US Lawmakers Move to Declare Climate Change Official Emergency

Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez plan to present today a resolution at the US Congress to recognize climate crisis as an official emergency.

According to Huffington Post website, the two legislators will introduce the proposal in their respective chambers in the Capitol building along with US congressman Earl Blumenauer, in order to pressure the government to recognize the magnitude of the threat of the greenhouse gases.

A Sanders spokesman quoted by Huffington Post said that US President Donald Trump has routinely declared 'false national emergencies to advance his deeply unpopular agenda, such as selling bombs to Saudi Arabia the Congress had blocked.'

However, the president insists on calling deception the existential threat that climate change means, and for that reason the independent senator and presidential candidate for the Democratic Party is proud to associate with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to challenge that absurd. he noted.

The objective is to make the Congress declare that 'we are facing a climate emergency that requires a massive and immediate federal mobilization,' Sanders spokesman said.

The initiative will be presented one day after Trump, who is widely criticized at the domestic and international level for refusing to recognize that humans are responsible for climate change, delivered a speech about supposed environmental achievements of his administration in which he did not mention the impact of that phenomenon. (PL)

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Ancient Saharan seaway shows how Earth's climate and creatures can undergo extreme change

A new paper to be published in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History integrates 20 years of research by a diverse scientific team and describes the ancient Trans-Saharan Seaway of Africa that existed 50 to 100 million years ago in the region of the current Sahara Desert. Led by Maureen O'Leary, Professor of Anatomical Sciences at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, the paper is a comprehensive synthesis and contains the first reconstructions of extinct aquatic species in their habitats along the seaway and places in context massive climate and sea level changes that can occur on Earth.

The region now holding the Sahara Desert was once under water, in striking contrast to the present-day arid environment. This dramatic difference in climate over time is recorded in the rock and fossil record of West Africa during a time range that extends through the Cretaceous-Paleogene (KPg) boundary. West Africa was bisected by a shallow saltwater body that poured onto continental crust during a time of high global sea level. The Bulletin paper involves an assessment and continued analysis of three expeditions led by Professor O'Leary (1999, 2003, and 2008) within rock exposures in the Sahara Desert in Mali, and subsequently the laboratory work of the fossil finds in the region.

"Fossils found on the expeditions indicate that the sea supported some of the largest sea snakes and catfish that ever lived, extinct fishes that were giants compared to their modern day relatives, mollusk-crushing fishes, tropical invertebrates, long-snouted crocodilians, early mammals and mangrove forests," explained Professor O'Leary, who is also a Research Associate in the Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History. "Because the seaway changed in size and geography frequently, we propose that it may have resulted in 'islands of water' that stimulated species gigantism."

The paper contains the first reconstructions of ancient relatives of elephants and large apex predators such as sharks, crocodilians and sea snakes.

"With our analysis and new technologies, such as a computer-aided map of the seaway, our work is an important step toward increasing our understanding of the KPg boundary event, the time of non-avian dinosaur extinction," said Professor O'Leary.

She and colleagues point out that the paper places in context climate and sea level changes that can occur on Earth.

For example, scientists currently predict that global warming will result in the sea rising two meters by the end of the 21st century. The study in the Bulletin describes how, in the Late Cretaceous, the time under study, sea level rise far exceeded that which is predicted by human-induced climate change. In the Late Cretaceous sea level was 300m higher than present -- 40 percent of current land was under water, which is very different from today. This information underscores the dynamic nature of Earth.

Professor O'Leary explained that scientists do not have detailed stratigraphic terrestrial/near shore sections with fossils on every continent to examine exactly how the KPg boundary unfolded globally. There is only one good nearshore or terrestrial section with vertebrate fossils in the western United States. The expeditions in Mali, she added, created a new section, which is imperfect, missing some of the earliest Paleogene yet contributes to a better understanding of global events 50 to 100 million years ago.

The expeditions spanning 20 years involved Professor O'Leary and numerous colleagues internationally to excavate the fossils and conduct the research. The collaborative research team consists of paleontologists and geologists from the United States, Australia and Mali.

"Few paleontologists had worked the region, given its remoteness and scorching 125 degree F temperatures. The shifting sand dunes made it difficult to find rocky outcrops, and worse still, a flash rain storm flooded the roadways making navigation nearly impossible," said Leif Tapanila, PhD, Professor of Geosciences at Idaho State University and a co-author of the paper. "These expeditions could not have succeeded without the experience of local Malian drivers and guides, and I was amazed by the quality and diversity of marine fossils we found in the Sahara Desert."

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Materials provided by American Museum of Natural History. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Experts climate change in Havana

Havana, July 3 (RHC)—The 12th International Convention on Environment and Development is underway in Havana with the attendance of experts coming from some 50 countries. The gathering is convened by the Environment Agency of the Ministry of Science,Technology and Environment of the Republic of Cuba,

On  Wednesday, the event is focusing on the commitment made for this decade by Latin America and the Caribbean for the attention of protected areas.

Delegates will also discuss environmental degradation, drought, deforestation, the use of unfriendly practices to the environment and the huge amount of plastic products that end up in the sea, with great impact on many marine species.

“For integration and Cooperation” is the Convention´s theme, which includes six congresses: Management of biodiversity; Environmental management and protected areas. Environmental education, politics and law as well as climate change.

Experts on this subjects will discuss their views on how human actions are triggering climate change and the increase of extreme weather events.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares

UN chief warns Paris climate goals still not enough

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has taken his message urging immediate climate action to officials gathered in the United Arab Emirates, where production of hydrocarbons remains a key driver of the economy.

Guterres is calling on governments to stop building new coal plants by 2020, cut greenhouse emissions by 45% over the next decade and replace fossil-fuel driven economies. He warned of a "grave climate emergency" in remarks at a summit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

He lauded the Paris climate accord, but says even if its promises are fully met, the world still faces what he describes as a catastrophic three-degree temperature rise by the end of the century.

Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. has announced its withdrawal, effective next year, from the Paris agreement.

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Theresa May urges world leaders to tackle climate crisis - but US refuses

Theresa May has called on other countries to "raise their ambition" and copy the UK by aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The prime minister said she wanted other world leaders to "embrace this target" as she held a news conference at her last G20 summit.

It came as Donald Trump confirmed he would not be changing his mind on climate change action, saying US factories don't work on wind power and he doesn't want to subsidise green energy.

His stance means the US is the only country in the G20 that has not reaffirmed its commitment to the full implementation of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Mrs May told reporters: "Over the past two days, leaders have discussed some of the most pressing challenges facing our nations.

"In recent months we have heard hundreds of thousands of young people urge us - their leaders - to act on climate change before it's too late.

"I am proud that the UK has now enshrined in law our world-leading net zero commitment to reduce emissions. And I have called on other countries to raise their ambition and embrace this target."

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Europe's Heatwave Consistent With Climate Change, More To Come: UN

GENEVA: This year is on track to be among the hottest ever and that would make 2015-2019 the world's hottest five-year period on record, the World Meteorological Organization said on Friday.

It is too soon to definitely attribute Europe's current blistering heatwave to climate change but it is "absolutely consistent" with extremes linked to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations agency said.

"Heatwaves will become more intense, they will become more drawn out, they will become more extreme, they will start earlier and they will finish later," WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis told a briefing in Geneva.

"We are still only the end of June, but it seems like the earth is set to experience its five warmest years on record, so that is 2015 to 2019 inclusive," she said. From January to May, 2019 ranked as the third warmest year, she added.

G20 negotiators in Osaka, Japan are wrangling over the wording of a summit communique on fighting climate change, with the United States seeking to dilute the language against European opposition, according to sources and drafts of the text.

 

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Sea Levels Likely To Witness 2-Metre Rise By 2100, Says Study

Washington, United States: Global sea levels could rise by two metres and displace tens of millions of people by the end of the century, according to new projections that double the UN's benchmark estimates.

The vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contain enough frozen water to lift the world's oceans dozens of metres. The expansion of water as oceans warm also contributes to sea level rise.

But predicting the rates at which they will melt as the planet heats is notoriously tricky.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said its 2013 Fifth Assessment Report that under current emissions trajectories -- a "business-as-usual" scenario known as RCP8.5 -- would likely rise by up to one metre by 2100.  

That prediction has since been viewed as conservative, as the levels of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise year on year, and satellites showing accelerated rates of melt-off from massive ice sheets atop Antarctica and Greenland.

A group of the world's leading ice scientists this week released a expert judgement on the situation, drawing on their own experience and observations.  

While there was still a significant margin of error, they found it "plausible" that under the business-as-usual emissions scenario, sea-level rises could exceed two metres by 2100.

The authors said the area of land lost to the ocean could be equivalent to that of France, Germany, Spain and Britain combined and would displace more than 180 million people.

"The true risks"

The Paris climate deal, struck between nations in 2015, aims to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius, and encourages countries to work towards a 1.5C cap.  

In October the IPCC released a landmark climate report that called for a drastic and immediate drawdown in coal, oil and gas consumption in order to arrest the rapid rise in the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

That report, however, did not include revised estimates of sea level rise.  

Earth has already heated 1C since pre-industrial times, contributing roughly 3mm to sea levels each year.

The authors of the new study, released Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, argue that the IPCC's sea-level rise prediction was too constrained by focusing on what was "likely" to happen.  

At wider probabilities -- 5-95 percent likelihood -- they found that under 2C of warming seas could rise 36-126 cm by 2100.  

In world that has warmed by 5C -- unlikely but certainly not impossible given projected fossil fuel demand in the coming decades -- they calculated a five percent risk of sea levels surpassing two metres higher, topping out at 238 cm.  

Willy Aspinall, from the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, said he hoped the study could provide policymakers with a more accurate worst-case scenario "crucial for robust decision making."

"Limiting attention to the 'likely' range, as was the case in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, may be misleading and will likely lead to a poor evaluation of the true risks," he added.

"A sea-level rise of this magnitude would clearly have profound consequences for humanity," they said.

Biodiversity crisis is about to put humanity at risk, UN scientists to warn

‘We are in trouble if we don’t act,’ say experts, with up to 1m species at risk of annihilation

The world’s leading scientists will warn the planet’s life-support systems are approaching a danger zone for humanity when they release the results of the most comprehensive study of life on Earth ever undertaken.

Up to 1m species are at risk of annihilation, many within decades, according to a leaked draft of the global assessment report, which has been compiled over three years by the UN’s leading research body on nature.

The 1,800-page study will show people living today, as well as wildlife and future generations, are at risk unless urgent action is taken to reverse the loss of plants, insects and other creatures on which humanity depends for food, pollination, clean water and a stable climate.

The final wording of the summary for policymakers is being finalised in Paris by a gathering of experts and government representatives before the launch on Monday, but the overall message is already clear, according to Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

“There is no question we are losing biodiversity at a truly unsustainable rate that will affect human wellbeing both for current and future generations,” he said. “We are in trouble if we don’t act, but there are a range of actions that can be taken to protect nature and meet human goals for health and development.”

The authors hope the first global assessment of biodiversity in almost 15 years will push the nature crisis into the global spotlight in the same way climate breakdown has surged up the political agenda since the 1.5C report last year by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Like its predecessor, the report is a compilation of reams of academic studies, in this case on subjects ranging from ocean plankton and subterranean bacteria to honey bees and Amazonian botany. Following previous findings on the decimation of wildlife, the overview of the state of the world’s nature is expected to provide evidence that the world is facing a sixth wave of extinction. Unlike the past five, this one is human-driven.

Mike Barrett, WWF’s executive director of conservation and science, said: “All of our ecosystems are in trouble. This is the most comprehensive report on the state of the environment. It irrefutably confirms that nature is in steep decline.”

Barrett said this posed an environmental emergency for humanity, which is threatened by a triple challenge of climate, nature and food production. “There is no time to despair,” he said. “We should be hopeful that we have a window of opportunity to do something about it over these two years.”

The report will sketch out possible future scenarios that will vary depending on the decisions taken by governments, businesses and individuals. The next year and a half is likely to be crucial because world leaders will agree rescue plans for nature and the climate at two big conferences at the end of 2020.

That is when China will host the UN framework convention on biodiversity gathering in Kunming, which will establish new 20-year targets to replace those agreed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010. Soon after, the UN framework convention on climate change will revise Paris agreement commitments at a meeting in either the UK, Italy, Belgium or Turkey.

Watson, a British professor who has headed both of the UN’s leading scientific panels, said the forthcoming report will delve more deeply than anything before into the causes of nature collapse, chief among which is the conversion of forests, wetlands and other wild landscapes into ploughed fields, dam reservoirs and concrete cities. Three-quarters of the world’s land surface has been severely altered, according to the leaked draft. Humanity is also decimating the living systems on which we depend by emitting carbon dioxide and spreading invasive species.

Watson said the authors have learned from attribution science, which has transformed the debate on the climate crisis by showing how much more likely hurricanes, droughts and floods have become as a result of global heating.

The goal is to persuade an audience beyond the usual green NGOs and government departments. “We need to appeal not just to environment ministers, but to those in charge of agriculture, transport and energy because they are the ones responsible for the drivers of biodiversity loss,” he said.

A focus will be to move away from protection of individual species and areas, and to look at systemic drivers of change, including consumption and trade.

The political environment is changing in some countries due to overwhelming scientific evidence and increasing public concern about the twin crises of nature and climate, which have prompted more than 1 million students to strike from school and led to street protests by Extinction Rebellion activists in more than a dozen countries.

The UK parliament declared a climate emergency this week and the government’s chief climate advisory body recommended an accelerated plan to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Until now, however, the nature crisis has been treated as far less of a priority. “Where are the headlines? Where are the emergency meetings?” asked the school strike founder, Greta Thunberg, in a recent tweet on the subject.

Extinction Rebellion activists said protests that blocked several London streets last month were as much aimed at the defence of nature as stabilising the climate. “They are two sides of the same destructive coin,” said Farhana Yamin, a coordinator of the movement who is also an environmental lawyer and formerly a lead author of the IPCC report.

“The work of IPBES is as crucial as the work done by the IPCC on the 1.5-degree report. That is why Extinction Rebellion is demanding an end [to] biodiversity loss and a net-zero phaseout by 2020. We can’t save humanity by only tackling climate change or only caring about biodiversity.”

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