Italian town makes plans for impending glacier collapse

Robie de Guzman   •   September 26, 2019   •   722

Dozens of people living close to a glacier in Mont Blanc massif, which is threatening to collapse, attended a meeting on Wednesday (September 25) to discuss possible situations of the collapse.

The town meeting was organized by the mayor of nearby town Courmayeur and regional and scientific authorities.

During the meeting, authorities monitoring the Planpincieux glacier detailed the three potential scenarios: a collapse of the glacier and its 250,000 cubic meters of ice in one go, a collapse bit by bit over time, or it staying put; if temperatures get cold enough again.

However, this scenario is not expected to happen before November or December.

Experts believe a section of this Planpincieux glacier, estimated to contain up to 250,000 cubic meters of ice could fall down the mountain.

The mayor of Courmayeur has ordered the closure of two roads and the evacuation of huts on the mountain, which is 4,800 meters (5,250 yards) high, after scientists said the glacier was sliding at an increased speed, threatening part of the Ferret Valley.

Experts have been monitoring the glacier closely since 2013 to detect the speed at which the ice is melting, but they are unable to predict when the ice would break away.

Between the end of August and the beginning of September the lower part of the glacier was sliding at a speed of 50-60 cm (20 -24 inches) per day.

Some owners of bars, hotels and restaurant, whose buildings are located along the closed road, said it’s fortunate it’s the end of the season and understood the need for preventive measures.

Others expressed concerns over the fast changing environment of the mountain, with temperatures increasing.

“It is everyone’s problem, it is not only Courmayeur’s or Chamonix’s, this is everyone’s problem. We need to have other policies in place, greener policies, and we need to change, we need to change. For sure, something has to change. This is the role of politicians, and we hope they will do so, they need to change”, said Guido Riente, who owns a restaurant only accessible by Val Ferret road, which is now closed.

Laurent Cosson , a mountain guide and refugee keeper who has been working on the mountain for twenty years, said routes once travelled by hikers could not be taken anymore, due to the dangers from potential collapse.

Nicole Passino, whose family owns a bar located on the closed road, said she understood the risk of living near a mountain.

“This is part of the mountain, we have to live with this risk and to accept it. During winter, there may be avalanches, snow, we never know if we will be able to go back home in ten or 15 minutes, or half an hour. We live in the mountain, so, we know that”, she said.

The closed roads could be partially re-opened at the end of the week to allow hikers and bikers to pass through.

Across the Alps there is concern that warmer temperatures are increasing the danger of melting permafrost and disappearing glaciers. (Reuters)

(Production: Marina Depetris)

Climate emergency remains as urgent as ever amid COVID-19 pandemic—Cimatu

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 23, 2020

Climate change still remains as urgent as ever amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu.

“It is like the COVID-19 emergency, just in slow motion and much graver,” Cimatu said on Wednesday (July 22).

The DENR also said climate change have a multiplier effect which would lead to other problems, from ecosystem stability to food production and human conflict.

“Deforestation disrupts weather patterns and the water cycle, contributes to climate change, and destroys the habitats of important species. Chemicals and waste are polluting the air, soil and water, killing millions each year,” the department said in a statement.

Cimatu said major environmental protection programs like solid waste management, reforestation and biodiversity conservation, must be consistent with the overall response to COVID-19, future pandemics and climate crisis.

“The government—through the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR—will prioritize actions and investments that will reduce long-term health impacts and increase our resilience and adaptive capacity to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change,” he said.

Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

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