A new climate emergency emerges in adaptation finance needs

The latest Adaptation Gap Report of UNEP, wasabi root increasing brain power, and more in this edition of Science Notebook.

Published : Nov 16, 2023 11:00 IST - 5 MINS READ

Comparison of adaptation finance needs (extrapolated) versus modelled costs of adaptation versus adaptation finance flows (international public) by region.

Comparison of adaptation finance needs (extrapolated) versus modelled costs of adaptation versus adaptation finance flows (international public) by region. | Photo Credit: Adaptation Gap Report 2023/UNEP

According to the new “Adaptation Gap Report 2023: Underfinanced. Underprepared.” of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released on November 2, in the run up to the COP 28 climate talks in Dubai (November 30-December 12), the adaptation finance needs of developing countries are over 50 per cent higher than the previous estimate, and are “10-18 times as big as international public finance flows”.

“We are in an adaptation emergency. We must act like it… and take steps to close the adaptation gap, now,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message.

As a result of the growing adaptation finance needs and flow deficits, the current adaptation finance gap is estimated at $194-366 billion/year. Therefore, adaptation planning and implementation appear to be plateauing. This failure to adapt has massive implications for losses and damages, particularly for the most vulnerable.

“[The] intensifying impacts [of climate change in 2023] tell us that the world must urgently cut GHG emissions and increase adaptation efforts to protect vulnerable populations,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “Neither is happening.”

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“Even if the international community was to stop emitting all greenhouse gases today, climate disruption would take decades to dissipate. So, I urge policymakers to take heed of the Adaptation Gap Report, [and] step up finance,” she added.

According to the report’s new updated estimate, the funds required for adaptation in developing countries are higher; estimated to be in the central range of $215 billion/year—$387 billion/year this decade, and are projected to rise significantly by 2050. However, public multilateral and bilateral adaptation finance flows to developing countries declined by 15 per cent to $21 billion in 2021. This dip comes despite pledges made at COP 26 in Glasgow to provide $40 billion/year in adaptation finance support by 2025.

The report further notes that neither the goal of doubling 2019 international finance flows to developing countries by 2025 nor a possible New Collective Quantified Goal for 2030 will significantly close the adaptation finance gap on their own.

Wasabi boosts brain power in seniors: Study

Fresh wasabi rhizomes.

Fresh wasabi rhizomes. | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A recent study by a team of Japanese researchers has found that wasabi (a root belonging to the same family as mustard and horseradish), a traditional Japanese spice containing 6-Methylsulfinyl Hexyl Isothiocyanate (6-MSITC) with known anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, improves the cognitive function of healthy adults above 60 years of age. The work—findings of a randomised, double-blinded, controlled trial—has been published in a recent issue of Nutrients, a peer-reviewed journal.

The researchers examined the impact of 12 weeks of wasabi intake in older adults. They hypothesised that 6-MSITC intake (as a tablet) would result in improvements in working and episodic memory, inhibition performances and processing speeds in older adults.

Japanese versions of “Frontal Assessment Battery” and “Mini-Mental State Examination”, along with “Geriatric Depression Scale”, were used to screen participants for their baseline cognitive functions.

The participants were between 60 and 80 years of age (average age 65) with no history of diabetes, mental disorders, cardiac disease, or cranial nerve disease. They were right-handed native Japanese speakers, mainly females, with no known food allergies. They were randomly assigned to the 6-MSITC group or the placebo group.

Post-intervention evaluation was done using standardised cognitive assessment methods such as symbol search, digit symbol coding, Stroop task, digit cancellation task, and coloured progressive matrices task.

The publication reported that 6-MSITC supplementation improved episodic and working memory functions in older adults after a 12-week-long administration. However, this was not found to improve other cognitive functions.

The potential mechanisms through which 6-MSITC could act include reduction of inflammation and oxidant levels in the hippocampus, which plays a vital role in memory functions, say the researchers. The decreased oxidant and inflammatory levels in the brain could also improve brain functions such as neural plasticity.

Cork-bottle interface key to wine conservation

A typical wine storage facility.

A typical wine storage facility. | Photo Credit: PNAS Nexus, November 2023

The aging potential of wine stored in a bottle is primarily related to its intrinsic molecular composition and, in particular, the collective antioxidant characteristics of its low molecular weight biochemicals. Wine bottles are, therefore, secured with stoppers to protect the wine from oxidation. However, controlled low oxygen intake is also usually required for the wine to evolve and acquire its optimal sensory attributes. An important step towards improving wine quality is to be able to determine the right amount of oxygen required.

Premium wines reach their optimum sensory characteristics after aging periods ranging from a few months to several years or decades. Therefore, the shelf-life of bottled wines is a major consideration for the wine industry, which relies mainly on storage using micro-agglomerated cork (tightly bound cork granules of size less than 2 mm).

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In a work published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Nexus, a team of French researchers has demonstrated that the glass-cork interface is a major pathway for oxygen entry into bottled wines.

The study investigated the evolution of the oxygen diffusion properties of the bottleneck-stopper system under conditions simulating the conservation of wine in a bottle. It found that the oxygen diffusion coefficient of the stopper alone is not modified regardless of storage conditions. The position of the bottle during 24 months of storage, vertical (cork in contact with vapour phase of model wine) or horizontal (cork in contact with liquid phase), did not influence oxygen transfer.

At 20°C, the glass-cork interface was found to account for nearly 75 per cent of total oxygen transfer in comparison to cork studied without model wine. At higher storage temperatures (35 and 50°C), the oxidation barrier properties of the bottleneck-cork system remained stable up to 9 and 3 months respectively. Beyond this period, an increase in the transfer at the glass-cork interface was observed.

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