A new climate reality comes into view
With the world already 1.2 degrees hotter than in preindustrial times, scientists believe that warming this century will most likely fall between two or three degrees. A U.N. report released this week ahead of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt confirms that range. Decarbonization has made the most terrifying predictions improbable, while the most hopeful ones have been foreclosed by tragic delay.
That scenario is an improvement over earlier projections, but it still translates into severe disruption. With each fraction of a degree of warming, tens of millions more people worldwide will be exposed to life-threatening heat waves, food and water scarcity, and flooding. Globally, unified action on climate change continues to be a challenge.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have had a positive climate impact, according to the International Energy Agency: The energy crisis caused by the war is likely to speed up the transition from fossil fuels toward cleaner technologies. But that shift is not happening fast enough to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, the agency said.
Analysis: “It’s notable that many of these new clean energy targets aren’t being put in place solely for climate change reasons,” said Fatih Birol, the I.E.A.’s executive director. “Increasingly, the big drivers are energy security as well as industrial policy — a lot of countries want to be at the leading edge of the energy industries of the future.”
Putin rails against ‘Western elites’
In a speech seemingly aimed at conservatives outside of Russia, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia’s battle was with “Western elites,” not with the West itself. Many of the themes of his speech were familiar, but they took on particular resonance given the growing dissent, in the U.S. and internationally, over the costs of the war.
“There are at least two Wests,” Putin said, contrasting what he saw as one of “traditional, mainly Christian values” with one that was “aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, acting as the weapon of the neoliberal elite” and trying to impose its “pretty strange” values on the rest of the world.
Putin portrayed Russia as threatened by the possible expansion of NATO and the values of its liberal democracies, but denied that Moscow was preparing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. “We have no need to do this,” he said. “There’s no sense for us, neither political nor military.”
Analysis: “This is a trick — it shouldn’t make anyone relax,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian political analyst, said, noting that Putin has blamed the West and its support of Ukraine for every escalation in the war. “His goal is to show that escalation is the product of Western policies.”
In other news from the war:
A cloudy economic forecast
The U.S. economy grew slowly over the summer, adding to fears of a looming recession while simultaneously keeping alive the hope that one might be avoided. And in Europe, the European Central Bank imposed another large interest rate increase yesterday, as policymakers tried to quickly quell the region’s record-high inflation.
In the U.S., gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, increased by 0.6 percent after six months of decline, slightly exceeding forecasters’ expectations. That suggests that a path to a “soft landing,” in which policymakers cool off red-hot demand without snuffing out the recovery entirely, remains open, but narrow.
Forecasts in Europe, where prices continue to rise, are less positive. “Over the winter it will also become increasingly apparent that the eurozone economy has entered a significant recession,” economists at the bank Berenberg predicted. They expect policymakers to raise rates only twice more.
Ripple effects: Rate increases by the U.S. Federal Reserve have hurt other currencies — including those of Japan, China and India — by making it harder for foreign borrowers with debt in U.S. dollars to repay their loans.
Quotable: “Ignore the headline number — growth rates are slowing,” Michael Gapen, the chief U.S. economist for Bank of America, said. “It wouldn’t take much further slowing from here to tip the economy into a recession.”
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
’Twas the night before Christmas, and all over Mars, not a creature was stirring, ’gainst a backdrop of stars.
Until everything shook, that is. An exquisitely sensitive NASA seismometer dutifully recorded the burst of seismic vibrations and then dispatched the marsquake data, a gift of science, to Earth the next day. But what was this seismic event?
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
Playing for a country you barely know: For athletes with dual nationality, representing a country you didn’t grow up in can raise questions around cultural identity. The current reality is a consistent run of players representing a country they’ve never even visited.
Manchester City women stop wearing white shorts: And they aren’t alone. Multiple teams will no longer wear white shorts as part of a commitment to help players “feel comfortable and perform at their highest level” while on their periods.
Bleak times for La Liga in Champions League: After an evening that descended into farce, La Liga was left with just one club in the Champions League’s final 16. At this point, Spanish clubs have been knocked off their perch by European rivals. It’s a sobering stretch in the history of a proud league.
From The Times: Major League Baseball is considering adopting an automated strike zone system as soon as 2024, potentially ending the era of umpires at the World Series. Take your turn behind the plate: Are you more accurate than a major league umpire?
SPOTLIGHT ON AFRICA
High-stakes talks on Ethiopia
After nearly two years of civil war, representatives from the Ethiopian government and rebel forces in the country’s Tigray region began holding formal peace talks this week. If the negotiations fail, it may exacerbate a conflict in which thousands have been killed and millions displaced.
Little has emerged so far from the talks, which are being held in South Africa and mediated by former African leaders on behalf of the African Union. Tigrayans in exile have said they have little hope that the talks will end the fighting, which began after a contested election.
“Ethiopia faces multiple challenges including major climatic stresses, an economy in deep distress, partly due to the war, and a number of other rebellions,” Murithi Mutiga, the Africa program director at the International Crisis Group, said.
“It can’t afford a yearslong war on its borders,” he added. “A collapse in the talks will mean even more carnage in a war that’s already one of the world’s deadliest.” — Lynsey Chutel, a reporter based in Johannesburg
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook