Unusually long La Niña displaced record number of people in 2022

In India, disasters were mostly weather-related and displaced 2.5 million people in 2022, according to the Global Report on Internal Displacement

Richard Mahapatra

Down To Earth | May 11, 2023

La Niña also caused the worst drought on record in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, triggering 2.1 million movements. Photo: iStock La Niña also caused the worst drought on record in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, triggering 2.1 million movements. Photo: iStock

The number of people displaced by disasters rose by 40 per cent in 2022 than 2021. The Global Report on Internal Displacement 2023 (GRID-2023), the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre’s flagship annual report published May 11, 2023 said 32.6 million people were displaced due to disasters.

Of the total disaster displacement, 98 per cent were triggered by weather-related events like floods and storms. According to GRID-2023, “6 out of 10 disaster displacements were triggered by floods, suppressing storms for the first time since 2016.”

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Deaths due to heat in Middle East & North Africa likely to rise 60 times by end of century

Over 80% deaths can be prevented by limiting global warming to 2°C

Kiran Pandey

Down To Earth | April 11, 2023

The number of heat-related deaths in the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is likely to increase 60 times by the end of this century, warned a new study released April 3, 2023.

In comparison to two deaths (2.1) per 100,000 people estimated currently, about 123 people per 100,000 are expected to die of heat-related causes annually by the end of this century under high-emissions scenarios, the report stated.

High-emissions scenario refers to a scenario called shared socio-economic pathway (SSP)5-8·5, where the current CO2 emissions levels roughly double by 2050. This reflects the SSP representing a fossil fuel intensive world. 

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Mechanisms underlying food insecurity in the aftermath of climate-related shocks: a systematic review

The Lancet | Open Access | Published: February 09, 2023 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(23)00003-7


Food insecurity is prevalent, affecting 1·2 billion people globally in 2021. However, the effects of food insecurity are unequally distributed across populations and climate-related shocks threaten to exacerbate food insecurity and associated health consequences. The mechanisms underlying this exacerbation at the household level are largely unknown. We aimed to synthesise the available evidence on the mechanisms connecting extreme climate events to household-level food insecurity and highlight the research gaps that must be addressed to inform better food security and health policy. For this systematic review, a comprehensive literature search was done by a medical librarian in February, 2021 for articles about food security and climate-related shocks. Relevant publications were identified by searching the following databases with a combination of standardised index terms and keywords: MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, GreenFILE, Environment Complete, Web of Science Core Collection, and Global Health. Searches were limited to human studies published in English. Included studies measured food security outcomes using indicators developed by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (ie, consumption patterns, livelihood change, malnutrition, and mortality) and explained the mechanism behind the household-level or population-level food insecurity. Purely theoretical, modelling, and review studies were excluded. Quality assessment was conducted using the appropriate Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Tool. Data were analysed using thematic analysis of the categories of mechanism (interpreted using internationally accepted frameworks), risk and resilience factors, and author policy recommendations. We found a paucity of data with only 18 studies meeting criteria for inclusion out of 337 studies identified for full-text review. All the studies that were included in our analysis showed worse food security outcomes after climate-related shocks. Food availability was the most common mechanism cited (17 studies), although most studies addressed at least one additional mechanism (15 studies). Studies were of mixed methodologies with nuanced discussions of risk and resilience factors, and of policy recommendations. This systematic review shows that there is an incomplete assessment of food security at the household and community level after climate-related shocks in the literature and finds that food availability is the primary mechanism studied. The low number of studies on this topic limits subgroup analysis and generalisability; however, the good quality of the studies allows for important policy recommendations around improving resilience to climate shocks and suggestions for future research including the need for a more granular understanding of mechanisms and feasible adaptation solutions.

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Why rain on snow in the California mountains worries scientists

Rain-on-snow events have resulted in some of the nation’s most destructive and costly floods

Keith Musselman

Down To Earth | March 15, 2023

Another round of powerful atmospheric rivers is hitting California, following storms in January and February 2023 that dumped record amounts of snow. This time, the storms are warmer, and they are triggering flood warnings as they bring rain higher into the mountains – on top of the snowpack.

Professor Keith Musselman, who studies water and climate change at the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, explained the complex risks rain on snow creates and how they might change in a warming climate.

What happens when rain falls on snowpack?

For much of the United States, storms with heavy rainfall can coincide with seasonal snow cover. When that happens, the resulting runoff of water can be much greater than what is produced from rain or snowmelt alone. The combination has resulted in some of the nation’s most destructive and costly floods, including the 1996 Midwest floods and the 2017 flood that damaged California’s Oroville Dam.

Contrary to common belief, rainfall itself has limited energy to melt snow. Rather, it is the warm temperatures, strong winds and high humidity, which can transport substantial energy in the form of latent and sensible heatthat predominantly drive snowmelt during rain-on-snow events.

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Glimpse beneath iconic glacier reveals how it’s adding to sea-level rise

Data-gathering instruments under the melting Thwaites Glacier are helping researchers to figure out how the ice will change in future.

Nicola Jones

Nature | February 15, 2023

Previous studies have shown that the Thwaites Glacier is rapidly retreating.Credit: Cover Images via ZUMA Press

Researchers have dropped a submersible vehicle down a hole in Antarctic ice to get their closest-ever look at the underside of Thwaites Glacier — a massive and increasingly unstable body of ice that has become an icon of climate change — and the first-ever glimpse at the spot where the ice meets the land.

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Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction: Climate Crisis, Pollution, Depleting Resources Could Extinct 27% Of World Animal Life

 Countercurrents Collective | December 20, 2022

The planet has entered the sixth mass extinction. Pollution, climate change and depleting resources could drive up to 27% of the world’s animal life to extinction, a new paper has claimed. The study used a supercomputer to map out how interdependent food chains could collapse in the coming decades.

Published on Friday and authored by European Commission scientist Giovanni Strona and Professor Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in Australia, the study (Coextinctions dominate future vertebrate losses from climate and land use change, GIOVANNI STRONA HTTPS://ORCID.ORG/0000-0003-2294-4013 AND COREY J. A. BRADSHAW HTTPS://ORCID.ORG/0000-0002-5328-7741DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn4345) presented a series of increasingly grim scenarios. The researchers claimed that the magnitude of the coming extinctions will depend largely on how much carbon mankind emits over the coming century.

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Climate crisis: Exploitation and justice

Farooque Chowdhury

Countercurrents | November 10, 2022

The climate crisis question today has turned into the question of exploitation and justice – exploitation by a few, and justice for the entire humanity.

The recently released Oxfam report – Carbon billionaires, The investment emissions of the world’s richest people (Nov. 22, 2022, https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10546/621446/bn-carbon-billlionaires-071122-en.pdf?sequence=14) – says a lot about this reality of exploitation by a few rich, and of the rest of the humanity. The first group is the exploiters while the other is the exploited.

The study by Oxfam and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) calculates the annual carbon footprint of the investments of just 125 of the world’s richest billionaires. The study findings include:

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Climate change is costing trillions — and low-income countries are paying the price

Analysis of the effects of extreme heat shows that low-income, tropical countries have suffered the greatest financial losses.

Miryam Naddaf

Nature | November 07, 2022

A dried-up lagoon in Colombia, which is in a part of the world disproportionately affected by the cost of heatwaves.Credit: Juan David Moreno Gallego/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Climate change has so far cost the global economy trillions of dollars, but low-income countries in tropical regions have borne the brunt of these losses, finds a study that analysed the economic consequences of heatwaves worldwide over a 20-year period.

The research, published on 28 October in Science Advances1, estimates that the global economy lost between US$5 trillion and $29 trillion from 1992 to 2013, as a result of human-driven global warming. But the effect was worst in low-income tropical nations, leading to a 6.7% reduction in their national income on average, whereas high-income countries experienced only a 1.5% average decrease.

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Eat more fish: when switching to seafood helps — and when it doesn’t

Survey identifies several species that are more nutritious and better for the planet than beef, pork or chicken.

Jude Coleman

Nature | September 13, 2022

Small fish, such as mackerel, have a high nutritional value and a low carbon footprint.Credit: Getty

Replacing meat with certain types of sustainably sourced seafood could help people to reduce their carbon footprints without compromising on nutrition, finds an analysis of dozens of marine species that are consumed worldwide.

The study, published on 8 September in Communications Earth & Environment1, suggests that farmed bivalves — shellfish such as mussels, clams and oysters — and wild-caught, small, surface-dwelling (pelagic) fish, which include anchovies, mackerel and herring, generate fewer greenhouse-gas emissions and are more nutrient dense than beef, pork or chicken.

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World on brink of five disastrous climate tipping points, study finds

Matt Trinder

Morning Star | September 09, 2022

Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland Photo: Tina Rolf / Unsplash

HUMAN-INDUCED climate change is driving the world to the brink of five “disastrous” tipping points, warns a major study published today.

Some of the critical thresholds that, when crossed, lead to large and often irreversible changes in the climate system, may have already been passed due to 1.1°C of global heating since the Industrial Revolution, researchers said.

These could include the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap and a key current in the north Atlantic, the disruption of rain patterns upon which billions of people depend for food and an abrupt melting of carbon-rich permafrost.

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