At the end of May parts of France were hit with days of heavy downpours, causing significant damage and flooding. Scientists at the World Weather Attribution (WWA) have now suggested that human-caused climate change is one of the main reasons for the three-day rainstorm. The scientists analysed observational data and used climate change models to determine the causes of the extreme weather.
“We know that global warming leads to more downpours in general,” said Robert Vautard, a senior scientist with France’s Laboratory for Climate and Environment Sciences and Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace. “But with this attribution analysis, we found we could tie global warming directly to the recent rainstorms in France that triggered so much flooding and destruction.”
Overall, the probability of three-day extreme rainfall in this season has increased by at least 40 percent in France, with the best estimate about 80 percent on the Seine and about 90 percent on the Loire. All four climate models that simulated the statistical properties of the extremes are in good overall agreement. WWA scientists also ran analyses for Germany, but the results there were inconclusive.
Vautard worked with Florence Habets — a colleague from the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace and fellow WWA scientists from the University of Oxford, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and Climate Central, using observational data and climate models to conduct near real-time analyses of the likelihood that climate change contributed to the recent heavy rains in France and Germany. By reviewing the on-the-ground impacts, the team realized it needed to define the meteorological event differently in France and Germany. In France, the event was best characterized by looking at three-day rainfall extremes from April to June over the Seine and Loire River basins. In Germany, the team analysed trends in one-day maximum precipitation over the hardest hit area (a region stretching from 48°-51°N and 7°-13°E) from January to June.
“Using an ensemble of different climate models and different methods we got very consistent numbers for the impact of climate change on the rainfall in France, giving us confidence in the results,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a researcher with KNMI who led the analysis. “For such late-spring thunderstorms in Germany this was not the case, so we’re holding off on drawing conclusions for those events at this stage.”
“The same overall weather pattern — a stalled system of low pressure — triggered the heavy rains in both France and Germany, but affected each country very differently,” explained Karsten Haustein from Oxford University. “In France, problems were caused primarily by rivers bursting their banks, requiring mass evacuations. In Germany, thunderstorms dropped large amounts of rain in a very short period of time in mountainous terrain, causing devastating flash floods.”
In one location in Southern Germany, walls of water crushed cars and houses, sending residents searching for the safety of rooftops. In parts of central and north-eastern France, historic flooding of rivers led to widespread power outages and the closing of Parisian landmarks like the Louvre museum. The deluge is reported to have killed at least 18 people in Germany, France, Romania and Belgium.
Maarten van Aalst, the director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, added: “These latest lethal floods in Europe illustrate the rising impact of extreme-weather events, including developed and well-prepared countries like Germany and France. Sadly we saw that even advanced infrastructure and water management cannot prevent some areas and neighbourhoods being overwhelmed and people sometimes dying. And hardware goes hand-in-hand with awareness: well-briefed citizens know what to do when intense rainfall and thunderstorms are forecast, and they can get out of harm’s way.
“People affected by extreme events need an objective assessment of the causes,” said Heidi Cullen of Climate Central. “There is often speculation about the possible role of climate change when extreme weather events take place, generally lacking sound scientific evidence. Our goal is to provide quantitative answers using multiple peer-reviewed methodologies so we can let the science speak for itself.”
Richard Black, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “The ability to analyse scientifically whether man-made climate change has played a role in specific extreme weather events is advancing at a startling pace. Until very recently, scientists weren’t able to make this sort of judgement, but that’s changing fast.
“Within the last year or so we’ve learned that climate change made both last year’s European heatwave and last December’s extreme rainfall in parts of the UK more likely; and now scientists conclude man-made climate change probably almost doubled the likelihood of the recent French floods.
“This kind of information is really useful. It helps civil authorities plan for increasing extreme weather events of the future, and shows policymakers the increased risks that lie ahead if they choose not to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.”
A scientific paper detailing the results for France and Germany analyses has been prepared and will be submitted to the journal HESS. A non-technical summary of the extreme rainfall analyses may be found on the WWA website.
Environmentally Sustainable Furniture for Dummies
We probably don’t think a great deal about our furniture choices. I know that I tend to just buy whatever looks pretty, seems functional and fits my budget. That usually means a trip to a few showrooms and big warehouse stores, like Ikea.
But we have a responsibility to the planet. We can do better. There are three major ways that our furniture can help the environment:
- Purchase used and/or recycled furniture and extends the lifecycle of precious materials.
- Source furniture that is free of environmentally unsustainable products.
- Choose furniture that doesn’t require electricity – opting for manual transitioning.
By investing in environmentally sustainable, high-qualify furniture, you’ll be able to pass down items from generation to generation. This will save your heirs on the cost of furnishing their own home, and help to protect the environment from wasteful fad furniture that only lasts a season or two.
Natural and Recycled Furniture Materials
If you absolutely love the look of wood furniture, search for environmentally sustainable products. For example, locally sourced wood or bamboo can easily be replenished without requiring excessive international harvesting of precious woods that harm the environment.
Sustainable wood products are only sourced from companies and locations that have the ability to quickly replace harvested wood – providing a responsible resource for generations of manufacturers and consumers.
Recycled furniture can either be a gently used item from someone else’s home, or a new piece of furniture that’s been used from reclaimed sources. You’ve probably seen examples of this at your local park – cities are increasingly using recycled materials to create benches and picnic tables.
But recycled materials don’t have to feel rough or rustic. Items made from recycled wood are readily available for order online or in-store. And believe it or not, electronic waste can be reclaimed and crafted into beautiful pieces of modern furniture.
The only limitation on recycled furniture design is the imagination of the creator. If you want to do it yourself, check out this DIY recycled furniture pinterest board!
Avoid Harsh Chemicals that Harm the Environment
Did you know that many cushions are made of highly-flammable polyurethane? Furniture manufacturers help keep our butts out of the hot seat by treating the materials in cushions with fire-retardant toxins. Unfortunately this padding breaks down overtime and the dust is both toxic to humans and the environment.
There are multiple lines of eco-friendly furniture that avoid the use of flammable polyurethane – often substituting with organic cotton. Just understand that you’re going to be in for a bit of sticker shock – eco-friendly furniture, when purchased new from major brands, gets pricey.
If you can’t afford the pricetag, I recommend finding used furniture from the same product line. There are a ton of websites dedicated to helping eco-friendly consumers find used organic, responsibly sourced products – and that includes furniture.
You’ll also want to stay away from faux leather. Furniture made from pleather and other leather substitutes are heavily treated with chemicals. That’s never a win.
Hypo-allergenic stuffing, combine with traditional leather might be a decent compromise if you have to have the leather look to tie a room together. But be conscious of the fact that tanning is not an environmentally friendly process, so try to limit these materials in your design.
In conclusion, it’s up to you how crazy you want to go. I think that as long as you stay with used furniture, you’re on the right track – even if it isn’t environmentally perfect, it’s at least a sunk cost for the environment – the damage has been done and you’re extending its useful life. But I think the most important takeaway here is buy quality items that you can pass down to your next generation – if that means spending more on higher quality new items that are sustainably sourced, so be it.
Livery Services: Mother Nature Needs You to Invest in an Eco-Friendly Fleet
In the United Kingdom, fleet vehicles make up most of the traffic traveling our roadways. If there’s one area of the transportation sector environmentalists should be focusing on, it’s the way we move goods, services and people around the empire.
Businesses that operate a fleet of vehicles need to realize the environmental impact of their service, and the opportunities available to help them lower their operating costs, while saving mother nature.
A green fleet is much cheaper to operate – both because of lower petrol consumption and government grants and tax benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at the things your company is unnecessarily spending money on every year due to an old, dirty fleet of polluters.
Vehicle Taxes on Polluters vs. Environmentally Friendly Fleets
If you want to operate your commercial van on public roads, you’re going to have to pay a VED, or Vehicle Excise Duty. The total fee assessed for this is based on the age of your vehicle, not how much you drive it. This is important, because an idle fleet of polluters can be just as costly as a fleet of green vehicles that produce value for your company.
Vans that were built after 1 March 2001 were taxed either £132 every six months, or £240 annually. This rate is effective per the TC39 VED tax code. There are exceptions to this rate.
For example, if your van is classified as a Euro 4 van, and was manufactured between 1 March 2003 and 31 December 2006, TC36 VED tax code applies to you. The six-month rate is £77, or £140 annually.
For older vans, manufactured prior to 1 March 2001, your tax rate is based on the size of the engine. Vans with engines less than 1549cc are charged £82.50 every six months, or £150 annually. Old vans with larger engines must pay £134.75 every six months, or £245 annually.
Euro 4 vans are the cheapest to operate from a tax perspective. Why? Because they were fitted with specialized filters that help to reduce the amount of dangerous pollutants that make it into earth’s atmosphere. You enjoy the tax savings year-after-year by operating these vehicles.
It really is economically more affordable to operate a green fleet.
Petrol Costs – Another Reason to Think Green to Save Green
The cost of petrol is heavily impacted by our environment. When Britain is thrashed by stormy weather due to global warming, or oil production is impacted by environmental disasters, the cost of filling up skyrockets.
At the time of this writing, petrol is £1.16 per liter, and diesel is £1.18 per liter. There are forecasts from reliable agencies that see the price continuing to rise in the near future, passing price points not seen since 2014.
Regardless of the speculative nature of future fuel prices, the fact remains that vehicles that use less fuel save their operators money every time the wheels turn.
As an alternative, many companies are heavily investigating and testing all-electric and hybrid alternatives for a greener, more economical fleet. As an example, the Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular all-electric vehicles – and it’s a fantastic choice for transporting people or smaller cargo payloads to residential destinations. The total cost to charge a Nissan Leaf, using current electrical vehicle charging technology, is just £3.64 to go from empty to full charge.
That’s a HUGE savings over filling a petrol tank. And with the prevalence of fast-charge locations, it’s possible to go from zero to empty in just 30 minutes.
In conclusion, there are many ways to save on fleet operation costs. And by investing in a more efficient fleet, you’ll be doing your part to save the environment. Both tax incentives and lower operating costs make green fleets a no-brainier for serious fleet operators throughout the United Kingdom.
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