Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

Temperatures are likely to soar to record highs over the next five years, driven by human-caused warming and the El Niño climate pattern, World Meteorological Organization forecasters said. There is also a two-thirds chance that one of the next five years could be 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the 19th-century average, the organization reported.

There is a 98 percent chance that at least one of the next five years will exceed the temperature records set in 2016, the forecasters said, while the average from 2023 to ’27 will almost certainly be the warmest for a five-year period ever recorded. Even small temperature increases can exacerbate the dangers from heat waves, wildfires, drought and other calamities.

El Niño conditions can cause further turmoil by shifting global precipitation patterns. The meteorological organization said it expected increased summer rainfall over the next five years in places like Northern Europe and the Sahel in sub-Saharan Africa and reduced rainfall in the Amazon and parts of Australia.

Context: One particularly warm year does not mean that the world will have officially breached the aspirational goal in the Paris climate agreement of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. When scientists talk about that temperature goal, they generally mean a longer-term average over years or even decades.

In a matter of days, Ukrainian forces have taken back territory north and south of the ruined city of Bakhmut that the Russians needed many weeks to capture. Though Moscow’s troops still hold most of Bakhmut itself, for the first time in months Ukrainian soldiers are on the offensive, and momentum appears to have shifted their way — at least for now.

Continued Ukrainian advances would put the Russians inside Bakhmut at risk of being surrounded and trapped and would demonstrate that the deep, fortified lines that the Russians have built across Ukraine can be breached. Success around Bakhmut would also provide a major morale boost for Ukraine and a serious blow to Russia.

The gains come as Ukraine is preparing to mount a broader counteroffensive, aiming for a dramatic breakthrough in a grueling war where much blood has been spilled but little ground gained. While the dynamics around Bakhmut are somewhat specific to that battle, Ukrainian commanders say they hope to build on the lessons learned there when they try to attack elsewhere on the front line.

Inside the city: Once a city of about 70,000 people in the Donetsk region, known for its sparkling wine and salt mines, Bakhmut has become emblematic of the savagery of this war. The situation has grown so dire that Ukrainian commanders are sending in only volunteers. “If you enter Bakhmut, you must know you might not make it out,” one soldier said.

In other news from the war:


A new study published this week rejects the long-held argument that modern humans arose from one place in Africa during one period in time.

Instead, researchers concluded that modern humans descended from at least two populations — referred to as Stem1 and Stem2 — that coexisted in Africa for a million years before merging in several independent events across the continent.

If Stem1 and Stem2 had been entirely separate from each other, they would have accumulated a large number of distinct mutations in their DNA. Instead, by analyzing the genomes of 290 living people, the scientists found that the two populations had remained only moderately different — about as distinct as living Europeans and West Africans are today. The scientists concluded that people had moved between Stem1 and Stem2, pairing off to have children and mixing their DNA.

Unknowns: The model does not reveal where the Stem1 and Stem2 people lived in Africa. And it’s possible that bands of these two groups moved around a lot over the vast stretches of time during which they existed on the continent.

What doesn’t your therapist tell you? That they don’t love your “therapyspeak” or are desperately needing a bathroom break? That yes, you should break up with him, or no, they aren’t on board with your emotional-support hedgehog?

“Therapy itself, it’s a bit of a dance — you want to see what the other person is bringing, and you dance with them,” Peter Chan, a psychologist, said. “If they’re doing a waltz, you can’t break out hip-hop, and there are times when people just don’t want to dance.”

The race to buy the world’s biggest soccer club: We have spoken to sources connected to both bidding parties to try to ascertain where we are in the race to buy Manchester United.

Arsenal’s rising star striker chooses U.S. over England: Folarin Balogun is set to represent the United States after his switch of allegiance from England was approved by FIFA. Where would he fit?

Canceling the Imola GP was the only choice for F1: Running a grand prix amid a natural disaster simply isn’t viable — and F1 has learned the value of making an early call.

Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, is sinking in some places by up to a foot a year. Desperate for access to clean water, people have dug thousands of illegal wells that effectively deflate the marshes underneath the city. Today, 40 percent of the city lies below sea level, and flooding is increasingly common.

The encroaching sea presents a threat to one of the world’s most densely packed cities, where 10 million people live in an area about half the size of New York City. To deal with that threat, Joko Widodo, the popular president, is moving the capital to a new location about 800 miles away and renaming it Nusantara.

“People want Nusantara to succeed because it means that the developing world — despite all the problems that were placed in its path by the legacy of imperialism, by the legacy of colonialism — that a country can succeed on its own terms and can be a successful democracy and can create its own vision for itself,” said Hannah Beech, The Times’s senior correspondent for Asia. “But it’s a very, very challenging thing to do.”

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