Nearly 200 Nations Reach Landmark Deal to Cut Super Polluting HFCs
History is made! #MontrealProtocol countries agree to curb powerful greenhouse gases in largest climate breakthroug… https://t.co/0U9uTVl3zD— UN Environment (@UN Environment)1476510152.0
Under the new amendment to the Montreal Protocol, developed countries will begin phasing down HFCs in 2019, while developing countries have two different timelines. More than 100 countries will start their HFC phase down in 2024, and a handful of countries, including India, Pakistan and some Gulf states, will start in 2028.
"This is great news for the climate. It sends a powerful signal that our governments are serious about tackling climate change, coming as it does on the heels of the ratification of the Paris Agreement, a new deal to cap aviation emissions and just weeks before UN climate talks resume," Regine Guenther, interim leader of WWF's Global Climate and Energy Practice, said. "Our path to action is clear and we now need to see the promises of these agreements realized in urgent actions on the ground."
Major climate win in #MOP28 with announcement to cut potent #HFCs https://t.co/y8QN04i79X https://t.co/4Ii9nKU1xd— WWF (@WWF)1476687909.0
"This is a major breakthrough: The world has come together to curb climate-wrecking super-pollutant HFCs," David Doniger, NRDC's Climate and Clean Air program director, said. "This is the biggest step we can take in the year after the Paris agreement against the widening threats from climate change. And bringing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol sends a clear signal to the global marketplace to start replacing these dangerous chemicals with a new generation of climate-friendly and energy-efficient alternatives."
For a deeper dive:
Commentary: Kigali New Times editorial; Guardian, John Vidal column; Reuters, Alister Doyle analysis; Mashable, Andrew Freedman analysis; Vox, Brad Plumer column; Wall Street Journal, Daniela Hernandez analysis; The Nation editorial
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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