Environment

More Locusts

Fresh swarms of desert locusts are ravaging crops from East Africa to India, threatening food shortages at the same time as the coronavirus pandemic.

Heavy rains from last year’s unprecedented tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea created excellent conditions for the pests to breed and spread.

The ravenous insects have arrived in Pakistan and parts of India just before the monsoon season will allow farmers to plant rice, cane, corn and cotton. Experts say these summer crops will quickly be devoured if the worst infestations in decades are not eradicated soon.

Environment

Pollen Clouds

Vast sheets of pollen have blown across parts of the European landscape this spring, triggering allergy problems for those already suffering from the COVID-19 health crisis.

Images on social media and television have shown layers of yellow pollen reducing visibility in Spain, and Switzerland’s Lake Geneva ringed with yellow from the pollen that had fallen on the water and collected along the shoreline.

Strong winds blowing over vast tracts of olive orchards and other crops that stretch across southern Spain carried the pollen for long distances.

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Amazonian Deforestation

Satellite observations by Brazil’s space agency, INPE, confirm that deforestation in the Amazon rainforest rose sharply as the coronavirus crisis deepened in the country during April.

The health emergency has prevented many officials in charge of preventing the practice from being in the field to thwart illegal logging and land clearing. INPE says that losses in Brazil’s portion of the Amazon soared by 64% during the month, with 465 square miles lost.

Despite supporting policies that have encouraged farmers, ranchers and loggers to clear Amazon land to help the economy, President Jair Bolsonaro has authorized the deployment of the armed forces to deter the practices.

Global Warming

Global warming to push billions outside climate range that has sustained society for 6,000 years

Just like insects, birds and animals, humans have a particular climate niche, scientists have found, with 6,000 years of human history demonstrating how society thrives when we stay within it and the turbulence that ensues when it is pushed out of this zone.

In a stark new finding about the planet’s rapidly warming climate, a study finds that for every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) of global average warming, 1 billion people will have to adapt or migrate to stay within climate conditions that are best suited for crop production, livestock and a sustainable outdoor work environment.

They found that people, crops and livestock have heavily concentrated in a narrow band of relatively constrained climate conditions. This range, referred to in the study as the human “climate niche,” has remained largely unchanged since 6,000 years ago.

Projecting into the future using a scenario with high emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the researchers found that the position of the human climate niche is projected to change more in the next 50 years than it has during the past 6,000. Such a shift would leave 1 billion to 3 billion people outside the climate conditions that have nurtured human society to date.

Global warming fuels algal bloom in Arabian Sea

A study published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports reveals that global warming is fuelling a destructive algal bloom that is disrupting fisheries in the Arabian Sea.

Cold winter monsoon winds blowing from the Himalayas usually cool the Arabian Sea’s surface, which results in the cold waters sinking and being replaced by nutrient-rich waters below. This process, called convective mixing, allows marine algae called phytoplankton, which provides food for a wide range of sea creatures, to flourish from the nutrient-rich waters lit by the sun.

However, melting glaciers over the Himalyan-Tibetan Plateau region have made the winds blowing to the oceans surface warmer and moister, decreasing convective mixing. This change hurts the phytoplankton, but not the Noctiluca because unlike the phytoplankton, it doesn’t need sunlight.

The ability of Noctiluca to flourish amid the shrinking snowcaps has been disrupting marine life in the Arabian Sea since the late 1990s, the study found. Only jellyfish and salps find the Noctiluca edible.

Environment

Highest Ever Level of Microplastics Found on Seafloor

An international research project has revealed the highest levels of microplastic ever recorded on the seafloor, with up to 1.9 million pieces in a thin layer covering just 1 square meter.

Over 10 million tons of plastic waste enters the oceans each year. Floating plastic waste at sea has caught the public’s interest thanks to the ‘Blue Planet Effect’ seeing moves to discourage the use of plastic drinking straws and carrier bags. Yet such accumulations account for less than 1% of the plastic that enters the world’s oceans.

The missing 99% is instead thought to occur in the deep ocean, but until now it has been unclear where it actually ended up.

Researchers have now found that microplastics are delivered to the ocean through rivers carrying industrial and domestic wastewater, carried down submarine canyons by powerful avalanches of sediment (turbidity currents) and then transported on the seafloor by ‘bottom currents’ and deposited in sediment drifts. Other microplastics sink from the ocean surface and can also be picked up and carried by bottom currents.

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Environment

Storm Fuel

Atmospheric scientists are expressing alarm at the record high temperatures that occurred during March in parts of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. They fear the excess warmth will radiate to the air above and generate chaotic weather worldwide during the months to come.

Of particular concern are the future of the Atlantic hurricane season, increased wildfire potentials from Australia and North America to the Amazon and possible severe thunderstorms with accompanying tornadoes. “And there is a global warming component to that. It is really amazing when you look at all the tropical oceans and see how warm they are,” Michelle L’Heureux of the U.S. Climate Prediction Center told Bloomberg News.

Environment

Nearly half of Americans are breathing filthy air

The Clean Air Act enacted in 1963 is very nice, but nearly half of Americans breathe polluted air, the American Lung Association reported last week. Climate change is contributing to the situation in multiple ways, including increasing use of artificial environment enhancers – aka air conditioners – as record heat withers the cities, and heaters when record snows and cold descend; and wildfires, which significantly boost soot in the air – one of the many forms of particle pollution. The association points out that particle pollution can trigger “heart attacks and strokes, and cause lung cancer. New research also links air pollution to the development of serious diseases, such as asthma and dementia.” Also, the filthier the air you breathe, the more likely you are to suffer serious consequences if you catch COVID-19.

Environment

Hungry Rodents

Desperate rats, deprived of their usual food sources outside shuttered restaurants and other sources of snacks, have begun to invade nearby rodent colonies, eating the flesh of their own species.

While food supplies have pretty much remained the same for vermin living hear human households, rodentologist Bobby Corrigan told NBC News that those living near eateries, malls and airports have resorted to cannibalism, rat battles and infanticide to cope with their starvation diets.

The crazed rats are also threatening the homeless population, according to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

A viral video posted in March showed areas in the French Quarter overrun by rats taking to the streets in search of food.

Environment

Army Worm – South Africa

Villagers are panicing as the African armyworm arrives in Eastern Cape fields. The army worm is already destroying pastures and grasslands in Amathole, Alfred Nzo and Chris Hani districts, and now villagers around King William’s Town and Ngqushwa municipality have found them in their crops too. The villagers are trying to spray the invasive pest, but the damage has already been done.

Environment

Earth is Vibrating Less

Flights are grounded. Fewer trains are running. Rush hour is gone. The world – particularly in cities – is looking drastically different during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to seismologists, that drastic reduction in human hustle and bustle is causing the Earth to move substantially less. The planet is ‘standing still’.

Thomas Lecocq, a geologist and seismologist at the Royal Observatory in Belgium, noticed that the country’s capital Brussels is experiencing a 30 to 50 percent reduction in ambient seismic noise since the lockdowns began

Environment

Ocean Restoration – A Pipe-dream?

Humankind’s rampant overfishing, pollution and other assaults on the world’s oceans can be reversed within a generation, according to a new scientific review.

The international team of researchers that issued the review says that while the effort would cost billions of dollars a year through 2050, it would eventually pay off with benefits of 10 times that amount.

“If you stop killing sea life and protect it, then it does come back,” said team member Callum Roberts of Britain’s University of York.

The review also says climate change must be curbed because of the ocean acidification, loss of oxygen and coral destruction it brings.

It is however, questioned whether the global community has the collective will to achieve a restoration of the world’s oceans. With people like Pres. Trump in power, it seems unlikely that the environment and wildlife will ever receive the care and respect they deserve.

Environment

Wildfires – Australia

Smoke pollution that blanketed Australia for months during the bushfire crisis caused 416 deaths and thousands of hospitalisations, according to research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.Smoke was responsible for 1,124 cardiovascular-related hospital admissions, 2,027 respiratory-related hospital admissions, and 1,305 asthma-related emergency room admissions, according to the study. Most cases were in New South Wales, where thousands of residents were forced to flee their homes.

Environment

River Nile Is Threatened By Waste, Global Warming, Pollution

Egypt’s lifeline since Pharaonic days and the source of 97 percent of its water is under massive strain from pollution and climate change and now the threat of a colossal dam being built far upstream in Ethiopia.

No country is more reliant on the Nile than Egypt, whose teeming population has just passed 100 million people — over 90 percent of whom live along the river’s banks.

Despite its importance, the Nile is still heavily polluted in Egypt by wastewater and rubbish poured directly into it, as well as agricultural runoff and industrial waste, with consequences for biodiversity, especially fishing, and human health, experts say.

Around 150 million tonnes of industrial waste are dumped into it every year, according to the state-run Environmental Affairs Agency.

Climate change spells another threat as rising sea levels are set to push Mediterranean saltwater deep into the fertile Nile river delta, the nation’s breadbasket.

More than 3,000 kilometres (2,000 miles) upstream on the Blue Nile, the main tributary, thousands of workers have toiled for almost a decade to build the $4.5-billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, set to be Africa’s largest.

Downstream countries, mainly Egypt but also drought-plagued Sudan, fear that the dam’s 145-metre (475-foot) high wall will trap their essential water supplies once the giant reservoir, the size of London, starts being filled this summer.

Dirty river nile

Nuclear Highway

Workers near Moscow began building a highway over a Soviet-era dump of radioactive material despite protests by environmental advocates who warn the activity will release toxic particles into the air.

Moscow’s mayor insists that there are only “insignificant traces of contamination” over the site. The road is the initial phase of a project to redevelop the former industrial zone in the south of the Russian capital.

But Greenpeace says a state report shows that there are at least 66,000 tons of radioactive waste from a plant there that produced thorium for nuclear reactors.

Environment

Moscow’s Warm Winter

Russia’s capital Moscow, which for the past months has largely been deprived of its traditional seasonal covering of snow, has seen its warmest winter since records began, the state weather service said on Saturday.

The head of Russia’s forecasting centre Roman Vilfand told the TASS news agency that the average temperature in Russia from December to February has been some 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 Fahrenheit) warmer than the previous record of minus 2.8 degrees seen in the winter of 1960-1961.

He said such differences between records were extremely rare. Records began 140 years ago in Russia.

Environment

China Pollution Declines

Pollution levels over China have declined significantly, US space Agency NASA says, partly due to the economic slowdown following the coronavirus outbreak. Satellite images shared by NASA show falling levels of nitrogen dioxide. The gas is emitted by motor vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities.

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Environment

Ice Volcanos

A phenomenon that might seem more likely on an alien world was captured by a photographer from the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A pair of ice “volcanoes” were spouting through the expanding ice shelf of Lake Michigan during a frigid blast from the north. The formations spewed water as waves on the lake passed under the ice shelf, forcing the water up through the cracks in the previously formed cones.

The spewing water froze almost instantly in the bitter chill, causing the ice volcanoes to grow even larger. Lake-goers were warned not to venture near the dangerous hollow structures.

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