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Scientists: Nations Need Stronger Pledges to Curb Climate Change

Governments are moving in the right direction, but nowhere near enough, so hopefully they will be willing to take on much stronger commitments

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Scientists, Nations, Climate Change
A woman wearing a mask walks past buildings on a polluted day in Handan, Hebei province, China, Jan. 12, 2019. China is reportedly the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases. VOA

The vast majority of national commitments in the 2015 Paris Agreement are inadequate to prevent the worst effects of global warming, scientists said on Tuesday, naming the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries as among those that must ratchet up their efforts.

“Governments are moving in the right direction, but nowhere near enough, so hopefully they will be willing to take on much stronger commitments” in next month’s United Nation’s climate summit in Spain, said Robert Watson, lead author of the report by the nonprofit Universal Ecological Fund.

The report ranked nearly 75%, or 136, of the pledges as insufficient, including ones by major carbon emitters China, the United States, and India. A dozen, by countries including Australia, Japan and Brazil, were judged only partially sufficient.

Countries at next month’s summit in Madrid will hash out some details of the international pact to curb warming. Chile withdrew as host following weeks of riots protesting inequality.

Scientists, Nations, Climate Change
A protestor holds a placard in front of the India Gate during a protest demanding government to take immediate steps to control air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 5, 2019. VOA

Of the 184 pledges countries made under the climate agreement, only 36 are ambitious enough to help reach the agreement’s goal of keeping global warming less than 1.5 Celsius (2.7 F) above pre-industrial levels, the report said.

Most of those 36 are by countries in the European Union.

Watson, a former chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the report could be read two ways: “You can read ‘My God it’s hopeless’, or ‘My God this is a wake up call.'”

Watson estimated that even if all nations meet their existing pledges, the world would be headed for temperature rise of between 3 and 3.5 degrees Celsius, which could lead to more extreme weather, rising sea levels and the loss of plant and animal species.

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The report rated the European Union’s 28 member states as having sufficient pledges because they aim to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 40% below the 1990 level by 2030.

It ranked the United States as insufficient because President Donald Trump reversed former President Barack Obama’s climate policies and yanked Washington out of the pact. The administration, which argues that Paris Agreement would cost U.S. taxpayers too much money, filed official paperwork on Monday to withdraw.

China, the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases, and India, also came in as insufficient because their pledges focus on carbon intensity targets, which lower emissions per unit of gross domestic product, or GDP. Because those economies are growing and coal produces much of their electricity, total emissions have risen sharply even though carbon intensity levels in China and India have fallen. (VOA)

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Scientists Recreate Voice of an Egyptian Priest Who Lived 3,000 Years Ago

The researchers suggest that their proof-of-concept recreation of a vocal tract preserved over three millennia has implications for the way in which the past is presented to the public in the present

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Egyptian
The Egyptian priest Nesyamun lived during the politically volatile reign of the pharaoh Ramses XI over 3000 years ago, working as a scribe and priest at the state temple of Karnak in Thebes (modern Luxor). IANS

Scientists have succeeded in accurately reproducing the voice of an Egyptian priest who lived 3,000 years ago, thanks to the mummification process and the use of 3D printing technology.

The scientists created the 3-D printed vocal tract based on measurements of the precise dimensions of his extant vocal tract following computed tomography (CT) scanning.

The acoustic output is a single sound, falling between the vowels in the English words ‘bed’ and ‘bad’, according to the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The Egyptian priest Nesyamun lived during the politically volatile reign of the pharaoh Ramses XI over 3000 years ago, working as a scribe and priest at the state temple of Karnak in Thebes (modern Luxor).

His voice was an essential part of his ritual duties which involved spoken as well as sung elements. The precise dimensions of an individual’s vocal tract produce a unique sound. If the dimensions of a vocal tract can be established, vocal sounds can be synthesized by using a 3D-printed vocal tract and an electronic larynx.

Egyptian Art, Sarcophagus, Pharaoe, Ancient, Egypt
Scientists have succeeded in accurately reproducing the voice of an Egyptian priest who lived 3,000 years ago, thanks to the mummification process and the use of 3D printing technology. Pixabay

For this to be feasible, the soft tissue of the vocal tract needs to be reasonably intact. David Howard of University of London and his colleagues used non-destructive CT to confirm that a significant part of the structure of the larynx and throat of the mummified body of the Nesyamun remained intact as a result of the mummification process.

This allowed the authors to measure the vocal tract shape from CT images. Based on these measurements, the authors created a 3D-printed vocal tract for Nesyamun and used it with an artificial larynx commonly used in speech synthesis.

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The researchers suggest that their proof-of-concept recreation of a vocal tract preserved over three millennia has implications for the way in which the past is presented to the public in the present. It may provide an opportunity to hear the vocal tract output of an individual that lived in ancient times. (IANS)