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Thursday, Feb 29th

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Arctic blast sweeping US threatens ‘crippling impacts’ to travel and utilities

Arctic blast sweepong USUS forecasters warned on Thursday of “potentially crippling impacts across central and eastern” parts of the country, producing widespread disruption to travel and utilities over the holiday season, as an arctic blast surged from west to east.

About 200 million people in the lower 48 states were under extreme weather alerts as a freezing air mass sent temperatures into a nosedive, said Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the National Weather Service (NWS) in College Park, Maryland.

An NWS advisory said the “powerful winter storm” would “produce widespread disruptive and potentially crippling impacts across the central and eastern United States”.

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Investments of 125 billionaires have the same carbon footprint as France, study finds

Billionaires have large carbon footprint

Some of the world's richest billionaires each emit about 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide on average per year, more than 1 million times the amount emitted by 90% of people, according to a new study.

The sample consisted of 125 billionaire with investments in 183 corporations, and who have a combined corporate equity value of $2.4 trillion. About 50 to 70% of their emissions stem from their investments.

Collectively, their annual carbon dioxide emissions total about 393 million metric tons, which is about the same annual carbon footprint of France with its population of 67 million people, according to the report by Oxfam, a charity collective that aims to reduce poverty.

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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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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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