DAILY DOSE: Climate confusion, Covid confusion, ice mummy confusion, it’s all confusion (but no conspiracies).

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LOOKS CAN BE DECIEVING.

China’s carbon emissions dropped last year according to a recent report. Meanwhile, the U.S.’s output increased. Now before anyone gets their knickers in a bunch, the reason for the rise and fall is probably not intentional and actually a by-product of each country’s Covid-19 policies. Per the Associated Press,

The world’s burning of coal, oil and natural gas this year is putting 1% more heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air than last year, bad news for the fight against climate change but with an odd twist, according to scientists who track emissions.

China’s carbon pollution was down 0.9% this year compared to 2021, while emissions in the United States were 1.5% higher, said a study by scientists at Global Carbon Project released early Friday at international climate talks in Egypt. Both are opposite long-term trends. American emissions had been steadily dropping while Chinese emissions had been rising — until this year.

In both cases, it is a reaction to the pandemic and perhaps a bit of the energy crisis created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, study lead author Pierre Friedlingstein of the University of Exeter told The Associated Press. He said those two factors make this year’s data chaotic and hard to draw trends from. China’s lockdown in 2022 to try to control renewed COVID-19 is a major factor in that country’s drop, he said.

It’s hard to underestimate the tremendous effect the pandemic continues to have on society. http://bit.ly/3E3wL8J


SPACE SURVEILLANCE.

The United Nations is taking their methane monitoring system to space. Per Reuters,

The U.N.’s environment watchdog said on Friday it will launch a public database of global methane leaks detected by space satellites - part of a new program to encourage companies and governments to curb emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas.

The system, dubbed MARS or Methane Alert and Response System, will build on a pledge signed by 119 countries since last year to cut methane emissions by 30% this decade, a goal scientists say is crucial to averting extreme climate change.

"The Methane Alert and Response System is a big step in helping governments and companies deliver on this important, short-term climate goal," Inger Andersen, executive eirector of the U.N. Environment Program, said in a statement issued at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.

"Reducing methane emissions can make a big and rapid difference, as this gas leaves the atmosphere far quicker than carbon dioxide."

Methane, which has a much higher warming effect than carbon dioxide during its short lifespan, is responsible for about a quarter of the global rise in temperatures so far, scientists say.”

Acquiring data is one thing. What countries do with that data is a completely different story. http://bit.ly/3A75X64


ON THE ONE HAND…

There are some mixed Covid-Zero signals coming out of China. On the one hand, Deutsch Welle is reporting that Beijing has taken a few initial steps to ease current Covid-19 policies. According to them,

The required quarantine time is reduced to eight days from ten, with five days in a state isolation center and the rest of the time at home. Arrivals will still be required to remain indoors during this period. 

Travelers will also only be required to show one negative COVID test within 48 hours of boarding flights to China. However, for foreigners, receiving a visa to enter China currently remains a complicated process. 

So-called "circuit breaker" mechanisms on inbound flights will be removed, under which flight routes had been temporarily shut down if a number of passengers tested positive. 

Within the country, those traveling from high- to low-risk areas will be allowed to quarantine at home, rather than at state facilities. Areas are defined as "low-risk" if they report zero new infections for five successive days. Contact tracing rules will also be eased.

Not exactly ground shaking but it’s a start. http://bit.ly/3WYyFAa


ON THE OTHER HAND…

However, Channel News Asia is reporting that lockdowns are growing more intense in China due to the current uptick in Covid-19 infections being reported.

Chinese authorities stepped up COVID-19 lockdowns and other curbs to halt clusters from spreading as China's case load soared to its highest since this year's Shanghai lockdown, with Beijing and Zhengzhou seeing record daily cases.

China reported on Friday (Nov 11) 10,535 new locally transmitted cases for Nov 10, the highest since Apr 29, when the country's commercial hub, Shanghai, was battling its most serious outbreak.

The nationwide surge, still small by global standards and for a country of 1.4 billion people, has spurred China's top leadership to reaffirm its zero-tolerance strategy for the virus, a policy that President Xi Jinping says is to save lives, especially among China's elderly.

The southern city of Guangzhou, the current epicentre of China's COVID-19 fight, reported 2,824 new local cases for Nov 10, the fourth day in which infections exceeded 2,000.

Driving the infections were cases in the populous district of Haizhu, which on Friday declared a hard lockdown until Sunday after days of widening restrictions and curbs.

So it’s a one-step forward, two-steps back situation. http://bit.ly/3Eoxu5u


CHANGING STORIES.

Science is constantly changing as researchers learn more about any given subject. It’s something that has been on painful display during the pandemic and has been a source of ignorant criticism (unfortunately). A less serious example has been with the oldest ice mummy ever discovered. As the science changed, so did the assessment of its origins.

Many of the lucky accidents thought to have preserved Ötzi never happened, the researchers concluded after re-evaluating some 30 years of research on the site and its famous occupant. For example, recent analyses by other researchers of seeds and leaves on and around the body point to a death in spring rather than fall, perhaps leaving Ötzi’s body partially exposed in snow over an Alpine summer.

In the centuries that followed, the authors argue, he was repeatedly bared to the elements. Radiocarbon dates from grass, dung, moss, and other organic material from the bottom of the gully are younger than Ötzi’s body, an indication that the site was open to the air. “This idea he was frozen in a time capsule isn’t right,” Pilø says.

That undercuts the idea that a climate shift or cold period set in 5100 years ago, enclosing the body in ice that stayed intact for millennia. “I’ve myself made this case in courses with students—which I will need to revise,” Huss says.

Periodic exposure could also explain why the upper parts of Ötzi’s body—particularly the back of his head and his fur cape—are partially decomposed, whereas the lower parts are intact. “If he had been immediately buried in ice he would have been better preserved,” Pilø says.

Nor was Ötzi quickly buried where he died, the authors suggest. “There’s no way he could have died in the gully,” Pilø says. Instead, his missing and scattered belongings—some of which were found 6 meters away—suggest he died on the spring snow above the gully and was later washed into it by meltwater.

See how science works? It’s no conspiracy. http://bit.ly/3WSSFns

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.


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