Tag: climate change

Effects of climate change. Experts warn: “glaciers are disappearing”

Effects of climate change. Experts warn: “glaciers are disappearing”

Climate change is at the top of the concerns of young people around the world. The effects of terrestrial warming are there for all to see, and in a few decades, the world may no longer be as we know it. New forms of life are born, until a few decades ago, the Pico Humboldt glacier was present, at an altitude of 4940 meters, in Venezuela. The Pico Humboldt glacier in the Sierra Nevada National Park is the last in Venezuela. The climate crisis has accelerated its melting, which has become increasingly rapid over the last decade. For the total disappearance of the glacier, it is now a matter of a few years. Meanwhile, a new biodiversity colonizes the bare rocks. A new research by the Institute of Environmental and Ecological Sciences of the University of the Andes (Ula) has confirmed, documenting the dramatic impact of climate change on Andean glaciers.

Downstream of the Pico Humboldt is Mérida: they called it the city of eternal snow. Overlooking the Andes mountain range, the urban center is now the guardian of the little that remains of the Venezuelan glacier. The snow-capped peaks of the mountains formed its unique landscape. It was the only city from which people could see snow in the whole country. Now the ice remains only on the Humboldt summit, and it still resists thanks to its position on the mountain, protected by an inlet. But a new biodiversity takes the opportunity to colonize the unnaturally exposed lands. The researchers collected images and samples of the Venezuelan glacier between 2019 and 2020 and noted that it retreated at an unusual and alarming rate. From 1910, the year of its first measurement, before the Pico Humboldt ascended its height the following year, the glacier would have lost 99% of its mass.

According to the Institute of Environmental and Ecological Sciences of the University of the Andes, in 2019, the area covered by the glacier was just equivalent to five football fields, or 4.5 hectares, vs the 300 hectares in 1910. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, with the rise in temperatures, glaciers worldwide have been affected by global warming. And the tropical Andes are one of the most vulnerable regions. Almost 10 billion tons of perennial snow from glaciers around the world was lost from 1961 to 2016, with an increasing rate in recent years, according to research by United Space in Europe (ESA). Furthermore, after Greenland and Antarctica, the glaciers of Latin America are the ones that contribute most to the rise of the seas and are even more at risk due to pressure from the mining lobbies, as in Chile.

Researchers question the future not only of the Antarctic ecosystem but also of metropolises such as London, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai as we know them. This scenario is feared by a study conducted by the Research Institute on Climate Impacts of Potsdam, together with the University of Potsdam, Columbia University in New York, and the University of Stockholm. More than half of the planet’s freshwater reserves are guarded by the Antarctic ice sheet, which is about five kilometers thick, Ricarda Winkelmann, co-author of the research, explains in a note released by the Potsdam Research Institute on Climate Impacts.

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are causing an increase in the temperatures of the atmosphere and ocean waters. The ice covering the South Pole loses mass and becomes less stable. That causes the sea level of the entire planet to rise.

12 months of Coronavirus: Has it helped save Earth?

12 months of Coronavirus: Has it helped save Earth?

12 months of Coronavirus: Early 2020, when the world saw coronavirus led lockdown, climate change experts and scientists were perplexed and distressed over the tragedy unfolding. But one question intrigued them all – could the decrease in global human activity trigger Earth to heal. It was especially significant as it was the steepest slowdown since World War II. 

But now the picture is clear! The impact hasn’t really been as fruitful and positive as expected. Many environmental problems have been made worse during pandemic, but there is still a flickering hope that if governments make use of the stimulus packages wisely to promote “green recovery”, some relief can be achieved. 

As the lockdown began with strictest measures when there was spring in Northern Hemisphere, human footprint was at its lowest. Countries had reduced flights number and traffic was reduced by more than 70%. China’s industrial emissions, which are biggest source of carbon in world, came down 18% leading to 250m tonnes carbon cut. Though the changes and respite they brought were for a rather short period, they gave us a fair idea of how the planet would be sans fossil fuels. 

The period wasn’t enough to let wildlife tread on a healing and “reclaiming” path, but it did give a chance for exploring and opening up. As the civilization ceased to dominate the space briefly, the wild nature came out in open. Internet was flooded with such images – coyotes strolling on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, deer nibbling near White House in Washington DC. 

The Southern Hemisphere presented a different picture. The highly criticized rhino poaching in Tanzania ceased due to hampered supply chain and demands owing to cross-border restrictions. But on flip side, India, Kenya and Nepal saw an increase in bushmeat hunting and illegal firewood collection. This was because the locals lost tourism as their income source and had to resolve to other methods to survive. 

Brazil’s Amazon is seeing dreaded time as its “traditional guardians”, Xavante and Yanomami indigenous groups have been blown hard by Covid-19. Furthermore, due to lockdown the forest rangers are stuck at home. This gave a chance to land grabbers, illegal miners and fire starters opportunity to flourish. Brazil is witnessing the 12 year peak of deforestation. 

One of the most prominent gains of pandemic has been health. Cleaner air has been a boon with significantly lesser number of children developing asthma, lesser fatalities due to air pollution. This has been a respite from the rising number of deaths due to Covid-19. 

The air has been so clean that satellites could pick up the significantly reduced smog belt over Wuhan, China and Turin, Italy. Nepal residents, for first time in decades, could see the tip of Mt. Everest. 

These changes were however, all short lived. As the lockdowns were eased by countries, air pollution surged. All the welcomed changes faded gradually. Global carbon emissions that saw a raid decline, rapidly climbed up fogging all the hopes of climate stability. 

The reduced carbon emission during initial lockdown phase could just slow down carbon accumulation in atmosphere by a tad bit. This has led to over 3.2C warming by end of this century. United Nations report says that the lockdown could just make a difference of 0.01C by 2030. 

Although, many nations have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions and have targeted for zero carbon emission in years, not much is being done in this direction. Stimulus spending majorities are still going to fossil fuel sector rather than renewable source of energy. These priorities have trickled the fear that world may end up post Covid-19 just like 2008-2009 financial crisis. 

Planet saw all-time heat record in January and November. Keeping 2020 as whole, its certain that last seven years have been the hottest ever. Action requirement was stressed as bushfires and wildfires kept soaring in news in Australia and California and Oregon in USA. Experts fear and warn that coronavirus pandemic may just be the tip of iceberg which can come to haunt us in years forward, all because of increasing deforestation, and negligence of protecting the nature and its resources. 

Paul De Ornelles, Chief Wildlife Adviser at WWF-UK said, “The emergence of the pandemic is not an accident, as there have been repeated warnings for years that we are exerting too much pressure on the natural world by our destructive practices. Habitat loss, intensive agriculture and the over-exploitation of wildlife are key drivers of the emergence of novel infectious diseases like Covid.”

Climate change and impact on Asia’s growth and security

Climate change and impact on Asia’s growth and security

Impact on Asia’s growth: Climate change is adversely impacting water distribution, regional security and growth in Asia

Climate change is causing major shifts in weather patterns, resulting in a disruption of weather events. Unprecedented changes in weather events are altering water cycle patterns, as a result of which oceans are experiencing major transformations, threatening coastal ecosystems and agricultural areas.

Disaster-prone Indo-Asia Pacific is facing challenges from climate change in the form of a potential surge in geopolitical competition and interstate conflicts over the distribution of resources. Climate change is expected to reshape the strategic security environment in the region.

Being highly exposed to climate change, the Indo-Asia Pacific region is expected to face major water scarcity due to negligent management of water resources. At a time when countries across the region are struggling to revive from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, competition for essential resources such as water and energy between agriculture and industry will create hurdles for growth. 

As per a report by the Australian Water Partnership and water resource advisory firm Aither, immediate action is required to enhance the current water infrastructure in a bid to complete ongoing developmental projects.

Climate-related changes in the oceans are a major focal point for experts. Asia’s coastal megacities and island nations are highly vulnerable to an unprecedented rise in sea level and rapid depletion in the stocks of fishes, which is impacting food security across the countries in the region.

Rising temperatures can increase deadly pathogens in freshwater sources which will further the scarcity of drinking water for people. Climate-related weather events such as cyclones, storms and hurricanes have put the lives of more than 500 million children in danger. 

Climate impacts in Southeast Asia can also affect regional and international security issues. As climate change will exacerbate water stress between various regions, areas of limited water resources can rise to conflicts due to increased competition for safe water. For instance, any changes in the water flow in the Himalayas and Indus river can stress the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan amid the already-tensed relationship between the two neighbouring countries

 As Indonesia’s urban population will exceed in the next few years, it will have to step up its water supply by 30 to 50 percent. A number of populated cities in the Southeast Asian region, including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta will also face massive water crisis due to rising sea levels.

Evidently, governments in the Indo-Pacific region are required to ensure a timely and appropriate response against the impact of climate change. It is important to reinforce the engagement between government entities and affected communities to tackle prevailing challenges such as degrading quality of life, large-scale migration, and lack of opportunities. It is also important for security communities across the Indo-Asia Pacific to address the risks created by climate change in a comprehensive manner in a bid to achieve their goals in the near future. 

One of the most crucial tasks for Indo-Pacific countries is to address climate threats by reducing emissions to the lowest level. Essentially, the degree of climate impact will drive regional instability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region as a result of which future regional investment decisions will be taken.

Climate change: Protecting world’s oceans need of the hour

Climate change: Protecting world’s oceans need of the hour

Climate change: Developing a robust mechanism for safeguarding global oceans has never been more necessary

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for better managing the fading relationship between humans and the natural world that has resulted in accelerating loss of ocean habitat due to climate change. In this regard, the need for developing new and more effective marine protected areas (MPAs) has grown exponentially.

It is important to note that two-thirds of the international waters fall outside jurisdictions of countries across the world. These water bodies provide shelter to millions of marine species and wide ranging natural resources. However, they are facing severe damage due to climate change and human activities.

A 2019 global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services stated that 66 per cent of the world’s oceans are facing increasing challenges due to increasing human activities such as fishing and commercial trading. Earlier this year, scientists reported that almost half of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals have died off since 1995. In September, it was reported that two of Antarctica’s largest glaciers were close to collapsing. Similar incidents are being recorded from various parts of the world as rapidly-developing impacts of an impending climate catastrophe. 

The United Nations plays a crucial role in ocean governance and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has emerged as a key international agreement that grants coastal and island states authority over massive oceans termed as exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

While UNCLOS has been in place to regulate human activities in the high seas, this international legal agreement appears to be failing to protect the marine ecosystems.

Taking note of the deteriorating conditions of the world’s oceans, leaders from 14 countries recently pledged to sustainably manage the oceans under their national jurisdictions by 2025. Led by The Ocean Panel, these countries  have also vowed to designate 30 percent of the seas as marine protected areas in the next 10 years, in line with the United Nations campaign – 30 by 30. 

Currently, MPAs are covering only 7.66 per cent of the water bodies across the world, noting that most of these areas come under the jurisdiction of a country such that they are effective protected. 

In the absence of a full-fledged UN treaty on marine life, these 14 countries are working on a series of commitments to establish the world’s biggest initiative on ocean sustainability.

Combined, these 14 countries including Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico among others represent 40 percent of the world’s coastlines, 30 percent of the offshore exclusive economic zones (EEZs), 20 percent of world’s shipping fleet, and 20 percent of the world’s fisheries. Meanwhile, these nations have invited other world governments as well to join the initiative to protect the ocean biodiversity.

Research have indicated that if oceans were managed sustainably, there could be six times more food fished from these waters. It could also provide favourable social, economic, health and environmental benefits, in addition to creating 12 million new jobs. 

A new ocean treaty

In December 2017, the UN General Assembly decided to convene negotiations towards designing a new comprehensive international treaty to conserve and sustainably use the marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction named as the high seas. The treaty is aimed at establishing a global legal mechanism to develop MPAs in international waters. 

While three negotiation sessions have taken place in the past three years, the fourth session – scheduled for March 2020 – had to be postponed due to restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic. With only one round of negotiation left for the UN treaty to take shape, it is highly anticipated to see how these new layer to the ocean governance framework will bring change.

Under Brazil’s Bolsonaro a surge in Amazon fire raises serious environmental concerns

Under Brazil’s Bolsonaro a surge in Amazon fire raises serious environmental concerns

Amazon fire: Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon forest surged 50% in October, ceasing a streak where the area’s deforestation rate had dwindled for three straight months, as per the recent data released by the national space research institute INPE.

The report came shortly following Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro seemed to threaten the possibility of utilizing military power against the United States should it endeavor to force sanctions on the South American nation for its inability to curb the rising deforestation. 

INPE’s satellite-based deforestation warning system reveals that 836 square kilometers of Amazon forest trees were chopped down during October 2020. 

The clearing of the forests this year year-to-date brings it to 7,899 square kilometers, 6% less than where it remained a year ago when deforestation hit its peak level recorded since 2008. 

The October data likewise indicated a 3% rise in the degradation of forests and cutting down of trees which frequently lead to unmitigated deforestation. 66% of the region was impacted by fire last year. INPE assessed the amount of damage it caused, which was around 14,487 square kilometers, a land larger than the U.S. state of Connecticut.

Carlos Rittl, a Brazilian naturalist who serves at Germany’s Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, stated that the data were outrageous, disgraceful, and humiliating. A sharp warning regarding the damage done to the environment since Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019.

“This is a territory where a huge amount of land is covered with forest that is being lost basically in light of the fact that under Bolsonaro the individuals who are destroying it and feel no dread of being rebuffed,” Rittl added. 

“Bolsonaro’s extraordinary accomplishment with regards to the climate has been this unfortunate devastation of forests which has transformed Brazil into the greatest enemy of the environment and the globe,” he added. 

Environmental activists state that the destruction is tremendous and yet Brazil’s VP says it’s an improvement compared to last year. The expansion in the consumed zone isn’t surprising. The satellite pictures reveal widespread fires over the Brazilian Amazon and nearby regions like the Pantanal.

The fire has consumed thick tropical rainforests, secured regions, and Indigenous regions. Flames were so awful over the mid-year that President Bolsonaro sent in the military to attempt to suppress the flames. 

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro created a new controversy by warning the U.S. president-elect Joe Biden stating that Brazil would retaliate if Washington forces economic sanctions for the growing Amazon deforestation. 

Biden hinted there could be unknown financial consequences during his initial presidential debate. He likewise added that the world should help Brazil with $20 billion to battle Amazon deforestation. 

Bolsonaro is known for speaking controversial statements and provocative rhetoric. For instance, he’s accused actor Leonardo DiCaprio, other environmentalists, indigenous people of deforestation in the Amazon to divert global criticism for the Brazilian government’s work on reforming environmental law, energize mining, logging, and modern farming. 

The geopolitical challenges for the U.S. 2020

The geopolitical challenges for the U.S. 2020

The geopolitical challenges for the U.S. 2020: Although not yet accepted by Trump, the victory of Joe Biden appears to be quite consolidated, with about 3% more voters than his opponent and having surpassed the 270 main seats, is preparing to lead the United States for the next four years. A divided, angry America, worried about the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Undecided whether to follow the Trump slogan “America first” or whether to resume the thread of multilateralism. That has ensured its support for everything from the West for the past 75 years. An America that has a deep need for reconciliation, especially with itself and its contradictions.

Trump’s presidency has achieved successes in both economic and foreign policy, such as growth in employment and an increase in national GDP, or as the agreements that led Israel and some Arab states to initiate diplomatic relations. Another success of his is undoubtedly that of not having started any new war, thus sparing the sending of young people on fighting fronts far from home. That, however, was not always perceived as the result of a precise strategic vision. But only as the impulse to make the selfish interest of his country. A role interpreted with sometimes questionable criteria and often very not very diplomatic. Many say that in his four-year presidency, Trump has shown all his narcissism and authoritarianism. All his boundless ambition and his aptitude for functional falsehood.

For his part, Joe Biden was able to wisely recover the votes of some parts of the working class and the educated and moderate middle classes, preferences that did not go to Clinton in 2016. Biden then managed to focus consensus of ethnic minorities. Despite some superficial analyses on Florida, well over 70% of Hispanics voted for him, along with about 90% of African-American voters. To these voters were added the discontented by a conduct of public affairs marked by excessive presidential personalism. Americans also worried about the crazy handling of the pandemic by Trump. Who, in this regard, seemed unwilling to listen to the advice of scientists and to apply the most elementary rules of common sense.

Domestically, the elected President will have to reconcile the people. He will have to lead the Americans to find common ground for coexistence. That is not an easy goal given the ethnic fragmentation and the interest of some supremacist fringes in maintaining social tension. There are also important issues with significant social implications, such as the reduction of inequalities, the fight against the pandemic, and the extension of health care, the latter so dear to Barack Obama, but which touches many sensitivities that effectively oppose. In foreign policy, the diplomatic suitcase of Joe Biden contains delicate international issues, with profound implications for future geopolitical assets. In this context, he has already announced his will to return to multilateralism. That probably means a return to the WHO and hopefully also to UNESCO. The U.S. will also re-implement the Paris climate agreements. But we can exclude temptations of unilaterally respond to global challenges.

However, this should not lead to thinking of a radical revision of the US geopolitical strategy. It will not mean that America will start doing what others want. To combat environmental degradation, for example, it will have to ensure that it does not affect too much the enormous US interests in the use of fossil energy. Washington will therefore continue to pursue its interests but, perhaps, also reconciling some needs of its partners to strengthen that close transatlantic relationship which, in the last four years, had cooled somewhat as a victim of Trumpian assertiveness. The real strength of the US does not lie in the economy or technology. But in the ability to unite and keep close allies. European first and foremost, by granting the extension of its nuclear safety umbrella and obtaining political and military collaboration and support, according to the possibilities of each ally. 

And this is where the currently hottest dossiers come in, as the relations with Russia, China, Iran, and the US role in the Mediterranean. Once again, a sea that is seething between various claims on maritime borders, legal disputes, muscle demonstrations, actions in contrast with the provisions of the UN, jihadist threat, and the drama of illegal immigration. It is therefore foreseeable that the first visits abroad of Biden will be n the main European capitals. Where he can be convinced that the world match can be played more effectively if the main European allies are included in the first team, and not kept on the bench or, worse, not summoned. In this case, it would be a clear sign of the reversal of the trend of Trump. He has never bothered to disguise his contempt for the European institution, flaunting his desire to undermine its cohesion, sometimes succeeding.

How will Joe Biden win impact the global fight against the climate crisis

How will Joe Biden win impact the global fight against the climate crisis

Joe Biden win impact global climatic crisis. United States of America became the only country to have formally walked out of the Paris Agreement on Wednesday, at the stroke of midnight. This hence fulfilled President Donald Trump’s campaign promise that he had made four years ago in 2016. US, led by President Trump is the only country to reject the grave danger that is looming on accord of the global climate crisis, that could have been averted through the globally accepted Paris Agreement. 

The past four years have seen unparalleled catastrophic disasters due to climate change. Fossil fuels are being rejected by investors as the prices of renewable energy are dropping. US allies are accepting the challenges that lie ahead. UK, European Union, South Korea and Japan can be seen rushing to minimize the damage and revert the emission rates. The nations have pledged to bring their emissions to net zero by 2050. China too has joined the list of ambitious pledge. 

This has brought United States standing as a lone warrior – but the fight is not worth fighting for. Global leaders have always hoped that Trump would change his stance and join the global fight against climate change. But Trump has never displayed of any such intentions. He has been clear – bring money into the country through lobbying of oil and gas production. He is ignorant of its impact on climate, it would lock-in the fossil fuel abuse for decades together. The leader that the US has always been, has been missing for the past four years. 

Lois M. Young, Ambassador of Belize to the UN, who also represents nations highly vulnerable to rising sea-level hoped the US would pledge to the Paris Agreement and minimize climate change risks globally. She said, “That the country that has contributed the most to climate change is now formally outside of the Paris Agreement, and may remain so for at least the next four hours, is an appalling thought.

The world is closely watching the US Presidential Elections as millions of votes are being counted to determine the next US President. Former VP, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is just a step away from the historic win, that the entire world is hoping for. Biden’s win will be a tremendous advantage and opportunity for the global climate change fight, thus rekindling the fighting chance for a substantial change.

It is absolutely certain that if President Trump succeeds to win the election, the next four years are locked in of the country’s staying out of the accord. This will ensure that global temperatures keep on rising. But if Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins, the country would be back in the agreement in “exactly 77 days”.

Though joining the Paris Agreement will be a piece of cake, the tricky part would be to catch up on the damages already made. The US would have to work endlessly to reduce emissions and also strengthen the ties with its allies.

Mr. Biden is clear on his position and his administration’s plan on climate change fight. He has laid out his plan of spending $2 trillion across four years to diverge from coal, gas, and oil. He has projected to make US zero-emitting of fossil fuel emissions by 2035 through electricity generation. The planning is clear – the US will be a carbon-neutral economy. His plan also includes bring electric modes of transmission and building sustainable housing units, that will be conducive to bringing down the global temperatures.

Biden’s plan is in sync with that of the Paris Agreement, and together the world can achieve the accord’s goal of keeping the global temperatures at a safe level. The election results will pave the country’s path and will be decisive of its future as a constructive power or rebuking power in relation to climate change.

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