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Demonstrators outside Central Hall, Westminster, London, as the petroleum giant Shell are holding its annual general meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Stefan Rousseau / PA Images via Getty Images

Climate protesters disrupted Shell’s annual general meeting in London Tuesday, interrupting it for around three hours.

However, in the end a majority of shareholders backed the company’s climate plan over the more ambitious plan proposed by activist shareholder group Follow This.

Climate protesters disrupted Shell’s annual general meeting in London Tuesday, interrupting it for around three hours.

However, in the end a majority of shareholders backed the company’s climate plan over the more ambitious plan proposed by activist shareholder group Follow This.

“Today’s voting results are a loss in the fight against the climate crisis,” Follow This founder Mark van Baal said in a statement. “Today, everybody loses except the board of Shell, who will hang on to fossil fuels investments for another year and continue to fuel the climate crisis with their outdated business model.”

Shell’s shareholders were gathered at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, The Guardian reported. The shareholders assembled to choose between distinct climate change strategies, according to Reuters. 

Shell aims to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, including the emissions from its products once they are sold. However, it has appealed a Dutch court ruling mandating that it set an earlier target of cutting lifecycle emissions by 45 percent by 2030 in order to be in line with the Paris agreement.

Shell maintains that its existing plan does conform to the landmark climate agreement, but Follow This disagrees, saying that it does not move quickly enough. 

“Shell’s target to reduce the net carbon intensity of its products [Scope 3] by 20% by 2030 will not deliver absolute emission reductions to achieve the Paris goals,” van Baal said in a statement. “Moreover, Shell doesn’t plan to shift investments substantially away from fossil fuels to renewables and plans to increase natural gas production.”

In the end, Shell’s plan passed with around 80 percent of the votes, nine percent fewer than in 2021, according to Reuters. The Follow This plan received 20 percent of votes, 10 percent fewer than the year before. However, Follow This also noted that votes against Shell’s plan rose from 11 percent last year to 20 percent this year.

Shell faced external opposition as well, as around 40 protesters attended the meeting as shareholders, The Guardian reported. 

“We will expose you. We know who you are. We know what you have done. We will remember,” the protesters told the board, as The Guardian reported. 

Protests were also held outside the meeting venue throughout the morning. 

The fossil fuel company said it supported the right to protest, but did not agree with the tactics of activists who disrupted the meeting and glued themselves to chairs.

“We respect the right of everyone to express their point of view and welcome any engagement on our strategy and the energy transition which is constructive. However, this kind of disruption at our AGM is the opposite of constructive engagement,” the company said in a statement reported by The Guardian. “We agree that society needs to take urgent action on climate change. Shell has a clear target to become a net zero emissions business by 2050.”

In the end, Shell chairman Sir Andrew Mackenzie asked all non-demonstrating shareholders to leave the main meeting room for lunch while the protesters were cleared. A total of three people were arrested. 

Demonstrator Aidan Knox explained the activists’ motives to Reuters.

“We’re here to embarrass them and hold them to account,” Knox said. 

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A boy carries water bottles during a heatwave in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on May 17, 2022. FAROOQ NAEEM / AFP via Getty Images

The climate crisis made the heat wave that took lives and smashed records in India and Pakistan this spring around 30 times more likely. 

That’s the conclusion drawn by an international team of scientists from World Weather Attribution, who use a peer-reviewed method to determine the role of the climate crisis in extreme weather events. In a report released Monday, they found that the heat wave would have been around a full degree Celsius cooler before the industrial era. 

The climate crisis made the heat wave that took lives and smashed records in India and Pakistan this spring around 30 times more likely. 

That’s the conclusion drawn by an international team of scientists from World Weather Attribution, who use a peer-reviewed method to determine the role of the climate crisis in extreme weather events. In a report released Monday, they found that the heat wave would have been around a full degree Celsius cooler before the industrial era. 

“Climate change is a real game changer when it comes to heat waves,” report co-author and Imperial College London climate scientist Friederike Otto told The New York Times. “It’s really a major factor.” 

The period of prolonged heat gave India its hottest March since record-keeping began 122 years ago, according to the report. Pakistan, meanwhile, saw the world’s highest March temperature anomaly. The month was also unusually dry, with 62 percent less rainfall than normal in Pakistan and 71 percent less rainfall in India. The hot, dry weather continued into April, impacting 70 percent of India by the end of that month. And so far, May has brought no relief. 

“High temperatures are common in India and Pakistan, but what made this unusual was that it started so early and lasted so long,” study co-author Krishna AchutaRao of the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi told USA TODAY.

Determining the likelihood of such a rare event was made difficult by the fact that in-depth temperature records for both countries only go back to 1979, the report authors said. They combined this data-set with one in India dating back to 1951 to determine that the heat wave was a one-in-100 year event. They then compared on-the-ground observations with 20 climate models to determine that the climate crisis made the event around 30 times more likely; however, they acknowledged this figure might be conservative.

Indeed, the UK’s Met Office calculated earlier this month that the climate crisis made the heat wave more than 100 times more likely. Otto told The Washington Post that this was within the range of uncertainty for the more recent study.

The study also serves as a reminder of the human impacts of the climate crisis. While its full toll is yet unknown, the heat wave has already claimed at least 90 lives, triggered glacial flooding in Pakistan, fueled wildfires in India, forced India to go back on its plan to bolster global wheat supply in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and deprived millions of power.  

There is an environmental justice component to these impacts, since the high heat is most felt by people like vendors and farmers who are forced by economic necessity to work outdoors.

“Thousands of people in this region, who, to begin with, contributed very little to global warming, are now bearing the brunt of it and will continue to do so if emissions are not significantly cut globally,” study co-author Arpita Mondal of the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai told USA TODAY. “This is a sign of things to come.”

Indeed, the study authors calculated that a heat wave like this would become two to 20 times more likely and 0.5 to 1.5 degrees Celsius hotter in a world two degrees warmer or more. While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to protect people worldwide from worsening heat waves, the study authors also noted that adapting to temperature extremes can save lives.

“The main message to take away here [is] that adaptation to heat has been the absolute essential thing to do in life in every part of the world, really, but especially also in this part of the world,” Otto told The Washington Post. 

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Amynthas agrestis. Njh5880 / CC BY-SA 4.0

What grows up to eight inches long, is dark with a white band, can leap a foot in the air and is the latest threat to California’s forest ecosystems? 

The answer is the Asian jumping worm (Amynthas agrestis), a uniquely mobile species of earthworm with an impressive appetite that was sighted in the state for the first time in recent months. 

What grows up to eight inches long, is dark with a white band, can leap a foot in the air and is the latest threat to California’s forest ecosystems? 

The answer is the Asian jumping worm (Amynthas agrestis), a uniquely mobile species of earthworm with an impressive appetite that was sighted in the state for the first time in recent months. 

“These earthworms are extremely active, aggressive, and have voracious appetites,” the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) said in a report. “True to their name, they jump (known to jump off the ground or out of a bait can) and thrash immediately when handled behaving more like a threatened snake than a worm, sometimes even breaking and shedding their tail when caught.” 

A specimen was spotted at a nursery in Napa County in July of 2021. While no further specimens have been reported in California, the CDFA said it was likely that the species would spread widely throughout the state. 

Native to Japan and the Korean Peninsula, the earthworms are considered an invasive species in the U.S. because they did not evolve alongside other species in the country and can, in fact, have a negative impact on them, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service explained. This is because the species – also known as Alabama jumpers, Jersey wrigglers, wood eel, crazy worms, snake worms and crazy snake worms – devours the fallen leaves that cover the forest floor and create the top layer of its soil. While this is standard fare for earthworms, what is not standard is the speed at which the jumping worms devour their leafy food. They can consume a forest’s entire leaf layer in two to five years, according to CDFA. 

“Soil is the foundation of life – and Asian jumping worms change it,” Forest Service researcher Mac Callaham said in a press release. “In fact, earthworms can have such huge impacts that they’re able to actually reengineer the ecosystems around them.”

They replace the leaf-layer soil with a soil composed of worm castings that does not provide a home for understory plants and is dominated by bacteria rather than fungi, according to CDFA. This accelerates the conversion of leaf debris to minerals and means that plants do not have as many organic nutrients to consume. Because the forests now have fewer plants and poorer soil, they are more at risk from erosion and disease. This is especially a problem for hardwood forests that contain maple, basswood, red oak, poplar or birch. 

“Some northern hardwood forests that once had a lush understory are reported to now have only a single species of native herb and virtually no tree seedlings,” CDFA said. 

The jumping worms first arrived in the U.S. in the early 1900s via the soil in potted plants, according to the Forest Service. However, they have really begun to make their presence known in forests in recent years. 

They were spotted in Wisconsin and across New England in 2013, The Guardian reported. They have since moved westward to dozens of states. 

The worms can travel via mulch, potting mixes or potted plants, according to the Forest Service. Their cocoons can end up bunched together because of leaf blowing or raking, and they can also be spread when cities collect leaf material and return it to residents as compost. 

The Cornell Cooperative Extension has outlined some ways that individuals can help control their spread, including: 

  1. Not using them intentionally for bait or gardening.
  2. Pouring a mixture containing a gallon of water and one-third cup of ground yellow mustard on to your soil, which will force worms to the surface for removal.
  3. Covering damp soil in the late spring or summer with transparent polyethylene for two to three weeks or until the soil temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of three days.
  4. Picking them out of the soil and putting them in a bag, then throwing the bag away or leaving the bag in the sun for at least 10 minutes and then tossing it.

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