Category: Weather.

More than 20,000 people have been evacuated in France since the weekend and around 19,000 homes were without power on Friday. At least two people have been killed in flooding across the country, including a man on horseback who died on Thursday after being swept away by a swollen river in Evry-Gregy-sur-Yerre. The body of an 86-year-old woman was found in her flooded house in Souppes-sur-Loing in central France, where some towns have been hit by the worst flooding in more than 100 years.

Source: Paris floods: ‘There’s something terrifying about it’ | World news | The Guardian

The world’s failure to prepare for natural disasters will have “inconceivably bad” consequences as climate change fuels a huge increase in catastrophic droughts and floods and the humanitarian crises that follow, the UN’s head of disaster planning has warned.

Last year, earthquakes, floods, heatwaves and landslides left 22,773 people dead, affected 98.6 million others and caused $66.5bn (£47bn) of economic damage (pdf). Yet the international community spends less than half of one per cent of the global aid budget on mitigating the risks posed by such hazards.

Robert Glasser, the special representative of the secretary general for disaster risk reduction, said that with the world already “falling short” in its response to humanitarian emergencies, things would only get worse as climate change adds to the pressure.

He said: “If you see that we’re already spending huge amounts of money and are unable to meet the humanitarian need – and then you overlay that with not just population growth … [but] you put climate change on top of that, where we’re seeing an increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters, and the knock-on effects with respect to food security and conflict and new viruses like the Zika virus or whatever – you realise that the only way we’re going to be able to deal with these trends is by getting out ahead of them and focusing on reducing disaster risk.”

Failure to plan properly by factoring in the effects of climate change, he added, would result in a steep rise in the vulnerability of those people already most exposed to natural hazards. He also predicted a rise in the number of simultaneous disasters.

“As the odds of any one event go up, the odds of two happening at the same time are more likely. We’ll see many more examples of cascading crises, where one event triggers another event, which triggers another event.”

Source: World heading for catastrophe over natural disasters, risk expert warns | Global development | The Guardian

Representatives of more than 170 countries endorse Paris agreement to cut carbon emissions, with France’s president saying: ‘There is no turning back’

More than 170 governments declared an end to the fossil fuel era on Friday, using the signing ceremony for the landmark Paris agreement as an occasion to renew their vows to fight climate change.

The outpouring of support – the largest ever single-day turn-out for a signing ceremony – underscored strong international commitment to deliver on the promises made in Paris last December to avoid a climate catastrophe, the leaders said.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said signatories to the deal were embracing “a new covenant of the future”. Leonardo DiCaprio, a UN climate ambassador, likened efforts against climate change to the campaign to end slavery.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, an indigenous women’s leader from Chad, called on countries to following through on their promises. Temperatures in her country were already a blistering 48C (118F), she said, and climate change threatened to obliterate billions spent on development aid over recent decades.

“Climate change is adding to poverty every day,” she said.

Friday’s gathering was entirely ceremonial, with schoolchildren and brass bands filling out the UN hall, and John Kerry, the secretary of state, toting his granddaughter in his arms when it came his turn to sign the agreement.

But the turnout – including the presence of about 60 presidents and prime ministers – and stirring rhetoric were seen as an important measure of the momentum behind efforts to bring the Paris agreement into force earlier than originally thought, possibly even this year.

Leaders also reaffirmed previous commitments to help poor countries protect their people from climate change.

Source: World governments vow to end fossil fuel era at UN climate signing ceremony | Environment | The Guardian

With no end to the heat wave in India in sight, the hot weather continues to take its toll on residents, as searing heat has not released its grip on the country, Al Jazeera reported Thursday.

Temperatures in many parts of the country are well above average, with some places reporting more than 5 degrees Celsius higher than expected this time of year, the report said.

The heat is now being blamed for the death of more than 100 people and fears are rising this could turn into a major catastrophe.

The annual monsoon season, usually guaranteed to begin in June, are believed the only way to stop the high temperatures. But if the high temperatures continue like this until then, the report says, it could turn into a major humanitarian crisis.

Last year, 2,500 people died as a result of the heat wave, which began in the country in May. It was India’s second deadliest heat wave and temperatures remained nearly 10 degrees Celsius above average for nearly two weeks before the monsoon rains brought much-needed relief.

This year, there are concerns the blistering heat could remain for far longer.

The situation becomes particularly hazardous if the temperatures do not drop during at night, because this would normally be when the body would recover from the heat.

The situation in India is further exacerbated because many people do not have access to air-conditioning and electric fans can only provide relief if temperatures are below 35C.

In addition, after two years of below-average monsoon rains, some parts of the country are facing a crippling drought. This puts some residents at risk of severe heat stress as they lug heavy containers of water from the nearest well., Jack Durschlag

Source: Stifling Indian Heat Wave Causing Hazardous Conditions – WorldNews

The glaciers and snows of the Tian Shan mountains around the valley give birth to the Syr Darya, one of Central Asia’s two major rivers, and turn the valley into a giant hothouse with nearly perfect conditions for farming.

Border areas in nearby Xinjiang, China’s troubled Muslim region, also depend on Tian Shan’s glaciers for water.But between 1961 and 2012, the sky-scraping range whose name means “Heavenly Mountains” in Chinese, has lost 27 percent of its ice mass, the German Research Centre for Geosciences said last year.

The annual loss amounts to up to 5.4 cubic kilometres of water a year, it said.”This means that the glaciers in the Tien Shan lose each year as much water as all the people of Switzerland, including industry” consume in six years, Dr Daniel Farinotti of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research who led the research, told Al Jazeera.

By the 2050s, the loss may amount to half of the glaciers’ ice mass, the research concludes pessimistically. “The situation is of particular concern in light of both the local population growth and the continued glacier shrinkage anticipated in response to climatic changes,” it said.

Source: Are ‘Water Wars’ imminent in Central Asia? – Al Jazeera English

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