Hexbyte Glen Cove Global powers urged to go further after UN climate deal

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‘We cannot force sovereign nations to do what they do not wish to do,’ said Johnson.

UN climate change summit host Boris Johnson, on Sunday hailed a last-ditch agreement to tackle global warming but said he was disappointed it did not go further on tackling use of high-polluting coal.

Nearly 200 countries on Saturday pledged to speed up the fight against rising temperatures, after two weeks of non-stop negotiations.

British Prime Minister Johnson called the 11th-hour deal “truly historic” and said it signalled “the beginning of the end for “.

But he said his “delight at this progress” was “tinged with disappointment” because of a failure to secure agreement of all countries to keep coal in the ground.India and China weakened the language of the final text, forcing tears and an exasperated apology from Britain’s COP26 president, Alok Sharma.

He later said the Asian giants needed to explain themselves to those countries facing an existential threat from rising seas, drought and wildfires.

An upbeat Johnson on Sunday told a news conference that most countries were willing to have “a high level of ambition”.

But without naming India and China, he said: “That wasn’t true of everybody. Sadly that’s the nature of diplomacy…

“We cannot force sovereign nations to do what they do not wish to do. It’s ultimately their decision to make and they must stand by it.”

Inclusion of coal in the final text from the COP26 talks was ‘ long overdue but very welcome’, says E3G thnk tank’s Chris Littlecott.

‘Long overdue’

Johnson said “Glasgow Pact” had managed to “turn the dial down” to warming of “around two degrees” Celsius—still failing to meet a 2015 Paris Agreement pledge to limit warming to 1.5-2.0C.

“But for all our disagreement, the world is undeniably heading in the right direction,” he said, insisting the goal of limiting heating to 1.5C was “still alive”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, though, sounded the alarm bell.

“Climate catastrophe is still knocking on the door,” he warned, as Pope Francis urged “all those who have political and economic responsibilities to act immediately with courage and farsightedness”.

Joeri Rogelj, director of research at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, said the world was “looking in the right direction”.

But he added: “We need to start moving and global emissions need to decline, immediately, rapidly, and extremely urgently.”

Pope Francis called for ‘courage and farsightedness’

The agreement in Glasgow was the first time after 25 previous conferences that the words “” and “coal”—the main culprits of global warming—have made it into the final text.

“This is long overdue but very welcome,” said Chris Littlecott, fossil fuel transition specialist at the think tank E3G.

Their inclusion “confirms that coal is on the to the great trash compactor of history”.

He said the world now has a decade “to accelerate coal’s demise and expand efforts to oil and gas too”.

Recognising coal and oil by name in the text was a painful process, with India and China managing at the last moment to further soften the wording to “phase down” instead of “phase out”.

Beijing’s shift came after it announced on Wednesday a surprise deal with the United States, the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China.

President Joe Biden, who at the start of the summit lashed out at his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for his absence in Glasgow, is due to hold a video conference with him on Monday.

Map showing climate action announced by 37 countries and the European Union following the COP26 climate summit, according to Climate Action Tracker.

‘Untold suffering’

Beijing needs to deliver on promises made in Glasgow “with action—by putting an expiry date on domestic coal, said Byford Tsang of environmental group E3G.

“How countries establish new cooperation to deliver more short-term action over the next 12 months will be the real test of success at Glasgow,” the group said, highlighting other COP26 promises on reducing methane emissions, deforestation and the financing of the fossil fuel industry.

If countries, particularly the major emitters, stick to their incremental, “business-as-usual” policies, they will “condemn current and future generations to a world of untold suffering and harm”, warned the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The poorest countries, those least responsible for global warming but which are bearing its brunt, fought in Glasgow to obtain specific funding for “loss and damage”.

But they reluctantly gave in, agreeing to further dialogue so as not to jeopardise the broader fight against .

“We always knew that Glasgow was not the finish line,” said US envoy John Kerry on Saturday evening.

Some environmental activists have branded COP26 a failure.

French Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said that while COP26 was “far from having saved the planet, it put it on the right track”.

Pompili told RTL radio that while the final declaration was “not the most ambitious in the world” it represented a “compromise” that had at one point looked elusive.

“We have a deal, we have the Glasgow Pact and I can tell you that until last night that was not a given.”



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Report: Storms in Egypt leave 3 dead, unleash scorpions

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Heavy rain and flooding in a southern province in Egypt have left three people dead and more than 500 others hospitalized from scorpion stings, state-run media reported.

Downpours, hail and thunder in the province of Aswan over the weekend forced to suspend school classes Sunday, Gov. Ashraf Attia said.

The storms forced scorpions from their hiding places into many houses across the province, Attia added. He said at least 503 people were hospitalized after suffering scorpion stings and that all of them were discharged after they were given anti-venom doses.

Acting Health Minister Khalid Abdel-Ghafar said in a statement that no deaths were reported from scorpion stings.

Photos and circulated on social media showed flooded streets and damaged houses, vehicles and agricultural farms.

The Al-Ahram daily reported the deaths, citing Ehab Hanafy, the Health Ministry’s Undersecretary in Aswan. It did not elaborate on the cause.

The rainfall also caused power outages.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove 3 snow leopards with COVID-19 die at Lincoln Children’s Zoo

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Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Three snow leopards have died at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska of complications from COVID-19.

The zoo made the announcement in a Facebook post Friday, describing the deaths of the three leopards—named Ranney, Everest, and Makalu— as “truly heartbreaking.”

The zoo began treating the leopards and two Sumatran tigers for the virus last month. The zoo said the tigers, Axl and Kumar, have made a .

The zoo said it remains open to the public and continues to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to humans and animals.

Zoos across the country, including at the St. Louis Zoo and the Denver Zoo, have battled COVID-19 outbreaks among their animals.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Delhi shuts schools as government considers ‘pollution lockdown’

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New Delhi authorities announced Saturday a one-week closure of schools and said they would consider a “pollution lockdown” to protect citizens from toxic smog.

“Schools will be shut so that children don’t have to breathe polluted air,” Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal told reporters.

Delhi is ranked one of the world’s most polluted cities, with a hazardous melange of factory and vehicle emissions, and smoke from , settling in the skies over its 20 million people each winter.

On Saturday, the Supreme Court suggested imposing a lockdown on Delhi to combat the air quality crisis.

“How will we live otherwise?” Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said.

Kejriwal said his government would consider the court’s suggestion after consulting with stakeholders.

“Pollution lockdown has never happened before. It will be an extreme step,” he said.

Kejriwal said that construction activity would be halted for four days to cut down dust from vast, open sites.

Government offices were asked to operate from home and private businesses advised to stick to work-from-home options as much as possible.

The Central Pollution Control Board on Friday advised authorities to prepare “for implementation of measures under ’emergency’ category”.

It added the would likely run until at least November 18 due to “low winds with calm conditions during the night”.

On Saturday, levels of PM 2.5 particles—the smallest and most harmful, which can enter the bloodstream—topped 300 on the air quality index.

That is 20 times the maximum daily limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

Hospitals were reporting a sharp rise in patients complaining of breathing difficulties, the Times of India reported.

“We are getting 12-14 patients daily in the emergency, mostly at night, when the symptoms cause disturbed sleep and panic,” Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee from Apollo Hospitals told the paper.

Stubble smog

Delhi’s government has been vowing for years to clean up the city’s air.

The burning of agricultural waste in Delhi’s neighbouring states—a major contributor to the city’s pollution levels every winter—has continued despite a Supreme Court ban.

Tens of thousands of farmers around the capital burn their stubble—or crop residue—at the start of every winter, clearing fields from recently harvested paddies to make way for wheat.

The number of farm fires this season has been the highest in the past four years, according to government data.

Earlier this year, the Delhi government opened its first “smog tower” containing 40 giant fans that pump 1,000 cubic metres of air per second through filters.

The $2 million installation halves the amount of harmful particulates in the air but only within a radius of one square kilometre (0.4 square miles), according to engineers.

A 2020 report by Swiss organisation IQAir found that 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities were in India, with Delhi ranked the most polluted capital globally.

The same year, The Lancet said 1.67 million deaths were attributable to air pollution in India in 2019, including almost 17,500 in the capital.

In recent days the river flowing through Delhi, the Yamuna, was also choked with sickly white foam.

The city has blamed the blight on “heavy sewage and industrial waste” discharged into the river from further upstream.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove For stem cells, bigger doesn’t mean better

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

MIT biologists have answered an important biological question: Why do cells control their size?

Cells of the same type are strikingly uniform in size, while cell size differs between different cell types. This raises the question of whether cell size is important for .

The new study suggests that cellular enlargement drives a decline in function of . The researchers found that , which are among the smallest cells in the body, lose their ability to perform their normal function—replenishing the body’s cells—as they grow larger. However, when the cells were restored to their usual size, they behaved normally again.

The researchers also found that blood stem cells tend to enlarge as they age. Their study shows that this enlargement contributes to stem cell decline during aging.

“We have discovered cellular enlargement as a new aging factor in vivo, and now we can explore if we can treat cellular enlargement to delay aging and aging-related diseases,” says Jette Lengefeld, a former MIT postdoc, who is now a principal investigator at the University of Helsinki.

Lengefeld is the lead author of the study, which appears today in Science Advances. The late Angelika Amon, an MIT professor of biology and member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, is the senior author of the study.

Outsized effects

It has been known since the 1960s that grown in a lab dish enlarge as they become senescent—a nondividing cellular state

that is associated with aging. Every time a cell divides, it can encounter DNA damage. When this happens, division is halted to repair the damage. During each of these delays, the cell grows slightly larger. Many scientists believed that this enlargement was simply a side effect of aging, but the Amon lab began to investigate the possibility that large cell size drives age-related losses of function.

Lengefeld studied the effects of size on stem cells—specifically, blood stem cells, which give rise to the blood cells of our body throughout life. To study how size affects these stem cells, the researchers damaged their DNA, leading to an increase in their size. They then compared these enlarged cells to other cells that also experienced DNA damage but were prevented from increasing in size using a drug called rapamycin.

After the treatment, the researchers measured the functionality of these two groups of stem cells by injecting them into mice that had their own blood stem cells eliminated. This allowed the researchers to determine whether the transplanted stem cells were able to repopulate the mouse’s blood cells.

They found that the DNA-damaged and enlarged stem cells were unable to produce new blood cells. However, the DNA-damaged stem cells that were kept small were still able to produce new blood cells.

In another experiment, the researchers used a genetic mutation to reduce the size of naturally occurring large stem cells that they found in older mice. They showed that if they induced those large stem cells to become small again, the cells regained their regenerative potential and behaved like younger stem cells.

“This is striking evidence supporting the model that size is important for functionality of stem cells,” Lengefeld says. “When we damage the stem cells’ DNA but keep them small during the damage, they retain their functionality. And if we reduce the size of large stem cells, we can restore their function.”

Keeping cells small

When the researchers treated mice with rapamycin, beginning at a young age, they were able to prevent blood stem cells from enlarging as the mice got older. Blood stem cells from those mice remained small and were able to build like young stem cells even in mice 3 years of age—an old age for a mouse.

Rapamycin, a drug that can inhibit cell growth, is now used to treat some cancers and to prevent organ transplant rejection, and has raised interest for its ability to extend lifespan in mice and other organisms. It may be useful in slowing down the enlargement of stem cells and therefore could have beneficial effects in humans, Lengefeld says.

“If we find drugs that are specific in making large blood stem cells smaller again, we can test whether this improves the health of people who suffer from problems with their blood system—like anemia and a reduced immune system—or maybe even help people with leukemia,” she says.

The researchers also demonstrated the importance of size in another type of stem cells—intestinal stem cells. They found that larger stem cells were less able to generate intestinal organoids, which mimic the structure of the intestinal lining.

“That suggested that this relationship between and function is conserved in stem , and that cellular size is a marker of stem cell function,” Lengefeld says.



More information:
Jette Lengefeld, Cell size is a determinant of stem cell potential during aging, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abk0271. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abk0271

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Amazon Rainforest birds’ bodies transform due to climate change

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Measuring wing length of a Thrush-like Antpitta (Myrmothera campanisona). Credit: Vitek Jirinec

The most pristine parts of the Amazon rainforest devoid of direct human contact are being impacted by human-induced climate change, according to new research by LSU scientists. New analyses of data collected over the past four decades show that not only has the number of sensitive resident birds throughout the Amazon rainforest declined, but the body size and wing length have changed for most studied species. These physical changes in the birds track increasingly hot and dry conditions in the dry season, from June to November.

“Even in the middle of this pristine Amazon rainforest, we are seeing the global effects of caused by people, including us,” said Vitek Jirinec, LSU alumnus (Ph.D. ’21), associate ecologist at the Integral Ecology Research Center and lead author to this study published in the journal Science Advances.

Birds in the Amazon rainforest have become smaller and their wings have become longer over several generations, indicating a response to the shifting that may include new physiological or nutritional challenges.

This is the first study to discover these changes in non- and shape, which eliminates other factors that may have influenced these physiological changes. Jirinec and colleagues studied data collected on more than 15,000 individual birds that were captured, measured, weighed, marked with a leg band and released, over 40 years of field work in the world’s largest rainforest. The data reveal that nearly all of the birds’ bodies have reduced in mass, or become lighter, since the 1980s. Most of the lost on average about 2 percent of their body weight every decade. For an average bird species that weighed about 30 grams in the 1980s, the population now averages about 27.6 grams. How significant is this?

“These birds don’t vary that much in size. They are fairly fine-tuned, so when everyone in the population is a couple of grams smaller, it’s significant,” said co-author Philip Stouffer, who is the Lee F. Mason Professor in the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources.

The data set covers a large range of the rainforest so the changes in the birds’ bodies and wings across communities are not tied to one specific site, which means that the phenomenon is pervasive.

“This is undoubtedly happening all over and probably not just with birds,” Stouffer said. “If you look out your window, and consider what you’re seeing out there, the conditions are not what they were 40 years ago and it’s very likely plants and animals are responding to those changes as well. We have this idea that the things we see are fixed in time, but if these birds aren’t fixed in time, that may not be true.”

The scientists investigated 77 species of rainforest birds that live from the cool, dark forest floor to the warmer, sunlit midstory. They discovered that the birds that reside in the highest section of the midstory and are the most exposed to heat and drier conditions, had the most dramatic change in body weight and wing size. These birds also tend to fly more than the birds that live on the forest floor. The idea is that these birds have adapted to a hotter, drier climate by reducing their wing loading therefore becoming more energy efficient in flight. Think of a fighter jet with a heavy body and short wings that requires a lot of energy to fly fast compared to a glider plane with a slim body and long wings that can soar with less energy. If a bird has a higher wing loading, it needs to flap its wings faster to stay aloft, which requires more energy and produces more metabolic heat. Reducing and increasing wing length leads to more efficient resource use while also keeping cooler in a warming climate.

LSU alumnus Ryan Burner (Ph.D. ’19) conducted much of the analysis that revealed the variation among the groups of birds over the years. Burner, who is now a research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, is the second author of this study.

The question of the future capacity of Amazonian to deal with increasingly hotter and drier surroundings, especially in the dry season, remains unanswered. The same question can be asked for a lot of places and species that live at the edges of even more environmental extremes.

“There may be other researchers in other places who have relevant data from the 1970s and 1980s that could be compared to modern data, because the bird banding protocol we used is pretty standard. So if you measure mass and wing, maybe there will be more datasets that will emerge and we’ll be able to get more of an idea of the variation across space and how it might be changing in different systems,” Stouffer said.



More information:
Vitek Jirinec, Morphological consequences of climate change for resident birds in intact Amazonian rainforest, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abk1743. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abk1743

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Lionfish—an invasive menace terrorizing Venezuela’s coast

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Fisherman William Alvarez cuts off the poisonous spines from a lionfish while cleaning it to prepare ceviche that he sells to tourists on the beach of Chichiviriche de la Costa, Vargas state, Venezuela, on October 30, 2021.

The dazzling, colorful lionfish is a must for any exotic aquarium, but it has also become a major threat to the western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean.

“It’s beautiful, but you have to kill it,” says Mavi Escalona, a Venezuelan nurse and amateur spearfisher.

“It causes a lot of damage, and it’s delicious!”

The spectacular, stripey lionfish with its venemous spines is a carnivore originally from the Indian and Pacific oceans that has now become an invasive species in the Atlantic and Caribbean, posing a threat to their ecosystems.

Known by many other names such as zebrafish, tastyfish and butterfly-cod, the lionfish can now be found from Florida to northern Brazil.

And it has a voracious appetite: eggs, small fish, crustaceans, molluscs. It is at least partly responsible—alongside over-fishing, pollution and —for a drop in the numbers of other fish in the area.

“It’s an invasive fish. It doesn’t have competitors or predators,” said Laura Gutierrez, a Venezuelan biologist now based in the Canary Islands of Spain but who studied lionfish for many years in her homeland.

The lionfish was first spotted in Florida in 1985.

“People that had them in their aquarium released them because they ate their other fish or it was difficult to feed them,” said Gutierrez.

“It is eating all the commercial fish, crustaceans, fish and molluscs that keep reefs and corals clean, fish that eat algae.”

What happens in an aquarium takes place on a much larger scale in the Caribbean, and could do so, too, in the Mediterranean, which lionfish have started to colonize.

“We’re not talking about eradicating them, you can’t. It’s very difficult but we’re talking about minimizing their impact,” said Gutierrez.

Fisherman William Alvarez comes out of the water with a lionfish, an invasive species that is terrorizing Venezuela’s coast.

Unprofitable

Venezuelan authorities have organized fishing competitions and promoted eating lionfish to try to stymy their inexorable spread.

“The only ones that can control them are us: fishermen,” said Willy Alvarez, 35, a dreadlocked spearfisher in Chichiviriche de la Costa, a small village between the sea and the mountains, around 60 kilometers west of Caracas.

Alvarez, with his permanent smile, heads out to sea every day with his mask, snorkel and harpoon.

“The first time I saw one was in 2008 or 2009 … I caught it to put in an aquarium,” he said after climbing back on board his boat, a lionfish skewered on the end of his spear.

“Their reproduction is incredible: 30,000 to 40,000 eggs every three to four days.”

He catches one every day and turns it into a ceviche—a marinated raw fish dish—to sell on the beach to passers by.

It’s not a very profitable business. To produce one kilogram of ceviche, which sells for $20, he needs to catch three kilograms of lionfish, meaning dozens of free dives—each one lasting around 40 seconds. And then there’s the time taken to prepare the dish.

“It’s a lot of effort. I can’t live off that but one lionfish less is thousands of little fish it won’t eat. It’s satisfying to help the ecosystem,” he said.

‘Better than lobster’

A decade ago, the lionfish was still unknown off the Venezuelan coast and its sudden appearance caused fear amongst many locals.

A tourist eats ceviche prepared with lionfish on the beach of Chichiviriche de la Costa, Vargas state, Venezuela.

It’s curious beauty and venemous spines that can cause sharp pain or even paralysis have contributed to the mystery around what many locals call the devilfish.

Some even think they are spirits.

Unsurprisingly, it is little eaten here.

“We have to involve the local community,” said Gutierrez.

“We have to explain what the fish is. We have to explain that it’s edible, that it’s tasty.”

The spines and skin can also be used to make jewelry.

“If we create demand, we’ll ensure more are taken out of the sea and that will help limit the population,” she added.

“Delicious” exclaimed Genesis Palma, a 20-year-old cashier, tasting for the first time in Chichiriviche.

“Lionfish is the best,” added Juan Carlos Gutierrez, one of Alvarez’s clients.

“It’s better than lobster, better than caviar!”



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Amazon deforestation hits monthly record in Brazil

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General view of a burnt area of the Amazon rainforest outside the city of Porto Velho in Brazil in September 2021.

Deforestation of the Amazon rainforest hit a new record in October, a Brazilian government agency said Friday, just days after President Jair Bolsonaro announced ambitious environmental goals at the COP26 climate summit.

An area more than half the size of the city of Rio de Janeiro—877 square kilometers (339 square miles)—of Amazon’s lush rainforest was cleared, the largest ever recorded for October since Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) started documenting deforestation in 2016.

The October figure was a five percent increase from the corresponding period last year.

Attributed mostly to and farming activity, deforestation of the Amazon surged in 2020, and is on track to reach similar highs in 2021, with 7,880 square kilometers of forest cleared and two months yet to go.

Brazil was among the signatories to an international pledge made at the COP26 summit in Glasgow to end deforestation by 2030.

Bolsonaro also went further by pledging to eliminate illegal deforestation in the giant South American country—home to 60 percent of the Amazon—by 2028, pulling forward a previous target by two years.

But the commitments have been met with skepticism by who along with Brazil’s opposition squarely blame Bolsonaro for a spike in , due to his support for an increase in agriculture and mining work.

They have also accused him of defunding environmental protection organizations.

Those pledges “do not change the reality on the ,” said Romulo Batista, a spokesman for Greenpeace’s Amazon campaign.

“Deforestation and fires remain out of control, and the violence against and the traditional population is only increasing,” he added.

INPE recorded more than 11,500 in the Amazon in October, fewer than the 17,300 of last year but still a jump on the 2019 figure of almost 7,900.

Since Bolsonaro took office in 2019, the Brazilian Amazon has lost more than 10,000 square kilometers a year of forest cover, an area the size of Lebanon, up from 6,500 square kilometers a year over the previous decade.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Global consensus needed to develop climate risk disclosures for companies

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow ends today, the United States and other G7 countries need to continue to consider adoption of a global framework for mandatory climate risk disclosure by companies.

But making disclosures mandatory globally is challenging when there are two different corporate governance systems practiced in the world’s economies, said Paul Griffin, professor in the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis, and lead author of an article published today in Nature Energy.

“Most fundamentally, the borderless nature of carbon emissions and financial capital requires that any mandatory climate risk discourse framework will also have to be global to be effective,” Griffin said in the article.

The article, “Challenges for a climate risk mandate,” is co-authored by Amy Myers Jaffe of the Climate Policy Lab, Tufts University.

Two basic systems

U.S. shareholders, for example, have strong shareholder rights with a high level of disclosure required by firms. Other economies, such as in Asia and the European Union, traditionally operate in a blockholder system, whereby blockholders exert governance through direct intervention in a firm’s operations. No single corporate governance model exists that has wide-scale acceptance, Griffin said.

Meanwhile, throughout the world this past summer have created a new sense of urgency to achieve a net-zero , researchers suggest in the article. Asset managers and large asset owners have made efforts to force energy firms to align with global climate goals; investors are demanding climate-friendly environmental, social and governance stocks; President Biden has issued an executive order calling for mandatory climate risk disclosures by firms; and Congress has passed legislation calling for the same.

Regulators should work at a global level, Griffin said, to fashion a that addresses climate risk and climate risk disclosure in a manner that strengthens shareholder rights to press for disclosure, but aligns with the longer term perspective of a blockholder system.

“Rapid convergence of systems into a hybrid global model is essential, given the pressing need for a timely transition to net-zero business principles and to hold global temperatures to a 1.5-degree C rise compared with pre-industrial levels,” he said.



More information:
Paul Griffin et al, Challenges for a climate risk disclosure mandate, Nature Energy (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41560-021-00929-z

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Global consensus needed to develop climate risk disclosures for companies (2021, November 12)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove The single population is growing, and it’s time to grow with it

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Peter McGraw, professor of marketing and psychology at the Leeds School of Business. Credit: University of Colorado at Boulder

Recent Pew Research Center data shows that nearly half of U.S. adults are unmarried––and half of that population is not interested in dating. Yet, being in a relationship and, ultimately, a marriage continues to be a societal expectation.

The Pew report sheds light on a shifting narrative, said Peter McGraw, a professor of marketing and psychology at the Leeds School of Business. Culture in America is changing, and the data shows people are less dependent upon partnerships than ever before.

Still, there remains a based on relationship status.

“My research reveals that a hierarchy based on relationship status can be damaging for people whom partnering isn’t the right fit,” said McGraw. “Life shouldn’t be seen as better because you partner up, it should just be seen as different.”

McGraw, who is widely known for his research on humor, is one of the first researchers to scientifically examine solos. A bachelor himself, he’s also become an advocate for living single and living remarkably.

“There are 128 million unmarried American adults, and 25% of millennials are projected to never marry,” McGraw said. “It’s time for a new playbook.”

Why we’re seeing more singles

The single adult boom isn’t because people are just anti-marriage, McGraw said. Economic data shows improvements in well-being, such as access to education, increased economic opportunity and a social safety net, are providing more opportunity for Americans to diverge from tradition.

The trend is seen even in those who do ultimately choose marriage: U.S. Census Bureau data shows the average age for first marriage in 2020 was 30 for men and 28 for women, up markedly from 2000 when men typically married at 27 and women at 25. The average age of first marriage has been steadily increasing for both genders since 1970.

“What this suggests is people are able to act more on their own desires, wants, needs and goals,” McGraw said. “Some people see the decline of marriage to be associated with the decline of society, but I see the opposite.”

Yet challenges of living solo still persist, particularly for the already-marginalized Black and LGBTQ+ communities, who make up a disproportionate share of the single population in the U.S.

One of the largest challenges is access to housing. A 2021 report by the National Association of Realtors estimates the U.S. is 5.5 million housing units short of what’s needed to house the population. Housing prices have also increased exponentially, especially since the start of the pandemic––the Federal Housing Finance Agency reports home prices increased 17.4% between the second quarter 2020 and second quarter 2021.

The increase in home price coupled with the lack of inventory doesn’t bode well for single people, McGraw said.

“Half of the adult U.S. population is single, living on one income, yet buying a house today is really designed for a two-income family,” McGraw said. “Residential zoning still prioritizes , which are quite expensive, as opposed to housing geared toward singles––like condos and shared living spaces that lower cost and create a sense of community.”

Singles are also more focused on pets as partners or being able to travel frequently––both of which challenge the architecture of a traditional work environment, McGraw said.

A Single Insight

Focus on partnerships is a fabric of our being, woven into the corners of daily life we don’t even recognize: the two front seats in a car, family discounts at the gym, meal kits designed for couples and families, tables at restaurants almost always arranged to seat at least two people.

It’s these characteristics of society that contribute to how we look at , McGraw said. He argues businesses can help break down these barriers by focusing more attention on the single population.

“A lot of businesses are competing over the same types of people because they have the wrong assumptions about what these people need,” McGraw said. “They’re trying to find markets that are underserved but are overlooking the 128 people that make up the single market.”

McGraw has launched a new project called A Single Insight aimed at helping businesses recognize solos in the marketplace and adjust their tactics to better serve this population.

“Serving solos requires different perspectives,” McGraw said. “Solos have more discretion over how and what they spend their money on. They’re more mobile in how they live and work and what they do for fun.”



Citation:
The single population is growing, and it’s time to grow with it (2021, November 12)
retrieved 12 November 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-11-population.html

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