Earthweek: Diary of a Changing World
Week ending Friday, March 3, 2023
An open letter from more than 60 scientists across North America and Europe calls for further studies into controversial methods to deflect the sun’s rays from a world that is heating up due to greenhouse gas emissions.
Such “geoengineering” concepts were once considered outlandish, but the deepening climate crisis is prompting scientists to take another look.
Some say the worst effects of global heating are no longer avoidable with curbs only in emissions.
Scientists penning the letter suggest methods like spraying aerosols such as sulfur into the stratosphere must now be considered.
A new temblor toppled buildings and killed one man in quake-ravaged Turkey three weeks after it was hit by two stronger quakes in rapid succession.
• Earth movements were also felt in Israel, northeastern Egypt, Wales, eastern Papua New Guinea, Japan’s Hokkaido Island and along the coasts of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Painting black and white stripes on wind turbines could help prevent the hundreds of thousands of bird deaths caused each year by impacts with their blades.
Most turbines are painted white to make them blend in with the landscape. But avian vision experts say that makes them nearly invisible to many bird species.
Graham Martin of the University of Birmingham and Alex Banks at Natural England say that alternative bands of black and white would create a flickering pattern that could make the turbines stand out to birds, even in low light levels.
They say this would be especially beneficial in offshore wind farms because seabirds that are currently being killed by them have fewer offspring and are slower to mature.
Analysis of satellite images suggests that rainfall is decreasing in tropical regions of the world where forests are being felled.
A study led by Callum Smith at Britain’s University of Leeds says the loss of the trees results in vast amounts of water not evaporating from the leaves of trees in tropical forests and falling as rain nearby.
This disruption of the historic water cycle in tropical regions also increases the risk of wildfires and reduces the chances that remaining tropical forests will survive, Smith says.
Bird Flu Surge
The avian influenza virus that has killed untold numbers of wild birds and forced the culling of hundreds of millions of farmed poultry during the past three years has become so pervasive and has spread so far around the world that it is now a permanent problem.
Experts say farmers must protect their poultry yearround instead of just during the migration seasons of wild birds to prevent further food supply shortages.
Wild birds are the main spreaders of the virus responsible for bird flu as their infected droppings litter the landscape and are carried into poultry farms, or sometimes fall directly onto them.
The growing popularity of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) as conventional auto sales decline is pushing their greenhouse gas emissions higher each year and amplifying the climate crisis, experts warn.
Purchases of SUVs soared from 20% of all cars in 2012 to 46% in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
It says the 220 million SUVs on the road generated carbon dioxide pollution equivalent to the combined national emissions of Britain and Germany last year, ranking as the sixth-highest air pollution source globally.
At least eight people were killed as the slowly moving remnants of Cyclone Freddy lashed Mozambique and Zimbabwe for days after earlier killing seven people on Madagascar.
High winds and flash flooding wrecked thousands of homes and damaged infrastructure.
• Cyclone Judy’s destructive winds in Vanuatu uprooted trees, while flooding sent many residents fleeing to higher ground.