TOULOUSE: Glaciers nestled in the lofty crags of the Pyrenees mountains separating France and Spain could disappear within 30 years as temperatures rise, upending ecosystems while putting local economies at risk, scientists say.
"We can't set a precise date but the Pyrenees glaciers are doomed," Pierre Rene, a glaciologist with the region's Moraine glacier study association, told AFP.
He estimates the end will come by 2050, based on the group's measurements of nine of the 15 glaciers on the French side over the past 18 years.
The United Nations has said the past decade has been the hottest on record and warned that persistent greenhouse gas emissions were expected to push average global temperatures even higher, leading to retreating ice cover, rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather.
It also confirmed that 2019 was the second hottest year on record, after 2016.
Surveys, core samples and GPS tracking of the Pyrenees glaciers all point to the same conclusions already noted at glaciers in the Alps and elsewhere: Warmer and drier winters appear to be inexorably shrinking and thinning the ice fields.
The total surface area of the nine glaciers tracked by Moraine now stands at 79 hectares (195 acres) compared with 140 hectares just 17 years ago, Rene said.
That is just a small fraction of the 450 hectares they covered in the middle of the 19th century – and the pace of decline is accelerating.
Since 2002, the nine glaciers have lost 3.6 hectares every year, the equivalent of five soccer pitches, Moraine says in its report on the 2019 season.
Last year was no exception, with the bottom edge of five glaciers tracked by Moraine retreating by 8.1 metres on average last summer, up from 7.9 metres recorded in previous years, it said.
'WIPED OFF THE MAP'
Scientists also warn of the hit to high-altitude ecosystems and biodiversity, with consequences that will ripple well beyond the mountainous zones.
Glaciers and the cold rivers they feed harbour bacteria and fungi that have adapted to the harsh conditions, including the near-absence of light, said Sophie Cauvy-Fraunie, a researcher at the INRAE agricultural and environmental institute.
Microscopic algae also provides a first link in the food chain of glacier environments, sustaining glacial fleas and other insects.
As temperatures rise and more ground is exposed as the glaciers retreat, the landscape will become vulnerable to colonisation from plants and animals that currently can survive only at lower altitudes.
"If native species in the Pyrenees depend on glacial influences, you can imagine that they are going to be wiped off the map," Cauvy-Fraunie said.
The regional OPCC climate observatory estimated in a 2018 report that average maximum temperatures across the Pyrenees could rise by 1.4 to 3.3 degrees Celsius (2.5 to 4 Fahrenheit) by the middle of this century.
The increase has been even more dramatic at higher altitudes, where shrinking glaciers are seen as a harbinger of dire consequences across the range.
On the 2,870-metre (9,416-foot) Midi de Bigorre peak above the La MongiRead More – Source
Benjamin Netanyahu calls to block Israel’s newly formed coalition
Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at a newly agreed coalition which looks set to remove him from power after 12 years as prime minister.
Mr Netanyahu called on right-wing members of parliament to block the coalition from taking office.
Eight opposition parties reached an agreement to work together to form a new government late on Wednesday.
But the group, from across Israel’s political spectrum, still needs parliamentary backing to take office.
No date has so far been set for such a vote in the Knesset (parliament). But it is expected to take place next week at the latest, and there is still a chance this newly formed coalition could be upended by defections.
In his first comments since the coalition was announced, Mr Netanyahu urged members of the Knesset “elected by votes from the right” to oppose the coalition.
In a post on Twitter, he criticised them as “left-wing” and “dangerous”. He has previously called the proposed new government the “fraud of the century”, saying it endangered the state and people of Israel.
Observers have already noted that Mr Netanyahu – who failed to form his own coalition despite his Likud party winning the most seats in the March vote – is likely to try to prevent the group getting the support it needs.
News of a fresh coalition emerged late on Wednesday, when Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, called President Reuven Rivlin to let him know that agreement had been reached.
He pledged to form a government which would “work in the service of all Israeli citizens… respect its opponents and do everything in its power to unite and connect all parts of Israeli society”.
However, Mr Lapid will not become prime minister immediately. Under a rotation arrangement, the head of the right-wing Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, would serve as prime minister first before handing over to Mr Lapid in August 2023.
The coalition members span the full spectrum of Israeli politics with little in common apart from their plan to replace Mr Netanyahu. For the first time in decades, the government will include an Israeli Arab party.
An image carried on Israeli media showed Mr Lapid, Mr Bennett and Mansour Abbas, leader of the Arab Islamist Raam party, signing the agreement, a deal many thought impossible.
The other five parties included in the agreement are:
- Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) (centrist) – led by Benny Gantz (eight)
- Israel Beiteinu (centre-right to right-wing nationalist) – led by Avigdor Lieberman (seven)
- Labor (social-democratic) – led by Merav Michaeli (seven)
- New Hope (centre-right to right-wing)- led by Gideon Sa’ar (six)
- Meretz (left-wing, social-democratic) – led by Nitzan Horowitz (six)
If the coalition fails to win the support of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset, there is a risk of a fifth election in two years. All eight parties were needed to secure the 61-seat majority.
Reaction to the agreement has been mixed. According to news agency AFP, other parties representing Israeli Arabs – who make up 20% of the population – have said they will oppose a government led by Mr Bennett, who rejects the concept of a Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, right-wing politicians have also voiced concerns. “The left is celebrating but it is a very sad day for the State of Israel,” Miki Zohar, a prominent Likud member wrote on Twitter, saying the right-wing parties in the coalition “should be ashamed”.
But elsewhere there was jubilation. Protesters who had been demanding Mr Netanyahu’s resignation danced in the street.
Some were just relieved at the prospect of an end to the political turmoil which has seen Israel hold four elections in just two years as politicians struggled to find someone to unite behind.
“I think that the political situation has been deadlocked for too long,” protester Zvi Yosef told Reuters news agency. “We have to try something new, even though it’s a little bit scary and there’s a lot of unknowns. But at the moment, I don’t see any other option.”
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-57340973
Federation of African Journalists “dismayed” by UAE attempts to manipulate African Journalists
Agencies – Federation of African Journalists accused UAE of “attempts” to manipulate the work of African Journalists. During a conference held this week, the federation issued an urgent resolution which attacked United Arab Emirates due to its efforts to affect the work of the federation and African journalists.
The press release said, “We, the delegates attending the African Journalists Leaders’ Conference from five regions of the African Continent, being held in Accra, Ghana, from 1st to 2nd June 2021, under the auspices of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) and hosted by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA)”
The press release announced a number of points stating:
“With dismay recent attempts by external elements from the United Arab Emirates who deliberately tried to manipulate journalists’ organisations in Africa to issue public statements or campaign against 2022 FIFA World Cup, that will be hosted by the State of Qatar.”said the statement
The organisation expressed serious concerns about how UAE is trying to push for political disputes and drag African journalists into activities beyond their primary interests, scope and mandate.
It also added that “Serious challenges facing journalists in Africa in covering adequately global events such as the World Cup.”
The federation rejected what it described as “despicable attempts”to use and manipulate African journalists and their organisations as tools to challenge the organisation of 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
It reiterated its full support of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) to the position taken by the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) about the labour rights situation in Qatar and note the unparalleled progress so far made.
It has also demanded that African jour alista have full access to 2022 FIFA 2022 World Cup so they inform African peoples about these global soccer events.
It has called upon the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the qualifying National teams from Africa to be vigilant about these manipulative attempts and ensure Africa’s dignified and prominent participation in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The statement made an appeal to CAF and FIFA to investigate and penalize the people and forces behind this unprecedented interference in global soccer events which has the potential to compromise African journalists reporting on the world’s biggest football event.
It also added that, “Mandate the Steering Committee of FAJ to develop a close working relationship with CAF to facilitate and advance the work and interests of African journalists.”
Dozens of Palestinians injured in police clashes as Jewish extremists chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ march in Jerusalem
Clashes between Palestinians from east Jerusalem and Israeli police around the Damascus gate entrance to the Old City erupted in a night of unrest that earlier saw Jewish extremists marching through another city street shouting “Death to Arabs.”
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