GENEVA, Nov 15 (Reuters) – The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday, warning there was “no end in sight” to the trend.
The warning comes weeks before world leaders are due to gather in Dubai for the annual U.N. climate conference COP28, which will see governments push for greater climate action, including a possible phase-out of fossil fuels before 2050.
In 2022, global average concentrations of carbon dioxide were a full 50% above the pre-industrial era for the first time, the U.N. weather agency said.
“Despite decades of warnings from the scientific community, thousands of pages of reports and dozens of climate conferences, we are still heading in the wrong direction,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
Taalas said higher concentrations of greenhouse gases would be accompanied by more extreme weather events, including intense heat and rainfall, ice melt, higher sea levels, as well as ocean heat and acidification.
“About half of the planet has been facing an increase of flooding events, and one third of the planet has been facing an increase of drought events,” Taalas said. “And this negative trend will continue until 2060s.”
“We must reduce the consumption of fossil fuels as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Methane concentrations in the atmosphere also increased, and levels of nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas, saw the highest year-on-year increase on record between 2021 and 2022, WMO said.
Greenhouse gases are responsible for warming the planet and triggering extreme weather events. Unlike emissions which can be cut, much of the carbon dioxide emitted decades ago remains in the atmosphere and activates slow processes like the increase of the sea level.
“It takes thousands of years to remove carbon from the system once it’s emitted into the atmosphere,” Taalas said.
A separate UN report published on Tuesday said that governments were making insufficient progress in slashing greenhouse gas emissions to avert the worst impacts of global warming.
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christina Fincher and Bernadette Baum
The First MENA Solar Conference starts tomorrow with researchers from 120 universities and 38 countries informs the Government of Dubai.
14 Nov, 2023
With the participation of prominent researchers and experts from 120 universities and research centres from 38 countries, the first Middle East and North Africa Solar Conference (MENA SC) 2023, organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) launches tomorrow, (Wednesday 15 November 2023). The conference lasts until 18 November at the Dubai World Trade Centre. MENA SC coincides with the 25th Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) and Dubai Solar Show (DSS) organised by DEWA from 15 to 17 November.
MENA SC focuses on six research areas in solar power. These include unconventional and new concepts for future technologies; silicon photovoltaic materials and devices; Perovskite and organic materials; PV module and system reliability in the MENA region; solar resources for PV and forecasting; and power electronics and grid integration.
The conference aims to highlight various fields of solar energy to accelerate the transition towards clean and renewable energy in the region with specialised discussion panels and seminars. It provides an important opportunity for experts, researchers, and specialists worldwide to exchange ideas, discuss projects and growth opportunities in the sector, share knowledge and experiences, and explore the latest technologies and scientific innovations in solar energy.
Participants at the conference include Lawrence L. Kazmerski, Professor and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Emeritus Fellow, University of Colorado Boulder, USA; Mohammad K. Nazeeruddin, Professor and Molecular Engineering Laboratory Director, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland; Shanhui Fan, Professor and Senior Fellow, Stanford University, USA; Mowafak Al Jassim, Principal Scientist and PV Group Manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), USA; Steven Ringel, Professor and Associate Vice President, Ohio State University, USA; Xiaojing Hao, Professor and ARC Future Fellow, University of New South Wales, Australia; and many experts from around the world.
An analysis of the role of architecture and urban form in the Israel-Palestine Dispute as intimated in this new edition of Eyal Weizman’s book (cover picture below) is reviewed in a Greater Kashmir post.
The opinions expressed within reflecting the author’s views and position on the issue are shared by more and more greater numbers. Let us see what’s it all about.
The above-featured image is for illustration and of Architectural Review showing Roads often highly fortified and for use by Israelis only, such as this section known as the Tunnel Road – or also the Apartheid Road – near the settlement of Gilo, under construction last year. Credit:Yonatan Sindel / FLASH90
The relationship between political will and the built environment is conspicuous and stands out most in turmoil-laden geographies. Architecture, beyond its primary function, can be perpetuated as a tool for occupation and dominance. Hollow Land, a book by Eyal Weizman published in 2007, navigates through the later proposition. Weizman has been an outspoken critique of Israel’s policies its occupation of Palestine and has written widely on the geopolitics of the Middle East.
The author’s pedantic observation of Israel-Palestine dynamics puts into the narrative what is otherwise obvious but seldom talked about in the dominant power narratives. Describing architecture from a unique vantage point, the book draws unprecedented insights into the arena of built environment. The text strongly argues and establishes architecture as an instrument to control occupied territories, instill fear among Palestinians and facilitate illegal usurping of natural and physical resources.
The book specifically takes on architecture as an expression of occupation. It explains with precise detail the role of apartheid wall; a 100 km long and 13-meter-high edifice separating the Palestine and Israel, case of illegal settler colonies, constant invigilation of Palestinian lands through panopticon watch towers, in addition to architectural elements like color coding, detail of cladding and other features pertinent to domain of urban structure.
From demographic prism, the book discusses Israel’s intrusion into Palestinian cities and intentional changing of urban population thresholds to declare scarcely populated settlements as ‘towns.’ Wiezman sees geography, apartheid policies, and politics of domination buttressing each other. Each of the physical element on the ground, he argues is ‘there to express something, it’s just that we need to decode it.’
Architecture reverberates beyond its primary function. Weizman quotes from Lahav Harkov, a retired Israeli general about Israel’s becoming of ‘world champions of occupation’ and alluding that occupation is ‘an art form’. Over the years, Israel’s domination of territory in Palestine areas as demarcated by blue line drafted by the United Nations in 1948 has been constantly modulated and abused by Israel.
Palestine as of today is constituted of three areas: East Jerusalem, West Bank, and the south-west Gaza Strip bordering Egypt. First two were part of conflict from the start whereas the Gaza Strip came under the purview of domination lately in 1967 following the Six-day war. Israel not only successfully thwarted the conglomeration of Arab opponents but also won territory more than it originally had before the war.
The idea of Israel as land of Jews is based on idea of ‘people without land’ in first place. Not is that proposition unethical because it was realized at the cost of throwing out the local Palestinian inhabitants from their land, but also it is based on doubtful historical justification. Palestine as a geographical entity with local inhabitants precedes the advent of Judaism as socio-religious unit. Historical references of the region date back to 12th Century BC during the time of Egyptian King Ramesses II. Later figures like Herodotus, Aristotle, Ptolemy also wrote about Palestine. Nur Masalha’s book, Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History documents the topic is methodical detail.
The art of apartheid, Israel orchestrates in controlling the Palestinian lands is played out at three levels: the subsoil, the surface, and the air. Palestinian territories reserve the compromised sovereignty only at the surface level whereas the subsoil and air are controlled by the Israeli government resulting in a vertical apartheid. Oslo Accords of 1993 argued for the case that Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem should be connected by road, usually by flyovers surpassing the Israel land below. Projects of such nature would directly connect the masses of Palestine and the flyovers itself would act as facilitators. Israel, however rebutted the idea citing security issues. It remains ironical given how the Israel has constructed thousands of kilometers of road network, both above surface and underground disregarding sovereignty of Palestine.
Dozen tunnels cut through hollow lands of what was once Palestinian farmlands. The roads cut across Palestinian territories and decrease the commute time of Israeli citizens. The constructions are usually aimed to proselytize into Palestinian lands and at the same time to connect mainland Israel with illegal settlements. Israel under the policy of ‘Metropolitan Jerusalem’, enshrined in policies of government mandates Israeli authorities to expand the capital territory far and beyond and in the process engulfing Palestinian lands into its jurisdiction fold.
Settlements are the most aggressive tool used by Israel to induce control to grass root level in West Bank and Gaza Strip, where they permeate almost every tract of land, and the way they are planned in midst of Palestinian towns makes the local Palestinians vulnerable in many ways and at the same time enabling Israel to control more effectively. Ariel Sharon in 1998 remarked what could be attested as the policy of Israel since then; ‘to move, run, and grab as many hilltops as we can.’ It usually starts with the placement of few mobile containers on hilltop until it is captured in its entirety.
Language and Form of Design
It’s surprising how a building material can convey the language of occupation. Throughout its glorious as well as confrontational history, Jerusalem houses architectural sites of importance to Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions. Although the style may differ for each but there is a common denominator: the Jerusalem stone. The yellow tinted stone is available in abundance in and around the region.
When British colonized the Palestine in 1918, the aesthetically sensitive British builders saw the neglected plight of its cities. To them, the built form was mix of congested and haphazardly built houses lacking any sort of unifying appeal.
Determined to find a solution to the Jerusalem’s ‘overcrowding and unsightliness’, the British colonel Ronald Storrs invited influential British engineer, William Mclean to draw a development plan. He instructed to dismantle shackles and old torn out buildings. In the process, the British designers designated Jerusalem stone as mandatory cladding stone in order to achieve the ‘biblical outlook’. For Storrs, stone embodied biblical tradition and ‘Jerusalem literally a city build on rock’. Decades later the same archeological tradition and Jerusalem stone was invoked by the Zionist regime for propagandist purposes.
The 1968 Master plan of Jerusalem, keeping up with the earlier development plans singled out Jerusalem stone’s ability to render a ‘holy city image’ to occupied areas of extended metropolitan areas of Jerusalem. In course of time, certain planners and architects did stand up to challenge this notion due to the emergence of high rise and rising prices of stone but the Israeli government subdued all such voices. In last few decades, Israel’s builders have come up with affordable ways to just put 6-centimeter slates of stone instead of wholesome masonry but nonetheless the stone on the exterior remains the standard.
Topography has also had a huge influence on the occupation. Israel usually places its settlement colonies on the apex of hills. It helps the IDF to patrol the surrounding areas with three sixty degrees vigil. This principle is vividly explicated by the settlements. Apart from stone cladding, the law mandates the settlement buildings to have red colored roofs to help differentiate in case of air raids.
Israel has induced a sort of gentrification effect in Arab neighborhoods which eventually increases the property rates causing Palestinians to retreat to areas beyond ‘metropolitan Jerusalem’ which by law is a condition for Palestinians to acquire citizenship.
Once out of Jerusalem, these people are vulnerable to various kinds of human rights violations.
There are also efforts to constrict physical expansion of Palestinian urban areas. For example, the neighborhoods of Ramat Eshkol and the French Hill north of the old city were laid out to form an elongated arc that cut the Palestinian neighborhood of Shuafat from the Palestinian old city and the neighborhood of Seikh Jarah, which previously comprised a continuous urban area.
Appropriating the Archeology
Archeology possesses the power to dismantle whatever is seen as ‘non-original’. The Maghariba quarters and African quarters were razed overnight by Israel just after the 1967 war ended. David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel claimed in his memoirs that the Jewish right over Palestine is based on digging soil with our own hands. What he said referred to two practices that would establish and demonstrate Zionist right to the land.
Wherever the Zionists found traces of Hebraic past, they first reverted the names of places followed by demolition of whatever stood on it. Thousands of houses belonging to Palestinians were razed on the same principle. A year later after the 1967 war, Israeli government invited elite planners and architects from across the world for the cause. In one such project to revive the Hebrew past, Architect Louis I. Kahn was commissioned to construct Hurva synagogue on the same design it had existed before going into ruins. Somehow the project couldn’t find the light of the day, but several other projects returned to liveliness.
Resources and Amenities
Land presently under Israel lacks the natural reserves to sufficiently supply water to its residents. The mountain aquifer’s that supply 80% of the water into Israel are in West Bank. Israel cites Hebraic past disputing any authority of Palestine over the resources. Ironically the water, as well as the stone, is extracted from Palestinian lands and for compensation the Palestinians are returned with sewerage that Israel flows downslope to valleys around the West Bank hills. This has resulted in a health crisis for Palestinian people.
Over these years the number of settlers sit at a staggering number of around 7,50,000. The official policy asserts the ratio of Jews to Muslims kept at 78:22 but the actual numbers have always remained more than 22 percent for the Muslim population because of reasons like birthrate and dense neighborhoods.
The Palestinian neighborhoods like Muslim Quarters house at least twice the people of its capacity. The reason for over densification of the Muslim neighborhoods can be reasonably attributed to Israel’s vindictive razing policy which specifically target Muslim houses.
Unemployment is rampant and healthcare infrastructure in the state of no-existence. Palestinians have not only been snatched of their rights but they have also been made dependent at every conjecture.
Palestinians are queued like herds to enter premises which belong to them. In Palestine, violence is perpetuated with the help of architecture. The crime began on drawing board itself and as Weizman remarks, ‘It is architecture only that can rise above this.’
The author is an Urban and Regional Planner and alumnus of CEPT Ahmedabad.
The conflict began in the early morning of October 7 2023 when armed Hamas fighters launched a surprise attack against Israel, killing at least 1,400 Israelis and taking more than 200 civilians hostage.
Israel responded to this attack by launching an assault on Gaza beginning with a relentless aerial bombardment and continuing now with a ground offensive. According to the Gaza health ministry, at least 10,000 people – mainly civilians – have been killed in Gaza in the month since the conflict began, including 4,100 children.
A further 25,000 people have been injured and hundreds of thousands have been displaced within the Gaza Strip, unable to leave because of the blockade imposed by Israel.
Israel’s massive bombing campaign has unsurprisingly led to a disastrous humanitarian situation. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, has described the situation in Gaza as a “godawful nightmare”.
This has led the UN and other countries to pressure Israel for a “pause” in the fighting to at least provide temporary humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza.
A number of resolutions calling for a ceasefire or some form of truce have been raised in the UN security council, but on each occasion they have been vetoed by one or more of the permanent members. A non-binding resolution passed the UN general assembly on October 27, but this has been ignored by the Israeli government.
A humanitarian pause
Gaza has no access to basic humanitarian aid due to the siege and blockade that Israel has inflicted on the strip. Even before the beginning of the war, Gaza had been subject to a 16-year blockade after Hamas took political control of the strip in June 2007.
After the October 7 Hamas attack, the Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” on Gaza, which included cutting off supplies of electricity, food, water and gas. These shortages have put the country’s health system at risk – hospitals are now being run on power from electric generators and with severe shortages of vital medical supplies.
According to the UN, a humanitarian pause is defined as “a temporary cessation of hostilities purely for humanitarian purposes”. It is carried out for a certain period of time and in a specific geographic location.
The pause allows civilians trapped in conflict areas to safely flee, access assistance or receive medical treatment. It also enables the passage of essential supplies such as food, fuel and medicines.
An ambulance carries an injured Palestinian evacuee to a hostpial in Egypt after passing the Rafah crossing from Gaza, November 1. EPA-EFE/Khaled Elfiqi
Nonetheless, some argue that using a humanitarian pause to provide a temporary halt in the bombing of Gaza is not enough. In a report calling for a general ceasefire, Oxfam said its experience is that such pauses can even put civilians at a greater risk, as there is usually less clarity involved about safe zones and the duration of pauses.
“Rumours and misinformation spreads that this road or that ‘safe zone’ has been declared a demilitarised area, but that is often not true, leaving people walking into a warzone believing it is safe,” the report said. At the beginning of the war, routes that were thought to have been designated safe passages for evacuation from Gaza were bombed.
As a result, the only true humanitarian solution that appears ideal is a complete ceasefire.
A ceasefire: roadmap for an end to hostilities
A ceasefire is a political process rather than simply a humanitarian one. It urges parties to come together to find a political solution to the conflict.
It is meant to a be a longer-term process than a “pause” and should apply to the entire geographical area of the conflict. In this case, it would mean the whole of Gaza strip but also all others affected by the conflict such as the south of Lebanon where Israeli troops are battling with Hezbollah.
In the context of Gaza, a ceasefire would mean a complete stop of fighting on all sides, and the eventual release or exchange of hostages. It would not only mean the end of the bombardment of Gaza, but would also obligate Hamas to stop its attacks on Israel.
It is important to note that, like a pause, a ceasefire is not a permanent peace agreement. That said, the aim would be to create the conditions for a permanent settlement.
Meanwhile, Israel’s bombardment of Gaza continues. AP Photo/Hatem Ali
Reaching a ceasefire would likely require the involvement of a third party mediator, such as the US, Qatar or Iran.
In the previous Hamas-Israel war in 2021, both parties eventually managed to reach a ceasefire after 11 days of destruction which left more than 200 people dead. In that conflict, Egypt played a major role as a mediator.
Since the latest conflict began on October 7, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has resisted all calls for a humanitarian pause and a ceasefire.
But the US and other allies of Israel continue to press Netanyahu for at least a pause in Israel’s assault. He insists that while “little pauses” might be arranged to allow for the exit of hostages or to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid, a longer halt in hostilities is not possible until all hostages taken by Hamas are released. And so the killing continues
The above-featured image is for illustration and is to Credit: Sahara Forest Project
Long-term satellite data shows a significant cooling effect of vegetation on land surface temperature.
The searing heat of the Arabian Peninsula translates to a population vulnerable to heat stress. As temperatures continue to rise, effective strategies are urgently needed to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change in the region.
A promising approach is the greening of dry areas, which has been shown to modify the surface climate in several regions. Monitoring the impact of vegetation on surface temperature is important, as KAUST climatologist Matteo Zampieri explains.
“As vegetation absorbs more solar energy compared to the desert, it reduces the reflectivity (albedo) of the land surface. This in turn increases the temperature of the land surface in water limited areas. So, the balance between increased evapotranspiration and reduced albedo compared to the bare soil determines the outcome of greening efforts,” he says.
“The outcomes may vary, based on the availability of water for plants as well as specific physiological processes of drought adapted plant species. While some instances of desert greening may lead to surface cooling, others can actually result in surface warming,” Zampieri warns.
To investigate the effects of managed vegetation, the researchers used satellite data to compare the surface temperature differences between planted areas and bare soil at five sites representing Saudi Arabia’s main agricultural regions. They also used a site at Al-Qirw with a mix of vegetation maintained by pivot irrigation. They analyzed the data at Al-Qirw, where temperature differences between vegetated and bare soil are not influenced by differences in elevation.
The satellite data were used to generate statistics on a daily basis, which showed the changes in average temperature over green areas and the effect of vegetation on temperature variability.
A normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was used as an indicator of the presence and vigor of vegetation and the land surface temperature (LST) during day and night was used to estimate the effects of vegetation on the surface climate.
At Al-Qirw, the annual mean LST differed considerably between the planted areas and bare soil. Between 2010 and 2017, the daytime LST was about 4 degrees Celsius cooler inside the area covered by vegetation compared to the surrounding bare soil.
On hotter days, vegetation provides an extra cooling effect. These results corresponded with an increase in the NDVI in the vegetated area. After 2017, the NDVI suddenly decreased and the cooling effect in Al-Qirw vanished, possibly related to water management sustainability.
Leader of the research team KAUST’s Ibrahim Hoteit says the study supports other evidence that establishing vegetation and effective water management practices mitigates high temperatures in arid regions.
“Our study shows that managed vegetation plays a crucial role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, especially heat waves,” he says.
“However, it also highlights the importance of sustainability factors because the collapse of vegetation can diminish the cooling effect and accelerate local warming trends,” he warns.
Zampieri, M., Alkama, R., Luong, T., Ashok, K. & Hoteit, I. Managing vegetation for stronger cooling efficiency during hot days in the Arabian Peninsula. Ecological Indicators154, 110789 (2023).| article.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matteo Zampieri, Senior Researcher
In Ibrahim Hoteit‘s Red Sea Modeling and Prediction Group, Matteo is a principal investigator at the Climate Change Center (CCC) of KAUST where he coordinates the development of the sub-seasonal and seasonal forecasting systems and the investigations related to the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives.
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Earth has been used as a building material for at least the last 12,000 years. Ethnographic research into earth being used as an element of Aboriginal architecture in Australia suggests its use probably goes back much further.
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