Climate plans would allow up to 2.6C of global warming: UN

  Paris, France | AFP | by Patrick GALEY Country climate pledges leave the world on track to heat by as much as 2.6 degrees Celsius this century, according to a United Nations assessment Wednesday warning that emissions must fall 45 percent this decade to limit disastrous heating. The United Nations Environment Programme, in its annual Emissions Gap report, found that updated national promises since last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow would only shave less […]

Nine dead, million seek shelter as cyclone hits Bangladesh

KUAKATA, Bangladesh (AFP) — At least nine people have died after a cyclone slammed into Bangladesh, forcing the evacuation of around a million people from their homes, officials said Tuesday. Cyclones — the equivalent of hurricanes in the Atlantic or typhoons in the Pacific — are a regular menace but scientists say climate change is likely making them more intense and frequent. Cyclone Sitrang made landfall in southern Bangladesh late Monday but authorities managed to […]

For blight-ridden American chestnut tree, rebirth may be in offing

by Robin LEGRAND Agence France Presse Meadowview, United States (AFP) — The American chestnut tree, once a regal pillar of forests across the eastern United States, is on life support, struggling to survive. “These look like death,” said Vasiliy Lakoba, research director for the American Chestnut Foundation (ACF), which has been working since the 1980s to resurrect the species. He pointed to a patch of stunted shrubs, chestnut trees that were a far cry from […]

Displaced by flooding, Nigerians in desperate need of help

Ahoada, Nigeria | AFP | by Alexandre MARTINS LOPES It was pitch black when the waters came, forcing mother Fortune Lawrence and her eight children to jump on a makeshift boat and flee their house. For the past two weeks, they have been living in dire conditions near Ahoada, in Rivers state, in a school now crowded with more than a thousand people displaced by Nigeria’s worst floods in a decade. “I was afraid to die […]

Magma symphony could help predict volcanic eruptions

Sydney, Australia | AFP | Inaudible sonic rumblings from deep in a volcano’s bowels could provide a warning when it is about to blow, scientists said Thursday, offering threatened communities the prospect of a life-saving heads-up. A team studying “infrasounds” — sounds too deep for humans to hear — from volcanoes like Italy’s Mount Etna has discovered that magmatic gurgles change markedly as an eruption nears. As magma explodes, soundwaves reverberate through the crater “just […]

Receding ice leaves Canada’s polar bears at rising risk

by Marion THIBAUT Agence France Presse Churchill, Canada (AFP)– Sprawled on rocky ground far from sea ice, a lone Canadian polar bear sits under a dazzling sun, his white fur utterly useless as camouflage. It’s mid-summer on the shores of Hudson Bay and life for the enormous male has been moving in slow motion, far from the prey that keeps him alive: seals. This is a critical time for the region’s polar bears. Every year […]

Climate change puts one billion children at ‘extreme risk’: watchdog

  The Hague, Netherlands | AFP | Some one billion children are at “extremely high risk” due to climate change harms, a rights group warned on Wednesday, adding that youths’ living standards failed to improve in the last decade. The KidsRights index, based on figures supplied by UN agencies, also said more than one-third of the world’s children, some 820 million, were currently exposed to heatwaves. Water scarcity affected 920 million children worldwide, while diseases […]

‘Dream’ New Zealand job has it all, except applicants

Wellington, New Zealand (AFP) — Saving an endangered bird and commuting via helicopter in New Zealand may sound like a dream gig, but so far a job to protect a rare flightless bird is not taking off among applicants. The Department of Conservation in the tiny town of Haast — perched on the western edge of Mount Aspiring National Park — has received just three applications so far for the role, said operations manager Wayne […]

Feathers ruffled as charismatic parrot banned from avian beauty contest

by Ryland JAMES Agence France Presse Wellington, New Zealand (AFP) — The world’s fattest parrot can’t fly, and now it can’t run either. Voting began on Monday in New Zealand’s always-controversial Bird of the Year contest, with angry twitchers spitting feathers at a decision to ban the twice-winning kakapo. The beguiling owl parrot — which resembles a verdant feathered bowling ball — already won the contest in 2008 and 2020, and came runner up in […]

Iraq unveils archaeological park with ancient carvings

Faida, Iraq (AFP) — Authorities in northern Iraq on Sunday unveiled an “archaeological park” of 2,700-year-old carvings from the rule of the Assyrians, including showing kings praying. The 13 stunning monumental rock-carved bas-reliefs were cut into the walls of an irrigation canal that stretches for some 10 kilometres (six miles) at Faida in northern Iraq. The panels, measuring five metres (16 feet) wide and two metres tall, date from the reigns of Sargon II (721-705 […]

Europe heading for warmer-than-average winter: forecaster

  Paris, France | AFP | Europe faces a higher-than-usual chance of a cold blast of weather before the end of the year, but the winter overall is likely to be warmer than average, the continent’s long-range weather forecaster said Thursday. Temperatures this winter will be crucial for homeowners worried about the record cost of heating their homes, and for European policymakers seeking to avoid energy rationing due to cuts in Russian gas supplies. “We […]

Heatwaves will make regions uninhabitable within decades: UN, Red Cross

by Robin MILLARD Agence France Presse Geneva, Switzerland (AFP) — Heatwaves will become so extreme in certain regions of the world within decades that human life there will be unsustainable, the United Nations and the Red Cross said Monday. Heatwaves are predicted to “exceed human physiological and social limits” in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and south and southwest Asia, with extreme events triggering “large-scale suffering and loss of life”, the organisations said. Heatwave […]