"The world still stands “on the brink of climate catastrophe” after the deal reached at the Cop27 UN climate summit on Sunday, and the biggest economies must make fresh commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, climate experts and campaigners have warned.The agreement reached in Sharm el-Sheikh early on Sunday morning, after a marathon final negotiating session that ran 40 hours beyond its deadline, was hailed for providing poor countries for the first time with financial assistance known as loss and damage. A fund will be set up by rich governments for the rescue and rebuilding of vulnerable areas stricken by climate disaster, a key demand of developing nations for the last 30 years of climate talks.But the outcome was widely judged a failure on efforts to cut carbon dioxide, after oil-producing countries and high emitters weakened and removed key commitments on greenhouse gases and phasing out fossil fuels.Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders Group of former world leaders, ex-president of Ireland and twice a UN climate envoy, said: “The world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe. Progress made on [cutting emissions] has been too slow. We are on the cusp of a clean energy world, but only if G20 leaders live up to their responsibilities, keep their word and strengthen their will. The onus is on them.”
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Monday, November 7, 2022
"For a week in July 2018, a giant 100m-tall iceberg loomed over a tiny village on the west coast of Greenland. Villagers were evacuated, and the world watched in suspense: if a chunk of the 10m-tonne iceberg had broken apart or “calved”, it would have caused a tsunami and obliterated the settlement of Innaarsuit. Eventually, it drifted away from the shore – but as glaciers melt, we can expect to see more masses of ice breaking off and floating dangerously close to land."
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
"The climate crisis is also a children’s rights crisis: one in four children globally are already affected by the climate emergency and by 2050 virtually every child in every region will face more frequent heatwaves, according to a new Unicef report.For hundreds of millions of children, heatwaves will also last longer and be more extreme, increasing the threat of death, disease, hunger and forced migration.The findings come less than a fortnight before the Cop27 UN climate talks get underway in Egypt, and after a catastrophic year of extreme weather events – heatwaves, storms, floods, fires and droughts – have demonstrated the speed and magnitude of the climate breakdown facing the planet.According to Unicef, 559 million children currently endure at least four to five dangerous heatwaves annually, but the number will quadruple to 2 billion by 2050 – even if global heating is curtailed to 1.7 degrees, currently the best-case scenario on the table."
Thursday, October 20, 2022
"An expedition of scientists and an artist is deploying underwater microphones in the ocean off Greenland to record and preserve the soundscape of melting icebergs.The hydrophones will record sounds every hour for two years before being collected, harvested for data and the recordings turned into an acoustic composition.The instruments are being lowered to different levels and temperatures to record earthquakes, landslides, wildlife, pollution and meltwater, creating an archive of the “ocean’s memory”."
|Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP|
"The next pandemic may come not from bats or birds but from matter in melting ice, according to new data.Genetic analysis of soil and lake sediments from Lake Hazen, the largest high Arctic freshwater lake in the world, suggests the risk of viral spillover – where a virus infects a new host for the first time – may be higher close to melting glaciers.The findings imply that as global temperatures rise owing to climate change, it becomes more likely that viruses and bacteria locked up in glaciers and permafrost could reawaken and infect local wildlife, particularly as their range also shifts closer to the poles.For instance, in 2016 an outbreak of anthrax in northern Siberia that killed a child and infected at least seven other people was attributed to a heatwave that melted permafrost and exposed an infected reindeer carcass. Before this, the last outbreak in the region had been in 1941."
Access the report directly -> https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2022.1073
Monday, October 17, 2022
"As the UK is estimated to draw more than 50% of its calorie intake from UPF, this is no passing health scare but an issue that goes to the very heart of our culinary lifestyle. But before looking deeper into the issue there is an obvious question: what is a UPF?NOVA (not an acronym) is a widely used food classification system that separates foods into four categories based upon their level of processing. Almost all foods, aside from fresh fruit and raw vegetables, undergo some degree of process. Cooking is a process, and it usually involves added ingredients such as oil and salt.In NOVA’s first category, Group 1 is unprocessed or minimally processed foods (fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, milk). Group 2 is made up of processed culinary ingredients such as sugars, oils and butter. Group 3 is processed foods (canned vegetables and fish, bread, jam). Group 4 is ultra-high processed foods, which are mostly low in protein and fibre, and high in salt, sugar and fat, and have undergone industrial interventions such as extrusion, moulding and milling."
|The Guardian: "how ultra-processed meals are unhealthier than you think"|
Thursday, September 1, 2022
"Life expectancy in the United States fell in 2021 for the second year in a row, reflecting the merciless toll exacted by covid-19 on the nation’s health, according to a federal report released Wednesday.This is the biggest continuous decline in life expectancy at birth since the beginning of the Roaring Twenties. Americans can now expect to live as long as they did in 1996, according to provisional data released by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, life expectancy dropped from 77 years in 2020 to 76.1 years in 2021."
"Polio’s return to the US resulted from the confluence of a complicated set of scientific and societal factors that allowed a mutated version of the virus to start circulating in a susceptible community. This is the story of a life-saving vaccine with an unfortunate loophole that produced that version of the virus, and a calculated anti-vaccine campaign that created a vulnerable population."
|A decline in life expectancy during the coronavirus pandemic marked the biggest continuous decline since the 1920s. (Brandon Dill for The Washington Post)|
Saturday, July 30, 2022
"The US’s biggest oil companies pumped out record profits over the last few months as Americans struggled to pay for gasoline, food and other basic necessities.On Friday, ExxonMobil reported an unprecedented $17.85bn (£14.77bn) profit for the second quarter, nearly four times as much as the same period a year ago, and Chevron made a record $11.62bn (£9.61bn). The sky-high profits were announced one day after the UK’s Shell shattered its own profit record.Soaring energy prices have rattled consumers and become a political flashpoint. “We’re going to make sure everybody knows Exxon’s profits,” Joe Biden said in June. “Exxon made more money than God this year.”The record profits came after similarly outsized gains in the first quarter when the largest oil companies made close to $100bn in profits."
Monday, July 18, 2022
"The wildfires that have raged in Europe, Africa and North America in recent days have provided some dramatic front pages for newspapers across the world.
Among the worst fires have been in Portugal, where the Correio de Manhã has a front page headline reading “Panic and despair”. "
|Photograph: front pages|
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
"The legendary waterway is drying up. Travelling its length, Tobias Jones uncovers its fascinating historyItaly’s longest river, the Po, was once called the “king of rivers” by Virgil (“fluviorum rex”). It was considered mighty less for its length – it’s only about 400 miles (652 kilometres) long – than for its expanding girth: the countryside next to the river, the Padanian plain, was so flat that the Po was often less of a river than a slow-moving marsh, always flooding land dozens of miles either side of its porous banks."
"An abandoned old power boat juts upright from the cracked mud like a giant tombstone. Its epitaph might read: Here lay the waters of Lake Mead.The largest US reservoir has shrunken to a record low amid a punishing drought and the demands of 40 million people in seven states who are sucking the Colorado River dry. The megadrought in the Western US has been worsened by climate change. Wildfire season has become longer and blazes more intense, scorching temperatures have broken records and lakes are shriveling."
|JOHN LOCHER/ASSOCIATED PRESS|
Saturday, July 9, 2022
COVID-19: "Headed in a bad direction" yet MA "State officials will scale back the frequency of COVID data reporting"
The BA.5 version of COVID-19 has become the majority variant of the virus in America in a matter of weeks, in a troubling development that comes amid what may already be America’s second-largest wave of the pandemic.
It also comes at a time when much of the US has relaxed nearly all COVID restrictions in public and life has largely returned to normal.
“COVID-19 is very clearly not over. We’re seeing dramatic increases in the number of cases and hospitalizations in many places throughout the United States,” said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health.
As BA.5, one of the Omicron sub-variants, begins buffeting the US, “we’re headed in a bad direction”, Salemi said. “We’ve seen it coming for a while … We’ve seen it go pretty unabated.”
State officials said Friday they will scale back the number of times each week that they post COVID-19 data to the official dashboard from five days a week to just one, an alteration they say reflects the changing nature of the pandemic.
The data will be posted every Thursday and the change takes place next week, the Department of Public Health said in a statement.
Under the new plan, the contact tracing and clusters tabs will be removed from the COVID-19 Cases category. That data, the statement said, no longer represents the situation due to changes in investigation and tracing practices.
|Town of Franklin Health Dept COVID portal|
Friday, June 17, 2022
On the Climate front: gas companies say more gas is the answer; researchers finally calculate the cost in lives by acting now
"Up on the fourth floor of Westin Copley Place this week, hundreds of natural gas representatives mingled among glossy posters and tables littered with branded baseball hats and Oreos. Among the niceties and exchanges of business cards it became quickly clear — the climate crisis is very much on people’s minds. Another thing became clear, too. The solution, as they see it, is more gas.“Additional natural gas pipelines are the answer to many of the questions we face today,” Amy Andryszak, chief executive of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, told a panel audience Tuesday.It was the 27th annual gathering of the Northeast LDC Gas Forum — nicknamed the “Best Deal-Making Conference” in the industry, according to the organizers, and seemingly as good a place as any to get the gas industry’s view of the climate crisis as it is lived every day in the executive suites, field sites, and maintenance trucks of the scores of companies that operate in New England."
"The rapidly shrinking window of opportunity for the US to pass significant climate legislation will have mortal, as well as political, stakes. Millions of lives around the world will be saved, or lost, depending on whether America manages to propel itself towards a future without planet-heating emissions.For the first time, researchers have calculated exactly how many people the US could save by acting on the climate crisis. A total of 7.4 million lives around the world will be saved over this century if the US manages to cut its emissions to net zero by 2050, according to the analysis.The financial savings would be enormous, too, with a net zero America able to save the world $3.7tn in costs to adapt to the rising heat. As the world’s second largest polluter of greenhouse gases, the US and its political vagaries will in large part decide how many people in faraway countries will be subjected to deadly heat, as well as endure punishing storms, floods, drought and other consequences of the climate emergency."
|Photograph: Iuliia Bondar/Getty Images|
Thursday, June 9, 2022
"helped create one of the first ever media campaigns designed to 'directly attack the proponents of global warming'”
"In 1980, a report circulated to a division of one of the biggest coal-burning utilities in the US warned that “fossil fuel combustion” was rapidly warming the atmosphere and could cause a “massive extinction of plant and animal species” along with a “5 to 6-meter rise in sea level” across the world.Several years later an official at the utility co-chaired a conference where scientific researchers fretted that “as we continue to exploit the vast deposits of fossil fuels” it could cause “disruptive climate changes”.Not only did Southern Company fail to adjust its business model towards cleaner energy sources, it began paying for print advertisements saying climate change was not real. “Who told you the earth was warming,” asks one ad from 1991."
|The Robert W Scherer Power Plant, a coal-fired electricity plant operated by Georgia Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Company in Georgia. Photograph: Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters|
Saturday, June 4, 2022
"Almost 2,000 times more particle pollution is produced by tyre wear than is pumped out of the exhausts of modern cars, tests have shown.
The tyre particles pollute air, water and soil and contain a wide range of toxic organic compounds, including known carcinogens, the analysts say, suggesting tyre pollution could rapidly become a major issue for regulators.
Air pollution causes millions of early deaths a year globally. The requirement for better filters has meant particle emissions from tailpipes in developed countries are now much lower in new cars, with those in Europe far below the legal limit. However, the increasing weight of cars means more particles are being thrown off by tyres as they wear on the road."
|Photograph: Jacob King/PA|
"For decades, US researchers have studied behavioral signs that could help identify people who are at risk of carrying out mass violence.They have looked at histories of drug abuse, interpersonal violence or “red flag behaviors” like posting images of firearms on social media and threatening their classmates or co-workers.“These behaviors are observable. Someone can notice if their nephew or neighbor is starting to wear fatigues and carry a gun,” said Mary Ellen O’Toole, a retired FBI agent, profiler and the director of George Mason University’s forensic science program."
|Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP|
Saturday, May 21, 2022
"For the past few years, scientists have been frantically sounding an alarm that governments refuse to hear: the global food system is beginning to look like the global financial system in the run-up to 2008.
While financial collapse would have been devastating to human welfare, food system collapse doesn’t bear thinking about. Yet the evidence that something is going badly wrong has been escalating rapidly. The current surge in food prices looks like the latest sign of systemic instability.
Many people assume that the food crisis was caused by a combination of the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine. While these are important factors, they aggravate an underlying problem. For years, it looked as if hunger was heading for extinction. The number of undernourished people fell from 811 million in 2005 to 607 million in 2014. But in 2015, the trend began to turn. Hunger has been rising ever since: to 650 million in 2019, and back to 811 million in 2020. This year is likely to be much worse. "
|Illustration: Eva Bee/The Guardian|
Thursday, May 12, 2022
On the climate front: aviation industry fails to meet climate targets; "‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown"
"The international aviation industry has failed to meet all but one of 50 of its own climate targets in the past two decades, environment campaigners say.
A report commissioned by the climate charity Possible assessed every target set by the industry since 2000 and found that nearly all had been missed, revised or quietly ignored. The charity says the findings undermine a UK government plan to leave airlines to reduce their emissions through self-regulation.
Leo Murray, Possible’s director of innovation, said: “This forensic investigation shows just how implausible and credulous the government’s jet-zero strategy is shaping up to be. How can we credibly expect this industry to overdeliver on emissions reduction when they’ve never met any of their previous climate targets?
“It’s clear that we need to demand reduction via a frequent flyer levy, which would discourage the frequent flying by a small group of people which makes up the bulk of emissions from planes.”
Copy of the full report available -> https://www.wearepossible.org/latest-news/for-20-years-the-aviation-has-missed-all-but-one-of-their-sustainability-targets
|Missed Targets Report|
"The world’s biggest fossil fuel firms are quietly planning scores of “carbon bomb” oil and gas projects that would drive the climate past internationally agreed temperature limits with catastrophic global impacts, a Guardian investigation shows.
The exclusive data shows these firms are in effect placing multibillion-dollar bets against humanity halting global heating. Their huge investments in new fossil fuel production could pay off only if countries fail to rapidly slash carbon emissions, which scientists say is vital.
The oil and gas industry is extremely volatile but extraordinarily profitable, particularly when prices are high, as they are at present. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades, while recent price rises led BP’s boss to describe the company as a “cash machine”.
The lure of colossal payouts in the years to come appears to be irresistible to the oil companies, despite the world’s climate scientists stating in February that further delay in cutting fossil fuel use would mean missing our last chance “to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”. As the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned world leaders in April: “Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us.”
Sunday, May 8, 2022
On the climate front, two articles reminding us (1) we need to tackle climate in a unified approach (we have one world to share with others) and (2) time to act is indeed running out.
"Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon surged to record levels for the month of April, nearly doubling the area of forest removed in that month last year – the previous April record – preliminary government data has shown, alarming environmental campaigners.
In the first 29 days of April, deforestation in the region totaled 1,012.5 square km (390 square miles), according to data from national space research agency Inpe on Friday. The agency, which has compiled the monthly data series since 2015/2016, will report data for the final day of April next week.
April is the third monthly record this year, after new highs were also observed in January and February."
|An aerial view shows logs that were illegally cut from the Amazon rainforest in Anapu, Para state, Brazil, in 2019. Photograph: Nacho Doce/Reuters|
"The world’s birds, described as the planet’s “canaries in the coalmine”, are disappearing in large numbers as the colossal impact of humanity on the Earth grows, a global review has found.There are about 11,000 species of bird spanning the globe, but the populations of half of them are falling, while just 6% are increasing. Their flight and song make them easier to study than many animals, meaning they are the best studied large group.Bird populations are also affected by all the damage caused by human activity, from the destruction of wild habitat, the climate crisis, and pesticides and other pollution, to over-hunting and impacts of alien species and disease. This makes them the best living indicators of global change, the scientists said."
|The most threatened families of birds are those which are larger and take longer to reproduce, including the Australian brushturkey. Photograph: thomasmales/Getty Images/iStockphoto|
Saturday, May 7, 2022
When most people toss a plastic bottle or cup into the recycling bin, they assume that means the plastic is recycled – but a new report lays bare how rarely that actually happens.
According to the Last Beach Cleanup and Beyond Plastics, the organization behind the report released on Wednesday, the recycling rate for post-consumer plastic was just 5% to 6% in 2021.
The Department of Energy also released a research paper this week, which analyzed data from 2019, and came to the same number: only 5% of plastics are being recycled. The researchers on that report wrote that landfilled plastic waste in the United States has been on the rise for many reasons, including “low recycling rates, population growth, consumer preference for single-use plastics, and low disposal fees in certain parts of the country”, according to a press release.
Dept of Energy report -> https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0921344922002087?via%3Dihub
|If all we get is 5%, maybe it is time to ask what can we do better?|
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
"While gas prices soar for consumers, one group of people isn’t faring so badly.
Chief executives from the largest oil and gas companies received nearly $45m more in combined total compensation in 2021 as compared to 2020 amid the steep rise in gasoline prices across the US over the last year, a new report states.
Twenty-eight major oil and gas companies, such as Shell, Exxon, BP and Marathon Petroleum, gave out $394m in total to their chief executives in 2021, according to an exclusive analysis provided to the Guardian."
"There is a moment in the revelatory PBS Frontline docuseries The Power of Big Oil, about the industry’s long campaign to stall action on the climate crisis, in which the former Republican senator Chuck Hagel reflects on his part in killing US ratification of the Kyoto climate treaty.In 1997, Hagel joined with the Democratic senator Robert Byrd to promote a resolution opposing the international agreement to limit greenhouse gases, on the grounds that it was unfair to Americans. The measure passed the US Senate without a single dissenting vote, after a vigorous campaign by big oil to mischaracterize the Kyoto protocol as a threat to jobs and the economy while falsely claiming that China and India could go on polluting to their heart’s content.The resolution effectively put a block on US ratification of any climate treaty ever since."
|Photograph: Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images|