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Warming trends: a delay in fall leaves, no more bad news for corals and the vicious cycle of war and eco-destruction

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SCIENCE

The terrible link between conflict and environmental aggression

War and ecological degradation often go hand in hand and, after 20 years of relentless conflict, Afghanistan faces the most serious ecological threats of any country, according to a new report.

Other countries engaged in conflict, including Niger, Malawi, Pakistan and Yemen, are also at high risk, according to the report.

“What happens is you get these cycles of ecological degradation and violence, so the ecology is damaged or degraded, which leads to conflict. The conflict then leads to further damage to the environment. And that then creates that vicious circle, ”said Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace, a Sydney, Australia-based think tank, which released the report.

The authors of the report assigned each country an ecological threat score based on five factors: rapid population growth, water risk, food risk, temperature anomalies and natural disasters.

Climate change, they wrote, is a “threat multiplier”, further increasing competition for resources in places where water is scarce and crops vulnerable to drought and disasters. Killelea said international leaders should heed these heightened threats during international climate talks at COP26 in Glasgow next month.

“The problem with COP26, a lot of the focus is on climate change, but we have to realize that we have these ecological problems, and they are here today,” Killelea said. “They’re getting worse and if we don’t fix them, they’re just going to spread more, and that’s going to create a lot of displacement. “

CULTURE

Teaching children about climate change

When today’s young adults learned about environmental responsibility, the emphasis was on recycling, taking shorter showers, and planting trees. A duo of activist authors, Zanagee Artis and Olivia Greenspan, hoped the next generation would also learn more about climate change, climate justice and climate solutions that went beyond individual actions.

Their book, “A Kids Book About Climate Change,” published by the media company A Kids Company About, aims to achieve precisely this goal. The book, aimed at children aged 5 to 9, explains that the Earth has a fever and continues to be sick because humans release too much carbon dioxide into the air.

“We are looking for solutions and we were very intentional not to talk from top to bottom to children,” said Greenspan, a recent college graduate who worked as an environmental organizer, “but rather to talk about solutions that children don’t hear. generally not speak, such as high-speed bullet train, such as women’s education, such as the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Elementary school is a fundamental time in children’s lives, said Artis, a student at Brown University and co-founder of the climate advocacy group Zero Hour. It’s when kids ask questions and learn about the world that will stick with them, he added.

He said that when he visited a class of elementary school students to read them an excerpt from the book, the children were very excited about the climate solutions and even came up with their own solutions.

“Children deserve to know that they are going to inherit a planet with climate change,” Artis said. “If we have kids who grow up with disasters and have no explanation as to why, or if we allow them to believe that this is normal, and that this is how the world is, I think it would be. really terrible thing. ”

SOLUTIONS

How much will my flight emit?

If you search for flights on Google, you can now factor in greenhouse gas emissions as well as price, airline and departure time in your choice.

Google Flights’ new feature lists each flight’s emissions in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent. It also indicates whether the flight’s emissions are above or below average. The data underlying the estimates come from airlines and the European Environment Agency and take into account factors such as the age of the aircraft (older aircraft have higher emissions) and seat you choose (the larger First Class and Business Class seats have higher emissions than the smaller seats).

Stefan Gössling, an expert in sustainable tourism, said the tool can be useful in increasing “carbon literacy”, or raising awareness of people about their own carbon footprint. And if there is more demand for low-emission flights, it could trigger changes within airlines and among policymakers, he said.

“This tool helps create a new social norm,” said Gössling. “It then gets more people thinking, you know, maybe I’m in favor of lawmakers getting tougher on airlines to force them to adopt new technology.” And that then creates a virtuous circle of a better system towards zero carbon. “

Lisa Oswald, a doctoral student at the Hertie School in Berlin who has studied the social drivers of air travel, agrees that it is important for customers to know the climate impact of a given flight to inform their decision making. But she warns that this could cause people to choose to fly when they see a flight labeled “low emissions,” instead of choosing more sustainable modes of transportation, like taking a train or driving a car. She compared it to someone buying a $ 20 shirt that was reduced to $ 10. This person may think they saved $ 10, when in reality they spent $ 10 that they might not have if they hadn’t seen the sale.

But Google Flights will also display train options in addition to flights, where applicable, and will also include greenhouse gas emissions estimates for train routes, which have lower emissions than flights.

SCIENCE

When the autumn leaves start to fall (now that the climate is changing)

The showy colors of fall are slow to arrive this year, many have noticed, which may be a sign of climate change. But, experts say, global warming is not expected to ruin leaf-gazing in the decades to come. On the contrary, it will only delay the season.

Arthur DeGaetano, professor at Cornell University and director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center, said the trees are still quite green where he lives in Ithaca, New York, when he would normally expect the color of fall is at its peak.

Fall color is initiated by longer nights, causing the tree to stop producing chlorophyll, the source of the green color, leaving behind compounds with red, yellow and brown pigments, according to the US Forest Service. Cool nighttime temperatures are a secondary impact affecting the color of the trees, DeGaetano said, acting as an additional signal for the leaves to change.

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“In a changing climate, we see this trend towards warmer temperatures, cooler nights and things like that, but it really won’t affect the trees that change color, you know, they will always change color,” DeGaetano said. “But what that might influence is when they change color.”

Her message to tourists looking for fall foliage in a warmer world is that peak season can come a few weeks later than it usually would.

Fall color changes “would be low on my list of climate change concerns,” DeGaetano said. “Climate change will affect him, but boy, it will be a small effect.”

SCIENCE

A call to action for coral reefs

The world has lost about 14% of its coral reef cover since 2009, said a global network of scientists and coral managers in its first comprehensive update in 13 years on the state of vital but threatened ecosystems.

The report, released Tuesday by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, compiled nearly 2 million observations collected by hundreds of scientists at 12,000 sites around the world. According to the report, following an episode of bleaching in 1998, coral cover declined by 8%, but by 2008 coral had returned to pre-1998 levels. Over the next decade, however, 4 500 square miles of coral have died, or about 14% of the world’s coral cover.

“This report confirms what those of us in the coral reef world know to be true, that coral reefs around the world are in dire straits,” said Madhavi Colton, executive director of the Coral Reef Alliance, who did was not involved in the report.

The report comes just weeks after a study showed coral reefs have shrunk by 50 percent since the 1950s.

The massive decline was largely due to coral bleaching, the report said, when warm ocean waters cause the coral to eject the algae it depends on for its nutrients. Climate change is warming the oceans, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that 70 to 90 percent of the world’s corals will die if the planet warms 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The report also found, however, that coral reefs are very resilient and can recover quickly if conditions change, as they did after the 1998 bleaching event, adding urgency to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“To me, this report sounds a wake-up call, which we should all be paying attention to,” Colton said. “It’s a call to action; not all reefs are doomed.


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