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Climate Change

UN science report to provide stark climate warning

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(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.

Climate Change

Hot weather poses new risk after deadly Houston storms

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2024)

As the Houston area works to clean up and restore power to hundreds of thousands after deadly storms left at least seven people dead, it will do so amid a smog warning and scorching temperatures that could pose health risks.

National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard said on Saturday that highs of around 32.2 C were expected through the start of the coming week, with heat indexes likely approaching 38 C by midweek, Associated Press reported.

“We expect the impact of the heat to gradually increase … we will start to see that heat risk increase Tuesday into Wednesday through Friday,” Chenard said.

The heat index is what the temperature feels like to the human body when humidity is combined with the air temperature, according to the weather service.

Heavy rainfall was possible in eastern Louisiana and central Alabama on Saturday, and parts of Louisiana were also at risk for flooding.

The Houston Health Department said it would distribute 400 free portable air conditioners to area seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers of disabled children to contend with the heat.

The widespread destruction of Thursday’s storms brought much of Houston to a standstill, AP reported.

Thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds tore through the city — decimating the facade of one brick building and leaving trees, debris and shattered glass on the streets. A tornado also touched down near the northwest Houston suburb of Cypress.

More than a half-million homes and businesses in Texas remained without electricity by midday Saturday, according to PowerOutage.us.

Another 21,000 customers were also without power in Louisiana, where strong winds and a suspected tornado hit.

CenterPoint Energy said power restoration could take several days or longer in some areas.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Whitmire both signed disaster declarations, paving the way for state and federal storm recovery assistance.

A separate disaster declaration from President Joe Biden makes federal funding available to people in seven Texas counties — including Harris — that have been affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding since April 26.

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Climate Change

Summer 2023 was the hottest in 2,000 years, study says

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(Last Updated On: May 15, 2024)

The intense northern hemisphere summer heat that drove wildfires across the Mediterranean, buckled roads in Texas and strained power grids in China last year made it not just the warmest summer on record – but the warmest in some 2,000 years, new research suggests.

The stark finding comes from one of two new studies released on Tuesday, as both global temperatures and climate-warming emissions continue to climb, Reuters reported.

Scientists had quickly declared last year’s June to August period as the warmest since record-keeping began in the 1940s.

New work published in the journal Nature suggests the 2023 heat eclipsed temperatures over a far longer timeline – a finding established by looking at meteorological records dating to the mid-1800s and temperature data based on the analysis of tree rings across nine northern sites.

“When you look at the long sweep of history, you can see just how dramatic recent global warming is,” said study co-author Jan Esper, a climate scientist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany.

Last year’s summer season temperatures on lands between 30 and 90 degrees north latitude reached 2.07 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial averages, the study said.

Based on tree ring data, the summer months in 2023 were on average 2.2 C warmer than the estimated average temperature across the years 1 to 1890.

The finding was not entirely a surprise. By January, scientists with the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service were saying the year of 2023 was “very likely” to have been the warmest in some 100,000 years.

However, proving such a long record is unlikely, Esper said. Heatwaves are already taking a toll on people’s health, with more than 150,000 deaths in 43 countries linked to heatwaves for each year between 1990 and 2019, according to the details of a second study published on Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine.

That would account for about 1% of global deaths – roughly the same toll taken by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.

More than half of those heatwave-related excess deaths occurred in populous Asia.

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Climate Change

Afghanistan a victim of climate change, says Muttaqi

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(Last Updated On: May 13, 2024)

The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi, met with Edem Wosornu, UNOCHA Director of Operations and Advocacy on Monday in Kabul and said although Afghanistan plays no role in the “destruction of the climate”, the country continues to suffer from this phenomenon.

Muttaqi appealed to countries contributing to the climate change problem to act responsibly as they are not doing anything in terms of compensating countries suffering the effects of climate change.

This comes just days after heavy rains claimed the lives of over 300 people in northern Afghanistan as flash floods hit the area.

Muttaqi meanwhile also said that Afghanistan should be allowed to participate at global climate change meetings and the country should have access to funding.

Wosornu in turn expressed her willingness to send UNOCHA teams to flood affected areas as soon as possible.

She also said they try to keep humanitarian needs and politics separate.

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