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10 Worst Climate-Linked Disasters of 2018 Caused Damage Worth of $85 Bn

The world's weather is becoming more extreme before our eyes - the only thing that can stop this destructive trend from escalating is a rapid fall in carbon emissions.

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Disasters, climate
Residents walk along destroyed stalls at a public market after Typhoon Mangkhut barreled across Tuguegrao city in Cagayan province, Philippines, Sept. 15, 2018. A British charity says climate-linked disasters caused damage in 2018 measured in tens of billions of dollars. VOA

From floods to extreme heat, 10 of the worst climate-linked disasters in 2018 caused at least $84.8 billion worth of damage, said a study released by the charity Christian Aid on Thursday.

Extreme weather driven by climate change hit every populated continent this year, the British relief organization said, warning urgent action was needed to combat global warming.

“This report shows that for many people, climate change is having devastating impacts on their lives and livelihoods right now,” said Kat Kramer, who heads Christian Aid’s work on climate issues, in a statement.

Pollution, Climate
Clouds of smoke over Europe’s largest lignite power plant in Belchatow, central Poland, on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. VOA

Experts say a warming world will lead to sweltering heatwaves, more extreme rainfall, shrinking harvests and worsening water shortages, causing both monetary losses and human misery.

Almost 200 nations are aiming to limit the rise in average world temperatures under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, though some warn progress to meet targets has been slow.

The 20 warmest years on record have been within the last 22 years, the United Nations said last month, with 2018 on track to be the fourth hottest.

The most expensive climate-linked weather events of 2018 were Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which caused at least $32 billion worth of damage as they slammed into the United States, the Caribbean and parts of Central America, the report said.

Climate change, U.S.
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle, N.C. VOA

The United States also suffered at least $9 billion of losses from wildfires that caused dozens of deaths and destroyed thousands of homes in California.

Japan was badly hit by severe floods over the summer, followed by the powerful Typhoon Jebi in autumn, which together caused more than $9.3 billion in damages, said the report.

It also cited droughts in Europe, floods in southern India and Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines and China among the most expensive climate-linked disasters of 2018.

The report’s authors collated total cost figures using data from sources including governments, banks and insurance firms, though in some cases the figures only covered insured losses and also failed to take account of the human costs of such events.

Climate change, california, economic
Climate Change Fuels California Fires. Flickr

They added that rising temperatures would continue to drive extreme weather events as they urged action to prevent further global warming which would impact the poorest and most vulnerable communities hardest.

Also Read: Countries in Climate Talks Move to Produce a Draft To Combat Climate Change

“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” said Michael Mann, professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University, in a statement on the study.

“The world’s weather is becoming more extreme before our eyes – the only thing that can stop this destructive trend from escalating is a rapid fall in carbon emissions.” (VOA)

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World Wildlife Conference to Discuss Tackling Illegal Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora

Tackling the illegal trade in endangered wild fauna and flora and strengthening trade rules for fisheries, timber, and exotic pets

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World, Wildlife, Conference
FILE - Radiated tortoises, originally a native species of southern Madagascar, are on display during an annual flora and fauna expo in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 29, 2010. VOA

Tackling the illegal trade in endangered wild fauna and flora and strengthening trade rules for fisheries, timber, and exotic pets are just a few of the many controversial and emotional issues to be discussed over the next two weeks at a World Wildlife Conference opening in Geneva Saturday.

Thousands of delegates are expected to gather at Geneva’s cavernous Palexpo Exhibition center.  They will be lobbying for their pet wildlife projects through elaborate, imaginative displays and persuasive talk fests.

The 183 Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, is hosting this extravaganza.  CITES sets the rules for international trade in wild animals and plants.

Governments interested in changing the levels of protection that CITES provides have submitted 56 new proposals for discussion.  These, says CITES range from proposals to ensure trade in at-risk species remains sustainable to calls for a ban on trade in species threatened by extinction.

World, Wildlife, Conference
FILE – Conference attendees walk by a display of elephants and other wildlife at The International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, in Honolulu. VOA

One of the hot button issues on the agenda is that of the conservation of African elephants.  Chief of CITES Scientific Services, Tom De Meulenaer, says the debate on trade in elephant ivory has been raging for 25 years.  He says three new proposals will be under debate.

“Two of them are coming from southern African countries and they seek to liberate or to open up trade in ivory again,” said De Meulenaer. “There is a third proposal from other countries in Africa, which is in competition with this one because it seeks to close all trade in ivory.  Obviously, these three proposals are not compatible and will be subject of deliberations by the COP (Conference of the Parties).”

The conference also will consider new wildlife trade rules on an array of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and plants.  A topic likely to generate a lot of interest is whether to exempt musical instruments made of precious wood from trees protected by CITES.

Bass guitars, violins, clarinets and other musical instruments are made wholly or partially from Rosewood and other precious woods.  Organizers promise a fascinating debate with prominent members of the music industry.

Also Read- First CNG station Opened in Dibrugarh, Assam

One of the overarching problems threatening the survival of many wild animals and plants is that of illegal international trade in wildlife.  CITES warns the growing involvement of organized crime groups increases the risks faced by enforcement officers such as park rangers.

The conference is not just a talking shop.  It has teeth.  CITES is a legally binding treaty.  So, officials say anything decided at the conference will have a concrete impact on citizens, businesses and governments in 90 days when the new rules come into effect. (VOA)