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May 25, 2019, 09:28 PM
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 on: May 24, 2019, 04:19 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Theresa May announces her resignation

Prime minister to leave on 7 June, drawing three-year tenure to a close
Heather Stewart Political editor
Fri 24 May 2019 10.20 BST

Theresa May has bowed to intense pressure from her own party and named 7 June as the day she will step aside as Conservative leader, drawing her turbulent three-year premiership to a close.

Speaking in Downing Street, May said it had been “the honour of my life” to serve as Britain’s second female prime minister. Her voice breaking, she said she would leave “with no ill will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love”.

The prime minister listed a series of what she said were her government’s achievements, including tackling the deficit, reducing unemployment and boosting funding for mental health.

But she admitted: “It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.”

May’s announcement came after a meeting with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench Tory 1922 Committee, which was prepared to trigger a second vote of no confidence in her leadership if she refused to resign.

Her fate was sealed after a 10-point “new Brexit deal”, announced in a speech on Tuesday, infuriated Tory backbenchers and many of her own cabinet – while falling flat with the Labour MPs it was meant to persuade.

The leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, resigned on Wednesday, rather than present the Brexit bill to parliament.

A string of other cabinet ministers had also expressed concerns, including Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Grayling and David Mundell.

In particular, they rejected May’s promise to give MPs a vote on a second referendum as the Brexit bill passed through parliament, and implement the result – which they felt came too close to endorsing the idea.

The prime minister will remain in Downing Street, to shoulder the blame for what are expected to be dire results for her party from Thursday’s European elections – and to host Donald Trump when he visits.

The 1922 Committee will set out the terms of a leadership contest, to kick off on 7 June, which is expected to last perhaps six weeks.

The former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is the frontrunner to be Britain’s next prime minister, but more than a dozen senior Tory figures are considering throwing their hats into the ring.

In the cabinet, Rory Stewart has already said he will stand, while Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Penny Mordaunt and Sajid Javid are all likely contenders.

May’s departure came after three years of wrangling with Brexiters on her own backbenches about what future relationship with the European Union they would be prepared to accept.

That became considerably more difficult when she lost her majority at the 2017 general election, after spearheading what was widely regarded as a disastrous campaign, promising “strong and stable leadership in the national interest”.

Brexit is likely to dominate the race to succeed May, with time increasingly tight for a new team to set out any new direction before the deadline of 31 October for Britain’s departure from the EU.

May’s longtime friend Damian Green, the former first secretary of state, defended her record on Friday.

He said: “All prime ministers, in the end, take responsibility for what happens on their watch, but I think that it’s undeniable that suddenly and unexpectedly becoming prime minister after the seismic shock of the Brexit referendum meant that she was dealt an extremely difficult hand to play. And the truth is that having an election a year later, which cut the Conservative party’s majority, then [made it] impossible.”

Green told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The fact that parliament has not been able to get a Brexit deal through has led to the impatience, bordering into contempt, for the political class and the amount of hostility and borderline violence is something we have not known for a very very long time.”

 on: May 24, 2019, 04:16 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

'Elusive and cryptic' lizard may be first Australian mainland reptile declared extinct

Hunt is on in Melbourne for grassland earless dragon – not seen since 1969 – after one species was reclassified as four

Calla Wahlquist
Fri 24 May 2019 01.32 BST

A newly reclassified species of lizard that is native to areas now paved by Melbourne’s suburbs could become the first reptile on mainland Australia to be declared extinct.

A taxonomic survey of the grassland earless dragon, published in the Royal Society Open Science journal this week, discovered that the species classified as Tympanocryptis pinguicolla was in fact four species – one of which has not been seen since 1969.

The missing lizard made its home in the grasslands of what is now St Kilda and Kew, and on the islands in the Yarra River. It was last spotted 50 years ago in grasslands between Melbourne and Geelong, most of which have since been overtaken by development.

Zoos Victoria is undertaking survey work in an attempt to find the lizard.

If it cannot be found, it would be the first reptile declared extinct on mainland Australia.

The Christmas Island whiptail-skink or forest skink (Emoia nativitatis), which is listed as critically endangered under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, is listed as extinct on the IUCN Red List.

The Christmas Island blue-tailed shinning skink (Cryptoblepharus egeriae) and Christmas Island gecko (Lepidodactylus listeri) are both listed as critically endangered under the EPBC Act and extinct in the wild by the IUCN.

The lead author on the dragon paper, the Museums Victoria curator of herpetology, Dr Jane Melville, said she was hopeful that surveys in unexplored grassland habitats around Melbourne would unearth signs of Tympanocryptis pinguicolla.

“There’s no question that this is of significant concern and may well turn out to be extinct, but at the moment Zoos Victoria are still hopeful that they’re going to come up with a population,” Melville told Guardian Australia.

The Zoos Victoria threatened species project officer, Adam Lee, said the species was listed on the zoo’s fighting extinction program, which is a commitment to not allow any terrestrial Victorian vertebrates to go extinct on the zoo’s watch.

“It was historically found around western Melbourne and through the temperate grasslands of the western Victoria volcanic plains,” Lee said. “Much of this has been swallowed up by agriculture, however there is still much unsurveyed land.

“We are committed to continuing to look for this small, elusive and cryptic lizard.”

The other related species make their homes further north: Tympanocryptis lineata in Canberra, with a captive breeding population at Canberra University; the newly named Tympanocryptis osbornei in the highlands near Cooma; and Tympanocryptis mccartneyi near Bathurst.

The latter was named for retired national parks officer and reptile enthusiast Ian McCartney, who helped Melville’s team classify the Bathurst lizard. It has not been seen since the 1990s and is also now on an extinction watchlist.

Currently, all four species are listed as Tympanocryptis pinguicolla in the EPBC Act.

“They are currently listed under the EPBC as endangered but it’s hard to target a conservation management plan if you know there’s taxonomic problems and you have actually got separate species,” Melville said.

Melville had earlier identified a fifth species, Tympanocryptis condaminensis, which is found on the Darling Downs in Queensland. It was recognised as distinct by the Australian environment minister in 2016.

The grassland earless dragons are unique because they are part of the only group of dragon lizard species in Australia to live in temperate grasslands.

Dragon lizards include frill-necked lizards and thorny devils. They are distinct from other lizards by being spiky, rather than smooth and shiny, and from the unique formation of their teeth.

 on: May 24, 2019, 04:14 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Botswana condemned for lifting ban on hunting elephants

Country with Africa’s largest elephant population says its growth is affecting farmers

Jason Burke Africa correspondent
24 May 2019 12.43 BST

Conservationists have reacted with outrage and concern to a decision by Botswana to lift its ban on elephant hunting.

The southern African country said the move was justified by an increase in population and its impact on farmers’ livelihoods.

“The whole world is turning away from hunting. It is increasingly seen as an archaic practice. This is very, very damaging to the image of Botswana as a global leader in elephant conservation,” said Dr Paula Kahumbu, an expert and activist based in Kenya.

Others called the decision “disappointing”.

    Pro Wildlife (@prowildlife)

    🇧🇼👎 Disappointing decision by #Botswana to lift hunting ban and to lift the suspension for #trophyhunting - this bloody sport is #cruel, outdated, unethical and often undermining #conservation 🦁🐘🐆 #elephants #predator #bigcats #Lions #leopards https://t.co/3FyGUYTpGB
    May 23, 2019

The former president Ian Khama, a keen environmentalist, introduced a prohibition on elephant hunting in the southern African country in 2014.

But lawmakers from the ruling Botswana Democratic party (BDP) have been lobbying to overturn the ban, saying numbers of the animals have become unmanageable in some areas.

The current president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, took over from Khama last year and a public review began five months later, with reports suggesting growing political friction between Masisi and his predecessor.

The country’s environment ministry said in a statement that a cabinet committee review found that “the number and high levels of human-elephant conflict and the consequent impact on livelihoods was increasing.”.

“The general consensus from those consulted was that the hunting ban should be lifted,” it added, vowing that hunting would be restarted “in an orderly and ethical manner”.

Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa, with more than 135,000 roaming freely in its unfenced parks and wide open spaces.

Some experts say the number of elephants in the country, renowned as a luxury safari destination, has almost tripled over the last 30 years, and that the population could now be more than 160,000.

Farmers struggle to keep elephants out of their fields, where they eat crops and can kill people, making the move to lift the hunting ban a potential vote winner among rural communities in the run-up to elections in October.

Experts say the move would be counterproductive as hunting elephants makes them fearful and aggressive, exacerbating conflict with local communities.

There are also widespread concerns among environmentalists that Botswana’s decision is a precursor to a concerted effort to allow ivory to be bought and sold.

This would be have a “catastrophic effect on elephants across Africa”, Kahumbu said.

Many of Botswana’s elephants roam across borders into Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

All four countries have called for a global ban on the elephant ivory trade to be relaxed due to the growing number of the animals in some regions.

“We cannot continue to be spectators while others debate and take decisions about our elephants,” Masisi told a meeting of the countries’ presidents this month in Botswana.

While elephant numbers have increased in some areas, over the past decade the population of elephants across Africa has fallen by about 111,000 to 415,000, largely due to poaching for ivory, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Zimbabwe said this month it had sold nearly 100 elephants to China and Dubai for a total price of $2.7m over six years, due to overpopulation.

According to Zimbabwe’s ministry of information, it is almost 13 years since the country’s last commercial sale of ivory. “Our ivory stockpile is worth over $300m [£235m], which we can’t sell because countries without elephants are telling those with them what to do with their animals,” Nick Mangwana, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said.

Zimbabwe will also make a separate appeal at the conference for permission to sell some of its elephants, as conflict between people and wildlife escalates.

The country has a booming elephant population, which is increasingly coming into contact with people. About 200 people have died from elephant attacks in the past five years.

Botswana last year rejected claims by a leading conservation charity that there had been a surge in elephant poaching.

The African elephant, lion and hippo appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) “red list” of animals at risk of extinction, and needing greater protection.

 on: May 24, 2019, 04:11 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

US to strafe crucial nesting area for 3m birds with poison to eradicate mice

Midway Atoll to be bombarded with rodenticide after scientists and volunteers discovered seabirds with open wounds

Oliver Milman in New York
Fri 24 May 2019 06.00 BST

Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean was the scene of a crucial naval battle in the second world war. It is now set for a very different sort of conflict – a bombing campaign to rid the area of mice.

The US government is moving ahead with a plan to strafe Midway with poison aimed at eradicating mice that are on a deadly rampage through one of the world’s most important sites for seabirds.

The three low-lying islands, fringing coral reefs and lagoons that make up the Midway Atoll refuge, located about 1,200 miles north-west of Honolulu, cover an area only slightly larger than New York City’s Central Park but are a crucial nesting area for around 3 million birds, including albatrosses and terns.

Over 70% of the world’s Laysan albatross are found on Midway including Wisdom, a 68-year-old creature believed to be the world’s oldest known wild bird. This year Wisdom hatched her 37th chick.

But in 2015 it became clear this Pacific idyll was under threat after scientists and volunteers discovered nesting birds with open wounds on their heads, necks and backs. Mice inadvertently introduced to Midway are responsible for the bites, with their victims essentially eaten alive. Dozens of seabirds have died or abandoned their nests as a result of the attacks.

“We’ve seen gruesome attacks on adult birds that are sitting on nests, causing big wounds that get infected,” said Patty Baiao, US program manager with Island Conservation, an environment group working on the project. “Albatross are long-lived and monogamous birds, so once you take a few adults out of the population you can have a significant impact.

“The mice are having an impact at an ecosystem level and it was clear something needed to be done.”
Laysan albatrosses with visible head wounds.

After considering various options the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for the conservation of Midway, opted to bombard the atoll with a rodenticide called Brodifacoum with the aim of wiping out the mice. The poison will be distributed via crews in helicopters.

The plan has been approved due to the understanding that the mice, but not the birds, will be attracted to the bait. The endangered Laysan ducks, which are present at Midway year-round, will be relocated to a mouse-free island for the duration of the project, which is due to start next year.

A further year will be required to determine if the assault on the mice has proved successful, thereby echoing the eradication of rodents on several other islands that have suffered wildlife declines.

“This approach uses a tool we know works with proved effects,” said Baiao. “Given the urgency we have, it’s the only realistic option.”

 on: May 24, 2019, 04:06 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
When they rolled into Rwanda, the Throttle Queens drew stares. These female motorcyclists are on a mission

Founded in 2017, this African biker club is set on empowering women and encouraging them to ride
When they rolled into Rwanda, the Throttle Queens drew stares. These female motorcyclists are on a mission.

Maggie Andresen
May 24  2019
WA Post

The roar of a motorcycle engine in Kigali, Rwanda’s hilly capital city, is as ubiquitous a sound as birds singing at dawn, the chatter of schoolchildren walking to class and the drumming of rain as it bounces between roofs during the wet season. Motorcycle taxis, called motos in Rwanda and boda bodas in neighboring East African nations, are a quick and affordable mode of transportation across the region. Most of Kigali is accessible by moto for about fifty cents to a dollar per ride, making it a common form of transportation, and abamotari — motorcycle drivers — fill the streets at all hours.

Last month, a group of six motorcyclists entered Kigali after riding more than 1,100 kilometers (about 683 miles) over three days. But they were an anomaly in a city full of motorists — the group was comprised solely of women.

The Throttle Queens, one of 18 registered motorcycle clubs active in Nairobi, Kenya, had just completed their drive from Nairobi to Kampala, which is in Uganda, to Kigali. In the coming days, they would also cross the border to Burundi before making the journey back to Nairobi, covering a total distance of 2,601 kilometers (about 1,616 miles) over nine days, four of which would be spent exploring Rwanda.

The Throttle Queens customize their helmets with flair and personality. Besides making a fashion statement, the helmets remind the group’s supporters of their message on this ride: increasing bike safety awareness.

The Throttle Queens customize their helmets with flair and personality. Besides making a fashion statement, the helmets remind the group’s supporters of their message on this ride: increasing bike safety awareness.

The Throttle Queens bike club was established in 2017 and currently has eight members. They aim to make Nairobi’s motorcycling community more inclusive by inspiring women to engage in riding. The club’s members include a nutritionist, the CEO of a children’s entertainment company and the co-founder of an artistic collaborative. The Throttle Queens embrace riding as an extension of their freedom and pair it with their everyday lives.

Aisha Mohamed, 37, is a human resources manager with three children. She is in her fourth year of riding. “I can see how a woman has a lot more to overcome socially to get into riding,” she said. “Most people are going to try to discourage it, and gaining the confidence to get on a bike would be a lot harder if everyone is telling you that you can’t do it or shouldn’t. Get out of your comfort zone and do things that are scary — feel strength and power within that.”

Aisha Mohamed, 37, is a human resources manager with three children. She is in her fourth year of riding. “I can see how a woman has a lot more to overcome socially to get into riding,” she said. “Most people are going to try to discourage it, and gaining the confidence to get on a bike would be a lot harder if everyone is telling you that you can’t do it or shouldn’t. Get out of your comfort zone and do things that are scary — feel strength and power within that.”

“As a woman, when I first started riding, I felt like I should conceal it from friends, co-workers and acquaintances to avoid disapproval,” says Aisha Mohamed, a human resource manager and mother of three who is in her fourth year of motorcycle riding. “But I have since decided that hiding my essential nature from my friends and family is foolish.”

Victoria Musyoki, 32, is the CEO of Kiddie World Kenya, a children’s entertainment company, and a mother of two children. “Riding has given me confidence. It has made me mentally tough and disciplined. I am also more fearless now than when I started riding," said Musyoki, who’s been riding for three years. She added, “For me, it’s no longer so much about riding anymore but it’s about how many times you rise up whenever life knocks you down.”

Victoria Musyoki, 32, is the CEO of Kiddie World Kenya, a children’s entertainment company, and a mother of two children. “Riding has given me confidence. It has made me mentally tough and disciplined. I am also more fearless now than when I started riding," said Musyoki, who’s been riding for three years. She added, “For me, it’s no longer so much about riding anymore but it’s about how many times you rise up whenever life knocks you down.”

Founding member Victoria Musyoki describes the origins of the club as an opportunity to educate and advocate for women motorists.

Musyoki and Ciku Mbithi, a co-founder, “saw the need to have a club that would redefine what being a lady biker was all about,” Musyoki said. “A club that would demystify the stereotypes of lady bikers and one that would inspire young women to do what it takes to be the best versions of themselves.”

Ciku Mbithi, 46, is a fuel station dealer, tour and travel agent, and farmer. She has an 18-year-old child and is one of the founding members of the Throttle Queens. “I dreamt of a group of women riders who pull each other up rather than tear each other down,” she said. “Where women of substance, who ride, would have a safe forum to be. A safe place where we could address issues unique to women riding motorcycles in a mostly male dominated field.”

Ciku Mbithi, 46, is a fuel station dealer, tour and travel agent, and farmer. She has an 18-year-old child and is one of the founding members of the Throttle Queens. “I dreamt of a group of women riders who pull each other up rather than tear each other down,” she said. “Where women of substance, who ride, would have a safe forum to be. A safe place where we could address issues unique to women riding motorcycles in a mostly male dominated field.”

The Throttle Queens ride in bright colors, sporting helmets decked with feathers, horns and rainbow hair. Biking through Kigali, they drew stares from Rwandans unaccustomed to seeing women driving motorcycles. Six of the group’s eight members participated in the ride from Nairobi to Kigali and back: Mohamed; Musyoki; Mbithi; Rhoda Omenya, 33; Shiku Njenga, 29; and Njeri Mwangi, 38.
Rhoda Omenya, 33, is a project management consultant. She’s been riding since 2015. “Whatever space you are in, seek out the courage within you,” she said, and draw support from “good, honest and faithful friends, to achieve the small and big, hairy, audacious goals.”
Rhoda Omenya, 33, is a project management consultant. She’s been riding since 2015. “Whatever space you are in, seek out the courage within you,” she said, and draw support from “good, honest and faithful friends, to achieve the small and big, hairy, audacious goals.”

The Throttle Queens’ visit to Rwanda prompted local media attention and a meeting with the Rwanda Development Board’s Chief Tourism Officer Belise Kariza, who praised the group for their encouraging messages to young women.

“It is amazing to see a group of women complete this journey in such a short time, women can do anything,” Kariza said in an official statement. “Their trip gives the representation of women on motorcycles we are missing. It is very exciting and inspiring.”

The mission of the Throttle Queens’ ride from Nairobi to Kigali and back was to promote motorcycle safety, a key concern in a region where road accidents are common. According to the World Health Organization, between 3,000 and 13,000 Kenyans die in traffic crashes annually. The Throttle Queens underscored this by fanning a banner behind them that read, “Share the road, every life counts.”

“In 2016 we lost a biker friend and have since lost many others to road accidents,” Mohamed said. “Road safety is important to us because in Kenya, we have roads that are not well planned for road users.”

“We want everyone to be conscious for their own good and for the good of all others driving, riding, walking the same road,” added Mwangi.

Njeri Mwangi, 38, is the co-founder of Nairobi-based PAWA 254, a collaborative art space for young creatives. She has three children, and began riding in 2014. She said riding makes her feel like she is in “total control. It makes me feel freedom to be anything.” She added, “I can forget everything for the moment when I am riding.”

Njeri Mwangi, 38, is the co-founder of Nairobi-based PAWA 254, a collaborative art space for young creatives. She has three children, and began riding in 2014. She said riding makes her feel like she is in “total control. It makes me feel freedom to be anything.” She added, “I can forget everything for the moment when I am riding.”

After nine days on the road through four countries, the Throttle Queens arrived back in Nairobi to a warm welcome from their fellow cyclists. It was the longest cross-border trip they had taken as a group since the club’s founding, preceded by a one-day ride from Nairobi to Moshi, Tanzania, and back in 2018. The group is tentatively planning a longer ride to South Africa next year. Until then, they’ll continue navigating the roads of Nairobi with the goal to inspire more women to join them.

“You just need to overcome your fears and start riding,” said Njenga. “Let’s just ride.”

 on: May 24, 2019, 04:02 AM 
Started by Skywalker - Last post by Skywalker
Hi Rad,

Some people state that the seat of the Soul is in the chest area at the Thymus yet if I´m correct (not 100% sure on this) I have seen you state that consciousness emanates from the brain stem... but is it correct to state that consciousness doesn´t originate in the brainstem itself but emanates from outside the body around the area of the brainstem, I´m assuming from Source itself?

 I´would also like to ask what is this point at the chest area, because it is obviously an important point.. interestingly this is where people point to when speaking about themselves.

Thank you

All the best

 on: May 24, 2019, 04:00 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

The heat is on over the climate crisis. Only radical measures will work

Experts agree that global heating of 4C by 2100 is a real possibility. The effects of such a rise will be extreme and require a drastic shift in the way we live

Gaia Vince
24 May 2019 16.00 BST

Drowned cities; stagnant seas; intolerable heatwaves; entire nations uninhabitable… and more than 11 billion humans. A four-degree-warmer world is the stuff of nightmares and yet that’s where we’re heading in just decades.

While governments mull various carbon targets aimed at keeping human-induced global heating within safe levels – including new ambitions to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 – it’s worth looking ahead pragmatically at what happens if we fail. After all, many scientists think it’s highly unlikely that we will stay below 2C (above pre-industrial levels) by the end of the century, let alone 1.5C. Most countries are not making anywhere near enough progress to meet these internationally agreed targets.

Climate models predict we’re currently on track for a heating of somewhere between 3C and 4C for 2100, although bear in mind that these are global average temperatures – at the poles and over land (where people live), the increase may be double that. Predictions are tricky, however, as temperatures depend on how sensitive the climate is to carbon dioxide (CO2). Most models assume that it is not very sensitive – that’s where the lower 3C comes from – but a whole new set of models to be published in 2021 finds much greater sensitivity. They put heating at around 5C by the end of the century, meaning people could be experiencing as much as 10C of heating over land.

Such uncertainty isn’t ideal, but for our purposes let’s plump for an entirely feasible planetary heating of 4C by the end of the century. If that seems a long time away, consider that plenty of people you know will be around then. My children will be in their 80s, perhaps with middle-aged children and grandchildren. We are making their world and it will be a very different place.

Four degrees may not sound like much – after all, it is less than a typical temperature change between night and day. It might even sound pleasant, like retiring from the UK to southern Spain. However, an average heating of the entire globe by 4C would render the planet unrecognisable from anything humans have ever experienced. The last time the world was this hot was 15m years ago during the miocene, when intense volcanic eruptions in western North America emitted vast quantities of CO2. Sea levels rose some 40 metres higher than today and lush forests grew in Antarctica and the Arctic. However, that global heating took place over many thousands of years. Even at its most rapid, the rise in CO2 emissions occurred at a rate 1,000 times slower than ours has since the start of the Industrial Revolution. That gave animals and plants time to adapt to new conditions and, crucially, ecosystems had not been degraded by humans.

Things look considerably bleaker for our 2100 world. Over the past decade, scientists have been able to produce a far more nuanced picture of how temperature rise affects the complexities of cloud cover and atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns and ecology. We’re looking at vast dead zones in the oceans as nutrients from fertiliser runoff combine with warmer waters to produce an explosion in algae that starve marine life of oxygen. This will be exacerbated by the acidity from dissolved CO2, which will cause a mass die-off, particularly of shellfish, plankton and coral. “We will have lost all the reefs decades before 2100 – at somewhere between 2C and 4C,” says Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Sea levels will be perhaps two metres higher and, more worryingly, we will be well on our way to an ice-free world, having passed the tipping points for the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets, committing us to at least 10 metres of sea-level rise in coming centuries. That’s because as ice sheets melt, their surface drops to a lower altitude where it is warmer, speeding up melting in a runaway feedback loop. Eventually, dark, heat-absorbing land is exposed, speeding the melting process even more. By 2100, we will also have lost most low-latitude glaciers, including two-thirds of the so called third pole of the Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalayan mountains and Tibetan plateau that feeds many of Asia’s important rivers.

However, most rivers, especially in Asia, will flood more often, according to research by Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, because the hotter atmosphere will produce more intense monsoons, violent storms and extreme rainfall. His studies predict a wide equatorial belt of high humidity that will cause intolerable heat stress across most of tropical Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas, rendering them uninhabitable for much of the year. Tropical forests of heat-tolerant species may well thrive in this wet zone with the high CO2 concentrations, especially with the disappearance of human infrastructure and agriculture, although the conditions will probably favour lianas (vines) over slower-growing trees, Betts says. To the south and north of this humid zone, bands of expansive desert will also rule out agriculture and human habitation. Some models predict that desert conditions will stretch from the Sahara right up through south and central Europe, drying rivers including the Danube and the Rhine.

    Our best hope lies in cooperating as never before: decoupling the political map from geography

In South America, the picture is more complicated: increased precipitation could enhance the Amazon rainforest, leading to mightier river flow. Other models predict a weakening of the easterlies over the Atlantic, drying the Amazon, increasing fires and turning it from forest to grassland. The tipping point for the Amazon could well be triggered by deforestation; while the intact forest could cope with some drought because it generates and maintains its own moist ecosystem, areas that have been opened up through degradation allow moisture to escape. “A combination of climate change and deforestation could push it into a savannah state,” Rockström says.

All of nature will be affected by the change in climate, ecosystems and hydrology and there will be plenty of extinctions as species struggle to migrate and adapt to an utterly changed world. Daniel Rothman, co-director of MIT’s Lorenz Center, calculates that 2100 will herald the beginning of Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. But what about us? This is undoubtedly a more hostile, dangerous world for humanity, which by 2100 will number around 11 billion, all of whom will need food, water, power and somewhere to live. It will be, in a giant understatement, problematic.

The good news is that humans won’t become extinct – the species can survive with just a few hundred individuals; the bad news is, we risk great loss of life and perhaps the end of our civilisations. Many of the places where people live and grow food will no longer be suitable for either. Higher sea levels will make today’s low-lying islands and many coastal regions, where nearly half the global population live, uninhabitable, generating an estimated 2 billion refugees by 2100. Bangladesh alone will lose one-third of its land area, including its main breadbasket.

From 2030, more than half the population will live in the tropics, an area that makes up a third of the planet and already struggles with climate impacts. Yet by 2100, most of the low and mid latitudes will be uninhabitable because of heat stress or drought; despite stronger precipitation, the hotter soils will lead to faster evaporation and most populations will struggle for fresh water. We will have to live on a smaller land surface with a larger population.

Indeed, the consequences of a 4C warmer world are so terrifying that most scientists would rather not contemplate them, let alone work out a survival strategy.

Rockström doesn’t like our chances. “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that,” he says. “There will be a rich minority of people who survive with modern lifestyles, no doubt, but it will be a turbulent, conflict-ridden world.”

He points out that we already use nearly half the world’s ice-free surface to produce food for 7 billion people and thinks meeting the needs of 11 billion in such hostile conditions would be impossible. “The reason is primarily making enough food, but also we would have lost the biodiversity we’re dependent on and be facing a cocktail of negative shocks all the time, from fires to droughts.”

Others are more sanguine. “I don’t think that humans as a species or even industrial civilisation is seriously threatened,” says Ken Caldeira, climatologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. “People live in Houston, Miami and Atlanta because they live in air conditioning through the hot summers. If people are rich enough to air-condition their lives, they can watch whatever is the successor to Game of Thrones on TV, as the natural world decays around them,” he says. But he points out that while richer people risk a loss to their quality of life, the poorer risk their actual lives.

So how might we give all of humanity the best chance?

Our best hope lies in cooperating as never before to radically reorganise our world: decoupling the political map from geography. However unrealistic it sounds, we’d need to look at the world afresh and see it in terms of where the resources are and then plan the population, food and energy production around that. It would mean abandoning huge tracts of the globe and moving Earth’s human population to the high latitudes: Canada, Siberia, Scandinavia, parts of Greenland, Patagonia, Tasmania, New Zealand and perhaps newly ice-free parts of the western Antarctic coast. If we allow 20 sq m of space per person – more than double the minimum habitable space allowed per person under English planning regulations – 11 billion people would need 220,000 sq km of land to live on. The area of Canada alone is 9.9m sq km and, combined with all the other high-latitude areas, such as Alaska, Britain, Russia and Scandinavia, there should be plenty of room for everyone.

    Food production will need to be more intensive. This will be a mostly vegetarian world, devoid of fish and livestock

These precious lands, with tolerable temperatures and access to water, would also be valuable food-growing areas, as well as the last oases for many species, so people would need to be housed in compact, efficient high-rise cities with reflective roofs and resource-recycling systems. That risks raising local temperatures to intolerable levels, because compact cities function as heat islands, so solar-powered cooling or even artificial winds would be needed to counteract this. There is also an increased risk of epidemics in such densely populated spaces.

Peter Cox, a climatologist at the University of Exeter, thinks this is viable, but would require a massive programme of infrastructure to manage waste, air quality and water needs. City-scale underground reservoirs could supply domestic needs and efficient recycling would keep water – and other resources – circulating in the population for years rather than hours. Post-fossil fuels, we will require unprecedented electricity production. This could come from vast arrays of solar- and wind-power plants in a belt across the uninhabitable desert regions. High-voltage direct current transmission lines could relay this power to the cities or it could be stored as thermal energy in molten salts and transported in hydrogen – after solar energy is used to split water to provide hydrogen for fuel cells.

Hydrogen production will be on an industrial scale and it could be used for nonelectric transport, for instance. Wave farms, nuclear fission (and potentially fusion) and solar power will help meet our electricity needs. In the meantime, the effective capture from the air of today’s carbon emissions will with luck be a reality; they can be stored or used in the manufacture of materials.

Food production will need to be more intensive, efficient and industrial. This will be a mostly vegetarian world, largely devoid of fish and without the grazing area or resources for livestock. Poultry may be viable on the edges of farmland and synthetic meats and other foods will meet some of the demand. Heat-tolerant, drought-resistant crop varieties, such as cassava and millet, will replace many of our current unmodified staples such as rice and wheat and they will grow faster and with greater water efficiency because of the high CO2 levels.

One problem is that almost all of our agriculture will need to be at higher latitudes, because the tropics will be too dry or too hot for farmworkers. And that means less land and less sunlight in winter. “Global agriculture could be limited by the geometry of Earth’s orbit around the sun,” Cox says. “However, studies have shown that crops thrive with artificial light delivered by LEDs at exactly the right frequencies for photosynthesis. This means we could grow crops through the winter months, hydroponically in smaller spaces, stacked up in warehouses or even underground, leaving valuable land surfaces for other uses.”

Cultivation of algal mats and crops grown on floating platforms and in marshland could also contribute, while crops could potentially be grown in uninhabitable regions, farmed and processed remotely by artificial farmers. Either way, we would need to use far more precise nutrient and irrigation systems to avoid polluting more fertile ecosystems and reduce food loss and waste.

A 4C warmer world may well be survivable, but it would be eminently poorer than the one we currently enjoy. Rockström believes it takes us beyond our adaptation capabilities. Delivering our children to such a deadly home is a horrifying proposition.

Given what’s at stake, it may be worth deploying geoengineering tools, which reflect the sun’s heat away from Earth, and so keep global heating to safe levels. This wouldn’t address the problem of dissolved carbon killing oceanic life, but it could buy us more time to decarbonise and achieve negative emissions. Crucially, keeping Earth cooler for longer would help the poorest people to adapt. “We have come to a point where different forms of geoengineering cannot be excluded,” admits Rockström, “but SRM [solar radiation management] is a very dangerous geopolitical tool to deploy: who decides which part of the globe to shade? How would we govern it?” he asks.

We’ve already warmed the world by 1.1C, and we’re experiencing the effects: the International Federation of the Red Cross estimates there are as many as 50 million climate refugees. Once we reach 4C, most models agree it will be impossible to return to today’s abundant world.

“For me, the issue is that we are transforming (and simplifying!) our world for many thousands of years into the future with millennia of rising sea [levels], acidified oceans and intolerable tropical temperatures, just because we weren’t willing to pay the small differential between fossil-fuelled prosperity and prosperity fuelled by non-greenhouse-gas-emitting energy systems,” says Caldeira.

We are now making the climate of 2100 and however hard it seems to meet our emissions targets, it’ll be far harder for our children if we don’t. With international cooperation and regulation, we can make it livable.

 on: May 24, 2019, 03:57 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

‘We need everyone’: Greta Thunberg calls on adults to join climate strikes

Global general strike on 20 September could be historic turning point, say activists
Damian Carrington Environment editor
24 May 2019 17.42 BST

Greta Thunberg and leading youth strikers for climate action from across the world have called for all adults to join a global general strike on 20 September.

They are asking citizens to walk out of work just before a crucial UN summit at which nations are being urged to declare much stronger ambitions to tackle the climate emergency.

The call was issued as young people prepared for what organisers have claimed will be one of the biggest student strikes so far on Friday, with protests expected in 1,594 cities and towns in 118 countries, according to the Fridays for the Future website.

Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who sparked the global movement with a solo protest last August, and 44 fellow protesters from across the globe, issued the call for a general strike in an article in the Guardian.

“We’re asking adults to step up alongside us … today, so many of our parents are busy discussing whether our grades are good, or a new diet or the Game of Thrones finale – whilst the planet burns,” they write. “But to change everything, we need everyone. It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance … if we demand change in numbers we have a chance.”

The global strike is intended to start a week of climate action around the world.

“We’re asking adults to step up alongside us,” the youth strikers write. “Step out of your comfort zone to make this a turning point in our history. This is about crossing lines – it’s about rebelling wherever one can rebel.”

The youth protesters are demanding that governments immediately provide a safe pathway to stay below a maximum temperature rise of 1.5C. The world’s scientists say sharp cuts in carbon emissions are urgently needed to deliver a 50% fall by 2030 and avoid worse droughts, floods, extreme heatwaves and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. However, emissions are still rising.

Wildlife is also being annihilated by human activity, with animal populations having fallen by an average of 60% since 1970. Human society is threatened by the decline of natural life-support systems, according to another landmark report published earlier in May, with half of natural ecosystems now destroyed and a million species at risk of extinction.

1:51...Students around the world go on climate strike – video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ_QkjieLmw

Some adults have already joined the youth strikes, with thousands of workers protesting across Belgium in March, along with a delegation from the European Federation of Public Service Unions. Some parents have also mounted protests in the UK and across Europe.


'I feel empowered and scared': pupils speak before climate strike

We asked children around the world to tell us why they will be taking part in Friday’s climate strikes. Here’s what they said

Guardian readers and Rachel Obordo
24 May 2019 13.58 BST

‘Our future is in danger’

I’m taking part on Friday because adults, and especially politicians, have not done enough to save our future. We have to get them to listen to us and believe what scientists have to say. I’m participating in a strike located in Tampere. We will get together on Sori Square (Sorin Aukio) and march to the central marketplace (Keskustori). I think the earth needs this climate strike movement. And we need it too, because it’s our future that is in danger. I’m so happy to see the youth rise and demand back a planet where we can live.

Elina, 14, Finland
‘I feel responsible to do something because I love animals’.

I don’t want to see the world struggle; the world dying because we are not doing anything about it. We are making more disaster by not changing bad habits to help the climate crisis such as fossil fuels, cars, palm oil, plastic and ruining animal habitats. I feel responsible to do something and take action especially as I love animals and according to the science many can disappear in my lifetime.

I am half Balinese and the climate crisis affects places like Bali and it mainly hurts the poor people there as they don’t live in houses that can stand the dramatic changes in the weather. So I want to try to help the world become a better place. How can we stop climate change if we don’t know what to do? I feel that we should learn more about this at school and specialised people should come and talk to us. We need more people’s ideas about what to do and how they think we should help. Nia, nine, Kent, England
‘There are no more excuses’.

I find the movement inspiring, powerful and making change. In Iowa, I’ve been on strike for the past 10 weeks. In those weeks, there has been historic flooding in western and eastern Iowa. But this flooding is nothing compared to the cyclones that hit Mozambique. We must act now. I believe there is a climate emergency, so we are marching to the city hall to call on our council to declare a climate emergency and update their climate action plan to meet IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] standards. There are no more excuses. Massimo, 14, Iowa, US ‘The crisis is more important than fear’

I’ve always been somewhat aware of the climate crisis but until recently I didn’t realise how bad it actually was, and I didn’t feel like there was much I could do about it anyway. I thought I was the only young person who actually cared about this, and all I could do was recycle. Then, last November, I found out about Greta Thunberg and the school strike movement and I thought: “Wow, this is something I can do!”

At first I was hesitant about starting my own strike; as I am home-educated the idea of asking other young people to strike sounded a bit odd. But on 15 March I went to the Cambridge strike and I was absolutely astounded by the amount of other kids there! It was amazing when I realised that so many other people care about this. After that I decided to stop messing around and decided that the climate crisis was more important than a fear of whether other kids would listen. Eva, 12, Suffolk, England
‘Our planet was handed to us broken and destroyed’

Zola, 11, New York, US taking part in a climate strike.

I will be taking part on Friday because I am scared for mine and other children’s futures. Our planet was handed to us broken and destroyed from previous generations and it is seriously unfair that we should be hit with its full effects. There was Hurricane Sandy and there were floods but I moved to New York in 2014 and live pretty high up so I don’t get hit as hard as people in Redhook or the Rockaways might.

I feel both empowered and scared. It is awesome that we have come this far and that kids have taken notice of our world’s faults but it’s frightening that we have to. If adults had taken action before it escalated to this point, we would have had a lot more time to help piece Earth back together.

To the kids, keep working hard and we will eventually force adults to take action, this is our future we are protesting for, they can’t take it away. To the adults who aren’t doing anything, you have let it get this far, when will climate change have killed enough people for you to take notice? To adults who are trying to help, thank you. We need more people like you to get this job done. Every person counts. To everyone, think when you go to a cafe, do I really need this plastic bag or straw? Remember to refuse. Zola, 11, New York, US


Labour pledges to put climate emergency on school curriculum

Angela Rayner says a Labour government would make it a core element at primary school

Sally Weale Education correspondent
24 May 2019 22.30 BST

Labour has pledged to make the global climate emergency a core element of the school curriculum from primary school onwards, in response to demands by young people taking part in a series of school climate strikes.

As young activists around the world prepare for another day of strike action on Friday, Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said a Labour government would ensure that the climate crisis was an educational priority and that all young people were taught about its ecological and social impact.

Labour is promising to review the school curriculum and provide a new focus on the knowledge and skills needed in a world increasingly shaped by climate change, with a view to better equipping young people for the green technology jobs of the future.

Environmental campaigners claim that more than 1.4 million young people around the world took part in school strikes for climate action in March. One of their key demands has been that the national curriculum should be reformed to ensure that the ecological crisis is an educational priority.

Issues around the climate crisis are currently covered in both science and geography at key stage 3 (KS3) for ages 11-14 and at key stage 4 (KS4) for ages 14-16 – both subjects are compulsory at KS3, while only science is compulsory at KS4. Activists have complained it’s not enough.

Rayner said: “Today, young people are taking to the streets to send a clear message to the government that climate change will be a fundamental and defining feature of their adult lives, and we must take the action needed to tackle it.

“We need to equip people with the knowledge to understand the enormous changes we face, and skills to work with the new green technologies that we must develop to deal with them.

“That must be part of a broad education that prepares pupils for adult life. Climate change should be a core part of the school curriculum, and under a Labour government it will be.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said pupils already learn about climate change, but he agreed that more could and should be done. “We are particularly encouraged by Labour’s plans to put more focus on learning about renewable energy and green technology jobs, as these are excellent career prospects which will help to reshape our world for the better.

“It is important to ensure that this is not just an add-on to an already packed curriculum and that it is balanced properly with all the other requirements on schools.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “It is important that pupils are taught about climate change, which is why it is in the national curriculum as part of science and geography in both primary and secondary school.

“The curriculum also includes the knowledge pupils need to help address climate change in the future. For example, in design and technology pupils are taught to consider the impact of the products they design on individuals, society and the environment.”

 on: May 24, 2019, 03:49 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
When Europe gets it right: From no recycling to zero waste: how Ljubljana rethought its rubbish

Fifteen years ago, all the Slovenian capital’s waste went to landfill, but by 2025, at least 75% of its rubbish will be recycled. How did the city turn itself around?

Words and photographs by Luka Dakskobler
24 May 2019 06.00 BST

From the lush green hill you can see Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, in the distance. Populations of deer, rabbits and turtles live here. The air is clean and the only signs that we are standing above a 24-metre (79 feet) deep landfill are the methane gas pipes rising from the grass.

Ljubljana is the first European capital to commit to going zero-waste. But fifteen years ago, all of its refuse went straight to landfill. “And that is expensive,” says Nina Sankovič of Voka Snaga, the city’s waste management company. “It takes up space and you’re throwing away resources.”

So the city decided to change course.

    A deer grazes on Ljubljana’s old landfill site; the city is a backdrop to the site’s green spaces and methane pipes

It began in 2002 with separate collection of paper, glass and packaging in roadside container stands. Four years later, the city began collecting biodegradable waste door to door; separate collection of biowaste is set to become mandatory across Europe in 2023, but Ljubljana was nearly two decades ahead of the curve. In 2013, every doorstep in the city received bins for packaging and paper waste. And, most controversially, scheduled collections of the residual waste were cut by half – forcing people to separate their rubbish more efficiently.

The results have been impressive. In 2008, the city recycled only 29.3% of its waste and was lagging behind the rest of Europe. Today that figure is 68%, and its landfill receives almost 80% less rubbish, putting it at the top of the recycling leaderboard of EU capitals. The Slovenian capital now produces only 115 kg of residual waste per capita annually (the European city with the lowest figure is the much smaller Treviso, Italy, at 59kg).

    The RCERO plant, top, processes biological and residual waste into four types of remains

The development of the most modern plant in Europe for treating biological waste has been a major step towards meeting the city’s commitment to a minimum 75% recycling rate by 2025. The Regional Centre for Waste Management (RCERO) opened in 2015 and today services almost a quarter of all Slovenia, uses natural gas to produce its own heat and electricity, processes 95% of residual waste into recyclable materials and solid fuel, and sends less than 5% to landfill. It even turns biowaste into high-quality gardening compost.

But it’s not just about processing. Prevention, reuse and recycling lead the way. In addition to door-to-door collection, Ljubljana has two household waste recycling centres where citizens can dispose of their rubbish. The one near RCERO Ljubljana is so popular – it gets more than 1,000 visits a day – that the city plans to build at least three more, with another 10 smaller sites in denser areas.
There are containers for paper, packaging, glass, residual and biodegradable waste throughout the city

    In the crowded city centre, residents can dispose of household waste in segregated bins, opened using a card only issued to citizens

“I don’t remember a time we weren’t separating waste,” says Henrik, a resident dropping off his rubbish at the centre. “I know exactly where a specific container is so I prepack waste in that order.”

Stuff that isn’t broken gets reused: items are checked, cleaned and then sold at low prices from the facility. And there is a weekly workshop which teaches citizens how to fix broken things.

Zero-waste stores are an emerging trend in Ljubljana, and the Voka Snaga waste department runs its own packaging-free vending machines for household basics. Annother innovation means that all municipal institutions now use toilet roll that is produced from recycled milk and juice packaging.
A customer uses a packaging-free vending machines .

    Reduce, reuse, recycle (clockwise from top): packaging-free shops are now popular; streets are cleaned with collected rainwater and biodegradable detergent; items from the reuse centre are sorted, cleaned and sold

In the historical city centre, where space is scarce, Voka Snaga installed 67 units of containers underground; the bins open with a card issued to residents.

Although packed with tourists, the city centre is clean. Waste collectors roam on foot, and special vehicles sweep the streets using rainwater collected from the Voka Snaga rooftops and biodegradable detergent. Almost every corner has separate waste bins for paper, packaging and residual rubbish.

Ljubljana still faces challenges – not least apartment buildings, where it is difficult to identify those who dispose of waste incorrectly, but also a huge ongoing glut of cemetery candles, a particular issue for Slovenia, which ranks third in the world for their use.
Waste cemetery candles wait for processing at the Regional Center for Waste Management in Ljubljana

    The plastic holders for cemetery candles waiting to be processed at RCERO

“Of course they could do even better,” says Pierre Condamine, waste policy officer at Zero Waste Europe. “As we say: zero-wasters are always happy, but never satisfied.”

Back at the landfill, Lidija Čepon of RCERO points out a small pile of what seems like dark soil partially covered by a thin layer of bright rubble. “That dark material is what comes out of RCERO,” she says. “On top of it is inert waste, and together they make less than 5% that we landfill.” A hint of pride creeps into her voice.

In another context the sight might be considered disappointing. After all, there is really not much to see.

 on: May 24, 2019, 03:45 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
The discovery of a billion-year-old fungus fossil is forcing scientists to rewrite what we know about evolution

By The Conversation
May 24, 2019

Biologists don’t call them “the hidden kingdom” for nothing. With an estimated 5 million species, only a mere 100,000 fungi are known to scientists. This kingdom, which includes molds, yeasts, rusts and mushrooms, receives far less attention than plants or animals. This is particularly true for fossils of fungi, most of which are discovered while hunting for more charismatic, at least to the eyes of some, plant fossils.

Fungi were key partners of plants during their colonization of land approximately 500 million years ago – an important and well-documented evolutionary transition. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the earliest fungal fossils, found in 450 million-year-old rocks, resemble modern species associated with the roots of plants. But that conflicts with DNA-based estimates, which suggest that fungi originated much earlier – a billion or more years ago. It’s a riddle in the tree of life that evolutionary biologists like me have long been puzzled about.

Fossils versus DNA

For years scientists have tried to reconcile the fungal fossil record with estimates from analyses of fungal DNA. But some of their key morphological characters – that is, the shapes they take – can only be established via microscopic and chemical analyses. That includes the complex networks of microscopic thread-like filaments and cell walls made of chitin, which are also not visible to the naked eye. The effort seemed hopeless, until now.

Corentin Loron, a graduate student at the University of Liege in Belgium and colleagues, discovered microscopic, fossilized specimens of a fungus called Ourasphaira giraldae in shale rock from the Grassy Bay Formation in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Given that Ourasphaira is found on 1,000- to 900-million-year-old rocks, the new fossil pushes back the origin of fungi by half a billion years.
A very revealing fossil

But how did Loron deduce that these fossils are fungi? While most of us are quite familiar with the large reproductive structures of some fungi, such as mushrooms, most of us are less familiar with the fungal network of microscopic thread-like filaments that makes up their “bodies.”

Microscopical analyses of Ourasphaira show that it formed a network just like those made by modern fungi; and chemical analyses show that the cell walls of these microfossils contain chitin, again just like modern fungi.

The implications of this discovery are twofold.

First, the fossil singlehandedly reconciles DNA-based and paleontological estimates of fungal origins, pushing back the origin of Opisthokonta, a supergroup comprising fungi, animals and their single-celled relatives to at least a billion years ago. And second, the fossil gives us clues about the environments where the first fungi lived. Ourasphaira was found in a shale, a type of rock that forms at the muddy bottom of lakes and rivers. Since this particular shale appears to have been formed as a result of sedimentation from a shallow-water estuary, it may be the first fungi evolved where rivers met the seas a billion years ago.

It’s one more clue that helps fill in the picture on how life on earth evolved and one more step toward bringing this fascinating group of organisms to the limelight.The Conversation

By Antonis Rokas, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Biological Sciences and Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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