Top climate stories of this week: Italy’s drought exposes ancient bridge, California to phase out gas vehicles, and more

Top climate stories of this week: Italy’s drought exposes ancient bridge, California to phase out gas vehicles, and more

From California moving to phase out gas vehicles in the climate change fight to Italy’s worst drought in 70 years, here are the top climate stories from this week.

1. Pakistan declares national emergency as flood death toll reaches 937

Pakistan government has declared a national emergency as rain-induced floods have so far killed 937 people, including 343 children, and left at least 30 million without shelter. Sindh Province reported the highest number of deaths as 306 people lost their lives due to floods and rain-related incidents from June 14 to Thursday, according to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Displaced people carry belongings after they salvaged usable items from their flood-hit home as they wade through a flooded area in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, Aug. 25, 2022. (AP/PTI)

Balochistan reported 234 deaths whereas Khyber Pakh­tun­khwa and Punjab Province recorded 185 and 165 deaths, respectively. In Pakistan-occupied Kash­mir, 37 people were killed while nine deaths were repor­ted in the Gilgit-Baltistan reg­ion during the current monsoon rains.

2. California to phase out gas vehicles

California set itself on a path to end the era of gas-powered cars, with air regulators adopting the world’s most stringent rules for transitioning to zero-emission vehicles.

Cars are parked in the employee parking lot at Tesla Inc’s US vehicle factory in Fremont, California. (Reuters, file)

The move by the California Air Resources Board to have all new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs be electric or hydrogen by 2035 is likely to reshape the US auto market, which gets 10% of its sales from the nation’s most populous state. But such a radical transformation in what people drive will also require at least 15 times more vehicle chargers statewide, a more robust energy grid and vehicles that people of all income levels can afford. (AP)

3. Dangerous heat predicted to hit 3 times more often in future 

What’s considered officially “dangerous heat” in coming decades will likely hit much of the world at least three times more often as climate change worsens, according to a new study.

In much of Earth’s wealthy mid-latitudes, spiking temperatures and humidity that feel like 39.4 degrees Celsius or higher — now an occasional summer shock — statistically should happen 20 to 50 times a year by mid-century, said a study in the journal Communications Earth & Environment. By 2100, that brutal heat index may linger for most of the summer in places like the US Southeast, the study’s author said.

This photo provided by the fire brigade of the Gironde region SDIS 33, (Departmental fire and rescue service 33) shows an aerial view of a blaze near Saint-Magne, south of Bordeaux, southwestern France. (SDIS 33 via AP, File)

And it’s far worse for the sticky tropics. The study said a heat index considered “extremely dangerous” where the feels-like heat index exceeds 124 degrees (51 degrees Celsius) — now something that rarely happens — will likely strike a tropical belt that includes India one to four weeks a year by century’s end. (AP)

4. Italy’s drought exposes ancient imperial bridge over Tiber 

Italy’s worst drought in 70 years has exposed the piers of an ancient bridge over the Tiber River once used by Roman emperors but which fell into disrepair by the third century. Two piers of Nero’s Bridge have been visible much of the summer near the Vittorio Emanuele bridge that traverses the river near the Vatican, a pile of moss-covered rocks where seagulls now sun themselves.

The ruins of the ancient Roman Neronian bridge, emerge from the river bed of the Tiber river, in Rome, Aug. 22, 2022. (AP)

The bridge was built in the first century for Emperor Nero to reach his gardens near Janiculum Hill near what is present-day St. Peter’s Square, said historian Anthony Majanlahti. The bridge was already falling apart by the third century, traffic was diverted to the nearby Sant’Angelo Bridge, which funnelled pilgrims past the Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican. (AP)

5. People facing acute food insecurity reach 345 million worldwide

The number of people facing acute food insecurity worldwide has more than doubled to 345 million since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, conflict and climate change, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday.

Before the coronavirus crisis, 135 million suffered from acute hunger worldwide, said Corinne Fleischer, the WFP’s regional director, told Reuters. The numbers have climbed since and are expected to soar further because of climate change and conflict.



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