Fungi may offer ‘jaw-dropping’ solution to climate change
Fungi may offer ‘jaw-dropping’ solution to climate change | The Hill Skip to content As planet-warming carbon emissions rise, a major solution to climate change is growing beneath our feet. A study published Monday in Current Biology found that fungi gobble up…
We Now Know the Full Extent of Obama’s Disastrous Apathy Toward The Climate Crisis ❧ Current Affairs
Columbia University’s oral history of the Obama presidency consists of interviews with 470 people ranging from administration officials to activists who tried to shape Obama era public policy. It’s the “official” oral history, conducted with funding from the Obama Foundation,…
Astraphobia is a fear of thunder and lightning
Thunderstorms are unpredictable. They can sometimes intensify fast and produce damaging winds, cloud-to-ground lightning that comes crashing downward, tornadoes, or perhaps flooding. Some people are terrified by loud thunder and lightning, especially at night. It’s the unknown that scares people … and pets. If you fear lightning and thunder, as many children, indoor pets and some adults do, then you (and they) have astraphobia.
The symptoms of astraphobia
PsychCentral.com lists the following as symptoms of astraphobia. They are similar to those of any phobia:
anxiety and worry
tremors or shaking
shortness of breath
heart racing or palpitations
nausea or vomiting
Additionally, astraphobia can cause someone to want company and reassurance during a storm. They may seek shelter beyond what’s necessary for a thunderstorm. Someone suffering from astraphobia may close the curtains and attempt to block out the sounds of the storm. Or they become obsessed with weather forecasts, wanting to be certain there are no storms near them. Astraphobia can even lead to agoraphobia, the fear of leaving your home.
The fear of storms in animals
According to the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, thunder and lightning are some of the most common phobias experienced with dogs.
Behaviorists are not yet sure what part of the storm frightens dogs most, whether they’re reacting to lightning flashes, the sound of thunder, wind blowing around the house, or the sound of rain on the roof. Some dogs even start to pace and whine half an hour or more before a storm. They may be reacting to a sudden drop in air pressure or the electrical charge of the air.
Enjoying EarthSky so far? Sign up for our free daily newsletter today!
What is there to be scared of?
Most storms are harmless, even soothing to some, and nurturing to plants and wildlife. Thunder can’t hurt us, of course, but lightning strikes can be deadly. According to the CDC, about 28 people die from lightning per year in the U.S.
There are other weather related deaths. According to the National Weather Service (reported by CBS News), an average of 71 people die in the U.S. every year from tornadoes. And approximately 200 in the U.S. die annually due to flash flooding, according to dps.mn.gov.
However, the deadliest weather phenomenon is heat waves. A recent study suggested that an average of 400 deaths occur annually due to heat in the U.S., with the highest death rates occurring in persons aged 65 years or more.
Still, lightning strikes are deadly, which is why you should go indoors when you hear thunder. The majority of lightning fatalities typically occur in the spring and summer, when there is ample unstable air to create strong updrafts and potent thunderstorms containing dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning.
What’s the treatment for astraphobia?
If your child or pet is afraid, soothe and snuggle them. Being held tightly seems to help some people. In a similar way, some people swear by thundershirts for dogs. But you don’t have to buy an expensive one. Any old tightly wrapped t-shirt for your pet might work just as well. If your child’s fear is severe, or lasts longer than six months, you might want to seek professional treatment so that a childhood fear of storms doesn’t become a full-blown phobia in adulthood.
Bottom line: If your heart starts to race when a thunderstorm comes near, and you want to hide from the thunder and lightning, you might have astraphobia.
The Austrian winemakers switching grapes to account for climate change
The effects of climate change are changing Austria’s wine industry. Rising summer temperatures mean many wines are losing acidity and tasting less fresh. But some winemakers are hoping alternative grape varieties could save the day. On the shores of Lake…
The difference between climate change and global warming?
The terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are often used interchangeably. But though they share many similarities, they are slightly different things. Understanding these subtle differences can help all of us plan the climate action we need to take in…
Let’s Talk Sex | Is Global Warming Impacting Your Sex Life? Here’s The Surprising Answer
“Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to…
Astronomers Discover Hundreds of Mysterious Filaments Pointing Towards Our Milky Way’s Massive Black Hole
Astronomers have found hundreds of mysterious filaments pointing towards the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, which could uncover fresh secrets about the dark abyss at the centre of our galaxy.
The strange horizontal strands are 25,000 light years from Earth and have been likened to spokes spreading out on a wheel.
“It was a surprise to suddenly find a new population of structures that seem to be pointing in the direction of the black hole,” said Professor Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, of Northwestern University.
“I was actually stunned when I saw these. We had to do a lot of work to establish that we weren’t fooling ourselves. And we found that these filaments are not random but appear to be tied to the outflow of our black hole.
“By studying them, we could learn more about the black hole’s spin and accretion disk orientation. It is satisfying when one finds order in a middle of a chaotic field of the nucleus of our galaxy.”
Known as Sagittarius A*, the black hole is a staggering four million times the mass of our Sun.
Positioned radially, the filaments measure less than 10 light years in length and look like the dots and dashes of Morse code, punctuating only one side of Sagittarius A*.
MORE DISCOVERIES: Largest Explosion Ever Seen is Captured by Astronomers: Nothing on this Scale Witnessed Before
The new discoveries are being made possible by enhanced technology, particularly from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (SARAO) MeerKAT telescope.
To uncover the filaments, estimated to be about six million years old, the researchers used a technique to remove the background and smooth the noise from images to isolate them from surrounding structures.
“The new MeerKAT observations have been a game changer,” said Prof. Yusef-Zadeh, lead author of the paper published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “The advancement of technology and dedicated observing time have given us new information. It is really a technical achievement from radio astronomers.”
He believes the filaments, pointing radially toward the black hole, appear to be tied to activities in the galactic center.
They appear to emit thermal radiation, accelerating material in a molecular cloud. There are several hundred vertical compared to just a few hundred horizontal.
POPULAR: Mars Rover Discovers Traces of Salt Water on the Red Planet For the First Time
The new discovery is filled with unknowns and work to unravel its mysteries has just begun. For now, he can only consider a plausible explanation about the new population’s mechanisms and origins.
“We think they must have originated with some kind of outflow from an activity that happened a few million years ago.
“It seems to be the result of an interaction of that outflowing material with objects near it. Our work is never complete. We always need to make new observations and continually challenge our ideas and tighten up our analysis.”
CHECK OUT: Scientist Finds Saturn Doing Something Never Seen Before in Our Solar System: ‘Hiding in Plain View for 40 Years’
Black holes are formed when a dying star collapses inward under the pressure of its own weight. The pull of gravity is so strong that even light can’t escape. This is what makes them invisible. This leads to a supernova, a star’s extremely powerful explosion.
Supermassive black holes can be billions the size of our sun and astronomers believe they can be found at the centre of all large galaxies.
POINT YOUR FRIENDS to This Mystery By Sharing on Social Media
B.C. Climate News: Germany warns of increased health threats from climate change | Environmental groups seek to delay $10 billion LNG project in B.C.| Nova Scotia blaze is largest wildfire in provincial history
Breadcrumb Trail Links News National Local News Here’s your weekly roundup of climate change news for the week of May 29 to June 4, 2023. Smoke rises from a wildfire, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, May 28, 2023 in this…
High road to Dubai COP28: Here is what to expect at Bonn on climate mitigation
The Mitigation Work Programme can be a constructive space for developing countries to lay out their financing and technologies needs for an equitable energy transition
Countries will gather in Bonn, Germany June 5-15, for the United Nations’s mid-year climate conference (SB58), a precursor to this year’s main climate summit in December — COP28, which will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mitigation — the act of reducing greenhouse gas emissions so as to prevent further global warming — is a crucial pillar of climate action, covering entire economic sectors from power, industry, and transport, to even forests and land.
Mitigation at COP27
At the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2022, India proposed language on the “phasedown of all fossil fuels”, calling for attention on oil and gas, in addition to coal. And while the European Union and United States seemed onboard with this, major oil and gas producers like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia were not.
The COP27 outcome document instead reiterated previous calls “towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” and also called for a just transition to renewable energy.
Outside the negotiations, the First Movers Coalition — a voluntary alliance of companies “using their purchasing power to create early markets for innovative clean technologies across eight hard to abate sectors” and governments — showed progress, growing from 25 to 65 members within a year.
They announced the joining of the cement and concrete sectors to the coalition. The group pledged to purchase at least 10 per cent of near-zero carbon cement and concrete by 2030 and also committed $12 billion to scale up green technologies and cut emissions.
The issue of a “just energy transition” gained traction at COP27 as well, since Indonesia announced at the parallel G20 summit, that it would be a recipient of about $20 billion in starter funding through a Just Energy Partnership (JET-P) deal to reduce its coal dependence.
Everyone’s talking about the (just) energy transition
Since the UK COP Presidency made “coal, cash, cars, and trees” their crude slogan for COP26 in 2021, the discourse has shifted globally.
Developed countries are still calling for higher mitigation ambition from developing countries (which one could argue requires their climate finance commitment to be met). Meanwhile, the focus has shifted to encompass “all fossil fuels” and a just energy transition, rather than phasing out just coal.
This has certainly brought the oil and gas sector into the spotlight. Decarbonising the oil and gas industry is on the agenda of the UAE COP28 Presidency, although Scope 3 emissions — accounting for 78 per cent of emissions from the oil and gas sector — are not ambitiously addressed. A May 2023 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) put forth a pathway that could lead to 60 per cent reduction in oil and gas emissions by 2030.
On the energy transition, renewable energy is flourishing in many parts of the world, helping the European Union reduce its dependence on Russian piped gas, for example. Clean energy investment has risen faster than fossil fuel investment in recent years, says the IEA.
About $2.8 trillion is set to be invested globally in the energy sector this year, of which more than $1.7 trillion is expected to go to clean technologies — including renewables, electric vehicles, low emission fuels, grids, storage, they add.
Yet this is not distributed equally across the world, with most of the increase in clean energy investment between 2019 and 2023 taking place in China, the US and the EU — amounting to an increase of $435 billion.
Poor and vulnerable countries are not seeing a clean energy boom in line with their needs.
About 97 per cent of South Africa’s $8.5 billion JET-P package comprised of loans. So, the energy transition is underway. But its nature is not exactly “just”. It will take time for progress on this front. These are issues that the UNFCCC mitigation negotiations must spotlight.
The Mitigation Work Programme
At UNFCCC forums, the prominent space to negotiate on mitigation is the ‘work programme for urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation’ (also known as the Mitigation Work Programme or MWP). Established in 2021, it was proposed to address the insufficiency of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), and bridge the gap by increasing ambition in pledges to cut emissions.
At COP27 in 2022, developing countries emphasised that the programme should not be a replication of the Global Stocktake, and should not set new targets and obligations for developing countries.
It should also be guided by the UNFCCC’s principles of CBDR (common but differentiated responsibility) and equity. Over the past year however, the MWP has shifted from a space viewed with hesitation by developing countries, to one where they can possibly lay out constructive demands for international financing and technology support to accelerate domestic mitigation ambition.
In Bonn this month, the MWP’s co-chairs have announced that “accelerating just energy transition” will be the topic of focus in 2023. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and Down To Earth (DTE) spoke to Lola Vallejo, a co-chair of the MWP.
Deliberations will begin with a Global Dialogue, followed by an Investment-Focused Event. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clearly setting out what needs to happen at a collective level, but the MWP ought to advance multilateral discussions on the “how” and dive in deeper into countries’ experiences — the good and the bad, Vallejo specified.
“These first events aim to provide a new setup, broadening the participation beyond traditional negotiation circles to make space for the practitioners in charge of the domestic energy transition, civil society experts and financiers,” she said. “They also innovate in terms of facilitating matchmaking to help countries get their projects off the ground or providing space for regional discussions.”
But developing countries face specific barriers which must be brought to the fore. Discussions around the falling costs of renewable energy around the world often neglect the high cost of capital, for example, that makes it unaffordable in many developing countries.
For example, one estimate suggests that unsubsidised solar power costs ~140 per cent more in Ghana than in the US solely because of differentials in cost of capital. According to the IEA, financing costs can be up to seven times higher in emerging and developing economies compared with the US and Europe.
“Financial barriers to the energy transition, including cost of capital, will be discussed in specific breakout groups on the second day of the Global Dialogue, to allow more interaction between participants,” Vallejo said.
“These discussions will be reflected in reports under the MWP, but there is nothing preventing us from connecting the dots with efforts led in other fora — for instance highlighting the IRENA-led work on cost of capital for clean energy for India’s G20 Presidency, or other ideas discussed in the run-up to Summit on a New Global Financial Pact taking place in Paris in June”.
Vallejo outlined three markers of success for the MWP discussions: A shared understanding of the energy transition challenge rooted in the best available science, bringing country practitioners on board to engage more deeply, and demonstrating to developing countries that the MWP can support tangible outcomes in terms of investment.
Road to COP28
While the focus on a just energy transition is a good start to the year’s first major climate negotiation, there is scope for agreements to deviate away from equity considerations once we start discussing pathways, financing packages, and collective goals.
First and foremost, the energy transition itself must be equitable. Many rich countries, who are also historical polluters, have transitioned from coal to natural gas — which is cleaner but is still a fossil fuel. Developed countries must rapidly reduce their use of coal, oil, and natural gas, and also reduce energy demand through efficiency measures and appropriate behaviour change.
Large developing countries like India, South Africa, Vietnam, and Indonesia derive more than 75 per cent of their primary energy from fossil fuels today. It is not easy to transition away from them, especially when energy demand is still growing.
Moreover, these countries have lower per capita energy use than the developed world and must balance their need for economic development with their commitment to reducing emissions.
The challenge is to find a way to accommodate energy needs without compromising development goals or exacerbating climate change. For this, they must domestically create sectoral pathways for decarbonisation, for not just the power sector, but also for hard-to abate industrial sectors and transport. This will enable the creation of clear ‘asks’ or projects where international financing can be demanded and directed.
CSE-DTE support the setting of a global renewable energy target. The developed world needs to take the lead and add vast amounts of RE capacity while simultaneously phasing out fossil fuels.
The developing world cannot sit back — it needs to scale up RE as well, but to make that possible adequate finance and technology support is required from developed countries.
Concessional financing — with as little dependence on debt-creating instruments as possible — is needed to accelerate the transition in developing countries. This will help developing countries reduce fossil dependence, and also cushion their economies from taxation regimes like carbon border taxes that can reduce the competitiveness of commodities made from dirty power.
Thus, rather than primarily placing demands or “sticks” on phasing out coal, JET-P deals must become the “carrot” to grow clean energy infrastructure in the developing world.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.