Nepal quake toll passes 6,200, $2b needed for reconstruction

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KATHMANDU: The death toll from Nepal’s devastating earthquake rose steadily past 6,200 on Friday as fresh aftershocks and the stench of rotting bodies made it hard for nervous survivors to return to their homes.

Disposal of the hundreds of bodies still being found six days after the 7.9 magnitude quake devastated the Himalayan nation of 28 million people was becoming a problem for officials, who have ordered immediate cremations.

Philippine climate activist starts global trek

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Manila: An internationally renowned Filipino environmental activist on Wednesday started a journey to climate change hotspots around the world to press for an accord at a United Nations summit later this year.

Naderev “Yeb” Sano — a former envoy to UN climate talks who came to world attention in 2013 by fasting to highlight the threat of global warming — said he hopes his “People’s Pilgrimage” will put pressure on delegates to reach agreement at the UN Conference on Climate Change in December.

Maldives divers hold underwater protest to free ex-leader

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Colombo, Sri Lanka: A hundred scuba divers in the Maldives held an underwater protest demanding the release of jailed ex-president Mohammad Nasheed who became popular as an environmental activist during his presidency.

Nasheed is serving a 13-year prison sentence for ordering the arrest and detention of a senior judge when he was in power three years ago.

Droughts in Syria and California linked to climate change

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Syria and California have both recently suffered their worst-ever droughts, exacerbated by global warming. Syria's may have helped trigger its bloody civil war, but not California's, which instead brought vermin invasions and wildfire. The difference points to the resilience that will be needed in a warming world.

Colin Kelley of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his colleagues analysed Syrian weather data since 1931, and found steadily less winter rainfall, which is crucial for crops, and higher temperatures, which dry soils faster. The only explanation for such a change over that timescale lies in man-made greenhouse emissions, says Kelley. Climate models, his team found, consistently predict such changes for the Fertile Crescent, the Middle Eastern area that includes Syria and Iraq .