In snowy Davos, climate is talk of the town

The mountains outside Davos, Switzerland, above. Unusually high snowfalls there have made their mark on the World Economic Forum, taking place this week. (©Williams Poznan/ Flickr Creative Commons)

World leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, this week for the World Economic Forum. The “unprecedented” amount of snow on the ground — 159 cm (63 inches) of snow fell over six days, an amount the city only experiences once every 20 years — set the stage for something unexpected: talks about climate change.

French President Emmanuel Macron — who made international news in 2017 when he offered beleaguered U.S. climate scientists a new home in France — made a tongue-in-cheek comment during the forum. Saying “When you arrive here and see the snow, it could be hard to believe in global warming,” Macron’s remarks were interpreted as poking fun at U.S. President Donald Trump and his recent tweet, claiming that the cold temperatures in the U.S. were evidence against global warming.

Despite disagreements, with the notable exception of President Trump world leaders made time in Davos to discuss building resilience against future environmental risks and transitioning to clean energy.

Recent climate news is giving world leaders plenty to think about. Human Nature has it covered:

The new normal: Last year was among the hottest on record, researchers say

Researchers announced that last year was among the hottest years ever recorded — news that is as unfortunate as it is becoming routine.

Multiple organizations concurred, noting that that 2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño event, which can cause ocean and air temperatures to increase.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, the UK Met Office and other groups agreed that 2017 ranked among the hottest years ever recorded, even despite using different methods of calculating temperatures, according to reports from Andrew Freedman at Mashable and Kendra Pierre-Louis at The New York Times.

Read more here.

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Effort to green Africa gains new member amid mounting challenges

Most people in Africa are already being impacted by climate change, said Kim Reuter, technical advisor for the Gabarone Declaration for Sustainable Development in Africa (GDSA). This isn’t an abstract idea for these citizens. Communities have less water than before. The cows are dying. People can’t get fish. There’s plastic in the waterways.

How countries protect their natural resources — the nature that people depend on — over the next 20 years will shape the way that the Earth looks for future generations. The member countries of the GDSA recognize this, and they’re working together as a group to address the challenges of development, over-consumption and resource use in the face of climate change. A couple decades ago, there may have been more resistance to the vision of the GDSA. Now, we don’t have a choice. Countries are driven by these challenges and a commitment to the future, and they’re taking action.

Read more here.

Reefs are losing recovery time between bleaching events, experts say

The world’s coral reefs are experiencing bleaching events caused by climate change more frequently than previously observed, according to new research, potentially leaving too little time for their ecosystems to recover.

In a sweeping study published in the journal Science, researchers looked at mass bleaching events across 100 reefs from 1980 to 2016. Scientists found that the average time between bleaching events is now less than half of what it was just decades ago, meaning less recovery time for reefs to bounce back in the long run.

“If I’m being realistic here, we will certainly lose reefs as we know them in most places,” said Jack Kittinger, senior director of the Global Fisheries and Aquaculture program at Conservation International. “What will emerge from this mass extinction of reefs will be unique new ecosystems the world has never seen before, composed of new groups of species that are able to tolerate our hot world.”

Read more here.

Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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