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India, Zimbabwe, Bolivia Join Together Against Climate Change

UN negotiators in Bangkok seek to prepare a document with guidelines and standards for approval at the forthcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in Poland in December.

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Indian, Bolivian, Zimbabwean activists unite against climate change
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Indian activist Vidya Dinker, Bolivian Martin Vilela and Zimbabwean Mela Chiponda live in different continents but suffer a common problem of climate change, which they denounced before the UN in Bangkok.

The three are among many activists and civil society representatives attending the UN climate change conference on Friday that will run till Sunday, Efe news reported.

As delegates discuss percentages and technicalities regarding climate change at the UN building here, members of non-profits speak about their concerns on ecological damage from coal, intense droughts that destroy entire communities, as well as activists who end up dead for their environmental activism.

Activist Dinker recalled a march from Tamil Nadu to New Delhi in 2017 by farmers with rats in their mouths, symbolizing food shortages, and carrying the skulls of debt-ridden farmers who committed suicide amid severe droughts.

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Researchers say the Antarctic Peninsula is rapidly greening due to climate change. (Matt Amesbury). VOA

The activist from Mangalore rued that the farmers’ widows were left to take care of the children while facing increasingly mounting debts.

Extreme climate conditions were also observed in India, where severe floods in Kerala left several hundred dead, while thousands were rendered homeless in Assam this year.

Dinker told Efe that climate change also affects the pollination of flowers, which in turn could affect the day to day lives of humans in many other ways.

Activist Chiponda, from the Zimbabwean province of Manicaland, has been working for the last three years against the extractive economy and empowering women in several African countries through the non-profit WoMin.

Chiponda alleges that global warming causes heat waves and extreme droughts in Zimbabwe, compelling men to migrate or commit suicide due to debts, while coal mining pollutes farmland.

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Chiponda said that there was food scarcity and diseases among children that earlier were not seen.

Chiponda said that there was food scarcity and diseases among children that earlier were not seen. She added that there was an urgent need for countries to give up fossil fuels and for the people to change their consumption habits in order to not pollute the environment.

Activist Vilela, a resident of La Paz and member of the Bolivian Climate Change Platform, said that climate extremes in Bolivia cause floods in the Amazonian region and droughts that dry up large lakes such as Poopo.

Vilela said that climate change has been affecting many poor communities that face adverse situations every day, adding that the negotiations in Bangkok were not addressing structural solutions and not even taking little steps against climate change.

Other victims of climate change have been vocal about the increasing frequency of landslides and floods in northern Thailand, proliferation of coal-fired power plants in the Philippines, as well as the loss of arable land due to sea erosion and salinization in Bangladesh.

Activists fighting against the polluting companies have reportedly been killed in Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines.

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Activists fighting against the polluting companies have reportedly been killed in Brazil, Colombia and the Philippines.. Pixabay

Climate change has also affected Australia, which is suffering one of its worst droughts, and Europe, where lack of water has affected crops in Poland.

Also Read: 10 Indian Author’s Books Selected for JCB Prize for Literature

UN negotiators in Bangkok seek to prepare a document with guidelines and standards for approval at the forthcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in Poland in December, with the aim of keeping temperature change this century within 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

Moreover, the NGOs have urged keeping in mind the poorest communities, who often end up losing their lives to the effects of global warming. (IANS)

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Skyscrapers May Have Made The Impact Of Hurricane Harvey Worse: Study

The scientists projected future warming and found future versions of the same storms would be significantly wetter and stronger.

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Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston, Texas, VOA

Humans helped make recent devastating U.S. hurricanes wetter but in different ways, two new studies find.

Hurricane Harvey snagged on the skyscrapers of Houston, causing it to slow and dump more rain than it normally would, one study found. The city’s massive amounts of paving had an even bigger impact by reducing drainage. Land development in the metro area, on average, increased the chances of extreme flooding by 21 times, study authors said.

A second study looked at last year’s major Hurricanes Maria and Irma and 2005’s deadly Katrina and used computer simulations to see what would have happened if there had been no human-caused global warming. The study found that climate change significantly increased rainfall from those three storms, but did not boost their wind speed.

Both studies are in Wednesday’s journal Nature.

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A smoky haze envelopes the skyscrapers and Rocky Mountains that usually can be seen as a backdrop to the city from a high-rise building, Aug. 20, 2018, in Denver. VOA

Houston was a literal drag on Harvey as it sloshed through, with the storm getting tripped up by the skyscrapers, said study co-author Gabriele Villarini, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Iowa.

Co-author Gabe Vecchi, a climate scientist at Princeton University, said that forced the storm to move up higher, causing more concentrated rain over Houston and slowing, which also made more rain.

He compared it to a river running over rocks, creating bubbles.

“That’s sort of what’s going on here,” he said.

This effect is dwarfed, though, by the paving and building that don’t allow water to sink into the ground, Vecchi said.

Harvey’s record rainfall reached 5 feet in one spot near Houston. The scientists used computer simulations to see the effects of urbanization. In parts of the Houston metro area, the effects of development ranged from a 10 percent higher risk of extreme flooding in the less developed northwest to nearly 92 times the risk in the northeast, they reported.

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A work truck drives on Hwy 24 as the wind from Hurricane Florence blows palm trees in Swansboro N.C. VOA

That’s on top of the unique weather patterns that made Harvey slow down and stall and climate change which brought more water into the storm, Vecchi said.

MIT hurricane and climate expert Kerry Emanuel, who wasn’t part of the study, called the Harvey study “a real advance in our understanding of hurricane impacts on urban areas.”

But Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon wasn’t convinced. He said the team used generic shapes instead of the actual Houston skyline. He said the storm’s wind speeds may have slowed, but that’s different from the storm’s forward movement slowing.

The other study in Nature looked at a variety of historical damaging storms and tried to calculate past and future effects of climate change. In three cases, the scientists simulated the storms without the changes in the climate from greenhouse gases, showing that global warming increased rainfall 8.9 percent in Hurricane Maria , 6.3 percent in Hurricane Irma and 8.7 percent in Hurricane Katrina .

Maria hit Puerto and Rico and other parts of the Caribbean. Irma hit the Caribbean and Florida, while Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

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Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C.. VOA

In Maria’s case, a warming climate concentrated heavier rain in the center of the storm and reduced it on the edges, said co-author Michael Wehner, a climate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

For 15 storms, which included the devastating Typhoon Haiyan , the potent Gilbert and 1992’s Hurricane Andrew , the scientists projected future warming and found future versions of the same storms would be significantly wetter and stronger.

Also Read: Vietnam Does Its Part in Cleaning The Environment, Cleans Plastic

“We are beginning to see a climate change influence emerge on tropical cyclones and that’s coming out as rainfall,” said study lead author Christina Patricola, an atmospheric scientist at the national lab.

Although replicating a storm in a different climate is difficult and can’t account for certain changes, this work bolsters science understanding of how climate change alters hurricanes, Emanuel said. (VOA)