the city of Chennai faced widespread flooding on Wednesday, compelling rescuers to employ boats to reach stranded individuals in their inundated homes. The cyclone, accompanied by heavy rain and powerful winds, uprooted trees, and inflicted damage on roads, resulting in the loss of an estimated 13 lives, particularly in the manufacturing hub of Tamil Nadu. The flooding, triggered by torrential rains preceding the cyclone’s landfall in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday afternoon, prompted rescuers to utilize inflatable rafts and ropes for evacuations in Chennai, a city with a population exceeding 6 million, renowned for its status as a major automobile and technology manufacturing center.

As Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner Dr. J. Radhakrishnan highlighted, “There are pockets of low lying areas.” The efforts of rescue workers were vividly captured by local media, showcasing their determination as they waded through waist-deep water and engaged in the retrieval of stranded individuals. Additionally, air force helicopters played a crucial role by airdropping food rations to those marooned in flooded homes.

The impact of the deluge extended beyond immediate human consequences, affecting industrial operations. Notably, Taiwan’s Foxconn and Pegatron had temporarily halted Apple iPhone production at their Chennai facilities due to the rains, with Foxconn resuming operations on Tuesday.

In the state of Andhra Pradesh, which bore the brunt of Cyclone Michaung, damage was relatively contained, primarily manifesting as road impairments and uprooted trees from the force of crashing waves along the coast. This calamity evoked memories of a devastating flood eight years prior, claiming around 290 lives, raising questions among residents about the city’s infrastructure resilience in the face of extreme weather events.

State Chief Minister M K Stalin expressed concern by writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking 50.6 billion rupees ($607.01 million) for the extensive damage. However, civil engineer and geo-analytics expert Raj Bhagat P emphasized that even with improved stormwater drainage systems in the city, preventing flooding in the face of very heavy and extremely heavy rains would have remained a challenge.

Bhagat P noted, “This solution would have helped a lot in moderate and heavy rainfall, but not in very heavy and extremely heavy rains.” Despite these challenges, the spirit of resilience prevailed as rescue efforts persisted amidst the adversity, emphasizing the need for both short-term relief and long-term infrastructure improvements to fortify Chennai against the unpredictable forces of nature.

Al Gore Challenges COP28 Host UAE’s Leadership, Exposes Rising Emissions, and Slams Fossil Fuel Companies at Climate Summit

Former U.S. Vice President and climate advocate Al Gore criticized the United Arab Emirates (UAE), host of the COP28 climate summit, for what he deemed an abuse of public trust in overseeing international negotiations on global warming. Speaking to Reuters at the conference in Dubai, Gore expressed skepticism about COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber, who heads the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC, being an impartial broker of a climate deal.

Gore remarked, “They are abusing the public’s trust by naming the CEO of one of the largest and least responsible oil companies in the world as head of the COP.”

During a presentation at the COP’s main plenary hall, Gore revealed data indicating a 7.5% increase in the UAE’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 compared to the previous year, contrasting with a 1.5% global rise. This data, sourced from the Climate TRACE coalition—a group Gore co-founded—utilizes artificial intelligence and satellite data to monitor carbon emissions from specific companies.

The UAE did not immediately respond to Gore’s comments or the TRACE data.

Gore, who previously ran for the U.S. presidency in 2000 as the Democratic Party’s nominee, criticized the presence of oil and gas companies at the annual climate summit. He particularly opposed their endorsement of technologies like carbon capture as a means of mitigating fossil fuel emissions.

Addressing the first-ever appearance of Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods at a COP conference, Gore dismissed the significance, asserting that the oil giant’s engagement doesn’t negate its historical resistance to climate policies. Gore stated, “He should not be taken seriously. He’s protecting his profits and placing them in a higher priority than the survival of human civilization.”

Exxon Mobil declined to provide a comment on Gore’s remarks.

In urging summit delegates, Gore emphasized the need for language in the final text that commits to phasing out fossil fuels without conditional statements or references to carbon capture technology. He criticized the current state of carbon capture and direct air capture technology as a long-term research project, highlighting a lack of cost reduction over the past 50 years. Gore accused fossil fuel companies of falsely presenting these technologies as readily available and economically viable.

“The current state of the technology for carbon capture and direct air capture is a research project,” Gore said. “There’s been no cost reduction for 50 years, and there is a pretense on the part of the fossil fuel companies that it is a readily available, economically viable technology.”

Hopes And Expectations From COP28: The World Is At A Tipping Point On Climate Change

What happens in COP28 on Dubai’s climate conference battleground in the first half of December 2023 may not result in bloodshed but its consequences could be drenched in blood, mass migration, and starvation.

Happily, about 70,000 participants including political leaders, diplomats, business managers, academicians, and researchers will be participating in COP28. The COP -Conference of Parties – is held annually by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is the 28th COP scheduled to start in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, known as the expo-city, ever happy to welcome tourists and visitors.

Hopes And Expectations From COP28 (Yahoo)
Picture: Yahoo

Sadly, it is the time when the number of battlegrounds around the world is on the rise without any end in sight! Ukraine and Russia in northern Europe; Israel and Palestine in the Middle East; internal wars in Syria, Sudan and Sahel. United Nations Security Council, which is charged with ensuring international peace and security, continues the efforts to stall the battles but has not succeeded in ensuring the peace.

One more battleground, on the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, is opening from 30th November to 12th December in the expo-city of Dubai. The battleground will be over on 12th December, but the planetary-level war will certainly continue. It has the potential to be termed World War III, the war between humanity and nature. The UN Security Council is not charged to even start a dialogue for a ceasefire and making peace in that war.  It is left to Bonn, Germany-based UNFCCC to fight the cause of WWII!

Categorically, all humans to varying degrees are responsible for starting and continuing this war. The choice of path to human development has now caused nearly irreversible damage to nature. It is the turn of nature now to hit back. Nature is reacting by causing droughts, floods, landslides, and wildfires that have started affecting human society across the borders of the countries. The hostages are poor of the world and they are rising in numbers.

World caught in a vicious cycle of chaos

As per a UN report released this year, extreme weather has caused the deaths of two million people and $4.3 trillion in economic damage over the past 50 years. The tragedy is that the poor suffer the most in extreme weather. Rich people have economic muscles, not only to ensure their survival but continue their onslaught on nature by emitting greenhouse gases. The richest one percent of the global population is responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as the world’s poorest two-thirds, or five billion people, according to the research results released in  November 2023. The worst is that rich people continue to invest their money more in polluting industries.

The planet is caught in a vicious circle of chaos in which even the rich would perish. We do not know when but perish they will. Because the rich depend on the market consisting of these five billion people to make their money. As the market starts suffering the rich would suffer too! As the doomsday scenario says, ‘sixth planetary extinction’ is on the way. The fifth extinction was 65 million years ago when dinosaurs and the ecosystem vanished.

To use the United Nations term used in Agenda 21, rather sarcastically, ‘No one is left behind’ by nature in its climate onslaught. And nature has been literally ‘inclusive’ in the destruction of human habitats!  But let us not make a mistake, this larger war is also the result of the battles between factions. Factions include global south and global north, developed and developing countries. The list of factions also includes small-island-developing countries (SIDS), least developed countries (LDCs), indigenous groups, powerful fossil fuel businesses, farmers, and so on.

What happens in COP28 on Dubai’s climate conference battleground in the first half of December 2023 may not result in bloodshed but its consequences could be drenched in blood, mass migration, and starvation. COP after COP, the post-Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, the pledges and promises made by 198 countries that are party to climate conventions. 195 countries that are Parties to the Paris Climate Agreement committed through Nationally Determined Contributions NDCs to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. What is more, the commitments are made by the developed countries to provide USD 100 billion to the developing countries for reducing emissions. But the promises and pledges are not met, and implementation is not only slow but miserable and inadequate and almost suicidal.

The decade from 2010 to 2019 had the highest increase in greenhouse gas emissions in human history; the last four months of 2023 are the hottest on record; the last 11 months have caused the highest economic losses due to extreme climate events. The window to limit warming to 1.5°C, the target set by the world leaders in the Paris Climate Agreement, is rapidly closing; and the gap between where emissions should be and where they are is widening fast as per the UNEP Emission Gap Report (EGR) released recently.

So what one should expect from 2023

Experts have stated over the last year the expectations: strong action-oriented negotiations; making mitigation and adaptation finance available to developing countries as a matter of emergency; operationalizing loss and damage fund; focussing on non-CO2 greenhouse gases like methane; community-based and sub-national climate actions; undertaking out-of-box technologies, including carbon dioxide removal (CDR); space reflected solar electricity and so on.

And what is NOT expected from COP28

Firstly, the world is not expecting non-verified claims by countries, particularly by world leaders in COP28. Such claims promote greenwashing – misleading the public to believe that climate action is being taken for net zero. There is more risk from greenwashing than the climate crisis itself, as stated by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Secondly, the world is NOT  expecting that the vital issues related to mitigation, adaptation and finance are sidelined and duped by conned climate diplomacy. Recently, we have witnessed commotions like denouncing UAE’s presidency as ‘oil nation’s presidency’; prioritizing the action on mitigating fugitive methane by ignoring the reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide; including private finance in meeting the governmental public finance pledge of USD100 billion annually from 2020; asking China to contribute to the finances to developing countries; prioritizing carbon-offset;  changing the definitions of developing countries to ‘least-developing-countries; uncertain schemes like carbon-trading and carbon removal by overlooking the mitigation through lifestyle change.

Thirdly, the world is NOT expecting speeches by world leaders with deceptive declarations and diplomacy-coated false promises delivered in the COP. In this context decision of President Joe Biden not to attend COP28 is indeed welcome. Better not to be there than tricking the world with fake pledges!

Fourthly, the world is NOT expecting alternative technologies like battery-operated EVs and solar panels to be considered climate-friendly unless the environmentally friendly reuse, recycling and disposal of panels and batteries are integral parts of such technologies.

Fifthly, the world is not expecting the issue of climate justice to be discussed without historical context. Recently, the report has revealed that carbon emissions during colonial rules of Europeans and Japanese were assigned to the countries that were engaged in colonial rules after the industrial revolutions. The world, in this context, is not expecting to keep the International Court of Justice excluded from the issue of climate crimes during World War III. Punitive measures could range from exposing the countries by ‘naming and shaming’ to more serious ‘climate-sanctions’.

Can Dubai succeed in meeting these expectations? Let us wait to see by the end of COP28 if the negotiators are serious about delivering what the world is expecting and also not expecting.

(The author is a noted environmentalist, former Director UNEP, and Founder Director, Green TERRE Foundation, Pune, India. Views are personal)

Read more at: https://www.southasiamonitor.org/spotlight/hopes-and-expectations-cop28-world-tipping-point-climate-change

Modi Announces Green Credit Initiative At COP28

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on December 1, 2023 that India has shown the world the perfect balance of ecology and economy. He made the remarks while delivering an address at the high-level segment of COP28 in Dubai.

“Despite India having 17 percent of the world’s population, our share in global carbon emissions is only less than 4 percent. India is one of the few economies in the world that is on track to meet the NDC targets,” the PM said adding that his country is continuously making progress to achieve the goal of reaching net zero by 2070.

He highlighted that targets related to emissions intensity were achieved 11 years ago while non-fossil fuel targets were achieved nine years ahead of schedule. Additionally, the PM underscored that efforts are being made to reduce emission intensity to 45 percent by 2030 and increase the share of non-fossil fuel to 50 percent.

“India has consistently given importance to the issue of climate in its G-20 Presidency with the spirit of One Earth, One Family, One Future,” Modi said enumerating the various green initiatives launched by India, including the Global Biofuels Alliance and Mission LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment.

Modi Announces Green Credit Initiative At COP28 (FE)
Picture: FE

Urging participation from the COP states, Modi announced the launch of the Green Credits initiative, a campaign that aims to facilitate mass participation as an effective response to the challenge of climate change. The program’s long-term goal is to restore degraded and abandoned land and river catchment areas through the issuance of green credits to plant trees there.

At a joint session, the United Arab Emirates and India officially launched the Green Credits initiative and unveiled a website that would compile policies and best practices that encourage eco-friendly behaviors.

The Prime Minister concluded his address by expressing India’s commitment to the UN Framework for Climate Change Process and proposed to host the COP-33 summit in India in 2028. In the hopes of a successful COP28, he advocated for an inclusive and equitable energy transition, as well as the continuous development of innovative technologies and their transfer to other countries, to propel collective progress toward a secure future.

Asserting that the world does not have much time to correct the mistakes of the last century, PM Narendra Modi on Friday announced a ‘Green Credit Initiative’ focused on creating carbon sinks through people’s participation and also proposed to host the UN climate conference in 2028, or COP33, in India.

Carbon sinks are essentially anything that absorbs more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases.

What is it?

Addressing the high-level segment for heads of states and governments during the UN climate conference (COP28) in Dubai, Modi called for a pro-planet, proactive and positive initiative.

He further said the Green Credits Initiative goes beyond the commercial mindset associated with carbon credits, which are essentially permits that allow entities to emit certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.

The Green Credit Initiative is similar to the Green Credit Programme, notified domestically in October. It is an innovative, market-based mechanism designed to reward voluntary environmental actions in different sectors by individuals, communities and the private sector.

‘India has walked the talk’

Asserting that India has presented a great example to the world of striking balance between development and environment conservation, PM Modi said India is among the only few countries in the world on track to achieve the national action plans to restrict global warming to 1.5C, the guardrail to avoid worsening of the impact of the changing climate.

Modi called for maintaining a balance between mitigation and adaptation and said that energy transition across the world must be “just and inclusive.” He also urged rich countries to transfer technologies to help developing nations combat climate change.

Meetings that matter

On the sidelines of the COP28 summit, Modi met with the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and said that India deeply values its strong ties with the Gulf nation.

Modi also met Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Ali, UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

While Israel has a war going on with Hamas, the other countries (Bahrain, Ethiopia and UAE) have deep economic ties with India.

Pope Francis Urges World Religions To Unite Against Environmental Devastation

(Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Sunday that it was essential for all world religions to unite in opposing the “rapacious” devastation of the environment.

The 86-year-old pope had planned to preside at the opening of the Faith Pavilion at the C0P28 climate conference in Dubai but a lung inflammation forced him to remain in the Vatican.

Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read the pope’s message in his place, as he did with Francis’ main address to the conference on Saturday.

“Religions, as voices of conscience for humanity, remind us that we are finite creatures, possessed of a need for the infinite,” the pope said, noting that a Faith Pavilion was a first at a COP conference.

“For we are indeed mortal, we have our limits, and protecting life also entails opposing the rapacious illusion of omnipotence that is devastating our planet,” he said.

Pope Francis Urges World Religions To Unite Against Environmental Devastation (NCR)
Picture: NCR

Religions, he said, “need, urgently, to act for the sake of the environment”, educate their members to “sober and fraternal lifestyles” instead of wasteful ones and work for a return to the individual contemplation of nature’s grandeur.

“This is an essential obligation for religions, which are called to teach contemplation, since creation is not only an ecosystem to preserve, but also a gift to embrace,” Francis said.

“A world poor in contemplation will be a world polluted in soul, a world that will continue to discard people and produce waste,” he said.

In his main address to the conference on Saturday, Francis repeated his call for the elimination of fossil fuels.

Hundreds of Catholic institutions around the globe have announced plans to divest from them.

But a Reuters investigation found that in the United States, the world’s top oil and gas producer and where about a quarter of the population is Catholic, not a single diocese has announced it has let go of its fossil fuel assets.

In his address to faith leaders, Francis also said peace and stewardship of the planet were interdependent.

“Before our very eyes, we can see how wars and conflicts are harming the environment and dividing nations, hindering a common commitment to addressing shared problems like the protection of the planet,” he said

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

UN Climate Summit in Dubai: Analysis Warns Past Host Cities Face Inundation as Planet Approaches 3-Degree Warming

As leaders and delegates converge in Dubai for the annual UN climate summit, an analysis by Climate Central, a nonprofit climate research group, reveals the vulnerability of host cities from past summits to rising ocean waters. The escalating levels of planet-warming pollution have led to severe droughts, deadly floods, and the rapid melting of glaciers and ice worldwide. The analysis employs peer-reviewed sea level rise projections and local elevation data to visually depict a stark contrast between the present and a potential high-tide future if global temperatures rise to 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“Decisions made at COP28 will shape the long-term future of Earth’s coast cities, including Dubai,” emphasizes Benjamin Strauss, Chief Scientist, and CEO of Climate Central. This urgency stems from the recent UN report indicating that the world is on track to warm up to 2.9 degrees. Climate scientists underscore the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees beyond which both humans and ecosystems will face challenges in adaptation.

Although the Paris Agreement, established in 2015 at COP21, aimed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, with a preferable target of 1.5 degrees, the current trajectory risks making coastal communities, low-lying nations, and small islands uninhabitable. Strauss highlights the dependence of these places on swift and substantial carbon pollution reductions to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

A report from the World Meteorological Organization predicts 2023 to be the hottest year on record. Monthly temperatures from June to October have consistently set new global records, accompanied by unprecedented ocean temperatures. This global warming contributes to accelerated melting of glaciers and ice sheets, even in Antarctica, with potentially devastating implications for global sea level rise.

Climate Central estimates that approximately 385 million people reside in areas prone to eventual inundation by ocean water at high tide, even with substantial reductions in planet-warming pollution. Restricting warming to 1.5 degrees would still affect land inhabited by 510 million people today. However, if global temperatures breach 3 degrees, more than 800 million people could find themselves living in areas threatened by high-tide encroachment, as per a recent study.

While these scenarios may unfold over centuries, scientists emphasize that every fraction of a degree of warming exacerbates the consequences of climate change. The upcoming COP28 discussions will center on strategies to curtail fossil fuel use to avert the escalating risk of an underwater future. This year’s climate talks introduce a new scorecard, revealing countries’ progress on their climate targets and underscoring the urgency of addressing climate pollution, as the window for action is “rapidly narrowing.”

A Positive Outlook on Climate Change: Progress, Challenges, and the Path Forward

As authorities in the field of climate change, we are frequently questioned about the state of our planet, and surprisingly, our response leans more towards optimism than despair. There is a crucial but often overlooked energy transition in progress, coupled with increasing investments in adaptation measures to enhance resilience against extreme weather events. While global efforts to meet climate goals are falling short, recent developments indicate a potential for substantial change and lay the groundwork for broader initiatives.

In the midst of escalating climate-related disasters, there is a noteworthy achievement in the United States, where greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 17 percent between 2005 and 2021, despite the economy doubling in size. The costs of solar and wind energy have plummeted by 70 percent and 90 percent, respectively, in the last decade, constituting 80 percent of new electricity generating capacity this year. The sale of electric vehicles is also on the rise, with over 1 million units sold in 2023, marking a 50 percent increase from the previous year and accounting for one in every ten new vehicle purchases.

These positive trends are further supported by favorable public policies at the state level and the federal level’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA aims to reduce the costs of renewables, electric vehicles, heat pumps, and other low-emission technologies, with projections indicating a potential halving of U.S. emissions by 2035, accompanied by significant cost savings for households.

The combined effect of declining clean energy costs and additional climate policies is contributing to a reduction in the anticipated global warming from 3.5 degrees Celsius to 2.4 degrees this century. While this progress falls short of meeting the Paris Agreement target, it reflects a significant step forward in making climate action more economically viable worldwide.

However, acknowledging these advancements does not diminish the alarming impacts of climate change. The consequences of historical emissions are increasingly evident, with climate-fueled events occurring more frequently and with greater severity. Records for global surface temperatures, Antarctic sea ice loss, ocean temperatures, extreme flooding, heatwaves, and wildfires have been shattered, causing substantial adverse effects on individuals, assets, ecosystems, and institutions.

In the U.S., households are grappling with climate-related increases in medical expenses, food prices, insurance premiums, and home repair costs. Research has also shed light on less-appreciated impacts on mental health, school performance, and crime. Government resources are stretched thin by spending on disaster response and wildfire suppression, further compounded by decreased tax revenue.

The magnitude of these impacts hinges on uncertainties related to climate variability, technological advancements, behavioral responses, and differential vulnerability, posing an economic burden on a generally risk-averse society. Additionally, there are stark disparities in the distribution of harm and benefit concerning climate change responses, with marginalized communities facing increased risks due to unequal exposure and fewer resources for adaptation.

Effectively mitigating climate impacts requires an accelerated transition of energy and food systems, coupled with investments in infrastructure and nature-based solutions that promote resilience. Despite emissions reduction efforts, adaptation remains essential, especially as the U.S. warms 60 percent faster than the global average. Adaptation initiatives hold the potential to safeguard lives, improve quality of life, and restore vital natural ecosystems.

Engaging affected communities through participatory processes can advance more equitable adaptation decision-making. Climate-informed markets may further support these efforts, emphasizing the importance of accurate risk information to protect homeowners and municipalities from equity loss and price deflation due to climate-driven housing bubble risks.

While incremental adaptation measures are underway, addressing severe impacts may necessitate transformative actions such as redesigning buildings and updating infrastructure standards. In 2020, global spending on adaptation efforts amounted to only one-tenth of what was allocated for emission reductions. Thoughtful investments in public infrastructure, community resilience, and adaptation serve as crucial complements to decarbonization efforts.

The future of our climate is in our hands. We are in a narrow window where the severity of the problem is known, yet there is still time to act. The reason for optimism lies in our ability to collaboratively work towards reducing emissions, strengthening resilience, motivating adaptation, and advancing equity.

The Costly Impact of Climate Change: Insights from the Fifth National Climate Assessment

In its latest iteration, the National Climate Assessment (NCA) delivers a comprehensive evaluation of climate change in the United States, emphasizing its expensive, deadly, and preventable consequences. The fifth edition, released every five years, offers a sweeping analysis, incorporating social sciences like history, sociology, philosophy, and Indigenous studies to provide a holistic understanding of the issue.

The assessment highlights the disproportionate impact on various demographics, stressing the urgency of addressing climate change to build a more resilient and just nation. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, an author of the assessment, underscores this point, stating, “Climate change affects us all, but it doesn’t affect us all equally.”

One notable addition to this edition is standalone chapters on climate change’s economic toll, social factors driving it, and the nation’s responses. This broader perspective aims to add context and relevance to the scientific findings and draw attention to the specific vulnerabilities of poor people, marginalized communities, older Americans, and outdoor workers.

Michael Burger, the director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, highlights the assessment’s influence in legal and policy circles, shaping decisions ranging from court cases on wildfire damage responsibility to local choices about building flood barriers. The report’s translation into Spanish further emphasizes its importance, making the information accessible to a wider audience.

The NCA is a collaborative effort involving hundreds of scientists from various institutions who reviewed cutting-edge research and contextualized it with decades of foundational climate studies. This edition arrives against the backdrop of a year marked by dramatic and deadly climate-driven disasters, including wildfires, floods, and heatwaves that claimed hundreds of lives in 2023.

Climate Change Makes Life More Expensive

The assessment identifies climate-driven weather disasters, such as heatwaves, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires, as major contributors to increasing expenses in various aspects of life. These disasters wreak havoc on homes, businesses, and crops, leading to supply shortages and financial distress for families and municipal governments. The report estimates that weather-related disasters cause approximately $150 billion in direct losses annually in the U.S., a figure expected to rise as the Earth continues to heat up.

Solomon Hsiang, a climate economist at the University of California, Berkeley, emphasizes the economic challenges faced by lower-income individuals in adapting to climate change. The report cites healthcare costs for illnesses related to extreme heat and respiratory issues from wildfire smoke as less obvious but significant expenses. The economic harm escalates with rising temperatures, with the assessment warning that twice as much planetary warming leads to more than twice the economic damage.

“The research indicates that people who are lower income have more trouble adapting [to climate change], because adaptation comes at a cost,” says Hsiang.

Climate Change Makes People Sick and Often Kills Them

The health costs of climate change have transitioned from theoretical to personal for many Americans over the past five years. Extreme weather, particularly heatwaves, has become more intense and prolonged, causing hundreds of deaths in unprepared areas. The assessment emphasizes the risks beyond heat, including the health impacts of wildfire smoke and disruptions to healthcare caused by hurricanes.

The most vulnerable populations, including poor communities, communities of color, women, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups, bear the brunt of these disasters. The report points out that temperatures in historically redlined neighborhoods can be nearly 15 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than wealthier areas, putting residents at significantly higher risk of heat exposure.

Mary Hayden, the lead author of the chapter on human health, notes that living through climate disasters can have lasting emotional scars, impacting mental, spiritual, and community well-being. The report highlights the enduring trauma in communities like Paradise, California, five years after the devastating 2018 Camp Fire. It also raises concerns about the growing emotional toll on children and young people, whose anxiety about the future of the planet is affecting various aspects of their lives.

Climate change isn’t just altering landscapes and ecosystems; it’s also reshaping the sacred places and cultural practices that anchor communities across the United States. From fishing communities grappling with the collapse of iconic industries to Indigenous traditions disrupted by shifting climate realities, the impacts are profound.

Threats to Special Places and Practices

Fishing communities, particularly the Northeast’s lobster fishery, face economic downturns as marine heatwaves devastate regional seas. The decline in snowpack and rising temperatures disrupt cherished recreational activities such as skiing and ice fishing, impacting the lifestyles of many.

Indigenous communities, deeply connected to their environments, are forced to adapt to new climate realities that disrupt traditional food-gathering practices. In Palau, sea level rise has upset a monthly tradition of catching fish at a low tide, altering the historically-used places for fishing. Coastal communities are grappling with sea level rise, challenging their very existence and unraveling social fabric developed over generations.

Elizabeth Marino, lead author of the chapter on social transformations, emphasizes the resilience of communities closely tied to their environments. She states, “There is quite a lot of wisdom in place to adapt to and even mitigate climate change.” Despite the challenges, there is hope in the ability of these communities to develop solutions that align with their way of life.

The Role of Adaptation and Resilience

The fifth assessment underscores the urgency of addressing climate challenges to limit planetary warming to the goals set by the international Paris Agreement. Immediate, substantial cuts to fossil fuel emissions are required, with the report acknowledging the difficulty of achieving the more ambitious target of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While the report paints a stark picture of the challenges ahead, it also highlights ongoing efforts to adapt to the new reality and prevent worse outcomes. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist involved in the assessment, emphasizes the importance of individual actions, stating, “Everything we do matters. Every 10th of a degree of warming we avoid, there’s a benefit to that.”

Opportunities for Positive Change

  1. Jason West, the lead author on the chapter on air quality, points out that addressing fossil fuel-driven climate change can lead to healthier lives. Reducing emissions not only mitigates climate change but also decreases harmful air pollution, benefiting human health. This perspective reflects a shift in the report, acknowledging the historical injustices embedded in the fossil fuel-powered society built over generations.

Candis Callison, a sociologist and author of the report, notes this subtle shift in perspective. Climate change, she suggests, offers an opportunity to address past inequities and injustices. The report acknowledges the profound impact of pollution-producing facilities on communities of color and the exclusion of tribal communities from decisions about land and water use for energy extraction. Callison sees climate change as a catalyst for rectifying these historical wrongs and responding to the impacts in a more equitable way.

The fifth National Climate Assessment not only outlines the threats posed by climate change to sacred places and practices but also highlights the resilience of communities and the potential for positive change. By emphasizing the role of adaptation, individual actions, and addressing historical injustices, the assessment points towards a future where climate action can lead to a more just and sustainable society.

King Charles Marks 75th Birthday with Launch of ‘Coronation Food Project’ to Combat Hunger and Food Waste

Britain’s King Charles marked his 75th birthday on Tuesday, seizing the moment to launch a new initiative aimed at combatting food poverty and reducing the staggering amounts of discarded food. With a history of over five decades as an ardent advocate for environmental causes and a champion of a sustainable economy, the monarch officially introduced the ‘Coronation Food Project,’ a mission dedicated to alleviating hunger.

In an article penned for the “Big Issue,” a magazine typically sold by homeless individuals, Charles emphasized the gravity of the food crisis, stating, “Food need is as real and urgent a problem as food waste – and if a way could be found to bridge the gap between them, then it would address two problems in one.” The project highlights that 14 million people in Britain grapple with food insecurity. The king, known for his outspoken stance on social issues, lamented that “too many families and individuals are missing out on nutritious meals due to the cost of living pressures that have caused hardship for so many.”

In a heartfelt plea, Charles expressed his birthday wish, writing, “To mark my 75th birthday in this Coronation year, I could ask for no greater gift than that the Coronation Food Project creates a lasting legacy to help others – and help the planet.”

To kick off his birthday celebrations, Charles, accompanied by his wife Queen Camilla, visited a surplus food distribution center in central England. There, staff and volunteers serenaded the king with a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday.” The day’s festivities extended beyond the distribution center, with traditional gun salutes echoing in London and across the country. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Charles’ eldest son and heir, Prince William, took to social media to convey their birthday wishes.

Despite reported estrangement, the BBC disclosed that Charles’ younger son, Prince Harry, would communicate with him by phone. In addition to the birthday commemorations, Charles had scheduled a reception on Tuesday to honor the contributions of nurses and midwives, marking 75 years of the National Health Service.

As the milestone birthday unfolded, the king’s commitment to addressing societal challenges remained at the forefront. The ‘Coronation Food Project’ emerged as a testament to Charles’ enduring dedication to fostering positive change. The initiative aims not only to provide immediate relief to those facing food insecurity but also to tackle the pervasive issue of food waste.

The project’s core philosophy, as articulated by the monarch, hinges on the belief that addressing both food need and food waste concurrently represents a comprehensive solution. Charles articulated this in his article for the “Big Issue,” stating, “Food need is as real and urgent a problem as food waste – and if a way could be found to bridge the gap between them, then it would address two problems in one.”

Highlighting the scale of the problem, the ‘Coronation Food Project’ emphasizes that 14 million people in Britain live with food insecurity. Charles, renowned for his advocacy on environmental issues, underscored the human impact of this crisis, noting that “too many families and individuals are missing out on nutritious meals due to the cost of living pressures that have caused hardship for so many.”

In a poignant plea for collective action, Charles used the occasion of his 75th birthday to express a deeply personal wish for the ‘Coronation Food Project’ to leave a lasting legacy. “To mark my 75th birthday in this Coronation year, I could ask for no greater gift than that the Coronation Food Project creates a lasting legacy to help others – and help the planet,” he wrote, signifying a desire for a positive and enduring impact on both societal well-being and the environment.

As part of the birthday celebrations, Charles and Queen Camilla visited a surplus food distribution center in central England, underscoring the tangible efforts behind the initiative. The visit was punctuated by a heartfelt rendition of “Happy Birthday” by staff and volunteers, symbolizing the collective spirit behind the ‘Coronation Food Project.’

The birthday festivities extended beyond the distribution center, with traditional gun salutes echoing in London and across the country. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Prince William, Charles’ eldest son and heir, joined the chorus of well-wishers, using social media platforms to convey their birthday greetings.

Despite reported familial estrangement, the BBC reported that Prince Harry, Charles’ younger son, would engage in a phone conversation with his father. This connection, albeit remote, underscored the significance of the occasion and the enduring familial ties.

In addition to the birthday celebrations, Charles had scheduled a reception on Tuesday to honor the invaluable contributions of nurses and midwives. This event formed part of a series of activities commemorating 75 years of the National Health Service, showcasing the king’s multifaceted commitment to societal well-being.

Britain’s King Charles celebrated his 75th birthday not only with traditional fanfare but also with a resolute commitment to addressing pressing societal issues. The launch of the ‘Coronation Food Project’ symbolizes his enduring dedication to combating food poverty and waste, encapsulating a vision for a more sustainable and equitable future. As the celebrations unfolded, Charles’ words echoed, emphasizing the need for collective action to bridge the gap between food need and waste, ultimately creating a positive and lasting legacy for generations to come.

Exploring Cloud Seeding as a Solution to Delhi’s Persistent Air Pollution Crisis

As the Indian capital grapples with an alarming surge in toxic air, the Delhi government is contemplating the use of cloud seeding—a rain-making technique—to mitigate pollution levels. The potential implementation of this strategy hinges on securing approval from India’s Supreme Court and various federal ministries, with a tentative timeline set for later this month, dependent on favorable weather conditions.

The proposal to employ cloud seeding as a remedy for Delhi’s air pollution is not novel, but skepticism surrounds its effectiveness. Experts argue that this complex and costly process lacks conclusive evidence of its efficacy in combating pollution, emphasizing the need for further research to discern its long-term environmental impact.

The recent escalation of pollution in Delhi, as reflected in the Air Quality Index (AQI), has sparked renewed urgency. Over the past two weeks, the AQI consistently surpassed the 450 mark, nearly ten times the acceptable limit. Despite a temporary respite from natural rainfall over the weekend, air quality deteriorated again on Monday due to Diwali celebrations involving firecrackers.

Delhi’s air quality woes persist throughout the year, driven by factors such as high vehicular and industrial emissions, as well as dust. The situation exacerbates in winter when crop residue burning by farmers in neighboring states and low wind speeds lead to heightened pollutant concentrations. In response, the Delhi government has declared early school winter breaks, imposed a ban on construction activities, and is now pinning its hopes on Supreme Court approval for cloud seeding.

Understanding Cloud Seeding:

Cloud seeding is a technique designed to accelerate the condensation of moisture in clouds, inducing rain. It involves spraying particles of salt, such as silver iodide or chloride, onto clouds using aircraft or ground-based dispersion devices. These salt particles act as ice-nucleating agents, facilitating the formation of ice crystals in the clouds. Moisture then adheres to these ice crystals, ultimately condensing into rain.

The success of cloud seeding, however, is contingent on precise atmospheric conditions. Polash Mukerjee, an independent researcher on air quality and health, underscores the importance of optimal moisture, humidity, and dynamic wind speeds in the clouds. Additionally, the choice of cloud type is crucial, with weather scientist JR Kulkarni noting that vertical growth is preferable over horizontal expansion.

Cloud seeding is not a recent innovation; climatologist SK Banerji, the first Indian director general of the meteorological department, experimented with it as early as 1952. In the 1960s, the US military controversially utilized the technique to manipulate the monsoon in certain areas of Vietnam during the war. Various countries, including China, the UAE, and certain Indian states, have explored cloud seeding to enhance rainfall or address drought conditions.

The Delhi Government’s Plan:

The cloud seeding project proposal originates from researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, a leading engineering institution. The two-phase project, covering approximately 300 square kilometers, is slated to commence in late November if approved. Meteorological conditions on the suggested dates of November 20 and 21 are deemed favorable for implementation, according to Manindra Agrawal, the scientist leading the project.

Agrawal acknowledged that full cloud coverage over Delhi might not be achievable, but emphasized that a few hundred kilometers would be beneficial. The underlying rationale is that rainfall could potentially wash away particulate matter in the atmosphere, resulting in cleaner and more breathable air.

Debating the Efficacy of Cloud Seeding:

While Delhi experienced a reduction in pollution levels after natural rainfall last week, experts remain uncertain about the effectiveness of artificial rain generated through cloud seeding. Mukerjee argues that while rainfall immediately lowers pollution levels, the impact is transient, with pollution rebounding within 48-72 hours. He deems cloud seeding an expensive, short-term solution that diverts scarce resources.

Mukerjee stresses the necessity for a well-deliberated policy, involving a multidisciplinary team comprising meteorologists, air quality policy experts, epidemiologists, and more. Abinash Mohanty, a climate change and sustainability expert, echoes these sentiments, expressing concern about the lack of empirical evidence regarding the AQI reduction achievable through cloud seeding.

Mohanty underscores that addressing pollution requires concerted efforts beyond meteorological variables, advocating for comprehensive strategies rather than scattered trial-and-error experiments. He highlights the inherent limitations of altering natural processes through cloud seeding, emphasizing the need for a more thorough understanding of its potential effects.

The proposal to employ cloud seeding as a solution to Delhi’s persistent air pollution crisis is met with both anticipation and skepticism. As the Delhi government awaits the Supreme Court’s decision, the efficacy and long-term impact of cloud seeding remain subjects of debate among experts, emphasizing the ongoing challenges in combating the city’s hazardous air quality.

Pope Francis At First ‘Faith Pavilion’ During Climate Summit

(RNS) — Pope Francis is set to speak at the inauguration of the first-ever “Faith Pavilion” during the upcoming 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates.

As political leaders from across the globe gather from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 to assess how well they are addressing climate change, religious officials — including Francis, who is both a head of state and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church — will have a new place of prominence.

Vatican News reported Thursday (Nov. 9) that the pope will also deliver a speech at the summit and hold bilateral meetings while in Dubai from Dec. 1-3.

The Faith Pavilion will be hosted by the U.N. Environmental Program, the Muslim Council of Elders, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, the Episcopal Diocese of California and dozens of other faith-based groups.

“There’s been a long-term effort among some of us who’ve been attending the COP from faith bodies to have a physical presence and to be more at the table,” Bishop Marc Andrus, leader of the Bay Area-based diocese, told Religion News Service in an interview.

“We believe that we have to have stronger voices together in order to meet the urgent need to combat climate change effects. The pavilion is really a physical embodiment of our commitment to really be an active sector in climate change work.”

Pope Francis At First ‘Faith Pavilion’ During Climate Summit (NCR)
Picture: NCR

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, executive director of the Jerusalem-based Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, expressed the leaders’ excitement about Francis’ participation in the inauguration of the pavilion, whose cost organizers declined to disclose.

He said the facility can accommodate as many as 100 people and will host 65 sessions about how major religious groups are working to reduce climate change. The religions represented are Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Baha’i, Buddhism, Indigenous religions and Zoroastrianism.

“The Faith Pavilion will be right at the heart of COP28, located near the World Climate Action Summit and the area where the negotiations take place,” Neril said via email. “This demonstrates the significance of the interfaith movement in helping to tackle the climate emergency and provides a unique opportunity for faith-based engagement with key stakeholders, including political decision makers and negotiators.”

A number of high-level faith leaders will be speaking at the pavilion. Those leaders include Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the United Kingdom; Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, secretary general of the New York-based World Evangelical Alliance; and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, president of the India-based Divine Shakti Foundation.

Most of those speakers were signatories on a statement also signed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and representatives of Francis, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar. That statement was released on Monday at the conclusion of a pre-COP28 gathering of global faith leaders in Abu Dhabi.

“We ardently implore all decision-makers assembled at COP28 to seize this decisive moment and to act with urgency, weaving a tapestry of shared action and profound responsibility,” the statement reads. “The urgency of the hour demands that we act swiftly, collaboratively, and resolutely to heal our wounded worlds and preserve the splendor of our common home.”

The California diocese has pioneered the use of a “carbon tracker” app, which helps users reduce their carbon footprint by reviewing how much they fly and drive, the source of heat in their homes and the kinds of food they choose to eat.

Andrus said his church presented the model during Climate Week in September in New York City as Muslims, Hindus, Roman Catholics and others discussed how they can make tangible differences to respond to climate change.

At the Faith Pavilion, he said, representatives of different faiths will be able to speak and present examples of ways they are trying to replenish the Earth or reduce the negative effects they have on it — from Sikhs who have created “small sacred forests” in the Punjab region of India to Ethiopian Orthodox Christians who are “ringing their churches with forest” in the midst of a desert.

Andrus and Neril, like signatories on the statement, hope future U.N. climate summits will also include a pavilion focused on faith, as well as the continued presence of prominent religious leaders.

“Most of the world’s population, and many of the political negotiators at the COPs, affiliate with a religion,” stated Neril. “Yet for the first 27 UN climate conferences, senior religious figures have seldom shown up. At COP28 in Dubai, we have worked to significantly increase the presence of high-level religious leaders, and seek to do so at future COPs.”

In the statement, they committed to guiding members of their organizations on environmental issues and changing consumption patterns to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement seeking net-zero carbon emissions.

Unprecedented Global Heat Crisis: Hottest 12 Months in 125,000 Years, 2023 Set to Break Heat Records, Urgent Climate Action Needed

In the past few months, the globe has experienced abnormal heat, resembling a disaster movie with soaring temperatures, wildfires, storms, and floods, as reported by scientists. The latest data reveals the exceptional nature of this global heat crisis. Two significant reports highlight this alarming scenario: one declares that humanity has just endured the hottest 12-month period in at least 125,000 years, while the other predicts that 2023 is “virtually certain” to become the hottest year in recorded history, following five consecutive months of record-breaking temperatures.

“We have become all too used to climate records falling like dominoes in recent years,” says David Reay, executive director of the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute at the University of Edinburgh. “But 2023 is a whole different ball game in terms of the massive margin by which these records have been broken.”

The period from November 2022 to the end of October 2023 marked the hottest 12 months, with an average temperature of 1.32 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to Climate Central. This temperature surge is not normal, driven primarily by the excessive carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

The impact of this extreme heat was felt by the vast majority of the global population, with 90% experiencing at least 10 days of high temperatures with distinct climate fingerprints. In India, 86% of the population (1.2 billion people) endured at least 30 days of high temperatures, intensified threefold by climate change. In the United States, this affected 26% of the population, equivalent to 88 million people.

Particular cities faced severe challenges, especially in the South and Southwest of the United States. Houston, for instance, witnessed the longest extreme heat streak of any major city globally, enduring 22 consecutive days of extreme heat between July and August.

A subsequent analysis by the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service further emphasizes the gravity of the situation, declaring that 2023 is “virtually certain” to set a new record for the hottest year. The prediction follows the revelation that October 2023 was the hottest October on record, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by 0.4 degrees Celsius.

Each month since June has shattered monthly heat records, with every month since July exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The year-to-date average is 1.43 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, perilously close to the internationally agreed goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Despite scientists’ primary concern about long-term temperature trends, the past few months above the 1.5-degree threshold offer a forewarning of the intensified impacts of global warming. This includes more violent storms, heavier rains and floods, and more intense, frequent, and prolonged heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires.

In addition to record land temperatures, ocean temperatures have consistently been at record-high levels since May, fueling the development of hurricanes and tropical storms worldwide. Antarctic sea ice has also remained at record lows for six consecutive months.

The alarming statistics underscore the urgent need for action, adding extra significance to the upcoming UN COP28 climate conference in Dubai. Scientists stress the importance of ceasing the burning of oil, gas, and coal. However, a UN report indicates that governments plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels, exceeding the limit required to cap global heating at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The only thing more remarkable than the magnitude of these increases in global temperature and sea ice loss,” remarks David Reay, “is our continuing failure to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate goals.”

AAPI’s Historic 2019 Expedition to Antarctica

Several years of meticulous planning, discussions, and organization, came to fruition as 190 delegates of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) Families and Friends from across the United States and India embarked on the Ocean Atlantic Ship operated by Albatros Expeditions on November 30th, 2019 from Ushuaia, the southernmost town on Earth in Argentina on a voyage to Antarctica, the seventh Continent, known as the Last Horizon on Earth.

The voyagers were welcomed on board by AAPI’s young and dynamic President, Dr. Suresh Reddy, who has been working very hard, coordinating the efforts with Vinod Gupta from the Travel Agency, ATG Tours, the crew and leadership of the Cruise and the AAPI leaders and members with varied interests and ages ranging from 10 to 90, who had flown in from around the world for this once in a lifetime memorable and historic voyage to the White Continent.

Earlier, the AAPI delegates had toured the beautiful and serene National Park in Ushuaia, on the world famous Route 3 that runs from Alaska to the southern tip of the world in Argentina. At the Park, Dr. Reddy led the AAPI delegates carrying the AAPI banner, spreading the message of Obesity Awareness, which is a major objective of Dr. Reddy’s Presidency, taking the message of Obesity Awareness Around the World.

On the Ship, immediately after settling down in each one’s cabin, the voyagers were invited to learn about safety on the ship and participated in a safety drill. Shelli Ogilvy, the Veteran Expedition Leader introduced the 22 Expedition Members with extensive maritime experiences from around the world, and over 60 other crew members to the voyagers.

The Ship carrying the sailors began its journey on November 30th, 2019 from the Ushuaia Sea Port with a prayer song to Lord Ganesh, chanted by Dr. Aarti Pandya from Atlanta, GA.

Later in the evening, the voyagers sat down for a sit down dinner at the elegantly laid tables at the Restaurant with delicious Indian Cuisine, prepared by Herbert Baretto, a Chef from Goa, India, specially flown in to meet the diverse needs of the Indians who are now the exclusive Voyagers on Ocean Atlantic.

The evenings are fun filled with members spending time together with their select friends and families, singing, playing cards games, discussing politics to medicine to healthcare and sharing jokes and snippets with one another in smaller groups. The cultural events included live music sung by Dr. Radhika from Chicago, Dr. Aarti Pandya and Dr. Badlani, in addition to several local talents of AA{I’s own, leading and vying to win the Anthakshri contest.

The finale on December 8th was a colorful Indian Dress Segment, where the adorable AAPI women and men walked the aile in elegantly dressed in Indian ethnic wear depicting different states of India. On December 7th evening, the voyagers had Black Tie Nite with many of them learning and playing Pokers until the early hours of the morning.

As the sun was still shining beyond midnight, members of the voyage were seen posing and taking pictures on board the ship with the background of the mighty ocean and the scenic mountains of Argentina at the background.

On December 1st morning, AAPI members were alerted to be mindful of the most turbulent Drake Passage, where the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean merge, through which our ship was now sailing with winds gusting through over 50 kms an hour from the south west. The rough with fast moving sea currents contributing to a turbulent weather, several voyagers took shelter in anti-nausea meds.

Throughout the day, there were special safety classes periodically throughout the day, helping the voyagers on ways to navigate the zodiacs, the kayaks, the walks on the ice and snow once we reach our final destination. They were also educated on the many aspects of wildlife on Antarctica, the species, especially the varieties of penguins, the mammals and the birds that inhabit the Continent and the ways for the voyagers to deal with them. The participants were educated on the Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change and Impact, Whale Hunting, and many more relevant topics with scientific data by the Expedition Crew.

The evening was special for the voyagers as the Captain of the ship welcomed the delegates to the Ship and to the Expedition to Antarctica. He introduced his crew leaders to the loud applause from the delegates, as he toasted champagne for a safe and enjoyable journey to Antarctica.

On December 2nd morning, we woke up to milder weather and calmer ocean with the winds subsiding to about 20 kms an hour and ship sailing smoother with the temperatures below 7 degree Celsius. The crew on the ship described the sail to be the smoothest and the weather and wind conditions to be one of the calmest they have ever witnessed. However, the entire day was cloudy with the sun hiding behind the thick clouds upon the ocean.

AAPI in Antarctica

After sailing across the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans and through the turbulent Drake Passage, and the South Ocean, finally, the day arrived for the Voyagers. The one they had been eagerly waiting for. On December 3rd, our ship, the Ocean Atlantic anchored on Danco Island, off the coast of the 7th Continent, Antarctica, officially discovered in 1820, although there is some controversy as to who sighted it first
The excitement of the voyagers had no bounds as they dressed up in their waterproof trousers, navy blue jackets, with hats and glouce and mufflers. They set out in groups marching off the Ship into the Zodiacs in tens in each Zodiac.

The wind and the ocean were calmer. The sun continued to hide behind thick clouds. The Expedition Crew from the ship drove the AAPI delegates to the shore on the island for the first time. The glaciers, mighty mountains covered with pristine and shiny snow, the icebergs on the ocean floating on the Bay, made the Zodiac ride to the shore a memorable experience for each.

As the voyagers walked to the shore on a narrow path on the soft snow surface, leading up the snowcapped mountains, it was a dream come true for all. The fresh water melting from the glaciers and the ice on the one side and on the other little rocks and mountains filled with snow, the Danco Island was picture perfect.

Head off in a Zodiac to view icebergs, or land on a beach studded with penguins. Kayak in the greatest silence on Earth. Take a long hike or a short walk on a shore lined with ghostly remnants of the whaling industry.

Penguins in small colonies of their own seemed unaffected by the voyagers landing onto the Penguin land. Hearing their unique and enchanting voices for the first time, as most of them sat steady, while a few walked from one end to the other, it was a scene everyone long dreamt to be part of, as it was another memorable experience in the life of everyone.

In the afternoon, after lunch and a lecture on the history of Antarctica, the Ocean Atlantic ship, travelling about 25 nautical miles, for the first time ever, landed on the Antarctic Continent as she reached the shores of Paradise Bay, a beautiful island, where the famous Brown Center, the Argentinian Research Station was located.

Trekking up the Hill on the snow and ice filled terrains, even as the serene and picturesque glaciers in vivid shapes and texture, it was mesmerizing and the Bay on either side, was breathtaking.
On December 4th morning, the voyagers got onto the Zodiacs and sailed to Port Lockroy, a sheltered harbor with a secure anchorage on the Antarctic Peninsula since its discovery in 1904. The Port also is home to a Museum and a British Post Office, where the early visitors to the Continent lived and explored the wildlife of the last Horizon. The Museum has preserved the antiques used by the early voyagers, who are an important part in the history of Antarctica.
Bright sun light flashing on the Lamoy Point on our way south towards the northern peninsula of the white Coneinent greeted us all this morning on December 5th. The greetings over the microphone at 6.15 woke us all up letting us know of the .mild weather conditions with 7 degrees celcius and 27 km s wind speed with bright sunny day was a welcome change from yesterday.

Immediately after breakfast we set out in small groups of ten on each Zodiac to cruise on the pristine blue waters of the Lamoy Bay.

Bright sun light flashing on the Lamoy Point on our way south towards the northern peninsula of the white Coneinent greeted us all this morning on December 5th. The greetings over the microphone at 6.15 woke us all up letting us know of the .mild weather conditions with 7 degrees celcius and 27 km s wind speed with bright sunny day was a welcome change from yesterday.

Immediately after breakfast we set out in small groups of ten on each Zodiac to cruise on the pristine blue waters of the Lamoy Bay.

The wind of 25 kms an hour made the waters of the Bay mildly rough as we set out from the ship. For the first time during the voyage, to the much delight of the AAPI delegates, the sun chose to come out from behind the clouds and shone brightly on the voyagers, making the snow shining and glowing with the rays of the sun filling the surface of the earth. It was delightful to see the Penguins close to the AAPI delegates, some of them walking beside them crossing their pathway.
After a lunch Barbeque on Deck Seven of the Ship, the Ocean Atlantic took us through the beautiful Lemaire Channel on the Continent. Braving the cold and gusty winds, the voyagers got together for a group picture of the entire voyager group on Deck Eight of the ship, as they were awed by the beautiful glaciers, the mighty snow-caped mountains, and the floating ice bergs.

It was an amazing experience as the Ship sailed through the Bay filled with Ice Sheet Rocks that are over a meter thick, slowly but steadily marching forward towards the Plenau Bay, where the 38 brave AAPI members had the unique experience of taking “Polar Plunge” in the Sea Water, which was 0.78 degree calcium while the rest of the AA{I delegates watched the brave men and women taking a memorable dip and swim back to the ship in the freezing cold waters of the Antarctic Continent.
This afternoon we were invited to climb up to the Decks 8 and 9 of the ship to view the entrance/passage to the famous Deception Island. Ad the ship sailed through this narrow path into the Island with majestic dark mountains on our right side while on the left snowcapped mountains overlooking the Bay. As the gusty winds made us shiver the voyagers standing on the top deck of the Atlantic Ocean posed for pictures while many others were lost in the stunning beauty created by Mother Nature for all of us to enjoy and cherish for ever.

The tallest mountain Mount Franceswithe height of 2300 meters high behind the backdrop, our zodiacs elegantly cruised fhrough the calmer waters to the mountain range called the Princes and the seven dwarfs.

The stunning views of the glaciers and the mountains and the soft and shiny snow spread across the shore led us all to the top of the snowy hills as we trekked to the top.

Colonies of penguins in smaller groups greeted us with their enchanting voices. We watched in awe as tiny penguins walking up flapping their feathers occasionally from the bottom of the hill to the top.
Many if us waited patiently to have an opportunity to view the eggs upon which the Penguins were sitting to hatch their eggs. Some were lucky to photograph a few couples mating while we were trying to figure out the male from female.

Leaving the breath taking landscapes was not an easy choice as we were soon called to embark on the zodiacs and return to Ocean Atlantic our ship as she was patiently waiting to take us to the next destination of our expedition to the Last Horizon.

We woke up this morni g on Friday December 6th to a bright and sunny day, calmer ocean with 9 kms of wind speed….a picture perfect day for expedition.
We went on zodiacs cruising through the blue waters of the Half Moon Island, a cluster of snowy mountains shaped as a half moon. Searching for wild life in the ocean with the voyagers looking out eagerly for any seals or whales did not seem to result in success as the sea animals and those on the shore seemed to hide in their resting places.
Finally the zodiac captains took us to the shore where for the first time we landed on dark stony surface full of rocks stones and pebbles. Our expedition crew leader reported that the shore was completely covered with ice and snow in the beginning of the season barely a month ago.

The glaciers and the imposing mighty mountains around us we hiked up the hill intruding sometimes into the Penguin Hoghways where we saw colonies of penguins resting under the bright sun. It was delightful to watch a few hopping on tiny rocks from one to another unnerved by the visitors from the Other Continents on earth.
A relaxing and rejuvenating morning walks across the island with breath taking views in abundance of Mother Nature will last a life time for everyone who has been part of the historic expedition to the 7th Continent.

After journeying about five hours we reached this evening at the Melchiors Island as the bright sun shining on us. On our way during lunch and later on the voyagers were thrilled to spot whales showing up their heads periodically.

The journey through the Bay was another memorable experience with the stunning landscape all along the route especially as the sun continued shine brightly on the snow peaked mountains turning the waters closer the glaciers turning from blue to green.

We had over an hour of zodiac cruise exploring the sea life on the Antarctic’s South Ocean.

For the first time we were delighted to watch different kinds of Penguins sitting on a single rock glazing at the ocean waters.
We spotted a few huge Cedder Seals resting on the rocks unmoved by the voyagers in several zodiacs watching them in awe.

The bright sun and the gentle breeze embracing the cheeks of the voyagers it was a perfect day to cruise and explore the White Continent.

190 Members of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin AAPI under the leadership of Dr. Suresh Reddy and a over 50 strong crew and 22 member expedition team set on sail from Urshuaia the southernmost township on earth located in the beautiful country Argentina on Saturday November 30th 2019

The AAPI delegates came from across the United States with some members of the extended family of AAPI delegates coming from india on this once in a lifetime experience to the sea enth continent Antarctica.

Earlier the AAPI delegates spent a day in Urshuia touring the National Park and lake wearing yellow hats and shirts carrying a banner spreading the message of the need for obesity awareness.

On the ship the voyage to the White continent began with a Prayer song by Dr.Aarti Pandya from Atlanta to Lord Ganesha seeking his blessings and prayers to remove all obstacles out of the way.

The sit down dinner on the first night as the ship sailed through the passage towards the south ocean was an amazing experience even as the sun shone on the west until 11 pm.

The 2nd day the Voyagers were woken up by announcement from crew of heavy winds of 50 km an hour and rough sea as the majestic ship moved ahead with braving the tumultuous weather and mighty ocean.

The 2nd night on the ship was special with the captain hosting the dinner and the delegates interacting with the crew and the delegates.

AAPI’s Historic Expedition

Today, on December 4th, the voyagers got onto the Zodiacs and sailed to Port Lockroy, a sheltered harbor with a secure anchorage and the Antarctic Peninsula since its discovery in 1904. The Port also is home to a Museum and a British Post Office, where the early visitors to the Continent lived and explored the wildlife of the last Horizon. The Museum has preserved the antiques used by the early voyagers, which is an important role in the history of Antarctica.

The wind of 25 kms an hour made the waters of the Bay mildly rough as we set out from the ship. For the first time during the voyage, to the much delight of the AAPI delegates, the sun chose to come out from behind the clouds and shone brightly on the voyagers, making the snow shining and glowing with the rays of the sun filling the surface of the earth. It was delightful to see the Penguins close to the AAPI delegates, some of them walking beside them crossing their pathway.

After a lunch Barbeque on Deck Seven of the Ship, the Ocean Atlantic took us through the beautiful Lemaire Channel on the Continent. Braving the cold and gusty winds, the voyagers got together for a group picture of the entire voyager group on Deck Eight of the ship, as they were awed by the beautiful glaciers, the mighty snow-caped mountains, and the floating ice bergs.

It was an amazing experience as the Ship sailed through the Bay filled with Ice Sheet Rocks that are over a meter thick, slowly but steadily marching forward towards the Plenau Bay, where the 38 brave AAPI members had the unique experience of taking “Polar Plunge” in the Sea Water, which was 0.78 degree calcium while the rest of the AA{I delegates watched the brave men and women taking a memorable dip and swim back to the ship in the freezing cold waters of the Antarctic Continent.

Bright sun light flashing on the Lamiy Bay on our way up north towards the northern peninsula of the white Coneinent greeted us all this morning on December 5th. The greetings over the microphone at 6.15 woke us all up letting us know of the .mild weather conditions with 7 degrees celcius and 27 km s wind speed with bright sunny day was a welcome change from yesterday.

Immediately after breakfast we set out in small groups of ten on each Zodiac to cruise on the pristine blue waters of the Lamoy Bay.
The tallest mountain Mount Franceswithe height of 2300 meters high behind the backdrop, our zodiacs elegantly cruised fhrough the calmer waters to the mountain range called the Princes and the seven dwarfs.

The stunning views of the glaciers and the mountains and the soft and shiny snow spread across the shore led us all to the top of the snowy hills as we trekked to the top.

Colonies of penguins in smaller groups greeted us with their enchanting voices. We watched in awe as tiny penguins walking up flapping their feathers occasionally from the bottom of the hill to the top.
Many if us waited patiently to have an opportunity to view the eggs upon which the Penguins were sitting to hatch their eggs. Some were lucky to photograph a few couples mating while we were trying to figure out the male from female.

Leaving the breath taking landscapes was not an easy choice as we were soon called to embark on the zodiacs and return to Ocean Atlantic our ship as she was patiently waiting to take us to the next destination of our expedition to the Last Horizon.
After journeying about five hours we reached this evening at the Melchiors Island as the bright sun shining on us. On our way during lunch and later on the voyagers were thrilled to spot whales showing up their heads periodically.

The journey through the Bay was another memorable experience with the stunning landscape all along the route especially as the sun continued shine brightly on the snow peaked mountains turning the waters closer the glaciers turning from blue to green.

We had over an hour of zodiac cruise exploring the sea life on the Antarctic’s South Ocean.

For the first time we were delighted to watch different kinds of Penguins sitting on a single rock glazing at the ocean waters.
We spotted Seals resting on the rocks unmoved and unaffected by the voyagers in several zodiacs watching them in awe.

The bright sun and the gentle breeze embracing the voyagers it was a perfect day to cruise and explore the White Continent.
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

Bright sun light flashing on the Lamiy Bay on our way up north towards the northern peninsula of the white Coneinent greeted us all this morning on December 5th. The greetings over the microphone at 6.15 woke us all up letting us know of the .mild weather conditions with 7 degrees celcius and 27 km s wind speed with bright sunny day was a welcome change from yesterday.
Immediately after breakfast we set out in small groups of ten on each Zodiac to cruise on the pristine blue waters of the Lamoy Bay.
The tallest mountain Mount Franceswithe height of 2300 meters high behind the backdrop, our zodiacs elegantly cruised fhrough the calmer waters to the mountain range called the Princes and the seven dwarfs.

The stunning views of the glaciers and the mountains and the soft and shiny snow spread across the shore led us all to the top of the snowy hills as we trekked to the top.

Colonies of penguins in smaller groups greeted us with their enchanting voices. We watched in awe as tiny penguins walking up flapping their feathers occasionally from the bottom of the hill to the top.
Many if us waited patiently to have an opportunity to view the eggs upon which the Penguins were sitting to hatch their eggs. Some were lucky to photograph a few couples mating while we were trying to figure out the male from female.

Leaving the breath taking landscapes was not an easy choice as we were soon called to embark on the zodiacs and return to Ocean Atlantic our ship as she was patiently waiting to take us to the next destination of our expedition to the Last Horizon.

After journeying about five hours we reached this evening at the Melchiors Island as the bright sun shining on us. On our way during lunch and later on the voyagers were thrilled to spot whales showing up their heads periodically.

The journey through the Bay was another memorable experience with the stunning landscape all along the route especially as the sun continued shine brightly on the snow peaked mountains turning the waters closer the glaciers turning from blue to green.

We had over an hour of zodiac cruise exploring the sea life on the Antarctic’s South Ocean.

For the first time we were delighted to watch different kinds of Penguins sitting on a single rock glazing at the ocean waters.
We spotted a few huge Cedder Seals resting on the rocks unmoved by the voyagers in several zodiacs watching them in awe.

The bright sun and the gentle breeze embracing the cheeks of the voyagers it was a perfect day to cruise and explore the White Continent.
After journeying about five hours we reached this evening at the Melchiors Island as the bright sun shining on us. On our way during lunch and later on the voyagers were thrilled to spot whales showing up their heads periodically.

The journey through the Bay was another memorable experience with the stunning landscape all along the route especially as the sun continued shine brightly on the snow peaked mountains turning the waters closer the glaciers turning from blue to green.

We had over an hour of zodiac cruise exploring the sea life on the Antarctic’s South Ocean.

For the first time we were delighted to watch different kinds of Penguins sitting on a single rock glazing at the ocean waters.
We spotted a few huge Cedder Seals resting on the rocks unmoved by the voyagers in several zodiacs watching them in awe.

The bright sun and the gentle breeze embracing the cheeks of the voyagers it was a perfect day to cruise and explore the White Continent.
We woke up this morni g on Friday December 6th to a bright and sunny day, calmer ocean with 9 kms of wind speed….a picture perfect day for expedition.
We went on zodiacs cruising through the blue waters of the Half Moon Island, a cluster of snowy mountains shaped as a half moon. Searching for wild life in the ocean with the voyagers looking out eagerly for any seals or whales did not seem to result in success as the sea animals and those on the shore seemed to hide in their resting places.
Finally the zodiac captains took us to the shore where for the first time we landed on dark stony surface full of rocks stones and pebbles. Our expedition crew leader reported that the shore was completely covered with ice and snow in the beginning of the season barely a month ago.

The glaciers and the imposing mighty mountains around us we hiked up the hill intruding sometimes into the Penguin Hoghways where we saw colonies of penguins resting under the bright sun. It was delightful to watch a few hopping on tiny rocks from one to another unnerved by the visitors from the Other Continents on earth.
A relaxing and rejuvenating morning walks across the island with breath taking views in abundance of Mother Nature will last a life time for everyone who has been part of the historic expedition to the 7th Continent.

This afternoon we were invited to climb up to the Decks 8 and 9 to view the entrance/passage to the famous Deception Island. Ad the ship sailed through this narrow path into the Island with majestic dark mountains on our right side while on the left snowcapped mountains overlooking the Bay. As the guest winds made us shiver the voyagers standing on the top deck of the Atlantic Ocean posed for pictures while many others lost in the stunning beauty created by Mother Nature for all of us to enjoy and cherish for ever.

The final landing on the Last Horizon on Friday December 6th afternoon wa sdcc at the Deception Island for the AAPI Votagers.
An unusually bright shi ing sky with gentle winds welcomed us to the shore of the black sandy with little stones spread all along the 36 kms wide island.
The volcanic eruption here over 50 years ago has turne DC the island the mountains into dark colored. Saw a huge deal on the shore resting with birds and few penguins of the Contindnt enjoying the mild weather, the voyagers trekked up.the hill on the dark sand while the panoramic and breath taking views on the snowy mountains beyond the Bay hovering over blue waters of the Last Horizon.

Each evening at cocktail hour the entire expedition community gathers in the lounge for a ritual we call Recap. As you enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, various naturalists give talks, the undersea specialist may show video, and your expedition leader will outline the following day’s schedule.

penguins. Gentoo, Adelie, chinstraps in the thousands; rockhopper, macaroni and king penguins in the Falklands; and king penguins at a staggering scale in South Georgia.
We were all excited about the sightings of a rare black and a rare white penguin, as well as a lone Emperor colony at our farthest south.
Penguin behavior is endlessly fascinating. In the Antarctic spring, hundreds of gentoo penguins parade before us, reestablishing their bonds, mating, staking their claims, and thievishly stealing stones from one another for their nests.

The photo ops are simply incredible. And while penguins are delightful in films and nature documentaries, watching the often-madcap business of penguin life being lived around you is simultaneously uplifting and humbling: the animal kingdom indeed.
We’ll find it resting on ice floes, and often will have the opportunity to approach closely in Zodiacs for excellent photo ops. We’ll also likely be able to observe Weddell and crabeater seals, as well as Antarctic fur seals, whose populations have rebounded since the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and the 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.
Antarctic birds
See Arctic terns and other pelagic birds, including fulmars and petrels. The opportunity of a lifetime for bird lovers, however, lies in venturing further—into the lands of the albatross,
The beautiful black-browed albatross crowd the ledges
The wandering albatross, with the largest wingspan of any bird, is one of the many wildlife spectacles South Georgia affords.

We woke up sailing on choppy seas with northerly winds of 45 knots.
When we reached the western side of the island, we found ourselves at the top of the spectacular colony of rockhopper penguins, and black-browed albatross. Brown skuas flew over the colony while penguins, albatross, and shags took care of their eggs.
We spend a good bit of time photographing the birds and generally taking in such wonderful experience and close views of the wildlife.

Settling into the calm waters of Cierva Cove, we headed out for a morning of Zodiac cruising. As the ship disappeared behind us in the mist, we hugged the shoreline to enjoy views of the Argentine research station Base Primavera, rolling swell around dramatic icebergs, and an undisturbed colony of gentoo penguins going about their usual Sunday morning business.

Highlights of the morning included great sightings of Weddell seals snoozing on ice and swimming curiously in the turquoise waters. As the fog began to lift, dramatic mountain peaks showed through the clouds and we were treated to stunning views of the surrounding glaciers and impressive icebergs throughout the cove.
Dramatic sculpture-like structures made for fantastic photo opportunities, and it was tough to return in time for lunch from such a beautiful morning out on the water.
Before long, we lost count of the number of emperor penguins we laid our eyes on. Cut loose upon the sea ice, our guests took to skiing and snowshoeing to explore the icy landscape and spend time with a gaggle of the largest penguin species on our unique planet.

Today, Antarctica is certainly one of the ultimate tour destinations of the world. However, for more than 150 years after its discovery, Antarctica was too far, too remote, too extreme, too dangerous, and too expensive for all but the most stout-hearted explorers and adventurers.

Those people willing to risk everything for the tasks at hand and fortunate enough to have the financial backing of governments or wealthy organizations. Few simple travelers could dare venture into this domain. To go there meant outfitting an expedition, and necessitated making preparations for all kinds of contingencies.
The human history of Antarctica contains some of the most exciting stories of endeavor and persistence imaginable, and includes many survival tales of people overcoming almost unimaginable odds. It is also wrought with many heart-wrenching tragedies.
But, whatever their reasons for going to Antarctica, these people were first and foremost adventurers at heart. It has taken the efforts of these many expeditions and fearless explorers to reduce much of the Antarctic mystery and danger.

The ship could carry 92 passengers along with about 60 crew members, naturalists, and lecturers.
inflatable boats called Zodiacs provided the means for his passengers to get ashore almost anywhere, under a multitude of conditions.

There are two major types of ice in the polar regions, sea ice and glacial ice, and they form through different methods. Sea ice forms in oceanic water when the ambient temperature is lowered to the freezing point of salt water. Glacial ice (including ice caps) forms through the simple accumulation of snow which becomes compressed by its own weight into solid ice. Sea ice formation is a seasonal phenomenon (although individual pieces of sea ice may last for several years), while glacial ice is generally a long-term structure lasting decades, centuries, or even millennia.

If conditions are calm, the crystals join together, thicken, and form a fibrous structure called young ice.
Sea ice prevents the ocean waters from warming the coasts significantly. It is important to note that islands within the limits of Winter pack ice (such as the South Shetlands, South Orkneys, etc.) compare closely with the continent in seasonal temperatures, soils types, flora, and fauna.
Glaciation, however, is much more complicated. When snow accumulates over a period of many years (that is, it doesn’t melt away after one season), the buildup creates a thick deposit in which the overlying mass tends to compress the lower snow layers into solid ice. During this, the individual snowflakes change into granules, which fuse into crystals of ice. Often, the air between the flakes becomes trapped, thereby creating air bubbles within the ice crystals. In polar areas, this produces huge and massive ice caps that can overwhelm and cover the entire landscape, including even mountains. Eventually, the ice mass thickens to the point where it begins to move due to a combination of gravity and the shape and slope of the ground surface. On steeper slopes this can occur when the thickness of the combined snow and ice reaches 15 m (50 feet) in depth. This is often referred to as glacial ice. If the flowing ice is constrained by mountains, valley walls, or other land surface formations, it is known as a glacier.
Glacial ice is the world’s largest reservoir of fresh water, albeit in solid form. Nearly 99% of all glacial ice on Earth is contained within the huge ice sheets in the polar regions. In fact, this volume of ice is so large that if the ice sheets of both Greenland and Antarctica were to melt, it would cause sea levels to rise about 70 meters (230 ft). In addition to Antarctica, Greenland, Canada, Iceland, and Svalbard, there are also significant glaciers scattered around the world outside of polar regions, including Alaska and Chilean Patagonia.
Permanent ice probably began forming in Antarctica as early as Miocene times, perhaps 20 million years ago.

There are 17 species of penguins in the world and they have various qualities in common. They are all found in the southern hemisphere, although one species, the Galapagos penguin, actually ranges a few miles north of the equator. Penguins are the most aquatic of the sea birds, and they generally spend most of their lives at sea (except when molting or rearing young). All penguins are flightless and adapted for life in cold water, so even those found in the low latitudes are dependent upon cold water currents for their livelihood.

Except for the feet and perhaps bare patches on the face, the entire body is covered with small, dense, overlapping, scale-like feathers, and there is a downy tuft at the base of each feather which increases the heat retention abilities even more. Feathers account for about 80% of the penguins’ insulative properties, while fat provides the other 20%. Penguins have very high internal body temperatures (about 38° C, or 101° F), as well as high metabolic rates. With all this taken into account it is easy to understand how the Antarctic species in particular can survive, and even thrive, in a cold, harsh climate.

Around the Antarctic Peninsula, we commonly see gentoo (Pygoscelis papua), Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae), chinstrap (Pygoscelis Antarctica), emperor (Aptenodytes forsteri), and rarely Macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus) penguins.

On South Georgia, we can see king (A. patagonica), gentoo (P. papua), chinstrap (P. Antarctica), and Macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus) penguins.

Whales (this term applies to all whales, dolphins, porpoises, etc.) are air breathing mammals, but have perfected the ability to live entirely in water over the past 50 to 60 million years.

El Niño Winter Patterns Revealed: Where Snow Will Shine and Where It May Vanish

As the United States prepares for a winter significantly influenced by the first substantial El Niño event in several years, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have unveiled maps providing insights into potential snowfall patterns.

El Niño, a natural oceanic and atmospheric phenomenon in the tropical Pacific, is predicted to reach its most potent level since a very strong El Niño in 2015-2016, which led to the warmest winter ever recorded in the contiguous US, according to NOAA.

While no two El Niño winters are identical, the typical outcome involves wetter and cooler weather in the southern US, while the northern regions become drier and warmer. This is precisely what is anticipated for the upcoming winter.

Picture: CNN

However, it’s crucial to note that wetter weather doesn’t necessarily equate to more snow. Furthermore, when snow does fall, the amounts can vary significantly from one location to another.

The newly released maps provide information on where snow is more or less likely during El Niño winters compared to the average. However, it’s essential to understand that these maps are historical guidelines, not actual forecasts. Snowfall forecasts consider various atmospheric and climatological factors, not just El Niño.

“El Niño nudges the odds in favor of certain climate outcomes, but never ensures them,” clarified Michelle L’Heureux, one of the scientists responsible for the maps, in a NOAA blog post.

The first map illustrates the differences in snowfall from the average during all El Niño winters, regardless of the strength of El Niño. The tan and brown shading highlights the drier trend typically observed in the northern US, while the blue shading indicates the wetter and snowier trend in the southern US. This trend is attributed to the southward shift of the jet stream, which directs storms across the southern part of the country, increasing the likelihood of snow.

The impact of El Niño becomes more pronounced as its strength increases. The next map shows the same data for stronger El Niño winters. The darker hues represent more significant deviations in snowfall during strong El Niño events compared to average ones.

The regions that benefit most from increased snowfall during strong El Niño events include the mid-Atlantic, high elevations in the Southwest and California, and the southern US, with a noteworthy caveat. To witness snow, the temperatures must be low, so the chances of snow don’t vary significantly from normal in areas of Texas and the Southeast, where temperatures tend to remain too warm for snowfall.

Picture: CNN

The influence of El Niño’s jet stream effect is particularly evident in the high terrain of the West, where cold and snowy conditions are common. Mountains in the Southwest and California experience more snow, while the Northwest sees fewer storms.

Storms that impact the mid-Atlantic’s snowfall prospects typically follow a path along the Appalachian Mountains or move off the coast to become nor’easters. During El Niño events, these nor’easters can be enhanced by abundant tropical moisture and deliver an average of “two to three significant snowstorms,” according to Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

This could lead to above-average snowfall in places like Washington, DC, and Baltimore, which received less than an inch of snow last winter.

Although the Northeast typically sees less snow during strong El Niño winters, a single massive storm, such as a potent nor’easter, can skew the snowfall totals for the entire season.

Snow enthusiasts in the Northwest and Midwest will also need to rely on substantial storms for significant snowfall, as stronger El Niño events have historically resulted in less snow than average.

By removing snowfall totals from the map and focusing on the number of strong El Niño events with below-average snowfall, it becomes apparent which areas are most often affected by snow deficits. Darker red areas on the map indicate regions that have experienced more years of below-average snowfall during moderate-to-strong El Niño winters, including parts of the typically snowy Midwest and Northeast. This suggests that these areas are most susceptible to having their snowfall “stolen” by El Niño.

 India’s Energy Policy and the Global Climate Debate: A Closer Look

As the global focus on India’s role in climate change intensifies, it’s apparent that many critics are quick to point fingers at New Delhi’s energy policies without considering the complexities at play. This lopsided debate calls for a more balanced perspective, considering the challenges India faces in its journey towards sustainable energy. The need for an equitable approach is evident.

New Delhi acknowledges the environmental drawbacks of coal, but it’s equally aware that a hasty exit from a carbon-based economy carries immense human costs. The real issue that warrants attention is whether developed nations have made substantial reductions in emissions. So, why impose rapid coal phase-out on India?

Let’s delve deeper into this argument with some illuminating statistics.

India requires power to uplift an estimated 75 million people who have fallen into poverty due to the pandemic, living on less than $2 per day. Power is the lifeline to eradicate poverty, improve nutrition, enhance education, boost healthcare, and increase industrial and agricultural productivity. In India, coal plays a critical role in power generation because viable alternatives are still in the early stages of development.

Consider India’s electricity consumption – it’s strikingly low. The annual per capita electricity consumption in India stands at 972 kilowatt-hours, merely 8% of what Americans and 14% of what Germans consume. India is gradually transitioning to cleaner cooking fuels and embracing bottled cooking gas, which not only reduces indoor air pollution but is also prevalent in many developing countries. Looking ahead to 2040, India’s energy demand is projected to grow significantly, making it the world’s largest growth in energy demand, as certified by the International Energy Agency.

Consequently, India will require a diverse mix of conventional and renewable energy sources, with coal playing a dominant role as it currently powers 75% of the country’s electricity generation. The rest comes from wind and solar power, which are still evolving.

India boasts an estimated 100 billion tonnes of coal reserves, and the state-owned Coal India, the world’s largest miner, produces around 600 million tonnes of coal annually. Coal is not just about power generation; it’s a vital source of employment and economic growth, driving India’s industrialization efforts. Over four million people are associated with the coal sector, and coal also contributes to various non-power sectors like cement, brick, fertilizers, steel, sponge iron, and other industries. More than 800 districts in India have coal dependence. This situation mirrors the experiences of developed nations when they embarked on their paths to prosperity.

But now, these very nations criticize India’s coal policy without considering the complexities. They underestimate the difficulties of transitioning millions of workers into green jobs, a process fraught with challenges. They also ignore that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged developed nations to lead in phasing out coal, not countries like India.

However, developed countries have not taken this step, instead allowing themselves flexibility in transitioning to renewables. Yet, they focus their criticism on India. This is nothing short of hypocrisy.

Take Germany as an example, often lauded as a green champion. It’s expected to witness its highest emissions surge in three decades, primarily due to increased coal use. Germany generates 27% of its electricity from coal, and this figure will rise when it closes its nuclear plants, leading to an additional 60 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually to meet electricity demand.

It’s crucial to recognize that India, as a billion-plus nation and the world’s third-largest emitter, is making determined efforts to decarbonize its power sector. The goal is to develop 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030, with plans to employ technologies like advanced battery storage for enhanced reliability. The installation of solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and nuclear plants is set to reach over 500 gigawatts by 2030, nearly tripling the current capacity and constituting 64% of India’s generation capacity.

New Delhi is also striving to become a global hub for green hydrogen and green ammonia production. However, coal will continue to account for half of India’s electricity generation until 2030, remaining the primary source of electricity. India aims to phase out 2 gigawatts of coal-burning plants by 2030, with plans to shut down 25 gigawatts of older plants.

Moreover, coal contributes significantly to government revenues through various taxes, including royalty, Goods and Services Tax (GST), and GST compensation cess. The central and state governments rely on coal for a substantial portion of their tax revenues. Electricity, largely generated from the coal sector, also contributes to energy tax revenues for governments. Phasing out coal, as proposed at the Conference of Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow, would have severe implications for government tax collections and could negatively impact the economy at various levels.

It is imperative for the West to consider all these factors before casting judgment. India is committed to phasing out coal but, like Western nations, it must do so on its terms, considering its unique challenges and priorities.

Antarctic Ice Crisis: Vanishing Sea Ice, Unstoppable Glacier Melting, and Rising Sea Levels Pose Global Threat

A series of recent scientific analyses have brought to light the concerning state of Antarctica’s ice, raising alarm bells for humanity. From vanishing sea ice to the accelerated melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet and potential changes in East Antarctica, the implications for our world are profound.

First, let’s address the issue of sea ice. The sea ice around Antarctica experiences seasonal freezing during its winter, which occurs during the summer months in North America. However, due to the effects of climate change, the extent of this sea ice has been steadily decreasing. This year, the sea ice reached its smallest recorded extent since satellite tracking began in 1980. The diminished sea ice not only impacts Antarctica but also contributes to global sea-level rise through other mechanisms. Sea ice provides crucial protection for land-based glaciers and massive ice shelves, shielding them from storms and above-freezing ocean waters. Without this protective barrier, the ice on land melts faster, further exacerbating rising sea levels. Moreover, recovery is challenging, as exposed ocean water absorbs more heat than ice, hindering the refreezing process.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center’s analysis suggests a significant shift in the Antarctic sea ice system towards a regime influenced by warmer ocean waters, inhibiting ice growth. This change implies a difficult path for sea ice recovery after a year like this, as warmer waters prevent it from reforming effectively.

Picture: NPR

Beyond sea ice, the melting of Antarctica’s glaciers and ice shelves is an increasingly urgent concern. The West Antarctic ice shelf is the region most affected by climate change, with the potential to raise global sea levels by around 10 feet. Scientists have long warned that once ice loss begins in West Antarctica, it could become unstoppable within a human lifetime. Recent research indicates that the runaway melting process has already commenced, with the rate of ice melt and ocean warming in crucial areas of West Antarctica now three times higher than in the 20th century. Alarming as it is, even immediate and drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would have little impact on slowing the melting rate in this region for the rest of this century. The situation appears to be spiraling beyond human control.

Kaitlin Naughten of the British Antarctic Survey emphasizes that while efforts today may not yield immediate results, they can make a difference for future generations, although substantial changes may only become apparent in the 22nd century. Despite the grim outlook, the research doesn’t predict the complete collapse of the West Antarctic ice shelf within the next century. There remains hope in protecting the East Antarctic ice sheet, a much larger and, currently, more stable counterpart. This part of Antarctica is believed to remain relatively secure for the next century.

However, a separate study published in Science Advances introduces a caveat to this optimism. It suggests that massive glaciers in East Antarctica might also melt faster than previously anticipated, as warm ocean water mixes with meltwater beneath the ice. While East Antarctica is expected to retain its stability for a century or more, this discovery raises concerns about the potential implications for the disintegration of West Antarctic glaciers.

Collectively, these findings create a bleak picture of a continent poised to drive significant sea level rise in the coming decades. The repercussions could be catastrophic for our planet if we don’t transition away from fossil fuels more rapidly. Some U.S. cities are already preparing for several feet of sea level rise this century, considering the predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which already account for Antarctic melting. The loss of ice in West Antarctica disproportionately affects sea level rise on the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States, influenced by complex ocean currents and ice dynamics.

In this context, courageous actions entail both emission reductions and comprehensive adaptation strategies. Simply cutting emissions is insufficient on its own, and forward-thinking planning is essential to mitigate human suffering and save lives. It’s imperative that we confront the profound challenges posed by Antarctica’s changing ice, as the consequences reach our very doorstep.

Antarctic Ice Shelf Melting to Accelerate, Raising Concerns for Rising Sea Levels

A new study warns that increased melting of West Antarctica’s ice shelves is “unavoidable” in the coming decades, with potentially significant implications for future sea-level rise. Ice shelves, which extend into the ocean from the main ice sheet, play a crucial role in holding back glaciers. However, as these ice shelves melt, they can trigger the acceleration of ice behind them, releasing more into the oceans.

The findings of this study suggest that future sea-level rise may be more substantial than previously estimated, raising concerns about the impact on coastal communities. The lead author of the report, Dr. Kaitlin Naughten of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), emphasized that these findings increase the likelihood that current estimates of sea-level rise will be exceeded.

In 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released projections for global average sea-level rise by 2100, estimating a range between 0.28 meters and 1.01 meters. Melting glaciers and ice sheets were identified as a key factor contributing to this rise. Even a one-meter increase in sea levels can pose a significant threat to coastal regions, affecting millions of people worldwide.

However, the IPCC also acknowledged uncertainties related to “ice-sheet-related processes,” not directly included in their estimates. This latest study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to simulate how ocean warming, driven by greenhouse gas emissions, will impact Antarctic ice shelves.

The study indicates that the Amundsen Sea, off the coast of West Antarctica, will warm at a rate approximately three times faster than historical averages. This rapid warming will lead to increased melting of ice shelves, even if significant efforts are made to reduce emissions. Dr. Naughten underlines the importance of taking immediate action to slow the rate of sea-level rise in the long term.

While the study’s conclusions are significant, the authors stress the need for further research to enhance confidence in their findings. The melting of ice shelves in West Antarctica is of particular concern due to its potential impact on the broader region.

West Antarctica contains a substantial amount of ice that, if fully melted, could raise global sea levels by approximately 58 meters. Most of this ice is located in East Antarctica, which has been relatively stable. In contrast, West Antarctica has been losing mass in recent decades, making it less stable.

Ice shelves are critical in holding back the ice mass on land. As these shelves melt due to warm ocean waters, the glaciers behind them may accelerate. This acceleration can result in more ice entering the ocean through melting or breaking off as icebergs. Moreover, a significant portion of West Antarctica is located below sea level, allowing glaciers to retreat into deeper waters, further accelerating ice loss.

One particularly vulnerable area is the Thwaites Glacier, often referred to as the “doomsday glacier” due to its potential to raise global sea levels significantly if it collapses entirely. The grounding line of the Thwaites Glacier is already retreating rapidly in some areas, highlighting its susceptibility to warming.

The processes initiated by accelerated ice shelf melting could lead to the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. However, additional factors, such as snowfall, surface ice melting, and glacier flow rates, also influence the ice sheet’s response to warming and the speed of sea-level rise.

It is widely acknowledged that sea levels will continue to rise in the coming decades and centuries. The slow adjustment of ice sheets to recent rapid warming means further temperature increases are expected. This study adds weight to the idea that sea-level rise may happen more rapidly due to increased ice shelf melt, necessitating adaptation measures for societies worldwide.

Dr. Naughten emphasizes that it is essential to address the root causes of ice shelf melting by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This action can offer societies the necessary time to prepare for and adapt to rising sea levels.

Alberto Naveira Garabato, a professor in physical oceanography at the University of Southampton, adds that this research should serve as a “wake-up call.” It underscores the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to protect the Antarctic Ice Sheet and mitigate the potential for sea-level rise.

69th National Film Awards Honors Indian Actors For Their Outstanding Performances

The 69th National Film Awards ceremony was held in Delhi on Tuesday, October 17, 2023,recognizing and honoring actors for their outstanding performance in Indian cinema.The President, Droupadi Murmu, who presented the award said that films are the most effective medium to spread awareness and sensitivity. The ceremony took place at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. Also present was India’s Federal Minister Anurag Thakur.

From Alia Bhatt to Kriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi and Allu Arjun several others won the prestigious awards for their projects.

Actor Alia Bhatt was conferred with the Best Actress Award for her performance in the film ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ at the 69th National Film Awards.

On receiving the prestigious award, Alia Bhatt, who arrived at the ceremony along with her husband and actor Ranbir Kapoor, said, “It is a very big moment and I am very grateful.”

She won everyone’s hearts with her sartorial choice at the event as she marked her presence in the same saree that she wore during her wedding ceremony with Ranbir. She styled the saree in a
different manner this time. Also, she tied her hair in a bun instead of keeping it open. She accessorized her hair bun with white flowers, and opted for subtle make-up that comprised defined brows, kohl-rimmed eyes, nude lips and a small red bindi, with a gold and pearl choker necklace. Ranbir complemented her in a black bandhgala blazer.

Actor Kriti Sanon was also conferred with the Best Actress Award for her performance in the film ‘Mimi’.  Kriti arrived at the ceremony along with her parents, in a pastel saree. Reacting to
her win, Kriti said, “Just very very overwhelmed. I feel very blessed & grateful. It is a very special moment, especially for Mimi & also my parents were here watching me. I don’t think
I’ve felt this before.”

Telugu star Allu Arjun was honored with the Best Actor Award at the 69th National Film Awards for his role in ‘Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1. This is Allu Arjun’s first National Award.  Allu Arjun took to social media and expressed his gratitude. "A huge congratulations to all the national award winners across various categories and languages throughout the nation. Your accomplishments are truly commendable. & I would like to express my gratitude for the love and wishes pouring in from all corners of the country. Feeling honored and humbled by it all. Thank you for the love. Humbled," he wrote.

Allu, who played the titular gangster in Pushpa: The Rise, will now reprise the role in the sequel 'Pushpa: The Rule'. The film is set to be released in cinemas on August 15, 2024. Directed by Trivikram, the film promises to be a massive entertainer.  Actor Rakshit Shetty’s film ‘777 Charlie’ won the Best Kannada Film award. He received the award on behalf of team ‘777 Charlie’ from President Droupadi Murmu. For the award ceremony, Shetty donned an all-black suit.

Picture: India Tribune

Actor Pankaj Tripathi received the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance in the film ‘Mimi’. Talking to ANI, Tripathi said, “There is hard work of whole team/unit behind any film. I
am thankful to the jury for choosing me for this award… I dedicate this award to my father.”  Pallavi Joshi bagged the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance in the film ‘The Kashmir Files’. Talking to ANI, she said, “Whenever one receives a national award, it feels really good… My expectations are very high now regarding audience view, after the level of recognition that ‘The Kashmir Files’ subject has got.”

‘The Kashmir Files’ also won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration. Director Vivek Agnihotri received the award on behalf of the team.  Ace music composer MM Keeravani was felicitated with the National Award for the Best Background Score for director SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’. Keeravani’s son Kaala Bhairava, too, won best playback singer for the song ‘Komuram Bheemudo’.

Filmmaker Karan Johar’s production ‘Shershaah’ starring Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani bagged the Special Jury Award. Karan and director Vishnu Vardhan accepted the award on behalf of the team from President Droupadi Murmu.

Actor Sidharth Malhotra dropped a post and reacted to the film’s prestigious win.  He wrote, “Special Jury Award at the 69th National Film Awards for #Shershaah! The award received today is a tribute to hardwork, determination, and patriotism. Its significance will remain etched in my heart forever. Deep gratitude and respect to my entire team, and above all, to you for your constant support.”

Actor R Madhavan’s directorial project ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ bagged the Best Feature Film at the 69th National Film Awards. On receiving the award, Madhavan said, “I feel very happy and proud. It is a lovely award. It feels gratifying.”

Veteran actress Waheeda Rehman was conferred with the Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement Award. She received a standing ovation as she went up to the stage to receive the award. After the honor, the veteran actress, in a speech, said, “I feel very honored, very humbled.

But the place where I am standing today is all because of my love for the film industry. Luckily, I got to work with the best directors, producers, technicians, writers, and music directors, and
they all supported me. They gave me love and respect.”

A short video was also played at the ceremony that showcased Waheeda Rehman’s film work over the years. She attended the ceremony in a graceful cream saree. She looked extremely emotional when she received the honor.

Singer Shreya Ghoshal received the Best Female Playback Singer award for the song ‘Mayava Chayava’ from the Tamil film ‘Iravin Nizhal’. This marks Shreya’s fifth National Film Award.  Renowned music director Devi Sri Prasad won the Best Music Director Award for his composition in the Telugu blockbuster film ‘Pushpa: The Rise’.  On receiving the award, Devi Sri Prasad told ANI, “I will always be grateful to everyone. This is one of the most prestigious awards. It is the biggest dream of any artist. The dream has come true today.”  Complete Winners’ List

The winners of the 69th National Film Awards were announced at the National Media Center in New Delhi for Feature and non-feature films certified by the Central Board of Film Certification
(CBFC) between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, were eligible for contention.

Here is the full list of winners at the 69th National Film Awards:
Best Feature Film: Rocketry
Best Director: Nikhil Mahajan, Godavari
Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment: RRR
Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration: The Kashmir Files
Best Actor: Allu Arjun, Pushpa
Best Actress: Alia Bhatt,  Gangubai Kathiawadi  and Kriti Sanon, Mimi
Best Supporting Actor: Pankaj Tripathi, Mimi
Best Supporting Actress: Pallavi Joshi, The Kashmir Files
Best Child Artist: Bhavin Rabari, Chhello Show
Best Screenplay (Original): Shahi Kabir, Nayattu
Best Screenplay (Adapted): Sanjay Leela Bhansali & Utkarshini Vashishtha, Gangubai
Kathiawadi
Best Dialogue Writer: Utkarshini Vashishtha & Prakash Kapadia, Gangubai Kathiawadi
Best Music Director (Songs): Devi Sri Prasad, Pushpa
Best Music Direction (Background Music): MM Keeravaani, RRR
Best Male Playback Singer: Kaala Bhairava, RRR
Best Female Playback Singer: Shreya Ghoshal, Iravin Nizhal
Best Lyrics: Chandrabose, Konda Polam’s Dham Dham Dham
Best Hindi Film: Sardar Udham
Best Kannada Film: 777 Charlie
Best Malayalam Film: Home
Best Gujurati Film: Chhello Show
Best Tamil Film: Kadaisi Vivasayi
Best Telugu Film: Uppena
Best Maithili Film: Samanantar
Best Mishing Film: Boomba Ride
Best Marathi Film: Ekda Kaay Zala
Best Bengali Film: Kalkokkho
Best Assamese Film: Anur
Best Meiteilon Film: Eikhoigi Yum
Best Odiya Film: Pratikshya
Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director: Meppadiyan, Vishnu Mohan
Best Film on Social Issues: Anunaad – The Resonance
Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation: Aavasavyuham
Best Children’s Film: Gandhi and Co
Best Audiography (Location Sound Recordist): Arun Asok & Sonu K P, Chavittu
Best Audiography (Sound Designer): Aneesh Basu, Jhilli
Best Audiography (Re-recordist of the final mixed track): Sinoy Joseph, Sardar Udham
Best Choreography: Prem Rakshith, RRR
Best Cinematography: Avik Mukhopadhayay, Sardar Udham
Best Costume Designer: Veera Kapur Ee, Sardar Udham
Best Special Effects: Srinivas Mohan, RRR

Best Production Design: Dmitrii Malich and Mansi Dhruv Mehta, Sardar Udham
Best Editing: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Gangubai Kathiawadi
Best Make-up: Preetisheel Singh, Gangubai Kathiawadi
Best Stunt Choreography: King Soloman, RRR
Special Jury Award: Shershaah, Vishnuvardhan
Special Mention: 1. Late Shri Nallandi, Kadaisi Vivasayi 2. Aranya Gupta & Bithan Biswas,
Jhilli 3. Indrans, Home 4. Jahanara Begum, Anur

Watering A Precious Future

In the 16th century, Sen no Rikyu, renowned as Japan’s most celebrated tea master, regarded the pristine forest stream water of Yamazaki as ideal for his tea ceremonies. At the same location on the outskirts of Kyoto, Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory, established Japan’s inaugural malt whisky distillery in 1923, selecting the same water source highly prized by Japan’s “The Way of Tea” master.

As Suntory commemorates a century of crafting whisky, it is advancing a mission of unwavering quality through Japan’s art of monozukuri craftsmanship, all the while championing a sustainability endeavor firmly rooted in the preservation of water resources. For Suntory Holdings CEO Tak Niinami, the waters of Yamazaki, a misty valley where three rivers converge, are the wellspring and inspiration behind Suntory’s devoted commitment to whisky-making in harmony with nature.

In this context, Niinami aptly captures the essence, “We must think about what heritage means to us. What is Shinjiro Torii’s legacy? It comes down to providing something new. Something for people to feel — something we call ‘the brilliance of life.’ It’s not about selling products. It’s about the experience. We have to pursue innovation, even in the traditional world of whisky. We must find harmony among humanity, innovation, and nature.”

Suntory has been experiencing a surge in global demand for its premium whiskies like Yamazaki, Hibiki, and Hakushu, positioning them among the most sought-after whiskies in the world. This success has put Niinami under substantial pressure to expand production, a path he refuses to take in order to uphold quality.

“As CEO, I have to always follow this discipline, even if it’s my job to boost revenue. The reason? We need to surprise consumers by exceeding their expectations,” Niinami affirms, emphasizing the uncompromising spirit that governs Suntory’s commitment to quality.
Shinji Fukuyo, the fifth in a prestigious lineage of chief blenders, elucidates the critical role of pure water, which flows down mountain streams and permeates through rock, in determining the quality and natural harmony of Suntory whisky. This water, enriched by nutrients and minerals from the fertile terroir, remains a mysterious and essential element.

“In whisky-making, it’s water as much as barley and yeast that’s crucial,” Fukuyo asserts. “Water ultimately determines the success of each whisky we make. We haven’t fully understood what it is in the water that makes Suntory whisky special, but we know it brings out its unique character.”

Fukuyo elucidates how Suntory’s premium whiskies like Yamazaki and Hakushu, through maturation in their unique terroir, culminate in “a resonance between humans and nature.” The diverse climate and humidity of Yamazaki create ideal conditions for cask aging, a phenomenon known as “Suntory maturation.” This process yields the subtle and nuanced refinement of Suntory whiskies, in harmony with Shinjiro Torii’s original vision.

“Our whisky remains faithful to the outlook of our founder,” says Fukuyo. “He sought to create a whisky that appeals to the sensitivity of the Japanese sense of taste. For a hundred years, we’ve been cultivating this refined taste with unwavering dedication to quality.”

Beyond the world of whisky, Suntory is dedicated to nurturing water sanctuaries, including those deep in Japan’s Minami Alps, where Hakushu whisky is crafted. These sanctuaries play a vital role in preserving pristine groundwater and sustaining life’s most precious resource while bolstering whisky quality.

Today, Suntory’s water sanctuary project spans roughly 12,000 hectares in 22 locations across 15 prefectures in Japan, replenishing more than twice the water consumed by Suntory’s plants.
Niinami underscores the commitment to replenishing the water used for production, noting that, “We have a passion for cultivating water resources in forests. Natural water is not owned by us, but by society.” Globally, Suntory has extended its water sanctuary initiatives to Scotland and Kentucky, collaborating with local communities to support the environment.

As Niinami affirms, “Water scarcity is a global crisis. We must be a solution, not a cause. Our commitment is to contribute to natural water in the world. That’s the commitment of all Suntory Group companies.”

Water conservation is an integral part of Suntory’s broader global mission of sustainability, grounded in the vision of humanity living in harmony with nature. Suntory is actively engaged in developing innovative technologies for plastic recycling, including PET bottles, and collaborates with over 40 companies, including competitors, to advance recycling technologies on a large scale.

“Biodiversity is a key part of the lifeline for the world, not only for humankind but also for all land and ocean life,” emphasizes Niinami. “We need to work with partners to resolve pressing issues such as sustainability, and we want to be a center for it.”
This forward-looking vision encapsulates the legacy of Shinjiro Torii, who believed in nature’s blessings to humanity and sought to pay them forward.
As Niinami aptly states, “Nature gives us blessings. We have to return our due.”

Pope Francis’s Laudate Deum: A Deep Dive into Environmental Ethics and Climate Science

In his recent apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum, Pope Francis extends the dialogue initiated by his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” Climate scientists affirm the scientific rigor of this latest document, while theologians applaud the Pope’s unwavering commitment to addressing the climate crisis.

At the outset of Laudate Deum, Pope Francis commends the U.S. bishops’ assessment of climate change as a social issue. He cites the 2019 global climate change background report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, underlining the interconnectedness of caring for both one another and the Earth. This report emphasizes that climate change is a paramount challenge facing society and the global community, with the most vulnerable bearing the brunt of its impacts.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami welcomes the inclusion of this quote, viewing it as recognition of the conference’s longstanding work on climate. He asserts that environmental stewardship has been an ongoing commitment of American bishops.

Daniel DiLeo, associate professor and director of the justice and peace studies program at Creighton University, sees the citation as a strategic move to hold the bishops accountable for their own standards. DiLeo, who co-published a study in 2021 revealing that the majority of U.S. bishops rarely mentioned climate change in their writings around Laudato Si’, remains skeptical about the likelihood of a significant change in the bishops’ stance post-Laudate Deum. He calls on the bishops to commit to substantial emission reductions within specific timeframes to align with Laudate Deum’s call and engage young Catholics actively in environmental issues.

In line with this, Christiana Figueres, the United Nations official instrumental in the 2015 Paris Agreement, had previously challenged the U.S. Catholic Church to commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040. DiLeo underscores the importance of collective action among individual Catholics, urging them to leverage their combined influence in their dioceses and with elected officials.

In Laudate Deum, Pope Francis issues a challenge to the United States, noting the high per capita emissions in comparison to China and the poorest countries. He emphasizes the need for a significant shift away from the unsustainable Western lifestyle as a means to address the climate crisis.

In response to this criticism, Archbishop Wenski questions the accuracy of the comparison between China and the United States, suggesting that China’s pollution levels might be underestimated.

According to the World Bank, the U.S. emitted 13.0 metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita in 2020, while China emitted 7.8 metric tons per capita. Nevertheless, Archbishop Wenski acknowledges that conspicuous consumption is a notable aspect of American culture and hopes that Laudate Deum prompts self-reflection.

The archbishop commits to implementing more sustainable and energy-efficient practices in parishes and schools within the Miami Archdiocese. He also expects Laudate Deum to influence their legislative priorities when advocating for government policies.

Laudate Deum’s extensive explanation of the latest climate science garners praise from climate scientists. Carmelite Fr. Eduardo Agosta Scarel, a climate scientist and senior adviser to the Laudato Si’ Movement, applauds the document’s use of up-to-date scientific knowledge. However, he points out a concern with the Pope’s use of the term “correlation” when describing the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. He emphasizes that it’s not merely a correlation but a well-established scientific theory explaining the Earth’s climate behavior.

Carlos Martinez, an atmospheric scientist and chair of the Committee on Spirituality, Multifaith Outreach, and Science at the American Meteorological Society, commends Pope Francis for his straightforward and simple communication on climate. He believes that this approach will help climate scientists effectively reach religious audiences who might be apathetic or skeptical about climate change.

Martinez appreciates Pope Francis’ attention to geoengineering and carbon capture technology, noting the potential of the latter to play a positive role.

Laudate Deum places significant emphasis on the forthcoming United Nations climate change summit, COP28. Pope Francis calls for “binding forms of energy transition” at COP28, focusing on their efficiency, obligation, and monitoring.

Sister Veronica Brand, representing the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary at the U.N., recognizes the impact of Pope Francis’ environmental teachings on U.N. leaders. She appreciates his concept of “multilateralism from below,” emphasizing the importance of representing the voices of people on the ground, especially sisters’ participation at the U.N.

Blair Nelsen, representing the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace at the U.N., applauds Pope Francis’ analysis of the state of multilateralism and underscores the significance of civil society organizations. Nelsen points out the incentive for destructive business practices under the prevailing technocratic paradigm, echoing the Pope’s concerns.

Christiana Zenner, associate professor of theology, science, and ethics at Fordham University, lauds Pope Francis for addressing the technocratic paradigm, which questions the idea of unlimited technological and economic growth as an unqualified good. She believes that this document will make the concept of the technocratic paradigm more understandable.

Zenner finds it surprising that the document cites feminist science and technology studies scholar Donna Haraway, given the Vatican’s infrequent citations of women in papal documents. Zenner contends that the document sometimes discusses women more than it allows them to have a voice.

Finally, Fr. Emmanuel Katongole, a theology and peace studies professor at the University of Notre Dame, appreciates Pope Francis’ connection between Indigenous culture and a healthy ecology. He believes that Indigenous, poor communities may offer insights into a more sustainable future by breaking free from the technocratic paradigm.

Katongole emphasizes the need for widespread awareness of Laudate Deum and its theological and spiritual implications, calling for workshops in all parishes to educate Catholics about the climate crisis.

Dominican Sr. Lissette Avilés-Ríos, who hosts a radio show and podcast focused on environmental care, underscores the importance of conveying Pope Francis’s message and climate science to help people understand the local impact. She calls on Christians to unite their faith with their way of life, taking responsibility for the Earth.

Winter Weather Outlook: Possible El Niño Influence

The upcoming winter season in the United States may bear the hallmark of El Niño’s influence, as indicated in a recent forecast from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and Atmospheric G2.

This influence is discernible in the comprehensive three-month winter outlook. The forecast suggests that a robust El Niño is anticipated for this winter, a phenomenon typically linked to above-average temperatures in much of the northern United States. In contrast, it often results in slightly below-average temperatures in parts of the southern U.S.

However, it’s important to note that this outlook provides a broad three-month trend, so there could be periods of both warmer and colder weather in specific regions compared to the general forecast.

Month-by-Month Projections

Let’s delve into the month-by-month projections for this upcoming winter and examine some key factors that might alter this outlook.

December: Winter could kick off with unseasonably warm conditions in the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, and Northeast. If you were hoping for a chilly December to set the holiday mood, you might be in for disappointment. Cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, and New York City are all expected to experience temperatures significantly above average. Meanwhile, the southern tier of the U.S. is likely to see temperatures close to the seasonal norm.

January:As the new year begins, the southern U.S. might experience slightly colder-than-average temperatures. A typical feature of El Niño is cool and wet conditions in parts of the southern states during the heart of winter, and this outlook suggests that from the Southern Plains to Georgia and the Carolinas, there’s a possibility of increased chances for snow and ice. On the other hand, parts of the Northwest and Northeast have the highest likelihood of experiencing above-average temperatures in January.

February:The last full month of winter may bring a split in temperature trends. In February, the warmest temperatures compared to the seasonal average could prevail in the Northwest and northern Rockies. Conversely, the Southeast to the mid-Atlantic might have a higher chance of encountering colder-than-average temperatures.

Factors that Could Alter the Winter ForecasT

Several critical factors could potentially modify the winter forecast.

  1. Atmospheric Response to El Niño:The extent of the atmospheric response to El Niño’s warm Pacific waters plays a pivotal role. According to Dr. Todd Crawford, Vice President of Meteorology at Atmospheric G2, the current atmospheric conditions resemble those of the 2009-10 El Niño, which was characterized by cooler temperatures in the central and eastern U.S. Therefore, close monitoring of trends in the coming weeks and months is necessary to determine the extent of El Niño’s influence on winter weather patterns and whether the outlook may shift towards cooler conditions.
  2. Polar Vortex Strength:The weakening of the polar vortex later in the winter can have significant implications for weather patterns. When the polar vortex weakens, the frigid air typically trapped in the Arctic can spill into parts of Canada, the U.S., Asia, and Europe. This happens because the jet stream becomes more blocked with sharp, southward meanders, redirecting cold air toward lower latitudes. Dr. Crawford suggests a good chance of a mid-winter weakening of the polar vortex, which could lead to colder conditions during the latter part of winter.
  3. Global Warming Influence:The recent surge in global warmth is another factor to consider. As of the end of September, the Earth was on track to experience its warmest year on record. Dr. Crawford notes that this additional burst of global warmth in 2023 may result in an upward shift in temperatures. In practical terms, this means that warm periods could be even warmer than usual, while cold periods may be less severe than typical.

While the winter outlook suggests an influence of El Niño with a predisposition towards warmer conditions in the northern U.S. and cooler conditions in the southern U.S., these projections are subject to modification based on the evolving interplay of these significant factors. Therefore, as winter approaches, we must remain vigilant and adaptable in our preparations for the upcoming season.

India To Push Developed Nations To Become ‘Carbon Negative’ Before 2050

India is aiming to urge developed nations to embrace a more ambitious target of becoming carbon negative rather than merely carbon neutral by 2050. This move is rooted in the argument that this approach would provide emerging economies with additional time to utilize fossil fuels to meet their developmental needs. Two sources within the Indian government revealed that India, which has been resisting calls to commit to a specific deadline for phasing out coal and other fossil fuels, plans to present this proposal at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai later this year.

“One of the government officials said, ‘The rich countries should become net negative emitters before 2050 to enable the world to achieve the target of global net-zero by that year while allowing developing nations to use the available natural resources for growth,'” according to one of the government officials.

As it currently stands, developed countries, including the United States, Britain, Canada, and Japan, are targeting achieving net zero emissions by 2050. China has committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2060, while India has set a target of achieving this goal by 2070. Net zero or carbon neutrality denotes a scenario in which the volume of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through human activities is offset by corresponding activities designed to remove an equivalent amount. In contrast, being carbon negative is a more ambitious undertaking that requires a nation to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits.

The discussions at COP28 are unfolding against a backdrop of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and unpredictable monsoons, which have underscored the urgency of taking immediate action on climate change.

India, in its approach, intends to persist in resisting the pressure from developed economies to establish a concrete deadline for phasing down the use of fossil fuels. Instead, it is advocating for a shift in focus towards reducing overall carbon emissions through the use of “abatement and mitigation technologies.” These insights were provided by the two officials, and a third government official, who opted to remain anonymous as these discussions are confidential, and a definitive stance has not yet been established.

Efforts to obtain comments from India’s environment, external affairs, and prime minister’s offices through email inquiries were unsuccessful.

India has already committed to operating 50% of its installed power capacity using non-fossil energy sources and reducing its greenhouse emissions-to-GDP ratio to 45% of the 2005 level by 2030.

During a summit held in New Delhi just last month, the G20 countries acknowledged the necessity of reducing unabated coal power, although they did not specify a timeline or set emission reduction targets. This declaration marked a positive step in global climate negotiations, with these 20 nations, which collectively account for over 80% of global emissions, agreeing to phase out coal for the first time. This development was particularly notable as coal-dependent economies, including China, India, and Indonesia, have previously resisted discussions about transitioning away from coal and instead called for developed economies to cease using gas.

One official emphasized that it is currently unfeasible for India to commit to a timeline for ending coal usage, as coal is anticipated to remain a fundamental component of the country’s energy mix in the foreseeable future, even if energy storage and abatement technologies become viable in a hypothetical scenario.

Statistics reveal that thermal power stations continue to supply 73% of the electricity consumed in India, despite the country increasing its non-fossil energy capacity to constitute 44% of its total installed power generation capacity.

COP28 is scheduled to be held between November 30 and December 12, providing a significant platform for discussions on these crucial matters of global climate action.

Exploring Zealandia: A Hidden Continent’s Mysteries Unveiled

You might think you know all the continents, but what about Zealandia? In 2017, a previously unknown expanse of New Zealand’s shores made global headlines when it was unveiled to the world.

Zealandia, referred to as Te Riu-a-Māui in the Māori language, encompasses over 5 million square kilometers, dwarfing the subcontinent of India in size, being twice its magnitude.

The reason for this lies in the fact that a staggering 95 percent of its landmass is concealed beneath the southwest Pacific Ocean, having submerged eons before human beings walked the Earth. Only a substantial mountain chain, essentially comprising the two islands of New Zealand, along with some petite oceanic islands, protrudes above the water’s surface.

The newly discovered continent, Zealandia, remains shrouded in mystery due to its virtually inaccessible nature. Nevertheless, an international team of geologists has collaborated to create a novel geological map encompassing Zealandia. This map was fashioned through a fusion of ocean-recovered rock samples and advanced geophysical mapping techniques.

During their quest for samples, geologists identified extensive sandstone formations and deposits of basaltic rock pebbles along Zealandia’s outer boundaries. These sandstones are estimated to be approximately 95 million years old and contain older granite and volcanic pebbles, suggesting that when Zealandia was above sea level, it was traversed by rivers streaming from volcanic highlands and filling tectonic basins.

The volcanic highlands were an active geological feature at least 30 to 50 million years prior, but the erosion likely occurred when the sandstone layers were deposited.

Geologists posit that Zealandia underwent a gradual inundation roughly 40 million years ago. This conclusion is substantiated by the discovery of basalt pebbles linked to underwater volcanic activity.

The findings from this research, titled “Reconnaissance basement geology and tectonics of North Zealandia,” have been documented in the 2023 edition of the journal Tectonics.

Inaction In The Face Of Climate Crisis: A Dire Path Forward

In the wake of the scorching events of July, anyone who remains skeptical about the reality of global warming is entrenched in denial that would rival ignoring a blazing inferno despite one’s own clothes being ablaze. Shockingly, numerous Americans continue to disregard the scientifically-established truths, opting instead to embrace the falsehoods perpetuated by the fossil fuel industry, their political allies, and the so-called experts who have compromised their integrity for the industry’s gain.

Equally culpable are those of us who acknowledge the irrefutable evidence of climate change, yet fail to take meaningful action to counter the escalating chaos. We are akin to frogs languishing in a slowly heating pot of water, oblivious to the rising temperature and the impending danger we face. July, having secured its place as the hottest month ever recorded in human history, demonstrated the severity of the issue. In regions like Phoenix, emergency rooms were inundated with victims of heatstroke and burns from sizzling pavements and metal surfaces. Notably, heat-related fatalities outpace hurricane-related deaths in the United States. On a global scale, a staggering 5 million individuals succumb annually to heat-related causes.

Picture : MSN

It’s the vulnerable—the elderly, the infirm, the impoverished, and the homeless—who bear the brunt of the heat’s fury. While the affluent and middle class can retreat to air-conditioned havens, this worsens the situation by increasing CO2 emissions due to electricity consumption. Tragic deaths also resulted from floods triggered by the capacity of warm air to hold more moisture during storms. This summer, the Northeast and Pakistan suffered devastating flooding, while the western United States faced both replenishing rains and ruinous floods that razed homes and farmland. The inevitability of future droughts looms ominously.

The cumulative impact of heatwaves and deluges translates into billions of dollars in damages and lost productivity, while concurrently producing a wave of climate refugees forced to migrate in search of survival. And yet, as harrowing as this scenario may seem, it represents only the inception of the irreversible harm we are inflicting upon our planetary abode.

Across the globe, mountain glaciers are receding, thereby imperiling the dependable water sources of millions. Coral reefs, which took centuries to flourish and serve as the ocean’s nurseries, are succumbing to warm water and heightened acidity. Their demise would herald the extinction of myriad marine species that rely on these reefs for habitation and breeding, irrevocably altering the oceans and the food chain.

Simultaneously, ocean levels continue to rise. Reduced ice coverage around Antarctica—though seemingly inconsequential—compromises the stability of the continent’s ice sheets. The shrinking North Pole ice cap further exacerbates oceanic heat absorption, as ice normally reflects sunlight. The central question revolves around the pace at which this climatic catastrophe will unfurl. Some experts foresee the worst-case scenario unfolding in the next century, while others sound the alarm about tipping points that could propel the crisis to rapid escalation.

“If we are able to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, U.S. sea level in 2100 is projected to be around 0.6 meters (2 feet) higher on average than it was in 2000,” according to NOAA. “On a pathway with high greenhouse gas emissions and rapid ice sheet collapse, models project that average sea level rise for the contiguous United States could be 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) by 2100 and 3.9 meters (13 feet) by 2150.”

Two ominous climate scenarios portend swifter calamity. Firstly, the destabilization and eventual release of all Greenland’s ice into the sea would translate into a 6.5-foot sea level rise. Secondly, the unfreezing of Siberian permafrost could unleash a methane deluge, propelling an abrupt global warming event. As the 22nd century dawns, future generations will not revere our technological advancements. Rather, they will condemn our legacy of failing to avert the impending environmental catastrophe, much like we condemn past generations for turning a blind eye to atrocities.

The toll will be immeasurable: millions of lives lost, potentially half the world’s population, alongside enduring suffering for billions in a resource-depleted world. Governments will crumble, chaos will reign, and Earth will bear little semblance to its former self. This devastation resonates even more acutely with believers who view this as a desecration of the divine creation bestowed upon humanity—a gift now squandered. Instead of cherishing this gift, we’ve acted as reckless children, shattering our blessings without a second thought.

Though Christians advocate shouldering burdens akin to Jesus’s cross, our actions have constructed burdens for the generations that follow. As the echoes of historical wars, pandemics, and socio-political upheavals fade, the inhabitants of future centuries will castigate us for our negligence. They will inquire why we allowed global warming to spiral out of control, despite possessing the knowledge and means to intervene. It’s a question that will resonate far beyond technological innovation—a question we must confront before our complacency seals the fate of our only home.

Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid.” I must confess that I am terrified by what is coming even though I know I will be dead before the worst happens. For once, I am happy I don’t have children. I pray for a miracle, a deus ex machina, even though we do not deserve one.

To those not yet born, all I can say is, “I’m sorry.” But I don’t expect you to forgive us.

Plants Can Remove Cancer-Causing Toxins from Air

A momentous report has revealed that plants have the capacity to effectively eliminate harmful gas exhaust, including cancer-causing substances like benzene, from indoor air.

The exploration was led by Associate Professor Fraser Torpy, a bioremediation master from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), in a joint effort with a main Australian plantscaping arrangements organization Ambius.

The specialists found that the Ambius little green wall, containing a blend of indoor plants, was exceptionally compelling at eliminating destructive, malignant growth causing poisons, with 97% of the most harmful mixtures eliminated from the encompassing air in only eight hours.

Poor indoor air quality is liable for 6.7 million unexpected losses internationally, as indicated by the World Health Organisation. The vast majority invest 90% of their energy inside at home, school, or the working environment, so embracing new methodologies to further develop air quality is basic.

Ambius General Manager Johan Hodgson said the exploration introduced new proof of the basic pretended by indoor plants and green walls in cleaning the air we inhale rapidly and economically.

“We realize that indoor air quality is frequently essentially more contaminated than outside air, which thus influences mental and actual wellbeing. Yet, the incredible news is this study has shown that something as straightforward as having plants inside can have a colossal effect,” Mr Hodgson said.

Past examinations on indoor plants have shown they can eliminate an expansive scope of indoor air impurities, in any case, this is the initial review into the capacity of plants to tidy up gas fumes, which are one of the biggest wellsprings of poisonous mixtures in structures around the world.

Workplaces and private apartment complexes frequently interface straightforwardly to parking structures, either by entryways or deep openings, making it challenging to stay away from unsafe gas related compounds saturating work and neighborhoods. Numerous structures are additionally presented to fuel vapor from neighboring streets and interstates.

Breathing fuel vapor can prompt lung disturbance, migraines, and queasiness, and has been connected to an expanded gamble of malignant growth, asthma, and other persistent illnesses from longer-term openness, adding to diminished future.

Associate Professor Torpy said the review results, in light of estimations from a fixed chamber, had far surpassed their assumptions when it came to eliminating fuel poisons from the air.

“This is whenever establishes first have been tried for their capacity to eliminate fuel related compounds, and the outcomes are amazing. Besides the fact that plants eliminate can most of contaminations from the air very quickly, yet they likewise eliminate the most hurtful fuel related toxins from the air most effectively, for instance, known cancer-causing agent benzene is processed at a quicker rate than less destructive substances, similar to alcohols.

“We likewise found that the more gathered the poisons in the air, the quicker and more viable the plants became at eliminating the poisons, showing that plants adjust to the circumstances they’re filling in,” Academic administrator Torpy said.

Mr. Hodgson said the discoveries affirmed criticism they’d got in the wake of introducing plants in many places of business the country over.

“At Ambius, we see again and again the impacts plants have in further developing wellbeing, prosperity, efficiency, and office participation for the a great many organizations we work with. This new exploration demonstrates that plants shouldn’t simply be viewed as ‘ideal to have’, yet rather a vital piece of each and every working environment health plan.

“Basically awesome, generally financially savvy, and most reasonable method for combatting destructive indoor air pollutants in your work environment and home is to present plants,” Mr. Hodgson said.

The Last Time Our Planet Was This Hot, Woolly Mammoths Roamed the Earth

If you could go back to the Eemian period—from 116,000 to 129,000 years ago—you’d feel right at home. OK, the woolly mammoths lumbering about might take you aback, as might the hippopotami roaming freely across what would one day be the streets of Europe. But when it comes to climate, things would not be all that different. Mean global temperatures today are about 1ºC warmer than they were in the pre-industrial era, leading to the extreme weather and other events we’ve been experiencing: heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods, super storms, savage hurricanes, and more.

In the Eemian, things were warmer still, close to 2ºC hotter than in the pre-industrial era, surely leading to even more severe conditions. Individual weather events like hurricanes are too brief to be preserved in the so-called climate archive that Earth scientists use to study climate history, particularly deep cores drilled from ice sheets, the ocean floor, lake silt, and the land. But computer models coupled with the data from the cores do suggest a turbulent Eemian.

1.5°C of Warming in Next 5 Years, U.N. Warns

“We are not exclusively tied to the climate archive,“ says Syee Weldeab, professor of Earth Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “We can run [computer] models that change [the weather] as we increase the energy in the atmosphere and the ocean.”

One study in Research Gate found that Eemian hurricanes were stronger and more northerly than those observed today—even increasing the incidence of winter storms, which lasted well beyond the contemporary hurricane season. Another, in Scientific Reports, found Eemian droughts and brush fires in Australia that lasted multiple centuries at a time.

Yet more research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that the Eemian was characterized by “‘superstorms’ more intense than any observed historically.” If the Eemian is Earth’s past, it is also Earth’s portent—a potential warning of the kind of climatological upheaval we face if we allow our global temperature to creep past the 1ºC threshold to the 2ºC that defined the Eemian.

No matter how violent the Eemian was, planetary scientists today are alarmed that our current era marks the warmest the planet has been since a period that occurred so long ago. After all, it took the Eemian more than 16 millennia to unfold and fade. Human-caused climate change required less than 300 years—since the dawn of the fossil-fueled industrial age in 1760—to cause such disruption in the one world we’ve got.

“It’s amazing,” says Gifford Miller, distinguished professor emeritus of geological sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “I think a lot of people struggle to imagine that us little, tiny human beings can actually alter the energy balance so much that it will fundamentally change the climate.”

Why the Earth Ran a Fever

Unlike contemporary climate change, the global warming and knock-on weather effects of the Eemian had little to do with greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Analysis of the archive cores indicates that the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere back then was about 280 parts per million (ppm), according to Miller. Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts the figure at an alarming 417.06 ppm. Even if humans turned off the CO2 spigot today, the emissions already in the system would continue to warm the world for decades.

So if greenhouse gasses were little more than a bit player in the extreme warming of the Eemian, what was responsible? The answer is the angle of the Earth and the relative positions of the planet and the sun. Earth does not spin evenly around its axis, but rather, can wobble like a top—a process called precession. At the beginning of the Eemian, that wobble pointed the North Pole toward the sun, slightly increasing the 23.7 degree angle the Earth usually maintains, and exposing the northern hemisphere to more sunlight than it would usually get.

“The north leaned closer to the sun,” says Miller, ”and there was about 9% more solar energy being absorbed by the planet.”

Then too, there was the proximity of the Earth and the sun. The average distance between the two bodies is 150 million km (93 million mi.). But that figure changes over the course of the year. Once every 12 months, the Earth reaches what is known as its aphelion—or furthest approach—drifting out to about 150 million km (94.5 million mi.). Six months later, it reaches its perihelion, drawing closer to 147 million km (91.4 million mi.).

But eccentricities in the Earth’s orbit can sometimes disturb this cycle. Periodically the planet will linger close to the perihelion distance—generally for a few thousand years or so. A handful of millennia are nothing on a cosmic scale, but, as with hemispheric tilt, the phenomenon can dramatically affect energy absorption. “Those two combinations,” says Miller, “a higher tilt and being closer to the sun resulted in an overall increase of 12% of the sun’s energy received.”

The Parallels Between Then and Now

That 12% made a big difference in a lot of ways similar to the ones we’re seeing with contemporary global warming. ​​For starters, there’s the oceans, which absorb enormous amounts of heat and evaporate more water vapor in the process—a sort of feedback loop since water vapor is itself a potent greenhouse gas.

Northward migration of plant life exacerbated climate change in the Eemian too, something that ancient, preserved DNA from the Canadian Arctic revealed—and something that’s happening today as well. At temperatures warm, Arctic areas that once weren’t hospitable to trees begin to support them. Leaf canopies cover up bright, white snow, which would ordinarily reflect sunlight back into space. Instead the leaves absorb the heat, warming up the Arctic forests and causing them, like the oceans, to release temperature-raising water vapor into the atmosphere.

Then too there is the lesser-known matter of methane hydrates—again both an Eemian and likely contemporary problem. A combination of methane and water, methane hydrates usually remain in a frozen state in the deep ocean. As the ocean warms, however, the deposits thaw and separate, releasing the methane alone—another powerful greenhouse gas, allowing it to rise up in the water and escape into the atmosphere.

“There’s a long-term climatic feedback process in this,” says Weldeab, “something that amplifies the warming.”

The Eemian ultimately came to an end after the Earth straightened its tilt a little and returned to its usual aphelion-perihelion cycle; by the time that happened—13,000 years after the Eemian began—the ice from the prior glaciation had been lost. Compare that slow melt to the mere decades it’s taken human-induced climate change to do such damage to vast expanses of ice in Greenland and Antarctica and create the likelihood of an ice-free Arctic summer as early as 2030. Overall, humans have needed just 263 years, since the dawn of the Industrial Age, to create their own overheated Eemian. Unlike the last one, there is no natural process like the realignment of the planet that will step in and set things to rights. We made the mess—and it’s ours to clean up. (TIME.COM)

What a World 1.5 Degrees Hotter Would Look Like

(IPS) – The dangerous state of global climate has reached a new low as a World Metrological Organisation (WMO) analysis reveals. It confirms a known obvious: human activities continue to worsen conditions that have changed our planet’s climate.

Most distressing is that ‘there is a 66 per cent likelihood that the annual average near-surface global temperature between 2023 and 2027 will be more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for at least one year.’

With under five years before the much dreaded 1.5 degrees set by the Paris Agreement becomes a reality – and with it ‘a 98 per cent likelihood that at least one of the next five years, and the five-year period as a whole, will be the warmest on record’ – politicians and policy-makers have received the loudest definitive clarion call that should induce urgent and fundamental changes in approaches to mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts.

It had been known for decades that the African continent is highly vulnerable to such impacts as drought, flooding and heatwaves. What remains unknown but can be reasonably discerned is the scale of human catastrophe and its resulting global impacts that are certain to happen should – so far unsuccessful – climate governance approaches remain unchanged.

Already observed impacts of climate change

It is now reasonable to conclude that climate actions that should have been undertaken at a continental scale will not be completed within five years to avert climate change impacts. Over decades, predictions in earlier International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have already become a reality.

Its latest special report – focused on the 1.5 degrees threshold – details climate impacts that have claimed lives and livelihoods among Africans who contributed the least to climate change. Six climate impacts assessed between ‘medium, high and very high confidence’ such as displacement, heat and losses in agriculture and crop production, are no longer just predictions — and are certain to further increase within the next five years.

A certain outcome of this will be increases in false solutions, such as techno-scientific babble to spray silver iodide into the atmosphere to create rain, as well as inflame nationalistic policy responses, such as the British government’s current inhumane policy to return a growing number of people fleeing from the most vulnerable continent to climate change impacts.

Any effort, worthy of being considered serious, to avert further callous suffering and wanton waste of lives across Africa during the next five years, must aim at implementing climate mitigation and adaptation projects at a scope, continental scale and rate that surpasses the frequency of recent environmental disasters.

Before the onset of these WMO’s predictions, those most responsible for climate change saw and mostly ignored as distant problems, the starvation in Ethiopia, catastrophic drought in Kenya and cyclone in Zimbabwe that affected millions, killed thousands and, since 2021, displaced some 1.5 million searching for food and water in Somalia.

But such a short-sighted understanding of cascading impacts resulting from extreme weather and environmental conditions induced by a changed global climate will only worsen the situation. Further, beyond five years, social outcomes across Africa would, in the long-term, represent persistent social pressures, including from those with the courage to maintain a moral sting on the conscience of politicians in developed countries.

A most certain of those is the changing demography of Africa, as ‘more than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa.’ In sub-Saharan Africa, the population is projected to grow from 258 million in 1984 to over 1.6 bn in the next seven years. It would be a natural outcome that these lives will relentlessly escape barren farmlands and flood communities that no longer sustain their lives for those in Europe and elsewhere.

Reports of thousands of lives lost at sea should signal to politicians that risks faced by those seeking refuge by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, using over-crowded and rickety boats, are not sufficient deterrence to outweigh their perceptions of protection in developed countries that are comparably more adapted to climate change impacts and with mitigation solutions.

Another reason for urgent changes to addressing climate change is that assistance to developing countries to aid humanitarian disasters are constrained by inflation in developed economies, the political climate in donor countries and unforeseen developments, such as the recent Covid19 pandemic.

And so, within the next five years, the resulting environmental disasters from a world warmed to 1.5 degrees, coupled with national economic pressures in developed countries such as inflation, which reduces foreign aid, inconsistent national policy-making from short-term political cycles and misplaced national priorities on overseas development assistance (ODA) – such that saw Somalia ranked tenth on a list of top-ten recipients of gross ODA between 2020 and 2021, during the same period the country was experiencing a profound humanitarian crisis – will contribute to creating a global humanitarian catastrophe perhaps not seen since the end of the Second World War.

The need for large-scale transformations

Unlike Western Europe, which was rebuilt on the Marshall Plan, a similar plan may be unnecessary for Africa, had developed countries honoured promises on climate change assistance. But climate finance promises to honour yet more broken promises have not stopped African countries’ from increasing their resilience and reducing the continent’s high vulnerability to climate change impacts.

They continue to play by UNFCCC rules and have deposited plans, including plans to implement plans, to mitigate and adapt to climate change. But as the UNFCCC has found, virtually all National Determined Contributions, from some 100 countries, ‘need international support for technology development and transfer to implement.’

Since as many countries have been waiting for decades for such support, it is reasonable to suspect the finance needed will not arrive in less than five years. And so, national efforts to protect lives across Africa have largely come to nought, while emissions outside the continent continue to rise, while ironically, the premature death of ‘King Coal’ still makes headline news in the foreign press.

Keeping that failure in mind, if the Paris Agreement could still be lauded as the greatest achievement on climate change, then the accord’s approach to implementing its solutions is its weakest. Whether it’s implementing mitigation and adaptation projects or transferring technologies from developed to developing countries, the inflated role and relevance of money to realise these solutions reduce the accord’s potential from a practical instrument to a simple conceptual document.

Its finance framework contributes to gestate and birth a marketplace of climate finance funds, greenwashing scams and initiatives informed by neoclassical free-market logic that, as yet, have failed to reduce global emissions. But where the framework should matter most – to stimulate climate finance flows to developing countries – remains an unmet need.

Yet, Africa’s persistent high vulnerability to climate change impacts isn’t for lack of climate finance, but one of access to money. One has only to observe that Africa has historically been at the bottom rung of recipients of public and private sector finance, such as foreign direct investments and overseas development assistance.

Climate finance, which must freely flow to fund renewable energy and climate-resilient projects, has followed suit. Until 2050, the continent would need, yearly, $240 bn to implement climate mitigation and adaptation measures, but received $15.7 bn in loans in 2020. It is more critical now than ever to understand that private financial markets are unsuitable for solving public problems.

Economic power has historically been centralised in developed countries and climate change impacts will not honour this historic disparity.

Decarbonising African economies implies societal, sectoral and infrastructural transformations at a scale unknown to human history. Yet, knowledge and technologies exist today to make this transformation a reality. But this evidently provides no assurance for their use, mainly because of the insistence that such transformation should be accomplished on the basis of neoclassical market logic.

Aside from such reasoning reflecting a certain measure of cognitive dissonance, it also suggests a wilful and callous condemnation of vulnerable lives to more death and unnecessary suffering. A practical and perhaps only option now is to consider implementing climate solutions outside the free economic market.

The second is to socialise these solutions. This henceforth should mean that decisions on how to provide electricity to hundreds of millions who’ve been living in perpetual darkness at sunset for generations, provide drought-resistant crops to those in barren farmlands and supply early warning systems to prevent deaths from extreme weather, must no longer be informed by neoclassical economic dictates. By orienting climate solutions towards social goals, human societies may minimally survive in a world warmed up to 1.5 degrees.

Michael Davies-Venn is a public policy analyst and communication expert. He works on global environmental governance with focus on climate mitigation and climate adaptation measures between developing and developed regions. He is Junior Fellow at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

Source: International Politics and Society, published by the Global and European Policy Unit of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hiroshimastrasse 28, D-10785 Berlin.

Unprecedented Heatwave Sweeps Across the Globe

It is humid. Very warm. Furthermore, summer is only a few weeks away. A scorching heatwave is currently affecting Texas and a portion of the US’s southwest. At a certain point, in excess of 120 million Americans were under some type of intensity warning, the US Public Weather conditions Administration said. This represents more than one-third of the population.

The June heat not only shattered all-time records in the UK, but it also set new ones. It beat the previous record, set in 1940, by 0.9 degrees Celsius. That is a gigantic room for error.

Similar instances of unprecedented heat have occurred in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather predicted that June would be the hottest on record globally.

The heat has also not subsided. The three most sizzling days at any point recorded were in the previous week, as per the EU environment and weather conditions administration, Copernicus.

According to Prof. Richard Betts, a climate scientist at the Met Office and the University of Exeter, these highs are consistent with what climate models predicted. On Monday, July 3, the average global temperature reached 16.89C, and on July 4, it reached 17.04C for the first time. Provisional data suggest that temperatures reached 17.05C on July 5.

He asserts, “We should not be at all surprised with the high temperatures around the world.” This is each of the an obvious sign of what we’ve known for quite a while, and we will see perpetually limits until we quit developing more ozone depleting substances in the air.”

We tend to focus on the temperature of the air when we consider how hot it is because that is what we experience every day.

Be that as it may, a large portion of the intensity put away close to the outer layer of the Earth isn’t in the environment, however in the seas. What’s more, we’ve been seeing a few record sea temperatures this spring and summer.

For instance, the North Atlantic is experiencing the highest surface water temperatures ever recorded at the moment.

That marine heatwave has been especially articulated around the banks of the UK, where a few regions have encountered temperatures however much 5C above what you would ordinarily expect for this season.

It has been classified as a heatwave of Category 4 by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Outside of the tropics, this term is rarely used, and it means “extreme” heat.

According to Daniela Schmidt, an Earth Sciences professor at the University of Bristol, “such anomalous temperatures in this part of the North Atlantic are unheard of.”

El Nio Is Forming In The Tropical Pacific

El Nio is a weather pattern that occurs frequently when warm waters rise to the surface and spread across the ocean off the coast of South America.

Global sea surface temperatures for both April and May were the highest ever recorded in Met Office data dating back to 1850, given that heatwaves were occurring in the Atlantic and Pacific.

Tim Lenton, a climate change professor at Exeter University, says that if the seas are warmer than usual, you can also expect higher air temperatures.

A large portion of the additional intensity caught by the development of ozone harming substances has gone into warming the surface sea, he makes sense of. That additional intensity will in general get blended downwards towards the more profound sea, however developments in seas flows – like El Niño – can take it back to the surface.

“At the point when that occurs, a great deal of that intensity gets delivered into the climate,” says Prof Lenton, “driving up air temperatures.”

It’s not difficult to consider this uncommonly blistering climate surprising, however the discouraging truth is that environmental change implies encountering record-breaking temperatures is presently ordinary.

Emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise annually. The pace of development has eased back somewhat, yet energy-related CO2 outflows were still up practically 1% last year, as indicated by the Worldwide Energy Organization, a worldwide energy guard dog.

According to Friederike Otto, a climatologist at the Grantham Institute of Climate Change at Imperial College London, the likelihood of heatwaves increases with the global temperature.

“These heatwaves are more continuous, yet in addition more blazing and longer than they would have been without an unnatural weather change,” she says.

Already, experts predict that the developing El Nio will likely make 2023 the hottest year on record.

They are concerned that it might temporarily push the world past a crucial 1.5C warming threshold. And that is only the beginning. Temperatures will continue to rise unless we drastically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Met Office said for this present week that record June temperatures this year were made two times as reasonable in view of man-made environmental change.

Ecosystems around the world are already experiencing fundamental and almost certainly irreversible changes as a result of these rising temperatures.

For instance, unprecedented deaths of fish in UK rivers and canals were aided by record-setting June temperatures.

Prof. Schmidt of the University of Bristol warns that the UK will not be affected by the current marine heatwave because we have never experienced one this intense.

“In different areas, around Australia, in the Mediterranean, whole environments changed, kelp backwoods vanished, and seabirds and whales starved,” she says.

The world is successfully in a race.

It is clear we are speeding towards a consistently more sweltering and more tumultuous environment future, however we truly do have the advances and devices to cut our emanations.

Now, the question is whether we can move quickly enough to slow down the climate juggernaut and limit the effects of global warming to a level that is manageable.

Girish Panicker Receives International Conservation Research Award

Girish Panicker was recognized for his outstanding contribution in conservation research. The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) awarded Indian American researcher Dr Girish Panicker, the 2023 International Conservation Research Award for his outstanding achievements in conservation research.

Panicker currently serves as the director of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Research Program and a professor at the Alcorn State University in Mississippi. According a statement, his research on C-factor (Cover and Management) technology is used by graduate students and environmentalists to stop soil erosion and deal with climate change issues.

According to Alcorn University, the Kerala-born professor has experimented with blueberries to prevent lung cancer and coronary heart disease. He also has collaborated with the U.S. government impacting organic fertilizers, studied and produced muscadines with research designed to move toward eliminating breast cancer, and researched cover crops producing information for erosion prediction, nutrient management, and climate change.

Panicker’s efforts have gained him numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Pride of India Award and the 2020 Organic Achievement Award from the American Society of Agronomy, and others.

“This is a great recognition for me and Alcorn State,” Panicker said. “I was so blessed that I got the job here. Dr Bristow sent me to work on my PhD, and I came back to Alcorn because I knew that this project of conserving soil and water could help around the globe. Our research goes to so many countries around the world.”

The SWCS, a preeminent nonprofit scientific and educational organisation, honoured Panicker for his great contributions to conservation research. The SWCS promotes conservation professionals and science-based practices, programmes, and policies.

July 3rd Was The Hottest Day Globally Ever Recorded

Monday, July 3, was the hottest day ever recorded globally, according to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

The average global temperature reached 17.01 degrees Celsius (62.62 Fahrenheit), surpassing the August 2016 record of 16.92C (62.46F) as heatwaves sizzled around the world.

The southern U.S. has been suffering under an intense heat dome in recent weeks. In China, an enduring heatwave continued, with temperatures above 35C (95F). North Africa has seen temperatures near 50C (122F).

And even Antarctica, currently in its winter, registered anomalously high temperatures. Ukraine’s Vernadsky Research Base in the white continent’s Argentine Islands recently broke its July temperature record with 8.7C (47.6F).

“This is not a milestone we should be celebrating,” said climate scientist Friederike Otto of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Britain’s Imperial College London.

“It’s a death sentence for people and ecosystems.”

Scientists said climate change, combined with an emerging El Nino pattern, were to blame.

“Unfortunately, it promises to only be the first in a series of new records set this year as increasing emissions of [carbon dioxide] and greenhouse gases coupled with a growing El Nino event push temperatures to new highs,” said Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at Berkeley Earth, in a statement.

Indian community in New York calls for action in Manipur

A resolution condemning violence was passed at the event which noted that the rioters’ objective appeared to be the ethnic cleansing of Christians from tribal land.

In the wake of the violent situation in Manipur, India, the Indian American Community in New York recently gathered at the Santoor Restaurant, New York to demand for the cessation of violence in the region. Dr Anna George, associate professor at Molloy University, led the program attended by about 23 eminent community leaders of various organizations and humanitarians who expressed concerns over the matter.

A resolution condemning violence was passed, which noted that the rioters’ objective appeared to be the ethnic cleansing of Christians from their tribal land. Addressing at the event, Dr. George said, “What is taking place in Manipur is horrible violations of human rights and religious freedom.”

Dr. George stressed on the need to support humanitarian crisis, as over 100 or more people were killed and about 80,000 people were displaced. “They are finding shelter in the forest; they have no homes to return to, so we must decide to do something to help the victims in Manipur,” she urged the audience.

Speaking at the event, George Abraham, vice chairman of Indian Overseas Congress, USA, highlighted the plight of Christians in the Kuki tribal community who have been primarily targeted. He added that in the absence of adequate shelter, food, and medicines the community has become refugees in their own homeland.

With support of organizations like the Federation of Indian Christian Organizations in North America (FIACONA) and others, the participants decided to organise a fundraising effort to support people in Manipur who have lost their homes.  Koshy George, FIACONA president lauded the initiative and appreciated those who came forward and pledged support to the cause.

Unearthing Earth’s Hidden Giants

Mount Everest, the tallest peak on Earth, pales in comparison to the astonishingly high mountains found deep within our planet’s interior, according to the BBC. These enormous subterranean mountain ranges, known as ultra-low velocity zones (ULVZ), have left scientists scratching their heads over their origins.

Located at the core-mantle boundary inside Earth, approximately 1,800 miles deep, these ULVZs can reach heights of “4.5 times the height of Everest,” or over 24 miles, researchers informed the BBC. They remained concealed until seismic data from earthquakes and even nuclear explosions brought them to light.

Samantha Hansen, a geologist from the University of Alabama, told the BBC, “We found evidence for ULVZs kind of everywhere,” further stating that “if it’s big enough, we can see it.”

The Enigma Deepens

Scientists are considering various theories to explain the existence of these colossal structures, such as the possibility that they are remnants of ancient oceanic crusts pushed deep into Earth’s interior or sections of the mantle superheated by the planet’s scorching core.

Adding to the intrigue, these hidden mountains are often accompanied by another enigmatic deep-Earth feature: large low-shear-velocity provinces, or “blobs,” as scientists commonly refer to them. The BBC notes that these mountain ranges and blobs could provide crucial insights into the movements and interactions of tectonic plates as they transition from the Earth’s crust into the depths of the mantle.

Global Discoveries

Hansen and her team of scientists have been investigating these ULVZs using seismology stations situated in Antarctica. The southernmost continent serves as a fascinating location to study these concealed behemoth mountains, as it is far removed from any blobs or tectonic plates that have shifted or descended.

However, their presence in Antarctica suggests that these enormous peaks may exist across the globe, challenging the notion that these towering subterranean peaks were previously ancient ocean floors.

“Seismic investigations, such as ours, provide the highest resolution imaging of the interior structure of our planet,” Hansen stated earlier this year, adding that “we are finding that this structure is vastly more complicated than once thought.”

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: TIME.com)

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: https://time.com/6246057/india-coal-solar-power-climate-fight)

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. https://www.cntraveler.com/story/greta-thunberg-on-how-we-can-all-be-climate-positive-travelers?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=cnt&utm_mailing=CNT_Daily_PM_111822&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=5c48c50624c17c44347a6b03&cndid=38446023&hasha=d729f2ad4b16f35fa3052c4ec431fef0&hashb=099d04aa312da10f83c968ceee48c14571c644c0&hashc=93722cfd2d142a6cadb830d809db0108e5c0075135128e32699f1ab3c45b9b6f&esrc=AUTO_PRINT&utm_term=CNT_Daily

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.

INDIA’S LONG-TERM PLAN

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.

PUSH ON FINANCE

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 https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment)

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.

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