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Showing posts from February 11, 2017

Droughts, flooding rains already more likely as climate change plays havoc with Pacific weather*(downtoearth)

Global warming has already increased the risk of major disruptions to Pacific rainfall, according to our research published today in Nature Communications. The risk will continue to rise over coming decades, even if global warming during the 21st century is restricted to 2℃ as agreed by the international community under the Paris Agreement.

In recent times, major disruptions have occurred in 1997-98, when severe drought struck Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands, and in 2010-11, when rainfall caused widespread flooding in eastern Australia and severe flooding in Samoa, and drought triggered a national emergency in Tuvalu.

These rainfall disruptions are primarily driven by the El Niño/La Niña cycle, a naturally occurring phenomenon centred on the tropical Pacific. This climate variability can profoundly change rainfall patterns and intensity over the Pacific Ocean from year to year.

Rainfall belts can move hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilometres from their normal po…

Sea level changes that occurred 6,000 years ago may happen again; Southeast Asia at risk (downtoearth,)

Rising sea levels due to human-induced climatic change is one among the many issues plaguing the world. A new study conducted by a group of ocean scientists and statisticians from the Earth Observatory of Singapore and the Rutgers University of New Jersey (US) shows that natural consequences were at play behind the rise in sea level, 6000 years ago in Southeast Asia.

The implications of this study are profound as natural causes can further aggravate the effects of rise in sea level combined with human-assisted climate change.

To arrive at this conclusion, these researchers studied coral microatolls—circular coral colonies—at two sites on the opposite ends of Belitung Island in Indonesia.

Microatolls paint a clear picture on the changes in sea level. Aron Meltzner, the lead author of this study explains the coral’s role: “These microatolls are annually banded, so we can count the bands like tree rings, and figure out where the lowest tides were each year”. By looking at these rings, t…

Looking beyond our own species (Hindu)

Tamil Nadu’s new jallikattu law presents complex constitutional issues on how we treat animals. It raises more questions than answers, some of which are likely to be at the core of the Supreme Court’s consideration

Do animals have rights? If so, how are these rights to be administered, and against whom can they be enforced? If not, do human beings nonetheless owe an obligation to treat animals with care and compassion? Are any of these responsibilities inalienable, and to what extent can our Constitution be extended to include within its mandate a binding duty to ensure the safety and security of animals?

Some of these questions are likely to be at the core of the Supreme Court’s consideration, when it hears arguments on the validity of Tamil Nadu’s new law that permits the practice of jallikattu in the State. Despite the court’s judgment in 2014, in Animal Welfare Board of India v A. Nagaraja, where it struck down an earlier effort to legalise jallikattu, its verdict on the fresh ch…

Israel’s continuing land grab (Hindu).

The passage of legislation by Israel that would legalise nearly 4,000 Jewish settler homes on private Palestinian lands in the West Bank flies in the face of international law and norms. That the vote comes weeks after the UN Security Council demanded that Israel stop all settlement activity in the Occupied Territories, and an international conference attended by more than 70 countries urged both sides in the conflict to resume talks, shows Israel’s disregard for international opinion and institutions. The legislation allows the Israeli government to expropriate private Palestinian land if the land-owners are unknown. If known, they will be compensated in cash or kind. However, the legislation, which for the first time since the annexation of East Jerusalem seeks to extend Israeli law to the West Bank, can be overturned by the judiciary. Israel’s Attorney-General has said he wouldn’t defend the bill in the high court as it is “unconstitutional and violates international law”. However…