40+ Neglected Animals Evacuated From Gaza Zoo
The animals, including five lions, five monkeys, four ostriches, three peacocks, two wolves and a hyena, were moved from a zoo in Rafah, Gaza to Jordan Sunday by the animal welfare charity Four Paws. The group said it was its largest rescue mission to-date. Most of the 47 animals will stay in animal sanctuaries in Jordan, while two of the lions were flown to South Africa Monday.
"The intensive work of the last weeks has brought our team to its limits. To examine and load almost 50 animals in just a few days was a huge challenge," Four Paws veterinarian and Head of Mission Amir Khalil said. "Thanks to the cooperation of all authorities, it was possible for us to bring the animals safely out of Gaza. From Israel to Palestine and Jordan, it was impressive to see how these three nations worked together for the animals from Rafah."
#SaveGazaAnimals: The rescue of 40 animals from Rafah zoo was successful. The next step is to enable a brighter fut… https://t.co/yrDWwfMvv3— FOUR PAWS (@FOUR PAWS)1554713380.0
The Rafah Zoo came under international scrutiny at the beginning of 2019 when four lions cubs froze to death because of harsh weather and inadequate housing, Four Paws said. Also in 2019, the zoo's owner declawed a female lioness so that visitors could play with her. A petition circulated by Four Paws to close the zoo gained more than 150,000 signatures. Khalil told Reuters that the cages were too small for the animals and their children.
Zoo owner Fathy Jomaa blamed Israel and Egypt's ongoing blockade of Gaza and the territories' deteriorating economy for his inability to properly care for the animals. Jomaa ultimately contacted Four Paws about moving them to a new location, BBC News reported.
"It is a tough decision, I feel like I am losing my family. I lived with some of those animals for 20 years," Jomaa told Reuters. "I hope they find a better place to live."
The zoo, which opened in 1999, had been the oldest zoo in Gaza, but many animals had been collateral damage in rocket attacks and armed conflict.
#SaveGazaAnimals: YES! The cages are empty! We have achieved the impossible and managed to get the 47 animals out o… https://t.co/wXzCRVn9lr— FOUR PAWS (@FOUR PAWS)1554665224.0
Israel and Egypt have maintained a land, sea and air blockade of Gaza since 2007, after Hamas won parliamentary elections and assumed control of the territory following clashes with rival group Fatah, which controls the West Bank. There are 1.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza, and around 80 percent rely on aid, Time reported.
The more-than-10-year blockade has caused the economy in Gaza to deteriorate so severely that the UN warned it would be uninhabitable by 2020, Voice of America reported in September 2018. At the time of the report, unemployment in the territory is at 27 percent, the highest in the world. Most households only get two hours of electricity a day and only 10 percent of people have access to safe drinking water.
"My children get sick because of the water. They suffer from vomiting, diarrhea. Often, I can tell the water is not clean, but we have no other option," Gaza resident Madlain Al Najjar told PBS NewsHour in an interview.
In this context, residents were sad to lose the Rafah Zoo.
"The zoo is the only place where we could go for a break," Husam Sabawei told BBC News. "It was the only place for entertaining our children."Four Paws has rescued animals from two other zoos in Gaza in 2014 and 2016.
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A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
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