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Did Climate Change Cause The Fall Of The Ming Dynasty?

In the mid-17th century, the weather in China got colder. The frequency of droughts and floods increased while some regions were wiped out by tragic famines. And the once-unstoppable Ming dynasty began to lose power.

The accounts are chilling. In the summary of his course on modern Chinese history at the Collège de France, Pierre-Etienne Will examined journals held by various individuals, often part of the Chinese administration, during the final years of the Ming dynasty. These autobiographical writings were almost always kept secret, but they allow us to immerse ourselves in the everyday life of the first half of 17th-century China.

In the Jiangnan region, close to Shanghai and generally considered as a land of plenty, the 1640s did not bode well. The decade that had just ended was characterized by an abnormally cold and dry climate and poor harvests. The price of agricultural goods kept rising, pushing social tension to bursting points.

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China Can't Kick Its Coal Habit

China has endured two months of scorching heatwaves and drought that have affected power supply in the country. Spooked by future energy security, Beijing is reinvesting heavily in coal with disastrous implications for climate change.

Two months of scorching heatwaves and drought plunged China into an energy security crisis.

The southwest province of Sichuan, for example, relies on dams to generate around 80% of its electricity, with growth in hydropower crucial for China meeting its net-zero by 2060 emissions target.

Sichuan suffered from power shortages after low rainfall and extreme temperatures over 40℃ dried up rivers and reservoirs. Heavy rainfall this week, however, has just seen power in Sichuan for commercial and industrial use fully restored, according to official Chinese media.

The energy crisis has seen Beijing shift its political discourse and proclaim energy security as a more urgent national mission than the green energy transition. Now, the government is investing in a new wave of coal-fired power stations to try to meet demand.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, China approved 8.63 gigawatts of new coal plants and, in May, announced C¥ 10 billion (around $1.4 billion) of investment in coal power generation. What’s more, it will expand the capacity of a number of coal mines to ensure domestic supply as the international coal market price jumped amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Pakistan's "Monster Monsoon" And The Decade Of Destruction Left In Its Path

Caught between a natural disaster, an economic crisis and poor governance, flood-affected Pakistanis contemplate a future in ruins.

THATTA, SINDH — In a hastily put together settlement in the Matka embankment area of Thatta, Leela Mallah, carrying a child on her hip, looks at her new home: pieces of cloth draped over a bamboo structure assembled by the side of a road.

Leela’s actual home was washed away in the floods that have devastated the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since the middle of June, due to what Senator Sherry Rehman, the federal minister for climate change, called a “Monster Monsoon”.

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Gorbachev Dies, Taiwan Tensions, Queen Stays In Scotland

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where the world pays tribute to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev who died at 91, the Taiwan Strait sees renewed tension and the Queen breaks with tradition. Meanwhile, Cynthia Martens unpacks the unraveling of Moscow's intellectual property standards in the wake of international companies leaving Russia.

[*Danish]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

All Eyes On Southern Ukraine, Baghdad Clashes, Pumpkin Ride

👋 Da'anzho!*


Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukraine launches a counteroffensive to retake Kherson in the south of the country, deadly clashes rock Iraq after cleric al-Sadr resigns, and the world record for pumpkin paddling (you read that right) gets broken. We also turn to Ukraine’s news platform Livy Bereg to see how Russian propaganda plays out across European countries.



[*Eastern Apache]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Train Station Strike Kills 25 In Ukraine, Monsoon Toll, Around The World At 17

👋 Mbote!*

Welcome to Thursday, where the death toll is mounting in Russia’s attack on a train station in eastern Ukraine, Pakistan is asking for international aid amid months of extreme floods, and a British-Belgian pilot becomes the youngest to fly solo around the world. Meanwhile, Colombian daily El Espectador looks at how the city of Medellín has turned into (to quote the locals) "Sodom and Gonorrhea."

[*Lingala - mboh-teh]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Ukraine Refutes Dugina Accusations, UK Migrants Record, Jupiter’s Auroras

👋 Dobrý deň!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukrainian ridicule Russian accusations that it is behind the murder Darya Dugina last week, the UK sees a record daily number of migrants reaching its shores, and the James Webb Telescope wows us again. Meanwhile, Hong-Kong-based outlet The Initium looks at the weight of new religious groups in Japan in the wake of Shinzo Abe’s assassination by a member of the Unification Church.

[*Slovak]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

All Eyes On Zaporizhzhia, 21 Killed In Kabul Mosque Blast, Surfin’ Venice

👋 Molo!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Guterres and Erdogan meet with Zelensky to address the situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, a blast at a Kabul mosque kills at least, and surf’s up in Venice, much to the mayor’s chagrin. Meanwhile, Clarín visits an old friend: that botched restoration of a Christ mural, still a tourist hit 10 years on.

[*Xhosa, South Africa]

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Green
Yolanda Ruiz

Let's Stop Calling It "Extreme" Weather

As measures to curb climate change move slowly in the face of deadly new weather patterns, we must immediately mitigate the havoc it has begun to cause around the world.

OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — A street sweeper collapsed in Madrid while working in the afternoon. Hours later, he died from heatstroke. He was working in temperatures of some 40 degrees centigrade. In Colombia, eight people died and 11,000 families were affected by the rains in July. Their intensity has lessened, but it was a long and painful winter for the country. In Mexico, severe drought is killing off more livestock. Luton Airport, north of London, suspended flight operations when a part of its tracks softened in the heat.

Paris declared a red alert for extreme heat, as smoke from surrounding forest fires wafted into the French capital.

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Green
Cristina García Casado

Who Will Be Left? A Message From The "Inextinguishable" Fires Of Zamora

The droughts and extreme temperatures due to climate change, together with the abandonment of the countryside, have caused fierce fires in Spain that have devastate the livelihoods of the few people who still live there.

TÁBARA — Francisco Vicente and Delia spent two days inside a tractor. In their town, Tábara, in the northwestern Spanish province of Zamora, the flames tried to enter from all fronts for hours without mercy or truce.

Many neighbors, like them, disregarded the Civil Guard's eviction order and stayed behind to defend their houses, their crops and their animals. This is all they have. The official fire extinguishing techniques are not designed for the massive fires of the 21st century.

"If the people hadn't stayed behind, the fire would have reached the town and burned it," says Francisco Vicente Casado Fresno, a farmer, just like his father, grandparents, uncles and those who preceded them.

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Green
María Mónica Monsalve

Mineral Mining, The Dirty Secret Of The Clean Energy Industry

Green technologies are crucial to reducing carbon emissions, but they require ramping up the need for mining of minerals. And since mineral extraction can cause grave natural destruction, how can we ensure renewables are truly good for the environment?

BOGOTÁ — In the course of international debates on climate change, 2015 was a key year. Representatives of 196 nations signed the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the average rise in world temperatures to well below 2°C. Signing the pact was challenging enough, but implementing it was and will be even more difficult.

The UN's climate change panel (I.P.C.C.) of scientists in fact noticed an increase in climate-warming emissions between 2010 and 2019. While the sources of this rise are varied, they are largely based on our collective energy consumption, specifically the use of fossil fuels.

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Economy
Thomas Straubhaar

Why The Era Of Low-Cost Air Travel Must End

Many of us have become accustomed to cheap flights, but as prices spiral, it's time to ask about their true cost. And politicians' plan to bring in cheap labor to keep down prices is doomed to fail.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — You get what you pay for. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. It is hypocritical for passengers to complain about the chaos that has dominated airports since the start of the holiday season. These problems could easily have been predicted.

No one can seriously believe that a business model whereby passengers are transported from A to B for such a ridiculously low price is sustainable. When flights cost a fraction of a train ticket, something must be wrong. Costs are either being disregarded or passed on to someone else.

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