The world’s insurance bill from natural disasters this year: $115 billion

Extreme weather events have caused an estimated $115 billion in insured financial losses around the world this year according to Swiss Re, the Zurich-based reinsurance giant. That’s 42 percent higher than the 10-year average of $81 billion. The firm estimates that $50 billion to $65 billion of the total losses are a result of Hurricane Ian, the category 4 storm that pummeled parts of Florida’s west coast in late September with torrential rain, a 10-foot storm storm surge, and winds topping 140 miles per hour. Swiss Re ranks Ian as the second costliest natural disaster ever, in terms of insurance losses, after Hurricane Katrina struck south Louisiana in 2005.

— source | Dec 02, 2022

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Climate change protester jailed for 15 months in Australia

Last Friday, a young woman who briefly blocked one lane of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a protest over governments’ refusal to halt climate change was jailed for 15 months and then denied bail for an appeal. This chilling punishment highlights the resort by Australia’s governments—Labor and Liberal-National alike—to draconian anti-protest laws to try to suppress opposition to their pro-business agenda. This includes protecting the fossil fuel super-profits being made by the coal, oil and gas conglomerates on the back of the US-NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

The jailing of Deanna “Violet” Coco is designed to send a wider message of intimidation directed against any protests that cut across the interests of the corporate elite. She was the first person to be sentenced under laws introduced by the New South Wales (NSW) Liberal-National government in April that impose fines of up to $22,000 and jail terms of up to two years for protests on roads, rail lines, tunnels, bridges and industrial estates.

— source | Dec 6, 2022

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Measuring times in billionths of a billionth of a second

Scientists have developed a novel interferometric technique capable of measuring time delays with zeptosecond (a trillionth of a billionth of a second) resolution. They have used this technique to measure the time delay between extreme ultraviolet light pulses emitted by two different isotopes of hydrogen molecules — H2 and D2 — interacting with intense infrared laser pulses. This delay was found to be less than three attoseconds (one quintillionth of a second long) and is caused by slightly different motions of the lighter and heavier nuclei. Scientists at the Australian Attosecond Science Facility and the Centre for Quantum Dynamics of Griffith University in Brisbane Australia have developed this.

— source | Dec 5, 2022

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Wealth Inequality Increased From 2000 to 2021

In most countries around the world, wealth inequality decreased from the beginning of the 21st century, but that trend was reversed in some places. The global financial crisis of 2007-08 had a negative effect on the attempt to close wealth gaps. After having fallen to a still-high 43% by 2008, the share of global wealth held by the wealthiest 1% increased again to nearly 46% in 2021, according to Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth report.

Wealth inequalities (and their dynamics) vary enormously from one country to another. Previous to the invasion of Ukraine, Russia was the country with the highest wealth concentration in the hands of the 1%, revealing a deep-reaching system of cronyism. Last year, 1% of the Russian population had still held nearly 60% of the national wealth. Since then, Russian billionaires’ fortunes have dwindled.

Other countries exhibiting big wealth inequality shares are Brazil, India and the United States. In China, wealth inequality has grown significantly from 2000 until 2021.

— source | Katharina Buchholz | 08/Dec/2022

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Fossil Fuel Companies Receive $11 Million a Minute in Subsidies

Fossil fuel companies received $5.9 trillion in subsidies last year, which works out at $11 million per minute, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says in a new report. The subsidies represent 6.8% of the global GDP and are expected to rise to 7.4% by 2025, says the report, which looked into the benefits that fossil fuel companies receive in ​​191 countries. The benefits that fossil fuel companies enjoy include direct subsidies that reduce prices (8%) and tax exemptions (6%), as well as indirect subsidies due to the economic costs of lives caused by air pollution (42%) and extreme weather events caused by global warming (29%), as well as congestion and road accidents (15%). The IMF said scrapping subsidies could help prevent nearly 1 million annual deaths from air pollution alone.

Despite efforts to invest in renewable energy and decarbonize the transportation sector, the IMF found that fossil fuel subsidies have increased in recent years and the organization forecasts that they will continue increasing, even though G7 nations had previously agreed to scrap fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.

— source | Oct 21, 2021

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This Year’s Biggest Strike Is by 48,000 Academic Workers at the University of California

Across the prestigious University of California system, tens of thousands of workers walked off the job last week for the nation’s largest strike of 2022, and the largest strike of academic workers in U.S. history. The energy was palpable as nearly 5,000 academic workers gathered at UC-Berkeley’s campus November 14 to launch our strike. Over the first week of our strike we shut down classes and lab operations, felt the solidarity from Teamsters drivers and building trades workers who honored our 5 a.m. pickets, marched with our students to the university president’s mansion, and showed the UC just how organized we are—and how ready we are to win big.

According to Auto Workers (UAW) membership surveys, 92 percent of graduate workers and 61 percent of postdocs report being rent-burdened. That is, they are paying more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent. In fact, the average graduate worker is spending more than half their gross income on housing costs. Our demand for a living wage

— source | Nov 25, 2022

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NASA scientist arrested for taking part in global climate protests

A NASA scientist and three others were arrested in Los Angeles on Wednesday after chaining themselves to the doors of a Chase Bank office building.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has invested more money in fossil fuels than any other bank, according to a 2020 report from the Sierra Club and other climate advocacy organizations. In addition to calling for immediate action to address the climate crisis, the protestors on Wednesday were calling for the company to divest from coal, oil, and gas.

Peter Kalmus, who studies biological systems and climate change at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, spoke to a crowd that assembled shortly after another protestor helped Kalmus chain himself to the handle of the bank’s glass door.

— source | Apr 7, 2022

This government school in Himachal Pradesh runs completely on solar energy

Government Model Boys Senior Secondary School in Nalagarh was established in 1856. Currently, there are about 800 students studying in this school, which includes boys from class 6-12.

Jitender Kumar, a former physics teacher, is presently the principal of the school. Himachal Pradesh Council for Science Technology and Environment or HIMCOSTE supported the school in installing three solar units of 6 kilowatts capacity each.

The total 18kW solar plant was installed in 40 days and cost about Rs 9.18 lakh. It was completely executed and funded by HIMCOSTE.

The school uses 1,500 units of electricity per month. An 18kW solar panel system, as installed in the school, generates about 2,000 units of electricity per month, thus bringing down the cost to nil.

— source | 15 Nov 2022

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Over 55,000 Canada’s education workers strike in defiance of ‘draconian’ law

More than 55,000 education workers in Ontario have walked off the job, pledging to strike for “as long as it takes” in defiance a “draconian” new law amid a bitter fight with the provincial government over pay. The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents custodial staff, early childhood education and education support workers, launched the strike on Friday, despite legislation fast-tracked by the Ontario premier, Doug Ford, that bars it from striking and unilaterally imposes a contract on employees.

Ontario fast-tracked passage of Bill 28 earlier this week, which fines striking workers C$4,000 ($2,955; £2,260) a day – nearly a full month’s salary for the average employee. “An important piece of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is being shredded before our very eyes,” the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, warning that Bill 28 shatters the norm of governments restraint in invoking the clause and putting other rights – free speech, freedom of religion – at risk.

— source | 4 Nov 2022

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New ‘highly infectious’ Omicron strains scare China

On October 4, 2022, new Omicron sub-variants BF.7 and BA.5.1.7 were detected in Yantai and Shaoguan cities in South China. The detection was amid the latest Covid outbreak in the country. According to reports by Global Times, It’s the first time the BA.5.1.7 subvariant has been detected on the Chinese mainland. BF.7 variant was first detected in the northwestern region of China and has spread fast to the southern side. Both the sub-variants are said to be highly infectious with greater transmissibility. China reported 1,878 cases on October 9, the highest since August 20. Not just China, the BF.7 subvariant is spreading fast in Belgium, Germany, France and the UK. Meanwhile, BA.5.1.7 has been discovered in more than 100 countries. The World Health Organization has also warned against the BF.7 COVID subvariant as they expect it to become a new dominant variant.

— source | 12 Oct 2022

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