Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment
Doctors warn that air pollution caused by wildfires could worsen Covid-19 risk
Smoke from Oregon wildfires
Smoke from Oregon wildfires Credit: Oregon Department of Transportation

Studies conducted in the US, China and Italy have shown that smoke and air pollution could increase susceptibility to viral infections as the smoke irritates lungs, can cause inflammation and affect the immune system.

Now, with wildfires ravaging the Pacific Northwest, doctors warn that the smoke caused by the fires could make people more susceptible to Covid-19.

"Multiple studies have shown a correlation between higher levels of pollution in the air and greater spread and severity of Covid-19 cases," so Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer of the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

Climate & Environment
Half a million people flee Oregon to escape wildfires
Oregon Wildfires, 2018
Oregon Wildfires, 2018 Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:20180811-FS-Rogue-KG-1068_(30465240178).jpg

Over half a million people – or 10+% of the state's population – are fleeing Oregon to escape the wildfires that have been raging across the Pacific Northwest.

Governor Kate Brown (D) told reporters that this most likely wasn't a "one-time event" and that the current situation was a "bellwether for the future" of "acute impacts of climate change." Brown has reported that at least four people have died, including a 12-year-old boy and his grandmother.

Climate & Environment
California wildfires turn Bay Area skies orange
Smoke from the North Complex fire settles over San Francisco, turning the daytime sky a dark orange.
Smoke from the North Complex fire settles over San Francisco, turning the daytime sky a dark orange. Credit: Christopher Michel / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The smoke generated by the wildfires raging across California has turned the Bay Area skies into a deep orange and has caused ash to rain down on San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland on Wednesday morning.

Wildfires are currently devasting large parts of California, Washington and Oregon.

Climate & Environment
Sudan: Ancient pyramids threatened by rising Nile water levels

Due to heavy rains, the Nile water levels have risen, threatening to damage Sudan's 2,300 year old pyramids. The Nile has reached record-breaking levels, already killed around 100 people and destroyed the homes of many. According to archaeologist Marc Maillot sandbag walls have been built and water is being pumped out to protect the pyramids.

Climate & Environment
Forest fires in California trap over 1.000 people
Forest fires in California trap over 1.000 people
Credit: EeeksterRichard E. Ellis (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Local media has reported that at a campground in a Sierra Nevada National Park that about 1000 people were cut off from the surrounding area. The only access road was impassable due to a forest fire. Firefighters and rescue planes tried to gain access to the area. The campers threatened by the flames were instructed to take refuge in the water of the Mammoth Pool Reservoir, reported "The Fresno Bee", citing a spokesman for the national park.

Climate & Environment
Two typhoons heading towards Korean Peninsula
Super Typhoon Maysak 2020, Okinawa (31Aug 0000Z - 1Sep 0600Z)
Super Typhoon Maysak 2020, Okinawa (31Aug 0000Z - 1Sep 0600Z) Credit: Tropical Cyclone Radar Loops by Brian McNoldy, Univ. of Miami, Rosenstiel School

Typhoon Maysak is projected to make landfall on the southern Korean Peninsula on Wednesday night. Maysak is currently a category 4 hurricane but should weaken to a category 2. Heavy rain and strong storms are expected for Wednesday and Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Haishen will most likely turn into a typhoon in the next 24 hours and strike parts of Japan over the weekend.

The Korean Peninsula is experiencing the wettest monsoon season in recent history and countries are preparing for the storms.

Climate & Environment
USA: At least six people killed by Hurricane Laura, 1.5 million are fleeing
USA: At least six people killed by Hurricane Laura, 1.5 million are fleeing
Credit: National Hurricane Center

Following the passage of Hurricane Laura, the number of fatalities in the southern United States rose to at least six. Four of them were killed by fallen trees, the governor of the state of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, announced on Thursday. Edwards expressed fears that more casualties may be found during the search and rescue operations. Overall, however, the governor was relieved that the storm had hit his state less badly than feared.

"We have a lot to be grateful for," Edwards said in a press conference. The damage caused by Laura had not reached the "absolutely catastrophic" extent that had been expected based on the meteorologists' forecasts. Nevertheless, the damage was considerable. Thousands of Louisiana residents are affected.

Climate & Environment
Norwegian study shows black turbine blades reduced bird mortality by 72%
Smøla Wind Farm
Smøla Wind Farm Credit: Statkraft (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

A study led by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research observed a reduction of 71.9% of bird deaths from turbine collisions if one of the three blades was painted black. The study was conducted at the Smøla wind farm, along the West Norwegian coast.

Bård Stokke, one of the study's lead authors, stated: "Our hope is therefore that these measures, given their positive effects on birds and the fact that they are relatively simple and low cost, will be used in future wind energy developments both in Norway and abroad."

Climate & Environment
28 trillion tonnes of ice disappeared in the last 30 years, scientists find
Easton Glacier on Mount Baker in the North Cascades of Washington taken in 2003. It shows the terminus position of the glacier in 1985 as well.
Easton Glacier on Mount Baker in the North Cascades of Washington taken in 2003. It shows the terminus position of the glacier in 1985 as well. Credit: Mauri Pelto (talk · contribs) / Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Scientists from universities in Leeds, Edinburg and London have analysed satellite images of the Earth's globes, glaciers and mountains and found that around 28 trillion tonnes of ice have disappeared since 1994. The "staggering" loss is due to rising greenhouse gas emission and global heating.

"In the past researchers have studied individual areas – such as the Antarctic or Greenland – where ice is melting. But this is the first time anyone has looked at all the ice that is disappearing from the entire planet. What we have found has stunned us," so Professor Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.

Their research further warns that sea levels could rise by a metre by the end of the century and the melting could reduce our planet's ability to reflect solar radiation back into space.

"To put that in context, every centimetre of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands," so Shepherd.

Climate & Environment
California fires spread, over 119,000 are forced to evacuate
California fires spread, over 119,000 are forced to evacuate
Credit: unsplash.com/Joanne Francis

As the wildfires in California keep spreading, over 119,000 people have been forced to leave their homes. So far, the fires have torched over 900,000 acres of land as 12,000 firefighters fight to control the blazes. The National Weather Service’s Bay Area office has issued a warning that, with more dry thunderstorms expected over the weekend, more fires could be caused in already affected areas by lightning and wind.

Climate & Environment
Californian suffers from shortage of firefighters due to Covid-19 lockdown at prison camps
Californian suffers from shortage of firefighters due to Covid-19 lockdown at prison camps
Credit: unsplash.com / Tom Blackout

According to prison officials, 12 of California's 43 inmate fire camps have been placed on lockdown. As a result, only 30 of 77 inmate crews are available to assist in combating the wildfires.

A spokeswoman for Cal Fire, Battalion Chief Amy Head, has stated that "we’re doing our best to plan ahead" adding: “Thankfully, we haven’t had anything too big to deal with yet".

Climate & Environment
Over two dozens wildfires in California - multiple dead, thousands on the run
Over two dozens wildfires in California - multiple dead, thousands on the run
Credit: unsplash.com / Joanne Francis

The residents of the three affected counties of Napa County, Lake County and Sonoma County have been called on by authorities to leave their homes as multiple wildfires are rapidly spreading and threatening 30,000 homes.

At least four people have died and 550 homes have been destroyed. Over 10,000 firefighters across California have been deployed.

Climate & Environment
Three Gorges Dam in China nears maximum, already 20 meters higher than warning level
Three Gorges Dam in 2019
Three Gorges Dam in 2019 Credit: 維基小霸王 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

After rainfalls in the Yangtze basin that are over double the average per season, the Three Georges Dam has reached a 165,6 meters water level, 20 meters above the official warning levels, and two meters up overnight.

The current discharge volume has been set to 48,800 cubic meters per second on Thursday in an attempt to lower water levels. The dam is designed to a maximum water level of 175 meters.

Desiree Tullos, a professor at Oregon State University has stated that "an overtopping dam is a worst-case scenario because it produces significant damage and can lead to the entire thing collapsing" adding that the authorities "will do everything they can to prevent the dam from overtopping".

Climate & Environment
Climate activists state that "We don't have leaders who are treating this crisis as a crisis" after meeting Angela Merkel

The climate activists Greta Thunberg from Sweden, Anuna de Wever and Adélaïde Charliér from Belgium and Lisa Neubauer from Germany have met the German chancellor Angela Merkel for a 90-minute conversation.

According to Neubauer, they talked about international politics, CO2 pricing and trade agreements. She stated that "it became very clear that we are looking at the issue from different perspectives" and Thunberg said that "we have discussed some demands, but it is complicated".

De Wever stated that during the conversation there main request had been that "what we want are leaders" as "we don't have leaders who are treating this crisis as a crisis".

Climate & Environment
Study: ice loss in Greenland is irreversible
Study:  ice loss in Greenland is irreversible
Credit: Brocken Inaglory (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

According to a study by scientists from Ohio State University based on satellite observations from the past nearly 40 years Greenland's glaciers have shrunk to such an extent that even a theoretical halt to climate change could no longer save the island's ice cover in the Arctic Ocean.

"We looked at this satellite data to investigate how ice loss and growth have changed over time," said Michalea King, lead author of the study and a scientist at Ohio State University's Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. "We found that the ice that disappears into the ocean far outweighs the snow on the surface of the ice sheet in terms of mass."

Before 2000, the ice sheet had about the same chance of gaining or losing mass each year, the researchers say. Under current climate conditions, however, the ice sheet could statistically increase in mass in only one in 100 years.

Ian Howat, co-author of the study says that "even if the climate were to remain the same or even get slightly colder, the ice sheet would still lose mass".

Climate & Environment
Mauritius arrests captain of Japanese ship over oil spill
MV Wakashio
MV Wakashio Credit: Nagashiki Shipping

The authorities of Mauritius arrested Tuesday, the captain of the Japanese vessel MV Wakashio. The ship struck the coral reef off the Indian Ocean island nation on July 25 and caused a massive oil spill.

Inspector Siva Coothen told Reuters: "We have arrested the captain of the vessel and another member of the crew. After having been heard by the court they have been denied bail and are still in detention."

Climate & Environment
French fishing federation alleges Nestlé to be responsible for thousands of dead fish in French river
French fishing federation alleges Nestlé to be responsible for thousands of dead fish in French river
Credit: Fédération de pêche des Ardennes via Facebook

Thousands of dead fish have been found in the river Aisne in France. The Ardennes fishing federation posted on Facebook that on the third day of collecting dead fish they have removed one tonne in fish weight from the river. In total three tonnes of dead fish have reportedly removed.

Michel Adam the president of the Ardennes fishing federation has stated that they "have lodged a complaint against Nestlé France for pollution and violation of article 432.2 of the environmental code". The local prefecture has stated that the fish have died due to a decrease in the water's oxygen levels.

The Challerange Nestlé has confirmed that they've been responsible for an "occasional and involuntary overflow of biological sludge effluent, without the presence of chemicals". They also stated that the production of powdered milk in the factory has been stopped as soon as reports have gotten in.

Climate & Environment
Mount Sinabung Volcano in Indonesia erupts
Mount Sinabung Volcano in Indonesia erupts
Credit: Screenshot YouTube

Located on Sumatra Island, the Mount Sinabung volcano has erupted in Indonesia on Sunday with a second eruption on Monday.

Indian authorities have stated that the ashes from the volcano have reached multiple miles high and pose a risk of poisoning for the nearby population.

The volcano has erupted multiple times since last year before it had been inactive for 400 years. No injuries or fatalities caused by the last eruption have been reported.

Climate & Environment
Mauritius: Satellite image show ship spilling fuel; environmental emergency declared
MV Wakashio
MV Wakashio Credit: Nagashiki Shipping

The Japanese vessel MV Wakashio ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius on July 25th. It was reportedly carrying 4000 tons of fuel. New satellite images from Friday show dark oil spreading in the turquoise waters, near an area that is "very sensitive" according to the Mauritian.

The coasts wildlife has been brought from the island Ile aux Aigrettes to the mainland to avoid contact with the oil. Greenpeace reports that "thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d'Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius' economy, food security and health." The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is asking why authorities haven't acted earlier. Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has asked France for help because Mauritius "doesn't have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships."

The weather has made work on the ship nearly impossible. Jugnauth worries "hat could happen Sunday when the weather deteriorates" and the oil pushes to the mainland's shore.

Volunteers have started building makeshift barriers.

Climate & Environment
Iraq experiences hottest day in recorded history at 51,8°C
Tahrir square in Baghdad, Iraq
Tahrir square in Baghdad, Iraq Credit: Aziz1005 (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

With the previously hottest recorded temperature in Baghdad in June 2015 being 51°C, the country has now reported 51,8°C on Tuesday, and 51,1°C on Wednesday.

In other countries of the Middle East such as Lebanon temperature records of 45,4°C have been documented. The capital of Syria, Damascus has recorded 46°C - tying with the hottest previously recorded temperature.

Climate & Environment
New NASA satellite images reveal disappearance of St. Patrick Bay ice caps
Satellite images of the location of the St. Patrick Bay ice caps. Left was taken on August 2015, right on July 2020.
Satellite images of the location of the St. Patrick Bay ice caps. Left was taken on August 2015, right on July 2020. Credit: NSIDC (Reproduction)

Recent NASA satellite images show the disappearance of two Canadian ice caps, known as St. Patrick Bay ice caps, northeast of Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. A 2017 published paper by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) had predicted the melting of the ice caps within five years. Current images show the ice caps have completely vanished.

"When I first visited those ice caps, they seemed like such a permanent fixture of the landscape," Mark Serreze, the director of the NSIDC, said in a statement. "We’ve long known that as climate change takes hold, the effects would be especially pronounced in the Arctic. But the death of those two little caps that I once knew so well has made climate change very personal. All that’s left are some photographs and a lot of memories."

Climate & Environment
Hurricane Hanna makes landfall in South Texas, causes flooding and power outages
National Hurricane Center's 5-day track and intensity forecast cone of Atlantic AL072020 Tropical Depression Eight.
National Hurricane Center's 5-day track and intensity forecast cone of Atlantic AL072020 Tropical Depression Eight. Credit: National Hurricane Center / Public domain

Hurricane Hanna has made landfall in South Texas and Northeastern Mexico and left over 280,000 without power in Texas on Sunday morning. Flash flood emergencies have been declared in Mission and Hidalgo County.

Meteorologist Chris Birchfield warns that the hurricane is far from over and that they were "still expecting catastrophic flooding."

"Any hurricane is an enormous challenge," Texas Governor Abbott said on Saturday. "This challenge is complicated and made even more severe, seeing that it is sweeping through an area that is the most challenged area in the state for Covid-19."

Climate & Environment
Australia: Sydney switches to 100% renewable electricity
Australia: Sydney switches to 100% renewable electricity
Credit: Azri (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The city of Sydney has announced that it has begun switching 100% of the electricity for the city to energy from renewable sources. According to the official announcement on the cities website they struck a deal to purchase energy from three different generators in New South Wales that is equivalent to 100% of the city's usage. The electricity comes in 3/4 from wind generation and 1/4 from solar generation and will be added to the electricity grid of the city.

Since the 1st of July, the city has started getting electricity from these generators with the aim of completing the switch to getting 100% of the cities electricity from these sources in 2021.

Climate & Environment
Portugal adjusts plans to end energy from coal by 2021
Portugal adjusts plans to end energy from coal by 2021
Credit: Paulo Valdivieso from Lisboa, Portugal / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

According to the energy company EDP its Sines coal power plant will be shut down in 2021, accelerating the original 2023 shutdown plans. This will make Portugal the third country in the European Union to end the energy production from coal-fired power plants.

EDP has stated that they are "now evaluating the development of a green hydrogen production project in Sines" and are "committed to fulfill all labor obligations towards the 107 workers at the plant".

Climate & Environment
Prime Minister of Canada announces ban of single-use plastic by 2021
Prime Minister of Canada announces ban of single-use plastic by 2021
Credit: unsplash.com / Jasmin Sessler

The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will ban single-use plastic "such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks" in 2021 "and take other steps to reduce pollution from plastic products and packaging".

In a press release, the Government states that less than 10 percent of the plastic in Canada gets recycled and that by reducing plastic waste a reduction of "1.8 million tonnes of carbon pollution" could be achieved, as well as the creation of assumed 42,000 jobs and "billions of dollars in revenue" as a result of investments in new and innovative technologies.

Climate & Environment
Over two million Indians have planted 250 million trees while socially distancing
Farm Fields of Munnar, India
Farm Fields of Munnar, India Credit: unsplash.com / Ravi Pinisetti

In order to work against climate change over two million people have gathered in northern India to plant 250 million trees. The government has initiated the project and officials in Uttar Pradesh have provided the saplings across the state.

According to Associated Press the volunteers, lawmakers and government officials that participated maintained social distance as the Covid-19 pandemic is still going on with India the country with the fourth most infections in the world.

Climate & Environment
Greenpeace puts a banner on Notre-Dame de Paris to denounce Emmanuel Macron's climate inaction
Greenpeace puts a banner on Notre-Dame de Paris to denounce Emmanuel Macron's climate inaction
Credit: Greenpeace France (Twitter Reproduction)

Some Greenpeace members climbed to a crane involved in the cathedral rebuilding and deployed a banner urging France president to turn talk into action regarding climate change.

Climate & Environment
Japan implements mandatory fee for plastic bags
Japan implements mandatory fee for plastic bags
Credit: unsplash.com / Brian Yurasits

The Japanese government has implemented a mandatory rule for all retail outlets to charge costumers for plastic bags. The previously free plastic bags will now only be handed out for a fee.

The goal is to reduce plastic waste as the bags often end up in oceans and decompose there into microplastics which enter the food chain.

Climate & Environment
Ocean Voyages Institute removes 103 tons of fishing nets and consumer plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Plastic fished out of the ocean on a ship
Plastic fished out of the ocean on a ship Credit: Ocean Voyages Institute

The Ocean Voyages Institute has more than doubled their previous record during the 48-day expedition and removed 103 tons of finish nets and consumer plastic from the ocean before returning to Honolulu, Hawaii. The executive director and founder of the group, Mark Crowley has stated that he is "so proud of our hard working crew" and that they exceeded their "goal of capturing more than 100 tons of toxic consumer plastics and derelict ‘ghost’ nets—and in these challenging times, we are continuing to help restore the health of our ocean, which influences our own health and the health of the planet".

Climate & Environment
Higher-than-usual radioactivity detected near Baltic Sea, origin and source unknown
22 /23 June 2020, RN #IMS station SEP63 #Sweden🇸🇪 detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health). The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map.
22 /23 June 2020, RN #IMS station SEP63 #Sweden🇸🇪 detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health). The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map. Credit: @SinaZerbo (Lassino Zerbo), via Twitter

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization has detected slightly increased levels of isotopes produced by nuclear fission near the Baltic Sea. The CTBTO is a network of hundreds of monitoring stations checking for nuclear weapon tests worldwide but is also able to identify other nuclear activities. One CTBTO station detected higher-than-usual levels of the radionuclides caesium-134, caesium-137 and ruthenium-103 earlier this week that are "certainly nuclear fission products, most likely from a civil source," but "it’s outside the CTBTO’s mandate to identify the exact origin," so a spokesperson of the Vienna-based CTBTO.

Nuclear fission products are atomic fragments that are left after an atom is split into two or more smaller nuclei and are radioactive.