Radhika Fox Confirmed By US Senate To Lead Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water

The US Senate voted 55-43 to confirm Radhika Fox as head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water on June 16th. The confirmation comes five weeks after Fox testified before the EPW Committee during her nomination hearing. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman Tom Carper, D-Del., in remarks on the Senate floor, praised Fox’s record and highlighted the organizations endorsing her for the position, according to a report from The Hill. These include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Family Farm Alliance and the U.S. Water Alliance, where Fox previously served as chief executive, the report said.

“What those organizations have said — again and again — about Radhika Fox is that she is an exceptional leader who will work day and night to come up with practical solutions to our country’s serious water challenges,” Carper said June 16, according to the report. “Moreover, Ms. Fox will make sure everyone’s point of view is heard and taken into account when EPA acts to protect our country’s precious water resources.” Seven Republicans crossed the aisle and joined every Democrat present to vote in favor of Fox’s nomination: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker of Mississippi; Richard Burr of North Carolina; Kevin Cramer of North Dakota; and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

According to her bio, Fox is the CEO of the U.S. Water Alliance, a national nonprofit organization advancing policies and programs that build a sustainable water future for all. The Alliance educates the nation on the value of water, accelerates the adoption of one water policies and programs, and celebrates innovation in water management. Fox also serves as director of the Value of Water Coalition, a national campaign dedicated to educating and inspiring people about how water is essential, invaluable, and needs investment.

The Indian American has over 20 years of experience in developing policies, programs, and issue-based advocacy campaigns. She previously directed the policy and government affairs agenda for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is responsible for providing 24/7 water, wastewater, and municipal power services to 2.6 million Bay Area residents. She also served as the Federal Policy director at PolicyLink, where she coordinated the organization’s policy agenda on a wide range of issues, including infrastructure investment, transportation, sustainable communities, economic inclusion, and workforce development. Fox holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a masters degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley where she was a HUD Community Development Fellow.

Longest Day In The Northern Hemisphere

Summer’s officially here! Longest day in the Northern Hemisphere is June 21st. Technically, the summer solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the imaginary Tropic of Cancer, or 23.5°N latitude. It’s also known as the northern solstice because it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, it occurred at 9:02 am IST on June 21st.Zenith Furthest Away from the Equator. A solstice happens when the sun’s zenith is at its furthest point from the equator. On the June solstice, it reaches its northernmost point and the Earth’s North Pole tilts directly towards the sun, at about 23.4 degrees.

“Solstice” (Latin: “solstitium”) means sun-stopping. The point on the horizon where the sun appears to rise and set, stops and reverses direction after this day. On the solstice, the sun does not rise precisely in the east, but rises to the north of east and sets to the north of west, meaning it’s visible in the sky for a longer period of time. Although the June solstice marks the first day of astronomical summer, it’s more common to use meteorological definitions of seasons, making the solstice midsummer or midwinter.

Solstices in Culture

Over the centuries, the June solstice has inspired countless festivals, midsummer celebrations and religious holidays. One of the world’s oldest evidence of the summer solstice’s importance in culture is Stonehenge in England, a megalithic structure which clearly marks the moment of the June solstice. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the June solstice is known as the shortest day of the year, it marks the first day of astronomical winter, but the middle of winter in meteorological terms.

Midnight Sun or Polar Night?

On the June solstice, the midnight sun is visible (weather permitting) throughout the night, in all areas from just south of the Arctic Circle to the North Pole.

Sunrise and Sunset Times

On the other side of the planet, south of the Antarctic Circle there’s Polar Night, meaning no Sunlight at all, on the June solstice.

Solstice Dates Vary

Even though most people consider June 21 as the date of the June solstice, it can happen anytime between June 20 and June 22, depending on which time zone you’re in. June 22 solstices are rare – the last June 22 solstice in UTC time took place in 1975 and there won’t be another one until 2203. The varying dates of the solstice are mainly due to the calendar system – most western countries use the Gregorian calendar which has 365 days in a normal year and 366 days in a Leap Year.

A tropical year is the time it takes the Earth to orbit once around the Sun. It is around 365.242199 days long, but varies slightly from year to year because of the influence of other planets. The exact orbital and daily rotational motion of the Earth, such as the “wobble” in the Earth’s axis (precession of the equinoxes), also contributes to the changing solstice dates. The 23.4° tilt in the Earth’s axis causes varying amounts of sunlight to reach different regions during its year-long orbit around the Sun. Today, the North Pole is tipped more towards the Sun than on any other day of the year. However, that does not mean more heat or that the Earth is any closer to the Sun, per common misconceptions.

Summer solstices happen twice each year (once in each hemisphere). Summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere = Winter solstice for the Southern Hemisphere, and vice-versa. Also, during Equinoxes (vernal and autumnal), the Sun shines directly on the Equator and the length of day and night are nearly equal in either hemisphere. More key dates for 2021 (Northern Hemisphere): Autumn Equinox: Thursday, September 23, Winter Solstice: Tuesday, December 21.

Underwater Robot Offers New Insight Into Mid-Ocean “Twilight Zone”

Newswise — Woods Hole, MA — An innovative underwater robot known as Mesobot is providing researchers with deeper insight into the vast mid-ocean region known as the “twilight zone.” Capable of tracking and recording high-resolution images of slow-moving and fragile zooplankton, gelatinous animals, and particles, Mesobot greatly expands scientists’ ability to observe creatures in their mesopelagic habitat with minimal disturbance. This advance in engineering will enable greater understanding of the role these creatures play in transporting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the deep sea, as well as how commercial exploitation of twilight zone fisheries might affect the marine ecosystem.

In a paper published June 16 in Science Robotics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) senior scientist Dana Yoerger presents Mesobot as a versatile vehicle for achieving a number of science objectives in the twilight zone.  “Mesobot was conceived to complement and fill important gaps not served by existing technologies and platforms,” said Yoerger. “We expect that Mesobot will emerge as a vital tool for observing midwater organisms for extended periods, as well as rapidly identifying species observed from vessel biosonars. Because Mesobot can survey, track, and record compelling imagery, we hope to reveal previously unknown behaviors, species interactions, morphological structures, and the use of bioluminescence.”

Co-authored by research scientists and engineers from WHOI, MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), and Stanford University, the paper outlines the robot’s success in autonomously tracking two gelatinous marine creatures during a 2019 research cruise in Monterey Bay. High-definition video revealed a “dinner plate” jellyfish “ramming” a siphonophore, which narrowly escaped the jelly’s venomous tentacles. Mesobot also recorded a 30-minute video of a giant larvacean, which appears to be nearly motionless but is actually riding internal waves that rise and fall 6 meters (20 feet). These observations represent the first time that a self-guided robot has tracked these small, clear creatures as they move through the water column like a “parcel of water,” said Yoerger.

“Mesobot has the potential to change how we observe animals moving through space and time in a way that we’ve never been able to do before,” said KakaniKatija, MBARI principal engineer. “As we continue to develop and improve on the vehicle, we hope to observe many other mysterious and captivating animals in the midwaters of the ocean, including the construction and disposal of carbon-rich giant larvacean ‘snot palaces.’”

Packaged in a hydrodynamically efficient yellow case, the hybrid robot is outfitted with a suite of oceanographic and acoustic survey sensors. It may be piloted remotely through a fiberoptic cable attached to a ship or released from its tether to follow pre-programmed missions or autonomously track a target at depths up to 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). This autonomous capability will one day enable Mesobot to follow a target animal for over 24 hours without human intervention, which is enough time to observe its migration from the midwater twilight zone to the surface and back. Future studies with Mesobot could provide researchers with valuable insight into animal behavior during diel vertical migration, known as “the greatest migration on Earth” because of the vast number and diversity of creatures that undertake it each night.

“By leveraging the data we’ve collected using Mesobot, and other data that we’ve been curating for 30-plus years at MBARI, we hope to integrate smarter algorithms on the vehicle that uses artificial intelligence to discover, continuously track, and observe enigmatic animals and other objects in the deep sea,” Kakani said. The design, construction, and initial testing for Mesobot was funded by the U.S. NSF program for Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination (OTIC). The research in this paper was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and WHOI’s Ocean Twilight Zone (OTZ) Project, funded as part of The Audacious Project housed at TED.

See more Mesobot here: https://youtu.be/5hjZtBvsmVY

Youth Demand Action on Nature, Following IUCN’s First-Ever Global Youth Summit

On the occasion of World Environment Day, 5 June 2021, IPS features and opinion editorials focusing on Environment and Youth. Theunn reproduces the voices by youth at the UN Youth Summit on Environment

Following almost two weeks of talks on issues such as climate change, innovation, marine conservation and social justice, thousands of young people from across the globe concluded the first-ever International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN)One Nature One Future Global Youth Summit with a list of demands for action on nature.Under three umbrella themes of diversity, accessibility and intersectionality, they are calling on countries and corporations to invest the required resources to redress environmental racism and climate injustice, create green jobs, engage communities for biodiversity protection, safeguard the ocean, realise gender equality for climate change mitigation and empower underrepresented voices in environmental policymaking.

“Young people talk about these key demands that they have and most of the time, they are criticised for always saying ‘I want this,’ and are told ‘but you’re not even sure you know what you can do,’” Global South Focal Point for the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) SwethaStotraBhashyam told IPS. “So we linked our demands to our own actions through our ‘Your Promise, Our Future’ campaign and are showing world leaders what we are doing for the world and then asking them what they are going to do for us and our future.”

Bhashyam is one of the young people dedicated to climate and conservation action. A zoologist who once studied rare species from the field in India, she told IPS that while she hoped to someday return to wildlife studies and research, her skills in advocacy and rallying young people are urgently needed. Through her work with GYBN, the youth constituency recognised under the Convention on Biological Diversity, she stated proudly that the network has truly become ‘grassroots,’ with 46 national chapters. She said the IUCN Global Youth Summit, which took place from Apr. 5 to 16,gave youth networks like hers an unprecedented platform to reach tens of thousands of the world’s youth.

“The Summit was able to create spaces for young people to voice their opinions. We in the biodiversity space have these spaces, but cannot reach the numbers that IUCN can. IUCN not only reached a larger subset of youth, but gave us an open space to talk about critical issues,” she said. “They even let us write a blog about it on their main IUCN page. It’s called IUCN Crossroads. They tried to ensure that the voice of young people was really mainstream in those two weeks.”

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, JayathmaWickramanayake, told IPS that the Summit achieved an important goal of bringing institutions and political conversations closer to young people. During her tenure, Wickramanayake has advocated for a common set of principles for youth engagement within the UN system, based on rights, safety and adequate financing. She said it is important for institutions to open their doors to meaningful engagement with young people.“I remember in 8th or 9th grade in one of our biology classes, we were taught about endangered animal species. We learned about this organisation called IUCN, which works on biodiversity. In my head, this was a big organisation that was out of my reach as a young person.

“But having the opportunity to attend the IUCN Summit, even virtually, engage with its officials and engage with other young people, really gave me and perhaps gave other young people a sense of belonging and a sense of taking us closer to institutions trying to achieve the same goals as we are as youth advocates.”The Youth Envoy said the Summit was timely for young people, allowing them to meet virtually following a particularly difficult year and during a pandemic that has cost them jobs, education opportunities and raised anxieties.

“Youth activists felt that the momentum we had created from years of campaigning, protesting and striking school would be diluted because of this uncertainty and postponement of big negotiations. In order to keep the momentum high and maintain the pressure on institutions and governments, summits like this one are extremely important,” Wickramanayake said.Global Youth Summit speakers during live sessions and intergenerational dialogues. Courtesy: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Other outcomes of the Global Youth Summit included calls to:

  • advance food sovereignty for marginalised communities, which included recommendations to promote climate-smart farming techniques through direct access to funding for marginalised communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and extreme events,
  • motivate creative responses to the climate emergency, and
  • engineer sustainable futures through citizen science, which included recommendations to develop accessible education materials that promote the idea that everyone can participate in data collection and scientific knowledge creation.

The event was billed as not just a summit, but an experience. There were a number of sessions live streamed over the two weeks, including on youth engagement in conservation governance, a live story slam event, yoga as well as a session on how to start up and scale up a sustainable lifestyle business. There were also various networking sessions.Diana Garlytska of Lithuania represented Coalition WILD, as the co-chair of the youth-led organisation, which works to create lasting youth leadership for the planet.

She told IPS the Summit was a “very powerful and immersive experience”. “I am impressed at how knowledgeable the young people of different ages were. Many spoke about recycling projects and entrepreneurship activities from their own experiences. Others shared ideas on how to use different art forms for communicating climate emergencies. Somehow, the conversation I most vividly remember was on how to disclose environmental issues in theatrical performances. I’m taking that with me as food for thought,” Garlytska said.For Emmanuel Sindikubwabo of Rwanda’s reforestation and youth environmental education organisation We Do GREEN, the Summit provided excellent networking opportunities.

“I truly believe that youth around the world are better connected because of the Summit. It’s scary because so much is going wrong because of the pandemic, but exciting because there was this invitation to collaborate. There is a lot of youth action taking place already. We need to do better at showcasing and supporting it,” he told IPS.Sindikubwabo said he is ready to implement what he learned at the Summit. “The IUCN Global Youth Summit has provided my team and I at We Do GREEN new insight and perspective from the global youth community that will be useful to redefine our programming in Rwanda….as the world faces the triple-crises; climate, nature and poverty, we made a lot of new connections that will make a significant positive change in our communities and nation in the near future.”

The Global Youth Summit took place less than six months before the IUCN World Conservation Congress, scheduled forSep. 3 to 11. Its outcomes will be presented at the Congress.Reflecting on the just-concluded event, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth is hoping to see more of these events. “I would like to see that this becomes the norm. This was IUCN’s first youth summit, which is great and I hope that it will not be the last, that it will just be a beginning of a longer conversation and more sustainable conversation with young people on IUCN… its work, its strategies, policies and negotiations,” Wickramanayake said.

(Picture & Caption By IPS: The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, JayathmaWickramanayake, told IPS that the Summit achieved an important goal of bringing institutions and political conversations closer to young people. Clockwise from top left: JayathmaWickramanayake, SwethaStotraBhashyam, Emmanuel Sindikubwabo, DianaGarlytska. Courtesy: International Union for Conservation of Nature)

Economic Toll Of Climate Crisis ‘Will Be Like Two Pandemics A Year’

The world’s biggest industrialized economies will shrink by twice as much as they did during the coronavirus pandemic if they do not tackle rising greenhouse gas emissions, according to research. Oxfam and the Swiss Re Institute have warned that the G7 countries will lose 8.5% of GDP a year, the equivalent of nearly $5tn, within 30 years if temperatures rise by 2.6C (36.68F), as they are predicted to. During Covid-19, G7 economies shrank by an average of about 4.2%. The research forecasts economic losses from the climate crisis by 2050 would be roughly equivalent to enduring a similar crisis to the pandemic twice a year, reports the environment correspondent Fiona Harvey.

According to Oxfam’s analysis of research by the Swiss Re Institute, human and economic impact on low-income nations will be much worse. Oxfam warned on Monday that the loss in GDP is double that of the COVID-19 pandemic, which already caused G7 economies to shrink by an average of 4.2%.The worst affected country in the G7 would be Italy, which stands to lose 11.4%. The US would be hit with a 7.2% loss by 2050, with Japan set to lose 9.1%, Germany 8.3%, France 10%, and Canada 6.9%. The UK economy would lose 6.5% a year by 2050 on current policies and projections, compared with 2.4% if the goals of the Paris climate agreement are met.

Although economies are expected to recover from the short-term effects of the current health crisis, the effects of climate change will be seen every year, the research said. Oxfam is calling on G7 leaders, who are meeting in the UK later this week, to reduce carbon emissions more quickly and steeply.Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB chief executive, called on the UK to “strain every diplomatic sinew” to drive more climate ambition from fellow G7 nations at the upcoming G7 summit. “The UK government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lead the world towards a safer, more liveable planet for all of us,” he said.

Swiss Re modelled how climate change is likely to affect economies through gradual, chronic climate risks such as heat stress, impacts on health, sea level rise and agricultural productivity. All of the 48 nations in the study are expected to see an economic contraction, with many countries predicted to be hit far worse than the G7.The data showed that by 2050, India, which was invited to the G7 summit, is projected to lose 27% from its economy, while Australia, South Africa and South Korea are projected to lose 12.5%, 17.8%, and 9.7% respectively.The Philippines is projected to lose 35% and Colombia is projected to lose 16.7%.It follows a recent study by the World Bank that suggested between 32 million and 132 million additional people will be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 as a result of climate change.

Oxfam added that G7 governments are also collectively failing to deliver on a pledge to provide $100bn per year to help poor countries respond to climate change. Only two G7 countries have said they will increase climate finance from current levels. France decided to maintain its current level of climate finance while Canada, Germany, Japan and Italy have yet to state their intentions, the charity said,Oxfam estimates their current commitments amount to $36bn in public climate finance by 2025, with only a quarter ($8-10 billion) of that for adaptation. “The economic case for climate action is clear ―now we need G7 governments to take dramatic action in the next nine years to cut emissions and increase climate finance,” Max Lawson, head of inequality policy at Oxfam, said.

“The economic turmoil projected in wealthy G7 countries is only the tip of the iceberg: many poorer parts of the world will see increasing deaths, hunger and poverty as a result of extreme weather. This year could be a turning point if governments grasp the challenge to create a safer more liveable planet for all.”All G7 governments have unveiled new climate targets ahead of the UN COP26 climate summit in November, with most falling short of what is needed to limit global warming below 1.5°C. The projections used in this press release assume high stress factors and global warming of 2.6°C by mid-century, which is a level of warming that could be reached based on current policies and climate pledges from all countries.

The conference, which is being held between 1 and 12 November, will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted. It will have dozens of world leaders in attendance and bring together representatives from nearly 200 countries, including experts and campaigners.It was originally scheduled for November 2020 but was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has been described as the most significant climate event since the global Paris Agreement was secured in 2015.

Jerome Haegeli, group chief economist at Swiss Re, said: “Climate change is the long-term number one risk to the global economy, and staying where we are is not an option – we need more progress by the G7. That means not just obligations on cutting CO2 but helping developing countries too, that’s super-important.” He also added that vaccines for COVID-19 were also a key way to help developing countries.

India May Have Lost 3% Of Its GDP Due To Global Warming

Titled The Costs of Climate Change in India, the report states that India is already experiencing the consequences of 1 degree C of global warming. India may have already lost 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on account of global warming of 1 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels, and risks losing 10% of its GDP in the extreme scenario of a 3 degree Celsius increase, which would lead to a rise in sea levels, a decline in agricultural productivity, and increased health expenditure, according to a report by London think tank ODI.

Some of the studies cited by the report make direr predictions. Citing a research paper published last year by Oxford Economics, and authored by economist James Nixon, the ODI report says India’s GDP would currently be around 25% higher were it not for the costs of global warming, and predicts that, with 3 degree C of warming it is likely to be 90% lower by the end of the century than it would have been otherwise.

“India is already feeling the costs of climate change, with many cities reporting temperatures above 48 degree C in 2020 and a billion people facing severe water scarcity for at least a month of the year. If action is not taken to cut emissions to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degree C, the human and economic toll will rise even higher,” said Angela Picciariello, senior research officer at ODI. Average temperatures across India rose by 0.62 degree C over the last 100 years, rising at a slower rate than the global average, but the impact of the climate crisis is felt almost every year. Between 1985 and 2009, western and southern India saw 50% more heatwave events than in the previous 25 years.

ODI researchers recommend that India set more ambitious CO2 emission mitigation targets. “First, higher levels of global warming will have devastating human and economic costs. Second, a more climate-smart development trajectory would potentially yield a range of benefits, including cleaner air, higher rates of job creation and greater energy, food and water security. These considerations are shifting domestic narratives around climate change policy, including high-level debates about whether or not to commit to carbon neutrality by mid-century.”

“Stronger emission targets do not need to compromise India’s development aspirations,” the report added. ODI recommends ending public support for coal and improving the performance of electricity distribution systems, supporting economic diversification in regions that heavily depend on coal for jobs and revenues, and focusing on clean energy generation which could create millions of jobs.“Climate disasters can reverse the progress that has been made on reducing poverty and disrupt the lifelines of a growing economy… Investing in green sectors like renewable energy, public transport and land restoration can create new jobs, stimulate economic growth. It can lead to massive savings in fuel costs,” said UlkaKelkar, director, Climate Program at World Resources Institute.

Rising Global Temperatures ‘Inexorably Closer’ To Climate Tipping Point: UN

The WMO report predicts an increased chance of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, that Africa’s Sahel and Australia will likely be wetter, and that the southwest of Northern America is likely to be drier.

There is now a 40% chance that global temperatures will temporarily reach 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels in the next five years — and these odds are rising, a U.N. report said on Wednesday.This does not yet mean that the world would already be crossing the long-term warming 1.5-degree threshold set by the Paris Climate Accord, which scientists warn is the ceiling to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. The Paris Accord target looks at temperature over a 30-year average, rather than a single year.

But it does underscore that “we are getting measurably and inexorably closer” to that threshold, said U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement. Taalas described the study as “yet another wakeup call” to slash greenhouse gas emissions.Every year from 2021 through 2025 is likely to be at least 1℃ warmer, according to the study. The report also predicts a 90% chance that at least one of those years will become the warmest year on record, topping 2016 temperatures.

In 2020 – one of the three warmest years on record – the global average temperature was 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial baseline, according to an April WMO report.”There’s a little bit of up and down in the annual temperatures,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. “But these long term-trends are unrelenting.””It seems inevitable that we’re going to cross these boundaries,” Schmidt said, “and that’s because there are delays in the system, there is inertia in the system, and we haven’t really made a big cut to global emissions as yet.”

Almost all regions are likely to be warmer in the next five years than in the recent past, the WMO said. The WMO uses temperature data from multiple sources including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).Weather that was once unusual is now becoming typical. Earlier this month, for example, NOAA released its updated “climate normals,” which provide baseline data on temperature and other climate measures across the United States. The new normals — updated every 10 years — showed that baseline temperatures across the United States are overwhelmingly higher compared with the past decade.

Temperatures shifts are occurring both on average and in temperature extremes, said Russell Vose, chief of the climatic analysis and synthesis branch at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Over the next five years, these extremes are “more likely what people will notice and remember,” he said.Warming temperatures also affect regional and global precipitation. As temperatures rise, evaporation rates increase and warmer air can hold more moisture. Climate change also can shift circulation patterns in the atmosphere and ocean.

The WMO report predicts an increased chance of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean, that Africa’s Sahel and Australia will likely be wetter, and that the southwest of Northern America is likely to be drier.The projections are part of a recent WMO effort to provide shorter-range forecasts of temperature, rainfall and wind patterns, to help nations keep tabs on how climate change may be disrupting weather patterns.Looking at marine and land heat waves, ice sheets melting, ocean heat content rising, and species migrating toward colder places, “it’s more than just temperature,” Vose said. “There are other changes in the atmosphere and in the ocean and in the ice and in the biosphere that all point to a warming world.”

40% Chance Earth To Be Hotter Than Paris Goal Soon

There’s a 40% chance that the world will get so hot in the next five years that it will temporarily push past the temperature limit the Paris climate agreement is trying to prevent, meteorologists said. A new World Meteorological Organization forecast for the next several years also predicts a 90% chance that the world will set yet another record for the hottest year by the end of 2025 and that the Atlantic will continue to brew more potentially dangerous hurricanes than it used to.For this year, the meteorologists say large parts of land in the Northern Hemisphere will be 1.4 degrees (0.8 degrees Celsius) warmer than recent decades and that the U.S. Southwest’s drought will continue.

The 2015 Paris climate accord set a goal of keeping warming to a few tenths of a degree warmer from now. The report said there is a 40% chance that at least one of the next five years will be 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than pre-industrial times — the more stringent of two Paris goals. The world is already 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial times. Last year, the same group forecasted a 20% chance of it happening.

The doubling of the odds is due to improvements in technology that show it has “actually warmed more than we thought already,” especially over the lightly-monitored polar regions, said Leon Hermanson, a climate scientist at the United Kingdom’s Met Center who helped on the forecast. “It’s a warning that we need to take strong action,” Hermanson said.

Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of the report, said he is “almost certain” the world will exceed that Paris warming threshold at least once in the next few years. But he said one or two years above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) isn’t as worrisome as when the overall trend of temperatures stays above that level. Mann said that won’t happen probably for decades and could still be prevented.

Germany Is Becoming Ground Zero For The Challenges Of Deep Decarbonization

Global climate politics in 2021 is focused on generating more ambitious climate pledges from member countries of the Paris Agreement before the Conference of the Parties meeting in November. With the addition of the United States, about two-thirds of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from countries that have committed to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. These countries must now adopt policies to deliver those emissions reductions; a complete reworking of the of the world’s energy system in just three decades. With a recent court ruling, Germany has become ground zero for this challenge, as German law will now require an extremely ambitious schedule for change.

Climate as an issue of intergenerational equity

For most of history, successive generations have been better off than those that preceded them. The march of technology has provided benefits to humanity, giving people more goods to choose from, conveniences, and options in living and working.But climate change threatens to change that. The Earth’s climate is changing faster than anytime in human history, and we may soon be living in a vastly different environment. Some of the strongest voices in today’s climate movement come from youth, who claim that the changing climate is robbing them of their future.

For years, governments have tended to “kick the can” on climate policy, putting off action while the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere continues to climb. Climate is exactly the kind of problem that humans are terrible at dealing with — a tragedy of the commons that pits future generations against the present and developing countries against the wealthy world. Nevertheless, the costs of inaction are becoming clearer, and in recent years many countries have become more serious about cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

German high court’s landmark ruling

Against this backdrop, on April 29, 2021, the German Federal Constitutional Court made history, ruling that Germany’s Climate Action Law does not sufficiently protect the freedoms of the youth and future generations. The 2019 law obliged Germany to cut GHG emissions 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. It also set out annual limits for emissions from sectors including energy, transport, buildings, and agriculture.

The court’s decision is based on a 1994 amendment to Article 20 of the German Basic Law, which added protection of the environment to the fundamental principles of constitutional order (democracy, federalism, rule of law, etc.) It states: “Mindful also of its responsibility toward future generations, the state shall protect the natural bases of life by legislation…” The German constitutional lawyer Christian Calliesscommented that the court’s ruling had “kissed awake” Article 20 and turned it into a benchmark for judging the sufficiency of legislative action. The court argued: “One generation must not be allowed to consume large portions of the CO2 budget while bearing a relatively minor share of the reduction effort if this would involve leaving subsequent generations with a drastic reduction burden and expose their lives to comprehensive losses of freedom.” Essentially, the ruling relies on the carbon budget theory of emissions, which states that spending too much of the budget now will leave an insufficient budget for the future, causing undue hardship.

The ruling opens new ground about intergenerational equity in climate law. This finding goes further than a case decided in the Netherlands in late 2019, which was the first to order a state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, on the basis that inadequate action on climate change can violate human rights. However, this case did not involve goals after 2020 and did not focus on the issue of intergenerational equity. Likewise, the current climate court cases in the United States focus on companies that produce fossil fuels rather than on government response to the climate challenge.

The Merkel government responds with ambitious pledge

German politicians are now playing a blame game. The various parties are blaming each other that the 2019 law did not go further, in a country that cares deeply about the climate with federal elections coming up in late September. However, there is some revisionist history here. The law was a delicate compromise achieved after months of debate that split the ruling coalition of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). The environment minister, a member of the SPD, pushed hard for a stringent law with sector-specific emissions reductions. Members of the more conservative CDU/CSU complained during the negotiations that the sector-specific provisions aimed to harm industries overseen by ministries under their parties’ control. The opposition Green Party leader in the parliament complained that the law didn’t go further, saying that, “You have failed in humanity’s task of protecting the climate.” Ever the pragmatist, Chancellor Angela Merkel noted, “Politics is what is possible.”

Just two weeks after the ruling, Merkel’s government approved an update to the Climate Action Law that aims for a 65% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2045, five years earlier than the previous goal. If approved by the parliament, these would be among the world’s most ambitious goals, with only the U.K. aiming for greater reductions — 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035, on the way to net-zero by 2050.

There may be no example of a government legally bound to achieve a more difficult task. Americans like to compare reducing GHG emissions to the moon landing. President John F. Kennedy announced in September 1962 that the United States would put a man on the moon within the decade and that goal was achieved in July 1969. However, the task that Germany is taking on is far more difficult, involving changing the basis of the entire German economy within a decade rather than a Herculean effort by a group of engineers. Plus, the moonshot goal was not legally binding.

A victory for climate action, but the devil is in the details

Ambitious goals are one thing, but achieving those goals is another. Germany has a long history of investing in renewable power as part of its “Energiewende,” literally meaning “energy transition or turnaround.” However, the Energiewende also includes a phase-out of German nuclear power, with the last nuclear plants scheduled to close at the end of 2022. The German public also opposes carbon capture and storage. These two technologies are expected to be important in U.S. efforts to decarbonize but are largely off the table in Germany. In conversations over the past months, government, industry, and NGO representatives alike have focused on renewable power and green hydrogen (produced from renewable power) as the path forward. These are great technologies, but the timeframe for implementing them at scale is longer than the court ruling and the updated Climate Action Law allow, especially in the important German steel, chemical, and transportation industries.

What if Germany misses its goals? In that case, the federal government must buy emissions allowances from other countries, the responsible ministry must establish an emergency program to reach future targets, and the government will then establish remedial measures. The remedial measures needed to achieve such ambitious goals could be very harsh indeed. Will German politicians be able to implement them? Will the German public accept them? European governments generally have more ambitious climate policies than those in the United States, but we have seen backlash when they affect citizens’ everyday lives — the yellow vest protests that erupted in France in late 2018 after a fuel tax increase provide a good example. Policies to achieve Germany’s climate goals will likely test the resolve of German society.

The climate ruling could affect other equity issues as well. A rapid transition to a zero-carbon economy will require vast investment in buildings, transportation infrastructure, and industrial processes. Government support will be needed for some of these processes. For example, the German steel industry intends to transition to using hydrogen in its process. This change will be expensive and will require government support for both capital and operating expenditures, even though today’s steel production faces a European carbon price of more than €50 per ton. Large government expenditures will require debt financing, which also has implications for future generations. Germany has a “debt brake” in its Constitution that caps the federal government’s borrowing at 0.35% of GDP. The debt brake can be suspended in times of crisis, but will investing in decarbonization be considered a crisis? Or will the concept of intergenerational equity in the recent court ruling work against such investments, as it will leave future generations saddled with more debt? There are no easy answers to these questions.

Scientists and activists pushing for very fast emissions reductions are running headfirst into the reality of how difficult this task can be, especially once the easier emissions reductions in the power and light transportation sector are achieved. The climate ruling makes Germany a key test case in the transition, with very rapid reductions now enshrined in law. Godspeed and good luck.

What Causes The Deep Earth’s Most Mysterious Earthquakes?

Newswise — Washington, DC– The cause of Earth’s deepest earthquakes has been a mystery to science for more than a century, but a team of Carnegie scientists may have cracked the case.New research published in AGU Advances provides evidence that fluids play a key role in deep-focus earthquakes–which occur between 300 and 700 kilometers below the planet’s surface. The research team includes Carnegie scientists Steven Shirey, Lara Wagner, Peter van Keken, and Michael Walter, as well as the University of Alberta’s Graham Pearson.

Most earthquakes occur close to the Earth’s surface, down to about 70 kilometers. They happen when stress builds up at a fracture between two blocks of rock–known as a fault–causing them to suddenly slide past each other.However, deeper into the Earth, the intense pressures create too much friction to allow this kind of sliding to occur and the high temperatures enhance the ability of rocks to deform to accommodate changing stresses. Though theoretically unexpected, scientists have been able to identify earthquakes that originate more than 300 kilometers below the surface since the 1920s.

“The big problem that seismologists have faced is how it’s possible that we have these deep-focus earthquakes at all,” said Wagner. “Once you get a few tens of kilometers down, it becomes incredibly difficult to explain how we are getting slip on a fault when the friction is so incredibly high.”

Ongoing work over the past several decades has shown us that water plays a role in intermediate-depth earthquakes–those that occur between 70 and 300 kilometers below Earth’s surface. In these instances, water is released from minerals, which weakens the rock around the fault and allows the blocks of rock to slip. However, scientists didn’t think this phenomenon could explain deep-focus earthquakes, largely because it was believed that water and other fluid-creating compounds couldn’t make it far enough down into the Earth’s interior to provide a similar effect.This thinking changed for the first time when Shirey and Wagner compared the depths of rare deep-Earth diamonds to the mysterious deep-focus earthquakes.

“Diamonds form in fluids” explained Shirey, “if diamonds are there, fluids are there.”The diamonds themselves indicated the presence of fluids, however, they also brought samples of the deep-Earth to the surface for the scientists to study. When diamonds form in the Earth’s interior, they sometimes capture pieces of mineral from the surrounding rock. These minerals are called inclusions and they may make your jewelry less expensive, but they are invaluable to Earth scientists. They are one of the only ways scientists can study direct samples of our planet’s deep interior.

The diamond’s inclusions had the distinct chemical signature of similar materials found in oceanic crust. This means that the water and other materials weren’t somehow created deep in the Earth’s interior. Instead, they were carried down as part of a sinking oceanic plate.Said Wagner: “The seismology community had moved away from the idea that there could be water that deep. But diamond petrologists like Steve were showing us samples and saying ‘No, no, no. There’s definitely water down here’ So then we all had to get together to figure out how it got down there.”

To test the idea, Wagner and van Keken built advanced computational models to simulate the temperatures of sinking slabs at much greater depths than had been attempted before. In addition to the modeling, Walter examined the stabilities of the water-bearing minerals to show that under the intense heat and pressures of the Earth’s deep interior, they would, indeed, be capable of holding on to water in certain conditions. The team showed that even though warmer plates didn’t hold water, the minerals in the cooler oceanic plates could theoretically carry water to the depths we associate with deep-focus earthquakes.

To solidify the study the team compared the simulations to real-life seismological data. They were able to show that the slabs that could theoretically carry water to these depths were also the ones experiencing the previously unexplained deep earthquakes.This study is unusual in applying four different disciplines–geochemistry, seismology, geodynamics, and petrology–to the same question, all of which point to the same conclusion: water and other fluids are a key component of deep-focus earthquakes.

“The nature of deep earthquakes is one of the big questions in geoscience,” said Shirey. “We needed all four of these different disciplines to come together to make this argument. It turned out we had them all in-house at Carnegie.”The authors thank the Carnegie Institution for Science and the University of Alberta for continuing support. Diamond research is supported by the Deep Carbon Observatory and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The Carnegie Institution for Science (carnegiescience.edu) is a private, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with three research divisions on both coasts. Since its founding in 1902, the Carnegie Institution has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research. Carnegie scientists are leaders in the life and environmental sciences, Earth and planetary science, and astronomy and astrophysics.

Elon Musk Says, Tesla Will Not Accept Bitcoin For Transactions

Tesla has suspended customers’ use of bitcoin to purchase its vehicles, Tesla’s billionaire CEO said last week, citing concerns about the use of fossil fuel for bitcoin mining.Elon Musk said the company had suspended use of bitcoin for purchase of its electric vehicles, citing fears about the world’s biggest cryptocurrency’s “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels”.

The company started accepting bitcoin in March. Musk tweeted that they plan to start using it again “as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy”. Following the tweet, bitcoin fell nearly 17% – its lowest point since the beginning of March. “We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1% of bitcoin’s energy/transaction,” Musk said.

How does bitcoin use fossil fuels? Bitcoin mining – the process by which the currency is created using high powered computers that compete to solve complex mathematical puzzles – is powered by electricity generated by fossil fuels, especially coal. At current rates, it is using approximately the equivalent amount of energy each year as the Netherlands did in 2019.

At current rates, such bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, the latest available data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.

Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at currency trading firm OANDA, said that Musk was getting ahead of investors focused on sustainability.

“The environmental impact from mining bitcoins was one of the biggest risks for the entire crypto market,” Moya said. “Over the past couple of months, everyone disregarded news that bitcoin uses more electricity than Argentina and Norway.”

Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone in Melbourne, said Musk’s reaction was a blow to bitcoin but an acknowledgement of the currency’s carbon footprint. “Tesla has got an image of being environmentally friendly and bitcoin clearly is the opposite of that,” Weston said.

Seema Govil Spreads Earth Day Messages Via PodCast

In my podcast, Fablife360 I have been trying to covers positive stories from celebrities and philanthropists,” says Seema Govil, founder and manager of Podcast, Fablife360. “I want to spread this incredible knowledge with the maximum number of people.” Declaring her love for a safer and cleaner environment, Govil says, “Earth day might be over. However, every day should be earth day.”

On Earth Day this year, she interviewed Swati and Mark in an engaging Podcast, “Let’s Talk Climate Change,” about the various facets of this challenging topic. They discussed the Texas governance debacle that led to the disastrous power failures during the winter storm in February. “We also talked about the biggest culprits of climate change, common myths on this issue, and provided information on the solutions at hand & what actions individuals can take TODAY to make a REAL impact,” Govil adds.

Govil’s Fab guests Swati Srivastava and Mark Bartosik, are engineers, filmmakers, environmentalists, and early adopters. As a testament to their passion for climate change, they retrofitted their 1960s suburban home to Net Zero Energy in the early 2010s. They have appeared in various radio and TV interviews, including NBC, written articles on the urgency of this vast challenge.  They are currently working on a docu-series & podcast on the topic.  Now, this episode is loaded with information and would surely energize you and inspire you.

Govil interviewed Swati and Mark in an engaging Podcast, “Let’s Talk Climate Change,” about the various facets of this challenging topic. They discussed the Texas governance debacle that led to the disastrous power failures during the winter storm in February. “We also talked about the biggest culprits of climate change, common myths on this issue, and provided information on the solutions at hand & what actions individuals can take TODAY to make a REAL impact.”

Podcast can be found on all podcasts platforms under Fablife360

Here are the Spotify, apple and Google  links:


On Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/fablife-360/id1531588738


Pls find Seema Govil on @fablife360 on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Apple and Google.

NOAA’s Observed Warming Trend A Sign Of Global Climate Change

A new report released this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that the United States is getting warmer and parts of it are getting wetter.

NOAA’s “new normals” set of data tracks changes in the U.S. climate over a 30-year period. The latest report is based on data from 1991 to 2020 and replaces the 1981 to 2010 report. It shows a small, but noticeable warming trend across much of the country, which is consistent with the majority of NOAA’s previous reports over the last 100 years.

“The changes in NOAA’s new report are only a degree or less but can still have a big impact, especially when much of the past century has seen steadily increasing temperatures, with the most pronounced changes occurring in the past several decades,” said Nick Bassill, a meteorologist at the University at Albany. “The unfortunate thing is that this does not make a bigger splash, even though it’s almost universally accepted that the new climate normals were going to come in warmer than the last report.”

“While some may dispute the exact amount the change is related to climate change vs. natural variability, it’s likely that this trend is driven in large part by climate change on a global scale.”

Bassill is the director of UAlbany’s Center of Excellence in Weather & Climate Analytics. He also works closely with the NYS Mesonet, which is headquartered at UAlbany, and includes a network of 126 standard weather observation stations across the state.
This new report will have a direct impact on New York’s weather and climate projections, according to Bassill.

“It’s likely that our NYS Mesonet stations will see a subtle, yet consistent, increase in expected average temperatures. Warmer temperatures, along with precipitation increases, are generally expected for the northeast U.S.”

About UAlbany’s Weather-Climate Enterprise: With close to 120 faculty, researchers and staff, UAlbany hosts the largest concentration of atmospheric, climate and environmental scientists in New York State, and one of the largest in the nation. Led by its Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, UAlbany is also home to the NYS Center of Excellence Weather-Climate Business Analytics, the xCITE R&D laboratory, and the New York State Mesonet – the most advanced mesoscale weather observation system in the nation.

Catastrophic Sea-Level Rise from Antarctic Melting is Possible with Severe Global Warming

Newswise — The Antarctic ice sheet is much less likely to become unstable and cause dramatic sea-level rise in upcoming centuries if the world follows policies that keep global warming below a key 2015 Paris climate agreement target, according to a Rutgers coauthored study.

But if global warming exceeds the target – 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) – the risk of ice shelves around the ice sheet’s perimeter melting would increase significantly, and their collapse would trigger rapid Antarctic melting. That would result in at least 0.07 inches of global average sea-level rise a year in 2060 and beyond, according to the study in the journal Nature.

That’s faster than the average rate of sea-level rise over the past 120 years and, in vulnerable coastal places like downtown Annapolis, Maryland, has led to a dramatic increase in days of extreme flooding.

Global warming of 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) could lead to catastrophic sea-level rise from Antarctic melting – an increase of at least 0.2 inches per year globally after 2060, on average.

“Ice-sheet collapse is irreversible over thousands of years, and if the Antarctic ice sheet becomes unstable it could continue to retreat for centuries,” said coauthor Daniel M. Gilford, a post-doctoral associate in the Rutgers Earth System Science & Policy Lab led by coauthor Robert E. Kopp, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences within the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “That’s regardless of whether emissions mitigation strategies such as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are employed.”

The Paris Agreement, achieved at a United Nations climate change conference, seeks to limit the negative impacts of global warming. Its goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, along with pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The signatories committed to eliminating global net carbon dioxide emissions in the second half of the 21st century.

Climate change from human activities is causing sea levels to rise, and projecting how Antarctica will contribute to this rise in a warmer climate is a difficult but critical challenge. How ice sheets might respond to warming is not well understood, and we don’t know what the ultimate global policy response to climate change will be. Greenland is losing ice at a faster rate than Antarctica, but Antarctica contains nearly eight times more ice above the ocean level, equivalent to 190 feet of global average sea-level rise, the study notes.

The study explored how Antarctica might change over the next century and beyond, depending on whether the temperature targets in the Paris Agreement are met or exceeded. To better understand how the ice sheet might respond, scientists trained a state-of-the-art ice-sheet model with modern satellite observations, paleoclimate data and a machine learning technique. They used the model to explore the likelihood of rapid ice-sheet retreat and the western Antarctic ice-sheet’s collapse under different global greenhouse gas emissions policies.

Current international policies are likely to lead to about 3 degrees Celsius of warming, which could thin Antarctica’s protective ice shelves and trigger rapid ice-sheet retreat between 2050 and 2100. Under this scenario, geoengineering strategies such as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering (or storing) it would fail to prevent the worst of Antarctica’s contributions to global sea-level rise.

“These results demonstrate the possibility that unstoppable, catastrophic sea level rise from Antarctica will be triggered if Paris Agreement temperature targets are exceeded,” the study says. Gilford said “it’s critical to be proactive in mitigating climate change now through active international participation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by continuing to ratchet down proposed policies to meet the ambitious Paris Agreement targets.”

Rutgers coauthors include Erica Ashe, a post-doctoral scientist in the Rutgers Earth System Science & Policy Lab. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Pennsylvania State University, University of California Irvine, University of Bristol, McGill University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and University of Wisconsin-Madison contributed to the study.

Global Climate Trend Since Dec. 1 1978: +0.14 C Per Decade

Global Temperature Report: April 2021

(New Reference Base, 1991-2020)

Global climate trend since Dec. 1 1978: +0.14 C per decade

 April Temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.:  -0.05 C (-0.09 °F) below seasonal average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.05 C (+0.09 °F) above seasonal average

Southern Hemisphere: -0.15 C (-0.27 °F) below seasonal average

Tropics: -0.28 C (-0.50 °F) below seasonal average

 March Temperatures (final)

Global composite temp.:  -0.01 C (-0.02 °F) below seasonal average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.12 C (+0.22 °F) above seasonal average

Southern Hemisphere: -0.14 C (-0.25 °F) below seasonal average

Tropics: -0.29 C (-0.52 °F) below seasonal average

 Notes on data released May 3, 2021 (v6.0, with new reference base)

This is the period in the La Niña-induced cooling cycle where the global temperature typically reaches its coolest value.  NOAA again reports that the water temperatures in the tropical Pacific are still below average – about the same as March – but much warmer than last November and December.

The global departure from average of -0.05 °C (-0.09 °F) represents a slight cooling from March led by declines in the atmosphere’s temperature over the Northern Hemispheric land areas.   A key indicator of the next few months’ temperature is the tropical anomaly which in April was essentially the same as March.  This is an indication that this cool episode is likely bottoming-out around 0.4 °C cooler than last August to November.  Will the La Niña return next fall?  Will there be neutral conditions?  We are in the time of year called a forecast barrier beyond which it is difficult to predict what the next winter will see in terms of La Niña/El Niño/Neutral conditions.  The indicators will start showing their hand in the latter part of the northern summer.

The warmest grid cell, in terms of departure from average, was +3.7 °C (+6.7 °F) over the Bering Sea just north of the Rat Islands (part of the Aleutian chain).  Anomalous warmth centered there spread to the western conterminous US and eastward to the Russian coast.  Other areas of anomalous warmth were in NE Canada, western Russia southward to the Caspian Sea, the South Pacific and Argentina eastward into the South Atlantic.

The coldest departure from average was over the Baltic Sea just north of Poland at -3.2 °C (-5.8 °F).  This cool region stretched from the Arctic southward to the Mediterranean Sea.  Additional cool areas were found in north-central Canada, the African Sahel, India to western China, and several regions over the oceans, especially the southern oceans, primarily related to La Niña.

The conterminous US cooled from March’s warmth to -0.02 °C (-0.04 °F), almost exactly at the 30-year average.  As is often the case the average is a small residual of two contrasting areas – the West was warm and the East was cool.  Adding in Alaska’s above average temperature puts the 49-state average at +0.10 °C (+0.18 °F) – still very close to the average.  [We don’t include Hawaii in the US results because its land area is less than that of a satellite grid square, so it would have virtually no impact on the overall national results.]

New Reference Base Jan 2021.  As noted in the Jan 2021 GTR, the situation comes around every 10 years when the reference period or “30-year normal” that we use to calculate the departures is redefined.  With that, we have averaged the absolute temperatures over the period 1991-2020, in accordance with the World Meteorological Organization’s guidelines, and use this as the new base period.  This allows the anomalies to relate more closely to the experience of the average person, i.e. the climate of the last 30 years.  Due to the rising trend of global and regional temperatures, the new normals are a little warmer than before, i.e. the global average temperature for Januaries for 1991-2020 is 0.14 °C warmer than the average for Januaries during 1981-2010.  So, the new departures from this now warmer average will appear to be cooler, but this is an artifact of simply applying a new base period.  It is important to remember that changes over time periods, such as a trend value or the relative difference of one year to the next, will not change.  Think about it this way, all we’ve done is to take the entire time series and shifted it down a little.

To-Do List: There has been a delay in our ability to utilize and merge the new generation of microwave sensors (ATMS) on the NPP and JPSS satellites.  As of now, the calibration equations applied by the agency have changed at least twice, so that the data stream contains inhomogeneities which obviously impact the type of measurements we seek.  We are hoping this is resolved soon with a dataset that is built with a single, consistent set of calibration equations.   In addition, the current non-drifting satellite operated by the Europeans, MetOP-B, has not yet been adjusted or “neutralized” for its seasonal peculiarities related to its unique equatorial crossing time (0930).  While these MetOP-B peculiarities do not affect the long-term global trend, they do introduce error within a particular year in specific locations over land.

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAH, NOAA and NASA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal scientist, use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA, NASA and European satellites to produce temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.  Drs. Danny Braswell and Rob Junod assist in the preparation of these reports.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature data are collected and processed, they are placed in a “public” computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

The complete version 6 lower troposphere dataset is available here: http://www.nsstc.uah.edu/data/msu/v6.0/tlt/uahncdc_lt_6.0.txt

Archived color maps of local temperature anomalies are available on-line at: http://nsstc.uah.edu/climate/

Neither Christy nor Spencer receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from federal and state grants or contracts.

Youth Demand Action on Nature, Following IUCN’s First-Ever Global Youth Summit

Following almost two weeks of talks on issues such as climate change, innovation, marine conservation and social justice, thousands of young people from across the globe concluded the first-ever International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) One Nature One Future Global Youth Summit with a list of demands for action on nature.

Under three umbrella themes of diversity, accessibility and intersectionality, they are calling on countries and corporations to invest the required resources to redress environmental racism and climate injustice, create green jobs, engage communities for biodiversity protection, safeguard the ocean, realise gender equality for climate change mitigation and empower underrepresented voices in environmental policymaking.

“Young people talk about these key demands that they have and most of the time, they are criticised for always saying ‘I want this,’ and are told ‘but you’re not even sure you know what you can do,’” Global South Focal Point for the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) Swetha Stotra Bhashyam told IPS. “So we linked our demands to our own actions through our ‘Your Promise, Our Future’ campaign and are showing world leaders what we are doing for the world and then asking them what they are going to do for us and our future.”

Bhashyam is one of the young people dedicated to climate and conservation action. A zoologist who once studied rare species from the field in India, she told IPS that while she hoped to someday return to wildlife studies and research, her skills in advocacy and rallying young people are urgently needed. Through her work with GYBN, the youth constituency recognised under the Convention on Biological Diversity, she stated proudly that the network has truly become ‘grassroots,’ with 46 national chapters. She said the IUCN Global Youth Summit, which took place from Apr. 5 to 16,  gave youth networks like hers an unprecedented platform to reach tens of thousands of the world’s youth.

“The Summit was able to create spaces for young people to voice their opinions. We in the biodiversity space have these spaces, but cannot reach the numbers that IUCN can. IUCN not only reached a larger subset of youth, but gave us an open space to talk about critical issues,” she said. “They even let us write a blog about it on their main IUCN page. It’s called IUCN Crossroads. They tried to ensure that the voice of young people was really mainstream in those two weeks.”

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, told IPS that the Summit achieved an important goal of bringing institutions and political conversations closer to young people. During her tenure, Wickramanayake has advocated for a common set of principles for youth engagement within the UN system, based on rights, safety and adequate financing. She said it is important for institutions to open their doors to meaningful engagement with young people.

“I remember in 8th or 9th grade in one of our biology classes, we were taught about endangered animal species. We learned about this organisation called IUCN, which works on biodiversity. In my head, this was a big organisation that was out of my reach as a young person.

“But having the opportunity to attend the IUCN Summit, even virtually, engage with its officials and engage with other young people, really gave me and perhaps gave other young people a sense of belonging and a sense of taking us closer to institutions trying to achieve the same goals as we are as youth advocates.”

The Youth Envoy said the Summit was timely for young people, allowing them to meet virtually following a particularly difficult year and during a pandemic that has cost them jobs, education opportunities and raised anxieties.

“Youth activists felt that the momentum we had created from years of campaigning, protesting and striking school would be diluted because of this uncertainty and postponement of big negotiations. In order to keep the momentum high and maintain the pressure on institutions and governments, summits like this one are extremely important,” Wickramanayake said.

Global Youth Summit speakers during live sessions and intergenerational dialogues. Courtesy: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Other outcomes of the Global Youth Summit included calls to:

  • advance food sovereignty for marginalised communities, which included recommendations to promote climate-smart farming techniques through direct access to funding for marginalised communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and extreme events,
  • motivate creative responses to the climate emergency, and
  • engineer sustainable futures through citizen science, which included recommendations to develop accessible education materials that promote the idea that everyone can participate in data collection and scientific knowledge creation.

The event was billed as not just a summit, but an experience. There were a number of sessions live streamed over the two weeks, including on youth engagement in conservation governance, a live story slam event, yoga as well as a session on how to start up and scale up a sustainable lifestyle business. There were also various networking sessions.

Diana Garlytska of Lithuania represented Coalition WILD, as the co-chair of the youth-led organisation, which works to create lasting youth leadership for the planet.

She told IPS the Summit was a “very powerful and immersive experience”.

“I am impressed at how knowledgeable the young people of different ages were. Many spoke about recycling projects and entrepreneurship activities from their own experiences. Others shared ideas on how to use different art forms for communicating climate emergencies. Somehow, the conversation I most vividly remember was on how to disclose environmental issues in theatrical performances. I’m taking that with me as food for thought,” Garlytska said.

For Emmanuel Sindikubwabo of Rwanda’s reforestation and youth environmental education organisation We Do GREEN, the Summit provided excellent networking opportunities.

“I truly believe that youth around the world are better connected because of the Summit. It’s scary because so much is going wrong because of the pandemic, but exciting because there was this invitation to collaborate. There is a lot of youth action taking place already. We need to do better at showcasing and supporting it,” he told IPS.

Sindikubwabo said he is ready to implement what he learned at the Summit.

“The IUCN Global Youth Summit has provided my team and I at We Do GREEN new insight and perspective from the global youth community that will be useful to redefine our programming in Rwanda….as the world faces the triple-crises; climate, nature and poverty, we made a lot of new connections that will make a significant positive change in our communities and nation in the near future.”

The Global Youth Summit took place less than six months before the IUCN World Conservation Congress, scheduled forSep. 3 to 11. Its outcomes will be presented at the Congress.

Reflecting on the just-concluded event, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth is hoping to see more of these events.

“I would like to see that this becomes the norm. This was IUCN’s first youth summit, which is great and I hope that it will not be the last, that it will just be a beginning of a longer conversation and more sustainable conversation with young people on IUCN… its work, its strategies, policies and negotiations,” Wickramanayake said.

For Biden’s Climate Summit To Make Progress, There Is Need to Involve the World

The United States convened 40 heads of state in a virtual climate summit last week, with the goal of eliciting commitments from attendees for radical reductions in carbon emissions.

The United States convened 40 heads of state in a virtual climate summit last week, with the goal of eliciting commitments from attendees for radical reductions in carbon emissions. The Biden administration has pledged 50% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030, and others announced their own new targets — with the overall goal of putting the planet on track to carbon neutrality by 2050, the minimum needed to avert catastrophic climate change.

But before patting themselves on the back for a job well done, the leaders of those 40 nations, many of them advanced economies, might want to take a look at some of the countries that didn’t make the guest list. Several developing and less stable nations are going in the opposite direction, building fossil-fuel energy infrastructure at this moment that will increase emissions for decades to come. Without their buy-in, the world going net-zero by 2050 is an unattainable goal. And environmentalists and climate finance experts say the wealthiest nations need to be doing more to bring the rest with them.

Just a few days before the summit, on April 11, the presidents of Uganda and Tanzania, along with the heads of French oil giant Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, signed an agreement to start construction on a multi-billion-dollar pipeline project connecting the oil fields of Uganda to the Tanzanian coast some 1,400 km (850 miles) away.

When completed in 2025, the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline [EACOP] will turn Uganda into sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth biggest oil producer, while increasing its CO2 emissions by 34 million tons a year — more than six times the country’s current output of 5.5 million tons.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has called the project an “economic victory,” bringing thousands of jobs while funding Uganda’s transition to affluence. The pipeline, he says, could do the same for neighbors South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, becoming the “core of bigger developments,” should they choose to exploit and export their own vast oil resources.

It’s true that EACOP’s total emissions pale in comparison to the output of most countries attending Biden’s climate summit. But the project still underscores how vulnerable global net-zero pledges are to competing demands for economic growth, says Landry Ninteretse, the Kenya-based Africa Regional Director for the climate advocacy group 350.org. “You can’t say ‘yeah we’re going to meet this net-zero target by 2050, but at the same time let’s allow a couple of projects to move forward.’”

In addition to reduction pledges, he says he would like to see the summit’s attendees start providing real climate solutions for smaller or less wealthy nations. “That starts with a commitment to stop any new fossil fuel development project, whether it’s coal, gas or oil, while prioritizing investments that will help transition away from fossil fuels.”

It is disingenuous, Ninteretse says, for countries like China or France to commit to reducing emissions at home, while allowing private or public companies to build fossil fuel projects abroad. A dozen coal-generated power plants are currently under construction in Africa, and another 20 have been announced, according to the Global Coal Plant Tracker.

Those investments, says Ninteretse, “are coming from the very fossil fuel corporations that are no longer authorized to operate in most of the global north context, so they are seeking new ventures in the global south, where maybe the issue of transparency, accountability, and environmental regulations are not so well enforced. They’re just shifting the burden to a continent that is already suffering the most from the impact of climate change.”

How to grow while staying green

Right now, the countries of Africa are together responsible for less than 4% of global carbon emissions. But their population is set to double by 2050, to 2.5 billion people. The need for jobs, and for energy to power those jobs, is paramount. Yet development aid and private investment into green energy is significantly lower than in traditional fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas will account for up to two thirds of the continent’s electricity generation by 2030, according to a January report from the University of Oxford published in the journal Nature Energy. While some African nations, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, have set ambitious “green growth” targets, other governments argue that the cost of renewable energy is simply too high for their developing economies.

The only way to flip Africa’s energy balance is if there is significant investment, says Mark Carney, the United Nations special envoy for climate action and finance. “Of course the objective here is to rapidly grow the these [African] economies alongside decarbonization. That puts a huge emphasis on the availability of finance.”

As part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, wealthy nations agreed to set aside $100 billion a year in climate financing to help developing nations adapt to climate change and transition to renewable sources of power. But it is still underfunded—in 2018, the latest information available, countries had only committed a total of $78.9 billion—and does nothing to stop the dozens of fossil fuel projects already in progress on the continent.

Another challenge for the international community will be convincing people from emerging countries that a green transition will benefit them. Ugandans themselves largely support the East Africa oil pipeline, says Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate. “They are seeing this oil like a blessing, something that is going to bring lots of money and jobs to the country. They do not have the awareness of the destruction that is going to happen to our country, to the planet.”

Better education is vital, she says. So too is holding the private sector to account. Total’s 72% ownership share in the project flies in the face of its stated commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050, says Nakate. “My question is, how is Total achieving net-zero by leading the construction of the East African crude oil pipeline? Because constructing this pipeline means that we won’t be able to limit the global temperature rise. Net zero does not mean that you allow more decades of environmental destruction.”

Total, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the Ugandan and Tanzanian national oil companies still have to secure insurance and raise $2.5 billion in debt financing for the project to move forward. She is hoping that a global awareness campaign could make investment banks think twice before committing funds. “This fight is not something for activists in Uganda alone,” she says. “If the African continent really wants to go net zero, it has to opt for more sustainable ways of development. Our future is not on fossil fuels, our future is on renewables. And this is something that our leaders, and our companies, have to understand.”

Developing countries will have an opportunity to address those issues in just a few months, at the United Nations Climate Change conference in Glasgow in November. Carbon emission reductions will still be a hot topic, but net-zero pledges alone won’t be enough: with all 197 signatories to the Paris Agreement hoping to be in attendance, discussions will focus on a more equitable approach — where countries with the lowest emissions can negotiate for greater assistance to stay that way.

Modi Announces US-India Partnership To Fight Climate Change

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a global initiative in cooperation with the US to mobilize investments for the greening of the world and promote collaboration to fight global warming.

Warning that the Covid-19 pandemic is a grim reminder of the dangers of climate change, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a global initiative in cooperation with the US to mobilize investments for the greening of the world and promote collaboration to fight global warming.

“Humanity is battling a global pandemic right now and this event is a timely reminder that the grave threat of climate change has not disappeared,” he said at the Leaders Summit on Climate Change convened by President Joe Biden.

“President Biden and I are launching the India-US Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. Together we will help mobilise investments, demonstrate clean technology and enable green collaboration.”

Leaders of 40 countries are participating in the summit. They include Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia, with whom Biden has an increasingly hostile relationship, but they have put aside their difference in the climate cause.

Biden said: “The signs are unmistakable (of climate change dangers). The science is undeniable. The cost of inaction keeps mounting. The United States isn’t waiting. We are resolving to take action.” Biden said that the US would cut its greenhouse emissions from the 2005 level by half by 2030.

He announced the first US Climate Finance Plan to promote public sector “to increase the quality and quantity of climate financing” and spur the private sector to contribute to developing countries’ programs. He said that the global goal was mobilising $100 billion per year for developing countries to meet the climate challenge.

To help meet this goal, he said that the US will double by 2024 “our annual public climate development finance to developing countries compared to what we were providing during the second half of Obama-Biden administration”.

The US will also “triple our financing for climate application for developing countries by 2024”. Calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, he said he said that it was important to “help developing countries leapfrog to the clean technologies of tomorrow”.

In a subtle dig at the hypocrisy of Western leaders, media and activists who paint India as the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter and demand it cut down emissions, Modi pointed out that each Indian’s greenhouse gas footprint is 60 per cent lower than the world average.

“It is because of our lifestyle is still rooted in sustainable, traditional practices,” he said. “Today I want to emphasize the importance of lifestyle change in climate action, sustainable lifestyle changes and guiding philosophy of back to basics,” he added.

Modi said that India was doing its part to fight climate change. “Our ambitious renewable energy target of 450 gigawatts by 2030 shows our commitment. Despite our development challenges we have taken many bold steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and biodiversity.”

“That is why we are among the few countries whose NDCs (nationally determined contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement goals) are 2 degrees Celsius compatible,” Modi said. “Climate change is a lived reality for millions around the world. Their lives, their livelihoods are already facing its adverse consequences,” he said.

India has encouraged global initiatives like the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, Modi added. “As climate resposnsible developing country, India welcomes partners to create templates of sustainable development in India. This can also help other development countries who need affordable acess to green finance and clean technology,” he said.

Modi was the second non-US leader to speak after Xi at the virtual conference. Xi said that China was making extraordinary efforts like ending coal power generation in order to reach its cimate change goals. (IANS)

Address by Prime Minister at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate 2021

April 22, 2021

Your Excellency President Biden,
Distinguished colleagues,
My fellow Citizens of this Planet,


I would like to thank President Biden for taking this initiative.Humanity is battling a global pandemic right now.And, this event is a timely reminder that the grave threat of Climate Change has not disappeared.

In fact, Climate Change is a lived reality for millions around the world.Their lives and livelihoods are already facing its adverse consequences.


For humanity to combat Climate Change, concrete action is needed.We need such action at a high speed, on a large scale, and with a global scope.We, in India, are doing our part.Our ambitious renewable energy target of 450 Gigawatts by 2030 shows our commitment.

Despite our development challenges, we have taken many bold steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and bio-diversity.That is why we are among the few countries whose NDCs are 2-degree-Celsius compatible.

We have also encouraged global initiatives like International Solar Alliance, LeadIT, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.


As a climate-responsible developing country, India welcomes partners to create templates of sustainable development in India.These can also help other developing countries, who need affordable access to green finance and clean technologies.

That is why, President Biden and I are launching the “India-US climate and clean energy Agenda 2030 partnership”. Together, we will help mobilise investments, demonstrate clean technologies, and enable green collaborations.


Today, as we discuss global climate action, I want to leave one thought with you.India’s per capita carbon footprint is 60% lower than the global average.It is because our lifestyle is still rooted in sustainable traditional practices.

So today, I want to emphasise the importance of lifestyle change in climate action.Sustainable lifestyles and a guiding philosophy of “Back to Basics” must be an important pillar of our economic strategy for the post-Covid era.


I recall the words of the great Indian monk Swami Vivekananda.He called on us to “Arise, awake and stop not until the goal is reached”.Let us make this a Decade of Action against climate change.

Thank you. Thank you very much.


2020 Saw 1.2 Degrees Celsius Rise In Global Temperature

The global average temperature was about 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels despite the cooling effect of La Nina ocean-atmosphere phenomenon in 2020, the World Meteorological Organisation confirmed on Monday in its State of the Global Climate 2020 report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had warned that a 1.5 degree C warming will mark a menacing milestone in the warming of the planet.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres who released the report on Monday said the UN is building a global coalition to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. “2020 was 1.2 degrees Celsius hotter than pre-industrial times. We are getting dangerously close to the 1.5-degree Celsius limit set by the scientific community. We are on the verge of the abyss. To avert the worst impacts of climate change, science tells us that we must limit global temperature rise to within 1.5 degrees of the pre-industrial baseline. That means reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. We are way off track. This must be the year for action,” he said adding that all countries should phase out coal by 2040.

Last year was one of the three warmest years on record; the six years since 2015 have been the warmest on record and 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record, the report highlighted adding that decrease in the annual growth rate of CO2 concentration due to the Covid 19 lockdown will be practically indistinguishable.

Globally averaged carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have already exceeded 410 parts per million (ppm), 148% of pre-industrial levels, and if the CO2 concentration follows the same pattern as in previous years, it could reach or exceed 414 ppm in 2021, according to the report.

“Developed countries must lead in phasing out coal — by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, and 2040 elsewhere. No new coal power plants should be built.” Guterres also called for an agreement among all countries to follow a common direction of travel. “The United Nations is building a global coalition committed to net zero emissions – to cover all countries, cities, regions, businesses and financial institutions. Second, the next 10 years need to be a decade of transformation. Countries need to submit ambitious new NDCs — the nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement – which are their climate plans for the next 10 years,” he said.

The report comes ahead of the April 22-23 Virtual Leaders’ Summit on Climate convened by the United States of America. The Summit will have participation from 40 world leaders and one of its aims is “Galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius within reach,” according to the US department of state.

United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and environment minister Prakash Javadekar earlier this month regarding increasing climate ambition ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow this November. Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Jean-Yves Le Drian had also met Javadekar and said all countries should be on track to achieve carbon neutrality and start phasing out coal.

Javadekar had said India will not raise its climate ambition at the behest of or under pressure from developed countries. India has the right to develop and its poor have the right to grow and that countries should respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). (CBDR, a principle under the Paris Agreement requires richer countries to lead and take historical responsibility for the emissions caused in the past by them.)

According to Climatewatch’s net-zero tracker, 59 countries representing 54% of global emissions have announced net-zero targets. Only 6 parties have legislations on net-zero emissions. India is among 6 countries that are compliant with the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree target including Bhutan, Costa Rica and the Philippines according to Climate Action Tracker. 7 countries are “critically insufficient” and their pledges will lead to 4+degree C warming including the US and the Russian Federation.

Temperatures reached 38.0 degrees C at Verkhoyansk, Russian Federation on June 20, the highest recorded temperature anywhere north of the Arctic Circle. The Arctic minimum sea-ice extent in September 2020 was the second-lowest on record. The sea-ice retreat in the Laptev Sea was the earliest observed in the satellite era. Some 9.8 million people were displaced largely due to hydrometeorological hazards and disasters, and were recorded during the first half of 2020. Annual precipitation totals in monsoon in North America, Africa, South-West Asia and South-East Asia were unusually high in 2020. Monsoon seasonal totals in India were 109% of the long-term mean, the third-highest seasonal total after 1994 and 2019.

“2020 was one of the warmest years despite having a La Niña with cool waters in the east Pacific. La Niñas typically has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but this is now offset by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, La Niña years now are warmer than years with El Niño events of the past,” Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

“International agreements on climate change aim to keep global warming within the safe range of 1.5C to 2C, but few people realise that the world’s average temperature is already more than a degree warmer than it was 200 years ago. Parts of the world like the Himalayas are warming even faster. This is a serious concern for India because climate change could have a compounding effect on existing scarcities, stresses and extreme events. For example, in 2020, even as we were fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, we also had to face Cyclone Amphan, which intensified rapidly in a warmer ocean. It is crucial that all countries invest in adaptation to climate impacts, especially to protect those who are most vulnerable to extreme events. At the same time, we need to accelerate policies and technologies to mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible,” said Ulka Kelkar, director of climate programme at the World Resources Institute, responding to the WMO report.

MIT Scientists Study Spider Web Structure By Translating It Into Music

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have turned spider webs into music — creating an eerie soundtrack that could help them better understand how the arachnids spin their complex creations and even how they communicate.

The MIT team worked with Berlin-based artist Tomás Saraceno to take two-dimensional laser scans of a spider web, which were stitched together and converted into a mathematical model that could recreate the web in 3D in virtual reality. They also worked with MIT’s music department to create the harplike virtual instrument.

These spiders lack ears. But they can hear you, study says. “Even though the web looks really random, there actually are a lot of internal structures and you can visualize them and you can look at them, but it’s really hard to grasp for the human imagination or human brain to understand all these structural details,” said MIT engineering professor Markus Buehler, who presented the work on Monday at a virtual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Listening to the music while moving through the VR spider web lets you see and hear these structural changes and gives a better idea of how spiders see the world, he told CNN.

“Spiders have very keen vibrational sensors, they use vibrations as a way to orient themselves, to communicate with other spiders and so the idea of thinking literally like a spider would experience the world was something that was very obvious to us as spider material scientists,” Buehler said.

Spiders are able to build their webs without scaffolding or supports, so having a better idea of how they work could lead to the development of advanced new 3D printing techniques, he said.

They scanned the web while the spider was building it and Buehler compared it to a stringed instrument that changes as the structure becomes more complex. “While you’re playing the guitar, suddenly you’re going to have new strings appear and emerge and grow,” he said.

Buehler said they’ve recorded the vibrations spiders create during different activities, such as building a web, courtship signals and communicating with other spiders, and are using artificial intelligence to create synthetic versions.

“We’re beginning to perhaps be able to speak the language of a spider,” he said. “The hope is that we can then play these back to the web structure to enhance the ability to communicate with the spider and perhaps induce the spider to act in a certain way, to respond to the signals in a certain way.”

He said that work is still in progress and that they’ve had to shut down their lab because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the scientific value, Buehler said the webs are musically interesting and that you can hear the melodies the spider creates during construction.

“It’s unusual and eerie and scary, but ultimately beautiful,” he said. Members of the team have done live musical performances by playing and manipulating the VR web, while musicians jam along on human instruments.

“The reason why I did that is I wanted to be able to transfer information really from the spider perspective, which is very atonal and weird and spooky, if you wish, to something that is more human,” Buehler said.

Google Earth’s New Timelapse Feature Shows Chilling Effect Of Climate Change

Google Earth users can now see the striking effect of climate change over the past four decades.  Google’s latest feature, Timelapse, is an eye opening, technical feat that provides visual evidence of how the Earth has changed due to climate change and human behavior. The tool takes the platform’s static imagery and turns it into a dynamic 4D experience, allowing users to click through timelapses that highlight melting ice caps, receding glaciers, massive urban growth and wildfires’ impact on agriculture.

Timelapse compiles 24 million satellite photos taken from 1984 to 2020, an effort Google (GOOG) said took two million processing hours across thousands of machines in Google Cloud. For the project, the company worked with NASA, the United States Geological Survey’s Landsat program — the world’s longest-running Earth observation program — the European Union’s Copernicus program and its Sentinel satellites, and Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab, which helped develop the technology behind Timelapse.

To explore Timelapse in Google Earth, users can type any location into the search bar to see it in motion, whether it’s a landmark or the neighborhood in which they grew up. Google said it removed elements such as clouds and shadows from the images, and computed a single pixel for every location on Earth for every year since 1984; ultimatel stitching them together into a timelapse video.

For example, it’s possible to see the Cape Cod coast slowly shifting south, agriculture growth in the middle of a desert in Al Jowf, Saudi Arabia, and the development of Songdo beach, a man-made beach in Busan, South Korea.

“Visual evidence can cut to the core of the debate in a way that words cannot and communicate complex issues to everyone,” said Rebecca Moore, a director of Google Earth, in a blog post on Thursday.

Google also created various guided tours through Voyager, its storytelling platform, around some of the broader changes seen in the imagery.

The company said it hopes governments, researchers, journalists, teachers and advocates will analyze the imagery, identity trends and share their findings.

“We invite anyone to take Timelapse into their own hands and share it with others — whether you’re marveling at changing coastlines, following the growth of megacities, or tracking deforestation,” Moore said. “Timelapse in Google Earth is about zooming out to assess the health and well-being of our only home, and is a tool that can educate and inspire action.”

John Kerry Pats India, Pushes For More Efforts To Cleaner Energy

India did not cause the climate crisis but it cannot be solved without that nation’s help, United States Climate Envoy John Kerry, who is visiting India this week for climate talks, is reported to be telling New Delhi. As one of the world’s largest economies and a global leader in science and innovation, India is a critical part of the solution to the climate crisis, Kerry understands the role India needs to play in combating Climate and Global Warning.

U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said he spoke with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently about how the United States could help mobilize finance to reduce risks in producing alternative energy in the fight against global warming.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Kerry said he spoke with Modi about bringing “concessionary finance” to the table to reduce India’s risks in dealing with first losses on the transition to clean energy. Concessionary finance typically involves loans on terms lower than market rates.

Then the United States could “bring more money to the table for a normal commercial investment that could quickly start producing alternative fuel,” said Kerry, speaking from New Delhi to an International Monetary Fund seminar. Kerry did not provide more specifics. Kerry met with Modi ahead of President Joe Biden’s hosting of 40 world leaders in a climate summit in Washington on April 22.

India is the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, albeit with far lower emissions per capita than those countries. And it is under pressure from the United States and Britain to commit to a target of decarbonizing its economy by 2050.

Asked about the objective of the visit to India, a State Department spokesperson said, “We see India as an important partner on future clean energy research, development, and deployment, not least because of their successful domestic agenda in this area. A key focus for our administration is supporting and encouraging India’s decarburization efforts through clean, zero, and low-carbon investment, and supporting India in mitigating its fossil energy use.”

Indian government sources said the South Asian country was unlikely to bind itself to the 2050 goal as its energy demand was projected to grow more than that of any other country over the next two decades.

Kerry said China believes it may be able to bring its greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by 2025. But he said there was a risk that China’s emissions could plateau after that and not come down enough. China needs to continue to develop, Kerry said. “We’re not begrudging that, but what we want to do is work with China, and other countries, to make sure … it doesn’t buy into the mistakes that we made.”

On March 26, President Joe Biden announced that he had invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate. During the summit, to be held virtually on April 22 and 23, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.

In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5° Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Stanford University Earth System Science Professor Rob Jackson, who is also senior fellow, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said, India contributes 7 percent of global fossil carbon emissions, about two and a half billion tons per year. In contrast, the United States is responsible for about 15 percent of global fossil carbon dioxide emissions, about five billion tons a year. “Our per capita fossil carbon emissions are eight times higher than India’s. India’s emissions are still rising, including those from coal power. That’s one of many likely reasons John Kerry is visiting.”

A Healthy Indian Ocean Feeds, Protects, and Connects all South Asians

(IPS) – It is the oceans that engendered life. The lives of humans remain connected to the seas, making the good health of the seas and the efficient management of sea-based activity essential elements for the wellbeing of people and nations. The Indian Ocean offers tremendous opportunities and some challenges for the island, coastal, and inland nations of South Asia and beyond.

Regional cooperation is an excellent platform for leveraging opportunities and transforming challenges to promote the health of, and harmony in, this ocean space of common heritage, for common good.

Take the problem of plastic waste. Up to 15 million tons of plastic makes its way into the Indian Ocean each year, contaminating it with a trillion pieces of plastic and making it the world’s second most polluted ocean after the North Pacific.South Asian countries have developed isolated projects to manage the ocean’s plastic waste. Fishermen in India’s southern state of Kerala were paid to recycle the plastic bags, straws, flip-flops, and other plastic detritus caught in their nets.

Once shredded, the plastic was sold to construction companies that used it to strengthen asphalt roads. With regional cooperation, lessons learned by the Kerala fishermen could benefit other countries.The formal basis for such cooperation is being laid. All eight nations of South Asia are now coming together through a new regional project, supported by the World Bank and its partners to fund innovative ways to prevent, collect, and upcycle plastic waste into global supply chains.

The project also supports research and innovation grants to find and support alternatives to plastic. The Plastic-free Rivers and Seas for South Asia project aims to help build a circular economy for plastic that will stop plastic waste from leaking into the environment.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association, whose two dozen member states stretch from Australia to South Africa and north to Iran and the United Arab Emirates, are watching the project and may expand it across the Indian Ocean.
Some of the busiest sea lanes in the world cross the Indian Ocean and its rich marine life. Under its surface lie state-of-the-art global communications technology.
As the world’s economic growth engine pivots toward the Indo-Pacific, activity in the Indian Ocean increases. This growth must be managed in harmony with nature and in tranquility, to ensure optimum and shared benefits, and prosperity for all.

For this purpose, it is essential for South Asian nations to work toward evolving a system where all communities that use the Indian Ocean pursue their aspirations and competing claims in accordance with international law, regional conventions, and age-old traditions.
A system with greater cooperation among states, and with differential treatment for resource and technical capacity asymmetries is needed for tackling natural disasters, promoting maritime security, and keeping sea lanes open and safe.

This system should also enhance economic connectivity within South Asia and facilitate access to markets in the region and beyond, delivering goods and services at faster speeds, greater volumes, and lower costs.
Without doubt, the Indian Ocean needs better overall management which, among other measures, requires:
• Protecting the marine environment and pollution control;
• Managing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing;
• Protecting fish and other resources in exclusive economic zones claimed by governments in coastal waters;
• Combating trafficking of humans, drugs, and arms;
• Combating piracy and marine terrorism;
• Safeguarding energy supply chains at maritime choke points;
• Managing port security and ensuring secure cargo loading;
• Promoting ocean-based tourism and leisure activities with a connected regulatory framework for safety in territorial waters and the high seas;
• Ensuring that Indian Ocean sea lanes, which carry much of the world’s cargo, including petroleum, are safe and secure; and
• Ensuring the safety of fiber optic cables on the ocean floor that transmit internet traffic, including financial transactions, e-mail, and phone calls.

Working in partnership with countries and sharing information, expertise, and best practices is essential as no single country can meet these maritime challenges on its own.

Disputes must be settled within a rules-based system that follows international norms and transparent practices.
South Asian nations can work together, with other major maritime nations beyond the region, and with multilateral institutions to promote health and harmony in the Indian Ocean. The results will benefit South Asia now and the generations to come.
(Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam has also served as his country’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and New York and was a member of UN panels on migrant workers and disarmament. He has been a relentless advocate of championing the cause of regional integration and cooperation in South Asia.)

Japan’s Famous Cherry Blossom Blooms Earlier Than Any Year Since First Records Began In 812 AD

Japan‘s famous cherry blossoms have reached their flowery peak in many places earlier this year than at any time since the first records began in 812 AD, over 1,200 years ago.

Amid an exceptionally warm March in Japan, the cherry blossoms in peaked Friday, March 26th, the earliest in more than 1,200 years of records. The record bloom fits into a long-term pattern toward earlier spring flowering, a compelling indicator of climate change, experts say.

The March 26, 2021, peak bloom date surpassed the previous record holder of March 27, 1409, nearly a century before Christopher Columbus sailed to America. The long-term record dates back to A.D. 812, about 12 years after Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

“The Kyoto Cherry Blossom record is incredibly valuable for climate change research because of its length and the strong sensitivity of flowering to springtime temperatures (warmer springs = earlier flowering, typically),” Benjamin Cook, a research scientist at Columbia University who specializes in reconstructing climate data from the past, said in an email.

Japan’s favourite flower, called ‘sakura,’ used to reach their peak bloom in April, just as the country celebrates the start of its new school and business year.

Yet that date has been creeping earlier and now most years the blossoms are largely gone before the first day of the Japanese school year, which starts in April.

The data was collected by Yasuyuki Aono, a researcher at Osaka Prefecture University, using diaries and chronicles written by emperors, aristocrats, governors, and monks.

This year’s bloom is also the earliest since the Japan Meteorological Agency started collecting the data in 1953 and 10 days ahead of the 30-year average. Similar records were set this year in more than a dozen cities across Japan.

Aono said the earliest blooms he has found before this year were March 27 in the years 1612, 1409 and 1236, though there are not records for some years.

The time of the peak bloom in Kyoto had been moving earlier in the year, from mid-April to the start of the month, from 1800 onwards, data shows.

‘We can say it’s most likely because of the impact of the global warming,’ said Shunji Anbe, an official at the observations division at the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Yasuyuki Aono, a researcher at Osaka Prefecture University, has tracked the data back to 812.

“I have searched and collected the phenological data for full flowering date of cherry tree (Prunus jamasakura) from many diaries and chronicles written by emperors, aristocrats, governors and monks at Kyoto in historical time,” he wrote.

Phenology is the study of seasons and recurring biological events. Since about 1800, the data suggest the peak date in Kyoto has gradually been moving back from mid-April towards the beginning of the month.

Unique for its longevity, the cherry blossom time series shows the average peak bloom date was relatively stable for about 1,000 years, from about 812 to 1800. But then, the peak bloom dates slope abruptly downward, revealing a shift earlier and earlier in the spring.

Since the 1800s, warming has led to a steady trend toward earlier flowering that continues to the present day, Some of this warming is due to climate change, but some is also likely from an enhanced heat island effect due to increased urbanization of the environment over the last couple of centuries.

By The End Of The Century, Summer Weather Could Last Half A Year, Winter Could Vanish

Summer weather could grow to half a year in length by the end of this century if no mitigation efforts are done on climate change, according to a new study. In about the past 60 years, summer has increased by 17 days on average across the globe.

“Summers are getting longer and hotter while winters shorter and warmer due to global warming,” said Yuping Guan, lead author of the study.

Sure, longer summers may sound great for a family vacation or enjoying the outdoors, but this extended season could significantly impact our health, the environment and agriculture.

Heat waves could grow longer, mosquito-borne illnesses could become more widespread, allergy season from pollen could turn more severe and the growing season of crops will be longer.

Summers growing longer

The study reveals that warming temperatures globally are making the hottest quarter of the year, known as summer, longer, and this is also affecting when all the seasons start.

“The onsets of spring and summer are advanced, while the onsets of autumn and winter are delayed,” the study says.

The study splits the four seasons into four percentiles, with any temperature above the 75th percentile of the 1952-2011 temperature average being recognized as summer. Climate computer models are then operated to reveal how these defined seasons change over time.

“Over the period of 1952-2011, the length of summer increased from 78 to 95 days and that of spring, autumn and winter decreased from 124 to 115, 87 to 82 and 76 to 73 days, respectively,” the study states.

Most regions across the Northern Hemisphere have been experiencing longer summers already, but in the Mediterranean region it is growing by more than eight days per 10 years since the 1950s. This may not sound like much, but over a longer time scale it becomes more significant.

Global sea and land temperatures continue to rise relative to average, and the difference compared to average is also growing. The last time annual temperatures were below average globally was in the late 1970s, meaning that the last time it was cooler than normal was more than 40 years ago, according to data from NOAA.

Climate change driven by emissions of Greenhouse gases is the main contributor to the warming temperatures.

If nothing is done to mitigate these emissions to slow down the effects of climate change, then summer could evolve into lasting half a year by the end of this century, according to the study.

“Under the business-as-usual scenario, spring and summer will start about a month earlier than 2011 by the end of the century, autumn and winter start about half a month later, which result in nearly half a year of summer and less than two months of winter in 2100.”

Countries around the world are trying to take action, but the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement are not being met. That includes efforts to curb emissions.

What this means for you

Aside from the warming temperatures and shifting seasons, this does have implications on human life.

That includes agriculture. Spring is the season when plants begin to grow across parts of the US. The plants bud when they experience the warmer temperatures at the start of the season.

This time of year is also met with temperature variability, however, when one day may be warm while the next is cold. These temperature extremes are a common occurrence with climate change.

Starting spring a month earlier could mean disastrous losses for crops. Earlier weeks and months in the transition seasons could result in more drastic cold snaps following spring bud openings.

“For monsoon areas, shifting seasons can alter the time of monsoons. This means that patterns of monsoon rains are changed as well. These kind of changes may not sync with crops growth,” Guan told CNN.

“It could also limit the types of crops grown, encourage invasive species or weed growth, or increase demand for irrigation,” the Environmental Protection Agency says. “A longer growing season could also disrupt the function and structure of a region’s ecosystems and could, for example, alter the range and types of animal species in the area.”

There are other types of plants, like ragweed, that produce pollen. With an extended period of warmer temperatures, that allows plants to produce pollen for a longer time and at higher quantities.

The changing of the seasons will also affect wildfires and heat waves, likely increasing their occurrence.

“A hotter and longer summer will suffer more frequent and intensified high-temperature events — heatwaves and wildfires,” said Congwen Zhu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences who is unaffiliated with this study.

Heat events are already the deadliest on average compared to other weather events, such as flooding or hurricanes, in the US, as stated by the National Weather Service.

The report also references how mosquitos could be affected by the longer summers and the warmer temperatures at the higher latitudes. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, diseases carried by mosquitos, such as Dengue, could become more widespread in a warmer climate and the time period of the year when it spreads could become longer.

A study conducted by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) used a 30-year data set to investigate how climate change is impacting the deepest parts of Lake Michigan, the world’s fourth-largest freshwater lake.

“We found that this long-term data set not only confirms that Lake Michigan’s deep waters are warming, but also shows that winter is vanishing from them,” said Eric Anderson, the study’s lead author.

This could have a profound impact on everything from the region’s weather to its food supply.

Scientists used a long string of high-tech thermometers, which float vertically in the water and record temperatures at different depths in the lake. This instrument has been recording water temperatures every hour, almost continuously, for the past three decades.

This allowed scientists to examine the lake’s year-round temperature changes throughout the entire water column, rather than just lake surface temperatures in the summer.

(Courtesy: CNN.COM)

17% Of Food Production Wasted, UN Report Estimates

A new report from the United Nations estimates that 17% of food produced globally is wasted each year. Instead of finishing your leftovers, you let them go bad and buy takeout.

It’s a familiar routine for many — and indicative of habits that contribute to a global food waste problem that a new United Nations report says needs to be better measured so that it can be effectively addressed.

The U.N. report estimates 17% of the food produced globally each year is wasted. That amounts to 931 million metric tons (1.03 billion tons) of food.

The waste is far more than previous reports had indicated, though direct comparisons are difficult because of differing methodologies and the lack of strong data from many countries.

“Improved measurement can lead to improved management,” said Brian Roe, a food waste researcher at Ohio State University who was not involved in the report.

Most of the waste — or 61% — happens in households, while food service accounts for 26% and retailers account for 13%, the U.N. found. The U.N. is pushing to reduce food waste globally, and researchers are also working on an assessment of waste that includes the food lost before reaching consumers.

The authors note the report seeks to offer a clearer snapshot of the scale of a problem that has been difficult to assess, in hopes of spurring governments to invest in better tracking.

“Many countries haven’t yet quantified their food waste, so they don’t understand the scale of the problem,” said Clementine O’Connor, of the U.N. Environment Program and co-author of the report.

Food waste has become a growing concern because of the environmental toll of production, including the land required to raise crops and animals and the greenhouse gas emissions produced along the way. Experts say improved waste tracking is key to finding ways to ease the problem, such as programs to divert inedible scraps to use as animal feed or fertilizer.

The report found food waste in homes isn’t limited to higher income countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Roe of Ohio State noted that food sometimes is wasted in poor countries without reliable home refrigeration. In richer countries, people might eat out more, meaning food waste is simply shifted from the home to restaurants.

Roe said cultural norms and policies also could contribute to waste at home — such as massive packaging, “buy one, get one free” deals, or lack of composting programs.

That’s why broader system changes are key to helping reduce waste in households, said Chris Barrett, an agricultural economist at Cornell University.

For example, Barrett said, people might throw away food because of a date on the product — even though such dates don’t always say when a food is unsafe to eat. “Food waste is a consequence of sensible decisions by people acting on the best information available,” he said.

To clarify the meaning of labeling dates, U.S. regulators have urged food makers to be more consistent in using them. They note that labels like “Sell By”, “Best By” and “”Enjoy By” could cause people to throw out food prematurely, even though some labels are intended only to indicate when quality might decline.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a family of four wastes about $1,500 in food each year. But accurately measuring food waste is difficult for a variety of reasons including data availability, said USDA food researcher Jean Buzby, adding that improved measurements are part of a government plan to reduce waste.

Richard Swannell, a co-author of the U.N. report, said food was generally more valued even in richer countries just a few generations ago, since people often couldn’t afford to waste it. Now, he said, awareness about the scale of food waste globally could help shift attitudes back to that era. “Food is too important to waste,” he said.

Rajagopalan Vasudevan’s Invention Of “PlasticRoad” Makes Rides Smoother

On a road into New Delhi, countless cars a day speed over tones of plastic bags, bottle tops and discarded polystyrene cups. In a single kilometer, a driver covers one ton of plastic waste. But far from being an unpleasant journey through a sea of litter, this road is smooth and well-maintained – in fact the plastic that each driver passes over isn’t visible to the naked eye. It is simply a part of the road.

This road, stretching from New Delhi to nearby Meerut, was laid using a system developed by Rajagopalan Vasudevan, a professor of chemistry at the Thiagarajar College of Engineering in India, which replaces 10% of a road’s bitumen with repurposed plastic waste.

India has been leading the world in experimenting with plastic-tar roads since the early 2000s. But a growing number of countries are beginning to follow suit. From Ghana to the Netherlands, building plastic into roads and pathways is helping to save carbon emissions, keep plastic from the oceans and landfill, and improve the life-expectancy of the average road.

By 2040, there is set to be 1.3 billion tonnes of plastic in the environment globally. India alone already generates more than 3.3 million tonnes of plastic a year – which was one of the motivators behind Vasudevan’s system for incorporating waste into roads.

It has the benefit of being a very simple process, requiring little high-tech machinery. First, the shredded plastic waste is scattered onto an aggregate of crushed stones and sand before being heated to about 170C – hot enough to melt the waste. The melted plastics then coat the aggregate in a thin layer. Then heated bitumen is added on top, which helps to solidify the aggregate, and the mixture is complete.

Many different types of plastics can be added to the mix: carrier bags, disposable cups, hard-to-recycle multi-layer films and polyethylene and polypropylene foams have all found their way into India’s roads, and they don’t have to be sorted or cleaned before shredding.

As well as ensuring these plastics don’t go to landfill, incinerator or the ocean, there is some evidence that the plastic also helps the road function better. Adding plastic to roads appears to slow their deterioration and minimise potholes. The plastic content improves the surface’s flexibility, and after 10 years Vasudevan’s earliest plastic roads showed no signs of potholes. Though as many of these roads are still relatively young, their long-term durability remains to be tested.

By Vasudevan’s calculations, incorporating the waste plastic instead of incinerating it also saves three tonnes of carbon dioxide for every kilometre of road. And there are economic benefits too, with the incorporation of plastic resulting in savings of roughly $670 (£480) per kilometre of road.

In 2015, the Indian government made it mandatory for plastic waste to be used in constructing roads near large cities of more than 500,000 people, after Vasudevan gave his patent for the system to the government for free. A single lane of ordinary road requires 10 tonnes of bitumen per kilometre, and with India laying thousands of kilometres of roads a year, the potential to put plastic waste to use quickly adds up. So far, 2,500km (1,560 miles) of these plastic-tar roads have been laid in the country.

“Plastic-tar road can withstand both heavy load and heavy traffic,” says Vasudevan. “[It is] not affected by rain or stagnated water.”

Similar projects have emerged around the world. The chemicals firm Dow has been implementing projects using polyethylene-rich recycled plastics in the US and Asia Pacific. The first in the UK was built in Scotland in 2019 by the plastic road builder MacRebur, which has laid plastic roads from Slovakia to South Africa.

MacRebur has also found that incorporating plastic improves roads’ flexibility, helping them cope better with expansion and contraction due to temperature changes, leading to fewer potholes – and where potholes do happen, filling them in with waste plastic otherwise destined for landfill is a quick fix. The UK government recently announced £1.6m for research on plastic roads to help fix and prevent potholes.

In the Netherlands, PlasticRoad built the world’s first recycled-plastic cycle path in 2018, and recorded its millionth crossing in late May 2020. The company shredded, sorted and cleaned plastic waste collected locally, before extracting polypropylene from the mix – the kind of plastic typically found in festival mugs, cosmetics packaging, bottle caps and plastic straws.

Unlike the plastic-tar roads laid in India, the UK and elsewhere, PlasticRoad doesn’t use any bitumen at all. “[PlasticRoad] consists almost entirely of recycled plastic, with only a very thin layer of mineral aggregate on the top deck,” says Anna Koudstaal, the company’s co-founder.

Each square metre of the plastic cycle path incorporates more than 25kg of recycled plastic waste, which cuts carbon emission by up to 52% compared to manufacturing a conventional tile-paved bike path, Koudstaal says.

But once the plastic is inside a path or road – how do you make sure it stays there? Might the plastic content be worn down into microplastics that pollute soil, water and air?

Ordinary roads, tyres and car brakes are already known to be a major source of microplastic pollution. Koudstaal says that plastic-containing paths do not produce more microplastics than a traditional road, as users don’t come into direct contact with the plastic.

The other potential point where microplastics could be released from the paths is from below: the paths are designed to allow rainwater to filter through them, trickling down through a drainage system beneath the path’s surface. But Koudstaal says microplastics are unlikely to leave this way either: “The bike paths include a filter that cleans out microplastics, and ensure rainwater infiltrates into the ground cleanly.”

Gurmel Ghataora, senior lecturer at the department of civil engineering at the University of Birmingham, agrees that using plastics in the lower surfaces of the road minimises the risk of generating additional microplastics. “It is inevitable that such particles may be generated [at surface level] due to traffic wear,” he says.

With India home to one of the world’s largest road networks, growing at a rate of nearly 10,000km of roads a year, the potential to put plastic waste to use is considerable. Though this technology is relatively new for India, and indeed the rest of the world, Vasudevan is confident that plastic roads will continue to gain popularity, not only for environmental reasons, but for their potential to make longer-lasting, more resilient roads.

Earth Has Life Span Of Nearly 1bn Years More: Study

The future life span of Earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere is approximately one billion years, a new study reveals.

According to the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, Earth’s surface environment is highly oxygenated — from the atmosphere to the deepest reaches of the oceans, representing a hallmark of active photosynthetic biosphere.

However, the fundamental timescale of the oxygen-rich atmosphere on Earth remains uncertain, particularly for the distant future.

“For many years, the lifespan of Earth’s biosphere has been discussed based on scientific knowledge about the steadily brightening of the sun and global carbonate-silicate geochemical cycle,” said researcher Kazumi Ozaki, Assistant Professor at Toho University.

To examine how Earth’s atmosphere will evolve in the future, the team constructed an Earth system model which simulates climate and biogeochemical processes.

Because modelling future Earth evolution intrinsically has uncertainties in geological and biological evolutions, a stochastic approach was adopted, enabling the researchers to obtain a probabilistic assessment of the lifespan of an oxygenated atmosphere.

The team ran the model more than 400,000 times, varying model parameter, and found that Earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere will probably persist for another one billion years before rapid deoxygenation renders the atmosphere reminiscent of early Earth before the Great Oxidation Event around 2.5 billion years ago.

“The atmosphere after the great deoxygenation is characterized by an elevated methane, low-levels of CO2 and no ozone layer. The Earth system will probably be a world of anaerobic life forms,” said Ozaki.

Earth’s oxygen-rich atmosphere represents an important sign of life that can be remotely detectable. However, this study suggests that Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere would not be a permanent feature, and that the oxygen-rich atmosphere might only be possible for 20-30 per cent of the Earth’s entire history as an inhabited planet, the researchers said.

Oxygen (and photochemical byproduct, ozone) is the most accepted biosignature for the search for life on the exoplanets, but if we can generalize this insight to Earth-like planets, then scientists need to consider additional biosignatures applicable to weakly-oxygenated and anoxic worlds in the search for life beyond our solar system, the team added. (IANS)

Like Wine, Environmental Conditions Impact Whiskey Flavor

Flavor differences in whiskey can be discerned based solely on the environment in which the barley used to make the whiskey is grown, a new study suggests.

This is the first scientific study that found the environmental conditions, or terroir, of where the barley is grown impacts the flavor of whiskey, according to researcher Dustin Herb from the Oregon State University.

“Understanding terroir is something that involves a lot of research, a lot of time and a lot of dedication. Our research shows that environmental conditions in which the barley is grown have a significant impact,” Herb said.

Initially, the team focused on the contributions of barley to beer flavour. Their research found notable differences in the taste of beers malted from barley varieties reputed to have flavour qualities.

Then, the team attempted to answer the question of whether terroir exists in whiskey.

Herb designed a study, published in the journal Foods, that involved planting two common commercial varieties of barley in Ireland, Olympus and Laureate, in two distinct environments — Athy, Co. Kildare and Buncloudy, Co. Wexford in 2017 and 2018.

Athy is an inland site and Buncloudy is a coastal site. They were selected in part because they have different soil types and different temperature ranges and rainfall levels during the barley growing season.

The crops of each barley variety at each site in each year were harvested, stored, malted and distilled in a standardized way. Once distilled, the product is called “new make spirit.” (It isn’t called whiskey until it is matured in a wooden cask for at least three years.)

The researchers used gas chromatography mass spectrometry and the noses of a six-person trained sensory panel to determine which compounds in the barley most contributed to the aroma of the new make spirit.

That analysis, along with further mathematical and statistical analysis, found that the environment in which the barley was grown had a greater contribution to the aroma of the whiskey than the variety of the barley.

In Athy, it was more positively associated with sweet, cereal/grainy, feinty/earthy, oily finish, soapy, sour, stale and moldy sensory attributes and in Bunclody it was more associated with dried fruit and solventy attributes. (IANS)

UN Environment Assembly Kicks Off With a Call to Make Peace with Nature

Its time for the world to radically change our ways if we are to make peace with the planet and create the environmental conditions so that all of humanity can thrive, delegates attending the Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) heard this morning.

The assembly, world’s top environmental decision-making body attended by government leaders, businesses, civil society and environmental activists, met virtually today under a theme “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. It concludes Feb. 23.

Ahead of the assembly, IPS interviewed Joyce Msuya, the Deputy Executive Director for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to find out what to expect from the two-day event.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): What outcome should African countries expect from the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)?

Joyce Msuya (JM): UNEA is the highest international authority on environmental issues, and is focusing on nature and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

In terms of African countries, I will put three things on the table.  One is Action. Science has already spoken. Climate change is an issue, and biodiversity loss is happening at a faster rate than ever before, and lastly, pollution, especially plastic pollution is a big problem. So what we need is to bring the African voices and leadership to UNEA, to collectively see what African countries plan to do in terms of actions in delivering around these three planetary crises.

The second thing is partnerships. Environmental issues are development issues and they are everybody’s issues. Citizens can make little changes in their households, communities can make little changes for example on waste management, and those who live around the oceans can take care of the blue economy. So we need to see how the governments work together with the private sector, indigenous communities, with the youth and even children to address the environmental changes.

The third issue is the support to the UNEP. UNEP is the only United Nations largest entity located in the Southern Hemisphere. So this is the time it needs to be supported not just by the government of Kenya, but by African governments.

IPS: How is the COVID-19 situation going to affect these outcomes?

JM: COVID-19 has already impacted and is still going to impact the meeting in three ways. The pandemic has actually shown us the interconnectedness of environment as well as of human health. Last June for example, UNEP released a study on zoonotics to show the connection between nature and viruses.

In terms of the impact on the meeting, this is the first virtual meeting with over 100 countries participating online. This virtual connectivity was driven by COVID-19.

Thirdly, because of the virtual connectivity, countries and member states that are not represented in Nairobi will be able to join through internet connectivity. So the inclusive multilateralism will also be showcased as part of the meeting.

IPS: What informed the choice of UNEA-5’s theme, ‘Strengthening Actions for Nature to achieve the 2020 agenda on SDGs’?

JM: The design and the agreement of the theme was grounded on a consultative process. For example in Africa, there was the African ministerial meeting looking at environmental issues. The theme was proposed for member states consideration and so they debated for its relevance, it’s implication for different countries and they collectively decided on this theme. It is a timely theme for the nature, but also for the SDGs. We are nine years away for the 2030 deadline for the SDGs.

As the UN Secretary General has already said, this is the UN decade for action when it comes to agenda 2030.

IPS: The UN Secretary General has also said that this is the year he is pushing for commitments from all member states for zero emissions by 2050, and the COP is the most appropriate forum where this should materialize. What does the UNEP want to see in terms of commitments?

JM: We work under various teams under the Secretary General and what he said is actually what has been guiding our work. We work very closely with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP) on climate change and we are providing science to help the discussions. As well, we should not forget about the COP on biodiversity, which will be hosted by China because nature and climate change go hand in hand.

In addition, we are providing science to inform for example businesses. Recently we launched the Global Environmental Outlook for Business to provide data and science to help businesses understand what role they can play in reducing the impact of climate change.

IPS: In many African countries, people have invaded wetlands with buildings being constructed in such areas especially in urban areas to accommodate the surging population. Is this a concern to you? If so, how can it be addressed?

JM: In UNEP we believe that wetlands are important in maintaining micro-climates in the areas where they occur, as well as releasing moisture into the atmosphere through evaporation.

At the global level we advocate for the preservation of the wetlands. We have worked with a number of countries in sharing experiences that are working very well on preservation of wetlands  from one country to another. Our science also helps inform how wetlands can be preserved and in Kenya here for example, we work with the government at their request to provide technical assistance and science to support their efforts in protecting the wetlands.

Overall in many African countries, we are starting a discussion with ministries of environment where we are advocating for the preservation of wetlands.

IPS: What kind of policies do we need to put in place to reverse the biodiversity loss across the world?

JM: One of the places where UNEP has been working with the Biodiversity Secretariat is on the post 2020 Biodiversity Framework. Parties, member states and the environment community have been looking at the lessons learned from previous studies. And now there is a new biodiversity framework that will be discussed at the COP.

So, one, is providing substantive support to the work of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The second, for example in Kenya, we are working with the Ministry of Interior on tree planting. The government has set out a goal of planting millions of trees over the next two years, and through our Africa department. We are supporting those efforts. We have had some of our staff members join hands with local communities to plant trees.

Then third area is on partnerships. Trees are important not only for the environment, but also for the agriculture sector. So we are joining hands with other parts of the UN to advocate and support tree planting.

IPS: How has COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns impacted on climate action globally?

JM: That is a very interesting question. From the time the pandemic came in place almost a year ago, a number of countries shut down including offices and economic activities. What anecdotal evidence seems to suggest is that air pollution has been addressed. This is because there were no many cars in the streets, and there was no much pollution into the air.

However, we should not forget that the pandemic is still a humanitarian problem and a crisis because people have lost jobs and many more have lost lives. We have been working with the World Health Organisation for example to try and understand the link between nature and health.

We are also mindful that this is also an economic problem, and we are seeing a number of countries now rebuilding their economies.

But the post COVID-19 era provides us with an opportunity for a green reconstruction of our economies. So the pandemic has been a reflecting time, but it has also shown that UNEP, member states and multilateralism can still function virtually.

Hyderabad Recognized As 2020 Tree City of the World

The Arbor Day Foundation and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation have recognised Hyderabad as 2020 Tree City of the World.


The southern city is the only from India to get the recognition for its commitment to growing and maintaining the urban forest. Through this recognition, Hyderabad will join a network of like-minded cities who recognise the importance of trees in building healthy, resilient and happy cities, officials said on Thursday.


Hyderabad earned recognition in the Foundation’s second year of the programme along with 51 other cities across the world during 2020 and cumulatively 120 cities from 63 countries. Most of the cities were from countries like the US, the UK, Canada, Australia etc.

Congratulating Hyderabad on earning 2020 Tree Cities of the world recognition alongside 120 cities from 63 countries, Dan Lambe, President, Arbor Day Foundation said that it is now part of an important global network leading the way in urban and community forestry.


He remarked that now more than ever, trees and forests are a vital component of healthy livable, and sustainable cities and towns around the globe. Hyderabad’s commitment to effective urban forest management is helping to ensure better future for its residents.

Telangana’s Municipal Administration & Urban Development Department had applied for this recognition on January 31. The department has been in the forefront and executing ‘Haritha Haram’ programme since inception. Apart from that, urban forest blocks are also being developed in identified pockets.


Hyderabad pledged its commitment by meeting five programme standards that show its dedication and determination towards planting and conserving trees for a greener future. It is demonstrating leadership in management of its urban trees and is serving as part of the solution to many of the global issues today.


Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister K.T. Rama Rao expressed his happiness over the recognition received by Hyderabad. “This is an acknowledgment of our efforts to improve green cover as part of Haritha Haram programme,” he tweeted.

Haritha Haram is a flagship programme of the state government for large scale plantation across the state to increase the green cover. (IANS)

Extreme Life Beneath Antarctica’s Ice Shelves Poses Several Questions

Dr. Huw Griffiths, marine biologist and lead author of the study, said that the stationary animals are like sponges and potentially several previously unknown species. The discovery appears to go against all previous theories of what kind of life could survive in such an extreme condition.(British Antarctic Survey)


Researchers accidentally discovered extreme life far underneath the ice shelves of the Antarctic during an exploratory survey, a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science said. At a distance of 260km away from the open ocean, the researchers found out the existence of stationary animals attached to a boulder on the seafloor as they drilled through 900 metres of ice in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf with their cameras lowered down.


Dr Huw Griffiths, marine biologist and lead author of the study, said that the stationary animals are like sponges and potentially several previously unknown species. In a video shared by the British Antarctic Survey, Griffiths said it was a surprising discovery because they never expected animals that “filter feed their food from the water column to be found this far from a source of food or daylight.”


“This discovery is one of those fortunate accidents that pushes ideas in a different direction and shows us that Antarctic marine life is incredibly special and amazingly adapted to a frozen world,” the biogeographer said in a separate statement.


The first-ever record of a hard substrate community deep beneath an ice shelf throws up more questions than it answers since the researchers don’t know how did they get there, what they have been eating or how long they have been there. The researchers are wondering whether these are the same species seen outside the ice shelf or are they new species. There are also few questions around the survival of these species in case the ice shelf collapses.


The discovery appears to go against all previous theories of what kind of life could survive in such an extreme condition. The dependence on drilling and cameras mean, according to Griffiths, the area underneath the giant floating ice shelves is probably one of the least known habitats on Earth. But getting up close with these animals and their environment remains a challenge for polar scientists.


“We have no idea what species these animals are. We don’t know how they are coping with these extreme conditions. And the only way we are going to be able to answer those questions is to come up with a new way of investigating their world,” added Griffiths.

Humans Versus Earth: The Quest To Define The Anthropocene

Crawford Lake is so small it takes just 10 minutes to stroll all the way around its shore. But beneath its surface, this pond in southern Ontario in Canada hides something special that is attracting attention from scientists around the globe. They are in search of a distinctive marker buried deep in the mud — a signal designating the moment when humans achieved such power that they started irreversibly transforming the planet. The mud layers in this lake could be ground zero for the Anthropocene — a potential new epoch of geological time.


This lake is unusually deep for its size so its waters never fully mix, which leaves its bottom undisturbed by burrowing worms or currents. Layers of sediment accumulate like tree rings, creating an archive reaching back nearly 1,000 years. In high fidelity, it has captured evidence of the Iroquois people, who cultivated maize (corn) along the lake’s banks at least 750 years ago, and then of the European settlers, who began farming and chopping down trees more than five centuries later. Now, scientists are looking for much more recent, and significant, signs of upheaval tied to humans.


Core samples taken from the lake bottom “should translate into a razor-sharp signal”, says Francine McCarthy, a micropalaeontologist at nearby Brock University in St Catherines, Ontario, “and not one blurred by clams mushing it about.” McCarthy has been studying the lake since the 1980s, but she is looking at it now from a radical new perspective.


Crawford Lake is one of ten sites around the globe that researchers are studying as potential markers for the start of the Anthropocene, an as-yet-unofficial designation that is being considered for inclusion in the geological time scale. The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), a committee of 34 researchers formed by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) in 2009, is leading the work, with the aim of crafting a proposal to formally recognize the Anthropocene. This new epoch would mark a clear departure from the Holocene, which started with the close of the last ice age. To define a new epoch, the researchers need to find a representative marker in the rock record that identifies the point at which human activity exploded to such a massive scale that it left an indelible signature on the globe.


Given how much people have done to the planet, there are many potential markers. “Scientifically, in terms of evidence, we’re spoiled for choice, but we have to pin it down,” says Jan Zalasiewicz, a palaeobiologist at the University of Leicester, UK, and chair of the AWG.


The committee’s current plan is to look to the legacy of the atomic age, when radioactive debris from mid-twentieth-century nuclear bomb blasts left a fingerprint of radioisotopes in the atmosphere, rocks, trees and even humans. “There’s a big bomb spike somewhere between 1952 and 1954 that is quite distinct and unmistakable,” says Zalasiewicz.

Once they pick their representative marker, researchers working with the AWG need to gather enough evidence from around the world to convince the governing bodies of geoscience that they have found a truly reliable signal for the start of the Anthropocene.


But some scientists argue that human activity has been shaping the planet for thousands of years, and that the working group has settled too quickly on the 1950s for the start of the proposed epoch. Erle Ellis, a geographer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an AWG member, has criticized the committee’s plans for designating the start of the Anthropocene. “The AWG decided the timing of the boundary before deciding on the marker, not the other way around,” says Ellis.

Hard evidence


In the end, it will be the rocks that have the final say. The decision on whether to officially designate the Anthropocene will come down to stratigraphic evidence preserved in the geological record — that is, whether humans have left a distinctive set of marks preserved in rock, seafloor mud or glacial ice that indicates a fundamental change in the planet.


After a decade of investigating this question, the AWG decided in May that humans had, in fact, left an indelible geological mark. In a binding vote in May, 29 of the 34 members opted to move forward with developing a proposal supporting the designation of the Anthropocene.

The AWG’s next task is to put forward a formal proposal identifying a global boundary stratotype section and point (GSSP), or ‘golden spike’ (see C. N. Waters et al. Earth Sci. Rev. 178, 379–429; 2018). A GSSP is a primary geological marker at one location that can be correlated with sites around the globe in diverse environments. The Anthropocene’s golden spike needs to demonstrate that there was a globally synchronous moment when physical, chemical and biological processes amounted to the irreversible crossing of a geological threshold from the Holocene to something altogether different.

In its recent vote, the AWG members decided overwhelmingly to pursue a GSSP in the mid-twentieth century. This time marks the start of the ‘Great Acceleration’, a vast transformation after the Second World War when the growing population began consuming resources and creating completely new materials at an exponential rate, eclipsing even the Industrial Revolution. All that activity poured unprecedented amounts of persistent organic pollutants into the environment, ramped up the rate of animal extinctions and created geological features that had never before existed.


These include 4-kilometre-deep gold mines and landfills more than 70 metres high, such as Teufelsberg in Berlin, where rubble from the Second World War was piled into an artificial hill. Although the AWG is still exploring several potential golden spikes, the radioactive record from the nuclear age has emerged as the front runner. “Radionuclides still look like the sharpest signal,” says Zalasiewicz. The AWG summed up its current work in The Anthropocene as a Geological Time Unit, published in February by Cambridge University Press.

Uttarakhand Glacier Bursts, Disrupts Life, Many Die, Dozens Missing

A glacial break reported in the Tapovan-Reni area of Chamoli District of Uttarakhand in India has likely led to massive flooding in Rishiganga river on Sunday, damaging houses and the nearby Rishiganga hydro project. Close to 150 people were reported missing with seven bodies recovered by rescue teams, and over 35 people were trapped in a tunnel blocked by debris at an NTPC project.

Uttarakhand glacier burst Live Updates: In the aftermath of the Uttarakhand glacier burst, 19 bodies have been recovered till now, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said on Monday. As of this morning, 32 people from the first tunnel and 121 people from the second were missing and rescue operations to recover people still trapped in the tunnels are underway.

A multi-agency rescue operation including — Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) — is in full swing to release people still stuck in the tunnels. The forces have cleared 90 meter stretch of debris in the big tunnel at Tapovan till now, with about 100 meters of clearing still left to do.

At least 18 people are dead and 200 missing after a piece of a Himalayan glacier fell into a river and triggered a huge flood in northern India.

The floodwaters burst open a dam and a deluge of water poured through a valley in the state of Uttarakhand. Most of the missing are believed to be workers from two hydro power plants in the area.

Hundreds of troops, paramilitaries and military helicopters have been sent to the region to help with rescue efforts.  Experts are investigating – it is not yet clear what caused the glacial burst.

To take stock of the situation, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat Monday visited Chamoli district and said that saving lives was their first priority. Speaking to media persons, Rawat said that they would be successful in clearing the entire debris stretch by today evening. Yesterday, Rawat  announced Rs 4 lakh financial assistance each for the families of those killed in the mishap.

The glacier burst took place at the Rishiganga power project  after a portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Tapovan area of Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday morning and damaged the Rishiganga dam on Alaknanda river.

Speaking to news agency ANI, CM Rawat informed that a joint team of NDRF, SDRF and the Army is conducting a rescue operation. Briefing on the rescue work being carried out, he said the team has reached the 130-metre mark in Tapovan tunnel and it may take 2-3 hours to reach the T-point. Rawat added that efforts are underway to safely rescue those stuck in the tunnel.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in constant touch with the state government since the tragedy struck and has assured all possible help for Uttarakhand, said Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Monday, while adding that he himself is monitoring the relief work. Speaking to PTI, he said the Centre as well as many states have offered help.

Ration kits are being being provided by the Uttarakhand government to those displaced from their homes, the CM informed. Asserting that priority is to save lives and rehabilitate displaced people, he said economic loss as a result of the tragedy will be ascertained in due course.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat informed that preliminary estimates show around 200 people missing, while bodies of around 11 people have been found. Speaking to PTI, he said comprehensive analysis is being undertaken to find reasons of incident and build plan to avert future tragedy. He said breaking of glacier seems to have caused the Chamoli tragedy and added that experts from DRDO, ISRO and other agencies being roped in.

Climate Change Is A Global Emergency

Two-thirds of people think the climate crisis is a “global emergency”, according to a UN poll, the biggest ever on the environment. Younger people showed the greatest concern, with 69% agreeing, but 58% of those over 60 also agreed, so perhaps the green generation gap is slimmer than we thought.

Described as the biggest climate survey yet conducted, UN Development Programme (UNDP)’s “People’s Climate Vote” poll also showed that people supported more comprehensive climate policies to respond to the challenges. The survey covered 50 countries with over half the world’s population.

“The results of the survey clearly illustrate that urgent climate action has broad support amongst people around the globe, across nationalities, age, gender and education level,” Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator said in a news release

The poll also showed “how” people want their policymakers to tackle the climate crisis. 

“From climate-friendly farming to protecting nature, and investing in a green recovery from COVID-19, the survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate. It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge,” Mr. Steiner added. 

The facts you need to know about the Climate Emergency:

The science of climate change is well established:

Climate change is real and human activities are the main cause. (IPCC)

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to the average global temperature on Earth. (IPCC)

The concentration has been rising steadily, and mean global temperatures along with it, since the time of the Industrial Revolution. (IPCC)

The most abundant greenhouse gas, accounting for about two-thirds of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), is largely the product of burning fossil fuels. (IPCC)

IPCC was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide an objective source of scientific information on climate change. In 2013, the IPCC provided a globally peer-reviewed report about the role of human activities in climate change when it released its Fifth Assessment Report. The report was categorical in its conclusion: climate change is real and human activities, largely the release of polluting gases from burning fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas), is the main cause. 

What are the effects and impacts of climate change?

Impacts of a 1.1-degree increase are here today in the increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events from heatwaves, droughts, flooding, winter storms, hurricanes and wildfires. (IPCC)

The global average temperature in 2019 was 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, according to WMO.

2019 concluded a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases produced by human activities. (WMO)

Average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and ten-year (2010-2019) periods are the highest on record. (WMO)

2019 was the second hottest year on record. (WMO)

The total annual global greenhouse gas emissions reached its highest levels in 2018, with no sign of peaking. (EGR, 2019).

Based on today’s insufficient global commitments to reduce climate polluting emissions, emissions are on track to reach 56 Gt CO2e by 2030, over twice what they should be. (EGR, 2019)

What do we need to do to limit global warming and act on climate change?

To prevent warming beyond 1.5°C, we need to reduce emissions by 7.6% every year from this year to 2030. (EGR, 2019)

10 years ago, if countries had acted on this science, governments would have needed to reduce emissions by 3.3% each year. Every year we fail to act, the level of difficulty and cost to reduce emissions goes up. (EGR, 2019)

Nations agreed to a legally binding commitment in Paris to limit global temperature rise to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels but also offered national pledges to cut or curb their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is known as the Paris Agreement. The initial pledges of 2015 are insufficient to meet the target, and governments are expected to review and increase these pledges as a key objective this year, 2020.  

The updated Paris Agreement commitments will be reviewed at the climate change conference known as COP 26 in Glasgow, UK in November 2021. This conference will be the most important intergovernmental meeting on the climate crisis since the Paris agreement was passed in 2015.

The success or otherwise of this conference will have stark consequences for the world. If countries cannot agree on sufficient pledges, in another 5 years, the emissions reduction necessary will leap to a near-impossible 15.5% every year. The unlikelihood of achieving this far steeper rate of decarbonization means the world faces a global temperature increase that will rise above 1.5°C.   Every fraction of additional warming above 1.5°C will bring worsening impacts, threatening lives, food sources, livelihoods and economies worldwide.

Countries are not on track to fulfil the promises they have made. 

Increased commitments can take many forms but overall they must serve to shift countries and economies onto a path of decarbonization, setting targets for net zero carbon, and timelines of how to reach that target, most typically through a rapid acceleration of energy sourced from renewables and rapid deceleration of fossil fuel dependency. 

Why is 1.5°C important?

While there will still be serious climate impacts at 1.5°C, this is the level scientists say is associated with less devastating impacts than higher levels of global warming. Every fraction of additional warming beyond 1.5°C will bring worse impacts, threatening lives, livelihoods and economies. 

At 1.5°C, over 70% of coral reefs will die, but at 2°C, all reefs over 99% will be lost.

Insects, vital for pollination of crops and plants, are likely to lose half their habitat at 1.5°C but this becomes almost twice as likely at 2°C.

The Arctic Ocean being completely bare of sea ice in summer would be a once per century likelihood at 1.5°C but this leaps to a once a decade likelihood at 2°C.

Over 6 million people currently live in coastal areas vulnerable to sea-level rise at 1.5°C degrees, and at 2°C, this would affect 10 million more people by the end of this century.

Sea-level rise will be 100 centimetres higher at 2°C than at 1.5°C.

The frequency and intensity of droughts, storms and extreme weather events are increasingly likely above 1.5°C.

(Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)/ Picture: Modern Diplomacy)

Nature and Nurture: How the Biden Administration Can Advance Ties With India

As the administration of Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to begin in the United States, the U.S.-India relationship is facing new tests. Biden, who deemed India a “natural partner” on the campaign trail, will have the task of upgrading a mature relationship at a time of new global dynamics and challenges.

A new Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) issue paper, “Nature and Nurture: How the Biden Administration Can Advance Ties with India,” outlines the competing pressures currently shaping U.S.-India relations.

In the paper, ASPI Associate Director Anubhav Gupta provides a blueprint for how the incoming U.S. administration can advance bilateral ties to the next level, nurturing Biden’s idea of a “natural” relationship. Presenting a series of 10 recommendations to strengthen the U.S.-India partnership, the paper suggests that a Biden administration:

  • Expand the scope of the relationship to elevate health, digital, and climate cooperation.
  • Turn the page to a positive commercial agenda that emphasizes reform and openness.
  • Renew U.S. leadership and regional consultation in the face of China’s rise.
  • Emphasize shared values as the foundation of the relationship.

The paper also argues that a growing convergence between the views of New Delhi and Washington regarding Beijing will continue to facilitate a stronger security partnership. However, “despite the increasing convergence with New Delhi on the China threat, Washington should not take for granted that a deeper strategic alignment is inevitable,” Gupta writes.

At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic has devastated both economies and strengthened support for economic nationalism, which may impede stronger commercial cooperation and the two nations’ ability to take on China. Gupta observes that “at a time when the United States and India are starting to decouple from the Chinese economy, they unfortunately have not found ways to draw closer together commercially.” With India embarking on a new campaign of “self-reliance,” an ambitious commercial agenda may be out of reach; however, Gupta argues that “Biden should not shirk from setting an optimistic tone for the relationship that deviates from the recriminations of the past four years.”

Moreover, Gupta notes that a further weakening of democratic norms in India could raise difficult questions for Biden. The incoming U.S. administration “will have to walk a tightrope of emphasizing shared values and standing up for democratic ideals while ensuring that it does not alienate important partners like India in the process.”

(A new issue paper from the Asia Society Policy Institute)

Sonia Aggarwal Named To Be Biden’s Climate Policy Adviser

Sonia Aggarwal, an energy policy expert has been named by President-elect Joe Biden as the senior advisor for climate policy and innovation, the latest of several key Indian American nominees for his administration.

She led America’s Power Plan, bringing together 200 electricity policy experts, at Energy Innovation, of which she was a co-founder and Vice President, according to the biography from Biden’s transition team.

Aggarwal also directed the team that developed the Energy Policy Simulator to analyse the environmental, economic, and public health impacts of climate and energy policies

Earlier, she managed global research at ClimateWorks Foundation, “where she worked on the McKinsey carbon abatement cost curves and led research for the American Energy Innovation Council”, the biography said. Born and raised in Ohio, Aggarwal has a masters at Stanford University in civil engineering.

Indian Americans named to important positions in the administration of Biden, who will take over as President, and Kamala Harris, as Vice President next Wednesday, include Neera Tanden, who will be the director of the Office of Management and Budget with cabinet rank, and Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General, both of whom will have to be confirmed in their positions by the Senate, and Vedant Patel, to be his assistant press secretary, Vinay Reddy to be the director of speechwriting and Gautam Raghavan, to be the deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel.

Among others are: Atul Gawande and Celine Gounder, members of the COVID-19 task force; Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council; Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary for Harris; Mala Adiga, policy director for Jill Biden, who will become the First Lady, and Maju Varghese, executive director of their inauguration — the swearing-in ceremony and the festivities around it.

At the powerful National Security Council, the nominees are Tarun Chhabra, senior director for technology and national security; Sumona Guha, senior director for South Asia, and Shanthi Kalathil, coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights. 

A media strategist, Garima Verma, has been named the digital director for Jill Biden, who will become the First Lady next week. Making the announcement about Verma and other additions to her staff, President-elect Joe Biden’ wife Jill Biden said, “Together, we will work to open the White House in new, inclusive and innovative ways, reflecting more fully the distinct beauty of all our communities, cultures and traditions.”

On Jill Biden’s staff, Verma will be joining Mala Adiga who was appointed the policy director. The president’s spouse has a large staff and an office because of the extensive social life and work on chosen public causes.

One of Jill Biden’s causes is helping military service members, their families and ex-service members. That program will be run through a relaunched Joining Forces, a nationwide effort that had been started by her and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

2020 Tied for Hottest Year on Record

As if we don’t have enough to worry about, climate change is becoming an increasing burden on humanity. The year 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest on record, according to an arm of the European Commission. (NASA will release its own assessment, using slightly different measurements, later this month.) According to the European assessment, every year since 2015 has been warmer than every year before it, based on records going back to the late 1800s.

Global average temperatures tied with 2016 at 0.6°C above the long-term average – despite the absence of an El Niño event, a climate phenomenon that has a warming effect. There was an El Niño in 2016.

Europe, by contrast, demolished records by a wide margin, at 1.6°C above the long-term average. This compared with 2019’s 1.2°C above the average – itself record-breaking at the time. Norway and Sweden both had their hottest years on record.

Although the figures today from European Earth observation programme Copernicus place 2020 as joint hottest globally, aggregated data from other major temperature data sets including those of US agencies NASA and NOAA, and the UK Met Office – expected next Thursday – may yet relegate it to the second or third warmest.

Copernicus’s 2020 figures show a clear north-south split, with below-average temperatures in the southern hemisphere and above-average ones in the northern hemisphere. Siberia and other parts of the Arctic were exceptionally warm, at 3-6°C above average in some regions.

“The year 2020 was extreme for the Arctic, even compared to the past 20 years,” said the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in a statement on Tuesday. That led Arctic sea ice to shrink to its second-lowest extent on record in September 2020.

Figures published this week by Mark Parrington at Copernicus also show that, while media attention focused on exceptional blazes in the US and Australia, globally wildfires were at one of their lowest levels in two decades due to below-average fires in Africa.

Separately, the UK Met Office today said it expects carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere this year to pass the milestone of being 50 per cent higher than before the industrial revolution, reaching 417 parts per million between April and June, when seasonal CO2 levels peak.

(Picture Courtesy: KBTX News)

Climate Change Will Cause 62 Million South Asians To Be Forced To Migrate From Their Homes By 2050

More than 62 million South Asian people will be forced to migrate from their homes due to climate disasters by 2050, a new study revealed on Friday
According to the study conducted by ActionAid International and the Climate Action Network South Asia, political failure to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius, as per the Paris agreement goal, is already driving 18 million climate migrants from their homes in 2020.
The analysis estimates climate migration will treble in South Asia alone, a region badly affected by climate disasters, including floods, droughts, typhoons and cyclones.
The research was undertaken by Bryan Jones, one of the authors of the inaugural Groundswell Report on internal climate migration in 2018.
The new research released this International Migrants Day has broadened the analysis to incorporate new drivers of climate migration, which include loss of biodiversity and up to date scenarios of sea level rises and global warming.
The report, “Costs of climate inaction: displacement and distress migration” assesses climate-fuelled displacement and migration across five the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and calculates a devastating likelihood of more than 60 million people being homeless and displaced by 2050 in South Asia alone.
This is almost as many people as are forced from their homes globally due to war and conflict, raising the alarm that climate can no longer be overlooked as a major factor driving displacement.
Climate migration could easily surpass conflict as a driving force of displacement if political leaders continue to renege on their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.
Communities can be resilient to climate change, slow onset climate disasters, such as sea-level rise, drought, failed harvests and loss of biodiversity, but this takes money and political will.
The report by ActionAid and partners Climate Action Network South Asia and Bread for the World, calls for strong leadership and ambition from developed countries to cut emissions and support for developing countries to adapt to climate change and recover from climate disasters.
It recommends a holistic approach that places the onus on rich countries to provide support and urges developing countries to scale up efforts to protect people from climate impacts.
South Asia is particularly prone to climate disasters and has some of the highest levels of climate-fuelled displacement.
Harjeet Singh, global climate lead at ActionAid, told IANS: “We are facing melting glaciers in Nepal, rising seas in India and Bangladesh, cyclones and inhospitable temperatures. Climate change is increasingly forcing people to flee their homes in search of safety and new means to provide for their families.
“Rich countries need to take greater responsibility to reduce their emissions and support South Asian countries in cutting emissions and dealing with climate impacts. The human cost of inaction is too high.”
The research reveals that in all five countries, women are left dealing with the negative fallout from climate migration. They are left behind to take care of household chores, agricultural activities, look after children and elderly and manage livestock.
Women who migrate to urban settlements are often then forced to take up work in precarious settings where workers’ rights violations are rife.
Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia, said: “South Asia is geographically vulnerable to climate disasters and is regularly lashed with floods and cyclones, but poverty and environmental injustice are also determining factors in this climate migration crisis.
“South Asian leaders must join forces and prepare plans for the protection of displaced people. They must step up and invest in universal and effective social protection measures, resilience plans and green infrastructure to respond to the climate crisis and help those who have been forced to move.”
Bryan Jones, Assistant Professor, Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College said: “The work we have done here represents a deeper dive of the type Groundswell was meant to inspire, focusing the attention on to specific locations that are likely to experience major climate related disasters.
“The impact of sea-level rise, coupled with drought and heat-extremes will almost certainly drive families to consider alternative work, and our results suggest that for many this means moving to cities.
“The combination of environmentally sensitive livelihoods, population growth, and urbanization, in my opinion, will make South Asia one of the most active regions in terms of climate-induced migration.
“Additionally, because many of the largest and most important urban centres in the region lie in particularly vulnerable coastal areas, it is imperative that policy makers prepare for the likely influx of migrants.”

UN Urges World Leaders to Declare ‘Climate Emergency’ at Virtual Climate Summit

Global climate leaders took a major stride towards a resilient, net zero emissions future today, presenting ambitious new commitments, urgent actions and concrete plans to confront the climate crisis.

World leaders should declare a “climate emergency” in their countries to spur action to avoid catastrophic global warming, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in opening remarks at a climate summit on Saturday.

On the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Agreement, more than 70 world leaders are due to address the one-day virtual meeting in the hope of galvanizing countries into stricter actions on global warming emissions.

Guterres said that current commitments across the globe did not go “far from enough” to limit temperature rises. “Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?” Guterres said. “That is why today, I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.”

The summit showed clearly that climate change is at the top of the global agenda despite our shared challenges of Covid-19, and that there is mutual understanding that the science is clear.

Climate destruction is accelerating, and there remains much more to do as a global community to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

However, the summit showed beyond doubt that climate action and ambition are on the rise. The announcements at or just before the summit, together with those expected early next year, mean that countries representing around 65 per cent of global CO2 emissions, and around 70 per cent of the world’s economy, will have committed to reaching net zero emissions or carbon neutrality by early next year.

These commitments must now be backed up with concrete plans and actions, starting now, to achieve these goals, and the summit delivered a surge in progress on this front.

The number of countries coming forward with strengthened national climate plans (NDCs) grew significantly today, with commitments covering 71 countries (all EU member states are included in the new EU NDC) on display. As well as the EU NDC, a further 27 of these new and enhanced NDCs were announced at or shortly before the summit.

A growing number of countries (15) shifted gears from incremental to major increases. Countries committing to much stronger NDCs at the Summit, included Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Colombia, Iceland, and Peru.

The leadership and strengthened NDCs delivered at the summit mean “we are now on track” to have more than 50 NDCs officially submitted by the end of 2020, boosting momentum and forging a pathway forward for others to follow in the months ahead.

Saturday’s announcements, together with recent commitments, send the world into 2021 and the road to the Glasgow COP26 with much greater momentum. The summit showcased leading examples of enhanced NDCs that can help encourage other countries to follow suit – particularly G20 countries.

Following this Summit, 24 countries have now announced new commitments, strategies or plans to reach net zero or carbon neutrality. Recent commitments from China, Japan, South Korea, the EU and niw Argentina have established a clear benchmark for other G20 countries.

Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Today we have seen what can be achieved if nations pull together and demonstrate real leadership and ambition in the fight to save our planet.

“The UK has led the way with a commitment to cut emissions by at least 68 per cent by 2030 and to end support for the fossil fuel sector overseas as soon as possible, and it’s fantastic to see new pledges from around the world that put us on the path to success ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

“There is no doubt that we are coming to the end of a dark and difficult year, but scientific innovation has proved to be our salvation as the vaccine is rolled out. We must use that same ingenuity and spirit of collective endeavour to tackle the climate crisis, create the jobs of the future and build back better.”

China and India vowed to advance their commitment to lower carbon pollution at the summit. President Xi Jinping was one of the first leaders to address the virtual conference and he said China will boost its installed capacity of wind and solar power to more than 1,200 gigawatts over the next decade. Xi also said China will increase its share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25% during the same period. And “China always honors its commitments,” Xi promised.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India was ramping up its use of clean energy sources and was on target to achieve the emissions norms set under the 2015 Paris agreement. India, the second-most populous nation on Earth and the world’s fourth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, is eyeing 450 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity by 2030, Modi said.


Is Delhi, The World’s Most Air Polluted Capital In The World?

After an unexpected respite as coronavirus lockdowns stalled economic activity, air pollution has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels in Delhi, the world’s most air polluted capital city.

Last month, ahead of the usual spike in winter, the Delhi administration launched an antipollution campaign. But to win, nothing short of sustained action on multiple fronts will suffice. Other Asian capitals too have faced pollution crises. But Delhi’s is extreme because of a combination of smoke from thermal plants and brick kilns in the capital region, effluents from a congested transportation network, stubble or biomass burning by farmers in neighboring states, and the lack of cleansing winds that causes air pollution to hang over the city. Even as technical solutions are within reach, the campaign must overcome the poor policy coordination among central, city, and local governments.

Delhi’s toxic haze is a deadly health risk to its residents, particularly children, the elderly, and the ill. Particulate matter—PM2.5 and PM10—far exceeds national and World Health Organization limits and is the main culprit for Delhi’s high incidence of cardiovascular damage. The city’s toxic air also contains high quantities of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide, putting people at higher risk of strokes, heart attacks, and high blood pressure, and worsening the respiratory complications from COVID-19.

The main sources of Delhi’s particulate emissions are, in equal measure, particles from large power plants and refineries, vehicles, and stubble burning. The experiences of Bangkok, Beijing, and Singapore suggest that an ambitious but feasible goal is to cut air pollution by one-third by 2025, which, if sustained, could extend people’s lives by two to three years. The current effort is designed to confront all three sources, but strong implementation is needed.

Delhi is moving simultaneously on three fronts: energy, transport, and agriculture. In each case, East Asia offers valuable lessons.

Coal-fired plants. Delhi’s environment minister has called for the closure of 11 coal-fired power plants operating within 300 kilometers of Delhi. But policy implementation must improve: All the plants have missed two deadlines to install flue-gas desulfurization units to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. Last year, 10 coal-fired power plants missed a December deadline to install pollution control devices. Beijing provides valuable lessons in cutting concentrations of PM2.5 more than 40 percent since 2013. Beijing substituted its four major coal-fired stations with natural gas plants. The city government ordered 1,200 factories to shut with stricter controls and inspections of emitters. Bangkok had success with its inspection and maintenance program.

Cleaner transport. Delhi has tried pollution checking of vehicles by mobile enforcement teams, public awareness campaigns, investment in mass rapid transport systems, and phasing out old commercial vehicles. The Delhi government’s recent push for electric vehicles shows promise, while the response of industry and the buy-in from customers will be key. Overall results in cutting pollution have been weak because of poor governance at every level. Better outcomes will be predicated on investment in public transportation, including integration of transport modes and last-mile connectivity. Unfortunately, Delhi Transport Corporation’s fleet shrank from 6,204 buses in 2013 to 3,796 buses in 2019, with most of the bus fleet aging. Delhi should look at Singapore’s regulation on car ownership and use; its improved transit systems; and promotion of pedestrian traffic and nonmotorized transport.

Better farming practices. Burning of crop stubble in Delhi’s neighboring states has become a serious source of pollution in the past decade. In 2019, India’s Supreme Court ordered a complete halt to the practice of stubble burning and reprimanded authorities in two of these states, Punjab and Haryana, for allowing this illegal practice to continue. Needed is the political will to act, as poor farmers complain that they receive no financial support to dispose of post-harvest stubble properly. Delhi’s “Green War Room” signaling the fight against the smog, is analyzing satellite data on farm fires from Punjab and Haryana to identify and deal with the culprits. The Indian Agricultural Research Institute has proposed a low-cost way to deal with the problem of stubble burning by spraying a chemical solution to decompose the crop residue and turn it into manure. Better coordination is needed. In 2013, when Singapore faced a record-breaking haze due to agricultural waste burning in neighboring countries, the Environment Agency and ministries of education and manpower together issued guidelines based on a Pollution Standards Index to minimize the health impacts of haze. Stubble burning has been banned or discouraged in China, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Delhi, projected to be the world’s most populous city by 2030, is motivated by a sense of urgency. Facing a growing environmental and health calamity, antipollution efforts are being strengthened. But to succeed, the different levels of government must harness the political will to invest more, coordinate across boundaries, and motivate businesses and residents to do their bit.

(By Vinod Thomas, a Distinguished Fellow – Asian Institute of Management, Manila and Former Senior Vice President – World Bank and Chitranjali Tiwari, an Associate Fellow – JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur)

Has Mount Everest Grown? Nepal Will Tell Us

Well known around the globe, Everest as the tallest mountain with 29,029 feet, from sea level to summit may not be the actual height– or at least not for long. Because the mountain is changing.  Scientists say Everest is getting taller, over time, because of plate tectonics. As the Indian plate slips under the Eurasian plate, it uplifts the Himalayas. But earthquakes can reduce their height in an instant.

After a 7.8-magnitude quake in 2015 killed thousands, including climbers on Everest, scientists suspect the mountain got shorter. So China and Nepal, on whose borders Everest stands, decided it’s time to re-measure Everest.

This spring, with the climbing season canceled for COVID-19, China sent a survey team up to Everest’s summit, carrying GPS receivers. Last year, Nepal did the same. The two countries have been analyzing their findings for months, and are expected to release them any day now – possibly as early as this weekend. Calculating that number has evolved as our technology has, but the science remains complicated.

As per reports, Nepal is going to announce the new height of Mt Everest, the world’s tallest peak, very soon. A Cabinet meeting gave nod to Nepal’s Ministry of Land Management to announce the height of Everest and according to some media reports, as the peak has appeared taller than it was but no official confirmation yet.

Minister for Land Management of Nepal, Padma Kumari Aryal said that with our own resources, we have completed the measurement of the Everest and are going to announce it very soon. Nepal had started the remeasurement of the world’s tallest peak in 2017 of its own resources as a lot of concerns were emerging about the height of Mt Everest after the 2015 earthquake.

As agreed with Chinese side, during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping last year, Nepal and China will jointly announce the height of the Everest in Kathmandu and Beijing simultaneously, according to Nepal’s Ministry of Land Management.

Although Nepal had planned and announced the remeasurement of the Everest height, believed to be altered by the 2015 earthquake, on its own, the two countries made an agreement in October last year to announce the height jointly. Following that, China measured the height of Everest from the northern side in May this year from Tibetan face.

Nepal and China have been at odds over the height of Everest after China unilaterally declared the height of Everest as 8,844.04 meter in 2015 against globally accepted 8,848 meter. Over the differences about the height of Everest, Nepal and China also could not sign the boundary protocol since then. The present height of Everest was declared after the Survey of India in 1954 and has been considered the same since then. After Nepal declared to remeasurement of the height of Everest, India had also put interest but Nepal rejected the offer saying that it will measure of its own resources.

As China came up with the rock height of Everest in 2015 against the globally accepted snow height, now according to Padma Kumari Aryal, Minister for Land Management, now Beijing has agreed to consider the snow height of Everest. (IANS)

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