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Climate change could kill off one in three plant and animal species within 50 years

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The common giant tree frog from Madagascar is one of many species under threat from climate change (Image: John J. Wiens)

Climate change could wipe out one-third of all the plant and animal species on Earth within half a century, scientists have warned.

In a new study, University of Arizona researchers analysed data on recent extinctions and compared it against weather predictions for the next 50 years.

Cristian Román-Palacios and John J. Wiens from the university’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology surveyed data from 538 species and 581 sites around the world.

They found that 44% of the 538 species had already gone extinct at one or more sites – which is known as local extinction.

‘By analyzing the change in 19 climatic variables at each site, we could determine which variables drive local extinctions and how much change a population can tolerate without going extinct,’ Román-Palacios said.

‘We also estimated how quickly populations can move to try and escape rising temperatures. When we put all of these pieces of information together for each species, we can come up with detailed estimates of global extinction rates for hundreds of plant and animal species.’

A dead alligator juniper from Arizona, which is unable to cope with heat increases (Image: Ramona Walls)

A dead alligator juniper from Arizona, which is unable to cope with heat increases (Image: Ramona Walls)

The study identified maximum annual temperatures – the hottest daily highs in summer – as the key piece of information that ‘best explains whether a population will go extinct’.

Researchers found that many species were able to tolerate some increases in maximum temperatures, but only up to a point.

They found that about half of the species experienced local extinctions if maximum temperatures increased by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius – but a 95% extinction rate if temperatures increase by more than 2.9 degrees Celsius.

The academics said that ‘projections of species loss depend on how much climate will warm in the future’.

‘In a way, it’s a “choose your own adventure,”‘ Wiens said.

‘If we stick to the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, we may lose fewer than two out of every 10 plant and animal species on Earth by 2070.

‘But if humans cause larger temperature increases, we could lose more than a third or even half of all animal and plant species, based on our results.”

The paper’s projections of species loss are similar for plants and animals, but extinctions are projected to be two to four times more common in the tropics than in temperate regions.

‘This is a big problem, because the majority of plant and animal species occur in the tropics,’ Román-Palacios added.

VINCENNES BAY, ANTARTICA - JANUARY 11: Giant tabular icebergs are surrounded by ice floe drift in Vincennes Bay on January 11, 2008 in the Australian Antarctic Territory. Australia's CSIRO's atmospheric research unit has found the world is warming faster than predicted by the United Nations' top climate change body, with harmful emissions exceeding worst-case estimates. (Photo by Torsten Blackwood - Pool/Getty Images)

Humanity could be teetering on the edge of catastrophe (Image: Getty)

Humanity is about to reach the climate change ‘point of no return’ and our attempts to save the planet have been ‘utterly inadequate’, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned last year.

Speaking before the start of a two-week international climate conference in Madrid, the UN chief said rising temperatures are already causing chaos around the world.

He suggested the world has the scientific knowledge and the technical ability to tackle global warming, but ‘what is lacking is political will.’

‘The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,’ Guterres told reporters in the Spanish capital.

‘It is in sight and hurtling toward us.’

Guterres said there was mounting scientific evidence showing the impact man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are already having on the planet, including record temperatures and melting polar ice.

But he insisted that his message was ‘one of hope, not of despair’.

He added: ‘Our war against nature must stop and we know that that is possible.’

‘What is still lacking is political will,’ he added.

‘Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon. Taxing pollution instead of people.’

Global warming 'threatens the existence of human civilisations' and we need to cut emissions immediately, researchers warned (Picture: Getty)

Global warming ‘threatens the existence of human civilisations’ and we need to cut emissions immediately, researchers warned (Picture: Getty)

The warning came after scientists said nine climate change ‘tipping points’ have now been crossed and the ‘cascade of changes’ could spell doom for humanity.

They called for the establishment of a ‘state of planetary emergency’ and urged governments to take urgent action to stop the production of greenhouse gases and said global warming risked creating a ‘hothouse Earth’ that ‘could threaten the existence of human civilisations’.

‘A decade ago we identified a suite of potential tipping points in the Earth system, now we see evidence that over half of them have been activated,’ said Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter and lead author of a new paper in the respected journal Nature.

‘The growing threat of rapid, irreversible changes means it is no longer responsible to wait and see. The situation is urgent and we need an emergency response.

‘We might already have crossed the threshold for a cascade of inter-related tipping points.

‘However, the rate at which they progress, and therefore the risk they pose, can be reduced by cutting our emissions.’



Countdown to doomsday: If these nine natural

  1. Melting of Arctic sea ice.
  2. Loss of Greenland ice sheet.
  3. The disappearance of boreal forests.
  4. Thawing of Permafrost.
  5. Loss of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (currents which carry warm water from the tropics into the North Atlantic)
  6. Death of the Amazon rainforest.
  7. The demise of warm-water corals.
  8. Melting of West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
  9. Loss of parts of East Antarctica.

The collapse of major ice sheets on Greenland, West Antarctica and part of East Antarctica would cause roughly 10 metres of irreversible sea-level rise.

If rainforests, permafrost and boreal forests die off, huge amounts of greenhouse gases will be released into the air and amplify global warming.

We could stave off this disaster by reducing emissions, but this would only ‘allow more time for low-lying populations to move’ to another part of the world.

And once we’ve reached several tipping points, a cataclysmic ‘cascade’ could begin which accelerates climate change to terrifying proportions.

‘If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilization,’ the scientists wrote.

‘No amount of economic cost-benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach to the climate problem.’

Co-author Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: ‘It is not only human pressures on Earth that continue rising to unprecedented levels.

‘It is also that as science advances, we must admit that we have underestimated the risks of unleashing irreversible changes, where the planet self-amplifies global warming.

‘This is what we now start seeing, already at 1°C global warming.

‘Scientifically, this provides strong evidence for declaring a state of planetary emergency, to unleash world action that accelerates the path towards a world that can continue evolving on a stable planet.’



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Purported OnePlus 8 specs leak contains a few surprising revelations

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The first wave of 2020 flagship Android phones is here, with the Galaxy S20 and Xiaomi Mi 10 being the first phones to rock Qualcomm’s brand new Snapdragon 865 processor, which comes with built-in 5G connectivity. These phones also feature insane specs when it comes to RAM and storage, with the 16GB/512GB Galaxy S20 Ultra being a phone that has no rival. It’s also extremely expensive, retailing for $1,599.

But the S20 won’t be the only high-end handset hitting stores this spring, and a much cheaper flagship is right around the corner. The OnePlus 8 series is also expected to rock the same Snapdragon 865 chip, but the new OnePlus phones will be a lot cheaper than Samsung’s without sacrificing performance. In fact, we have a brand new leak that lists the main specs of the purported OnePlus 8 models the Chinese vendor is about to unveil.

Word on the street is that OnePlus will unveil its newest phones in March or April. If that’s the case, more leaks will drop, which is a clear sign that a new phone series is incoming. OnePlus had already announced one of the tentpole features of the OnePlus 8 series – its 120Hz display – even before Samsung had a chance to unveil its own 120Hz screen tech for the Galaxy S20. But that’s about all we know about the upcoming handsets.

An online retailer whose track record can’t be verified posted listings for all three OnePlus 8 phones expected from OnePlus this spring: the Lite model, the standard model, and the Pro, complete with specs:

OnePlus 8 Lite

  • 6.4-inch AMOLED punch-hole display with 90Hz refresh rate
  • MTK Dimensity 1000 Octa-core Soc
  • Triple Rear cameras: 48MP+16MP+12MP, a 16MP Sony IMX471 selfie camera.
  • 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 128GB/256GB UFS 3.0 storage
  • 4,000 mAh battery, Warp 30W fast charging
  • OxygenOS 10 base on Android 10 OS

OnePlus 8

  • 6.55-inch AMOLED FHD+ punch-hole display with 90Hz refresh rate
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G SoC, with Adreno 640 GPU
  • Triple Rear cameras: 48MP+16MP+2MP, a 32MP Samsung GD1 selfie camera
  • 6GB/8GB/12GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • 128GB/256GB UFS 3.0 storage
  • 4,000 mAh battery, Warp 30W fast charging
  • OxygenOS 10 base on Android 10 OS

OnePlus 8 Pro

  • 6.5-inch AMOLED FHD+ punch-hole display with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 5G SoC, with Adreno 640 GPU
  • Triple Rear cameras: 60MP+16MP+13MP, 32MP Samsung GD1+ToF 3D dual selfie camera
  • 8GB/12GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • 128GB/256GB UFS 3.0 storage
  • 4,500 mAh battery, 50W Super Warp fast charging
  • OxygenOS 10 base on Android 10 OS

Assuming these specs are real, the three phones will be virtually identical in terms of performance. However, the bigger OnePlus 8 Pro model will be the only phone to feature a 120Hz display, and the only handset to feature a 4,500 mAh battery with faster 50W wired charging. The OnePlus 8 Lite, meanwhile, will be the only handset of the three to ship with a MediaTek flagship CPU, the new Dimensity 1000, instead of the Snapdragon 865. The phone will also be the only one to have slower DDR4X RAM instead of the brand new DDR5 memory. When it comes to the camera experience, the Pro is expected to feature better sensors as well.

If there’s one thing missing here, it’s wireless charging support. Several reports said recently that the OnePlus 8 phones will be the first OnePlus handsets to support wireless charging. Then again, this is just a leak and should be treated accordingly. Giztop may have very well populated its listing pages with placeholder information just so they wouldn’t be blank, and may not actually have any inside information on the matter.



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HQ Trivia is dead as app shuts down and all employees are fired

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The company behind HQ Trivia, the live-action quiz app that let users win real money, has announced it’s shutting down.

HQ Trivia hit its peak in 2017 and was named App of the Year by TIME Magazine as millions of people tuned in twice a day for the chance to win real money.

Over time, users began to fall away and the app struggled as a result.

And last week, all 25 full time employees working at the parent company HQ were told the app was closing and they were all being laid off.

‘We received an offer from an established business to acquire HQ and continue building our vision, had definitive agreements and legal docs, and a projected closing date of tomorrow, and for reasons we are still investigating, they suddenly changed their position and despite our best efforts, we were unable to reach an agreement.’ CEO Rus Yusupov said in a memo to staff.

‘Unfortunately, our lead investors are no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution.’

The basic idea of HQ Trivia was that it’s a free app with live gameshows that happen at set times every day (usually twice or three times). Players tune in to the show, can interact with other players via the chat function, and follow and answer the questions as the presenter tells them.

Questions start easier, and gradually increase in difficulty as the game goes on. If a player answers all twelve questions correctly they win the money. If more than one person wins, the money is split.



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You Can Now Rickroll Your Fortnite Friends

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If you win at Fortnite it’s standard practice to troll your opponents. Because they’re losers. And now you have a new way to troll your Fortnite friends and enemies, thanks to the new Never Gonna emote. Yes, Rickrolling is still alive and well in 2020.

What Is Rickrolling?

Younger readers may not be familiar with Rickrolling, because the phenomenon peaked a decade ago. However, it still pops up every now and then. And even if Rickrolling has died down, people are still fond of Rick Astley and his song, Never Gonna Give You Up.

That song is the basis of Rickrolling, which is a classic bait and switch. To Rickroll someone, you pretend you’re linking to something amazing, but actually link to the YouTube video for Never Gonna Give You Up. A cheesy pop song first released in 1987.

How to Rickroll Your Fortnite Friends

While Rickrolling may have peaked around 2008, it’s getting a new lease of life in Fortnite. This is thanks to Epic Games launching a new emote called Never Gonna. And Epic Games even Rickrolled Fortnite players on the official Fortnite Twitter account.

The Never Gonna emote literally Rickrolls your opponents. Once triggered, your character will do Rick Astley’s infamous dance from the music video for Never Gonna Give You Up. And the actual song will play in the background, complete with Astley’s vocals.

You can buy the Never Gonna emote from the Fortnite item shop for 500 V-bucks. Which is about US$5. Even Rick Astley himself is promoting the emote on Twitter, but his warning to “grab it while you can” means it may not be available for long.

Everything You Need to Know About Fortnite

Rickrolling may not be the most up-to-date meme around, but it is a timeless classic. Hence why it can be employed in Fortnite. And if you’re old enough to remember Rick Astley being in the charts, here’s everything you need to know about Fortnite.

Image Credit: Alterna2/Flickr

Read the full article: You Can Now Rickroll Your Fortnite Friends



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