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Climate Change

Chaos at Heathrow Airport as ‘freezing fog’ and snow grounds more than 80 flights



(Last Updated On: January 23, 2023)

Heathrow Airport has been thrown into chaos as a “freezing fog” and snowy conditions have seen more than 80 flights grounded.

Over 12,000 British Airways passengers are facing cancellations at the London-based airport with over 80 BA flights grounded due to severe cold, British media reported.

Temperatures of -8C were reported from the ground, with flights to Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Paris, Stockholm and Milan all facing swift cancellations amid the weather troubles.

This comes a day after 70 British Airways flights were canceled due to heavy at Heathrow.

The weather office meanwhile warned that freezing fog could blanket England on Monday as the cold snap is set to continue.

A statement from British Airways read: “Like other airlines, our schedule has been affected today due to fog experienced across London.

“We apologize to customers and are doing everything we can to get them on their way as quickly as possible. We advise customers to check for the latest flight information.”

Forecasters have since warned that visibility for drivers and flights could be reduced to as low as 50m, with slower travel times expected for those on the ground, Independent reported.

Climate Change

UN science report to provide stark climate warning



(Last Updated On: March 20, 2023)

A major new United Nations report being released Monday is expected to provide a sobering reminder that time is running out if humanity wants to avoid passing a dangerous global warming threshold.

The report by hundreds of the world’s top scientists is the capstone on a series that summarizes the research on global warming compiled since the Paris climate accord was agreed in 2015, Associated Press reported.

It was approved by countries at the end of a week-long meeting of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in the Swiss town of Interlaken, meaning governments have accepted its findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions.

At the start of the meeting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned delegates that the planet is “nearing the point of no return” and they risk missing the internationally agreed limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming since pre-industrial times.

That’s because global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses keep increasing — mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and intensive agriculture — when in fact they need to decline quickly.

The new synthesis report published Monday will play a pivotal role when governments gather in Dubai in December for this year’s U.N. climate talks. The meeting will be the first to take stock of global efforts to cut emissions since the Paris deal, and hear calls from poorer nations seeking more aid.

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Climate Change

Does the revival of ‘Zombie Viruses’ pose a legitimate health threat?



(Last Updated On: March 11, 2023)

As global temperatures rise, permafrost is melting rapidly, unearthing a host of ancient viruses and bacteria — a troubling scenario that poses a risk to public health, TRT World reported.

Zombie viruses from permafrost may sound like the plot of a horror movie, but they are a real public health threat as the Arctic thaws due to the climate crisis.

Scientists have revived ancient viruses from permafrost and discovered they could still infect living single-celled amoebae.

While it is unclear whether these viruses could infect animals or humans, the researchers assert that permafrost viruses should be considered a public health threat, TRT World reported.

Permafrost is a layer of soil that remains completely frozen year-round, covering 15 percent of the land in the Northern Hemisphere. However, due to human activities, global temperatures are rising, causing permafrost to melt rapidly.

This phenomenon is unearthing a host of ancient relics from viruses and bacteria to wooly mammoths and an impeccably preserved cave bear.

In 2014, French professor Jean-Michel Claverie started publishing research on reviving ancient viruses, or “zombie viruses” as he calls them.

He found strains of the frozen virus from a few permafrost sites in Siberia.

The oldest strain, which dated back 48,500 years, came from a sample of soil from an underground lake, while the youngest samples were 27,000 years old.

One of the young samples was discovered in the carcass of a wooly mammoth.

Claverie and his team were able to revive several new strains of “zombie” viruses and found that each one could still infect cultured amoebas.

He said this should be regarded as both a scientific curiosity and a concerning public health threat.

It’s not just viruses. Ancient bacteria, too, could be released and reactivated for the first time in up to two million years as permafrost thaws, TRT World reported.

That’s what happened, scientists think, when outbreaks of the bacterial infection anthrax appeared in humans and reindeer in Siberia in 2016.

That may be a “more immediate public health concern,” according to Claverie.

The current research on frozen viruses like Claverie’s ‘zombie’ virus is helping scientists understand more about how these ancient viruses function and whether, or not, they could potentially infect animals or humans.

Their findings make it clear that it is crucial that action is taken to address the climate crisis, in order to prevent the release of more ancient viruses and bacteria from the permafrost, which could have serious implications for global public health.

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Climate Change

Nations reach historic accord to protect marine life on high seas



(Last Updated On: March 6, 2023)

For the first time, United Nations members have agreed on a unified treaty to protect biodiversity on the high seas – representing a turning point for vast stretches of the planet where conservation has previously been hampered by a confusing patchwork of laws.

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea came into force in 1994, before marine biodiversity was a well-established concept. The treaty agreement concluded two weeks of talks in New York, Associated Press reported Sunday.

An updated framework to protect marine life in the regions outside national boundary waters, known as the high seas, had been in discussions for more than 20 years, but previous efforts to reach an agreement had repeatedly stalled. The unified agreement treaty, which applies to nearly half the planet’s surface, was reached late Saturday.

“We only really have two major global commons — the atmosphere and the oceans,” said Georgetown marine biologist Rebecca Helm. While the oceans may draw less attention, “protecting this half of earth’s surface is absolutely critical to the health of our planet.”

Nichola Clark, an oceans expert at the Pew Charitable Trusts who observed the talks in New York, called the long-awaited treaty text “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect the oceans — a major win for biodiversity.”

The treaty will create a new body to manage the conservation of ocean life and establish marine protected areas in the high seas. And Clark said that’s critical to achieve the U.N. Biodiversity Conference’s recent pledge to protect 30% of the planet’s waters, as well as its land, for conservation.

Treaty negotiations initially were anticipated to conclude Friday, but stretched through the night and deep into Saturday. The crafting of the treaty, which at times looked in jeopardy, represents “a historic and overwhelming success for international marine protection,” said Steffi Lemke, Germany’s environment minister.

“For the first time, we are getting a binding agreement for the high seas, which until now have hardly been protected,” Lemke said. “Comprehensive protection of endangered species and habitats is now finally possible on more than 40% of the Earth’s surface.”

The treaty also establishes ground rules for conducting environmental impact assessments for commercial activities in the oceans.

Several marine species — including dolphins, whales, sea turtles and many fish — make long annual migrations, crossing national borders and the high seas. Efforts to protect them, along with human communities that rely on fishing or tourism related to marine life, have long proven difficult for international governing bodies.

“This treaty will help to knit together the different regional treaties to be able to address threats and concerns across species’ ranges,” Battle said.

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