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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


A pledge to fight climate change is sending money to strange places

Rich nations say they’re spending billions to fight climate change. Some money is going to strange places. Wealthy countries have pledged $100 billion a year to help reduce the effects of global warming. But Reuters found large sums going to…

Ron DeSantis now blames ‘global warming’ for military recruitment woes

Florida’s Governor is telling Iowans that the military’s focus on “global warming” is a reason recruiting has fallen off, and he vows to “eliminate” such “distractions” if elected President. Ron DeSantis told a crowd in West Des Moines Tuesday of…

Climate change, unemployment, healthcare costs ‘top concerns’ among consumers in UAE

The primary concerns among UAE consumers include global climate change or global warming, recession and unemployment, and the cost of healthcare. These concerns, preferences, and habits of consumers in the UAE were revealed in a Consumer Life Study recently undertaken…


EU’s top 10 emitters are all coal plants — and 7 of them are repeat offenders

Poland, Germany dominate Europe’s emissions; long-term trend of coal power emissions shows a decline

Europe’s power sector emissions have declined over the last decade, but the transition isn’t fast enough. Photo: iStock Europe’s power sector emissions have declined over the last decade, but the transition isn’t fast enough. Photo: iStock

The ten largest emitters in the European Union Emissions Trading System in 2022 were all coal plants, with Germany and Poland dominating the list, an analysis of recorded emissions has found. However, the long-term trend of coal power emissions shows a decline, with values in 2022 40 per cent lower than a decade ago.

Coal power emissions rose 6 per cent compared to 2021, but remained below 2019 levels, according to a report titled Repeat offenders: coal power plants top the EU emitters list released May 23, 2023 by global energy think tank Ember. EU ETS is a ‘cap and trade’ scheme which takes stock of greenhouse gas pollution.

Read more: Just transition: Digital literacy can help youth dependant on coal sector move into other fields, finds IIT study

The top 10 emitters are responsible for almost a quarter of all power sector emissions in the EU-ETS. Just three companies — Rheinisch-Westfalische Elektrizitatswerk (RGE), Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) and Energeticky a Prumyslovy Holding (EPH) — account for 30 per cent of power sector emissions.

Top 10 emitters in EU ETS — All coal plants

Source: EU ETS, Ember

Poland and Germany pumped out 13 per cent of the EU’s total emissions together, the report further said. 

Europe’s power sector emissions have declined over the last decade as countries moved towards phasing out coal, with a limited increase during the previous two years as the continent faced an ongoing energy crisis and sky-high gas costs.

However, the transition is not fast enough. 

Countries and coal-powered emissions (million tonnes CO2 equivalent)

Source: EU ETS, Ember

“Coal plants are the repeat offenders of the EU’s dirty list,” says Ember’s analyst Harriet Fox in a statement. “The faster Europe can get off coal power the better.”

Read more: CAQM’s focus on captive thermal power plants in Delhi-NCR a welcome step, but challenges ahead

A few countries and companies are responsible for the lion’s share of Europe’s power sector emissions, she added.

Seven of the coal plants have been among the top 10 highest emitting power stations every year for the last decade, with PGE’s Bełchatow in Poland topping the list since the EU ETS scheme began in 2005.

RWE’s Neurath coal plant in Germany is in second place, followed by the Boxberg plant — also based in Germany but run by Czech Republic-based EPH.

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‘Painting with fire’: How northern Australia developed one of the world’s best bushfire management programmes

From April to June each year, fire managers aim to create small, ‘cool’ fires with care and precision to reduce fuel loads before conditions get severe

Satellite imagery shows how burnt areas in central Arnhem Land are lines carefully ‘painted’ across the landscape. Photo: Sentinel Hub EO Browser, CC BY Satellite imagery shows how burnt areas in central Arnhem Land are lines carefully ‘painted’ across the landscape. Photo: Sentinel Hub EO Browser, CC BY

Right now, hundreds of bushfires are burning across northern Australia. But this is not a wildfire catastrophe — in fact, these burns are making things safer in one of the most fire-prone landscapes in the world.

From April to June each year, fire managers — such as Traditional Owners, park rangers and pastoralists — aim to create small, “cool” fires with care and precision to reduce fuel loads before conditions get severe later in the dry season. This work, “painting” landscapes with fire, is constantly informed by satellite data.

The combination of space technology with Indigenous knowledge and the know-how of pastoralists and park rangers has been everyday practice across northern Australia for the past 20 years.

Not only does this work produce some of the best fire management outcomes in the world, it also demonstrates how cutting-edge technology can inform local and traditional knowledge for environmental management.

The satellite view

In the early 2000s, researchers and land managers brought together by the Cooperative Research Centre for the Sustainable Development of Tropical Savannahs realised satellite imagery could be of great help for fire management across Australia’s vast tropical savannas.

These landscapes have always been prone to fire. After First Nations people moved away (or were forced) from these areas over the course of the 20th century, savanna fires became more frequent and intense.

Satellite imagery had long been used to understand the extent and severity of fires and other landscape-altering events. But researchers realised it could also be used to manage those fires — if up-to-date imagery could be provided to the public on a daily basis.

The result was regularly updated maps of recently burnt areas distributed via a website launched in 2003, hosted by Charles Darwin University — North Australian Fire Information (NAFI).

Twenty years on, NAFI’s maps of active fires and burnt areas underpin fire management across northern Australia. The maps are used for planning, response, implementation, and reporting.

Carbon credits and international attention

NAFI’s fire information also informs the federal government’s calculations for carbon credits related to reduced savanna burning, which many people across Australia’s north are using to generate income. Some of this income is then put back into work to reduce the extent and severity of fires.

NAFI fire data also inform the national Australian Fire Danger Rating System so it can be more effectively applied by bushfire agencies in remote areas.

The same data have provided evidence showing north Australia has had one of the most significant declines in fire across any large landscape globally.

The successes of the NAFI service are drawing international interest as a model for fire information in other fire-susceptible regions around the world.

Painting with fire

Most Australians have a poor understanding of the history of fire on this continent. Fire has been a key human—ecological force that shaped landscapes over tens of thousands of years.

Over the past 20 years, proactive use of fire for landscape management has been revived in northern Australia.

The scale of the work undertaken by Northern fire managers, particularly at this time of year when fuel load reduction burns are underway, is easy to see on NAFI.

A snapshot from NAFI from 15 May 2023. Each coloured dot represents an active fire. Photo: NAFI

Landscape-scale fire management, as applied in Northern Australia, is a sophisticated endeavour where science, technology and engineering support local knowledge.

Beyond science and technology

In a world rapidly being transformed by climate change, the skills required to make our societies sustainable and resilient involve more than just science and technology. Good environmental management will also require diverse, locally based skills and capacity to act.

Good fire management, as a case in point, requires an ability to blend skills and ways of thinking across multiple knowledge systems as well as a huge amount of hard work on the land.

Enabling easy, appropriately curated access to satellite-derived land information — and training to understand it — is critical.

Tiwi Rangers at a training session on using satellite data and digital mapping for fire management. Photo: Rohan Fisher, Author provided

NAFI also develops and delivers training for land managers.

Through workshops delivered across regional Australia, from remote Indigenous communities in the Kimberley and the top end to pastoralists in northern Queensland and central Australia, we are building high-tech capacity among those with the vital on-ground knowledge.

The journey of NAFI and fire management in northern Australia over the past 20 years illustrates how innovation is not just about technology, no matter how advanced. Innovation produces results when it is combined with other knowledge and put into the hands of the right people in the right way.The Conversation

Rohan Fisher, Information Technology for Development Researcher, Charles Darwin University and Peter Jacklyn, NAFI Service Manager and Knowledge and Adoption Coordinator, Charles Darwin University

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

Can we still handle the truth? Journalism, ‘alternative facts’ and the rise of AI | Lenore Taylor

We all have moments in life when we know something big is happening, that we are stepping into a new and consequential experience, and our mind takes a mental Polaroid, an intensely clear snapshot of what that moment looks like…

Judge presiding over Big Oil climate change lawsuit reveals connection to plaintiff’s eco lawyers

The Hawaii state judge presiding over a high-stakes climate change case between the City of Honolulu and several multinational oil corporations is facing calls for recusal over his indirect relationship to plaintiffs. Mark Recktenwald, the chief justice of the Hawaii…

Scientists Discover Butterflies Originated in America 100 Million Years Ago When Upstart Moths Wanted to Bask in the Sun

credit – SWNS

Scientists completed a vast evolutionary jigsaw puzzle in 4D—and they discovered that butterflies originated in America around 100 million years ago.

They determined that it was a group of “trendsetting” moths that started flying during the day rather than at night, taking advantage of nectar-rich flowers that had co-evolved with bees.

That single event led to the evolution of all butterflies, and now scientists have discovered where they first originated and which plants they relied on for food.

Researchers have known the precise timing of the event since 2019, when a major analysis of DNA discounted an earlier theory that pressure from bats prompted the evolution of butterflies following the extinction of dinosaurs.

Before reaching their conclusions, researchers from several countries had to create the world’s largest butterfly tree of life, assembled with DNA from more than 2,000 species representing all butterfly families.

Using the framework as a guide, the team traced the movements and feeding habits of butterflies over time in a four-dimensional puzzle that led back to North and Central America.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since visiting the American Museum of Natural History when I was a kid and seeing a picture of a butterfly phylogeny taped to a curator’s door,” lead author Doctor Akito Kawahara, curator of Lepidoptera at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “This was a childhood dream of mine.”

Morpho butterfly – Trond Larsen / Conservation International

“It’s also the most difficult study I’ve ever been a part of, and it took a massive effort from people all over the world to complete.”

There are more than 19,000 butterfly species, and piecing together the 100 million-year history of the group required data about their modern distributions and host plants.

Before the study, there was no single place that researchers could go to access that type of data. To wit, many of the sources were books written by local experts, and not always in the same language.

“In many cases, the information we needed existed in field guides that hadn’t been digitized and were written in various languages.”

The team decided to make their own publicly available database by painstakingly translating and transferring the contents of books, museum collections, and isolated web pages into a single digital repository.

Underlying all the data were 11 rare butterfly fossils, without which the analysis would not have been possible.

Unlike other insects, butterflies are rarely preserved in the fossil record due to their paper-thin wings and threadlike, gossamer hairs.

The few that are can be used as calibration points on genetic trees, allowing researchers to record the timing of key evolutionary events.

The results show that some groups traveled over vast distances while others seem to have stayed in one place, remaining stationary while continents, mountains, and rivers moved around them.

Dr. Kawahara says butterflies first appeared somewhere in Central and western North America when North America was bisected by an expansive seaway that split the continent in two, while present-day Mexico was joined in a long arc with the United States, Canada, and Russia.

MORE BUTTERFLY NEWS: Efforts to Save Endangered Blue Butterfly Quadruples its Population–but Also Saves a Lupine from Extinction

North and South America hadn’t yet joined via the Isthmus of Panama, but butterflies had little difficulty crossing the strait between them.

“Despite the relatively close proximity of South America to Africa, butterflies took the long way around, moving into Asia across the Bering Land Bridge,” said Dr. Kawahara. “From there, they quickly covered ground, radiating into South East Asia, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa.”

“They even made it to India, which was then an isolated island, separated by miles of open sea on all sides. Even more astonishing was their arrival in Australia, which remained sutured to Antarctica, the last combined remnant of the supercontinent Pangaea.”

Farther north, butterflies lingered on the edge of western Asia for potentially up to 45 million years before finally migrating into Europe.

“Europe doesn’t have many butterfly species compared to other parts of the world, and the ones it does have can often be found elsewhere. Many butterflies in Europe are also found in Siberia and Asia, for example.”

MORE LIFE SCIENCES: Breeding Corals for the Great Barrier Reef Achieves First Out-of-Season Spawning Event Ever

By the time dinosaurs disappeared 66 million years ago, nearly all modern butterfly families had arrived on the scene, and each one seems to have had a special affinity for a specific group of plants. But there was one plant that stood out among them all.

“We looked at this association over an evolutionary timescale, and in pretty much every family of butterflies, bean plants came out to be the ancestral hosts. This was true in the ancestor of all butterflies as well.”

Bean plants have since increased their roster of pollinators to include bees, flies, hummingbirds, and mammals, while butterflies have similarly expanded their palate.

MORE ENTOMOLOGY: Smithsonian Says These Moths Are So Gorgeous, They Put Butterflies to Shame: It’s National Moth Week

Study co-author Professor Pamela Soltis, a Florida Museum curator, says the botanical partnerships that butterflies forged helped transform them from minor offshoots of moths to what is today one of the world’s largest groups of insects.

“The evolution of butterflies and flowering plants has been inexorably intertwined since the origin of the former, and the close relationship between them has resulted in remarkable diversification events in both lineages,” she said.

SHARE This Evolutionary Tell-All Study From These Brilliant Entomologists 

CBS segment highlights how adding bugs to the food system ‘could be a game-changer’ to fight climate change

“CBS Saturday Morning” featured a segment suggesting adding insects into a diet could provide benefits for a growing world affected by climate change. To counter meat, soybean derived proteins or other high-carbon foods, the segment described efforts by climate experts…

Letter: Global warming is the greatest problem mankind has ever faced

The recent op-ed, “Some ESG thinking…,” by Aaron Breen used the death of the mighty Eastman Kodak Company to show what happens when companies fail to recognize the tide of new technology. Not only did Kodak pass away but typewriters…

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