Category Archive : Environnement

Dramatic increase expected in fierce storms and wildfires, U.N. agencies say

United Nations — Two million deaths, $3.6 trillion in economic losses and 11,000 disasters over the past 50 years, is the toll that extreme weather has taken, according to a 16-agency report published this week by the United Nations. The “2020 State of Climate Services” said those numbers represent a five-fold increase in the number of recorded disasters.

“Extreme weather and climate events have increased in frequency, intensity and severity as result of climate change and hit vulnerable communities disproportionately hard,” according to the report, which was coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the U.N.’s weather agency.

From wildfires out West to floods in South Sudan, climate-fueled disasters are destroying lives and livelihoods in every corner of the world,” Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, told CBS News.

global-map-climate-threat-assessment.jpg

This global map shows the top hazard for number of deaths (circle) and the top hazard for economic losses (square) either by flood (blue), extreme temperature (yellow), wildfire (red), drought (brown) and storm (purple).


United Nations



“Early warning is critical to saving lives, reducing risk, and increasing resilience, yet 1 in 3 people in the world are not covered by early warning systems,” Cousens said.

“In its latest report, the WMO makes crystal clear that this needs urgent redress and early warnings allow for early action, and early action saves lives,” she added.


California’s disastrous 2020 fire season

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The threat of natural disasters has been around throughout human development, foreshadowed by the storm that opens Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” but research shows that the intensity and destructiveness of storms across the U.S. and around the globe, has increased with climate change.

The U.N. Environment program this week published a paper that cautioned: “Don’t ignore economic lessons of the Great Recession.”

The new WMO report of combined U.N. agencies and climate scientists and financial experts cited in the report — including the World Health Organization, Red Cross and the World Bank — concludes that the number of people who need international humanitarian help could rise 50% by 2030.

“Early warning systems (EWS) constitute a prerequisite for effective disaster risk reduction,” WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said.

“While COVID-19 generated a large international health and economic crisis from which it will take years to recover, it is crucial to remember that climate change will continue to pose an on-going and increasing threat to human lives, ecosystems, economies and societies for centuries to come,” he said.

“Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to move forward along a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in the light of anthropogenic climate change,” Taalas added.

Dealing with the global triple hit of COVID-19, climate change and a severe global recession is now the focus of several multinational financial institutions.

The International Monetary Fund said this week that the pandemic-related recession will shrink the global economy by 4.4% for 2020 — the worst downturn since the Great Depression.

On Wednesday, Elliot Harris, the U.N.’s chief economist, and Leila Fourie, CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, spoke at a virtual meeting at the U.N. about the development of “green” and “COVID-19” bonds, to raise money to battle the triple threat.

Gov. approves different travel rules for Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii Island

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Be prepared to follow different rules when you travel to different neighbor islands. The governor has approved additional safeguards for Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. Governor David Ige confirms the pre-travel testing program will be implemented in all counties starting Oct. 15.

[Hawaii news on the go–LISTEN to KHON 2GO weekday mornings at 7:30 a.m.]

So what about the proposals from Hawaii Island, Maui and Kauai that impact arriving travelers?

“Kauai County has established a voluntary testing program on day three after arrival, and Maui County also established a voluntary post-arrival testing program. Hawaii Island will require an antigen test for all arriving trans-pacific travelers who are participating in the pre-travel testing program,” said the Governor.

Hawaii County officials say the tests will be administered at all three Big Island airports. The County will cover the cost of the tests using federal CARES Act funding. If you test positive, you will be required to take the gold standard PCR test and quarantine until the result comes back. All of this will be done at the airports.

“The truth of the matter is, we knew that once they leave, leave the airport, it will be a almost an impossible task to ensure that we can get all of them to take the test and to get the test to go to them,” said Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim.

We learned the 14-day mandatory quarantine has been extended until the end of November for all incoming travelers who did not test negative in the pre-travel program. Inter-island quarantine for travelers arriving in Kauai, Hawaii Island and Maui remains in place. But Maui and Kauai have agreed to do the pre-travel testing program for inter-island travelers to avoid quarantine.

“As far as I know, we require a 72-hour negative PCR tests, if you’re coming to Maui County from Oahu, from Kauai, or from Hawaii County,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino.

Mayor Kim says they are working on a plan for inter-island travel, but says addressing passengers from out-of-state was priority.

“We hope to get ours done by the end of this month,” said Mayor Kim.

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Imperiled desert tortoises join California’s ‘endangered’ list… at least for now

The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday granted temporary endangered species status to the Mojave desert tortoise when it agreed to consider the dusty, armored herbivore as a candidate for permanent listing.

The protection came with the panel’s 4-0 decision to consider a petition filed by the Defenders of Wildlife, the Desert Tortoise Council, and the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee. The groups argued that elevating the reptile’s existing status from threatened to endangered could bolster efforts to “reverse the very real likelihood that the desert tortoise will become extinct in California.”

As a candidate for listing, a species is typically afforded the same protections as a state endangered species pending a final decision.

While there is no difference in the protections offered a species listed as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act, officials said, endangered species have higher priority and funding for conservation measures such as habitat protection, recovery efforts and mitigation measures to reduce the impacts of projects.

“Anybody who has visited the Southern California desert over the past three decades knows this action is long overdue,” said Tom Egan, a biologist with Defenders of Wildlife. “What the state and federal governments have been doing to arrest their slide down the drain of extinction over the past three decades isn’t enough.”

Gopherus agassizii was listed as threatened under state law in 1989 and under federal law the following year based on a severe decline in the tortoise population within their ancient desert kingdom of trails, arroyos and hibernation burrows fringed with scrub brush.

A recovery plan for the tortoise and critical habitat prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was adopted in 1994. That plan was revised in 2011, however, to correct problems that responsible wildlife and land management agencies were having in implementing the plan’s recovery strategies.

A 2018 study found that adult tortoise populations had plummeted by 50% in some designated recovery areas since 2004, and by as much as 90% in some critical habitat management units since the 1980s.

Tortoise populations continue to be irreversibly fragmented and destroyed by many causes: vehicles, shootings, urban encroachment, military maneuvers, mining, collecting, diseases introduced by pet tortoises released into the wild, development of massive utility and green-energy facilities and hungry ravens.

Unlike their heavily armored parents, baby desert tortoises are saddled with soft, fingernail-thin shells that biologists say make them easy pickings for predators and reduce the chances that the imperiled species can be saved from extinction.

Rising temperatures and drought conditions are also taking a toll on the desert tortoise. Despite its name, the reptile is not well adapted to desert conditions. It evolved tens of thousands of years ago, scientists say, when the landscape was dominated by lakes edged with Joshua trees and junipers.

Scientists believe that large numbers of female desert tortoise carcasses discovered near Joshua Tree National Park may have been trying to ward off extinction due to prolonged drought with a potentially lethal response: exhausting their water and energy to lay eggs.

Drought conditions also kill off nutritious foliage and trigger a crash in populations of rodents that eat them. As a result, dogs and coyotes, which normally thrive on kangaroo rats and rabbits, turn to the lumbering tortoises for sustenance, according to surveys by state and federal biologists.

“This species is already listed as threatened,” said Commission Vice President Samantha Murray before casting her vote. “But I do think it is important that its designation reflects reality.”

Study reveals world’s most walkable cities

The world’s most walkable cities include London, Paris, Bogotá and Hong Kong, according to a report. The UK capital outranks almost 1,000 cities around the world on citizens’ proximity to car-free spaces, schools and healthcare, and the overall shortness of journeys.

Researchers at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) said making cities walkable was vital to improve health, cut climate-heating transport emissions and build stronger local communities and economies. However, they said very few cities overall gave pedestrians priority and were dominated by cars. The report found US cities ranked particularly low for walkability due to urban sprawl.

Among cities with more than 5 million inhabitants, only Bogotá in Colombia was in the top five for all three measures. The first measure assessed the proportion of people living within 100m of a car-free place, such as parks, pedestrianised streets and squares. These enhance health, boost community connections and increase pedestrian safety, the researchers said. Hong Kong took the top spot with 85% within 100m, with Moscow, Paris and London completing the top five.

Walkability of major cities by closeness to car-free places

The second measure looked at the proportion of people living within a kilometre of both healthcare and education. In Paris, 85% of people lived within this distance, giving it top spot, followed by Lima in Peru, London, Santiago in Chile and Bogotá.

Walkability of major cities by closeness to healthcare and education

The average size of city blocks was the third measure, as smaller blocks make it easier for people to walk directly to their destinations without detours around large buildings. Here, Khartoum in Sudan scored highest, followed by Bogotá, Lima, Karachi in Pakistan and Tokyo in Japan.

Walkability of major cities by small size of city blocks

The report includes evidence that places where walking is easier and safer have lower air pollution, less obesity, more children’s play time, fewer road deaths and better performing local businesses, as well as reduced inequality. It notes that nearly 230,000 pedestrians around the world are expected to be killed in road crashes this year.

“In order to provide safe and inviting walking conditions, it is essential to shift the balance of space in our cities away from cars,” said Heather Thompson, the head of ITDP, which is based in New York. The IDTP said the need was particularly urgent as the coronavirus pandemic was driving people away from walking and public transport and into private cars.

“Our city streets across the planet are already full of cars,” said Taylor Reich, an ITDP researcher. “If you really want to see the worst for walkability, it is the really sprawling cities of the US. They might have great sidewalks, but everything is so far apart that it’s impossible to practically walk to the grocery store or the school.”

Indianapolis was the lowest ranked US city, with just 4% of people close to education and healthcare and 9% next to a car-free area. Reich said policymakers everywhere needed to plan dense mixes of housing, shops and businesses and equip streets with benches, wide pavements and shade.

Among other cities scoring highly for closeness to car-free spaces are Berlin and Barcelona in Europe, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, while Washington DC is ranked 25th in the world. For closeness to healthcare and schools, Kathmandu in Nepal and Athens in Greece are both high, while Toronto in Canada is ranked at 35 and New York City at 50.

The report cites examples of developments that have made cities more walkable, such as in Pune, India, where a road redesign prioritised pedestrians and cyclists by building wide sidewalks and creating areas for children to play and vendors to sell. In Bogotá, there was a concerted effort at the turn of the century to create a city “with more public space for children than for motor vehicles”, by focusing on buses, cycling and walking.

Alexandra Gomes, at the London School of Economic cities centre, praised the report and said: “Walking is crucial for liveable cities and a basic right for any city dweller. However, for a long-time walkability has been a planning afterthought in many parts of the world. In cities such as London, though it is certainly in need of improvement, the infrastructure exists; however, in other areas of the world walkways do not exist or are almost fully occupied by cars.”

“Millions of people have rediscovered the joys of walking and want to walk safely, but the pandemic has shown that too many of our streets are not fit for purpose,” said Mary Creagh, at UK charity Living Streets. “The ITDP’s new data tools show how to build more walkable cities, to tackle the twin epidemics of obesity and loneliness, and create a cleaner future for pedestrians and our planet.”

“People will use the infrastructure that you give them and because we’ve built cities for cars, everyone wants to drive around,” said Reich. “But if we were to start building cities for people to walk in, people will change their behaviour and will live longer and happier lives.”

RIP, Great Barrier Reef: We’re Just Killing You


(Newser)

A new study on the Great Barrier Reef says half its corals have died over the past 20 years—and the clock is ticking, NBC News reports. Researchers in Queensland, Australia, found a drastic reduction in the size of reef coral colonies between 1995 and 2017, across nearly all species of all sizes in both deep and shallow water. “We used to think the Great Barrier Reef is protected by its sheer size, but our results show that even the world’s largest and relatively well-protected reef system is increasingly compromised and in decline,” says study co-author Terry Hughes. Among the worst-affected are branching and table-shaped corals, which provide fish and other marine life with a home. In fact, over 25% of all fish species live inside reefs.

These two species “were the worst affected by record-breaking temperatures that triggered mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017,” adds Hughes. He also tells the Guardian that he’s “very concerned” about the “shrinking gap” between such events. For the record, bleaching occurs when stressed corals expel their algae; the coral then die or turn white, a sign they’re on the edge. In this case, scientists point to climate change: “It’s hard to have a crystal ball and say a date” when the Great Barrier Reef will die, a professor not involved in the study tells the Washington Post. “Scientists are always trying to be careful, but if we don’t act meaningfully in the next five years, we will not have vital and vibrant coral reefs as a legacy for future generations.” (Read more Great Barrier Reef stories.)
 

La moitié des coraux australiens de la Grande Barrière de Corail sont morts depuis les années 1990

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La ​​moitié des coraux australiens de la Grande Barrière de Corail sont morts depuis les années 1990 – YouTube [19459101 ] 19459118]

Le réacteur nucléaire d'Onagawa touché par le tsunami peut redémarrer – Japan Today

Un réacteur nucléaire dans le nord-est du Japon endommagé par le tremblement de terre et le tsunami de 2011 est presque certain de reprendre ses opérations car le gouverneur de la préfecture hébergeant l’installation a décidé de donner son accord, ont déclaré mercredi des responsables locaux.

Pour que l’unité n ° 2 de la centrale nucléaire d’Onagawa dans la préfecture de Miyagi redémarre, obtenir le consentement des dirigeants du gouvernement local est la dernière étape restante nécessaire après avoir autorisé un examen de sécurité national en février.

Miyagi Gov Yoshihiro Murai annoncera officiellement son consentement d’ici la fin de l’année, selon les responsables, qui se sont exprimés sous couvert d’anonymat.

Ce faisant, il serait le premier gouverneur d’une préfecture sinistrée à donner le feu vert au redémarrage d’un réacteur nucléaire.

Les autres chefs de gouvernement local dont le consentement est essentiel sont les maires de la ville d’Ishinomaki et de la ville d’Onagawa où se trouve la centrale exploitée par Tohoku Electric Power Co.

Parmi eux, le maire d’Ishinomaki, Hiroshi Kameyama, a déjà exprimé sa volonté de donner un signe de tête, et une telle démarche est soutenue par les assemblées des deux municipalités.

Après que le tremblement de terre ait déclenché l’une des pires crises nucléaires du monde dans la préfecture voisine de Fukushima et provoqué l’arrêt des 54 réacteurs du Japon à un moment donné, neuf unités de cinq usines du pays ont redémarré après approbation réglementaire et locale.

Murai en est venu à croire que les habitants appuieront sa position après que l’assemblée préfectorale ait adopté un plaidoyer demandant son consentement lors d’une réunion de groupe mardi et s’apprête à l’approuver lors d’une séance plénière la semaine prochaine, ont indiqué les responsables.

“Lorsque la session plénière montrera sa position, je prendrai une décision après avoir entendu les opinions des maires des villes et villages de la préfecture”, a déclaré Murai.

Le réacteur de 825 000 kilowatts a obtenu l’approbation de l’Autorité de régulation nucléaire en février, devenant le deuxième réacteur endommagé par une catastrophe à passer des normes de sécurité plus strictes après la catastrophe nucléaire de Fukushima – la pire depuis l’accident de Tchernobyl en 1986.

Au complexe d’Onagawa, les trois réacteurs – les mêmes réacteurs à eau bouillante qu’à Fukushima – se sont arrêtés lorsqu’un tremblement de terre massif et un tsunami de 13 mètres ont frappé le nord-est du Japon le 11 mars 2011, inondant les sous-sols du Unité n ° 2.

Cependant, le système de refroidissement d’urgence de la centrale n’a pas échoué et il n’y a pas eu de fusion du type de celle qui s’est produite dans trois des six réacteurs de la centrale Fukushima Daiichi de Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Tohoku Electric Power Co a pour objectif de redémarrer le réacteur Onagawa n ° 2 au plus tôt en 2022, après avoir achevé les travaux anti-catastrophe tels que la construction d’une digue de 800 mètres de long à l’usine. Il a déjà décidé de supprimer l’unité n ° 1.

D’autres réacteurs à eau bouillante de l’usine TEPCO de Kashiwazaki-Kariwa dans la préfecture de Niigata et de l’usine Tokai n ° 2 de Japan Atomic Power Co. dans la préfecture d’Ibaraki ont également obtenu l’approbation du régulateur pour reprendre leurs activités, mais n’ont pas encore obtenu le consentement local.

© KYODO

Utah Wildlife Agency laissera Cougar en paix après une quasi-attaque contre un randonneur

Warming has killed half the coral on the Great Barrier Reef, study finds. It might never recover.

“The decline occurred in both shallow and deeper water, and across virtually all species — but especially in branching and table-shaped corals,” Terry Hughes, a professor at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland and a co-author of the research paper, said in a statement Tuesday. “These were the worst affected by record breaking temperatures that triggered mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017.”

On some areas of the northern half of the reef, “the abundance of large colonies on the crest dropped” by up to 98 percent, according to the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. By contrast, there was a slight increase on the southern slope, about 25 percent.

It’s a clear sign of rapid decline.

“We expect this decline to continue” because of warming caused by humans, Hughes said. “The only effective way to improve the outcome for coral reefs is global action on greenhouse gasses. If global temperatures rise to 3 or 4 [degrees Celsius], the reef will be unrecognizable, so there is no time to lose.”

“We have evidence from some parts of the reef that recruitment rates are only recovering very slowly … and are nowhere near levels prior to the bleaching events,” Andreas Dietzel, another professor at the ARC Center and a co-author of the paper, said in an email.

Coral that spawn the larvae that makes more coral “have declined dramatically over vast stretches of the Great Barrier Reef,” Dietzel said. “It will therefore take time for reproduction to recover. Corals are tremendously resilient because of their capacity to produce millions of babies but they/we desperately need a break from disturbances.”

The Great Barrier Reef is incredibly important to Australia. Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 2 million tourists traveled to Queensland each year from all over the world to experience its color and biodiversity. Worldwide, reefs provide habitat for a quarter of marine animals and plants, coastal protection that limits flooding for 500 million residents, and fishing that provides protein and revenue, according to the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.

The institute and the University of Sydney recently partnered to develop an experimental technology called marine cloud brightening to offset bleaching events that kill coral. It’s a Hail Mary attempt to block sunlight and reflect it back to the sky to limit warming and higher rates of ocean acidification that cause mass mortality on the reef.

But that extreme measure, combined with other actions such as limiting reef fishing, might not be enough for a country that continues to lead the world in exporting coal, a fossil fuel that contributes to warming, which hastens the decline of coral, experts say.

“Our results show the ability of the Great Barrier Reef to recover — its resilience — is compromised compared to the past, because there are fewer babies, and fewer large breeding adults,” Dietzel said.

Bob Richmond, a research professor and director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, called the study “a really excellent piece of work,” with the most comprehensive research on Great Barrier Reef coral populations that he’s seen.

“What they’re showing is these demographic changes are occurring on a regional scale … on reef slopes that make it difficult for coral reefs to persist over time,” Richmond said. In his long experience of visiting and researching reefs around the world, “if I don’t see one-year-old, two-year-old, three-year-old corals, I know that reef is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet.”

As the population declines, the distance between coral formations increases, limiting their ability to reproduce. “These bleaching events are just hammering these reefs. This is just a really bad time and a really bad combination,” Richmond said.

Although half of the Great Barrier Reef’s loss of abundance happened over three decades, Richmond said the world doesn’t have three more decades before the rest potentially disappears.

“The problem is it’s an accelerated loss,” he said. “It’s hard to have a crystal ball and say a date. Scientists are always trying to be careful, but if we don’t act meaningfully in the next five years, we will not have vital and vibrant coral reefs as a legacy for future generations.”

There is hope in Australia and other reef formations around the world, such as in Indonesia, said Gabby Ahmadia, director of ocean science at the World Wildlife Fund. Some coral is developing a resistance to rising temperatures and even acidification.

“The reality of the situation is that coral reefs are declining around the world, but the hope is we can have better local solutions to overfishing, runoffs from land and farming practices,” Ahmadia said. “They are going to decline, no doubt, but we can conserve what’s left.”

Ahmadia looks at coral reef conservation as if it were a management portfolio, with high and low risks. Reducing pollution and fish harvests on reefs is a reliable, low-risk solution for governments to consider. At the high end are attempts to harden reefs in labs and desperate heaves such as blocking sunlight and cooling water.

“We work in Indonesia and reefs haven’t been hit as hard there,” Ahmadia said optimistically. The peril faced by coral “really varies,” she said. “There are a lot of studies predicting the future. I don’t think we know.”

But her optimism only goes so far if aggressive action isn’t taken.

“A lot of people say 90 percent of the coral loss will happen by 2050,” she said.

The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals within 3 decades

(CNN) —Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its coral populations in the last three decades, with climate change a key driver of reef disturbance, a new study has found.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, in Queensland, northeastern Australia, assessed coral communities and their colony size along the length of the Great Barrier Reef between 1995 and 2017, finding depletion of virtually all coral populations, they said Tuesday.

Coral reefs are some of the most vibrant marine ecosystems on the planet — between a quarter and one third of all marine species rely on them at some point in their life cycle.

The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef, covers nearly 133,000 square miles and is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of hard corals and dozens of other species.

“We found the number of small, medium and large corals on the Great Barrier Reef has declined by more than 50% since the 1990s,” reported co-author Terry Hughes, a distinguished professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, in a statement.

Reefs are fundamental to the health of marine ecosystems — without them, ecosystems collapse, and marine life dies.

Great Barrier Reef, north-east of Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, Western Pacific Ocean Coral, mostly of the genus Acropora

The Great Barrier Reef covers nearly 133,000 square miles.

Francois Gohier/VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Coral population sizes are also considered vital when it comes to the coral’s ability to breed.

“A vibrant coral population has millions of small, baby corals, as well as many large ones– the big mamas who produce most of the larvae,” said Andy Dietzel, a doctoral student at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, in a statement.

“Our results show the ability of the Great Barrier Reef to recover — its resilience — is compromised compared to the past, because there are fewer babies, and fewer large breeding adults,” he added.

Population declines occurred in both shallow and deep water coral species, experts found, but branching and table-shaped corals — which provide habitats for fish — were worst affected by mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, triggered by record-breaking temperatures.

This file photo taken on September 22, 2014, shows fish swimming through the coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Climate change is driving an uptick in the frequency of “reef disturbances,” authors of the report warned.

William West/AFP/Getty Images

Warm ocean temperatures are the main driver of coral bleaching, when corals turn white as a stress response to water that is too warm. Bleaching doesn’t kill coral immediately, but if temperatures remain high, eventually the coral will die, destroying a natural habitat for many species of marine life.

Tuesday’s study found steeper deteriorations of coral colonies in the Northern and Central Great Barrier Reef following the mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017.

The Great Barrier Reef has suffered several mass bleaching events in the past five years, and experts said the southern part of the reef was also exposed to record-breaking temperatures in early 2020.

“We used to think the Great Barrier Reef is protected by its sheer size — but our results show that even the world’s largest and relatively well-protected reef system is increasingly compromised and in decline,” Hughes said.

The report authors warned that climate change is driving an uptick in the frequency of “reef disturbances” like marine heatwaves.

“There is no time to lose — we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions ASAP,” the report authors warned in the paper, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society journal.

CNN’s Helen Regan contributed to this report.