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Humans to blame for deadly Germany floods, study finds

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Human behaviour is contributing to an increase in significant weather events, with an excess in heavy rainfall occurring as a result.

Heavy rain flooded the streets of Germany and Belgium

Findings from a new study found climate change induced by human activity may be to blame for Germany’s deadly flooding event.

The once-in-a-400-year occurrence killed at least 220 people after record rainfall led to heavy flash flooding back in July this year.

Buildings and homes were also destroyed across both Germany and Belgium as some parts of the two European countries got a month’s worth of rain in a day. 

The study was conducted by 39 scientists and researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution project.

Friederike Otto, the associate director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford says that not even developed countries are safe from extreme weather events.

“This is an urgent global challenge and we need to step up to it,” Otto said in a statement.

“The science is clear and has been for years.”

The study found that climate change could increase the intensity of daily extreme rainfall by up to 19 percent.

The Ahr and Erft rivers in Germany and the Meuse in Belgium were the main focus areas of the assessment. 

All three areas recorded record-breaking levels of rainfall. 

France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland were also areas of interest as researchers wanted to establish how extreme weather events are influenced by increasing global temperatures. 

If climate change isn’t managed, the study reveals that such rain events will grow more intense and frequent as the earth gets warmer. 

More specifically, a rise of 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels would see the intensity of rain increase significantly. 

Written by Rebecca Borg

Business

Europe is preparing for winter: how can you keep costs down?

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Britain is facing a surge in cold weather, with icy conditions and fog expected for much of this week

The UK Met Office has issued a Yellow warning, which means there could be damage to buildings as Britons brace for cold conditions.

Like much of Europe, the UK are bracing for very strong winds on Wednesday, causing disruption to travel and some utilities.

Drivers are also urged to take extra care on the roads, with warnings in place for icy stretches forming on UK roads.

But some residents who are seeking to heat their homes are on edge, as power prices remain high.

Peter Smith is the director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, who said the rising cost of living is impacting Britons.

“The average annual bill has almost doubled since this time last year.”

The organisation seeks to close the gaps when it comes to energy affordability. It predicts 6.7 million UK households will be in fuel poverty in the coming months.

This means millions of Britons will be unable to afford living in a warm, dry and safe home.

“So far the milder than usual weather has protected many from the spiralling bills as they haven’t needed to heat their homes as high or as long as usual,” Mr Smith said.

How to keep warm without blowing your bill

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged people to make their own decisions, as he met with world leaders in tropical Bali last week.

“There are things that we can do—all of us—to improve the efficiency with which we use energy, to be careful about it,” he said.

For example, an efficient heater; taking advantage of the sun, where appropriate; and rearranging furniture are some cost-effective methods to reduce the burden on gas and energy bills.

Pipes at the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline are pictured in Germany.

In addition, there are some other cheap ways to reduce dependence on gas and electricity bills, as the temperature continue to plunge.

  • close off rooms you’re not using
  • lower the temperature of heating
  • make sure windows are fully closed
  • block cold drafts from under doors using door snakes or carpet.

The UK Government has placed a cap freeze on energy prices.

This means households will pay an average £2,500 on their energy bills. But there is a catch: if households use more, they pay more.

National Energy Action believes an additional 2.2 million homes could be in fuel poverty, when compared to the same time last year.

Why are energy prices so high?

As demand increases, so too does the cost of heating homes.

But there is another factor, which has sent prices rising across Europe: the war in Ukraine.

Russia accounts for 25% of global gas trade, 15% of global thermal coal trade and 10% of global oil trade.

However, countries are struggling to find alternative supplies after sanctioning Moscow for the ongoing conflict.

“Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine, and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster.”

RISHI SUNAK, UK PRIME MINISTER

Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was expected to double the amount of Russian gas shipped to Europe.

In July, Russia cut the amount of gas pumped through Nord Stream 1 to 20 per cent capacity.

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Ukraine Crisis

Hoax call between Polish and “French” Presidents

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Poland President Andrezj Duda spoke to a hoaxer posing as France counterpart Emmanuel Macron, on the night a missile hit near the Poland-Ukraine border.

The news was confirmed after two Russian pranksters, Vovan and Lexus, posted a recording of the incident, and Duda’s office also affirmed the incident.

During the call, Duda was asking who was responsible for the attack on November 15, wanting to avoid a war with Russia.

The missile landed six kilometres from the border.

Initial reports suggested the missile was Russian-made, but it was later discovered to likely be a Ukrainian air defence missile.

This is the second time the pranksters have targeted the Poland President, who have made their names going after celebrities and politicians, especially those opposed to the Kremlin.

ENDS

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Ukraine Crisis

Russian missiles hit NATO territory, killing two

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Russian missile hits Poland, as the west assesses the attack on a NATO member

Reports a Russian missile has landed in Poland, killing two people. A projectile struck an area where grain was drying in the village of Przewodów, near the Ukraine border. 

An anonymous U.S. intelligence official suggested a barrage of Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian power grid, and spilt into neighbouring Poland.

Poland is a NATO member, therefore, this signifies a potential escalation to the ongoing war. It also marks the first time weapons have impacted a NATO country.

Emergency talks

Currently, the Polish government are holding urgent talks. A Polish spokesman Piotr Mueller has confirmed that top leaders are holding an emergency meeting regarding the “crisis situation.”

Under Article 5 of NATO, an attack on one country is considered an attack on all.

The White House has not confirmed the reports but the Pentagon is assessing the situation.

“I don’t want to speculate or get in hypotheticals. When it comes to our security commitments in Article 5—we’ve been crystal clear that we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”

Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon Press Secretary

While NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, including in response to the situation in Syria and the Russian invasion of Ukraine—it has only invoked Article 5 once.

For the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO evoked Article 5 and came to the defence of the United States.

“Terror is not limited to our national borders.

Russian missiles hit Poland. To fire missiles at NATO territory.

This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a very significant escalation. We must act.”

volodymyr zelensky, Ukraine’s president

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