1 January 2019 (Desdemona Despair) – Nothing captured the madness of 2018 better than the record-breaking California fire season. Along with the fire tornado near Redding and the incineration of Paradise, the global trend toward burn-it-all populism and political dissolution felt like a conflagration consuming the world.
White supremacists stalked people of color in east Germany; Brazil elected a former captain in the military dictatorship who advocates razing the Amazon rainforest; Britain hurtled toward an uncontrolled exit from the EU that will tank its economy; a journalist for the Washington Post was murdered by the government of Saudi Arabia; Trump aggressively dismantled environmental protections and blamed California’s wildfires on a deficit of raking.
It was a very what-rough-beast year.
Aerial view of the fire tornado that destroyed Redding, California on 26 July 2018. Photo: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
Nations gathered in Poland, another hotspot of ultra-conservative populism, to agree on some sort of mechanism for implementing the Paris climate accord. The COP24 summit came up with a weak document that virtually guarantees almost nothing will be done to curb the worst effects of abrupt climate change.
Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old student from Sweden, shamed the negotiators in her address at the COP24 summit: “You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.”
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A stunned iguana in Boca Raton, Florida, on 4 January 2018. Photo: Frank Cerabino / Palm Beach Post / Associated Press
MIAMI BEACH, Florida (Associated Press) – It’s so cold in Florida that iguanas are falling from their perches in suburban trees.
Temperatures dipped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) early Thursday in parts of South Florida, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.
That’s chilly enough to immobilize green iguanas common in Miami’s suburbs.
Firefighters search for trapped people in Montecito, California on 9 January 2018, after mud and debris destroyed buildings following heavy rains. Photo: Mike Eliason
9 January 2018 (ABC News) – At least six people are dead in California from weather-related incidents, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said today. The southern part of the state has been drenched with severe rain just weeks after several fires tore through the area.
Flash flooding, debris flow and mudslides are punishing the communities hit hard by the Thomas and La Tuna fires.
Because hundreds of thousands of acres were charred in the fires, the influx of water has nowhere to go.
A mother turtle nests on a pile of trash on Greta Beach, Christmas Island. Photo: PTS Our Island
13 January 2018 (One Green Planet) – On Greta Beach, Christmas Island, a staggering sight was caught by an environmental scholar and shared by PTS Our Island. A mother turtle who returned to her place of birth to lay eggs found herself amongst a sea of garbage. Surrounded by the plastic trash and other items discarded by the human visitors of the beach, the animal had no chance of making a nest and laying eggs the way it should naturally happen for the species. Instead, she had to leave her eggs on a trash heap.
Once the baby turtles hatched, they were welcomed by the exact same landscape and had to struggle desperately to make it out to the ocean. These animals deserve better.
It is estimated that around 270,000 tons of plastic are now floating on the surface of the ocean. This overwhelming amount of pollution currently threatens 700 different marine species with extinction – and that number will only continue to grow over the years unless we ALL act!
The Jama Masjid in Delhi is shrouded in smog on 1 January 2018. Photo: PTI
OSLO, 11 January 2018 (Reuters) – Global warming is on track to breach the toughest limit set in the Paris climate agreement by the middle of this century unless governments make unprecedented economic shifts from fossil fuels, a draft U.N. report said.
The draft, of a report due for publication in October, said governments will also have to start sucking carbon dioxide from the air to achieve the ambition of limiting temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.
“There is very high risk that … global warming will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” the U.N. panel of experts wrote, based on the current pace of warming and current national plans to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.
Barbudans wait for a plane to head back to Antigua after attending the Thanksgiving service in Barbuda, 16 January 2018. Photo: Salwan Georges / The Washington Post
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – In 2017, the Caribbean felt the full brunt of climate change with a warning that current trends indicate that there will be no respite.
Within a two-week period, Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought home the reality of the impact of climate change as they churned their way across the Lesser Antilles destroying everything in their paths. Hurricane Harvey had in August set the stage for what was to come; with devastation in Houston, Texas, amounting to nearly US$200billion.
“The unprecedented nature of this climatic event highlights the unusual nature of weather patterns that continue to affect nations across the globe,” the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said in a message to United States President Donald Trump, as Harvey made landfall in the United States after whipping up strong winds and heavy rains in the Caribbean.
Satellite image com showing the Theewaterskloof Dam, Cape Town’s largest water reservoir, on 6 January 2011. Photo: planet.com / CNN
Satellite image showing the Theewaterskloof Dam, Cape Town’s largest water reservoir, on 24 January 2018. The reservoir is at dangerously low levels. It was only 13 percent full during the week of 29 January 2018, down a full percent from the week before. Photo: planet.com / CNN
1 February 2018 (CNN) – New satellite images show just how far Cape Town’s biggest water reservoir has shrunk as the city nears the day when it completely runs out of water.
Drought, population growth, and climate change are helping fuel Cape Town’s water crisis. Officials believe taps will run dry on 12 April 2018, cutting off water access to the city’s 4 million residents.
Satellite images provided to CNN by planet.com show the Theewaterskloof Dam, Cape Town’s largest water reservoir, at dangerously low levels. It’s only 13 percent full this week — down a full percent from last week.
Barbuda’s Seventh-day Adventist Church was heavily damaged by the Hurricane Irma. Photo: Salwan Georges / The Washington Post
4 February 2018 (The Washington Post) – Months after Hurricane Irma blazed its destructive path through the Caribbean, the once vibrant community on the tiny island of Barbuda is still struggling to rebuild paradise lost.
Before the September storm, Barbuda was a forgotten Eden about the physical size of the District of Columbia. Its 1,700 inhabitants were family, literally. The descendants of African slaves brought centuries ago by the British, many islanders were related. The workdays were short and the lobster was sweet. There were no street addresses. Everyone went by their first names.
Irma’s Category 5 winds damaged virtually 100 percent of the island. In its aftermath, and as Hurricane Jose threatened to hit, the island was completely evacuated.
A veterinarian looks at an X-ray photo of the Bornean orangutan, showing 130 pellets in its body. The male Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) was found barely alive on 5 February 2018 by officials from Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan. It died the next day from its extensive injuries. Photo: Centre for Orangutan Protection
JAKARTA, 18 February 2018 (Mongabay) – Police in Indonesia have arrested and charged four farmers with the killing of an orangutan found shot more than 100 times.
Investigators in East Kalimantan province, in Indonesian Borneo, detained the four men on 15 February 2018 and charged them the following day. They have been identified as 36-year-old Muis; H. Nasir, 55; and Andi and Rustam, both 37. (Many Indonesians go by one name.)
The male Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) was found barely alive on 5 February 2018 by officials from Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan. An X-ray revealed its body was riddled with 130 air gun pellets. It died the next day from its extensive injuries.
This vista, shot from a vantage point called Sugarloaf, looks down on the lower Paradise Valley and Stevens glaciers, now largely vanished. Above: U.S. Forest Service image from National Archives and Records Administration, Seattle, WA, shot in 1934. Below: The same vista in 2017, from John Marshall and The Nature Conservancy. Photo: USFS / John Marshall / The Nature Conservancy
21 February 2018 (The Seattle Times) – A series of panoramic photographs taken during the Great Depression is offering a new view of ecological change across the Pacific Northwest, including the dramatic retreat of glaciers on the region’s most iconic peak.
In 1934, when a young Forest Service photographer lugged his 75-pound camera to Anvil Rock high on the southern flank of Mount Rainier, the vista he captured showed the curling sweep of the Cowlitz Glacier snaking down the valley below.
When Wenatchee-based photographer John F. Marshall re-created the same image with modern equipment 83 years later, the valley stretched out bare and empty of ice.
Three women sit on a partially submerged picnic table by the flooded Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky, 20 February 2018. Photo: Scott Ford / Twitter
24 February 2018 (Weather Underground) – An unusually severe winter flood event is underway across the center of the U.S., from Texas to Michigan, thanks to heavy rains that fell during the week, fed by record to near-record atmospheric moisture for this time of year. The most significant flooding thus far has been in Southwest Michigan, Northwest Indiana, and Northeast Illinois, where the heavy rains fell on a snowpack that completely melted, releasing meltwater equivalent to another ½’ – 1” of rain. In East Lansing, Michigan, floodwaters rose on the campus of Michigan State University from the Red Cedar River, causing some classes to be moved on Friday to non-flooded areas. Three drowning deaths have been blamed on the flood thus far, one death each in Michigan, Oklahoma, and Illinois. […]
Accompanying the exceptional February warmth this week were record levels of February moisture, as a flow of unusually moist air rode northwards from the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures were about 1.0°C (1.8°F) above average. Meteorologists use a term called “precipitable water” to discuss how much water vapor is in the atmosphere. Precipitable water is defined as how much rain would fall on the ground if one took a vertical slice of the atmosphere above a given location and condensed all the water vapor into rain. Precipitable water levels tend to be higher when the temperature is warmer, since warm air holds more water vapor. This week, an extraordinarily large number of upper air balloon soundings set all-time records for February moisture. There are 73 radiosonde stations in the contiguous U.S. that take routine measurements twice per day, and six of them set all-time February precipitable water records this week; four of these stations broke their previous February record multiple times. That is a very rare occurrence, as radiosonde data goes back 70 years. Here are the new February precipitable water records set this week:
A jaguar killed by poachers using a noose trap. Photo: biodiversitysummative.weebly.com
26 February 2018 (Nature) – The jaguar was found floating in a drainage canal in Belize City, Belize, on the day after Christmas last year. Its body was mostly intact, but the head was missing its fangs. On 10 January 2018, a second cat — this time, an ocelot that may have been mistaken for a young jaguar — turned up headless in the same channel.
The killings point to a growing illicit trade in jaguars (Panthera onca) that disturbs wildlife experts. The cats’ fangs, skulls, and hides have long been trophies for Latin American collectors who flout international prohibitions against trading in jaguar parts. But in recent years, a trafficking route has emerged to China, where the market for jaguars could be increasing because of crackdowns on the smuggling of tiger parts used in Chinese traditional medicine.
Wildlife trafficking often follows Chinese construction projects in other countries, because Chinese workers can send or take objects home, says ecologist Vincent Nijman of Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, UK. “If there’s a demand [in China] for large-cat parts, and that demand can be fulfilled by people living in parts of Africa, other parts of Asia or South America, then someone will step in to fill that demand,”? he says. “It’s often Chinese-to-Chinese trade, but it’?s turning global.”
A man stands in front of the ancient Colosseum blanketed by the snow in Rome, Monday, 26 February 2018. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino / AP Photo
ROME, 26 February 2018 (Associated Press) – The Arctic storm dubbed the “Beast from the East” set record temperatures across much of Europe on Monday and brought a rare snowstorm to Rome, paralyzing the city and giving its residents an unusual chance to ski, sled, and build snowmen in its famous parks and piazzas.
Rome’s train, plane and bus services were crippled and Italy’s civil protection agency even mobilized the army to help clear slush-covered streets as a city used to mild winters was covered by a thick blanket of snow.
“Beautiful, beautiful!” marveled Roman resident Ginevra Sciurpa, who donned a fur hat and thick scarf to brave the unusual cold. “Even though I’m not a child anymore, the enthusiasm for the snow is still the same. It is always beautiful, and above all I didn’t have to go to work.”
Aerial view of a huge cloud formation moving over the center of London, partly obscuring its skyline, on 27 February 2018. The cold air, which originated over Siberia but moved west due to unusually warm weather over the North Pole, earned the nickname “The Beast from the East” in Britain. Familiar buildings like The Shard, western Europe’s tallest skyscraper, and other landmarks in London’s main business area can be identified in the image. Photo: National Police Air Service
2 March 2018 (Reuters) – Snow storms from Siberia blasted Britain and Ireland on Thursday with the worst weather since 1991, trapping several hundred motorists on roads in Scotland, closing thousands of schools, grounding planes and halting trains.
With up to 90 cm of snow and temperatures as low as minus 10.3 Celsius in Scotland, Britain and Ireland issued their most severe red warnings which advise people to stay at home as travel is too dangerous.
Dozens of people were trapped in their cars on the M80 motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, with several hundred having been stranded on the road overnight. Flights and trains were canceled across both Britain and Ireland – with similar transport problems in continental Europe.
Fins poached from endangered sharks are laid out to dry in Costa Rica. Photo: The Costa Rican Times
2 March 2018 (The Costa Rican Times) – Ten tons of hammerhead shark fins have been in storage in Costa Rican warehouses since 1 March 2015, when the government issued a ban on the export of hammerhead shark fins as part of its Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) obligations. The fins were obtained and stored during the export ban and any attempt to export them is considered a violation of CITES. Thousands of individuals and 22 Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) from around the globe are petitioning the government to stop any export attempt.
In 2013, the Costa Rican government led an international campaign to list endangered hammerhead sharks under Appendix II of CITES, in an effort to limit international trade of shark products and improve hammerhead shark conservation in Costa Rica.
Cocos Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site off Costa Rica, is famous for its population of Scalloped hammerhead sharks. The island is visited by numerous tourists from around the globe each year, wanting to experience the island’s premier shark diving and world-class Costa Rica liveaboard diving.
A man operates an “anti-smog gun” in Delhi, a machine that sprays atomised water into the air, 23 February 2018. Photo: Saumya Khandelwal / Reuters
4 March 2018 (ABC News) – Before heading off on a foreign assignment, journalists take a course about working in hostile environments — learning about things like trauma first aid, weapons effects, and how to survive earthquakes, floods, and civil unrest.
It’s all pretty useful training. And heading off to live and work in India, I was more than aware of the everyday dangers I’d be facing.
For instance, India has one of the world’s highest road tolls and Delhi is one of the worst places in the world for sexual violence against women.
Thousands of dead starfish washed up on a British beach following the “Beast from the East” weather snap in Ramsgate, Kent, 3 March 2018. Photo: Lara Maiklem / SWNS.com
Thousands of dead starfish washed up on a British beach following the “Beast from the East” weather snap in Ramsgate, Kent, 3 March 2018. Photo: Fox News
7 March 2018 (The Independent) – Thousands of dead starfish washed up on a British beach following the ‘beast from the east’ weather snap.
The spectacular scene in Ramsgate, Kent, was described as “like the armageddon” by wildlife enthusiast Lara Maiklem, 47, who photographed the phenomenon.
She estimated “hundreds of thousands” of starfish and other sea life were washed ashore this weekend following the spell of subzero temperatures.
A row of homes in Scituate, Massachusetts, is surrounded by high-tide water at midday on Saturday, 4 March 2018. Photo: Ralph Karl Swenson, Amateur Radio SKYWARN Spotter (N1YHS) / NWS Taunton Skywarn
8 March 2018 (Weather Underground) – The rugged coast of New England has never recorded a one-two high-water punch like it’s gotten this winter with the nor’easters dubbed Grayson (4 January 2018) and Riley (2-3 March 2018). These storms produced two of the three highest water levels ever measured in Boston Harbor, and both of them produced widespread damage along the Massachusetts coast, with many water rescues carried out. Nearly a million people along the East Coast remained without power on Monday, reported weather.com.
At least two more nor’easters are in the pipeline for New England, one later this week and another early next week. Neither of these should be on par with Grayson and Riley in their coastal effects, but they will prolong the misery and delay recovery efforts for thousands of residents along and near the shore.
In the longer range, there’s a more ominous outlook. Sea level is expected to rise even faster along the Northeast U.S. coast than in most places around the world, thanks in large part to effects related to a weakening Gulf Stream. The renowned ferocity of nor’easters will thus play out atop a progressively rising sea surface, making coastal impacts progressively worse unless adaptation efforts can keep pace.
A graphic showing how the water level in a Cape Town reservoir has dropped , 3 January 2014 – 14 January 2018. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory
18 March 2018 (Popular Science) – Day Zero: that’s the ominous label officials in Cape Town have bestowed on the day that water will run out. A three year drought in the region drained reservoirs faster than expected. They were full at the start of 2014, but estimates from the end of January 2018 show that water levels are now at 26 percent of capacity. When the level drops to 13.5 percent, officials plan to shut off pipes and start controlling water distribution to residents. Cape Town’s residents will receive a daily ration of 25 liters of water—the average American, by contrast, uses fifteen times as much per day. A black market is sure to emerge, but the city’s poorest, who have long been bearing the brunt of this crisis, will probably not be able to afford the exorbitant prices.
When Day Zero will arrive is anyone’s guess. It’s been pushed back several times already, as water conservation efforts have proved successful, according to local news reports—it might not even hit until 2019 if usage remains low.
But while conservation efforts may stave off the inevitable, there’s one thing city planners and water management can’t predict: when it will rain again. Until the drought is over, Cape Town will remain on the brink of an environmental and public health disaster. But the South African city is just one of many localities across the globe to face extreme water shortages in recent years—and one of many more to come. The World Resources Institute recently crunched data on water consumption and projected climate patterns, and predicts that by 2040, most regions in the world will be facing some level of water stress, and 33 countries could face “extremely high” stress.
Concerned Citizens of the Atewa Landscape march from Kyebi to Accra, Ghana, to protest bauxite mining in the Atewa forest reserve, 17 March 2018. Photo: Concerned Citizens of the Atewa Landscape
19 March 2018 (Citi News) – Members of a group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Atewa Landscape are embarking on a six-day walk from Kyebi in the Eastern Region to Accra, in a bid to put pressure on government to preserve the Atewa forest reserve against any form of mining activity.
The walk, which began on Saturday, 17 March 2018, is aimed at drawing government’s attention to rescind its decision to mine bauxite in the Atewa forest reserve.
“The walk will cover a total estimated distance of 95 km, starting from the forest landscape in the East Akyem District to the capital city, Accra. Six (6) selected water heroes from the forest landscape will engage in the walk; carrying water collected from the Densu River, Ayensu and Birim (which take their source from the Atewa Forest) to the President of Ghana,” a statement from the group said.
150 short-finned pilot whales stranded at Hamelin Bay, Australia, 23 March 2018. Parks and Wildlife Service staff with veterinary assistance and support of Sea Search and Rescue trained volunteers worked to ensure the welfare of the 6 surviving whales. Photo: Australia Parks and Wildlife
23 March 2018 (The Washington Post) – More than 150 short-finned pilot whales stranded themselves Thursday on the southwestern tip of Australia, stunning parks officials and prompting a massive rescue effort to save as many as possible.
The mass beaching likely took place sometime Wednesday night to early Thursday morning, local time, at Hamelin Bay, Western Australia, according to the state’s parks and wildlife service. Videos of the scene showed dozens of the animals piled against each other on the shore, many with their tails still wiggling, as onlookers expressed concern. Some whales were fully on dry land, while others were in shallow waters.
It’s unclear exactly when the distressed animals were discovered — but by 9:30 a.m., about 75 of the whales had died, the parks service said. Officials soon shut the beach down, issued a shark alert for the area and rushed equipment and trained volunteers to the site to try to return the pilot whales to deeper water.
Alberto Panza, a 41-year-old cattle rancher, is one of the few holdouts refusing to lease his land to the giant soya-bean conglomerates that have largely replaced Argentina’s small farmers. He stands in front of a ravine that was carved by the ‘Rio Nuevo’, which appeared overnight in 2015 in Argentina’s central province of San Luis. Panza says, ‘This used to be totally flat pasture land.’ Photo: Uki Goñi / Guardian
Villa Mercedes, Argentina, 1 April 2018 (The Guardian) – After a night of heavy rainfall, Ana Risatti woke to an ominous roar outside her home. Mistaking the noise for a continuation of the night’s downpour, she stepped outside to look.
“I nearly fainted when I saw what it really was,” said Risatti, 71. Instead of falling from the sky, the water she heard was rushing down a deep gully it had carved overnight just beyond the wire fence around her home.
The sudden appearance of a network of new rivers in Argentina’s central province of San Luis has puzzled scientists, worried environmentalists and disheartened farmers. It has also raised urgent questions over the environmental cost of Argentina’s dependence on soya beans, its main export crop.
Dramatically carved into the landscape of a Sumatran oil palm plantation that borders one of the world’s most unique rainforests are three ominous letters: SOS. The message by artist Ernest Zacharevic, cut into a Sumatran oil palm plantation that has been bought up by the Sumatran Orangutan Society to be reforested. Photo: Ernest Zacharevic / Cover Images
7 April 2018 (The Guardian) – Dramatically carved into the landscape of a Sumatran oil palm plantation that borders one of the world’s most unique rainforests are three ominous letters: SOS.
The message stretches half a kilometre alongside a snaking river; a bird’s-eye view gives the eerie sense the land has been given voice, and is issuing a mayday.
“From the ground, you would not suspect anything more than just another palm oil plantation. The aerial view, however, reveals the SOS distress signal,” says the Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic.
Before and after views of flooding in Kapaa Homesteads on the island of Kauai, 15 April 2018. Photo: Mark Hull / Twitter
18 April 2018 (The Washington Post) – A historic torrent of rain pounded the Hawaiian island of Kauai this weekend, with more than two feet of rain lashing the tropical paradise in 24 hours.
According to the National Weather Service in Honolulu, the rain gauge in the town of Hanalei collected 27.52 inches of rain from early Saturday morning into Sunday morning. That beats all previous one- and two-day rainfall maximums for that location.
Kauai is, of course, no stranger to rain. It is one of the rainiest places on Earth, with the 5,148-foot-tall Mount Waialeale receiving more than 400 inches of rain annually. Hanalei, where the 24-hour rainfall record was set, averages 78 inches per year.
Cape Town’s largest and most important dam, Theewaterskloof, is nearly empty in this April 2018 photo. The reservoir holds more than half of the area’s water when it’s at capacity. Photo: Pieter Hugo
21 April 2018 (Highline) – When I moved to South Africa nine years ago, one of the first things some locals told me was to be careful using GPS. The country had rules of navigation, they told me, but ones more complicated and intuitive than a computer could manage. You could drive through this neighborhood, but not at night. You could drive through that one, but roll up your windows, especially if you are white. It was often white South Africans who talked about the GPS, but many black South Africans agreed. It was sad, everybody would say; sad that the once-segregated country seemed not to have fully gotten over its past. But that was the way it was. Those were the rules. Some had come to think of them, painfully, as a fact of nature, of the human race.
I thought of these rules when I flew into Cape Town, South Africa’s second-largest city, in March. Over the last three years, Cape Town has been suffering an extraordinary, once-in-300-years drought—helped along, most analysts surmise, by climate change. The shift in the city’s physical appearance is astonishing. The Cape is cordoned off from the rest of the country by a 5,000-foot-high wall of mountains. To the northeast, the landscape looks like the Africa of safari brochures: dry, hot and then jungly. But in the little bowl-shaped area couched between the mountain range and the southwestern tip of the African continent, the climate is exceptional. Its technical name is “Mediterranean.” To look out from the peaks toward Cape Town, a city of 4 million distinguished by genteel architecture and craggy slopes, has traditionally been like glimpsing Greece, if Greece were even dreamier: ivory houses, cobalt sea, olive hills, all threaded through by ribbons of gold and twinkles of topaz from wine farms. Fed by five times more rainfall than South Africa’s arid central region, the Cape area is one of the most diverse floral kingdoms on Earth, boasting giant blush-colored blooms. Cloud formations, from billowing white cumulonimbus to fogs that flow like rivers to mists that course like waterfalls off the top of Table Mountain, the crag that looms over the city, make heaven seem almost like a real place here, as playful and richly landscaped as the earth below.
Some of that is gone now. Cape Town’s drought palette is a dull lime and beige. Lawns and gardens are dead. The city’s vast townships—spots legally reserved for people of color under apartheid—used to be differentiated from the wealthy neighborhoods that tumble down the Atlantic-facing side of Table Mountain not only by their location, tucked conveniently behind the mountain where they couldn’t easily be seen, but also by their own, less desirable microclimate, marshy and wind-scoured, prone to floods in wet weather and, in the dry and breezy summers, consumed by a cloud of grit. Dust, piled in little drifts in the gutters, was one of those signs that you were heading into a “bad” place. Dust is everywhere now. [more]
A Hawaiian monk seal is caught in fishing tackle in the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Michael Pitts / naturepl.com / World Animal Protection
13 March 2018 (World Animal Protection) – Ghost gear accounts for 10 percent of all the debris accumulating in our oceans and is a major threat to marine wildlife.
Global estimates in 2009 found that at least 640,000 tons of ghost gear are added to our oceans every year. This number is likely now even higher.
Compared to all other forms of man-made marine debris, ghost gear poses the most danger to marine animals and is four times more likely to entangle marine life than all other forms of marine debris combined.
On Henderson Island, a small island in the middle of the South Pacific that has never been inhabited by people, a purple hermit crab uses an Avon cosmetic bottle in lieu of a seashell. Photo: Jennifer Lavers
26 April 2018 (Busniess Insider) – A small island smack in the middle of the South Pacific has never been inhabited by people — and yet, its white sand beaches are home to more than 37 million pieces of junk.
Every day on Henderson Island — one of the most remote places on Earth — trash from every continent except Antarctica washes up its shores. Fishing nets and floats, water bottles, and plastics break into small particles against the rocks and sand.
A woman walks with her face covered on Wednesday, 2 May 2018 to avoid a dust storm in New Delhi, located between Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Northern India has been hit by powerful storms that have led to fatalities and damage to houses. Photo: Rajat Gupta / EPA-EFE
DELHI, 3 May 2018 (The Guardian) – Severe dust storms across northern India have killed more than 100 people, destroyed homes and left hundreds without electricity.
Billowing clouds of thick dust and sand frequently blow across the region during the dry season, but the death toll from this week’s storms has been unusually high.
At least 64 people have died in Uttar Pradesh state, most of them in Agra district where the Taj Mahal is located. Another 35 are confirmed to have died in Rajasthan and two each in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. The death toll in all four states could still rise.
Screenshot from a video showing elephants wrecking a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, 4 May 2018. Photo: Justin Rowlatt and Sanjay Ganguly
5 May 2018 (BBC News) – Twelve Rohingya people in the refugee camp in Bangladesh have been killed by wild elephants in recent months.
The camp has swollen in size since 700,000 members of the Muslim community fled religious persecution in their homeland of Myanmar in August last year.
An illustration of “Project Trumpmore”. An environmental group wants to carve President Trump’s face into an arctic iceberg for one special purpose: To prove climate change is happening. Melting Ice, a Finnish non-governmental organization wants to raise about $500,000 to carve President Trump’s face and prove the climate change exists. Graphic: Melting Ice / Project Trumpmore
5 May 2018 (CBS News) – An environmental group wants to carve President Trump’s face into an arctic iceberg for one special purpose: To prove climate change is happening. “Melting Ice,” a Finnish non-governmental organization, aims to raise about $500,000 to build a 115-foot monument dedicated to Mr. Trump.
Nicholas Prieto, chairman of the Melting Ice association, which is behind Project Trumpmore, said the idea is a tangible attempt to show Mr. Trump and others who don’t believe climate change is a “real issue.”
“Global warming is one of the most important issues and topics of today,” Prieto said in a statement. “We want to build the monument for all of us, so we can see how long the sculpture lasts before melting. There are still people who ponder whether it’s a real issue. Often people only believe something when they see it with their own eyes.”
An aerial view of rescue efforts near destroyed houses by flooding water after a dam burst, in Solio town near Nakuru, Kenya, 10 May 2018. Photo: Thomas Mukoya / REUTERS
SOLAI, Kenya (Reuters) – A dam on a commercial flower farm in Kenya’s Rift Valley burst after weeks of torrential rain, unleashing a “sea of water” that careened down a hillside and smashed into two villages, killing at least 47 people.
The walls of the reservoir, situated on top of a hill in Nakuru county, 190 km (120 miles) northwest of Nairobi, gave way late on Wednesday as nearby residents were sitting down to evening meals.
Kenya is one of the largest suppliers of cut flowers to Europe, and roses from the 3,500-acre Solai farm are exported to the Netherlands and Germany, according to Optimal Connection, its Netherlands-based handling agent.
Plastic on the ocean floor of the Mariana Trench. A new study, “Human footprint in the abyss: 30 year records of deep-sea plastic debris’, reveals human activities are affecting the deepest part of the ocean, more than 1000km from the mainland. Photo: Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology / JAMSTEC E-library of Deep-Sea Images / UNEP
18 April 2018 (UNEP) – A new article, Human footprint in the abyss: 30 year records of deep-sea plastic debris, reveals human activities are affecting the deepest part of the ocean, more than 1000km from the mainland.
Plastic pollution is emerging as one of the most serious threats to ocean ecosystems. World leaders, scientists and communities recognise the urgent need for action, but the impacts of plastic pollution are not well understood.
To raise awareness of the far-reaching effects of plastic pollution, ocean scientists used information from the Deep-sea Debris Database. The Global Oceanographic Data Centre of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology launched this database for public use in 2017. It contains over 30 years of photos and videos of debris that have been collected by deep-sea submersibles and remotely operated vehicles.
The NOAA-20 satellite captured this image of severe tropical cyclone Mekunu nearing the southern Arabian Peninsula on 24 May 2018. Photo: NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)
Tropical Cyclone Sagar was the first to hit, making landfall in Somalia on 19 May 2018. On that day, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a natural-color image (above) of the storm. Photo: Jeff Schmaltz / LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response
This image, acquired by MODIS on NASA’s Terra satellite, shows Tropical Cyclone Mekunu on 23 May 2018. Photo: Jeff Schmaltz / LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response
25 May 2018 (NOAA) – The NOAA-20 satellite captured this image of severe tropical cyclone Mekunu nearing the southern Arabian Peninsula on 24 May 2018. The dangerous Category 3 storm rapidly intensified in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea and had sustained winds of 115 mph, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported in its latest update. Forecasts predict the storm will make landfall in southwestern Oman, where it will bring very heavy rainfall and cause life-threatening flooding. Media outlets have reported more than 40 people missing after Mekunu battered the Yemeni island of Socotra earlier this week.
According to NOAA’s historical hurricane tracks database, few cyclones of this strength have made landfall along the southern Arabian Peninsula. If Mekunu comes ashore at its current intensity, it will become Oman’s strongest storm on record.
Mekunu is the second storm to form near the Arabian Peninsula in recent days. Last week, another rare storm passed through the Gulf of Aden, bringing unusually heavy rains and flooding to Somalia and Djibouti.
Aerial view of flooding in Oman after Tropical Cyclone Mekunu made landfall on 26 May 2018. Photo: Times of Oman
Two men in Oman died after their car was swept away in heavy flooding caused by rains in the aftermath of Cyclone Mekunu, 26 May 2018. Photo: Times of Oman
27 May 2018 (The Weather Channel) – Tropical Cyclone Mekunu made landfall overnight Saturday in Oman as a Category 3 hurricane equivalent storm, dumping more than two years’ worth of rain in a single day on one of the country’s most populous cities and killing at least four people there after killing at least two others on the Yemeni island of Socotra.
Saturday night’s landfall near Salalah brought winds well in excess of 100 MPH to Oman’s third largest city, making Mekunu one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record to make landfall in Oman.
So far, at least 6 people have been killed in Oman and on the Yemeni island of Socotra, where at least 30 others are still missing.
Floodwaters carry cars down the street in Ellicott City, Maryland, 27 May 2018. Photo: Craig Patrick / Instagram
27 May 2018 (The Washington Post) – For the second time two years, Main Street in Ellicott City has been transformed into a raging river due to waves of thunderstorms unloading torrential rain. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for the city at 4:40 p.m. and reported multiple water rescues underway.
“This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC situation,” the National Weather Service warned. Sunday’s flooding unfolded in a similar way to the 2016 flash flood event in which 6 inches of rain fell in two hours and two people died.
The flash flood emergency was originally in effect until 7:30 p.m., but was extended to 10:30 p.m.
A trailer is stuck in River Kawalase after being swept downstream by floodwaters, 24 May 2018. Photo: Peter Warutumo / Daily Nation
Nairobi, 24 May 2018 (AllAfrica) – The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) says the number of deaths resulting from the ongoing heavy rains has risen to slightly over 200.
Secretary General Abbas Gullet revealed that those displaced are about 300,000 and 22 counties have been placed under floods watch.
“Those who have died as a result of the raging floods are slightly over 200 and many more have been displaced. We are continuing to assist the affected families and we will go on doing so until the rains cease,” he stated.
28 May 2018 (The Revelator) – Humans increasingly live in a world of constant artificial lighting — so much so that it’s easy to forget about the environmental consequences of light pollution. “Light is a symbol of urbanity that changes the experience of any landscape from a human perspective,” says Travis Longcore, co-editor of the landmark book Ecological Consequences of Artificial Lighting, “but it alters the landscape for wildlife in ways that’s really hard for humans to imagine.”
For birds the consequences of light pollution can be deadly. The loss of features normally visible in an unobstructed night sky, along with the attraction of artificial lights, often throws birds off their migration paths. Some have been known to fruitlessly circle bright natural-gas flares, unable to navigate away from the light and as a result lose close to half of their body weight in one night. Artificial light can also degrade habitat quality and disrupt predator-prey relationships.
These problems aren’t limited to big cities — massive oil and gas development projects, often located far from populated areas, are incredibly bright affairs that produce light pollution on a scale few people realize. The infrastructure built up around these sites is well-lit for navigation, while excess natural gas that’s unprofitable to transport is burned off on-site. This can turn an underground petroleum deposit into a blazing field of fire on the surface.
An Omani civil defence staff visits a road which has been cut by the flood water after Cyclone Merkunu in Salalah, Oman, Saturday, 26 May 2018. Photo: Kamran Jebreili / Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 28 May 2018 (AP) – The death toll from Cyclone Mekunu that hit Oman and Yemen over the weekend rose to at least 13 on Monday, authorities said, as relief workers and aid arrived to hard-hit areas in the two Arabian Peninsula countries.
Flooding and damage remains considerable after the cyclone, the strongest-ever recorded to hit southern Oman and the sultanate’s third-largest city of Salalah. […]
Those deaths come after Oman’s National Committee for Civil Defense earlier announced that four people had been killed. The dead include a 12-year-old girl killed when the storm’s strong winds flung open a metal door that struck her in the head. […]
This image made from video provided by DroneBase shows vehicles swept by floodwater near the intersection of Ellicott Mills Drive and Main Street in Ellicott City, Md., Monday, 28 May 2018. Photo: DroneBase / AP
Residents gather by a bridge on Monday, 28 May 2018, to look at cars left crumpled in one of the tributaries of the Patapsco River that burst its banks as it channeled through historic Main Street in Ellicott City, Maryland, on Sunday, 27 May 2018. Photo: David McFadden / AP Photo
ELLICOTT CITY, Maryland (The Baltimore Sun) – Residents, merchants and officials in Ellicott City on Monday began to examine the devastation wrought by floods that coursed through the historic mill town the night before — the second time in less than two years.
Old Ellicott City’s Main Street remained blocked off Monday, as crews walked up and down the street inspecting buildings. Police were looking for a man who was reported missing during the flooding Sunday. Cars were planted upside down and on their sides in streams and along the road, and a crane tow truck was brought in to lift them out. Utility workers began to restore power, fix a broken water line and bypass a broken sewer pipe.
Many quickly began to ask the question: Should we rebuild again?
A realtor’s sign from a house in New Jersey was washed away by Hurricane Sandy and appeared on a beach in France, around 14 May 2018. Photo: Hannes Frank / The New York Times
1 June 2018 (The New York Times) – Hurricane Sandy wrought havoc on the Jersey Shore town of Brielle when it made landfall in October 2012.
Homes filled with water. Boats washed up on people’s lawns and on the Brielle Avenue bridge.
Also, a real estate sign went missing.
Volunteers and marine veterinarians from Department of Marine and Coastal Resources attempted to rescue a sick male pilot whale in the coastal area of southern Thailand near the Malaysian border, 28 May 2018. Photo: ThaiWhales / AFP / Getty Images
A government marine veterinarian is being helped by volunteers to remove plastics from the stomach of dead male pilot whale at the Marine and Coastal Resource Research and Development Center in Songkla province, Thailand, 1 June 2018. Photo: ThaiWhales / AFP / Getty Images
BANGKOK, 3 June 2018 (Reuters) – Some 80 pieces of plastic rubbish weighing 17 pounds were found in the stomach of a whale that died in Thailand after a five-day effort to save it, a marine official said on Sunday.
The pilot whale was discovered on Monday in a canal in the southern province of Songkhla and received treatment from a team of veterinarians.
The whale spit out five plastic bags on Friday and later died, the Marine and Coastal Resources Department said on its website.
An orangutan tries to fight off a digger destroying its jungle home. International Animal Rescue released this video footage from 2013 showing the devastating impact of deforestation on orangutan habitat in Indonesia. Photo: International Animal Rescue
12 June 2018 (The Independent) – An orangutan has been filmed seemingly defending its home from being demolished by loggers.
The animal was seen fruitlessly lashing out against a digger in the Sungai Putri forest in Borneo, Indonesia as loggers bulldozed through.
Illegal Logging in PT MPK Concession, Ketapang, 2 March 2018. This photograph shows the pooling area for wood that is ready to be collected by illegal loggers inside PT MPK concession in Sungai Putri, Ketapang, West Kalimantan. Photo: Greenpeace
Illegal Logging in PT MPK Concession, Ketapang, 2 March 2018. This photograph shows a pooling area for processed woods which is also a camp for illegal loggers inside PT MPK concession in Sungai Putri, Ketapang, West Kalimantan. Photo: Greenpeace
17 June 2018 (The Independent) – The forest which is home to some of the last remaining Bornean orangutans is being logged despite the Indonesian government’s vow to protect it, Greenpeace has claimed.
The group said six illegal logging settlements had been identified in Sungai Putri, the peatland forest home to around 1,200 of the critically endangered apes.
Campaigners obtained photos and aerial drone footage showing an extensive drainage canal full of water, heavy earth-moving equipment and planting of pulp wood tree seedlings.
Videos from the Korea Polar Research Institute, and photos from ENV researcher Christine Dow, show that as warmer salt water erodes channels into the ice that attaches the ice shelves to stable land, it also generates massive vertical fractures splitting glaciers from above and below. Surface water melting on top of the ice shelves then pours into these cracks, accelerating the problem further. Photo: Korea Polar Research Institute / University of Waterloo
The study, by an international team of polar scientists led by Canada Research Chair Christine Dow of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment, discovered that the process of warmer ocean water destabilizing ice shelves from below is also cracking them apart from above, increasing the chance they’ll break off.
“We are learning that ice shelves are more vulnerable to rising ocean and air temperatures than we thought,” said Dow. “There are dual processes going on here. One that is destabilizing from below, and another from above. This information could have an impact on our projected timelines for ice shelf collapse and resulting sea level rise due to climate change.”
Warmer ocean water destabilizing Antarctica ice shelves from below also causing massive vertical cracks – “There are dual processes going on here: One that is destabilizing from below, and another from above.”
In this photo provided by the Montana Army National Guard, middle school students from the Montana Wilderness School of the Bible, attending a Bible camp along the Rocky Mountain Front, are guided onto a Chinook helicopter Thursday, 21 June 2018. The campers were flown to Great Falls after flooding earlier this week washed out the road to the camp. Photo: Montana Army National Guard / The Associated Press
HELENA, Montana (Associated Press) – Helicopters rescued people stranded by flooding in Texas and Montana, including 140 children and counselors stuck in a mountain bible camp for two days, as severe storms swept the Rockies and the Midwest.
Campers attending the Montana Wilderness School of the Bible near the small town of Augusta were airlifted out Thursday after a washed-out road cut off the only exit. Montana was just drying out from spring flooding caused by near-record snowfall over the winter when a storm unleashed heavy rains last weekend.
Texas also saw deluges all week. The soaking in both states comes in stark contrast to the tinder-dry conditions of the American Southwest.
West Palm Beach broadcast meteorologist Jeff Berardelli (CBS12) with the warming-stripes graphic being used in the Meteorologists United on Climate Change campaign on 21 June 2018. Photo: Jeff Berardelli
23 June 2018 (Weather Underground) – Close to 100 broadcast meteorologists will don blue and red stripes for their on-air segments Thursday as part of an international effort to raise awareness of the reality of human-produced climate change. The campaign, Meteorologists United on Climate Change, is scheduled for June 21, the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice, when sizzling temperatures and the risks of extreme heat are already on people’s minds. The project’s Twitter hashtag is #MetsUnite.
The visual centerpiece of the campaign is the instantly iconic “warming stripes” graphic. It was created by climate scientist Ed Hawkins, a professor at the University of Reading and a principal researcher at the U.K.’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science. Perhaps his best-known graphic is the “warming spiral” animation (see embedded tweet below), which has been viewed millions of times since its debut in 2016.
The warming-stripes graphic includes one colored stripe for each year of global temperature from 1850 to 2017, as calculated by the UK Met Office Hadley Centre, with the colors changing from blue to red as temperatures rise. Another version of the graphic includes each year of temperature data from 1772 to 2017 from the Central England Temperature dataset, the longest instrumental temperature record on Earth.
This pair of images shows the shoreline of Lake Superior before (14 June 2018) and after (18 June 2018) the torrential rain that hit Michigan on 17 June 2018. Photo: Joshua Stevens / NASA
23 June 2018 (NASA) – In a matter of hours on 17 June 2018, torrential rains transformed parts of Michigan into a “state of disaster.” Early morning storms swept through the Upper Midwest, creating flash floods, a few fatalities, and historic property damage.
The potent storms developed when moisture in the mid and upper levels of the atmosphere from Hurricane Bud merged with a lower-level air mass rich in moisture. The torrential rains also affected parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota.
This pair of images shows the shoreline of Lake Superior before (14 June 2018) and after (18 June 2018) the downpour. Splotches of tan, red, and orange along the lakeshore indicate where rivers and streams carried muddy floodwater out of neighborhoods. The sediment is dominated by iron–rich soil called spodosols. These images were acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.
One of the only wild jaguars in the U.S. was killed and pelted. The Center for Biological Diversity says a photo it received of a dead jaguar matches the coat of a young male named Yo’oko. Photo: Northern Jaguar Project
25 June 2018 (IBT) – Officials at the Center for Biological Diversity said one of the last two jaguars known to be living in the United States was shown dead in a photo released Thursday.
The photo provided to the Arizona Daily Star showed a jaguar pelt looked like that of the the animal roaming the Huachuca Mountains in 2016 and 2017, Jim DeVos, assistant wildlife management director for the Arizona Game and Fish Department said.
The officials compared the latest photo with the previous picture of the jaguar and found similarities between the two based on spot patterns, DeVos said.
Firefighters tackle the wildfire on Saddleworth Moor, England that continued to spread on Thursday, 28 June 2018, after the blaze was declared a major incident by Greater Manchester Police. Photo: Danny Lawson/ PA Images / Getty Images
1 July 2018 (Weather Underground) – June will segue into July this weekend with much of the central and eastern U.S. enduring a blistering, dangerous heat wave that could extend into the July 4 holiday in some areas. Excessive heat warnings were already in place Friday morning for parts of 11 states from Kansas to Michigan, and heat advisories for the upcoming onslaught extended all the way to Vermont.
Parts of Europe are also suffering through an intense early-summer heat wave, especially the United Kingdom. Thursday was the first day since 2013 that all four U.K. countries (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) saw a temperature of at least 30°C (86°F). The airport observing site at Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, notched the city’s highest official temperature ever recorded Thursday: 31.9°C (89.4°F). It was so hot that a membrane on the roof of the Glasgow Science Centre—designed to be “weatherproof”—began to melt. The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast, also broke its all-time high on Thursday at the airport observing site, with a high of 29.5°C (85.1°F) beating 29.4°C (84.9°F) from 10 July 1934. In western Ireland, Shannon set its all-time high with 32.0°C (89.6°F). According to weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera, the reading at Shannon is the hottest temperature recorded anywhere in June in Ireland since 1976. In July 2006, a temperature of 32.3°C was recorded in Ireland.
Extremely dry conditions have paved the way for the heat across northwest Europe. The Netherlands are expecting their driest June on record, with the De Bilt weather station now at a record-low June rainfall total of 12.1 mm (0.48”). England’s “home counties” surrounding London are on track to tie June 1925 as their driest on record; they’ve averaged just 3.3 mm (0.13”) for the month so far—about 6% of normal. Near Manchester, an unprecedented burst of moorland fires is ravaging the normally moist peat-bog countryside.
Wildfire burns near Guinda, California, on 30 June 2018. Photo: KCRA News
GUINDA, California, 1 July 2018 (AP) – Evacuations were ordered as dry, hot winds fueled a wildfire burning out of control Sunday in rural Northern California, sending a stream of smoke some 75 miles (120 kilometers) south into the San Francisco Bay Area.
The fast-moving blaze that broke out Saturday in western Yolo County charred at least 34 square miles (88 square kilometers) of dry brush and threatened more than two dozen structures in ranchland northwest of Sacramento. No injuries were reported and the exact number of people evacuated was unclear.
Autumn Edens marveled as a huge plume blocked the sun while she drove to her job as manager of the Corner Store in Guinda, a town of about 250 people just north of the fire.
Screenshot from a video showing Iceland poachers butchering an endangered fin whale, 6 July 2018. Photo: Albi Deak / YouTube
Hvalur 9 returns to whaling station with two more endangered fin whales, 9 hours ago. Hvalur 8 arrives at whaling station with two more endangered fin whales, 3 hours ago.
Today marks 14 fin whales poached in #Iceland‘s illegal commercial hunt 2018.
Two fin whales beached today near the river at Oyrini between Hvalvik and Streymnes in #FaroeIslands. Coincidence, or is it related to Iceland’s illegal whaling?
Local residents look at the carcasses of hundreds of crocodiles from a farm after they were killed by angry locals on 14 July 2018, following the death of a man who was killed in a crocodile attack in Sorong district of the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua. Photo: REUTERS
16 July 2018 (Reuters) – Indonesian villagers armed with knives, hammers, and clubs slaughtered 292 crocodiles in revenge for the death of a man killed by a crocodile at a breeding farm, an official said.
Photographs released by Antara news agency showed bloodied carcasses of the crocodiles in a large pile in the Sorong district of the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua.
The head of Indonesia’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency in West Papua said that the 48-year-old victim had entered the crocodile farm and was likely picking grass for animal feed when he was attacked.
Aerial view of spruce beetle infestation in the forest of Susitna Valley, Alaska. As we pass over the Susitna Valley we can see how far this outbreak has spread. The red-brown and gray trees have been infested for several years. Some of the green trees may be the early stages of spruce beetle infestation. Photo: Adrianna C. Foster / NASA
16 July 2018 (NASA) – This summer a team of scientists from NASA Goddard, American University, and the Forest Service are conducting joint field work and flights with Goddard’s LiDAR, Hyperspectral, and Thermal Imager (G-LiHT) within south-central Alaska to study the ongoing spruce beetle outbreak and develop methods for early detection of beetle infestation. The spruce beetle is an aggressive bark beetle that feeds and reproduces in the inner bark of various species of spruce trees. Currently, spruce beetles are affecting over 400,000 acres in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, resulting in widespread mortality of spruce trees. This infestation has been ramping up over the past few years in Alaska, causing concern for both scientists and Alaskans. Data collected by G-LiHT may provide the ability to detect early stages of infestation, before they would be visible in aerial surveys conducted by the Forest Service, which would allow forest managers and scientists to better predict future infestation locations and extent.
As we pass over the Susitna Valley we can see how far this outbreak has spread. The red-brown and gray trees have been infested for several years. Some of the green trees may be the early stages of spruce beetle infestation.
This past week we have been flying with G-LiHT and visiting areas where G-LiHT data was collected to identify and GPS trees infested with spruce beetles. The infested trees can later be located and analyzed within the collected imagery. This summer, the G-LiHT instrument is flying on a King Air A90. The pilots have to maintain an altitude of 1,100 feet for the best imagery, and this makes for quite an exciting ride over the various mountain ranges in Alaska. The swoops and dives the plane makes as it follows the terrain feel more like a roller coaster than a plane ride.
An image of asbestos wrapped with Donald Trump’s face was posted to the Facebook page of a Russian asbestos company on 25 June 2018. Photo: Uralasbest / Facebook
Delegates of union hold a demonstration for the inclusion of chrysotile, a mineral also known as white asbestos which health experts say causes cancer, on the list of hazardous materials of the UN Rotterdam Convention, on 28 April 2017, in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images
16 July 2018 (EcoWatch) – Asbestos killed at least 45,221 Americans between 1999 and 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found. But President Donald Trump has long expressed his support for the dangerous mineral currently banned by 65 countries.
“If we didn’t remove incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos & replace it with junk that doesn’t work, the World Trade Center would never have burned down,” he tweeted in 2012.
Now, Uralasbest, a Russian asbestos producer supported by President Vladimir Putin, is thanking Trump for his support.
18 July 2018 (BBC News) – Forest fires raging across Sweden as far north as the Arctic Circle have prompted authorities to ask for international assistance.
On Wednesday afternoon, 44 fires were burning from Lapland in the far north to the southern island of Gotland.
Hot weather and persistent drought are the main causes, and the national weather service has issued fire warnings for almost the entire country.
Sea turtle nests run over by vehicle in south Siesta Key, Florida, 22 June 2018. Photo: Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
A sign reads, ‘Do not disturb sea turtle nests’ on beach in Nokomis, Florida. Photo: Conor Goulding / Mote Marine Laboratory
NOKOMIS, Florida, 11 July 2018 (WWSB) – Mote Marine Laboratory says a sea turtle nest was damaged on 5 July 2018 by suspected poachers.
According to Mote Marine, three suspected poachers dug into the nest and left one broken egg on its surface.
Two members of Mote Marine Laboratory’s nighttime sea turtle tagging team say they saw the perpetrators digging into the nest around 1:30 a.m. As the tagging team got closer, the suspected poachers ran away, and could not be identified.
This aerial photo shows the advancing fire around Ljusdal, Sweden, as a wildfire sweeps through the large forest area Wednesday, 18 July 2018. Photo: Maja Suslin / Lehtikuva / AP
A large part of the Elbe river bed is dried out during a long time of drought in front of the skyline with the Frauenkirche cathedral (Church of Our Lady) in Dresden, Germany, Monday, 9 July 2018. Photo: Jens Meyer / AP Photo
19 July 2018 (Weather Underground) – Temperatures soared into the nineties Fahrenheit north of the Arctic Circle on Tuesday and Wednesday, as 2018’s parade of exceptional heat continued marching across the Northern Hemisphere. This week has been northern Scandinavia’s turn under the sizzling klieg lights, including Lapland (Sápmi), the region of northern Scandinavia famed for its reindeer and often associated with Christmas. In contrast to that wintry reputation, Sweden is now grappling with an onslaught of wildfires unprecedented in modern times, as reported by weather.com.
Located at an altitude of 1100 meters (3500 feet), Finland’s Tarfala Research Station is the coldest long-term reporting site in Lapland, according to weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera. The station hit 23.1°C (73.6°F) on Tuesday, smashing the all-time record of 21.4°C (70.5°F). The overnight low Monday night at Tarfala was a strikingly mild 13.3°C (55.6°F).
The Brazilian government agency FUNAI has released footage of an isolated indigenous man they have been monitoring for 22 years. Known as the “man of the hole”, he has become famous in recent decades for his persistence in avoiding contact and continuing his life in the forest. He is believed to be the only survivor of an isolated community that lived in this indigenous territory in the Amazon state of Rondônia. The community was the subject of the 2009 documentary, Corumbiara. Photo: FUNAI
Rio de Janeiro, 19 July 2018 (The Guardian) – Remarkable footage has been released of an uncontacted indigenous man who has lived alone in an Amazon forest for at least 22 years.
Semi-naked and swinging an axe vigorously as he fells a tree, the man, believed to be in his 50s, has never been filmed so clearly before and appears to be in excellent health.
“He is very well, hunting, maintaining some plantations of papaya, corn,” said Altair Algayer, a regional coordinator for the Brazilian government indigenous agency FUNAI in the Amazon state of Rondônia, who was with the team who filmed the footage from a distance. “He has good health and a good physical shape doing all those exercises.”
This satellite image shows wildfire smoke over central Siberia on 3 July 2018. Photo: NASA / MODIS
20 July 2018 (The Guardian) – At least 11 wildfires are raging inside the Arctic Circle as the hot, dry summer turns an abnormally wide area of Europe into a tinderbox.
The worst affected country, Sweden, has called for emergency assistance from its partners in the European Union to help fight the blazes, which have broken out across a wide range of its territory and prompted the evacuations of four communities.
Tens of thousands of people have been warned to remain inside and close windows and vents to avoid smoke inhalation. Rail services have been disrupted.
Screenshot of a video showing a massive iceberg calving event captured at Helheim Glacier in Greenland on 22 June 2018, at 11:30 pm. The event occurred over approximately 30 minutes. Photo: Denise Holland / New York University
9 July 2018 (NYU) – A team of scientists has captured on video a four-mile iceberg breaking away from a glacier in eastern Greenland, an event that points to one of the forces behind global sea-level rise.
The resulting iceberg, broken off from Greenland’s Helheim Glacier, would stretch from lower Manhattan up to Midtown in New York City.
“Global sea-level rise is both undeniable and consequential,” observes David Holland, a professor at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematics and NYU Abu Dhabi, who led the research team. “By capturing how it unfolds, we can see, first-hand, its breath-taking significance.”
For a week in July 2018, an iceberg as tall as the Statue of Liberty filled the villagers of Innaarsuit, Greenland, with existential dread. Photo: Magnus Kristensen / Ritzau Scanpix / Reuters
22 July 2018 (The New Yorker) – For a week, an iceberg as colossal as it is fragile held everyone in suspense. It arrived like a gargantuan beast that you hope won’t notice you, at the fishing village of Innaarsuit, Greenland, about five hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle. The iceberg posed a mortal threat to the village population of about a hundred and seventy people. Standing three hundred feet tall (the height of the Statue of Liberty) and weighing an estimated ten million metric tons (equal to thirty Empire State buildings), it’s riven with cracks and holes. If a big enough part of it sloughed off, in a process known as “calving,” it would cause a tsunami, immediately destroying the little settlement on whose shore it rested. “You don’t want to be anywhere near the water when it’s happening,” a glaciologist who does research in Greenland said. “It’s just incredibly violent.” People began to evacuate.
Innaarsuit residents are a hardy bunch, living in the sort of climatic extremes that temperate zoners might call otherwordly. For much of the summer, the sun is always up. This year, it won’t set again until in early August. The temperature on Friday was thirty-nine degrees Fahrenheit—about as warm as it ever gets—and in the darkness of February and March, the average remains below zero. There are no trees. People hunt narwhals (polar unicorns), whales, and seals. The single road dead-ends at a cemetery. Boat captains (the only people who can get you off the island, apart from helicopter pilots) are constantly navigating an endless parade of baby icebergs, set loose from their mothers, drifting with the current past the village, often close enough to touch. They tend to be the size of a beach ball, a dinghy, a shack. The most recent visitor is different, obviously. “This iceberg is the biggest we have seen,” a village council member named Susanne K. Eliassen said. Karl Petersen, the village council chair, called on the press, asking the world for assistance if the berg were to calve. For the crowd watching online, it was like Jaws. We hoped desperately that the great white thing would just continue on its way.
Big icebergs are nothing new, but they usually remain far offshore. Ocean currents and wind push the icebergs along, sometimes five or more miles a day. In this case, the berg got stuck in the shallow waters of the bay. Eric Rignot, a glaciologist from the University of California, Irvine, said that it probably originated from one of the nearby glaciers that flow down the fjords along Greenland’s west coast. Those glaciers have long been notable for pushing a lot of icebergs out into the sea. But nowadays they are in retreat—more ice is more rapidly breaking from the glacier’s face than snow is accumulating on its back.With climate change, what happened in Innaarsuit, Rignot said, is expected to occur more frequently. Joshua Willis, a glaciologist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, put it in simple terms: “As things continue to warm up, more ice is gonna come off and float around.” Drought-stricken South Africa wants to tow one such berg to Cape Town, to prevent the country’s taps from running dry. […]
A hybrid fin/blue whale poached by Icelandic company Kristjan Loftsson’s Hvalur hf, the only Icelandic company involved in fin whaling. Photo: Hard to Port
WASHINGTON, 20 July 2018 (IFAW) – Conservationists are calling for an immediate end to commercial whaling in Iceland after genetic testing revealed a whale harpooned in Icelandic waters earlier this month was a rare blue/fin whale hybrid.
There was international outcry after it was revealed that on July 7, whalers working for Kristjan Loftsson’s Hvalur hf, the only Icelandic company involved in fin whaling, had killed a whale which photographic evidence strongly suggested was either a blue whale or a rare blue/fin whale hybrid.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which opposes all commercial whaling due to its inherent cruelty, called on Mr Loftsson to end his whaling operations immediately but the killing of fin whales has continued.
Genetic testing confirms whale harpooned in Iceland was rare blue/fin hybrid – “Now that the evidence has been confirmed, we once again call for an immediate and permanent end to this whaling to prevent further harm to these endangered species”
In July 2017, a massive iceberg calved off of Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf (left). Since then, it has stayed in the area (right), bumping up against an elevated ice promontory (star). Photo: Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory
23 July 2018 (Science News) – Curl the fingers of your left hand over your palm and stick out your thumb like a hitchhiker. Now, you have a rough map of Antarctica — with the inside of your thumb playing the part of the Larsen C ice shelf, says glaciologist Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
About a year ago, a massive iceberg roughly the size of Delaware broke off from that ice shelf, and it hasn’t moved much since (SN: 8/5/17, p. 6). The chunk of ice traveled just about 45 kilometers northeast before getting stuck behind an elevated ice promontory called the Bawden ice rise.
Researchers monitoring satellite images of the iceberg say it’s been battering Bawden as winds and ocean currents push against the calved ice. That could be a problem, says Anna Hogg, an earth observation researcher at the University of Leeds in England. The Bawden ice rise acts “almost like scaffolding,” providing structure and stability to Larsen C, Hogg says. If it were destabilized, that could potentially lead to the collapse of the rest of the shelf, which could have implications for sea level rise.
Workers collect garbage from a beach in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, in July 2018. Photo: Erika Santelices /Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
24 July 2018 (The New York Times) – Come for the beaches, say tourism ads for the Dominican Republic.
But it has some beaches you might want to skip right now.
The Caribbean nation is known for sapphire seas and ivory beaches, but it is grappling with waves of garbage washing up on its shores, a vivid reminder of the presence of thousands of tons of plastic in the world’s oceans.
A woman reacts as she tries to find her dog among burned-out cars, following a wildfire at the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece, 24 July 2018. Photo: Costas Baltas / Reuters
People fled into the sea to seek safety from the wildfires in Mati, Greece, 23 July 2018. Photo: Nikos Kalogerikos / Reuters
MATI, Greece (The New York Times) – They nearly reached the water.
As wind-fueled wildfires that killed at least 80 people in vacation areas outside Athens bore down on their seaside resort, 26 men, women and children gathered in the hope that they could find the narrow path leading to a small staircase down to the water.
The gated entrance stood only a dozen paces away, but with smoke blotting their vision and choking their lungs, they appear to have lost their way. Officials found their bodies the next day, Tuesday; several were still clinging to one another.
Biologists say orcas mourn the loss of newborns as any family would. On Wednesday, 25 July 2018, J35 was still carrying her dead calf for the second day straight. In 2010, L20, photographed in Haro Strait, did the same thing with her dead newborn in a behavior biologists say is a common expression of grief. Photo: Robin W. Baird / Cascadia Research Collective
26 July 2018 (The Seattle Times) – For two days she has grieved, carrying her dead calf on her head, unwilling to let it go.
J35, a member of the critically endangered southern resident family of orcas, gave birth to her calf Tuesday only to watch it die within half an hour.
All day, and through the night, she carried the calf. She was seen still carrying the calf on Wednesday by Ken Balcomb, founder and principal investigator of the Center for Whale Research.
Orcas from pod J in Puget Sound just west of Seattle. The number of orcas in the area, listed as endangered since 2005, has dwindled to a 30-year low. Photo: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press
SEATTLE (The New York Times) – For the last three years, not one calf has been born to the dwindling pods of black-and-white killer whales spouting geysers of mist off the coast in the Pacific Northwest.
Normally four or five calves would be born each year among this fairly unique urban population of whales — pods named J, K, and L. But most recently, the number of orcas here has dwindled to just 75, a 30-year-low in what seems to be an inexorable, perplexing decline.
Listed as endangered since 2005, the orcas are essentially starving, as their primary prey, the Chinook, or king salmon, are dying off. Just last month, another one of the Southern Resident killer whales — one nicknamed “Crewser” that hadn’t been seen since last November — was presumed dead by the Center for Whale Research.
A large dead male loggerhead sea turtle lays on a Sanibel Beach on Wednesday, 25 July 2018. In the background is Rick Bartleson and Jack Brzoza from the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. They were taking samples and measurements of the carcass. A large number of sea turtles are washing up on Sanibel and Captiva beaches. It is believed that they are succumbing to red tide poisoning. Bartleson says this is the worst red tide bloom since 2006. Photo: Andrew West / The News-Press
26 July 2018 (Fort Myers News-Press) – Hundreds of sea turtles have washed up on Southwest Florida beaches this year in a mass mortality event that researchers say will impact the recovery of protected species.
Seventeen have been recovered in Sanibel and Captiva waters in the past week.
“Our average for the entire year is usually around 30 or 35, but we’ve had 53 in June and July alone,” said Kelly Sloan, a sea turtle researcher at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation on Sanibel.
Cars float in floodwater in an open parking area in northern Athens, 26 July 2018, after a sudden downpour caused flash floods. Photo: Panagiotis Michalopoylos / AP Photo
ATHENS, Greece, 26 July 2018 (Associated Press) – A flash flood has struck a northern Athens suburb following a squall, with the Greek capital’s fire department receiving 140 calls for assistance and to pump water from flooded homes and businesses.
Fire crews headed to an open-air parking lot in the suburb of Maroussi on Thursday to see if there were any people trapped in cars that were bobbing in a suddenly created muddy lake.
Authorities urged drivers to avoid the area and shut down a side road off the main highway leading north out of Athens.
A natural-color image of a swirling green phytoplankton bloom in the Gulf of Finland, a section of the Baltic Sea. Photo: Joshua Stevens and Lauren Dauphin / NASA Earth Observatory
28 July 2018 (NASA) – Every summer, phytoplankton spread across the northern basins of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, with blooms spanning hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilometers. Nutrient-rich, cooler waters tend to promote more growth among marine plants and phytoplankton than is found in tropical waters. Blooms this summer off of Scandinavia seem to be particularly intense.
On 18 July 2018, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired a natural-color image (above) of a swirling green phytoplankton bloom in the Gulf of Finland, a section of the Baltic Sea. Note how the phytoplankton trace the edges of a vortex; it is possible that this ocean eddy is pumping up nutrients from the depths.
Though it is impossible to know the genus and species without sampling the water, three decades of satellite observations suggest that these green blooms are likely to be cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), an ancient type of marine bacteria that capture and store solar energy through photosynthesis (like plants). Some of the greens also could come from diatoms, which are also rich in chlorophyll. According to news outlets, the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) has observed the recent bloom from the water and found it to be mostly cyanobacteria.
The first calf born in three years to the endangered orcas that spend time in Pacific Northwest waters died Tuesday, 24 July 2018, the latest troubling sign for a population already at its lowest in more than three decades. The mother is seen propping the newborn on her forehead and trying to keep it near the surface of the water. Photo: Michael Weiss / Center for Whale Research
Vancouver, BC, 2 June 2018 (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) – On 23 June 2018, an orca born into the critically endangered Southern Resident orca population died within hours of birth. [And another died the same way on Tuesday, 24 July 2018. –Des] Despite the decline of Orcas due to the loss of Chinook salmon, their primary food source, the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Jonathan Wilkinson, refuses to screen farmed salmon for a virus that causes Chinook salmon blood cells to rupture “en masse”. [cf. A mother grieves: Orca whale continues to carry her dead calf into a second day – “We don’t have five years to wait, we really don’t”. –Des]
Research published in 2017 in the prestigious scientific journal, PloS One, reports that saving the southern resident orca from extinction may depend on restoring Chinook salmon populations in the Fraser River.
Despite this, 80 percent of the farmed salmon sighted in pens along the Fraser River salmon migration route along eastern Vancouver Island are infected with piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), a virus recently reported by DFO to affect Chinook salmon. The paper published in the journal FACETS2 earlier this year describes how PRV invades the blood cells of Chinook salmon, replicates rapidly in the cells until the cells burst causing organ failure, severe jaundice, and release of the virus into marine habitats.
Firefighters try to extinguish flames during a wildfire at the village of Kineta, near Athens, Greece, on 24 July 2018. Photo: Valerie Gache / AFP
27 July 2018 (Weather Underground) – The death toll from the horrific 23 July 2018 fires in Attica, Greece has risen to 87, with dozens more missing. According to statistics from EM-DAT, the international disaster database, this would make the Greek fires of 2018 the deadliest in European history – and fifth deadliest worldwide in the past century. Here is how the top-five list of deadliest wildfire events globally since 1918 now looks:
Note that premature deaths from inhalation of fire smoke are not included in the list. For the period 1997 – 2006, Johnston et al. estimated an average of 339,000 deaths occurred each year worldwide due to inhalation of wildfire smoke. Koplitz et al. (2016) found that the death toll from the air pollution associated with the 2015 Indonesian forest fires was over 100,000, while Kunii and Yajima (2002) found an air pollution death toll of 15,000 from the 1997 Indonesian fires. (Note also that EM-DAT incorrectly lists the 20 October 1944 Cleveland East Ohio Gas explosion, with 121 deaths, as being the 5th deadliest wildfire of the past century). […]
This image shows north-central Europe on 19 July 2017 and was acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. A year later, north-central Europe was visibly more brown, after a persistent heatwave lingered over parts of Europe, setting record high temperatures and turning typically green landscapes to brown. Photo: Lauren Dauphin / NASA Earth Observatory
This image shows browning in north-central Europe on 24 July 2018 and was acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. Photo: Lauren Dauphin / NASA Earth Observatory
28 July 2018 (NASA) – A persistent heatwave has been lingering over parts of Europe, setting record high temperatures and turning typically green landscapes to brown.
The images above show browning in north-central Europe on July 24, 2018. For comparison, the second image shows the same area one year ago. Both images were acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite.
According to the European Space Agency, these regions turned brown in just a month, during which several countries experienced record high temperatures and low precipitation. Much of Germany has experienced drought conditions since May. The United Kingdom experienced its driest first half of summer (June 1 to July 16) on record.
The Carr Fire sends a plume of smoke into the sky above Whiskeytown, California, on 27 July 2018. Photo: Noah Berger / AP Photo
REDDING, California (Reuters) – Nine people were reportedly missing as a monster wildfire in Northern California grew by two-thirds overnight after killing two firefighters, destroying hundreds of buildings and sending thousands of frantic residents racing from their homes.
Some 3,400 firefighters on the ground and in 17 helicopters battled the 80,900-acre (32,740-hectare) Carr Fire, which was just 5 percent contained early on Saturday as it ripped through Redding, a city of 90,000 people, in California’s scenic Shasta-Trinity area.
More than 38,000 residents in Redding and elsewhere in Shasta County fled their homes as the fire began to gain speed and intensity on Thursday, destroying 500 homes and businesses and leaving Keswick, a town of 450, in smoldering ruins, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
In the image made from aerial video taken on 24 July 2018, villages are inundated with floodwaters from a collapsed dam in Attapeu province, southeastern Laos. The KPL news agency said Wednesday on its website that officials in Attapeu province also reported more than 1,300 houses damaged by flooding after an auxiliary dam at the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower project partially collapsed on Monday night. Photo: LNT / Associated Press
People wait for rescue on a rooftop after a newly built hydroelectric dam broke in southeastern Laos on 23 July 2018, flooding the surrounding countryside and killing at least 24 people. Photo: The New York Times
A girl uses a mattress as a raft during the flood after the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam collapsed in Attapeu province, Laos, 26 July 2018. Photo: Soe Zeya Tun / REUTERS
Sanamxay villagers sought safety on the roofs of their houses to escape the flooding following the dam collapse on 23 July 2018. Photo: CNN
ATTAPEU, Laos (The New York Times) – As heavy rains lashed southern Laos over the weekend, volunteers from many countries were continuing to help victims of earlier flooding caused by the failure of a foreign-funded hydropower dam.
“It shows the spirit of humanity,” Yen Saisamon, a 17-year-old Laotian volunteer, said on Friday at a relief center in the town of Attapeu, where cardboard boxes of instant noodles and condiments were labeled in Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.
Yet if foreigners are helping now, they also share a piece of the blame. The accident at the billion-dollar Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric project last week has cast a harsh spotlight on the default agenda of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party: selling natural resources to foreign companies while evading scrutiny for investment projects that exacerbate rural poverty — or, in this case, kill innocent villagers.
The Cranston fire burns as a man takes photos on 26 July 2018, near Idyllwild, California. Fire crews are battling the 4,700-acre fire in the midst of a heat wave. Photo: Mario Tama / Getty
29 July 2018 (Daily Intelligencer) – There has been a lot of burning lately. Last week, wildfires broke out in the Arctic Circle, where temperatures reached almost 90 degrees; they are still roiling northern Sweden, 21 of them. And this week, wildfires swept through the Greek seaside, outside Athens, killing at least 80 and hospitalizing almost 200. At one resort, dozens of guests tried to escape the flames by descending a narrow stone staircase into the Aegean, only to be engulfed along the way, dying literally in each other’s arms.
Last July, I wrote a much-talked-over magazine cover story considering the worst-case scenarios for climate change — much talked over, in part, because it was so terrifying, which made some of the scenarios a bit hard to believe. Those worst-case scenarios are still quite unlikely, since they require both that we do nothing to alter our emissions path, which is still arcing upward, and that those unabated emissions bring us to climate outcomes on the far end of what’s possible by 2100.
But, this July, we already seem much farther along on those paths than even the most alarmist climate observers — e.g., me — would have predicted a year ago. In a single week earlier this month, dozens of places around the world were hit with record temperatures in what was, effectively, an unprecedented, planet-encompassing heat wave: from Denver to Burlington to Ottawa; from Glasgow to Shannon to Belfast; from Tbilisi, in Georgia, and Yerevan, in Armenia, to whole swaths of southern Russia. The temperature of one city in Oman, where the daytime highs had reached 122 degrees Fahrenheit, did not drop below 108 all night; in Montreal, Canada, 50 died from the heat. That same week, 30 major wildfires burned in the American West, including one, in California, that grew at the rate of 10,000 football fields each hour, and another, in Colorado, that produced a volcano-like 300-foot eruption of flames, swallowing an entire subdivision and inventing a new term — “fire tsunami” — along the way. On the other side of the planet, biblical rains flooded Japan, where 1.2 million were evacuated from their homes. The following week, the heat struck there, killing dozens. The following week.
27 July 2018 (Weather Underground) – The intense, unrelenting heat wave that has gripped northern Europe during the summer of 2018 was made at least 2 – 5 times more likely at some locations by climate change, according to a preliminary analysis released on Friday by the World Weather Attribution network. This network, staffed by a team of scientists from six institutions, was established to provide near-real time analysis of how climate change might be affecting extreme weather events. The scientists used data from seven weather stations in Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland; a UK station was not included, due to time constraints.
The study found that rising global temperatures have increased the likelihood of the summer 2018 heat wave by five times in Denmark, three times in the Netherlands and two times in Ireland. The data for Scandinavia was too noisy to determine a specific number, with the report concluding “climate change increased the odds of a heat wave as observed in 2018 in Scandinavia but we cannot quantify by how much.”
Smoke from forest fires in Siberia travels over the North Pacific and descends on North America, 23 July 2018. Photo: NASA Worldview
Smoke from forest fires in Siberia descends on British Columbia, 25 July 2018. Photo: NASA Worldview
“The taiga is burning.” Aerial view of forest fires in Siberia, in July 2018. This is Vanavara, Tura, and Boguchansky district. Photo: Vitalij Boykov / The Siberian Times
Satellite view of forest fires near the Zeya Reservoir in the Amur region of Siberia, 9 May 2018. Photo: The Weather Channel
Infrared satellite view of forest fires near the Zeya Reservoir in the Amur region of Siberia, 9 May 2018. Photo: The Weather Channel
30 July 2018 (Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog) – The smoke is back over western Washington and it is about to get worse, as California wildfire smoke pushes northward over our area.
This morning’s sunrise clearly showed a smoke layer, with the reddish glow so familiar from last summer’s sunrises and sunsets. […]
Most of the of smoke has not been local, but rather came from huge fires over Siberia! Here is a satellite image from five days ago, showing the smoke moving southwards towards us. Perhaps Trump can talk to Putin about it. […]
J35, a mother orca, has been carrying her dead calf for six days as of Sunday, 29 July 2018. Photo: Taylor Shedd / Soundwatch
SAN JUAN ISLANDS, 30 July 2018 (The Seattle Times) – She carries it delicately, carefully, by the fin, or on her head, so as not to make a mark on the tiny body of her calf that lived only half an hour.
J35, a mother orca in the southern-resident clan, was being closely followed as she swam by all the members of her family Sunday, as she continued her mourning ritual for a sixth straight day, swimming more than 40 miles south from Canadian waters overnight Saturday to the west side of San Juan Island on Sunday.
She and her family are constantly on the move — and usually a sight that brings joy wherever they go.
Homes leveled by the Fire line the Lake Keswick Estates area on 27 July 2018. Photo: Noah Berger / AP Photo
31 July 2018 (The New York Times) – Expect more. That’s the verdict of climate scientists to the record-high temperatures this spring and summer in vastly different climate zones.
The continental United States had its hottest month of May and the third-hottest month of June. Japan was walloped by record triple-digit temperatures, killing at least 86 people in what its meteorological agency bluntly called a “disaster.” And weather stations logged record-high temperatures on the edge of the Sahara and above the Arctic Circle.
Is it because of climate change? Scientists with the World Weather Attribution project concluded in a study released Friday that the likelihood of the heat wave currently baking Northern Europe is “more than two times higher today than if human activities had not altered climate.”
A pregnant bottlenose dolphin was found dead of a gunshot wound in Mississippi, in April 2018, the latest of numerous examples of violence against dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Institute for Marine Mammal Studies
1 August 2018 (The New York Times) – This whodunit begins on a beach in Mississippi, where a bottlenose dolphin turned up dead one day this spring.
A man found the animal lying at the water’s edge in April and called the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, which responds to dolphin strandings and conducts necropsies, or animal autopsies, said Moby Solangi, the organization’s executive director.
Since there was no visible sign of foul play, the remains weren’t examined immediately.
These satellite images show how the 2018 heat wave took its toll on vegetation in northern Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. The first image shows how green the vegetation looked on 30 June 2018 and how it appeared dry and brown around two weeks later, on 19 July 2018. Photo: NBCU News Group
LONDON (NBC News) – Brown is the color of summer in northern Europe this year.
Fields that are usually covered in lush green grass have now turned to dust, trees are shedding their leaves and animals eating dry hay or grain instead of grazing in pastures.
Farmers in around a dozen countries — from Ireland to the Baltics — are grappling with a once-in-a-generation drought. The unrelenting heat wave has devastated crops, with more than half of the harvest expected to be lost in some areas.
This photo from 25 July 2018 shows the orca mother, J-35, balancing her dead baby on her nose, trying to keep it afloat. By 1 August 2018, members of the pod were taking turns floating the body of the newborn calf. Photo: Ken Balcomb / Centre for Whale Research
1 August 2018 (CBC) – Members of a pod of endangered killer whales now appear to be taking turns floating the body of a newborn calf that died more than week ago.
As It Happens reported on Friday about J-35, a mother orca from B.C.’s endangered killer whale population that has been balancing her dead calf on her nose near San Juan Island, Washington.
It’s now been more than a week and the mother whale is still carrying the calf’s remains — sparking concerns among researchers that she’ll tire herself out.
A lone tree stands near a water trough in a drought-affected paddock on Jimmie and May McKeown’s property located on the outskirts of town of Walgett, in New South Wales, Australia, 20 July 2018. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS
Farmer Ash Whitney stands in the middle of a dried-up dam in a drought-affected paddock on his property located west of the town of Gunnedah in New South Wales, Australia, 3 June 2018. “I have been here all my life, and this drought is feeling like it will be around a while,” said Whitney. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS
A kangaroo drinks from a water tank located in a drought-affected paddock on farmer Ash Whitney’s property, located west of the town of Gunnedah in north-western New South Wales, in Australia, 3 June 2018. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS
A windmill and solar panels stand next to a dam in a drought-effected paddock on farmer Scott Cooper’s property named South Park located east of the town of Gunnedah, in New South Wales, Australia, 21 July 2018. Photo: David Gray / REUTERS
2 August 2018 (BBC News) – Parts of eastern Australia are suffering their worst drought in living memory as a lack of rainfall in winter hits farms badly.
Reuters photographer David Gray captured the view of the dried earth from the air, finding an often surprising collage of colours. […]
About 98 percent of New South Wales is drought-stricken, and two-thirds of neighbouring Queensland. As a result, farmers are having to order in food for their livestock, which raises their costs considerably. […]
Dead fish are scattered on a beach in southwest Florida on 2 August 2018, victims of the largest toxic algae bloom since 2006. The toxic algae bloom, or ‘red tide’, spans 150 miles on the southwest coast of Florida. Photo: CBS Evening News
MIAMI (CBS News) – Thousands of fish, eels and turtles are dying, sometimes as far as the eye can see, in parts of southwest Florida. Just this week, one of several lifeless manatees was pulled from the water. The suspected culprit is a toxic algae bloom known as “red tide.”
Ozzie Fisher has been a fishing guide in the area for more than 20 years and is already seeing cancellations.
A high-tension power transmission line tipped over from a tornado-like fire vortex that reached speeds of possibly more than 143 mph on 26 July 2018. Photo: Cal Fire / National Weather Service
A pyrocumulus cloud over Californ’a Carr Fire on 29 July 2018, generated when the fire is so hot the air explodes upward, creating a new local weather pattern that can bring strong winds, lightning, and new fires. Photo: Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District
SAN FRANCISCO (Associated Press) – A deadly Northern California wildfire burned so hot in dry and windy conditions that it birthed a record-breaking tornado of flame, officials said Friday.
They also warned of worsening conditions throughout the region.
Winds in the “fire whirl” created 26 July 2018 near Redding, California, reached speeds of 143 mph, a speed that rivaled some of the most destructive Midwest tornados, National Weather Service meteorologist Duane Dykema said. The whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from homes, Dykema said.
Emergency workers among damaged vehicles in a open parking area of northern Athens after a flash flood struck the Greek capital on 26 July 2018. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images
4 August 2018 (The Guardian) – The extreme heatwaves and wildfires wreaking havoc around the globe are “the face of climate change,” one of the world’s leading climate scientists has declared, with the impacts of global warming now “playing out in real time.”
Climate change has long been predicted to increase extreme weather incidents, and scientists are now confident these predictions are coming true. Scientists say the global warming has contributed to the scorching temperatures that have baked the UK and northern Europe for weeks.
The hot spell was made more than twice as likely by climate change, a new analysis found, demonstrating an “unambiguous” link.
Peggotty Beach and Kent Street marshes are overrun by coastal flooding during a midday high tide on 4 March 2018. Photo: Karl Swenson / SKYWARN Spotter
6 August 2018 (The Weather Company) – Waves crest up to 27 feet, landing so hard they launch over three-story houses. Winds gust to over 80 mph, sending trees to the ground and knocking out power to 92 percent of the city. Entire beaches push inland, piling several feet of rock and sand onto roads and covering street signs, porches and mailboxes. Houses shake, sloshing water in toilet bowls. Slabs of concrete from sidewalks and neighborhood sheds float down the street as white-capped waves form on the streets.
“There’s only two times I’ve ever been nervous for my family and for my safety,” says Scituate, Massachusetts, resident Steve Maguire.
This is one of them, and it’s only getting worse as the clock passes midnight and darkness complicates an already terrifying reality.
Satellite view of smoke from Northern California wildfires that grew on Monday, 6 August 2018, to become the largest wildfire in state history. Photo: NASA Worldview
Screenshot of video taken by Dylan Duarte, a Mendocino County resident, of the River Fire taken as he evacuated on 28 July 2018. Photo: Dylan Duarte / Twitter
LAKEPORT, California, 7 August 2018 (AP) – Twin Northern California blazes fueled by dry vegetation and hot, windy weather grew Monday to become the largest wildfire in state history, becoming the norm as climate change makes the fire season longer and more severe.
The two fires burning a few miles apart and known as the Mendocino Complex are being treated as one incident. It has scorched 443 square miles (1,148.4 square kilometers), fire officials said Monday.
The fires, north of San Francisco, have burned 75 homes and is only 30 percent contained.
Northern California wildfire now largest in state history – “I can remember a couple of years ago when we saw 10 to 12,000 firefighters in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, and never the 14,000 we see now”
A man prepares to fish as smoke rises from the Holy Fire in Cleveland National Forest on 6 August 2018, in Lake Elsinore, California. The fast moving brush fire has burned at least 4,000 acres. Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images
7 August 2018 (Los Angeles Times) – At Scripps Pier in San Diego, the surface water reached the highest temperature in 102 years of records, 78.8 degrees.
Palm Springs had its warmest July on record, with an average of 97.4 degrees. Death Valley experienced its hottest month on record, with the average temperature hitting 108.1. Park rangers said the heat was too much for some typically hardy birds that died in the broiling conditions.
Across California, the nighttime brought little relief, recording the highest minimum temperature statewide of any month since 1895, rising to 64.9.
Bear paws and gall bladders seized during searches of smugglers in 2015-2017 in Siberia and Far East. Photo: The Siberian Times
25 July 2018 (The Siberian Times) – The brown bears are one of Russia’s great symbols but they are under great threat, according to the FSB, the Federal Security Service.
The agency is calling for the bears to be labelled a strategically important resource and given far greater protection under the law.
Between 2015 and 2017, numbers fell from 225,000 to 143,000, according to Georgy Avagumyan, a representative of the Prosecutor General’s office which has also demanded Red Book protection for the species.
Satellite view of smoke from British Columbia wildfires on 7 August 2018. Photo: NASA Worldview
A B.C. Wildfire Service crew member monitors a controlled burn in the Southern Interior, 6 August 2018. Photo: Canadian Press
5 August 2018 (The Weather Network) – With the number of fires burning across the province rapidly approaching the 500 mark, officials in British Columbia are recruiting help from out of the province – and even out of the country – as they do battle with 2018′s intense wildfire season. The more than 2,200 crew members already engaged in the fire response effort will be joined by crews from as far away as New Zealand and Australia in the coming week. In all, more than 200 personnel from across Canada and from other countries will join firefighting efforts over the next week.
As of Sunday afternoon, 19 wildfires ‘of note’ – those considered a threat to people and/or property – were burning in the province. While last week’s upper level trough brought some much-needed rain to the parched province, days of thunderstorms did more harm than good. According to Environment Canada, tens of thousands of lightning strikes were recorded in B.C. in the last days of July and first days of August. It’s no coincidence that nearly 200 of the currently-active fires were first discovered in the last week. [more]
Record drought in northwestern British Columbia sparks nearly 500 wildfires – Fire crews from New Zealand and Australia brought in – “The drought codes are the highest they’ve ever been at this time of year”
Evacuees from Lucerne, from left, Ken Bennett with Ember Reynolds, 8, and Lisa Reynolds watch the sunset as smoke from the Ranch Fire rises into the sky at Austin Park Beach in California’s Clearlake, with Mount Konocti in the background, 6 August 2018. Photo: Kent Porter / The Press Democrat / AP
LAKEPORT, California (AP) – The largest wildfire ever recorded in California needed just 11 days to blacken an area nearly the size of Los Angeles — and it’s only one of many enormous blazes that could make this the worst fire season in state history.
Some 14,000 firefighters from as far away as Florida and even New Zealand are struggling to curb 18 fires in the midst of a sweltering summer that has seen wind-whipped flames carve their way through national forest land and rural areas, threaten urban areas and incinerate neighborhoods.
“For whatever reason, fires are burning much more intensely, much more quickly than they were before,” said Mark A. Hartwig, president of the California Fire Chiefs Association.
8 August 2018 (Metro) – Hundreds of thirsty cows swarm a water truck in new footage that shows the real impact of Australia’s biggest drought in decades.
The shocking drone footage comes as 100 percent of the state of New South Wales was declared to be drought-affected.
Farmer Amber Lea, who shared the video on Burrabogie Livestock and Contracting’s Facebook page, had to drive for over an hour to get the water her cows desperately need.
On 6 August 2018, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this image of a dense column of smoke topped by a pyrocumulus cloud over the Ranch fire. Photo: Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory
A pyrocumulus cloud rises from the Ferguson fire near Yosemite National Park on 2 August 2018, viewed from the International Space Station. The park service closed Yosemite Valley and other parts of the park due to heavy smoke. Photo: Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory
8 August 2018 (NASA) – In July and August 2018, towering plumes of smoke have risen from several fires in northern California. Though heavy rains ended the lengthy drought that parched California, trees and vegetation killed during that dry spell still linger in California’s forests. With all that extra fuel priming the state’s forests for large fires, a period of hot and windy weather this summer made it extremely difficult for firefighters to maintain the upper hand.
One of the fires—the Mendocino Complex—surpassed the 2017 Thomas fire to become California’s largest fire on record. As of 7 August 2018, the fire had charred 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles), an area about the size of New York City. Another blaze, the Carr fire near Redding, had torched more than 1,000 homes, making it California’s sixth most destructive fire on record. Several thousand firefighters are battling each of the large fires in California.
The heat generated by intense wildfires can churn up towering pyrocumulus and pyrocumulonimbus clouds, which lift smoke above the boundary layer, the lowest part of the atmosphere. “The hotter a fire burns, the higher up smoke can go, and the farther it can spread,” explained Amber Soja, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center.
Orca J35, also known as Tahlequah, exhales as she continues to carry her dead calf — a week after giving birth — while she swims in Swanson’s Channel, B.C., in August 2018. Photo: Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times
9 August 2018 (The Seattle Times) – Tahlequah, the mother orca also known as J35, was spotted Wednesday afternoon, still carrying her dead infant calf for the 16th straight day.
“I am absolutely shocked and heartbroken,’’ said Deborah Giles, research scientist for University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology and research director for nonprofit Wild Orca.
“I am sobbing. I can’t believe she is still carrying her calf around,” Giles said, adding, “I am gravely concerned for the health and mental well being of J35.
Burned down remains of homes are seen from an areal photo in the Keswick neighborhood of Redding on 10 August 2018. Fire crews have made progress against the biggest blaze in California history but officials say the fire won’t be fully contained until September. Photo: Michael Burke / AP Photo
14 August 2018 (AccuWeather) – A couple of very tough months are ahead for the wildfire season and firefighting efforts in the western United States, especially California.
Approximately 110 large wildfires are burning across the U.S., and most of these fires are burning in the West, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Countless acres of brush, which growth was spurred on by winter and spring moisture, have had all summer to dry out.
Extreme heat, dryness, blazing sunshine, and accidental and intentional incidents by humans have already contributed to a formidable fire year.
Wind and currents push thousands of dead fish together in a massive fish kill during the red tide bloom off the coast of Sanibel, Florida, 8 August 2018. Photo: Ben Depp / National Geographic
This dead loggerhead is just one of a record number of turtle deaths during the ongoing Karenia brevis algae bloom in southern Florida, 8 August 2018. Wildlife ingests the toxin, which attacks their nervous system with often fatal results. Photo: Ben Depp / National Geographic
14 August 2018 (National Geographic) – The first thing you notice is the smell. It’s not a scent, exactly, but a tingling in the nose that quickly spreads to the throat and burns the lungs. But then you see the carcasses.
Thousands of sea creatures now litter many of southern Florida’s typically picturesque beaches. Most are fish—mullet fish, catfish, pufferfish, snook, trout, grunt, and even the massive goliath grouper. But other creatures are also washing ashore—crabs, eels, manatees, dolphins, turtles, and more. It’s a wildlife massacre of massive proportions. And the cause of both the deaths and toxic, stinging fumes is a bloom of harmful algae that scientists say is the region’s worst in over a decade.
“It’s just like a ghost town,” says Heather Barron, head veterinarian at Florida’s Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW). “Anything that can leave has, and anything that couldn’t leave has died.”
Dead fish lie on a beach in Florida, 14 Augusat 2018. A red tide in Florida has been killing thousands of marine animals, leaving beaches and shorelines covered with dead wildlife. Photo: Chris O’Meara / AP
14 August 2018 (U.S. News & World Report) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for several counties suffering from the impacts of a prolonged red tide.
According to the governor’s declaration , red tide is a naturally occuring algae that appears almost every year on Florida‘s Gulf Coast. However, the tide is toxic and it has been killing thousands of marine animals, leaving beaches and shorelines covered with dead wildlife.
With Scott’s emergency declaration, the state will be able to dedicate more funding and resources to the communities suffering from the effects of the red tide “so we can combat its terrible impacts.”
People sleep outside in Karachi, Pakistan amid sweltering temperatures, 18 May 2018. Photo: Akhtar Soomro / Reuters
Children play in the water fountains at the Place des Arts in Montreal, Canada on a hot summer day 3 July 2018. Photo: Eva Hambach / AFP / Getty Images
15 August 2018 (The Guardian) – Imagine a city at 50C (122F). The pavements are empty, the parks quiet, entire neighbourhoods appear uninhabited. Nobody with a choice ventures outside during daylight hours. Only at night do the denizens emerge, HG Wells-style, into the streets – though, in temperatures that high, even darkness no longer provides relief. Uncooled air is treated like effluent: to be flushed as quickly as possible.
School playgrounds are silent as pupils shelter inside. In the hottest hours of the day, working outdoors is banned. The only people in sight are those who do not have access to air conditioning, who have no escape from the blanket of heat: the poor, the homeless, undocumented labourers. Society is divided into the cool haves and the hot have-nots.
Those without the option of sheltering indoors can rely only on shade, or perhaps a water-soaked sheet hung in front of a fan. Construction workers, motor-rickshaw drivers and street hawkers cover up head to toe to stay cool. The wealthy, meanwhile, go from one climate-conditioned environment to another: homes, cars, offices, gymnasiums, malls.
Screenshot from a video posted by Janelle Lapointe on 14 August 2018, showing the sky darkened by smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia. “It’s only 3PM but the smoke decided it was night time.” Photo: Janelle Lapointe
15 August 2018 (CBC Radio) – Trevor Chapman was forced to abandon his trailer park in Fraser Lake, B.C., as the wildfires around his home grew.
On Wednesday, the British Columbia government declared a state of emergency. Over 560 fires are burning across the province and thousands of people are under evacuation orders.
Chapmanspoke with As It Happens guest host Matt Galloway. Here is part of their conversation.
There are hundreds of wildfires burning across British Columbia on 15 August 2018, including this one near the Pondosy Bay Wilderness Resort near Tweedsmuir. Photo: Pondosy Bay Wilderness Resort
Fraser Lake at about 4 p.m. PT on Tuesday, 14 August 2018. Sunset isn’t until 8:51, but it was already getting dark as smoke from wildfires blotted out the sun. Photo: Andrew Kurjata / CBC
15 August 2018 (CBC News) – Nearly 600 fires are burning across British Columbia, covering the sky in flame-coloured haze and blanketing the air with smoke.
A provincial state of emergency has been declared.
Dozens of evacuation orders and alerts are in effect in the north and central regions, affecting more than 20,000 people.
Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia cause hazy conditions that cast a strange hue over downtown Edmonton on Wednesday morning, 15 August 2018. Photo: Terry Reith / CBC
15 August 2018 (CBC News) – It’s going to be another suffocating day in Alberta as smoke from wildfires in B.C. drifts east.
Much of the province is, once again, under a blanket of smoke and haze — and there is little relief in the forecast.
Environment Canada expects the haze will last for several days. Air quality is expected to be intermittently poor for the remainder of the week as an estimated 600 wildfires continue to burn across B.C.
A dead fish lies on a Florida beach. More than 100 tons of dead sea creatures have washed ashore beaches along Florida’s Gulf coast in August 2018, victims of the worst red tide in a decade. Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images / AFP
16 August 2018 (AFP) – A state of emergency has been declared in Florida as the worst red tide in a decade blackens the ocean water, killing dolphins, sea turtles and fish at a relentless pace.
More than 100 tons of dead sea creatures have been shoveled up from smelly, deserted beaches in tourist areas along Florida’s southwest coast as a result of the harmful algal bloom this month alone.
In just the past week, 12 dolphins washed ashore dead in Sarasota County, typically the toll seen in an entire year.
Smoke hangs over Tathra, on the south coast of NSW, which was evacuated in response to encroaching flames in March 2018. Photo: Fairfax Media
SYDNEY (The Guardian) – At first the smoke on the horizon “didn’t look like anything major,” says Joe Mercieca of that day in 2013. But then the wind picked up.
His house in the Blue Mountains, an hour and a half out of Sydney, was soon surrounded by the blaze. “I told my wife it was too late, let’s retreat,” he says. Mercieca, Merylese and their dog took shelter in the concrete fire bunker they had built beneath their house. “We sat in there and listened to everything explode.”
Overall, more than 200 houses were lost in the fire. The Merciecas lost four vehicles and their home office, destroyed when a flaming truck crashed into it. In the five years since, Mercieca has used his construction business to educate people about the importance of fire preparedness in their homes.
Aerial view of the fire on Saddleworth Moor sending huge plumes of smoke into the sky, 27 June 2018. Photo: SWNS
16 August 2018 (VICE) – What a gorgeous summer it’s been! What lovely, pleasant weather we’ve had! Normally the UK is – aha – wet and overcast, so it’s a lovely change that this summer will be remembered for … horrible sickly yellow red beating down on you, stopping you from working, sleeping, eating, walking anywhere, doing anything, thinking straight; my muscles always ache, my skin itches, I can’t think. Fuck off with it being this hot, fuck off.
Anyway, long story short, I’m glad the weather seems to have changed now. But perhaps, in a way, the heat is continuing to dominate. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but accompanying the recent heatwave there seems to have been a sort of upsurge in stupidity. I’m not saying the UK was exactly a brilliant, gifted child before – this, after all, is the country that did Brexit, that welcomed austerity, that voted David Cameron in as Prime Minister, twice. But over the last few weeks, things in British public discourse have been getting, astonishingly, even more stupid than they were before.
Just try looking at the news, if you can bear it (at this point, it’s like watching a couple have a fight a few places across from you in a train carriage). Yes, I know that technically it’s “silly season”, so all the political journalists are pacing around their cells (or wherever they work) like hungry dogs looking for something to gnaw on, but Jesus fucking Christ if it hasn’t been an unedifying spectacle recently. […]
Image taken from the International Space Station shows the wildfires burning in California. In the upper left portion of the image is the Carr and Mendocino Complex fires and to the right is the Ferguson fire. Photo: Alexander Gerst / AFP / Getty Images
18 August 2018 (Los Angeles Times) – Each day on the front lines of California’s largest wildfire, firefighters start their shifts noting their safety zones and escape routes. Flames from the Mendocino Complex are still ripping through thousands of acres a day of steep, mountainous terrain packed with dead oak trees — standing and fallen — and littered with leaves and pine needles.
Crews are on especially high alert this week after a firefighter who traveled from Draper City, Utah, to help battle the blaze died Monday while working on an active stretch. Every five or 10 minutes, they’re encouraged to “look up, look around and make a sound.”
“We always talk about having our head on a swivel when we’re out on the fire line, because things could change — it could happen right there, in a snap of your fingers,” said Trevor Pappas, a firefighter with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “You have to have plan A, B, C, D — and sometimes E, F, G.”
Smoke from a bushfire at Bemboka, in the south of New South Wales, Australia, 16 August 2018. Photo: Daniel Strickland
16 August 2018 (BBC News) – Emergency crews in Australia are battling unseasonal bushfires which have erupted across drought-stricken New South Wales (NSW).
Almost 80 fires were burning along the state’s coast on Thursday, having ripped through more than 1,000 hectares in recent days.
No lives or homes were in immediate danger, according to officials.
Some of the debris on Wednesday, 15 August 2018, from a plane crash 70 years ago on the Gauli Glacier in Switzerland. The survival of everyone onboard “was the most improbable story in the history of international aviation,” one expert said. The debris was revealed after more than 70 years this month when scorching summer temperatures in Europe caused the glacial ice to recede. Photo: Anthony Anex / EPA / Shutterstock
LONDON, 16 August 2018 (The New York Times) – After an emergency landing on a Swiss glacier, the group of 12 Americans drank melted snow and survived on rations of one chocolate bar a person until daring pilots shuttled them to safety after five days marooned on the ice.
Relics of that harrowing adventure and the successful rescue of all those onboard, including an 11-year-old girl and the captain’s mother, resurfaced after more than 70 years this month when scorching summer temperatures in Europe caused the glacial ice to recede.
The melting uncovered a large part of the wreckage of the United States Army transport plane, including a wing and items from the cabin, like canned food and clothes hangers.
Satellite view showing smoke from wildfires in California and British Columbia blowing eastward across the Atlantic and carried by winds from Storm Ernesto, 14 August 2018. Photo: NOAA
18 August 2018 (Metro) – A storm is set to batter Britain with wind and rain, bringing with it smoke from the wildfires in California.
Forecasters say a tropical storm is moving eastwards across the Atlantic Ocean and will hit the UK and Ireland today.
And smoke from the deadly wildfires in North America has been detected in satellite imagery, the Met Office said. […]
Satellite view of wildfires and smoke in British Columbia, 19 August 2018. Photo: NASA Worldview
19 August 2018 (Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog) – During the next 12 hours there should be a major influx of wildfire smoke into the lower elevations of western Washington.
The MODIS satellite imagery around noon showed very dense smoke over eastern WA and the north Cascades, with lesser but substantial smoke now over northwest Washington, with a thinning from Seattle southward.
The 2PM image from the GOES geostationary satellite, indicates the smoke is slowly moving southward west of the Cascade crest.
Mobs of emus have taken over the small mining town of Broken Hill in far west New South Wales, 19 August 2018. The native birds have been drawn to town in search of food and water as drought worsens, with the region facing its driest start to a year on record. Photo: ABC News
19 August 2018 (BBC News) – Large numbers of emus have been flocking to an outback mining town in New South Wales as Australia continues to struggle with extreme drought.
The flightless birds are desperately searching for food and water in Broken Hill, local animal rescue services say.
“They’re actually walking down our main street. We’re seeing mobs of them,” wildlife worker Emma Singleton said.
People view the Island Lake fire in north-central B.C. from Francois Lake Road, 17 August 2018. Photo: David Luggi / PNG
Two boys walk outside their home on a ranch as the Shovel Lake wildfire burns in the distance sending a massive cloud of smoke into the air near Fort St. James, B.C., on Friday, 17 August 2018. Photo: Darryl Dyck / Canadian Press
A helicopter being used to fight a smaller fire nearby flies past a large plume of smoke rising from a wildfire near Fraser Lake, B.C., on 15 August 2018. Photo: The Canadian Press
A woman walks across a street just after 10 a.m. in near darkness due to thick smoke blanketing the city because of wildfires in the region, in Prince George, B.C., on Friday, 17 August 2018. Sunrise was at 5:53 a.m. but the city spent most of the morning in darkness. Photo: Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press
20 August 2018 (The Canadian Press) – Some headway was made over the weekend battling hundreds of blazes across British Columbia, according to crews battling the wildfires, but thick smoke continues to blanket the province and create challenges for communities far from any flames.
The B.C. Wildfire Service says there weren’t many lightning strikes last weekend, allowing crews to concentrate on some of the 54 blazes threatening people or property.
The largest fire continues to be the 850-square-kilometre Shovel Lake blaze moving north from Fraser Lake toward Fort St. James.
Screenshot from the short film, Australia’s Drought, shows a kangaroo jumping in front of a depleted reservoir. Australia’s Drought documents how the extreme drought is affecting farmers in the Australian outback in 2018. Photo: Journeyman Pictures
20 August 2018 (Journeyman Pictures) – In the Australian outback, farmers are suffering the profound consequences of severe drought, the worst for a decade. Three families give their own outlook on the nature of hardship in a changing world.
“It attacks you from all angles”, says Brendan Cullen of Kars Station, New South Wales. “The drought will affect your animals, it’ll affect your household, your mental health.” He believes the difficulties he faces keeping his farm running are the reason he was diagnosed with depression.
Periods of prolonged drought are becoming more and more frequent across Australia. Some parts of Queensland have been in periods of abnormally low rainfall for six years.
Satellite of smoke over Washington state from wildfires in British Columbia, 20 August 2018. Photo: NASA Worldview
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image (top) on 15 August 2018. Smoke is seen hovering over much of western North America and central Canada. Photo: Lauren Dauphin / NASA Earth Observatory
On 15 August 2018, smoke from wildfires in Canada was so pronounced it was visible from a distance of about 1.5 million kilometers (1 million miles) away. That’s the distance of NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite, which acquired this image on 15 August 2018. Photo: Lauren Dauphin / NASA Earth Observatory
20 August 2018 (NASA) – In mid-August 2018, deadly blazes across the western United States and Canada continued to destroy structures and disrupt the lives of millions of people. But you did not have to be close to the fires to witness its effects. These images show just how far across North America winds have carried the thick plumes of smoke.
Smoke from the wildfires in B.C. and Eastern Washington obscures the Seattle, 20 August 2018. Photo: Morgan Palmer / KIRO-TV
Satellite of smoke over Washington state from wildfires in British Columbia and Weastern Washington, 21 August 2018. Photo: NASA Worldview
Aerial video captured by pilot Zsolt Timar-Geng of a huge pyrocumulus cloud over Burns Lake on 20 August 2018, showing the scale of wildfires raging in British Columbia. Photo: Zsolt Timar-Geng / Twitter
22 August 2018 (Digital Journal) – While British Columbia Premier John Horgan was touring the wildfire-ravaged, smoke-filled area around Prince George Tuesday morning. Al Beaver, an independent risk management expert who worked on fire management for governments in Canada and Australia was speaking with The Current’s guest host Ioanna Roumeliotis.
Flanked by the federal defense minister, the mayor of Prince George and a First Nations chief in Prince George, Premier Horgan addressed the media, saying wildfires have prompted an unprecedented second state of emergency in the province in the last 12 months, after the devastating floods this spring.
“We’re concerned, all of us, that this may be the new normal,” Horgan said, adding that emergency officials are very worried about the wind and lightning forecast for the region, and no rain in the forecast. Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the Canadian Armed Forces have deployed about 300 personnel to help fight the fires in B.C., adding, “We’re coming together far too often like this.”
British Columbia wildfires “may be the new normal” – 2018 is third-worst fire season on record in B.C. – “From flood to fire to flood and then again to fire, and we have had two states of emergency — that’s unprecedented”
View of Hurricane Lane from the International Space Station in the early morning hours near Hawaii, 22 August 2018. Photo: NASA
This image from the GOES-15 satellite shows Hurricane Lane, with a well-defined eye, positioned about 300 miles south of Hawaii’s Big Island at 2 p.m. ET on 22 August 2018. Photo: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory
22 August 2018 (Vox) – The state of Hawaii is facing a rare threat: A Category 4 hurricane is moving toward it, with hurricane watches and warnings in effect for most of the islands.
The state of Hawaii is facing a rare threat: A Category 4 hurricane is moving toward it, with hurricane watches and warnings in effect for most of the islands.
Hawaii is no stranger to natural hazards like volcanic eruptions (remember Kilauea?). But due to high-pressure weather patterns over the central Pacific, and a lot of deep, cool water around the islands, tropical storms usually steer clear.
Jeff Joseph from Bragg Creek west of Calgary shared this picture of a smoky sunset Wednesday night, 22 August 2018. Photo: Jeff Joseph
23 August 2018 (Calgary Herald) – Just days after smashing the previous record for the number of smoky days in Calgary, Environment Canada issued another severe air quality warning for the city and many communities in southern Alberta.
Skies briefly cleared in the city before another advisory was issued on Wednesday. As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Environment Canada rated Calgary’s air quality at 9, which is considered high risk. That’s expected to jump to 10+ this evening, meaning some people with heart and lung problems will be at risk and should stay indoors.
According to the air-quality monitoring smartphone application Sh**t! I Smoke, breathing the air in Calgary today will be roughly the equivalent of smoking about seven and a half cigarettes.
Aerial view of flooding in Downtown Hilo, Hawaii, caused by Hurrican Lane, 23 August 2018. Photo: Jonathan T. Correa / Instagram
24 August 2018 (ABC News) – As Hurricane Lane lurches north, the Category 3 storm has already dumped more than 31 inches of rain on Hawaii’s Big Island, bringing catastrophic flooding.
The life-threatening flooding could even lead to landslides or mudslides.
Rainfall rates in the outer bands of the hurricane may reach 1 to 3 inches per hour, meaning flash flood watches will remain in effect through late Friday.
Dead fish killed by a red tide in Sarasota, Florida, 22 August 2018. Photo: Ephrat Livni / Quartz
Fish washed up after dying in a red tide in Captiva, Florida. Photo: Cristobal Herrera / EPA
SARASOTA, Florida, 22 August 2018 (Quartz) – All the water birds—pelicans, egrets, cormorants—are gone.
Flies swarm the coast of the seaside city of Sarasota, Florida. Crows caw. The air stinks of death. Carpets of fish, belly-up, mouths gaping, line the shore. This is the putrid new world created by a toxic red algae bloom spanning 130 miles of the state’s west coast, which has so far killed masses of fish, 12 dolphins, more than 500 manatees, 300 sea turtles, countless horseshoe crabs, a whale shark, and the local economy.
The docks behind otherwise desirable condo buildings are surrounded by fish carcasses. The waters of the bay are dotted with them, silver and white, glinting in the hot sun, looking from a distance like the crests of thousands of small waves. At least 100 tons of sea creatures have fallen victim to the toxic bloom known as “red tide.” Meanwhile, when breezes blow the toxin inland, people cough, and reports of respiratory problems are on the rise in local hospitals.
Smoke billows over the northern shoreline of Nadina Lake, B.C. on 20 August 2018, captured in a photo by a helicopter pilot who has been working on the fires in the area. Photo: Dylan De La Mare
26 August 2018 (The Canadian Press) – Government statistics indicate this year’s wildfire season is the second worst in British Columbia’s history, burning 945 square kilometres of land.
The BC Wildfire Service says this year’s season comes in behind last year, which saw more than 1,200 square kilometres burnt and roughly 65,000 people displaced or evacuated from their homes.
But the provincial agency says 1,981 blazes had ignited in the province as of Sunday — nearly 600 more fires than in 2017.
Workers remove hundreds of dead fish from the Malibu Lagoon in California, 27 August 2018. Officials said oxygen levels in the water tested normal, but the temperature in the lagoon was “significantly elevated” — about 82 degrees. Relentless summer heat and a lack of fog along the coast could have caused the temperature of the water to soar. Photo: Los Angeles Times
28 August 2018 (Los Angeles Times) – Authorities made the grim discovery last week: More than 1,000 dead fish floating at Malibu Lagoon.
California State Parks scientists are running tests to determine the cause, but officials suspect higher-than-normal water temperatures played a role.
The die-off comes amid a summer of extreme heat across California that has included record ocean temperatures from San Diego to Los Angeles and beyond.
Relatives of Filipinos murdered by the government in the Philippine drug war, along with activists, at a protest on Tuesday, 28 August 2018, in the Manila area. Photo: Eloisa Lopez / Reuters
MANILA, 28 August 2018 (The New York Times) – Relatives of eight people killed by Philippine police officers during President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs have accused the president of murder in a complaint filed with the International Criminal Court, their lawyer said on Tuesday.
The complaint is the second brought at the Hague-based court against Mr. Duterte, 73, over the anti-narcotics crackdown, which has left thousands dead at the hands of police officers and unknown gunmen since he took office in 2016.
Neri Colmenares, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, which is representing the family members of the slain Filipinos, said they hoped to hold Mr. Duterte accountable “for his crimes against humanity committed through acts of murder for the extrajudicial killings of thousands of Filipinos and other inhumane acts.”
Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte accused of murder in new filing at International Criminal Court – Complaint charges Duterte with “crimes against humanity committed through acts of murder for the extrajudicial killings of thousands of Filipinos”
Endangered olive ridley turtles killed while trapped in a fishing net are seen in the municipality of Santa Maria Colotepec, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, 28 August 2018. Photo: Fredy Garcia / REUTERS
SANTA MARIA COLOTEPEC, Mexico, 28 August 2018 (Reuters) – About 300 endangered sea turtles were found dead off the southern coast of Mexico on Tuesday, trapped in fishing nets, shortly after more than 100 dead turtles were recovered.
Fishermen in the southern state of Oaxaca discovered the turtles in the seaside community of Barra de Colotepec, said Heliodoro Diaz, the coordinator of the state’s civil protection agency.
Images captured by a Reuters videographer showed dozens of dead turtles, many beginning to decompose, caught in what appeared to be a net.
Riot policemen stand guard as far-right-wing supporters and Neo-Nazis protest on 27 August 2018, after a German man was stabbed in Chemnitz, Germany. Photo: Reuters
CHEMNITZ, Germany, 30 August 2018 (The New York Times) – Waving German flags, with some flashing Nazi salutes, the angry mob made its way through the streets, chasing after dark-skinned bystanders as police officers, vastly outnumbered, were too afraid to intervene.
A Syrian refugee and father of two, Anas al-Nahlawie, watched horrified from a friend’s fourth-floor balcony. They were hunting in packs for immigrants just like him, he said. “Like wolves.”
For a few perilous hours over two days this week, the mob owned the streets of Chemnitz, where anger exploded after word spread that an Iraqi and a Syrian asylum seeker were suspected in a knife attack that killed a German man early Sunday.
Flames roll over a hill toward homes near Lakeport, California, on 2 August 2018. The effects of rapid climate change are being felt across the world. Photo: Fred Greaves / Reuters
1 September 2018 (Huffington Post) – As access to cheap, plentiful energy dries up and the effects of climate change take hold, we are entering a new era of profound challenge ? and free market capitalism cannot dig us out. This is the conclusion of a report produced for the United Nations by Bios, an independent research institute based in Finland.
Signs of a world in turmoil are not hard to find. People are increasingly feeling the effects of rapid climate change. Cities boil in more than 120-degree heat, California burns and the Arctic thaws. Meanwhile, biodiversity loss is reaching terrifying levels, with animals going extinct at about 1,000 times the natural rate. In addition, as societies, we’re facing increased inequality, unemployment and soaring personal debt levels.
Faced with these interconnected crises, says the report, our economies are woefully underprepared: “It can be safely said that no widely applicable economic models have been developed specifically for the upcoming era.”
An elephant with its face chopped off was poached in the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary, in August 2018. Photo: Elephants Without Borders
Carcases of nearly 90 elephants were found near the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary in Botswana, in in August 2018. Photo: Elephants Without Borders
NAIROBI (BBC News) – Carcases of nearly 90 elephants have been found near a famous wildlife sanctuary in Botswana, conservationists say.
Elephants Without Borders, which is conducting an aerial survey, said the scale of poaching deaths is the largest seen in Africa.
The spike coincides with Botswana’s anti-poaching unit being disarmed.
Vehicles damaged by Typhoon Jebi are seen in Kobe, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on 5 September 2018. Photo: Kyodo
Cranes damaged by Typhoon Jebi are seen in Nishinomiya, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on 5 September 2018. Photo: Kyodo
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan began on Wednesday to clean up after a powerful typhoon killed 11 people, injured hundreds and stranded thousands at a flooded airport, though when the airport in an industrial and tourist hub might reopen was not clear.
Typhoon Jebi, or “swallow” in Korean, was briefly a super typhoon and was the most powerful storm to hit Japan in 25 years. It came after months of heavy rain, landslides, floods, and record-breaking heat that killed hundreds of people this summer. […]
Winds that in many places gusted to the highest ever recorded in Japan, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, left a swathe of damage, with fruit and vegetables, many about to be harvested, hit especially hard.
Mexican state officials declared a health emergency on 30 August 2018 after garbage in Acapulco piled up from not being collected. Photo: Comunicación Social Guerrero
6 September 2018 (Newsweek) – On Thursday, Mexican authorities declared a health emergency for the beach town of Acapulco because of large quantities of uncollected garbage that have piled up.
Carlos de la Peña, the health secretary of the state of Guerrero, located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, told the Associated Press that city authorities ignored previous warnings about the trash and there were “impressive columns of garbage” located in several places.
In areas where the garbage was particularly bad, state officials worked to clean and fumigate the area to prevent diseases, according to a Facebook post. He blamed the city for not properly collecting the garbage and said the decision to take precautionary cleaning measures came from Governor Hector Astudillo Flores. The actions were taken in an effort to avoid having to close down schools, restaurants, houses and retail shops.
Two-year-old George is one of hundreds of asylum seekers being held in detention on the Pacific island of Nauru. Photo: World Vision Australia
Protesters in Australia demand that refugees being held in detention on the Pacific island of Nauru be brought to Australia. Photo: Getty Images
6 September 2018 (BBC News) – Suicide attempts and horrifying acts of self-harm are drawing fresh attention to the suffering of refugee children on Nauru, in what is being described as a “mental health crisis”.
The tiny island nation, site of Australia’s controversial offshore processing centre, has long been plagued with allegations of human rights abuses.
But a series of damning media reports recently has also highlighted a rapidly deteriorating situation for young people.
Riot police watch right-wing demonstrators in Chemnitz, Germany on 27 August 2018. Photo: Sean Gallup / Getty Images
6 September 2018 (Bloomberg News) – Europe’s largest engineering company is urging its employees in eastern Germany to take a stand against “xenophobia and public breach of law” after days of violent clashes in the state of Saxony that industry groups fear may scare off investors.
Siemens AG managers wrote to the firm’s 4,300 employees in Saxony asking them to speak out against right-wing extremism. The initiative follows clashes between far-right groups and opposing camps in the city of Chemnitz, which started after two people were arrested as suspects in the killing of a 35-year-old German man on Aug. 26. The protests turned violent after local media reported that the two suspects are of immigrant origin.
“It is time for civil society in the state to take a public stand promoting tolerance and humanity, and against xenophobia and discrimination,” the managers said in the letter obtained by Bloomberg News.
Hurricane Florence as seen from the International Space Station, 10 September 2018. Photo: Ricky Arnold
HOLDEN BEACH, N.C. (Reuters) – Powerful Hurricane Florence grew larger on Tuesday and is expected to bring days of rain, deadly flooding, and power outages lasting weeks after it slams into the U.S. Southeast coast later this week.
Winds and massive waves will pound coastal North and South Carolina when Florence makes landfall on Friday, and its rains will take a heavy toll for miles inland, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned.
With winds currently at 140 miles per hour (225 km per hour), the storm was a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and expected to get bigger and stronger, the NHC said.
What may be millions of water bottles. meant for victims of Hurricane Maria, sitting on a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico since 2017, according to FEMA, which confirmed the news to journalist David Begnaud. Photo: David Begnaud
12 September 2018 (The Hill) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said this week that millions of water bottles meant for victims of Hurricane Maria have been left undistributed at an airport in Puerto Rico for more than a year.
CBS News journalist David Begnaud reported on Wednesday that FEMA acknowledged that loads of water bottles were brought to the island in 2017 in the wake of the hurricane and that it turned them over to the “central government.”
However, a photographer working for a Puerto Rican police agency, Abdiel Santana, noticed that the water was still sitting at the airport runway one year later, according to Begnaud.
Donald Trump, left, talks about Hurricane Florence during a briefing in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, 11 September 2018, as FEMA Administrator Brock Long listens at right. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP Photo
WASHINGTON, 13 September 2018 (AP) – President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected the official conclusion that nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico from last year’s Hurricane Maria, arguing without evidence that the number was wrong and calling it a plot by Democrats to make him “look as bad as possible.”
As Hurricane Florence approached the Carolinas, the president picked a fresh fight over the administration’s response to the Category 4 storm that smashed into the U.S. territory last September. Trump visited the island in early October to assess the situation amid widespread criticism over the recovery efforts.
“When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000,” Trump tweeted.
The Pamba River in India’s Kerala state, which was in a spate during the days of flood in 2018, is now drying up, and its water level has decreased abnormally. This view of the river is from Vazhakkunnam, Cherukol. Photo: PTI
Volunteers and rescue personnel evacuate local residents in an Indian Navy boat from a residential area in Aluva, Kerala, on 17 August 2018. Photo: RK Sreejith / AFP / Times of India
Thiruvananthapuram, 13 September 2018 (PTI) – With mercury levels rising and abnormal drying up of rivers and wells reported in flood-hit Kerala, the state government has decided to conduct scientific studies on the post-flood phenomenon in the state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed the State Council for Science, Technology and Environment to carry out studies on the phenomenon after floods across the state and suggest possible solutions to the problems.
A series of issues including soaring mercury level, unprecedented dip in water level of rivers, sudden drying-up of wells, depletion of groundwater reserves and mass perishing of earthworms have caused widespread concern in various parts of Kerala after the devastating deluge last month.
Eye of Hurricane Florence as seen on Wednesday morning, 12 September 2018, viewed from the International Space Station. Photo: Alexander Gerst
13 September 2018 (The Weather Channel) – Hurricane Florence is spreading heavy rain and strong winds into the Carolinas, with landfall possible either overnight tonight or on Friday, kicking off an agonizing crawl through the Southeast into early next week, producing catastrophic inland rainfall flooding, life-threatening storm surge and destructive winds.
As of 10 p.m., Florence’s eye was located about 70 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, crawling northwestward at just 5 mph.
Wind gusts have reached as high as 106 mph at Cape Lookout, North Carolina while a 105 mph gust was also reported at Fort Macon, North Carolina recently.
A satellite image with land graphic borders shows the width and trajectory of Typhoon Mangkhut as it approaches the Philippines on 14 September 2018. Photo: RAMMB / CIRA / AP
A father carries his sick child to another car as their ambulance is stuck on a highway by toppled electric posts caused by strong winds after Typhoon Mangkhut hit Baggao town in Cagayan province, north of Manila, on 15 September 2018. Photo: Ted Aljibe / AFP / Getty Images
Rains cover the city as strong winds batter houses and buildings lying on the path of Typhoon Mangkhut as it makes landfall, on 15 September 2018 in Tuguegarao city. Photo: Jes Aznar / Getty Images
Ducks walk along a cornfield totally damaged by strong winds from Typhoon Mangkhut as it barreled across Tuguegarao city, Cagayan province, on 15 September 2018. Photo: Aaron Favila / AP Photo
15 September 2018 (BBC News) – Some 14 people have been killed in a massive storm which brought destruction to the northern Philippines, a presidential adviser says.
Typhoon Mangkhut ripped through the Philippines’ main island of Luzon, and is now moving west towards China.
Almost all buildings in the city of Tuguegarao sustained some damage, a government official said, and communications were down in places.
A NOAA satellite handout image shows Hurricane Florence as it made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on 14 September 2018. Photo: NOAA / Getty Images
A dog and a duck sit amongst the ruins of a house after Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit the town of Alcala, Cagayan province on 15 September 2018. Photo: Ted Aljibe / AFP / Getty Images
15 September 2018 (The Guardian) – There is no such thing as a category 6 hurricane or tropical storm – yet. The highest level – the top of the scale for the most powerful, most devastating hurricane or tropical storm capable of destroying entire cities like New Orleans or New York – is a category 5 storm.
Meteorologists and scientists never imagined that there would be a need for a category 6 storm, with winds that exceed 200 miles per hour on a sustained basis, sweeping away everything in its path. Until now, such a storm wasn’t possible, so there was no need for a new category above category 5.
Right now, however, there is anywhere from 5 to 8% more water vapor circulating throughout the atmosphere than there was a generation ago. This, combined with warmer temperatures that are driving water up from the deep ocean in places where hurricanes typically form, has created the potential for superstorms that we haven’t seen before – and aren’t really prepared for.
Rescuers search for landslide victims in Itogon in the Philippines on Monday, 17 September 2018. Photo: Francis R. Malasig / EPA
ITOGON, Philippines, 17 September 2018 (NBC News) – Dozens of miners and their families sheltering in a chapel were feared dead on Monday after a powerful typhoon swept through the Philippines and triggered a huge landslide that buried much of the remote community.
Typhoon Mangkhut, with sustained winds of around 124 mph and gusts of up to around 200 mph, barreled past the northern tip of the Philippines this weekend, killing at least 65 people. The storm then skirted south of Hong Kong and neighboring gambling hub of Macau before making landfall in China, where four deaths were reported.
In the Philippines, the typhoon affected about five million altogether — 150,000 of whom were in evacuation centers when the storm hit. In the mining town of Itogon in the north of the island nation, hundreds of rescue workers using shovels and sometimes their bare hands battled treacherous conditions and heat to search for survivors after the typhoon’s heavy rains triggered two landslides.
A pickup truck drives on a flooded road past a farm house that is surrounded by flooded fields from tropical storm Florence in Hyde County, N.C., Saturday, 15 September 2018. Photo: Steve Helber / AP
A yacht rests on the side of a downtown hotel in New Bern, N.C., Sunday, 16 September 2018. Hurricane Florence brought heavy rains and winds to the area. Photo: Tariq Zehawi / NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY
17 September 2018 (USA TODAY) – Storm-weary residents of North Carolina struggled Monday to loosen the grip of Florence, the lingering killer that has closed more than 100 roads, cut off power to almost 500,000 homes and businesses and essentially cut off the city of Wilmington from the world.
At least 17 people have died in the wreckage of the hurricane-turned-tropical depression that dumped 30 inches of rain in parts of the state since last week.
In Wilmington, officials were planning for food and water to be flown into the coastal city of almost 120,000 people. The National Weather Service has measured 23.59 inches of rain at the city’s airport since Thursday.
Young asylum seekers in Moria camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos, pictured in May 2018. Photo: Robin Hammond / Witness Change
ATHENS, Greece, 17 September 2018 (MSF) – Medical teams working with asylum seekers on Greek islands are seeing multiple cases each week of minors who have attempted suicide or otherwise harmed themselves, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today, calling for the immediate evacuation of vulnerable people, especially children, to the Greek mainland or within the European Union.
More than 9,000 people—a third of whom are children—are stuck indefinitely on the island of Lesbos in Moria camp, which has a maximum capacity of 3,100 people. There have been numerous critical incidents highlighting significant gaps in the protection of children and other vulnerable people, MSF said. These include patients who have experienced violence, children who have harmed themselves, and people who lack access to urgently needed medical care. MSF provides mental health care and other medical services to camp residents.
“These children come from countries in war, where they have experienced very extreme violence and trauma,” said Dr. Declan Barry, MSF’s medical coordinator in Greece. “Rather than receiving care and protection in Europe, they are instead subjected to ongoing fear, stress, and episodes of further violence, including sexual violence.”
Two people in a canoe paddle through a street that was flooded by Hurricane Florence on 16 September 2018, north of New Bern, North Carolina. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock
Iva Williamson, 4, peers behind her as she joins neighbors and pets in fleeing rising flood waters from Hurricane Florence, on 16 September 2018, in Leland, North Carolina. Photo: Jonathan Drake / Reuters
WILMINGTON, North Carolina (CNN) – Even as Florence leaves the Carolinas, the floodwaters and death toll keep rising.
The storm once known as Hurricane Florence has killed 20 people, trapped hundreds more and cut off an entire city. But forecasters say the worst flooding is yet to come.
“This is a monumental disaster for our state,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday. “This is an epic storm that is still continuing because the rivers are still rising.”
Before-and-after aerial view of the southernmost portions of Anderson Boulevard, the main thoroughfare of Topsail Beach in North Carolina, in 2014 (left) and on 19 September 2018 (right). Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence still cover parts of Anderson Boulevard with dark standing water. Ocean Boulevard, one of the side streets, is completely covered with sand. Photo: NOAA / CNN
19 September 2018 (CNN) – Aerial images captured the destruction Hurricane Florence inflicted on the North Carolina coastline, from lines of houses shorn of their shingles to sand-covered streets.
The pictures were shot by planes outfitted with cameras taking “high-definition aerial photos” and collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The photos are vital to assessing damage and organizing the assistance that’s needed.
The latest post-Hurricane Florence photos were taken Tuesday; NOAA told CNN that the pre-Florence photos were taken in 2014.
Donald Trump participates in a tour of areas damaged by Hurricane Florence in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., 19 September 2018. Seeing a boat beached in a resident’s back yard, he said, ‘At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.’ Photo: Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS
20 September 2018 (The Washington Post) – President Trump, clearly, has an eye for luxury — even in the most unexpected circumstances.
Walking along River Drive in New Bern, N.C., a low-lying neighborhood that was pummeled by a one-two punch of Hurricane Florence and post-storm flooding, Trump greeted residents and surveyed the devastation, according to a Wednesday pool report account.
Then he saw the yacht.
It was beached in a resident’s back yard.
A house is surrounded by floodwaters from Hurricane Florence in Lumberton, N.C., Monday, 17 September 2018. Photo: Gerald Herbert / AP Photo
20 September 2018 (Weather Underground) – Almost three weeks since it was first classified by the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Depression Florence is spreading heavy rain and flood risk toward the Northeast U.S., and its aftermath is still plaguing the Carolinas. Florence, which is being tracked by the NOAA/NWS Weather Prediction Center (WPC), was centered on Monday morning near the Ohio/Kentucky/West Virginia intersection, heading northeast at 15 mph. Winds are no longer a major problem with Florence, as top sustained winds are just 25 mph, but rains are still a big concern, mainly well to the northeast and east of Florence’s center.
Widespread 2” – 4” rains, with pockets up to 6”, will envelop much of the interior mid-Atlantic on Monday and southern New England on Tuesday. WPC has a moderate risk of flash-flood-producing rains for Monday along a swath from northwest Virginia to south-central New York, with a slight-risk area encompassing most of the interior mid-Atlantic. The main threat north of the Carolinas is for flash flooding, although moderate river flooding was already occurring along the South River at Waynesboro and is expected by Wednesday along the Potomac at Edwards Ferry.
Before they can even start on recovering from Florence, folks in the hardest-hit parts of southern North Carolina and adjacent South Carolina have days of river flooding to contend with. All road transport to the region’s largest city, Wilmington, was cut off by floodwaters on Sunday, which prompted officials to explore whether supplies might need to be airlifted to the city’s 120,000 residents. Road access to Wilmington was reopened on Monday, though it may again be lost by Tuesday as river flooding begins to peak, according to the state transportation director and Governor Roy Cooper.
The village of Watch Post, in the Munduruku Amazon Territory, in January 2018. The village has been swallowed by the heavy equipment of hundreds of illegal gold miners (called garimpeiros). What was once a few huts hidden in the Amazon forest now resembles a bombed battlefield. Photo: Fabiano Maisonnave / Climate Home News
20 September 2018 (Foreign Policy) – Warnings about ecological breakdown have become ubiquitous. Over the past few years, major newspapers, including the Guardian and the New York Times, have carried alarming stories on soil depletion, deforestation, and the collapse of fish stocks and insect populations. These crises are being driven by global economic growth, and its accompanying consumption, which is destroying the Earth’s biosphere and blowing past key planetary boundaries that scientists say must be respected to avoid triggering collapse.
Many policymakers have responded by pushing for what has come to be called “green growth.” All we need to do, they argue, is invest in more efficient technology and introduce the right incentives, and we’ll be able to keep growing while simultaneously reducing our impact on the natural world, which is already at an unsustainable level. In technical terms, the goal is to achieve “absolute decoupling” of GDP from the total use of natural resources, according to the U.N. definition.
It sounds like an elegant solution to an otherwise catastrophic problem. There’s just one hitch: New evidence suggests that green growth isn’t the panacea everyone has been hoping for. In fact, it isn’t even possible.
A young activist hides on a tree from police, who is clearing treehouses in the forest ‘Hambacher Forst’ near Dueren, Germany, Thursday, 13 September 2018. Young environmentalists fight against German energy company RWE, who plans clearing and grubbing the old forest for their open-pit lignite mine nearby to continue digging for brown coal. Photo: Martin Meissner / Associated Press
KERPEN, Germany (AP) – German police forcibly removed protesters from tree houses Thursday as they sought to free the way for parts of an ancient forest to be cleared next month for new coal strip mining.
Police were hoisted on platforms by cranes to the up-to 25-meter (80-foot) high tree houses constructed on wooden tripods in the forest’s canopy.
In one case a protester was guided by police off the treehouse onto a platform that had been hoisted up to the same level by a crane, then lowered to the forest floor.
Hundreds of fish were stranded on the roadway along a stretch of I-40 in Pender County near Wallace after floodwaters receded, 24 September 2018. Photo: WXII 12 News / Hearst Television, Inc.
24 September 2018 (WXII 12 News) – Trees and debris aren’t all Hurricane Florence left behind.
Hundreds of fish were stranded on the roadway along a stretch of I-40 in Pender County near Wallace after floodwaters receded.
Firefighters were called in to help clean up the fish.
Satellite view of eyewall replacement in Super Typhoon Trami, 24 September 2018. Photo: Stu Ostro / The Weather Channel
25 September 2018 (Weather Underground) – Storms are being classified and declassified at a snappy pace in the Atlantic, as several weak systems have been fighting off dry air and wind shear. We may yet see one or more of these systems strengthening as the week unfolds—and there is no question about the ferocity of Super Typhoon Trami in the Northwest Pacific. […]
UPDATE: Trami was updated to Category 5 status with the 5 pm EDT Monday advisory from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), with top sustained winds of 160 mph. Trami now qualifies as a super typhoon. Trami bolted to Category 4 strength over the weekend, then took a brief pause to reorganize after an eyewall replacement cycle.
Trami is now restrengthening around its new, larger eye, as it traverses very warm waters (29°C or 84°F) in very low wind shear (less than 10 knots) for the next several days. JTWC predicts that Trami will become a Category 5 equivalent by Monday night local time, and it could stay in the Cat 5 range for a couple of days. Watch for some spectacular satellite imagery of this very well-structured storm.
Aerial view of Kansai International Airport on 4 September 2018, after Typhoon Jebi’s storm surge inundated one runway and flooded Terminal 1. Photo: Kentaro Ikushima / Mainichi Newspaper / AP
21 September 2018 (Weather Underground) – In a stunning demonstration of the destructive potential of typhoon storm surge—and the human propensity to under-engineer infrastructure designed to withstand the worst nature has to offer—Japan’s third busiest airport, Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay, was inundated by Category 2 Typhoon Jebi’s storm surge on 4 September 2018. The surge flooded one runway, closing it for ten days, and damaged electrical facilities in one of the airport’s two terminals, forcing its closure for seventeen days. The airport was fully open today for the first time since the disaster. The last time a typhoon of similar size and strength hit Osaka Bay was in 1961: Typhoon Nancy, which made landfall as a Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds.
According to storm surge expert Dr. Nobuhito Mori of Kyoto University, Jebi brought the highest storm surge on record to Osaka Bay: 2.8 meters (9.2 feet). The peak surge occurred near the time of high tide, bringing a total storm tide of 3.29 meters (10.8 feet), breaking the previous record of 2.93 meters (9.6 feet). A damage survey released on September 21 found that even higher water levels of over 5 meters (16.4 feet) occurred in some portions of Osaka Harbor, when the influence of the waves on top of the surge was included (see Google Earth .kml file here).
Aerial view of illegal gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon, taken between 7 August 2018 and 9 August 2018. The Peruvian Air Force has captured more than 20,000 images that show how the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed. Photo: Center for Amazonian and National Vigilance (CEVAN) of the Peruvian Air Force
Aerial view of illegal gold mining in the Peruvian Amazon, taken between 7 August 2018 and 7 August 2018. The Peruvian Air Force has captured more than 20,000 images that show how the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed. Photo: Center for Amazonian and National Vigilance (CEVAN) of the Peruvian Air Force
25 September 2018 (Mongabay) – Illegal mining is destroying the Amazon. Most people know this, but it is chilling to see the destruction in aerial images that show details of the mining camps, trucks and backhoes operating 24 hours a day. The images also show dredges extracting material from riverbeds, as well as the continuous movement of dozens of people operating them without consequences.
The Peruvian Air Force has given us a look into what is occurring right now at 327 different points in the provinces of Tambopata and Manú, which are in Peru’s Madre de Dios department. Using drones and airplanes, more than 20,000 high-resolution photos and videos of the devastation have been captured.
Monitoring this part of the Amazon took place from 7 August 2018 to 9 August 2018 and was known as “Operation Harpía.” While the Peruvian military captured the images, two police operations were also carried out in real time on the ground near the Madre de Dios River, in the communities of Puerto La Pastora and Tres Islas.
Super Typhoon Trami viewed from the International Space Station, 25 September 2018. Photo: Alexander Gerst
The eye of Super Typhoon Trami viewed from the International Space Station, 25 September 2018. Photo: Alexander Gerst
26 September 2018 (AccuWeather) – Trami remains a powerful typhoon on Wednesday as it slowly meanders toward the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.
The powerful cyclone is currently equal to a Category 3 major hurricane in the Atlantic or East Pacific oceans.
Trami will remain over the open ocean in an ideal environment through at least Thursday, allowing the storm to remain a dangerous and powerful typhoon.
Aerial view of coal byproduct spilling over Sutton cooling lake into the Cape Fear River after flooding from Hurricane Florence. Photo: Duke Energy / Bloomberg
26 September 2018 (Bloomberg) – The breach of a pond used to store coal ash in North Carolina has revived criticism of the Trump administration’s efforts to loosen restrictions on how power plants dispose of the toxic waste.
The Environmental Protection Agency in July relaxed Obama administration requirements that forced companies to keep a closer watch on coal ash disposal sites and their potential groundwater contamination — and signaled further revisions sought by industry are coming.
“The rollbacks by the Trump administration make these kinds of risks more likely and more dangerous,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director for advocacy group Environment America.
This pair of images shows how the flooding from Hurricane Forence has affected water quality in the White Oak River, New River, Adams Creek, and their outflows along the North Carolina coast on 20 September 2018. The natural color image from Landsat 8 reveals how soils, sediments, decaying leaves, pollution, and other debris have discolored the water in the swollen rivers, bays, estuaries, and the nearshore ocean. The second image combines visible and infrared data from Landsat to reveal the amount of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in those waterways. Photo: Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory
30 September 2018 (NASA) – The National Weather Service office in Raleigh offered a preliminary estimate that nearly 8 trillion gallons of rain fell on North Carolina from 13 to 17 September 2018. That led to catastrophic flooding across many parts of the state.
Before and after Hurricane Florence swept through the Carolinas, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite observed several residential areas and major rivers. The image pair above shows the Trent River on 14 July 2017, and September 19, 2018. These false-color images use a combination of visible and infrared light (OLI bands 6-5-4) to make it easier to distinguish between flood waters and land.
The Trent River reached an all-time high of 29 feet (8.8 meters) on 17 September 2018, more than twice the flood stage (the height at which the river will overflow and cause damage). Water levels decreased to 24 feet (7.3 meters) by September 20, but many homes, public buildings, and roads leading to the town of Trenton are full of standing water.
The relatively recent changes to Venezuela’s Humboldt Glacier are evident in this image pair, acquired on 20 January 1988, with the Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5 (left) and on 6 January 2015 with OLI (right). The images are false-color to better differentiate between areas of snow and ice (blue), land (brown), and vegetation (green). According to Braun, the glacier in 1988 spanned about 0.6 square kilometers. By 2015 its area dropped to less than 0.1 square kilometers. Photo: Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory
30 September 2018 (NASA) – The retreat of Humboldt Glacier—Venezuela’s last patch of perennial ice—means that the country could soon be glacier-free. We featured the glacier in August 2018 as an Image of the Day showing how it changed between 1988 and 2015.
Satellite images can tell you a lot about a glacier, but direct measurements by people on the ground provide a unique, important perspective, especially for glaciers as small as Humboldt. Carsten Braun, a scientist at Westfield State University, last surveyed the glacier in 2015. He talked about what it was like to stand on Venezuela’s last glacier. […]
I was definitely considering the impacts of losing this glacier. It has little “practical use” today, as it is so small and pretty much irrelevant for water supply. Its disappearance would not impact water resources much, if at all. That’s much in contrast with countries like Peru and Bolivia, where glacier recession already creates huge problems for water resources, hydro-power, etc.
A dead minke whale washed up in Rye, NH, on 17 September 2018. Photo: Jennifer Goebel / The Boston Globe
30 September 2018 (The Boston Globe) – At least four whales, including one that washed up in New Hampshire on Monday, have been reported dead around the Northeast since 9 September 2018, adding to the unusual mortality event that researchers say is affecting several whale species.
“We’re definitely seeing more whale mortalities than we have in the past and it’s definitely concerning,” Jennifer Goebel, a spokeswoman for NOAA Fisheries, said.
A juvenile humpback whale was found washed up in Cohasset on 9 September 2018. Officials from NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Coast Guard decided to have it towed off shore on Friday, Goebel said.
Satellite view of simultaneous Category 5 storms in the Pacific Ocean: Super Typhoon Kong-rey (left) and Hurricane Walaka (right) roil the Pacific Ocean at 10 pm EDT on 1 October 2018. Photo: NOAA / RAMMB
2 October 2018 (Weather Underground) – In a rare display of atmospheric violence, two Category 5 storms simultaneously churned across the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday morning. At 8 pm EDT Monday evening, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center elevated Hurricane Walaka a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds, and just three hours later, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) also put Super Typhoon Kong-Rey at Category 5 strength. Both great storms held on to Category 5 strength through Tuesday morning. As of 11 am EDT Tuesday, both storms had weakened slightly to top-end Category 4 storms with 155 mph winds.
Simultaneous Cat 5s are very rare, and this is the first time in the historical record that Cat 5s have existed simultaneously in the Northwest Pacific and Northeast Pacific. According to Dr. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State and Jasper Deng of Wikipedia, there have been six other instances of simultaneous Category 5 storms, though:
- July 17, 2005: Hurricane Emily in the Atlantic, Super Typhoon Haitang in the Northwest Pacific.
- October 17-19, 1997: Super Typhoons Ivan and Joan in the Northwest Pacific
- January 5-6, 1998: Tropical Cyclones Ron and Susan in the South Pacific
- November 27, 1990: Super Typhoons Owen and Page in the Northwest Pacific
- August 18, 1965: Super Typhoons Lucy and Mary in the Northwest Pacific
- September 11, 1961, three Category 5s simultaneously!: Hurricane Carla in the Atlantic, Super Typhoons Pamela and Nancy in the Northwest Pacific […]
“Not in My Forest” by Calvin Ke, taken in Malaysia in 2018, received a Highly Commended award from the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. He saw this southern pig-tailed macaque clutching a discarded bottle, examining and tasting it before sinking into this expressive pose. Photo: Calvin Ke / CIWEM
This image, “Life in Garbage” by M Yousuf Tushar, of Bangladesh, was one of the shortlisted photographs chosen by judges at the London based charity, which is dedicated to water and environmental management. It shows people trying to eke out a living in a landfill site. Photo: M Yousuf Tushar / CIWEM
“Save Turtle” by Jing Li, taken in Sri Lanka in 2018, shows the moment when his group of divers found a young turtle caught in a net bag when they were searching for whale in Trincomalee. The turtle was flapping its flippers for help and a free-diver rescued it. The image was highly commended by the panel of CIWEM judges Photo: M Yousuf Tushar / CIWEM
24 September 2018 (Daily Mail) – The competition is run annually by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. “Not in My Forest” by Calvin Ke, taken in Malaysia in 2018, received a Highly Commended award. He saw this southern pig-tailed macaque clutching a discarded bottle, examining and tasting it before sinking into this expressive pose.
Satellite view of Hurricane Michael approaching the Florida panhandle on the morning of 10 October 2018. Photo: NOAA
This satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Michael, center, in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, 9 October 2018 at 3:17 p.m. EDT. Photo: NOAA / AP
10 October 2018 (Weather Underground) – Just hours away from an expected Wednesday afternoon landfall, Hurricane Michael became ever stronger and more organized on Tuesday night over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Michael’s high winds, torrential rain, and very large storm surge were pushing briskly toward the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend region just to the east, the areas in line to experience the worst impacts. Update (2 am EDT Wednesday): Michael has been upgraded to Category 4 strength as of 2 am EDT, with top sustained winds of 130 mph. Some additional strengthening is possible before landfall.
Satellite images of Michael’s evolution on Tuesday night were, in a word, jaw-dropping. A massive blister of thunderstorms (convection) erupted and wrapped around the storm’s eye, which has taken taking a surprisingly long time to solidify. A layer of dry air several miles above the surface being pulled into Michael from the west may have been one of the factors that kept Michael from sustaining a classic, fully closed eyewall (see embedded tweet below). A closed eyewall is normally a prerequisite for a hurricane to intensify robustly, but somehow Michael managed to reach Category 3 status without one.
Aerial view of damage from Hurricane Michael is seen in Mexico Beach, Florida. on 11 October 2018. Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Florida Panhandle to reach trapped people in Michael’s wake Thursday as daylight yielded scenes of rows upon rows of houses smashed to pieces by the third-most powerful hurricane on record to hit the continental U.S. Photo: SevereStudios.com / AP
PANAMA CITY, Florida (AP) – The devastation inflicted by Hurricane Michael came into focus Thursday with rows upon rows of homes found smashed to pieces, and rescue crews struggling to make their way into the stricken areas in hopes of accounting for hundreds of people who may have stayed behind.
At least three deaths were blamed on Michael, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in over 50 years, and it wasn’t done yet: Though reduced to a tropical storm, it brought flash flooding to North Carolina and Virginia, soaking areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.
Under a clear blue sky, families living along the Florida Panhandle emerged from shelters and hotels to a perilous landscape of shattered homes and shopping centers, beeping security alarms, wailing sirens and hovering helicopters.
Satellite view of massive destabilization of the Vavilov Ice Cap, in the Russian High Arctic. Glacier acceleration has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015. Landsat imagery by NASA / USGS. Photo: Whyjay Zheng / Cornell University
18 September 2018 (CIRES) – In the last few years, the Vavilov Ice Cap in the Russian High Arctic has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015, according to a new multi-national, multi-institute study led by CIRES Fellow Mike Willis, an assistant professor of Geology at CU Boulder. That dwarfs the ice’s previous average speed of about 2 inches per day and has challenged scientists’ assumptions about the stability of the cold ice caps dotting Earth’s high latitudes.
“In a warming climate, glacier acceleration is becoming more and more common, but the rate of ice loss at Vavilov is extreme and unexpected,” said Mike Willis, CIRES Fellow and lead author of the paper published this week in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
Glaciers and ice caps like Vavilov cover nearly 300,000 square miles of Earth’s surface and hold about a foot of potential sea-level rise. Scientists have never seen such acceleration in this kind of ice cap before, and the authors of the new paper wrote that their finding raises the possibility that other, currently stable ice caps may be more vulnerable than expected.
Aerial view of homes and businesses along US 98 destroyed by Hurricane Michael on 12 October 2018 in Mexico Beach, Florida. Photo: Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images
12 October 2018 (Weather Underground) – As Hurricane Michael sped northward on 9 October 2018 toward a catastrophic landfall on Florida’s Panhandle, the mighty hurricane put on an phenomenal display of rapid intensification. Michael’s winds increased by 45 mph in the final 24 hours before landfall, taking it from a Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds to an extremely dangerous high-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds. It was a disturbing déjà vu of what had happened just one year earlier. On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey rapidly intensified by 40 mph in the 24 hours before landfall, from a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds to a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds.
In a 2016 paper, “Will Global Warming Make Hurricane Forecasting More Difficult?” (available here from the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society), MIT hurricane scientist Kerry Emanuel explained that not only will global warming make the strongest hurricanes stronger, it will also increase how fast they intensify. Troublingly, intensification rates don’t increase linearly as the intensity of a storm increases–they increase by the square power of the intensity. Thus, we can expect future hurricanes to intensify at unprecedented rates, and the ones that happen to perform their rapid intensification just before landfall will be extremely dangerous.
A sea turtle killed by a red tide outbreak in Southwest Florida, 2 August 2018, Sanibel Island, Florida. Photo: Andrew West / The News Press / USA TODAY Network
MIAMI BEACH, Florida (Associated Press) – Hurricane Michael failed to break up a patchy and toxic algae bloom that has lingered in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s shoreline for the last year, experts said Monday, meaning the red tide outbreak could continue to cause problems in the weeks ahead.
Hurricanes can break up algae blooms, but they also drop fresh water and increase nutrient-rich runoff from land, which can make them worse, said Robert Weisberg, a professor of physical oceanography at the University of South Florida.
Michael blew red tide at the water’s surface into shore, but deep ocean currents that have been feeding the bloom since the summer also have persisted, he said.
A caravan of some 3000 migrants heads toward the United States fleeing violence Honduras. In this photo, the caravan in Esquipulas, Guatemala, 16 October 2018. Photo: Moises Castillo / Associated Press
Guatemalan police officers watch as Honduran migrants, part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S., arrive in Esquipulas city in Guatemala, 15 October 2018. Photo: Jorge Cabrera / REUTERS
16 October 2018 (The Washington Post) – President Trump on Tuesday offered a fresh threat to cut off aid to Honduras if a large caravan of migrants continues heading toward the United States.
“The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!” Trump said on Twitter.
The group has swollen in size since leaving San Pedro Sula, one of the world’s most dangerous cities, on Friday. Its travels were prominently covered Tuesday morning on “Fox & Friends,” a program that Trump regularly views. According to the Fox News report, the number of people in the caravan doubled in recent days to 3,000.
A man rescues a drowning man from a flooded area on the outskirts of Kochi, India, on 16 August 2018. Photo: Sivaram V. / Reuters
17 October 2018 (The Guardian) – In response to Monday’s release of the IPCC report on the climate crisis – which warned that “unprecedented” changes were needed if global warming increases 1.5C beyond the pre-industrial period – a standup comic I know posted this plaintive request on her Facebook: “Damn this latest report about climate change is just terrifying. People that know a lot about this stuff, is there anything to be potentially optimistic about? I think this week I feel even worse than Nov 2016 and I’m really trying to find some hope here.”
A bunch of her friends posted variations on “we’re doomed” and “it’s hopeless”, which perhaps made them feel that they were in charge of one thing in this overwhelming situation, the facts. They weren’t, of course. They were letting understandable grief at the news morph into an assumption that they know just how the future is going to turn out. They don’t.
The future hasn’t already been decided. That is, climate change is an inescapable present and future reality, but the point of the IPCC report is that there is still a chance to seize the best-case scenario rather than surrender to the worst. Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a gulag for his work with Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, recalls his mentor saying: “They want us to believe there’s no chance of success. But whether or not there’s hope for change is not the question. If you want to be a free person, you don’t stand up for human rights because it will work, but because it is right. We must continue living as decent people.” Right now living as decent people means every one of us with resources taking serious climate action, or stepping up what we’re already doing.
A caravan of migrants fleeing Honduras approaches the Mexico-Guatemala border amidst a surge in border crossings on the U.S.-Mexico border, 17 October 2018. The caravan has grown to 4,000 people along the way. Photo: Orlando Estrada / NBC News
WASHINGTON (NBC News) – A caravan of migrants fleeing Honduras has grown to 4,000 and the Mexican government has sent an additional 500 federal police to its border with Guatemala in anticipation of their arrival, according to U.S. government documents obtained by NBC News.
Part of the caravan, which has split into two groups, is now approaching the Mexico-Guatemala border amidst a surge in border crossings on the U.S.-Mexico border.
In September, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 41,400 illegal immigrants, up from 37,544 in August, according to numbers not yet released publicly but obtained by NBC News. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the numbers of families and children traveling on their own surged to record levels in September.
Most of the roof has been torn from an airplane hangar, and debris litters Tyndall Air Force Base, severely damaged after Hurricane Michael, on Wednesday, 17 October 2018. Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images
Robert Hill surveys the damage within his living room on Wednesday, 17 October 2018 at Tyndall Air Force Base, after Hurricane Michael hit the base last week. Support personnel from Tyndall and other bases were on location to support Airmen returning to their homes to assess damage and collect personal belongings. Photo: Kelly Walker / U.S. Air Force
20 October 2018 (NPR) – Swimming in St. Andrew Bay was the first thing Jillian Arrowood wanted to do when she moved into her new home on Tyndall Air Force base on 8 October 2018. She and her two daughters had just joined her husband William, her son, and her father-in-law, an Army retiree who had recently had a stroke, in their new home by the water.
Her 12-year old daughter didn’t have a bathing suit, but was so excited that she jumped in the water with her clothes on. It felt like a perfect day: 85 degrees, sunny, and slightly breezy. There was no indication of the bad weather that was headed their way.
Just as the sun was setting, a nearby airman who had been fishing told them that Tyndall received evacuation orders. Less than six hours after Jillian and her daughters arrived on base, the Arrowood family was packing up to leave, and haven’t been back since.
The NOAA20 satellite captured the moment the eye of Super Typhoon Yutu passed directly over Tinian Island, one of three main islands of the Northern Mariana Islands and a U.S. commonwealth, on 24 October 2018. Photo: NOAA
25 October 2018 (NPR) – A massive typhoon slammed into a U.S. territory in the west Pacific, lashing the Northern Mariana Islands with gusts of Category 5 intensity Wednesday night local time. Super Typhoon Yutu brought to bear maximum sustained winds of about 180 mph — much more powerful, in other words, than the historically powerful storm that hit Florida two weeks ago.
The islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota remain under typhoon warnings from the National Weather Service, while Guam and several smaller islands have been placed under a tropical storm warning. And the NWS expects typhoon conditions to continue through late Thursday morning local time. […]
Meteorologists described the storm as not only “Earth’s strongest storm of 2018″ but also “one of the most intense hurricane strikes on record for the United States and its territories.” The more than 50,000 people who live in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands faced a storm surge of up to 20 feet and rainfall of up to 10 inches in certain areas.
Migrants rest Thursday in Pijijiapan, Mexico, where the caravan has met with an outpouring of help from residents, 26 October 2018. Photo: Rebecca Blackwell / AP
Central American migrants rest on the steps of a Catholic church in Pijijiapan, in southern Mexico, as a thousands-strong caravan that is slowly making its way toward the U.S. border stops for the night Thursday, 25 October 2018. Photo: Rebecca Blackwell / AP
PIJIJIAPAN, Mexico – Everything Pedro Osmin Ulloa was wearing, from the black felt shoes with the gold buckles to the shimmery blue button-down, was as new to him as he was to Mexico.
The 30-year-old Honduran corn farmer and dogged sojourner in the migrant caravan was dressed head-to-toe in donated clothes. His 3-year-old son, Alexander, played with donated toys. And the rest of the family — his wife, his two brothers and a cousin — sat on the sidewalk eating beef stew and tortillas ladled out for them by residents of this bustling market town in Mexico’s southern Chiapas state.
“These people have been beautiful,” he said. “Everyone’s helping us out.”
Aerial view of East Island French Frigate Shoals, in May 2018 (above) and in October 2018, after Hurricane Walaka (below). Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife
28 October 2018 (Honolulu Civil Beat) – Hurricane Walaka, one of the most powerful Pacific storms ever recorded, has erased an ecologically important remote northwestern island from the Hawaiian archipelago.
Using satellite imagery, federal scientists confirmed Monday that East Island, a critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles, was almost entirely washed away earlier this month.
“I had a holy shit moment, thinking ‘Oh my God, it’s gone,’” said Chip Fletcher, a University of Hawaii climate scientist. “It’s one more chink in the wall of the network of ecosystem diversity on this planet that is being dismantled.”
In this 15 August 2018 photo, Verne Tom photographs a wildfire burning along a logging road approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Fort St. James. 2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires in B.C. Photo: Darryl Dyck / Canadian Press
28 October 2018 (CBC Radio) – Monika Willner had only five minutes to pack her family’s pets and precious items, before fleeing the wildfire that raged in their backyard.
The fire still haunts her two months later.
“I suffer from bad dreams and nightmares, waking up at night, screaming, seeing the fire,” she said.
Screenshot from drone video showing captive beluga whales and orcas in pens in Srednyaya Bay, near the city of Nakhodka, Primorsky Krai, Russia, posted on 6 November 2018. Photo: Masha Netrebenko
The dorsal fin of a killer whale is visible in a pen in Srednyaya Bay, near the city of Nakhodka, Primorsky Krai, Russia, posted on 30 October 2018. Photo: VL.ru
MOSCOW, 6 November 2018 (CNN) – Russian prosecutors in the far eastern city of Vladivostok are investigating the capture of beluga whales and orcas after reports emerged of marine mammals penned inside what some have dubbed a “whale jail,” Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported Tuesday.
According to local media and the investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, more than 100 whales are being held in pens in Srednyaya Bay, near the city of Nakhodka.
RIA-Novosti, citing the Vladivostok environmental prosecutor’s office, said 11 orcas (or killer whales) and several dozen belugas were being kept in cages.
A vehicle drives through smoke near Pulga, Calif., Sunday, 11 November 2018. Photo: Noah Berger / AP Photo
A satellite image taken 9 November 2018, shows smoke plumes from the Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire in California. Photo: NOAA / AP Photo
WASHINGTON (AP) – Both nature and humans share blame for California’s devastating wildfires, but forest management did not play a major role, despite President Donald Trump’s claims, fire scientists say.
Nature provides the dangerous winds that have whipped the fires, and human-caused climate change over the long haul is killing and drying the shrubs and trees that provide the fuel, experts say.
“Natural factors and human-caused global warming effects fatally collude” in these fires, said wildfire expert Kristen Thornicke of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
Wild tomatoes are growing in the Rhine riverbed in Bonn. In October 2018, one of the longest dry spells on record has left part of the Rhine in Germany at record-low levels for months, forcing freighters to reduce their cargo or stop plying the river altogether. Photo: Gordon Welters / The New York Times
KAUB, Germany, 4 November 2018 (The New York Times) – Just after sunrise, Capt. Frank Sep turned to his ship’s radio for the defining news of his day: the water level in Kaub, the shallowest part of the middle section of the Rhine, Germany’s most important shipping route.
The news was bad, as it so often is these days.
One of the longest dry spells on record has left parts of the Rhine at record-low levels for months, forcing freighters to reduce their cargo or stop plying the river altogether.
Aerial view of an incinerated neighborhood in Paradise, California, on 15 November 2018. Photo: Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images
Three deer walk past a destroyed home on Orrin Lane after the wildfire burned through Paradise, California, on Saturday, 10 November 2018. Photo: AP
16 November 2018 (CBS) – The number of people missing in California’s wildfires has soared to over 600, and the death toll has risen to 66. In the “Camp Fire” in Northern California, 631 people were unaccounted for after officials on Thursday added more than 500 names of people reported missing.
Hundreds of others are living in tent cities with no idea when they’ll be able to return home. Members of the Paradise community held a town hall meeting Thursday night to begin the long road to recovery with many signing up for FEMA relief.
The town suffered some of the worst damage from the “Camp Fire” — the deadliest in the state’s history. In Southern California, evacuation orders have been lifted in Malibu, where firefighters were still working to contain the “Woolsey Fire.”
Colombian migration officers check the identity documents of people trying to enter Colombia from Venezuela, at the Simon Bolivar International bridge in Villa del Rosario, Colombia, 25 August 2018. Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins / REUTERS
GENEVA (Reuters) – Three million Venezuelans have fled economic and political crisis in their homeland, most since 2015, the United Nations said on Thursday.
The exodus, driven by violence, hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicines, amounts to around one in 12 of the population.
It has accelerated in the past six months, said William Spindler of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which appealed for greater international efforts to ease the strain on the country’s neighbors.
A driver forces a car through a group of protesters in Donges, western France, killing one, on 17 November 2018. Photo: Reuters
Tear gas is used to disperse fuel-price protesters in Paris, on 17 November 2018. Photo: EPA
PARIS (The Washington Post) – The French president is under fire again, this time over rising fuel prices.
On Saturday, some 244,000 protesters, many clad in yellow vests, not only took to the streets, but in many places literally took the streets, according to the French Interior Ministry. The ministry said a network of drivers blocked roads at some 2,000 locations across the country, generating traffic backups for miles and causing one death.
A 63-year-old protester was killed in the eastern Savoie region when a driver panicked by demonstrators accidentally accelerated into the crowd, French media reported. In other incidents nationwide, 106 people were reported injured, five seriously.
The San Francisco skyline viewed from Alcatraz, during a clear day (top), and during a smoke storm on 16 November 2018 (bottom). Top and Bottom are the same shot taken a week apart. Photo: marcstokes79 / Instagram
18 November 2018 (The Atlantic) – The particulates in smoke don’t destroy homes. They don’t down trees. But in the case of wildfires, smoke’s impacts—and dangers—can reach hundreds of miles further than the flames themselves. As of Friday evening, the Camp Fire raging in Butte County, north of the San Francisco Bay Area, has a death toll of 71 and has left more than 1,000 people unaccounted for. The fire’s smoke, meanwhile, has been endangering the health of millions of of Northern Californians.
Northern California had some of the worst air quality in the world at the end of this week, with levels of hazardous airborne particulate soaring. With that has come a variety of public-health moves to keep residents safe in the region’s most populated areas. There have been widespread school and university closures. Many businesses have urged employees to work from home. Some public transit in San Francisco has been made free, in an effort to keep people inside as much as possible if they must commute.
In a region whose weather is usually pretty temperate, smoke days have become the Bay Area’s version of snow days. But instead of a joyful respite from work, wildfire smoke mixes a blizzard’s large-scale logistical nightmares with the anxiety of worsening climate change and a class divide that plagues American public health. Three of the five largest fires on record in California have occurred in the past three years, all in the northern part of the state. For the region’s residents, smoke days won’t go away once the Camp Fire is contained.
Trump scowls as he visits visits a neighborhood impacted by wildfires on Saturday, 17 November 2018, in Paradise, California. He denied any connection between global warming and the California wildfires, saying, “I want great climate, we’re going to have that.” Photo: Evan Vucci / AP Photo
In this 9 November 2018 photo, smoke from wildfires fills the air in Malibu, California. Los Angeles County fire Chief Daryl Osby said Saturday that firefighters told him they were working in the toughest, most extreme conditions they had seen in their lives on Friday night. Photo: AP
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on the corner of Buschmann and Clark roads in Paradise, California in July 2012 (above) and after the wildfire in November 2018 (below). Photo: Google Street View / Cal Fire
Aerial view of a forest fire in Kittilä, Finland on 18 July 2018. Photo: Lapin pelastuslaitos
Trump visits a a neighborhood destroyed by the wildfires in Paradise, California, on Saturday, 17 November 2018. From left: Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, California Governor Jerry Brown, Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, Trump, and FEMA Administrator Brock Long. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP Photo
19 November 2018 (Desdemona Despair) – In August 2018, it was “environmental terrorist groups” causing California’s forest fires. Before that, it was water regulations. Now, California just needs to rake its forests and manage them like Finland.
Anything to deny the obvious: global warming is causing California’s megafires.
Throughout 2018, the Trump administration has undertaken a Stalinist program of eliding references to climate change and global warming from official policy documents.
The remains of an Indonesian rain forest that was cleared to make way for oil palms. Photo: Ashley Gilbertson / VII Agency / The New York Times
Members of the Wehea Dayak tribe walking past a palm-oil tanker during an initiation ceremony in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo: Ashley Gilbertson / VII Agency / The New York Times
21 November 2018 (The New York Times) – The fields outside Kotawaringin village in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, looked as if they had just been cleared by armies. None of the old growth remained — only charred stumps poking up from murky, dark pools of water. In places, smoke still curled from land that days ago had been covered with lush jungle. Villagers had burned it all down, clearing the way for a lucrative crop whose cultivation now dominates the entire island: the oil-palm tree.
The dirt road was ruler straight, but deep holes and errant boulders tossed our tiny Toyota back and forth. Trucks coughed out black smoke, their beds brimming over with seven-ton loads of palm fruit rocking back and forth on tires as tall as people. Clear-cut expanses soon gave way to a uniform crop of oil-palm groves: orderly trees, a sign that we had crossed into an industrial palm plantation. Oil-palm trees look like the coconut-palm trees you see on postcards from Florida — they grow to more than 60 feet tall and flourish on the peaty wetland soil common in lowland tropics. But they are significantly more valuable. Every two weeks or so, each tree produces a 50-pound bunch of walnut-size fruit, bursting with a red, viscous oil that is more versatile than almost any other plant-based oil of its kind. Indonesia is rich in timber and coal, but palm oil is its biggest export. Around the world, the oil from its meat and seeds has long been an indispensable ingredient in everything from soap to ice cream. But it has now become a key ingredient of something else: biodiesel, fuel for diesel engines that has been wholly or partly made from vegetable oil.
Finally we emerged, and as we crested a hill, the plantations fell into an endless repetition of tidy bunches stretching for miles, looking almost like the rag of a Berber carpet. Occasionally, a shard of an old ironwood tree shot into the air, a remnant of the primordial canopy of dense rain forest that dominated the land until very recently.
The sun, silhouetted by smoke haze from bushfires, looms over Gladstone, Australia, on 30 November 2018. Photo: Wezley Pitt / ABC
30 November 2018 (Australian Associated Press) – There is no relief in sight for Queensland’s bushfire crisis as extreme heatwave conditions continue to grip the state on the first day of summer.
There have been no lives lost as wildfires raged across central Queensland this week but 110 are still burning around the state.
That number could grow as heat wave spreads to the state’s south east corner in coming days with possible storms with damaging winds.
Greta Thunberg during her Friday, 30 November 2018 climate change protest. Greta, 15, began a solo climate protest by striking from school in Sweden in August 2018. But more than 20,000 students around the world have now joined her. The school strikes have spread to at least 270 towns and cities in countries across the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the U.S., and Japan. Photo: Hanna Franzen / EPA
KATOWICE, Poland – Action to fight global warming is coming whether world leaders like it or not, school student Greta Thunberg has told the UN climate change summit, accusing them of behaving like irresponsible children.
Thunberg began a solo climate protest by striking from school in Sweden in August 2018. But more than 20,000 students around the world have now joined her. The school strikes have spread to at least 270 towns and cities in countries across the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the US, and Japan.
“For 25 years countless people have come to the UN climate conferences begging our world leaders to stop emissions and clearly that has not worked as emissions are continuing to rise. So I will not beg the world leaders to care for our future,” she said. “I will instead let them know change is coming whether they like it or not.”
Aerial view of homes incinerated by the Camp Fire on Valley Ridge Drive in Paradise, California, on 3 December 2018. Photo: Noah Berger / AP Photo
6 December 2018 (CNN) – California’s Camp Fire didn’t just kill dozens of people and destroy thousands of homes. It also left an insurance company in financial ruins, unable to pay millions of dollars to policyholders.
Merced’s assets are about $23 million, but it faced about $64 million in outstanding liabilities just in the city of Paradise, court filings show.
Magazine covers for TIME’s Person of the Year 2018: “The Guardians and the War on Truth”. Clockwise from upper-left: Jamal Khashoggi; the Annapolis, Maryland, staff of the Capital Gazette,; Chit Su Win and Pan Ei Mon hold photos of their husbands, Reuters reporters Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone; Maria Ressa, co-founder of the news site Rappler. Photo: Moises Saman / Magnum / TIME
A Bangladeshi police officer grabs the mouth of photographer Shahidul Alam, preventing him from speaking to the press during a court appearance in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 6 August 2018. Alam was arrested after criticizing the government in an interview. Photo: Suvra Kanti Das / TIME
11 December 2018 (TIME) – The stout man with the gray goatee and the gentle demeanor dared to disagree with his country’s government. He told the world the truth about its brutality toward those who would speak out. And he was murdered for it.
Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on 2 October 2018; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.
But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?
Flames consume the town of Paradise, California. The wildfire killed 86 people. Photo: Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images
PARADISE, California, 20 December 2018 (The Guardian) – William Goggia awoke to a poisonous orange atmosphere so thick with smoke he couldn’t see the sun.
It was 8am on Thursday 8 November. He heard the piercing metallic clang of propane tanks exploding in the distance. His sister, who lived nearby, called to ask him to help a relative in the area, but Goggia told her that he couldn’t: chunks of burning wood were falling from the sky.
Goggia inhabited the same stucco, three-bedroom house he grew up in. Now it was time to leave. By 9am he was on the road, accompanied by his tabby cat, Mikey. But the street was so clogged with people trying to escape that Goggia barely moved. The fire was getting closer. The van was going to burn up with him and the cat inside, he thought. So he turned back around against the traffic.
Aerial view of deforestation in Panama’s portion of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, due to the construction of copper mines and access roads. Photo: CIAM
24 December 2018 (Mongabay) – From the air one can observe the destruction wrought by an open-pit mining project in Cerro Petaquilla and on the ground people talk about its environmental consequences. A security checkpoint and a sign announce that you have reached one of the entrances of the project in the area of Molejón, Coclesito, 180 kilometers from Panama’s capital city.
The deforestation began with the mining of gold by Panamanian company Petaquilla Gold and has continued with copper mining by Minera Panama, a subsidiary of Canadian company First Quantum Minerals.
Petaquilla Gold and Minera Panama are two different companies that share the same goal: the exploitation of metals in that underlay Petaquilla hill. Their activities are governed by a single contract endorsed by the National Assembly (Congress). However, their operations have resulted in the destruction of forest in an area of high regional biodiversity: the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that connects the seven countries of Central America to southern Mexico.
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