BERLIN, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Climate Change made the heavy rainfall that led to deadly floods in Libya up to 50 times more likely, scientists said on Tuesday.
The powerful Sept. 10 storm caused two dams to break, inundating Libya’s eastern city of Derna and killing thousands of people. Residential blocks built along a typically dry riverbank toppled, as the swollen river undermined foundations.
Building in flood plains, poor dam conditions, long-lasting armed conflict and other local factors played a role in the disaster.
But climate change caused up to 50% more rain during that period, according to scientists with World Weather Attribution, an international research collaboration that works to determine how much climate change plays a role in specific weather events.
The scientists warned that as climate change pushes weather to new extremes, it would remain risky to build homes on flood plains or to use substandard materials.
“The interaction of these factors, and the very heavy rain that was worsened by climate change, created the extreme destruction [in Libya]”, the scientists wrote in a statement.
They used climate and computer simulations to compare weather events today with what they might have been if the climate had not already warmed by 1.2 degrees Celsius above the average preindustrial temperature.
Rainfall can increase or become more erratic with climate change, as a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour – allowing more moisture to build up before clouds finally break.
The “extremely unusual” storm event delivered 50% more rain than it would have if there was no global warming, according to the scientists’ research. Such an event can be expected once every 300-600 years in the current climate, they said.
Meanwhile, climate change also caused up to a 40% increase in the amount of rain that fell in early September across the Mediterranean, causing floods that killed dozens in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.
“The Mediterranean is a hotspot of climate change-fueled hazards,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, citing heatwaves and wildfires in the region over summer.
Reuters – Reporting by Riham Alkousaa Editing by Alexandra Hudson
At this moment in Texas, it is difficult to imagine living without air conditioning. Most parts of the state are stuck in a streak of triple-digit temperatures with no end in sight. AC is, literally, a lifesaver. And the number of people worldwide who use it is expected to grow, especially in places like China and India.
There’s a contradiction inherent in air conditioning, though: The more we use it, the more we help heat the planet. Climate watchers like Stan Cox have long called to wean ourselves off AC, or at least reduce our reliance on it. Cox is a fellow at The Land Institute and the author of “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer).”
Cox spoke to the Texas Standard about whether a future with less air conditioning is still possible.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard:To what extent does air conditioning itself contribute to global warming?
Stan Cox: Air conditioning kicks off kind of a vicious cycle in which our greenhouse gas emissions make summers become warmer, so we use more air conditioning. And then by burning more energy for air conditioning and the refrigerants from air conditioning, which are greenhouse gases, we’re guaranteeing that future summers will be even hotter.
Is air conditioning here to stay, or do you see a time in which we we might actually be able to do without it?
Unfortunately, it probably is. Back 15 years ago when I wrote this book about air conditioning, I argued that certainly we need it for heat emergencies, but that the routine lavish use of air conditioning and commercial spaces and houses is excessive, and especially in this country. But it’s getting harder and harder each year to make that argument.
What technologies or techniques do you have in mind to make better use so that there’s not this sort of profligate use of AC?
It’s really going to take an overhaul of our built environment: to tear up parking lots, tear up streets, make it hard to drive in urban areas, but to plant trees and grass there, to plant green roofs on buildings and to adjust our selves to the temperature. Because when we’re in continuous air conditioning, it lowers our heat tolerance. Being exposed to warmer temperatures actually makes us more tolerant of higher temperature.
We’ve become over the past 60 years people not worrying about not being in that optimum temperature range in the 70s to a place where now it’s considered a necessity. People for millennia have gotten by in hot climates without air conditioning, so it’s not like we can’t do it. Although if we keep emitting greenhouse gases the way we are and we keep seeing temperatures rise so fast, then, you know, there’s not much you can do about it.
Let me ask you about something that I think a lot of folks who work days think about as they leave their house in the summer. Do you turn off all of your AC, come home to a house that’s rather hot, then crank up your AC to try to get it back to not as hot as it has been? Or is it a more efficient use of energy and perhaps more environmentally sound to bring the temperature up in your house and then bring it back down when you get home, or just leave it at one constant temperature all the time?
With central air conditioning in a large house, certainly the idea of leaving the air conditioning off all day on a really hot day and then coming home and turning it on is going to use a lot of electricity. And I’m not an expert in these things, but probably having the thermostat automatically switch between daytime and nighttime settings.
In most countries other than the U.S., central air conditioning is not really all that common. There will be what are called split ACs that are in certain rooms of the house, and they are turned on only when the space is occupied and only during times when it’s uncomfortable. In that case it will very quickly cool that one room down and then only have to keep a much smaller volume of air cool.
Today English is undoubtedly the language of communication and international exchange. The following might, for most, be taken for granted. It is about the Language of Communication and International Exchange of a maximum of people around the world today.
The above-featured image is for illustration and is of the English Channel / credit Journals of India.
It is an undeniable reality. The phenomenon is due to three essential factors: first, the relative simplicity of its grammar and spelling; second, the extent of its application corresponding to the immensity of the former British Empire and third, the US economic and military supremacy.
The English lingua took off after the Second World War with the American technological boom and its impact on aeronautics, automobiles, machinery, etc.
The American way of life was well exported and brought in a lot, and almost everyone wanted to adopt it. Add to all this the soft power, i.e. Hollywood cinema, the music of Elvis Presley and other amenities made in the USA, and you will understand the cause of the vertiginous expansion of William Chikh Zoubir’s alias Shakespeare language.
Each civilization at its peak had radiated on the world and transmitted its values to it. In Caesarean Numidia, the Berber princes sent their sons to Italy to immerse themselves in Roman culture. That said, French is still the most learned language in the world after English.
First, Locke, Newton and then Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu, these actors of the Age of Enlightenment, were translated and read worldwide as avant-garde philosophers conveying the ideas of freedom and equality of peoples. These values made it possible to define new natural rights in England, France and the US.
In the eighteenth century, speaking the language of Molière in the royal or princely courts of Europe gave these monarchical circles a vernissage of distinction like Versailles of the Sun King. French also remains the reference in classical literature, poetry and belles lettres. English is a popular and straightforward language; French is academic and complicated. In the end, borrowing from the French half of its vocabulary, English now gives him a middle finger as a thank you and snubs him from the top of his globalized linguistic pedestal.
The quality of a language would be its ability to convey thoughts, ideas, and data, by voice or writing, as clearly and faithfully as possible. In short, it is the art of communicating with one’s neighbour. In light of these opinions, French has therefore sinned by its propensity to complicate grammar and spelling rules, making them almost inaccessible to the layman.
On the other hand, by its simplicity and widespread nature, English has found itself within everyone’s reach with the mini of means and time. Moreover, there are two types of language in this world, the beautiful and the good. (The bad ones are more a matter of psychology).
The beautiful ones are spoken around the big blue on the Mediterranean north shore with Spanish, French, Italian, and Greek. As for the good ones, the rest of the world speaks them, following the example of Chinese, Indo-European (except Greco-Latin) and African idioms. Nevertheless, we must mention the two major and mythical languages that have modified the history of humanity to close this paragraph. I am thinking of Hebrew and Arabic.
view shows the ground of the Rialb reservoir as drinking water supplies have plunged to their lowest level since 1990 due to extreme drought, in the village of Bassella, Spain May 6, 2023. REUTERS/Nacho Doce/File Photo
22% of Europe under drought warning
Spain worst-hit, already in severe drought
Some farmers expect worst harvest for decades
Climate change fuelling drought conditions
BRUSSELS, May 17 (Reuters) – Southern Europe is bracing for a summer of ferocious drought, with some regions already suffering water shortages and farmers expecting their worst yields in decades.
As climate change makes the region hotter and drier, years of consecutive drought have depleted groundwater reserves. Soils have become bone dry in Spain, southern France and Italy. Low river and reservoir levels are threatening this summer’s hydropower production.
With temperatures climbing into summertime, scientists warn Europe is on track for another brutal summer, after suffering its hottest on record last year – which fuelled a drought European Union researchers said was the worst in at least 500 years.
So far this year, the situation is most severe in Spain.
“The situation of drought is going to worsen this summer,” said Jorge Olcina, professor of geographic analysis at the University of Alicante, Spain.
There’s little chance at this point of rainfall resolving the underlying drought, either. “At this time of the year, the only thing we can have are punctual and local storms, which are not going to solve the rainfall deficit,” Olcina said.
Seeking emergency EU assistance, Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas warned that “the situation resulting from this drought is of such magnitude that its consequences cannot be tackled with national funds alone,” according to an April 24 letter sent to the European Commission (EC) and seen by Reuters.
A vegetable patch is affected by the prolonged drought, in Ronda, southern Spain May 11, 2023. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo
CLIMATE CHANGE TREND
Southern Europe is not alone in suffering severe water shortages this year. The Horn of Africa is enduring its worst drought in decades, while a historic drought in Argentina has hammered soy and corn crops.
More frequent and severe drought in the Mediterranean region – where the average temperature is now 1.5C higher than 150 years ago – is in line with how scientists have forecast climate change will impact the region.
“In terms of the climate change signal, it very much fits with what we’re expecting,” said Hayley Fowler, Professor of Climate Change Impacts at Newcastle University.
Despite these long-held forecasts, preparation is lagging. Many farming regions have yet to adopt water-saving methods like precision irrigation or switch to more drought-hardy crops, such as sunflowers.
“Governments are late. Companies are late,” said Robert Vautard, a climate scientist and director of France’s Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute. “Some companies are not even thinking of changing the model of their consumption, they are just trying to find some miraculous technologies that would bring water.”
France is emerging from its driest winter since 1959, with drought “crisis” alerts already activated in four departmental prefects, restricting non-priority water withdrawals – including for agriculture, according to government website Propluvia.
Portugal, too, is experiencing an early arrival of drought. Some 90% of the mainland is suffering from drought, with severe drought affecting one-fifth of the country – nearly five times the area reported a year earlier.
In Spain, which saw less than half its average rainfall through April this year, thousands of people are relying on truck deliveries for drinking water, while regions including Catalonia have imposed water restrictions.
Some farmers have already reported crop losses as high as 80%, with cereals and oilseeds among those affected, farming groups have said.
“This is the worst loss of harvest for decades,” Pekka Pesonen, who heads the European farming group Copa-Cogeca, said of Spain. “It’s worse than last year’s situation.”
Spain is responsible for half of the EU’s production of olives and one third of its fruit, according to the Commission.
With its reservoirs at on average 50% of capacity, the country last week earmarked more than 2 billion euros ($2.20 billion) in emergency response funding. It is still awaiting a reply from the Commission on its request for a 450-million-euro crisis fund to be mobilized from the bloc’s farming subsidy budget.
The Commission said it was monitoring the situation closely.
“Severe drought in Southern Europe is particularly worrying, not only for the farmers there but also because this can push up already very high consumer prices if the EU production is significantly lower,” Commission spokesperson Miriam Garcia Ferrer said.
Similar struggles are expected in Italy, where up to 80% of the country’s water supply goes toward agriculture. But with this year’s thin mountain snow cover and low soil moisture, Italian farmers are planning to cut back – sowing summer crops across an area 6% smaller than last year’s planting area, according to national data on sowing intentions.
After two years of water scarcity, northern Italy has a 70% deficit in snow water reserves and a 40% deficit of soil moisture, said Luca Brocca, a Director of Research at Italy’s National Research Council.
Such deep shortages set the stage for a repeat of last year’s summer, when Italy suffered its most severe drought in 70 years.
“2022 was really exceptional. And also this year, it seems to be really exceptional,” Brocca said.
($1 = 0.9084 euros)
Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Katy Daigle and Sharon Singleton
The answer to whether blue is the new green would be in all those opportunities for developing a climate-resilient blue economy. Let us see what in the Middle East Institute are the main insights . . .
Is blue the new green? Opportunities for developing a climate-resilient blue economy in the MENA region
The World Bank defines the blue economy as “the sustainable use of maritime resources for economic growth, jobs, and improved livelihoods while preserving the marine ecosystem’s health.” The aim is to strike a balance between conservation and resource extraction when developing marine-based economies. The blue economy can offer huge potential in the area of climate change mitigation and resilience, given the fact that marine habitats, such as mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows, provide significant protection from erratic climate events, including cyclones and floods.
These key coastal systems sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests. In the case of mangroves and coastal wetlands, they can store three to five times more carbon per equivalent area than tropical forests, making them one of the world’s most important natural “carbon sinks.” Despite representing less than 5% of the global land area and less than 2% of the ocean, they sequester carbon at a rate 10 times greater than terrestrial forests, and thereby represent an important nature-based solution for mitigating the effects of climate change. In addition, marine ecosystems provide nursery and breeding grounds for commercial fish, habitat for endangered species such as turtles, staging points for migratory birds, and filter water flowing into seas and oceans. Thus, they also play a key role in ensuring food security and sustaining coastal communities, as well as diversifying livelihoods, including fishing and tourism.
The Middle East and North Africa region boasts vast coastal zones on the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Gulf, and the Atlantic Ocean. These extended coastal environments are rich in marine ecosystems and serve as vital routes for international trade, alongside other economic activities. There are four crucial areas where MENA countries would benefit from developing the blue economy that would aid in reversing natural resource degradation, sustaining inclusive economic development, and building resilience to climate change. These areas include developing renewable energy sources, investing in sustainable aquaculture, decarbonizing maritime transportation, and developing resilient and carbon-neutral tourism.
Developing renewable maritime energy sources
There is enormous untapped potential for blue renewable energy sources in MENA, including well-established sources like offshore wind, as well as nascent technologies such as wave, tidal, current, ocean thermal, and biomass production from algae. All of these renewable sources could contribute to meeting rising energy and electricity demand at a lower cost, achieving energy independence, and helping the region to meet its carbon reduction commitments in a way that aligns with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
For example, wind energy potential is especially high in North African countries, and it is estimated that wind power potential in this region is 34 times greater than that of northern European countries. Morocco, for example, is estimated to have an offshore wind potential of 200 GW, benefiting from average wind speeds of 7.5-9.5 meters per second (m/s) in the south and 9.5-11.0 m/s in the north. Algeria also has tremendous technical wind energy potential estimated at 7,700 GW. To put this in perspective, the total wind capacity in Europe at the end of 2020 was only 216 GW.
Other potential locations for offshore wind farms (where annual wind speeds are greater than 5m/s at 80 meters above sea level) include coasts along the Gulf of Suez and Aqaba in Egypt, Jordan, north-west Saudi Arabia, the south-east coast of Oman, northern Libya, and southern Tunisia. Egypt is something of a regional leader when it comes to building wind farms, with the largest wind farm in the country being a 545-MW facility in Zafarana. In addition, Cairo has plans to expand its wind energy capacity through two memoranda of understanding, one with the Saudi renewable energy developer ACWA to build a 10-GW wind farm and another with the UAE’s Masdar to build a second 10-GW onshore wind farm. These would be the second-largest wind farms in the world behind the Gansu project in China, which has a projected capacity of 20 GW. It is expected that the Masdar onshore wind farm will generate about 48,000 GWh of clean energy a year, offsetting some 23.8 million tons of CO2 emissions — about 9% of the country’s total carbon emissions. Egypt’s plans to add 25 GW of wind power capacity represents a seven-fold increase in its total renewable-energy capacity, which was 3.4 GW at the end of 2021.
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.
Traditional construction methods were no match for the earthquake that rocked Morocco on Friday night, an engineering expert says, and the area will continue to see such devastation unless updated building techniques are adopted.
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