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Tuesday, Jan 31st

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Greenhouse gases reach a new record as nations fall behind on climate pledges

Greenhouse gases reach record highThe three main greenhouse gases hit record high levels in the atmosphere last year, the U.N. weather agency said Wednesday, calling it an "ominous" sign as war in Ukraine, rising costs of food and fuel, and other worries have elbowed in on longtime concerns about global warming in recent months.

"More bad news for the planet," the World Meteorological Organization said in a statement along with its latest annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. It's one of several reports released in recent days looking at several aspects of humanity's struggle with climate change in the run up to the U.N.'s latest climate conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

Of the three main types of heat-trapping greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — the biggest jump from 2020 to 2021 was in methane, whose concentrations in the air came in with the biggest year-on-year increase since regular measurements began four decades ago, WMO said.

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Barges stranded as Mississippi River water levels reach critical low

Barges stranded on MississippiThe water in the Mississippi River has dropped so low that barges are getting stuck, leading to expensive dredging and at least one recent traffic jam of more than 2,000 vessels backed up.

The Mississippi River Basin produces nearly all – 92% – of US agricultural exports, and 78% of the global exports of feed grains and soybeans. The recent drought has dropped water levels to alarmingly low levels that are causing shipping delays, and seeing the costs of alternative transport, such as rail, rise.

In Vicksburg, western Mississippi, residents have seen less than an inch of rain since the start of September.

The mayor, George Flaggs, told WAPT-TV that the river was lower than he had seen it in nearly 70 years.

“It’s definitely having an impact on the local economy because the commercial use of this river has almost stopped,” Flaggs said.

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Storm Fiona ravages Canada's east coast causing 'terrifying' destruction

Fiona ravages Canada's east coastPowerful storm Fiona ripped int  eastern Canada on Saturday with hurricane-force winds, forcing evacuations, knocking down trees and power lines and reducing many homes on the coast to 1just a pile of rubble in the ocean."

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the center of the storm, downgraded to Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona, was now in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after racing through Nova Scotia.

After taking its toll on Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (PEI), the storm battered Newfoundland and Eastern Quebec, but is now likely to weaken, the NHC said.

Port aux Basques, on the southwest tip of Newfoundland with a population of 4,067, declared a state of emergency and evacuated parts of the town that suffered flooding and road washouts, according to Mayor Brian Button.

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Methane leak at Russian mine could be largest ever discovered

Methane leak at Russian mine

Possibly the world’s biggest leak of methane has been discovered coming from a coalmine in Russia, which has been pouring out the carbon dioxide equivalent of five coal-fired power stations.

About 90 tonnes an hour of methane were being released from the mine in January, when the gas was first traced to its source, according to data from GHGSat, a commercial satellite monitoring company based in Canada. Sustained over the course of a year, this would produce enough natural gas to power 2.4m homes.

More recently, the mine appears to be leaking at a lower rate, of about a third of the highest rate recorded in January, but the leak is thought to have been active for at least six months before January’s survey.

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Tropical Storm Ida, 'strongest storm of the season,' could rapidly strengthen into major hurricane

Tropical storm IddaTropical Storm Ida formed in the Caribbean Sea on Thursday, and forecasters are warning it could rapidly strengthen into one of the strongest storms of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The system is taking aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast, but conditions appear right for the storm to cause extreme weather for inland regions as well, according to a Thursday afternoon AccuWeather briefing. Senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said parts of Tennessee still reeling from deadly floods are at risk for more heavy rain.

The storm is shaping up to be "probably be the strongest storm of the season thus far,” Kottlowski said. It could make landfall before the end of the weekend as a hurricane, giving people in its path little time to prepare or evacuate, Kottlowski said.

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Climate crisis: world is at its hottest for at least 12,000 years – study

Climate crisis: world at its hottestThe planet is hotter now than it has been for at least 12,000 years, a period spanning the entire development of human civilisation, according to research.

Analysis of ocean surface temperatures shows human-driven climate change has put the world in “uncharted territory”, the scientists say. The planet may even be at its warmest for 125,000 years, although data on that far back is less certain.

The research, published in the journal Nature, reached these conclusions by solving a longstanding puzzle known as the “Holocene temperature conundrum”. Climate models have indicated continuous warming since the last ice age ended 12,000 years ago and the Holocene period began. But temperature estimates derived from fossil shells showed a peak of warming 6,000 years ago and then a cooling, until the industrial revolution sent carbon emissions soaring.

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U.S. to Remove Wolves From Protected Species List

Wolves to drop from endangered list

Gray wolves, one of the first animals shielded by the Endangered Species Act after Americans all but exterminated them in the lower 48 states, will no longer receive federal protection, officials announced Thursday.

“After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement.

Environmentalists condemned the decision as dangerously premature and vowed to take the Fish and Wildlife Service back to court, where they have successfully blocked previous attempts to strip wolves of federal protections. “Wolves just occupy a fraction of their former range,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and chief executive of Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group. “There’s so much work that needs to be done.”

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