HAMNET Report 16th July 2023

The editor’s pick at fairplanet.org tells us that, In the recent past, Africa has had to contend with extreme weather events that have claimed lives, disrupted livelihoods and shone the spotlight on the realities of the devastating impacts of climate change. 

From severe cyclones in Southern Africa to floods in West Africa, wildfires in Northern and Central Africa and prolonged dry spells in Eastern Africa that led to one of the most crippling droughts in decades, these climate change-induced phenomena have redefined the 21st-century climate scene.

For example, in the first months of 2022, a series of cyclones hit Southern African countries, claiming the lives of some 890 people and affecting an extra 2.8 million with attendant effects such as malnutrition and waterborne diseases. 

As communities across the globe experience such weather changes more frequently, researchers say people in small island states, Africa, South Asia, and South and Central America are 15 times more likely to die from weather-related disasters. 

According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), recorded disasters have become five times more frequent in the past 50 years, primarily sparked by human-led climate change. If nothing is done, these events are poised to grow to 560 every year or 1.5 every day by 2030. 

As the world watches these catastrophes unfold, half of its countries are still missing these requisite early warning systems that are critical to saving lives. In Africa, only 40% of the continent has such systems, some of which have quality issues. 

Countries that have invested in robust early warning systems have one-eighth the disaster mortality of those with limited or no coverage. The Global Commission on Adaptation asserts that investing $800 million in these systems, especially in developing countries, can avoid losses of $3 to 16 billion annually. 

The Early Warnings for All Executive Action Plan is a laudable development. The UN-led strategy seeks to extend early warning coverage to all of the world’s people by 2027, leveraging the low-cost benefits of pre-emptive disaster strategies that would particularly benefit the world’s most vulnerable.

But for the plan to work and reach a critical mass, it must be inclusive, people-centred and alive to the fact that disasters respect no boundaries. Therefore, coordination among national, regional and international entities in information and resource sharing must be matched with coordinated disaster management on the ground.

Thank you to fairplanet.org for this review.

An overview of severe weather news on GDACS daily report on Tuesday, for example, notes severe weather with flooding or landslides in India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Mongolia, Japan, the US, Brazil and France. Flood warnings were issued for Georgia in the Caucasus and the UK as well. All that in just one day’s reporting!

The Huntington Daily News has an interesting story about runners from across the U.S. and abroad [who] faced heat, humidity and a thundering downpour as they raced against the clock this weekend to complete a 63-mile (100km) course through the tri-county area.

The second annual Ironstone 100K wrapped up [last] Sunday at Greenwood Furnace State Park. The race started at 2 p.m. [on] Saturday from Canoe Creek State Park, giving competitors 23 hours to cross the finish line.

Race director Ben Mazur said four runners beat last year’s record. The first to cross the finish line, Raymond Stoltfus, completed the race in 14 hours and 14 minutes. Stoltfus, who hails from Quarryville in Lancaster County, said he’s long enjoyed running and biking but is new to the world of ultramarathons, having entered his first long-distance competition in March.

The Ironstone’s defending female champion claimed her second first place win with a time of 17 hours and 16 minutes. Mary Kowalski of Hollidaysburg has between 15 and 20 ultramarathons under her belt thus far, and many more short-distance races.

Mazur said the heat and humidity challenged this year’s group of runners.

“A lot of participants underestimated the heat,” he said.

The day’s high of 91 degrees F [33 degrees C] was six points above average, according to the Weather Channel.

A thunder and lightning storm which passed through the area overnight was a “mixed blessing” for competitors.

“It cooled them down but it made the rocks slippery, increasing the technical difficulty,” he said.

Despite meteorological challenges, a greater number of participants finished the course in the 23-hour allotted time, compared to the 2022 race, he said. Mazur thanked the Mid-State Trail Association and DCNR for their support leading up to race day. He also thanked the park managers at both Canoe Creek and Greenwood Furnace for their assistance.

The Stone Creek Valley Fire Co. and representatives from several area amateur radio organizations, including Blair County’s Horseshoe Curve Amateur Radio Club, provided communications support for the duration of the race.

100km of trail running through the night and during a thunderstorm is not for the fainthearted. Thanks to Huntington Daily news for the report.

A light-hearted article in theguardian.com compares the amount of carbon dioxide generated by animals or the preparation of their food, with various well-known sources of global warming emissions.

They note for example that about 4 million households in the UK have a fish tank, and 70% of them keep tropical fish. They’re not precise about how many tropical fish are contained in each tank, but say a tankful could generate as much CO2 per year as travelling about 5000km on a motorbike. This is more than the average meat-eating cat, which produces only 250kg of CO2 per year!

But neither are as damaging as your average dog, which, if fed wet food for a year, would be responsible for the generation of some 6500kg of CO2, which equates to about 14 round-trip flights in Europe! Fed dry food, this theoretical dog would generate just 828kg. Meanwhile the average use of the washing machine accounts for about 118kg of generated CO2 per year.

And one goldfish in a bowl is responsible for the production of 25kg per year, you’ll be relieved to hear.

They don’t actually say as much, but I’m sure they are also including the CO2 generated in the production of the foods you feed these animals, or the energy needed to use these pieces of equipment. I’ve never heard of a washing machine that exhales CO2, have you?

Unless of course, you are having to do your washing by hand, and muttering expletives under your breath as you exhale all that CO2!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR, immediately converting his average dog to dry food, and reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.