From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"Global Environment 2022 JANUARY-MARCH"

    This file is attached to from “Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    Or continue to Global Environment 2022 April-June

Global Environment 2022 JANUARY-MARCH

2021 World Disaster and Environmental Issues

1/1/2022 Germany shuts down half of its six remaining nuclear plants
    BERLIN – Germany on Friday shut down half of the six nuclear plants it still has in operation, a year before the country draws the final curtain on its decades- long use of atomic power.    The decision to phase out nuclear power and shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy was first taken by the center-left government of Gerhard Schroeder in 2002.    His successor, Angela Merkel, reversed her decision to extend the lifetime of Germany’s nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and set 2022 as the final deadline.

1/1/2022 ‘This isn’t a joke’: It rained fish in Texas by Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY
    As 2021 comes to a close, a city in Texas had one last unexpected event with raining fish.
    Residents in Texarkana, nearly 200 miles from Dallas, saw fish fall from the sky on Wednesday and land in their yards or sidewalks, KXXV reported.
    “2021 is pulling out all the tricks … including raining fish in Texarkana today.    And no, this isn’t a joke,” the City of Texarkana wrote in a Facebook post.
    The city said raining fish is a phenomenon called “animal rain” that happens when small water animals such as frogs, crabs or small fish are swept into waterspouts that occur on the surface of the Earth.
    James Audirsch told WCIA he was working at a used car dealership when he heard loud noises outside.
    “There was a loud crack of thunder and when we opened up the bay door, I looked outside and it was raining real hard and a fish hit the ground,” he said.
    Another person posted a video on Twitter captioned, “Yep.    It rained fish at my house too.”
    This isn’t the first time fish fell from the sky.    In 2017, teachers and students at an elementary school in Oroville, California, reported seeing 100 fish land on the school’s playground and roof, according to KTVU.
    “While it’s uncommon, it happens, as evidenced in several places in Texarkana today,” the city of Texarkana wrote in the Facebook post.    “And please, for the sake of everyone, let’s tiptoe into 2022 as quietly as possible.”
Raining fish is said to be a phenomenon called “animal rain” that happens when small water animals such as frogs,
crabs or small fish sweep into waterspouts that occur on the surface of the Earth. SAEED KHAN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

1/1/2022 EU Drafts Plan To Label Gas And Nuclear Investments As Green by Kate Abnett and Simon Jessop
FILE PHOTO: Steam rises from cooling towers of the Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear
power plant in Belleville-sur-Loire, France October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
    (Reuters) - The European Union has drawn up plans to label some natural gas and nuclear energy projects as “green” investments after a year-long battle between governments over which investments are truly climate-friendly.
    The European Commission is expected to propose rules in January deciding whether gas and nuclear projects will be included in the EU “sustainable finance taxonomy.”
    This is a list of economic activities and the environmental criteria they must meet to be labelled as green investments.
    By restricting the “green” label to truly climate-friendly projects, the system aims to make those investments more attractive to private capital, and stop “greenwashing,” where companies or investors overstate their eco-friendly credentials.
    Brussels has also made moves to apply the system to some EU funding, meaning the rules could decide which projects are eligible for certain public finance.
    A draft of the Commission’s proposal, seen by Reuters, would label nuclear power plant investments as green if the project has a plan, funds and a site to safely dispose of radioactive waste.    To be deemed green, new nuclear plants must receive construction permits before 2045.
    Investments in natural gas power plants would also be deemed green if they produce emissions below 270g of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (kWh), replace a more polluting fossil fuel plant, receive a construction permit by Dec. 31 2030 and plan to switch to low-carbon gases by the end of 2035.
    Gas and nuclear power generation would be labelled green on the grounds that they are “transitional” activities – defined as those that are not fully sustainable, but which have emissions below industry average and do not lock in polluting assets.
    “Taking account of scientific advice and current technological progress as well as varying transition challenges across member states, the Commission considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future,” the European Commission said in a statement.
    To help states with varying energy backgrounds to transition, “under certain conditions, solutions can make sense that do not look exactly ‘green’ at first glance,” a Commission source told Reuters, adding that gas and nuclear investments would face “strict conditions.”
    EU countries and a panel of experts will scrutinise the draft proposal, which could change before it is due to be published later in January.    Once published, it could be vetoed by a majority of EU countries or the European Parliament.
    The policy has been mired in lobbying from governments for more than a year and EU countries disagree on which fuels are truly sustainable.
    Natural gas emits roughly half the CO2 emissions of coal when burned in power plants, but gas infrastructure is also associated with leaks of methane, a potent planet-warming gas.
    The EU’s advisers had recommended that gas plants not be labelled as green investments unless they met a lower 100g CO2e/kWh emissions limit, based on the deep emissions cuts scientists say are needed to avoid disastrous climate change.
    Nuclear power produces very low CO2 emissions but the Commission sought expert advice this year on whether the fuel should be deemed green given the potential environmental impact of radioactive waste disposal.
    Some environmental campaigners and Green EU lawmakers criticised the leaked proposal on gas and nuclear.
    “By including them… the Commission risks jeopardising the credibility of the EU’s role as a leading marketplace for sustainable finance,” Greens president Philippe Lamberts said.
    Austria opposes nuclear power, alongside countries including Germany and Luxembourg.
    EU states including the Czech     Republic, Finland and France, which gets around 70% of its power from the fuel, see nuclear as crucial to phasing out CO2-emitting coal fuel power.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Frances Kerry and Louise Heavens)

1/2/2022 Richard Leakey, Kenyan Conservationist Who Campaigned Against Ivory Trade, Has Died
FILE PHOTO: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and chairman of the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS)
Richard Leakey (left) pose for the press after the president lit on fire parts of an estimated
105 tonnes of ivory and a tonne of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi
National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola/File Photo
    NAIROBI (Reuters) – Richard Leakey, a Kenyan conservationist and paleoanthropologist who spearheaded campaigns against the ivory trade to save the dwindling African elephant population, has died, the Kenyan presidency said on Sunday.    He was 77.
    For years Leakey served in various roles in the government including as director of the state-run National Museums of Kenya and twice as board chairman at the Kenya Wildlife Service.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta said Leakey had “served our country with distinction.”
    “Besides his distinguished career in the public service, Dr. Leakey is celebrated for his prominent role in Kenya’s vibrant civil society where he founded and successfully ran a number of institutions.”
    Leakey was the son of palaeontologists Louis and Mary Leakey, whose work helped demonstrate that human evolution began in Africa.    He was celebrated for his work to save wildlife from poachers and for leading campaigns against the ivory trade.
    Paula Kahumbu, a wildlife conservationist who heads WildlifeDirect, told Reuters she had been mentored by Leakey, as had many other young Kenyans.
    “Very courageous, he was a person who stood for integrity whether it was in wildlife conservation, whether it was related to archaeological and paleoanthropological research at museums or whether it was related to politics,” she said.
    Leakey also served Kenya’s head of civil service from July 1999 to March 2001, at a time when then president Daniel Arap Moi was under pressure from donors to tackle corruption and other inefficiencies in government.
    He was a co-founder of the Safina Party in 1995.
    At the time of his death, he was serving as chairman of the Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook University in the United States, which works to facilitate research and education in palaeontology and archaeology in northern Kenya.
    Leakey was also a fellow of the UK-based Royal Society and an honorary fellow of the African Academy of Sciences.
(Writing by Elias Biryabarema and George Obulutsa; Editing by Alison Williams)

1/5/2022 Colo. Officials Discuss Fire Aftermath, Efforts To Get Boulder Community Back Up And Running by OAN Newsroom
The remains of a home destroyed by a pair of wildfires is draped by nearly a foot of snow after a winter storm rolled
over the intermountain West, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Superior, Colo. Officials say that 991 homes were destroyed
in Boulder County and 127 more were damaged in the Marshall Fire. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
    Officials in Colorado gathered for a press conference Tuesday to discuss how authorities are working to survey the damage left by the vicious Marshall Fire.
    Louisville Deputy Police Chief Gary Santos began by thanking the volunteers who are handing out water during a time like this, adding crews are working around the clock to restore safe drinking water to residents.
    “Thank you to all the volunteers who continue to help us distribute water,” he stated.    “Your help is invaluable and we sincerely appreciate all of you, thank you.    The city’s water team is working 24/7 to restore safe drinking water to all Louisville residents and we hope to have it back on line by Sunday, January 9.”
    The CEO of the Community Foundation Boulder County, Tatiana Hernandez, also emphasized how appreciative she is over the $5 million in donated funds, which will be distributed to citizens whose homes were damaged or destroyed.
    “I also want to thank the tens of thousands of individuals, businesses and foundations who have donated to the Boulder County wildfire fund,” said Hernandez.    “As of this morning, the fund has raised over $12 million from over 43,000 donors.    On Sunday, our board approved a grant to Boulder County to begin immediately dispersing up to $5 million in direct financial assistance to those whose homes have been destroyed or damaged and are in financial need.”
    Meanwhile, the president of Xcel Energy, Alice Jackson, confirmed as of Tuesday afternoon that more than 11,00 customers have now had their pilot lights relit of the 13,000 who experienced outages since gas was shut off due to the blaze.    She added, only 400 customers remain without power in the burn zone area, but said crews will continue to work to ensure customers have the reliable and safe service they count on.
    “From the electric side of the business, I am very happy to say that outside of the burn path, primary store restoration wrapped up last night and our emergency electric operations are complete in this area,” Jackson stated.    “Inside of the burn path, as I mentioned yesterday, we’re going home to home, business to business to identify which ones are able to retain and take electric service.”
Todd Lovrien looks over the fire damage from the Marshall Wildfire at his sisters home in
Louisville, Colo., Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. Tens of thousands of Coloradans driven from their
neighborhoods by a wind-whipped wildfire anxiously waited to learn what was left standing of their
lives Friday as authorities reported more than 500 homes were feared destroyed. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
    The Marshall Fire, which is now 100 percent contained, tore through Boulder County last week, devastating nearly 1,000 structures and charring more than 6,000 acres.
    Investigators have narrowed down their search for the cause and origin of the blaze, having executed a search warrant and having interviewed dozens of people.
    Meanwhile, two people currently remain missing as crews search through the locations where they lived by hand while using small tools in their quest for any remains.

1/9/2022 Strong earthquake shakes remote area in western China
    BEIJING – A strong overnight earthquake shook a sparsely populated area in western China early Saturday and forced the suspension of high-speed rail service because of tunnel damage, authorities said.    Four people with minor injuries in Menyuan Hui Autonomous County had been treated and released, officials told a news conference.    The magnitude 6.9 quake struck at 1:45 a.m. in a mountainous part of Qinghai province that is 12,000 feet above sea level.    It was felt 85 miles southeast in Xining, the provincial capital.

1/9/2022 Seven Dead, 3 Missing After Rock Face Collapse At Brazilian Waterfall
A view shows the site where a wall of rock collapsed on top of motor boats below a waterfall
as firefighters of Minas Gerais state (not pictured) seek for victims, in Capitolio,
in Minas Gerais state, Brazil January 8, 2022. Fire Brigade of Minas Gerais/Handout via REUTERS
    BRASILIA (Reuters) -At least seven people died and nine were seriously injured when a wall of rock collapsed on top of motor boats below a waterfall in southeastern Brazil on Saturday, the fire department said.
    A tower of rocks suddenly broke away from the canyon wall and came crashing down on several leisure boats, sending out a huge wave over the lake at Capitolio, in Minas Gerais state.
    Videos posted on social media showed tourists shouting as the column of rock crashed into the water, smashing two boats.
    Authorities said three people were still missing after others feared lost were located by telephone. Divers searched the lake.
    The people hurt in the accident had broken bones and one was in serious condition in hospital with head and facial injuries. Some 23 others were treated for light injuries, he said.
    The region has been under heavy rainfall for two weeks, which could have loosened the rock face.    On Saturday, a dike overflowed at an iron ore mine 300 kilometers to the east, cutting off a major federal highway.
(Reporting by Anthony BoadleEditing by Paul Simao and David Gregorio)

1/10/2022 Fire Tears Through Rohingya Refugee Camp In Bangladesh
A general view of the fire that broke out at the Balukhali rohingya refugee camp in
Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, January 9, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
    (Reuters) – A fire swept through a Rohingya refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh on Sunday, destroying hundreds of homes, according to officials and witnesses, though there were no immediate reports of casualties.
    The blaze hit Camp 16 in Cox’s Bazar, a border district where than a million Rohingya refugees live, with most having fled a military-led crackdown in Myanmar in 2017.
    Mohammed Shamsud Douza, a Bangladesh government official in charge of refugees, said emergency workers had brought the fire under control.    The cause of the blaze has not been established, he added.
    “Everything is gone.    Many are without homes,” said Abu Taher, a Rohingya refugee.     Another blaze tore through a COVID-19 treatment centre for refugees in another refugee camp in the district last Sunday, causing no casualties.
    A devastating fire last March swept through the world’s biggest refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar, killing at least 15 refugees and burned down more than 10,000 shanties.
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Pravin Char and Louise Heavens)

1/10/2022 NASA Successfully Deploys New Telescope by OAN Newsroom
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope mission operations team celebrates, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022,
at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, after confirming that the observatory’s final
primary mirror wing successfully extended and locked into place. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)
    NASA successfully deployed their highly anticipated James Webb telescope.    Scientists and engineers breathed out a sigh of relief as the 21-foot telescope completed unfolding its mirrors.
    “Yes, there was a huge sigh of relief,” stated Bill Ochs, Webb Project Manager.    “I think you could see it if you watched the video of us being in there today when that final mirror got latched and the folks in the back room were doing the wave.    We’re all giving each other high fives.    That’s all of a sign of relief.”
    Scientists designed the telescope with a full-sized mirror to collect light from distant parts of the universe, vastly increasing the distance it can observe objects from.    The mirror was to large to fit in a rocket, so scientists designed it with the ability to fold allowing it to be launched.
    “Oh, the horizon is the limit,” said Bill Nelson, Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.    “We’re going to have all kind of new knowledge about who we are, what we are, where we came from.    Are there others out there?    Is it any wonder why it’s such a privilege to be involved in NASA?
    Despite its successful deployment, the telescope will still have to calibrate its instruments before it can begin gathering information later this year.    Scientists don’t plan to release any images until they can begin normal science operations.
    “We want to make sure that the first images that the world sees, that humanity sees from this telescope, do justice to this $10 billion telescope and are not those, you know, ‘hey, look a star,'” explained Jane Rigby, Webb Project Scientist.    “So we are planning a series of wow images to be released at the end of commissioning when we start normal science operations that are designed to showcase what this telescope can do.”
    In the meantime, the telescope will take about two more weeks before it reaches it’s final destination in deep space.    It will then take until this upcoming summer for NASA scientists to receive the first few images from the telescope.

1/10/2022 EU Scientists Say 2021 Was World’s Fifth-Hottest Year On Record by Kate Abnett
FILE PHOTO: Birds fly over a closed steel factory where chimneys of another working factory are
seen in the background, in Tangshan, Hebei province, China, February 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Last year was the world’s fifth hottest on record, while levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere hit new highs in 2021, European Union scientists said.
    The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in a report on Monday that the last seven years were the world’s warmest “by a clear margin” in records dating back to 1850 and the average global temperature in 2021 was 1.1-1.2C above 1850-1900 levels.
    The hottest years on record were 2020 and 2016.
    Countries committed under the 2015 Paris Agreement to try to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C, the level scientists say would avoid its worst impacts.    That would require emissions to roughly halve by 2030, but so far they have charged higher.
    As greenhouse gas emissions change the planet’s climate, the long-term warming trend has continued.    Climate change exacerbated many of the extreme weather events sweeping the world in 2021, from floods in Europe, China and South Sudan, to wildfires in Siberia and the United States.
    “These events are a stark reminder of the need to change our ways, take decisive and effective steps toward a sustainable society and work towards reducing net carbon emissions,” C3S director Carlo Buontempo said.
    Global levels of CO2 and methane, the main greenhouse gases, continued to climb, and both hit record highs in 2021.    Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 414.3 parts per million in 2021, up by around 2.4ppm from 2020, the scientists said.
    C3S said levels of methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, have jumped in the last two years, but the reasons why are not fully understood.    Emissions of methane range from oil and gas production and farming to natural sources like wetlands.
    After a temporary dip in 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, provisional data suggest global CO2 emissions rebounded by 4.9% in 2021.
    Last summer was Europe’s hottest on record, CS3 said, following a warm March and unusually cold April that had decimated fruit crops in countries including France and Hungary.
    In July and August, a Mediterranean heatwave stoked intense wildfires in countries including Turkey and Greece.     Sicily set a new European temperature high of 48.8C, a record awaiting official confirmation.
    In July, more than 200 people died when torrential rain triggered deadly flooding in western Europe.    Scientists concluded that climate change had made the floods at least 20% more likely.
    Also that month, floods in China’s Henan province killed more than 300 people.    In California, a record-smashing heatwave was followed by the second-biggest wildfire in the state’s history, decimating land and belching out air pollution.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Alexander Smith)

1/11/2022 ’21 expensive for natural disasters - Report shows economic losses at $280 billion by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BERLIN – Damage wrought by Hurricane Ida in the U.S. state of Louisiana and the flash floods that hit Europe last summer helped make 2021 one of the most expensive years for natural disasters, reinsurance company Munich Re said Monday.
    The company’s annual report put the overall economic losses from natural disasters worldwide last year at $280 billion, making it the fourthcostliest after 2011, the year a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.
    Insured losses in 2021 amounted to $120 billion, the second-highest after 2017, when hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hit the Americas, according to Munich Re.
    More than one-third of those insured losses last year were caused by Ida ($36 billion) and the floods in western Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands ($13 billion).
    The company warned that studies showed a link between global warming and natural disasters.
    “The images of natural disasters in 2021 are disturbing,” said Torsten Jeworrek, a member Munich Re’s board of management.
    “Climate research increasingly confirms that extreme weather has become more likely,” he said.    “Societies need to urgently adapt to increasing weather risks and make climate protection a priority.”    Jeworrek noted that not all natural disasters are climate-related, citing volcanic eruptions and earthquakes seen last year.

1/12/2022 Heavy Rains Leave Brazil Indigenous Group Homeless Again by Leonardo Benassatto
An indigenous woman of the Pataxo ethnicity observes flooding in Nao Xoha village after pouring rains,
in Sao Joaquim de Bicas, in Minas Gerais state, Brazil January 12, 2022. REUTERS/Washington Alves
    SAO JOAQUIM DE BICAS, Brazil (Reuters) – Three years ago, the collapse of the tailings dam at an iron ore mine forced them to move their homes to higher ground.
    Now, the rain-swollen Paraopeba River has flooded their new village and left them homeless again.
    Some 50 indigenous people of the Pataxo-Hahahae tribe have taken shelter in a local school, but their houses in the village of Nao Xoha have been contaminated by muddy tailings-filled waters of the river.
    “We lost houses.    We lost bathrooms.    We lost our medical center.    We lost furniture.    Our community is all flooded,” Chief Sucupira Pataxó-Hahahae said on Wednesday.    “It makes your heart bleed.”
    “The water contaminated by ore flooded our homes and backyards.    There’s no way we can live there anymore.    We have a lot of kids,” he said.
    Heavy rains have pounded the mining region of Minas Gerais state in southeast Brazil relentlessly for the past two weeks, causing dams to overflow and flooding towns and roads.    More than 20 people have died.
    In January 2019, a dam collapsed at a mine near Brumadinho owned by giant miner Vale SA, releasing a mudflow that crashed through the mine’s cafeteria and buried houses and farms, killing 270 people.
    No Pataxo-Hahahae died in the disaster. But miles downstream, their way of life became unsustainable on the banks of a polluted river where they had bathed, washed their clothes and fished for their main source of food.
    The village had 80 residents at that time, who had to uproot their existence and move to safer ground 30 meters (98 ft)away from the river.    Now even that new site is under water.
    “It is so sad to see this happen again,” said Marina Pataxo-Hahahae, looking out at her flooded backyard.
(Reporting by Laronardo Benassatto; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Diane Craft)

1/13/2022 NASA Begins Process Of Bringing New Space Telescope Into Focus by Steve Gorman
FILE PHOTO: The James Webb Space Telescope is packed up for shipment to its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana in an undated
photograph at Northrop Grumman's Space Park in Redondo Beach, California. NASA/Chris Gunn/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – NASA on Wednesday embarked on a months-long, painstaking process of bringing its newly launched James Webb Space Telescope into focus, a task due for completion in time for the revolutionary eye in the sky to begin peering into the cosmos by early summer.
    Mission control engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, began by sending their initial commands to tiny motors called actuators that slowly position and fine-tune the telescope’s principal mirror.
    Consisting of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium metal, the primary mirror measures 21 feet 4 inches (6.5 m) in diameter – a much larger light-collecting surface than Webb’s predecessor, the 30-year-old Hubble Space Telescope.
    The 18 segments, which had been folded together to fit inside the cargo bay of the rocket that carried the telescope to space, were unfurled with the rest of its structural components during a two-week period following Webb’s launch on Dec. 25.
    Those segments must now be detached from fasteners that held them in place for the launch and then moved forward half an inch from their original configuration – a 10-day process – before they can be aligned to form a single, unbroken, light-collecting surface.
    The alignment will take an additional three months, Lee Feinberg, the Webb optical telescope element manager at Goddard, told Reuters by telephone.
    Aligning the primary mirror segments to form one large mirror means each segment “is aligned to one-five-thousandth the thickness of a human hair,” Feinberg said.
    “All of this required us to invent things that had never been done before,” such as the actuators, which were built to move incrementally at -400 Fahrenheit (-240 Celsius) in the vacuum of space, he added.
    The telescope’s smaller, secondary mirror, designed to direct light collected from the primary lens into Webb’s camera and other instruments, must also be aligned to operate as part of a cohesive optical system.
    If all goes as planned, the telescope should be ready to capture its first science images in May, which would be processed over about another month before they can be released to the public, Feinberg said.
    The $9-billion telescope, described by NASA as the premier space-science observatory of the next decade, will mainly view the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing it to gaze through clouds of gas and dust where stars are being born.    Hubble has operated primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
    Webb is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble, enabling it to observe objects at greater distances, thus farther back in time, than Hubble or any other telescope.
    Astronomers say this will bring into view a glimpse of the cosmos never previously seen – dating to just 100 million years after the Big Bang, the theoretical flashpoint that set in motion the expansion of the observable universe an estimated 13.8 billion years ago.
    The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies.    Northrop Grumman Corp was the primary contractor.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Karishma Singh)

1/13/2022 Past 7 years have been the planet’s hottest by far by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The past seven years were Earth’s warmest on record “by a clear margin,” according to new research released this week by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a group affiliated with the European Union.
    Specifically, 2021 was the planet’s fifth-warmest year on record, the group said.    The two warmest years, according to the Copernicus group, were 2020 and 2016.
    And despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane – the main drivers of global warming – continued to increase in 2021
    “Carbon dioxide and methane concentrations are continuing to increase year on year and without signs of slowing down,” Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, said in a statement.    “Only with determined efforts backed up by observational evidence can we make a real difference in our fight against the climate catastrophe.”
    Europe sweltered through its hottest summer ever recorded in 2021 and set an all-time temperature record in Sicily of nearly 120 degrees Fahrenheit.    The scorching heat also contributed to “intense” wildfires in countries such as Italy, Greece and Turkey, the Copernicus scientists said.
    Horrific disasters such as floods in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium – which killed more than 200 people last summer – also can be linked to human-caused climate change, scientists said.
    The western U.S. and Canada dealt with an extraordinary heat wave in 2021.    Hundreds of people in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia died from the extreme heat in the summer of 2021, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    The heat and dryness contributed to wildfires across the western U.S.
    Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said, “2021 was yet another year of extreme temperatures with the hottest summer in Europe, heat waves in the Mediterranean, not to mention the unprecedented high temperatures in North America.    The last seven years have been the seven warmest."
    “These events are a stark reminder of the need to change our ways, take decisive and effective steps toward a sustainable society and work toward reducing net carbon emissions.”
Flames burn up a tree as part of the Windy Fire in the Trail of 100
Giants grove in Sequoia National Forest, Calif., in September. NOAH BERGER/AP

1/13/2022 Last Year Was The World’s Sixth-Warmest On Record – U.S. Scientists by Nichola Groom
FILE PHOTO: A firefighter works as the Caldor Fire burns in
Grizzly Flats, California, U.S., August 22, 2021. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
    (Reuters) – Last year ranked as the sixth-warmest year on record, causing extreme weather events around the world and adding to evidence that the globe is in a long-term warming trend, according to an analysis released on Thursday by two U.S. government agencies.
    The data compiled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA also revealed that the last eight years were the eight hottest and the last decade was the warmest since record-keeping began in 1880, officials said.
    “It’s certainly warmer now than at any time in at least the past 2,000 years, and probably much longer,” Russell Vose, chief of the analysis and synthesis branch of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said on a call with reporters.
    He added that 2022 would almost certainly rank among the 10 warmest years on record.    The warming in 2021 occurred despite the presence of La Nina in the eastern Pacific Ocean, a cooling trend that generally lowers global temperatures.
    Last year’s extreme heat wave in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, intense rains from Hurricane Ida and flooding in Germany and China were linked to global warming, the agencies said.
    A key indicator of climate change, the amount of heat absorbed and stored by the world’s oceans, reached a record level in 2021, the agencies said.    Oceans absorb more than 90% of the excess heat trapped in the earth’s atmosphere by greenhouse gases, and those warmer waters influence weather patterns and changes in currents.
    “What’s scientifically interesting about that is it tells us why the planet is warming,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview.    “It’s warming because of our impacts on greenhouse gas concentrations.”
    Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels like oil and coal.
    According to NOAA, 2021 average temperatures were 1.51 degrees Fahrenheit (0.84 Celsius) above the 20th century average, putting it just ahead of 2018.    NASA’s analysis, which uses a 30-year baseline period, showed 2021 temperatures tied with 2018 as the sixth-warmest year.
    The two agencies produce separate analyses to bolster confidence in their conclusions, they said.
    The 2015 Paris climate agreement commits countries to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius.
    The global average temperature will “almost certainly” exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold by the early 2040s, Vose said.
    Last year the greatest warming occurred in the Northern Hemisphere, both on land and in the Arctic.    The Arctic is warming more than three times faster than the global mean, the agencies said.
    In an overview of its report earlier this week, NOAA said last year was the fourth-warmest on record for the United States.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

1/14/2022 Argentine Towns Sizzle Amid ‘Hottest Days In History’ by Juan Bustamante and Miguel Lo Bianco
FILE PHOTO: A girl plays with water as Argentina is facing a historic heat wave with temperatures
soaring above 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) straining power grids and forcing residents
to seeking sanctuary in the shade, in Salta, Argentina January 13, 2022. REUTERS/Javier Corbalan
    BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Cities and towns in Argentina and neighboring countries in South America have been setting record high temperatures as the region swelters during a historic heat wave.
    “Practically all of Argentina and also neighboring countries such as Uruguay, southern Brazil and Paraguay are experiencing the hottest days in history,” said Cindy Fernandez, meteorologist at the official National Meteorological Service.
    Many towns have posted their highest temperatures since records began, with some zones heating up to 45 degrees Celsius (113°F), according to the weather service.
    “In Argentina, from the center of Patagonia to the north of the country, thermal values are being recorded that are reaching or exceeding 40 degrees,” Fernandez said.
    The heat and a prolonged drought have hit the grains-producing country’s crops, though there is hope that an expected drop in temperature next week will bring a period of rainfall to cool both plants and people.
    “It’s another hellish day,” said Elizabeth Bassin as she waited for a bus in Buenos Aires.    “But well, we live through a week of hot weather and it’s almost as if the body is getting used to that heat.”
    Emanuel Moreno, who was delivering soft drinks, said he was working through the heat but had to keep hydrating.
    “Truthfully it is really hot and heavy, though when you are working you don’t realize so much.    You realize that you are very thirsty and you have to drink a lot of water, water and more water because if you don’t, you can’t go on,” he said.
    Fernandez, the meteorologist, said a warm air mass had formed over Argentina, right in the middle of the southern hemisphere summer.
    “We’re having many days of clear skies where solar radiation is very intense and in a context of an extreme drought Argentina has been going through for about two years,” she said.
    “This means that the soil is very dry, and earth that is dry heats up much more than soil that is moist.”
(Reporting by Juan Bustamante and Miguel Lo Bianco; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Richard Chang)

1/16/2022 Two People Drowned By Abnormally High Waves In Peru After Tonga Volcano
FILE PHOTO: A plume rises over Tonga when the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai erupted in this satellite image
taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency, on January 15, 2022
and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and obtained by Reuters
on January 16, 2022. National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT)/Handout via REUTERS
    LIMA (Reuters) – Two people drowned off a beach in northern Peru, the local civil defense authority reported on Sunday, after unusually high waves were recorded in several coastal areas following Saturday’s eruption of an underwater volcano in Tonga in the Pacific Ocean.
    The death of two people by drowning occurred on Saturday on a beach located in the Lambayeque region, Peru’s National Institute of Civil Defense (Indeci) said in a statement.
    The underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, prompting tsunami warnings and evacuation orders in Japan and causing huge waves on several South Pacific islands, where images on social media show waves crashing against homes on the shores.
    More than 20 Peruvian ports were temporarily closed as a precautionary measure amid warnings that the volcano was causing abnormally high waves, Indeci said.
    The Peruvian police said on Twitter that the two victims were found dead by officers from a Naylamp beach police station.    The tweet said “the waves were abnormal” in the area and that it had been declared unsuitable for bathers.
    TV images showed several homes and businesses flooded by seawater in coastal areas in northern and central Peru.
    The Peruvian Navy had reported that a tsunami alert was ruled out for the Pacific Coast country.
    In Japan, hundreds of thousands of people were advised to evacuate on Sunday as waves of more than a meter hit coastal areas, public broadcaster NHK reported.
    The footage on social media showed large waves crashing into coastal homes in several South Pacific islands.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Hugh Bronstein. Editing by Jane Merriman)

1/17/2022 Drinking Water, Ash Big Concern As Tonga Assesses Damage After Tsunami by Kirsty Needham and Praveen Menon
A plume rises over Tonga when the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai erupted in this satellite image
taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency, on January 15, 2022
and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and obtained by Reuters
on January 16, 2022. National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT)/Handout via REUTERS
    SYDNEY/WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Australia and New Zealand sent surveillance flights on Monday to assess damage in Tonga, isolated from the rest of the world after the eruption of a volcano that triggered a tsunami and blanketed the Pacific island with ash.
    Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Zed Seselja said initial reports suggested no mass casualties from Saturday’s eruption and tsunami but Australian police had visited beaches and reported significant damage with “houses thrown around.”
    “We know there is some significant damage, and know there is significant damage to resorts,” he said in an interview with an Australian radio station, adding that Tonga’s airport appeared to be in relatively good condition.
    One British woman was reported missing, he said.
    The surveillance flights would assess the situation in outer islands where communication is completely cut off.
    Tonga’s deputy head of mission in Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, asked for patience as Tonga’s government decides its priorities for aid.
    Tonga is concerned about the risk of aid deliveries spreading COVID-19 to the island, which is COVID-free.
    “We don’t want to bring in another wave – a tsunami of COVID-19,” he told Reuters by telephone.
    “When people see such a huge explosion they want to help,” he said, but added Tonga diplomats were also concerned by some private fundraising efforts and urged the public to wait until a disaster relief fund was announced.
    Any aid sent to Tonga would need to be quarantined, and it was likely no foreign personnel would be allowed to disembark aircraft, he said.
    The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano triggered a tsunami on the shores of Tonga and cut off phone and internet lines for the entire island.
    International communication has been severely hampered by damage to an undersea cable, which could take more than a week to restore, and Australia and New Zealand were assisting with satellite calls, he said.
    Telephone networks in Tonga have been restored but ash was posing a major health concern, contaminating drinking water.
    “Most people are not aware the ash is toxic and bad for them to breath and they have to wear a mask,” Tu’ihalangingie said.
    The Ha’atafu Beach Resort, on the Hihifo peninsula, 21 km (13 miles) west of the capital Nuku’alofa, was “completely wiped out,” the owners said on Facebook.
    The family that manages the resort had run for their lives through the bush to escape the tsunami, it said.    “The whole western coastline has been completely destroyed along with Kanukupolu village,” the resort said.
    British woman Angela Glover was missing after she was washed away by a wave when she and her husband, James, who own the Happy Sailor Tattoo in Nuku’alofa, had gone to get their dogs.
    The husband managed to hold onto a tree but his wife, who runs a dog rescue shelter, and their dogs were swept away, New Zealand state broadcaster TVNZ reported.
    The Red Cross said it was mobilising its network to respond to what it called the worst volcanic eruption the Pacific has experienced in decades.
    Katie Greenwood, the Pacific head of delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told Reuters up to 80,000 people could have been affected by the tsunami.
    The damage was centred along the western coast, where there are many resorts, and the waterfront of the capital, Nuku’alofa, the New Zealand High Commission in Tonga said. A thick layer of ash remained across the island.
    Scientists were struggling to monitor the volcano, after the explosion destroyed its sea-level crater and drowned its mass, obscuring it from satellites.
    Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai has erupted regularly over the past few decades but the impact of Saturday’s eruption was felt as far away as Fiji, New Zealand, the United States and Japan.    Two people drowned off a beach in Northern Peru due to high waves caused by the tsunami.
    More than a day after the eruption, countries thousands of kilometres to the west have volcanic ash clouds over them, New Zealand forecaster WeatherWatch said.
    Early data suggests the eruption was the biggest blast since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines 30 years ago, New Zealand-based volcanologist Shane Cronin told Radio New Zealand.
    “This is an eruption best witnessed from space,” Cronin said.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon and Kirsty Needham; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel and Philippa Fletcher)

1/17/2022 Explainer-Scientists Struggle To Monitor Tonga Volcano After Massive Eruption by Kanupriya Kapoor
FILE PHOTO: A plume rises over Tonga when the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai erupted in this satellite
image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency, on January 15, 2022
and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and obtained by Reuters
on January 16, 2022. National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT)/Handout via REUTERS
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Scientists are struggling to monitor an active volcano that erupted off the South Pacific island of Tonga at the weekend, after the explosion destroyed its sea-level crater and drowned its mass, obscuring it from satellites.
    The eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean and was heard some 2,300 kms (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand.
    “The concern at the moment is how little information we have and that’s scary,” said Janine Krippner, a New Zealand-based volcanologist with the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program.
    “When the vent is below water, nothing can tell us what will happen next.”
    Krippner said on-site instruments were likely destroyed in the eruption and the volcanology community was pooling together the best available data and expertise to review the explosion and predict anticipated future activity.
    Saturday’s eruption was so powerful that space satellites captured not only huge clouds of ash but also an atmospheric shockwave that radiated out from the volcano at close to the speed of sound.
    Photographs and videos showed grey ash clouds billowing over the South Pacific and metre-high waves surging onto the coast of Tonga.
    There are no official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga yet but internet and telephone communications are extremely limited and outlying coastal areas remain cut off.
    Experts said the volcano, which last erupted in 2014, had been puffing away for about a month before rising magma, superheated to around 1,000 degrees Celsius, met with 20-degree seawater on Saturday, causing an instantaneous and massive explosion.
    The unusual “astounding” speed and force of the eruption indicated a greater force at play than simply magma meeting water, scientists said.
    As the superheated magma rose quickly and met the cool seawater, so did a huge volume of volcanic gases, intensifying the explosion, said Raymond Cas, a professor of volcanology at Australia’s Monash University.
    Some volcanologists are likening the eruption to the 1991 Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, which killed around 800 people.
    The Tonga Geological Services agency, which was monitoring the volcano, was unreachable on Monday.    Most communications to Tonga have been cut after the main undersea communications cable lost power.
    American meteorologist, Chris Vagasky, studied lightning around the volcano and found it increasing to about 30,000 strikes in the days leading up to the eruption.    On the day of the eruption, he detected 400,000 lightning events in just three hours, which comes down to 100 lightning events per second.
    That compared with 8,000 strikes per hour during the Anak Krakatau eruption in 2018, caused part of the crater to collapse into the Sunda Strait and send a tsunami crashing into western Java, which killed hundreds of people.
    Cas said it is difficult to predict follow-up activity and that the volcano’s vents could continue to release gases and other material for weeks or months.
    “It wouldn’t be unusual to get a few more eruptions, though maybe not as big as Saturday,” he said.    “Once the volcano is de-gassed, it will settle down.”
(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Jane Wardell and Michael Perry)

1/17/2022 Oldest remains of modern humans date back at least 230,000 years by Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
    Some of the oldest remains of modern humans in the world are much older than scientists thought.
    The remains, known as Omo I, were found in southwest Ethiopia in the late 1960s.    The bone and skull fragments researchers discovered were some of the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens.
    Initial research suggested they were nearly 200,000 years old, but new research shows the remains are at least 230,000 years old.    The peer-reviewed research was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
    Over a four-year period, a team of international scientists attempted to date all of the major volcanic eruptions in the Ethiopian Rift in eastern Africa.    Céline Vidal, a volcanologist from the University of Cambridge and lead author of the research, said the fossils were below a thick layer of volcanic ash, but the ash was “too fine-grained” to date with radiometric techniques.    If the volcanic eruptions could be accurately dated, so would the remains.
    The team took “fingerprints” from the site: rock samples from volcanic deposits broken down to sub-millimeter size.
    “Each eruption has its own fingerprint – its own evolutionary story below the surface, which is determined by the pathway the magma followed,” Vidal said in a statement.    “Once you’ve crushed the rock, you free the minerals within, and then you can date them, and identify the chemical signature of the volcanic glass that holds the minerals together.”
    Analysis revealed the samples to be related to the eruption of the Shala volcano about 250 miles away, which is now the deepest lake and the largest crater in Ethiopia, according to Oregon State University researchers.    The eruption happened 230,000 years ago.    Though signs of earlier forms of humans have been found in Africa, such as the 3.66 million-year-old footprints of two types of early humans, Aurélien Mounier from the Musée de l’Homme in Paris and co-author of the paper, said Omo I has “unequivocal modern human characteristics,” such as a tall, spherical cranium and chin.
    There is uncertainty as to when modern humans appeared on Earth.    Fossils found in the Sahara Desert in 2017 were more than 300,000 years old, but Mounier told Rueters the fossils “do not possess some of the key morphological features that define our species,” so there are questions whether they are linked to modern humans or another species related to humans.
    “The new date estimate, de facto, makes it the oldest unchallenged Homo sapiens in Africa,” Mounier said.
    Although the findings in Ethiopia give the fossils an estimated age, it is possible the remains are much older.
    “Our forensic approach provides a new minimum age for Homo sapiens in eastern Africa, but the challenge still remains to provide a cap, a maximum age, for their emergence, which is widely believed to have taken place in this region,” said Christine Lane, geochronologist at Cambridge and co-author.    “It’s possible that new finds and new studies may extend the age of our species even further back in time.”
The remains of Omo I from Ethiopia are among the oldest of

1/18/2022 Tsunami-Hit Tonga Islands Suffered Extensive Damage, More Deaths Feared by Kirsty Needham and Praveen Menon
A general view from a New Zealand Defence Force P-3K2 Orion surveillance flight shows heavy
ash fall over Nomuka in Tonga after the Pacific island nation was hit by a tsunami triggered by
an undersea volcanic eruption January 17, 2022. New Zealand Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
    SYDNEY/WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Tonga’s small outer islands suffered extensive damage from a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami, with an entire village destroyed and many buildings missing, a Tongan diplomat said on Tuesday, raising fears of more deaths and injuries.
    “People panic, people run and get injuries.    Possibly there will be more deaths and we just pray that is not the case,” Tonga’s deputy head of mission in Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, told Reuters.
    Tu’ihalangingie said images taken by New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) reconnaissance flights showed “alarming” scenes of a village destroyed on Mango island and buildings missing on nearby Atata island.
    Tonga police told the New Zealand High Commission that the confirmed death toll stood at two but with communications in the South Pacific island nation cut, the true extent of casualties was not clear.
    Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Zed Seselja said Tongan officials were hoping to evacuate people from the isolated, low-lying Ha’apai islands group and other outer islands where conditions were “very tough, we understand, with many houses being destroyed in the tsunami.”
    The United Nations had earlier reported a distress signal was detected in Ha’apai, where Mango is located.    The Tongan navy reported the area was hit by waves estimated to be 5-10 metres (15-30 feet) high, said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
    Atata and Mango are between about 50 and 70 km from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, which sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean and was heard some 2,300 km (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand when it erupted on Saturday.
    Atata has a population of about 100 people and Mango around 50 people.
    “It is very alarming to see the wave possibly went through Atata from one end to the other,” said Tu’ihalangingie.
    The NZDF images, which were posted unofficially on a Facebook site and confirmed by Tu’ihalangingie, also showed tarpaulins being used as shelter on Mango island.
    British national Angela Glover, 50, was killed in the tsunami as she tried to rescue the dogs she looked after at a rescue shelter, her brother said, the first known death in the disaster.
    A thick layer of ash blankets the islands, the aerial images provided to Tonga by New Zealand and Australia showed.
    The archipelago’s main airport, Fua’amotu International Airport, was not damaged in Saturday’s eruption and tsunami but heavy ashfall is preventing full operations, hampering international relief efforts.
    The U.N. humanitarian office said Tongan officials had said that clearing the runway would take days, as it was being done manually, with the earliest opening Wednesday.
    People on the west coast of the main island of Tongatapu had been evacuated because of “significant damage,” OCHA added in an update, while government ministers had broadcast warnings on radio against price gouging amid worries of supply shortages.
    The New Zealand’s foreign ministry said two ships, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa, had departed New Zealand carrying bulk water supplies, survey teams and a helicopter.
    Tonga is expected to set out its formal requests for aid today, said Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
    C-130 flights from Australia could deliver humanitarian assistance including water purification supplies, she said, while the HMAS Adelaide, which would take five days to arrive by sea, was ready to carry engineering and medical personnel and helicopter support for distribution.
    “The impact not just of the inundation, but of the extraordinary volume of ash which is covering everything, plus the communications issues, of course, makes this very difficult,” she said.
    International mobile phone network provider Digicel has set up an interim system on the main island using the University of South Pacific’s satellite dish, New Zealand said.
    ANZ said the bank’s Nuku’alofa branch is open for limited services, although clean water supply and communication were a major challenge for the bank.
    The archipelago has remained largely cut off from the world since the eruption which cut its main undersea communications cable.
    Subcom, a U.S. based private company contracted to repair various subsea cables in the Asia-Pacific, said it was working with Tonga Cable Ltd to repair the cable that runs from Tonga to Fiji.
    Samiuela Fonua, the chair of Tonga Cable, said there were two cuts in the undersea cable that would not be fixed until volcanic activity ceased, allowing repair crews access.
    “The condition of the site is still pretty messy at the moment,” Fonua told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
    The island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, all but disappeared following the blast, according to satellite images taken about 12 hours later, making it difficult for volcanologists to monitor activity.
    Tonga is a kingdom of 176 islands, of which 36 are inhabited, with a population of 104,494 people.
(Reporting by Jane Wardell, Praveen Menon and Kirsty Needham, writing by Jane Wardell; Editing by Richard Pullin, Michael Perry, Robert Birsel)

1/18/2022 All Homes On One Of Tonga’s Islands Destroyed, Three Dead by Kirsty Needham and Praveen Menon
A general view from a New Zealand Defence Force P-3K2 Orion surveillance flight shows heavy
ash fall over Nomuka in Tonga after the Pacific island nation was hit by a tsunami triggered by
an undersea volcanic eruption January 17, 2022. New Zealand Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
    SYDNEY/WELLINGTON (Reuters) - All the homes on one of Tonga’s small outer islands have been destroyed by a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami, with three people so far confirmed dead, the government said on Tuesday in its first update since the disaster struck.
    With communications badly hampered by the severing of an undersea cable, information on the scale of the devastation after Saturday’s eruption had so far mostly come from reconnaissance aircraft.
    But the office of Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said in a statement that every home on Mango island, where around 50 people live, had been destroyed, only two houses remained on Fonoifua, and Namuka island had suffered extensive damage.
    Tonga’s deputy head of mission in Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, earlier said pictures taken by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) showed “alarming” scenes of a village destroyed on Mango and buildings missing on Atata island, which is closer to the volcano.
    “People panic, people run and get injuries.    Possibly there will be more deaths and we just pray that is not the case,” Tu’ihalangingie told Reuters.
    Sovaleni’s office said a 65-year-old woman on Mango and a 49-year-old man on Nomuka island had been killed, in addition to the British national whose body was found on Monday.    A number of injuries were also reported.
    Tsunami waves reaching up to 15 metres hit the Ha’apia island group, where Mango is located, and the west coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, the office said.    Residents were being moved to evacuation centres as 56 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged on that coast.
    Atata and Mango are between about 50 km and 70 km from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, which sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean when it erupted with a blast heard 2,300 km (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand.
    Satellite images from Sunday show the caldera of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai has collapsed and the island has lost a substantial percentage of its initial surface area, said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
    A rescue operation began on Sunday for Atata, which has a population of about 100 people, with an evacuation under way.
    “Challenges to sea and air transportation remain due to damage sustained by the wharves and the ash that is covering the runways,” the PM’s office said.
    A thick layer of ash blankets the islands, the aerial images provided to Tonga by New Zealand and Australia showed.
    The archipelago’s main Fua’amotu International Airport was not damaged but the ash was having to be manually cleared from the runway, with the earliest opening being on Wednesday, the OCHA said.
    As well as the damage locally, scientists say the eruption could have a long lasting impact on coral reefs, coastlines and fisheries in the wider region, as well as causing acid rain
    Parts of Peru’s coast were dirtied by oil spilled from a discharge ship rocked by waves caused by the eruption, Peruvian Environment Minister Ruben Ramirez said.
    Clean water sources remain a concern and Tonga’s government has advised people to drink only bottled water as sources may be contaminated with ash, debris and the sea, the OCHA said.
    The Tongan navy has deployed with health teams and water, food and tents to the Ha’apai islands, with more aid sent on Tuesday, the prime minister’s office said.
    The NZDF images, posted on Facebook and confirmed by Tu’ihalangingie, showed tarpaulins being used as shelter on Mango, one of the kingdom’s 176 islands
    Tonga is expected to issue formal requests for aid soon but in the meantime New Zealand said two ships, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa, had set off with water supplies, survey teams and a helicopter. U.N. teams are on standby, the OCHA said.
    Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said C-130 aircraft from Australia could deliver humanitarian assistance including water purification kits, while the HMAS Adelaide, which would take five days to get to Tonga, was ready to take engineering and medical teams and helicopter support.
    The PM’s office said some limited communications had been made with satellite phones, but some areas remained cut off.
    For families waiting for news, the silence was deafening.    “The worst fear is always that you’re not going to see the people that you love again,” said Seini Taumoepeau, a Tongan-Australian in Sydney who has relatives across the islands.
    International mobile phone network provider Digicel has set up an interim system on the main island using the University of South Pacific’s satellite dish, New Zealand said.
    Subcom, a U.S. based private company contracted to repair subsea cables in the Asia-Pacific, said it was working with Tonga Cable Ltd to repair the link that runs from Tonga to Fiji.
    Samiuela Fonua, the chair of Tonga Cable, said there were two cuts in the undersea cable that would not be fixed until volcanic activity ceased, allowing repair crews access.
(Reporting by Jane Wardell, Praveen Menon and Kirsty Needham; Additional reporting by Emma Farge, Emma Thomassaon and Elaine Lies; Writing by Jane Wardell; Editing by Richard Pullin, Michael Perry, Robert Birsel, Alison Williams and Gareth Jones)

1/19/2022 Water Crisis Looms For Tsunami-Hit Tonga; New Zealand Help On The Way by Praveen Menon, Kirsty Needham and Tom Westbrook
HMNZS Aotearoa departs to provide disaster relief and assistance to Tonga after a volcanic eruption and tsunami, from Auckland, New Zealand,
January 18, 2022, in this still image taken from video. New Zealand Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) - Two New Zealand navy vessels will arrive in Tonga on Friday carrying critical water supplies for the Pacific island nation reeling from a volcanic eruption and tsunami and largely cut off from the outside world.
    Hundreds of homes in Tonga’s smaller outer islands have been destroyed, with at least three deaths after Saturday’s huge eruption triggered tsunami waves that rolled over the islands, causing what the government calls an unprecedented disaster.
    With the nation’s airport smothered by volcanic ash and communications badly hampered by the severing of an undersea cable, information on the scale of devastation has come mostly from reconnaissance aircraft.
    The Red Cross said its teams in Tonga had confirmed that salt water from the tsunami and volcanic ash were polluting the drinking water sources of tens of thousands of people.
    “Securing access to safe drinking water is a critical immediate priority … as there is a mounting risk of diseases, such as cholera and diarrhoea,” Katie Greenwood, a Pacific official of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a statement.
    The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted with a blast heard 2,300 km (1,430 miles) away in New Zealand and sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean.
    James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said the force of the eruption was estimated to be the equivalent of five to 10 megatons of TNT, or more than 500 times that of the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of World War Two.
    New Zealand’s foreign ministry said Tonga had approved the arrival of its ships, the Aotearoa and the Wellington, in the COVID-free nation, where concerns about a potential coronavirus outbreak are likely to complicate relief efforts.
    Simon Griffiths, captain of the Aotearoa, said his ship was carrying 250,000 litres of water, and had the capacity to produce another 70,000 litres a day, along with other supplies.
    “For the people of Tonga, we’re heading their way now with a whole lot of water,” Griffiths said in a statement.
    The Polynesian archipelago of 176 islands, 36 of them inhabited, has a population of about 105,000.    Its Fua’amotu International Airport was not damaged by the tsunami but it was covered in ash, which has had to be cleared manually.
    Aid flights from New Zealand and Australia could begin on Thursday, a Tongan official said, depending on the clear-up.
    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said two Hercules aircraft were ready to go with humanitarian supplies and telecommunications equipment “as soon as conditions allow.”
    “HMAS Adelaide is also preparing to depart from Brisbane with water purification equipment and additional humanitarian supplies,” Morrison said on Facebook after he spoke with Tonga’s prime minister, Siaosi Sovaleni.
    As well as emergency supplies, Australia and New Zealand have promised immediate financial assistance.    The U.S. Agency for International Development approved $100,000 in immediate assistance.
    The Asian Development Bank was discussing with Tonga whether it would declare a state of emergency to draw on a $10-million disaster funding facility, senior bank official Emma Veve told Reuters.
    Other countries and agencies, including the United Nations, are drawing up plans to help.    China will send help, including water and food, when the airport opened, a spokesperson of its foreign ministry said.
    Waves reaching up to 15 metres (49 feet) hit the outer Ha’apia island group, destroying all the houses on the island of Mango, as well as the west coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, the prime minister’s office said.     Residents of Tongatapu were being moved to evacuation centres as 56 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged.
    New Zealand said power had been restored and Tongan authorities were distributing relief supplies.
    But the country is largely offline since the volcano damaged the sole undersea fibre-optic communication cable and it would probably take a month or more to fix, its owner said.
    A specialist ship should embark from Port Moresby on a repair voyage on the weekend, said Samiuela Fonua, chairman of cable owner Tonga Cable Ltd, but with up to nine days sailing to collect equipment in Samoa, he said it would be “lucky” if the job was done in a month.
    International mobile phone network provider Digicel has established a 2G connection using a satellite dish, the New Zealand foreign ministry said, but it is patchy and amounts to about 10% of usual capacity.
    Tongan communities abroad have posted images from families on Facebook, giving a glimpse of the devastation, with homes reduced to rubble, fallen trees, cracked roads and sidewalks and everything coated in grey ash.     The United Nations and aid agencies were preparing relief flights to Tonga but without personnel who disembark, so to avoid introducing the coronavirus, said Fiji-based U.N. co-ordinator Jonathan Veitch.     Tonga is one of the few countries free of COVID-19 and an outbreak there would disastrous, he added.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon, Kirsty Needham, Tom Westbrook, Karen Lema and Jane Wardell; writing by Robert Birsel; editing by Grant McCool and Richard Pullin)

1/19/2022 Tonga Likely To Spend A Month Without Internet Cable by Tom Westbrook
A general view from a New Zealand Defence Force P-3K2 Orion surveillance flight shows heavy
ash fall over Nomuka in Tonga after the Pacific island nation was hit by a tsunami triggered
by an undersea volcanic eruption January 17, 2022. New Zealand Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – The undersea telecommunications cable connecting Tonga to the rest of the world that was damaged by a volcano eruption will take at least a month to fix, its owner said on Wednesday, with the delay likely hampering disaster recovery efforts.
    The explosion of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, which has killed at least three people and sent tsunami waves across the Pacific, knocked out connectivity to the archipelago on Saturday.
    A specialist ship is aiming to embark from Port Moresby on a repair voyage over the weekend, said Samiuela Fonua, chairman of cable owner Tonga Cable Ltd.
    But with eight or nine days sailing to collect equipment in Samoa and then an uncertain journey toward the fault in the eruption area he said it will be “lucky” if the job is done within a month.
    “It could be longer than that,” he added on the telephone from Auckland where he has been co-ordinating the repair.
    “The cables are actually around the volcanic zone.    We don’t know … whether they are intact or blown away or stuck somewhere underwater.    We don’t know if it’s buried even deeper.”
    In the meantime, Tongans abroad are praying as they wait for news of their friends and relatives.
    Telecom operator Digicel said its domestic network was active on Tonga’s most populous island and it was now focused on restoring international connections.    Tonga’s government and state-owned Tonga Communications Corp. could not be contacted.
    The virtual communications blackout has made relief efforts, already challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, even more difficult.    It also underscores the vulnerability of the subsea fibre-optic cables that have become the backbone of global telecoms.
    The $34 million Asian Development Bank and World Bank-funded cable was finished in 2018 and boosted Tonga’s net speeds more than 30-fold, but is almost its sole link to the wider world.
    Attempts to replicate an emergency satellite connection that was set up when the same cable was severed three years ago had stalled amidst a contract dispute between the government and Singapore-based satellite operator Kacific.
    The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday that Tonga is negotiating with Kacific, which has a satellite above the archipelago, to access a satellite internet connection.
    Tonga Cable will be expected to pay U.S. maintenance company SubCom for the repairs.    Chairman Fonua declined to provide an estimate but said the bill would probably come in below $1 million.    “We will settle the cost later,” he said.
    “There are some other cable companies as well that are willing to provide spare cables,” he added, without elaborating.
    Tonga will be able to access a $10 million Asian Development Bank relief facility upon request, the director general of the ADB’s Pacific department, Emma Veve, told Reuters on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Sydney. Additional reporting by Karen Lema in Manila.)

1/19/2022 Water Crisis Looms As Residents Tackle Debris In Tsunami-Hit Tonga by Praveen Menon, Kirsty Needham and Tom Westbrook
HMNZS Aotearoa departs to provide disaster relief and assistance to Tonga after a
volcanic eruption and tsunami, from Auckland, New Zealand, January 18, 2022, in this
still image taken from video. New Zealand Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) - Two New Zealand navy vessels will arrive in Tonga on Friday carrying critical water supplies for the Pacific island nation reeling from a volcanic eruption and tsunami and largely cut off from the outside world.
    At least three people were killed and hundreds of homes in Tonga’s smaller outer islands destroyed after Saturday’s huge eruption triggered tsunami waves that rolled over the islands, home to 105,000 people.
    With Tonga’s airport smothered in volcanic ash and communications hampered by the severing of an undersea cable, information on the scale of devastation has come mostly from reconnaissance aircraft.
    But photographs posted on social media revealed more of the devastation on Wednesday, showing coastal areas where trees and buildings had been swept away and neighbourhoods covered with a thick coating of ash.    People worked together to clear the debris and inspect the ruins of their homes.
    The Red Cross said its teams in Tonga had confirmed that salt water from the tsunami and volcanic ash were polluting the drinking water of tens of thousands of people.
    “Securing access to safe drinking water is a critical immediate priority … as there is a mounting risk of diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea,” said Katie Greenwood of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
    New Zealand said Tonga, one of the few countries to be free of the new coronavirus, had agreed to receive two of its ships, the Aotearoa and the Wellington, despite concerns about importing a COVID-19 outbreak that would exacerbate its crisis.
    Simon Griffiths, captain of the Aotearoa, said his ship was carrying 250,000 litres of water, along with other supplies, and had the capacity to produce another 70,000 litres a day.
    The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted about 40 miles (65 km) from the Tongan capital with a blast heard 2,300 km (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, and sent tsunamis across the Pacific Ocean.
    James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said the force of the eruption was estimated to be the equivalent of five to 10 megatons of TNT, or more than 500 times that of the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of World War Two.
    Waves reaching up to 15 metres (49 feet) hit the outer Ha’apia island group, destroying all the houses on the island of Mango, as well as the west coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, where 56 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged, the prime minister’s office said.
    Tongan communities abroad have already posted images from families on Facebook, giving glimpses of homes reduced to rubble, fallen trees, cracked roads and sidewalks and everything coated in grey ash.
    Tonga has been largely offline since the volcano damaged its sole undersea fibre-optic communication cable.    Its owner said it would probably take a month or more to fix.
    Telecommunications operator Digicel said it had restored some international phone service to Tonga through a satellite link, though numerous attempts by Reuters to get through were unsuccessful.
    The archipelago has 176 islands, 36 of them inhabited.    Its main airport, Fua’amotu International, was not damaged by the tsunami but was covered in ash, which has had to be cleared by hand.
    A Tongan official said it might be possible for aid flights from New Zealand and Australia to begin on Thursday.
    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke with Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni.     He said two Hercules aircraft were ready to go with humanitarian supplies and telecommunications equipment, and that a naval ship, the Adelaide, was preparing to depart from Brisbane with water purification equipment and additional humanitarian supplies.
    Australia and New Zealand have also promised immediate financial assistance.
    The U.S. Agency for International Development approved $100,000 in immediate assistance, and Japan said it would give more than $1 million in aid as well as drinking water and equipment to clear ash.
    The Asian Development Bank was discussing with Tonga whether it would declare a state of emergency to draw on a $10-million disaster facility, senior bank official Emma Veve told Reuters.
    China said it would send help including water and food when the airport opened.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon, Kirsty Needham, Tom Westbrook, Karen Lema, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Jane Wardell; Writing by Robert Birsel and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Janet Lawrence)

1/20/2022 Earth’s core is rapidly cooling, researchers say by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY
    Earth’s interior is cooling faster than previously estimated, according to a recent study, prompting questions about how long people can live on the planet. There’s no timetable on the cooling process, which could eventually turn Earth solid, similar to Mars. But results from a new study, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, focuses on how quickly the core might cool by studying bridgmanite, a heat-conducting mineral commonly found at the boundary between the Earth’s core and mantle. “Our results could give us a new perspective on the evolution of the Earth’s dynamics,” ETH Zurich professor Motohiko Murakami said in a news release. The boundary between the Earth’s outer core and mantle is where the planet’s internal heat interaction exists.    The scientific team studied how much bridgmanite conducts from the Earth’s core and found higher heat flow is coming from the core into the mantle, dissipating the overall heat and cooling much faster than initially thought.

1/20/2022 First Aid Finally Reaches Tonga As Telephone Lines Partially Restored by Praveen Menon, Kirsty Needham and Michelle Nichols
HMAS Adelaide embarks Australian Army CH-47 Chinook Heavy-Lift Helicopters before departing the port of Brisbane
for Tonga to assist in relief efforts, January 19, 2022. Australian Department of Defence/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) -The first aircraft carrying humanitarian supplies arrived in Tonga on Thursday, five days after the South Pacific island nation was hit by a volcanic eruption and tsunami that devastated communities and spoiled most of its drinking water. A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules landed in Tonga’s Fua’amotu International Airport, a defence spokesperson said, after a blanket of volcanic ash was cleared off the runway. An Australian Globemaster military transport aircraft also landed. “The C-17A flight today was made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of Tongan authorities who have worked to clear a thick layer of volcanic ash from the runway,” Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement. Dutton said the aircraft was loaded with supplies including water desalination equipment, shelter, kitchens, and a sweeper to help remove ash from the airport. A second Australian aircraft was due to make the flight on Thursday. The New Zealand aircraft was carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including kits for temporary shelters, generators, hygiene and family kits, and communications equipment, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement. The delivery of the supplies brought in by both aircraft was contactless to ensure Tonga remains free of the coronavirus. The explosion of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Saturday killed at least three people, sent tsunami waves rolling across the archipelago, damaging villages, resorts and many buildings and knocked out communications for the nation of about 105,000 people. Rachael Moore, Australia’s high commissioner to Tonga, said the loss of property had been “catastrophic”. “Along the western beaches there is a moonscape where once beautiful resorts and many, many homes stood,” Moore told Australian radio, adding that drinking water was “an extremely high priority”. Telephone links between Tonga and the outside world were reconnected late on Wednesday, though restoring full internet services was likely to take a month or more, according to the owner of the archipelago’s sole subsea communications cable. Speaking to Reuters from the capital, Nuku’alofa, journalist Marian Kupu said Tongans were cleaning up all the dust from the volcanic eruption but feared they may run out of drinking water. “Each home has their own tanks of water supply but most of them are filled with dust so it’s not safe for drinking,” Kupu said.
    New Zealand is sending two ships, one of which is carrying 250,000 litres of water and desalination equipment that will be able to produce 70,000 litres a day. This ship is due to arrive on Friday, while the other is due in earlier on Thursday to check shipping channels and wharf approaches at Tonga’s port. An Australian ship is due to set sail on Friday. Tongans abroad were frantically calling families back home to ensure they are safe. “It was very relieving to hear from them,” said Fatafehi Fakafanua, the speaker of Tonga’s legislative assembly, who was in New Zealand when the disaster struck, after making contact with his family. “They are fine … The government has advised them to drink bottled water, to cover up when they are outside and also wear masks because of the ash.” The United Nations said that about 84,000 people – more than 80% of the population – has been badly affected by the disaster with safe water being “the biggest life saving issue,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted about 40 miles (65 km) from the Tongan capital with a blast heard 2,300 km (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand. Waves reaching up to 15 metres (49 feet) hit the outer Ha’apai island group, destroying all the houses on the island of Mango, as well as the west coast of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, where 56 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged, the prime minister’s office said. “It’s going to be a long, long, long road to recovery,” Fakafanua said. (Reporting by Praveen Menon, Kirsty Needham and Michelle Nichols; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Michael Perry and Richard Pullin)

1/20/2022 In Tonga, A Volcano-Triggered Tsunami Underscores Islands’ Acute Climate Risk by Kanupriya Kapoor and Gloria Dickie
A view of a beach and debris following volcanic eruption and tsunami, in Nuku'alofa,
Tonga January 18, 2022 in this picture obtained from social media on January 19, 2022.
Courtesy of Marian Kupu/Broadcom Broadcasting FM87.5/via REUTERS
(Refiles to correct link to graphic in sixth paragraph)
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) – For the South Pacific island nation of Tonga, the tsunami unleashed by Saturday’s volcanic eruption laid bare some of the ways that climate change is threatening the islands’ very existence.
    By increasing temperatures and driving up sea levels, climate change will likely worsen disasters wrought by tsunamis, storm surges, and heat waves, experts say.
    Acutely aware of this risk, Tonga has been a key voice representing climate-vulnerable nations, saying at the U.N. climate talks in November that global warming “beyond the 1.5 C threshold would spell absolute catastrophe for Tonga” and other Pacific Islands as they are subsumed by the sea.
    Their plea for global climate action is especially desperate, given that Pacific island nations account for only 0.03% of global carbon emissions, according to the World Bank.
    “While we are resilient and trying to adapt, it only takes a few extra meters of water to cover a house, to kill a child or family,” said Shairana Ali, CEO of the international charity Save the Children, in neighbouring Fiji.
    Tonga reported that waves of up to 15 meters crashed ashore on its outer islands after the volcanic eruption, flattening homes and killing at least three people.    The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific.
    As sea levels continue to rise in coming decades, tsunamis and storm surges will likely be reaching further inland with even more risk of damage.
    “Tsunami surge and storm surge sit on top of sea level,” said Benjamin Horton, who has studied global sea-level rise and is chief of the Earth Observatory of Singapore. So with higher seas, “you won’t need such big natural disasters to cause widespread devastation.”     Sea levels around the archipelagic nation of 105,000 people are increasing by about 6 mm per year, nearly twice the average global rate, according to the U.N.’s Global Sea Level Observing System. This is because the islands sit in warmer waters near the equator, where sea level rise is more pronounced than at the poles.     The damage from tsunamis and storm surges doesn’t stop at wave destruction.    Sea water that washes ashore can taint agricultural soil and leave it useless for years.    Tsunami waves also exacerbate coastal erosion and destroy natural buffers against rising seas, such as coral reefs and mangroves.
    With climate change warming the ocean’s surface, such storm surges are more likely as the warm water fuels increasingly powerful cyclones.    Tonga and neighboring countries were battered by two category five cyclones in the last four years, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
    Tongan temperatures are already rising, with the average daily temperature now 0.6°C higher than it was in 1979.    The frequency of hot days and hot nights has gone up across the Pacific.
    That continued warming is likely to make the soil drier as high temperatures cause more evaporation and affect regional rainfall patterns, according to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
    The country will likely experience more heat waves in the next few decades, with temperatures frequently breaching 35°C, the report found.    That extreme heat can be especially dangerous when combined with tropical humidity.
    Sea waters are heating up too, at three times the rate of the global average, World Meteorological Organization data shows.    And marine heatwaves – which can kill fish and corals – are becoming more frequent, more intense, and lasting longer in most of the Pacific Ocean.
    Tonga itself saw a large blob of ocean heat form southeast of its islands in January 2020, with surface water temperatures registering 6 degrees Celsius above average for that month.
    Pacific Islanders are expected to be among the first groups of global climate refugees, as the effects of climate change push them out of their homelands.     “Maybe it will eventually come to that. But I hope not,” said Josephine Latu-Sanft, a Tongan who now lives in London and works as a climate communicator. “People don’t want to move.”     Tongans have already rebuilt their communities twice in recent years – following Cyclone Gita in 2018, and again after Cyclone Harold in 2020.     “Tongans are very resilient,” and are reluctant to leave the islands despite the risks, Latu-Sanft said.    “We’ve lived there for centuries.    Our roots and identity are in the land and in the sea.”
(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor in Singapore and Gloria Dickie in London; Editing by Katy Daigle and Richard Pullin)

1/20/2022 Peru Says Oil Spill Caused By Tonga Waves Is An ‘Ecological Disaster’ by Marco Aquino
Workers walk through foam on a shore affected by an oil spill caused by abnormal waves,
triggered by a massive underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga, off the
coast of Lima, in Ventanilla, Peru, January 19, 2022. REUTERS/Angela Ponce
(Refiles to edit headline)
    LIMA (Reuters) – An oil spill at a refinery in Peru during high waves caused by the explosion last weekend of a volcano in Tonga is an “ecological disaster,” the Peruvian government said on Wednesday.
    The foreign ministry said that the oil spill had harmed animal and plant life in protected zones over a combined area of some 18,000 square kilometers (6,950 square miles) around islands and fishing regions.
    The spill from a tanker that was unloading crude at Spanish oil company Repsol’s La Pampilla refinery was blamed on unusually large waves after the massive undersea volcano explosion in Tonga some 10,000 km (6,213 miles) away triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean.
    The ministry called on Repsol to pay for the incident.
    “This is the worst ecological disaster that has occurred around Lima in recent times and has seriously damaged hundreds of fishermen’s families.    Repsol must immediately compensate for the damage,” the ministry said on Twitter.
    Peruvian prosecutors opened an investigation into a unit of Repsol due to the incident.
    Environment Minister Ruben Ramirez met with Repsol’s officials and said that around 6,000 barrels of oil were spilled, according to the company.
    Peru’s Supervisory Agency for Investment in Energy and Mining (Osinergmin) said in a statement it has ordered one of the refinery’s four terminals to be shut down until the causes of the spill are determined.
    La Pampilla is Peru’s largest refinery and supplies more than half of the local fuel market.
(This story was refiled to edit headline)
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Sandra Maler)

1/20/2022 NASA Begins Process Of Bringing New Space Telescope Into Focus by Steve Gorman
FILE PHOTO: The James Webb Space Telescope is packed up for shipment to its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana in an undated
photograph at Northrop Grumman's Space Park in Redondo Beach, California. NASA/Chris Gunn/Handout via REUTERS
(This Jan 12 story corrects the location of mission operations center in paragraph 2 to Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, instead of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland)
    (Reuters) – NASA on Wednesday embarked on a months-long, painstaking process of bringing its newly launched James Webb Space Telescope into focus, a task due for completion in time for the revolutionary eye in the sky to begin peering into the cosmos by early summer.
    Mission control engineers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore began by sending their initial commands to tiny motors called actuators that slowly position and fine-tune the telescope’s principal mirror.
    Consisting of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium metal, the primary mirror measures 21 feet 4 inches (6.5 m) in diameter – a much larger light-collecting surface than Webb’s predecessor, the 30-year-old Hubble Space Telescope.
    The 18 segments, which had been folded together to fit inside the cargo bay of the rocket that carried the telescope to space, were unfurled with the rest of its structural components during a two-week period following Webb’s launch on Dec. 25.
    Those segments must now be detached from fasteners that held them in place for the launch and then moved forward half an inch from their original configuration – a 10-day process – before they can be aligned to form a single, unbroken, light-collecting surface.
    The alignment will take an additional three months, Lee Feinberg, the Webb optical telescope element manager at Goddard, told Reuters by telephone.
    Aligning the primary mirror segments to form one large mirror means each segment “is aligned to one-five-thousandth the thickness of a human hair,” Feinberg said.
    “All of this required us to invent things that had never been done before,” such as the actuators, which were built to move incrementally at minus 400 Fahrenheit (minus 240 Celsius) in the vacuum of space, he added.
    The telescope’s smaller, secondary mirror, designed to direct light collected from the primary lens into Webb’s camera and other instruments, must also be aligned to operate as part of a cohesive optical system.
    If all goes as planned, the telescope should be ready to capture its first science images in May, which would be processed over about another month before they can be released to the public, Feinberg said.
    The $9-billion telescope, described by NASA as the premier space-science observatory of the next decade, will mainly view the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing it to gaze through clouds of gas and dust where stars are being born.    Hubble has operated primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
    Webb is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble, enabling it to observe objects at greater distances, thus farther back in time, than Hubble or any other telescope.
    Astronomers say this will bring into view a glimpse of the cosmos never previously seen – dating to just 100 million years after the Big Bang, the theoretical flashpoint that set in motion the expansion of the observable universe an estimated 13.8 billion years ago.
    The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies.    Northrop Grumman Corp was the primary contractor.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Karishma Singh)

1/21/2022 Biden targets poison coal ash plaguing Kentucky and Indiana by Watchdog Earth, James Bruggers Louisville Courier Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
    The Biden administration is making its first significant move toward corralling lingering and widespread problems with toxic ash from coal-fired power plants, one of the nation’s most prominent environmental health legacies from more than a century of coal-fired electricity generation.    The agency’s action could have major implications in states like Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee, each of which have been wrestling with the consequences of huge volumes of waste products left behind by burning coal.
    It is also where decisions are being made on whether coal ash can be safely entombed where it was once stored in watery pits, or whether the waste should be removed and sent to modern, dry landfills with liner systems and other measures to protect groundwater.
    In 2015, the EPA under the Obama administration put forth the first national rules on coal ash, which required most of the nation’s approximately 500 unlined coal ash surface impoundments to stop receiving waste and begin closing by April 2021.
    Those ash dumps, laced with contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic, often pollute groundwater and send particulate air pollution into nearby communities.
Top: A coal-ash pond in 2016 at the now-retired Gallagher power plant in New Albany, Ind. Above:
Coal-ash pond at the plant in 2002. Toxic ash from power plants has caused widespread problems. FILE/THE CJ
    While the Trump administration allowed utilities to request extensions, the Biden EPA announced Tuesday it is taking action on nine of 57 extension applications filed.
    The agency denied three, including one filed by the Clifty Power plant in Madison, Indiana. It approved one, at East Kentucky Power’s Spurlock power plant in Maysville, Kentucky, and it found four incomplete and one ineligible.
    More determinations, EPA officials said, are coming.
    EPA deems retired Gallagher plant in Indiana out of compliance.
    The EPA also said it was putting several power plants on notice regarding their obligations to comply with rules, and it was working on plans for future changes to regulations aimed at making sure coal ash dumps meet strong environmental and safety standards.
    One of those plants to get a letter saying it was out of compliance was the now-retired Gallagher plant in New     Albany, owned by Duke Energy, which had stored millions of tons of coal ash near the banks of the Ohio River across from western Louisville.
    The plant, whose twin stacks sent air pollution to Louisville for six decades, prompting prolonged regulatory battles, has two surface impoundments with ash sitting in 20 feet of groundwater, according to EPA.    If Duke wants to avoid removing the ash, it will have to demonstrate how it can keep it in place without causing contaminants in the ash from getting into the groundwater, EPA said.
    Duke Energy told the IndyStar it believes its current work was done in full compliance with regulations and industry standards.    Still, “we have a shared interest with federal and state regulators to ensure customers and communities continue to remain protected in the future,” said utility spokeswoman Angeline Protogere.
    In the agency’s actions, environmental lawyers who have been fighting for coal ash regulations saw a reason for optimism.
    Abel Russ, a senior attorney with the group Environmental Integrity Project, said EPA’s proposed actions show it understands utilities are not properly monitoring groundwater in ways that can preclude cleanup requirements.
    “It’s a start of a process where we hope to see enforcement from multiple levels,” said Russ, the lead author of a 2019 report that used utility records to determine there were unsafe levels of toxic contaminants in groundwater linked to more than nine out of every 10 coal-fired power plants.
    Tennessee Valley Authority riddled with leaky coal ash pits.
    The Southern Environmental Law Center, which has litigated and won coal ash cleanup cases in states like North Carolina and South Carolina, said EPA’s determinations set a precedent for compliance nationwide, including in Tennessee, where the law center says tens of millions of tons of coal ash remains in leaky coal ash pits at Tennessee Valley Authority power plants.
    “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stepped up to offer communities hope and to protect clean water, rivers, and drinking water supplies from the threats posed by coal ash,” said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the law center.    “With EPA’s leadership, we now have the opportunity to put coal ash pollution and catastrophes behind us and to restore common-sense protections for communities across the South who have lived with coal ash contamination for far too long.”
    The Edison Electric Institute, a trade group that represents investor-owned utilities, has long maintained that electric companies are managing coal ash “in ways that put safety first, protect the environment, minimize impacts to the community, and manage costs for customers.”
    Institute spokesman Brian Reil did not immediately return requests for comment on the EPA actions.    Nor did Jim Roewer, the executive director of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, an association of more than 131 utilities.
    Utilities have argued they can remove the surface water from a coal ash pit and cover it up to protect the environment.
    In announcing its proposed determinations, the agency said it was affirming its view that ash disposal pits or landfills cannot be closed with ash in contact with groundwater.    Limiting contact between coal ash and groundwater after closure is critical to minimizing releases of contaminants into the environment and contamination of water for drinking and recreation, it stated.
    “I’ve seen first-hand how coal ash contamination can hurt people and communities,” EPA administrator Michael Regan said in announcing Tuesday’s action.    “Coal ash surface impoundments and landfills must operate and close in a manner that protects public health and the environment. Today’s actions will help us protect communities and hold facilities accountable.”
    What is coal ash?
    Coal ash and other combustion wastes are what remains after coal is burned to generate electricity.
    The mercury, cadmium and arsenic contained in waste piles can pollute the air and groundwater and are associated with cancer and other health ailments.    Over the last century, hundreds of power plants produced billions of tons of ash and other combustion wastes, including scrubber sludge.
    Lisa Evans, a senior attorney specializing in hazardous waste law at Earthjustice, a national environmental law organization, described the new EPA proposed actions, taken together, as a potential “game-changer.”
    She said they signal that the agency intends to use enforcement powers it has not previously employed to crack down on what she described as “blatant noncompliance” by utilities that has left what often are communities of color exposed to toxic pollution.
    Still, Evans noted the EPA announcement does not address the problem of coal ash that was dumped and buried before the 2015 EPA regulations went into effect — perhaps as much as half of all the coal ash ever produced.
    Inside Climate News is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet that covers climate, energy and the environment.

1/21/2022 Peru’s Castillo Decrees Major Oil Spill An Environmental Emergency by Marco Aquino
FILE PHOTO: A worker stands near a dead sea bird as he and his colleagues clean an oil spill
caused by abnormal waves, triggered by a massive underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga,
off the coast of Lima, in Ventanilla, Peru January 19, 2022. REUTERS/Angela Ponce
    LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian President Pedro Castillo declared an environmental emergency on Thursday as clean-up teams struggled to contain a huge oil spill at the country’s biggest refinery, after rogue waves rocked a ship unloading crude there.
    The spill, blamed on unusual swells caused by a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away in Tonga on Sunday, has dirtied waters and beaches along Peru’s Pacific coast, with dead birds and seals washing up on shore.
    “We are at a critical moment in environmental matters,” said Castillo, before signing the emergency decree on one of the beaches hit by the spill.    “This is the most worrying ecological disaster on the Peruvian coast in recent times.”
    “We cannot shy away from responsibilities, it is about assuming them, in this case the company that caused this ecological disaster,” he added.
    A spokeswoman for La Pampilla refinery, owned by Spanish energy firm Repsol, has said the firm was not responsible for the spill and blamed the Peruvian Navy for not issuing a tsunami warning after the Tonga eruption.
    Unlike other Pacific countries, Peruvian authorities warned of unusual waves only after the eruption.
    Environment Minister Ruben Ramirez has said that some 6,000 barrels of oil were spilled in the incident, which has left oil on 21 beaches.
    Peru’s Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA) said in a statement that as of Thursday the area affected included 1.7 million square meters of land and 1.2 million square meters in the sea.
    Repsol said in a statement on Thursday that a team of divers was exploring underwater damage from the spill, and said it had deployed more than 2,500 meters of containment booms and 10 boats to recover oil from the sea.
    “We regret not having adequately communicated all our commitments and the actions that have been carried out to address the impact,” Repsol said, after facing criticism for its response.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Carolina Pulice, Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

1/21/2022 La Palma Residents Scale Volcanic Ash Mountains To Return Home by Joan Faus and Horaci Garcia
Dionisio Leal looks at heaps of ash from the Cumbre Vieja volcano surrounding his house
as he stands at the window, in Las Manchas neighbourhood on the Canary Island
of La Palma, Spain, January 20, 2022. Picture taken January 20, 2022. REUTERS/Borja Suarez
    LAS MANCHAS, Spain (Reuters) – Eighty-year-old Sabino Leal Jeronimo returned to his home on Spain’s Canary Island of La Palma for the first time in four months on Friday after a volcanic eruption forced him to flee.
    Lava streams may no longer threaten to burn down his house in the hilly town of Las Manchas, but what greeted him was still daunting – three-metre (10 feet) mounds of black ash piled around his home and in the surrounding streets, forcing him to clamber up hills and pick his way down a filthy staircase to access his home by the back door.
    “It’s a mess inside, it’s what happens with ash and dust – it gets everywhere.    What can you do? You can’t fight nature,” the pensioner told Reuters stoically.
    The house, in the foothills of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, is in one of a number of areas residents were told last Tuesday they could return to after a three month-long eruption was declared officially over on Christmas Day.
    Jeronimo kept faith that his home – which was built by his grandparents and where he was born – was not among the around 3,000 buildings that were destroyed by the rivers of molten rock.
    The only structural damage it suffered was the partial collapse of the garage ceiling, trapping his car underneath.
    He has until now received no official help to clear the ash but said he would manage bit by bit with the help of his four children and friends.    He is currently living in a hotel provided by local authorities for many of the 7,000 people forced to leave their homes.
    Recovering a sense of normality, however, will take time with so much debris still blocking the roads and with interrupted water and electricity services.
    “I feel fine, I am a very calm person,” grinned Jeronimo, as across the road, firemen poured water into tanks to supply homes.    “But if I can move back, I will feel more relaxed.”     Maria Inmaculada Perez, 62, was less sanguine as she dug through the ash around her home with her>     Like Jeromino, she is living in a hotel but hopes to go home in July if the authorities help with the clean up.    She is fearful that rain could solidfy the ash, and unsure though whether it will be safe enough for her 84-year-old mother, who lived next door, to come home.
    “It’s so painful to see the house like this,” she said.    “We need help.    The more ash we remove, the more we find.    It makes us feel very impotent.”
    The La Palma authorities have warned residents to clear ash wearing masks and protective clothing and avoid entering basements where toxic gases could still be trapped.    They have offered help to vulnerable populations and people whose homes are unstable.
(Reporting by Joan Faus, Horaci Garcia and Borja Suarez, Writing by Joan Faus, editing by Aislinn Laing and Angus MacSwan)

1/22/2022 Southern Japan Earthquake Injures 13, No Tsunami Warning
A collapsed gate to the residential house caused by an earthquake is seen in Oita, southern
Japan January 22, 2022, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
    TOKYO (Reuters) -An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 jolted southwestern Japan early on Saturday morning, injuring 13 people, the authorities and local media said.
    No tsunami warning was issued after the quake struck with an epicentre 45 km (30 miles) deep at 1:08 a.m. (1608 GMT on Friday) off the coast of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.
    The quake caused shaking in Oita and Miyazaki prefectures that measured 5+ on Japan’s seismic intensity scale, which has a maximum of 7, the agency said.
    Thirteen people were injured in nearby regions, including two people in their 80s who were seriously hurt, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing local authorities.
    Multiple reports of damage to buildings, water pipes and roads have been confirmed, said public broadcaster NHK.
    No abnormalities were reported at the Ikata nuclear power plant, operated by Shikoku Electric Power, or the Sendai plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power in southern Japan, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said.
    “In the past, 10% to 20% of strong earthquakes were followed by a quake of the same level, so be aware of another quake of up to 5+ intensity scale in regions that experienced large jolts, for around a week,” the JMA said in a statement.
(Reporting by David Dolan and Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Catherine Evans and William Mallard)

1/22/2022 ‘Smells Like Death’: Peru Oil Spill Clear-Up Drags On As Fishermen Count Cost
Fishermen load fish on boxes, after the oil spill pollution caused by abnormal waves triggered by a massive underwater
volcanic eruption half a world away in Tonga, in Lima, Peru, January 21, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
    LIMA (Reuters) – Spanish energy firm Repsol said on Friday a clear-up operation for a major oil spill on the coast near Peru’s capital Lima would take until the end of February, in an environmental incident declared a ‘catastrophe’ by the government.
    Dead seals, fish and birds have washed up on the shore covered in oil, while fishing activities in the area have been suspended, the government has said. Repsol said it had enlisted fishermen to help clear-up the oil.
    “I used to collect crustaceans, but now, when I walk to the shore, they are dead,” fisherman Walter de la Cruz told Reuters.    “Fishermen used to go sell the seafood that we collect.    But now everything smells like death.”
    The Pacific Ocean off Peru is a significant source of marine life and seafood for Peruvians, who cherish dishes such as ceviche.
    The government has said Repsol spilled some 6,000 barrels of oil into the ocean last week near its La Pampilla refinery, which the company has blamed on unusual waves triggered by a volcanic eruption in Tonga.
    The company has declined to state the magnitude of the spill, saying its still evaluating the impact.
    Repsol added in a statement to Peru’s securities regulator SMV that oil refining operations are continuing normally and that it does not expect an official investigation to “significantly affect” the subsidiary’s business position.
    “This incident has not affected the continuity of our operations, or our capacity to supply the market,” Repsol said in a statement.    “The event has not had a significant impact on the productive activities of the refinery.”
    Peru’s environmental agency OEFA said on Thursday that about 1.7 million square meters (420.08 acres) of soil and 1.2 million square meters of ocean had been affected by the spill.
    Leftist Peruvian President Pedro Castillo described it as the biggest “ecological disaster” to affect the Andean nation in recent years.
    Repsol added it had deployed about 840 people to help with cleaning tasks.    Repsol’s La Pampilla accounts for 54% of Peru’s refining capacity.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Reuters TV; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

1/25/2022 NASA’s New Space Telescope Reaches Destination In Solar Orbit by Steve Gorman
FILE PHOTO: The James Webb Space Telescope is packed up for shipment to its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana in an undated photograph
at Northrop Grumman's Space Park in Redondo Beach, California. NASA/Chris Gunn/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) -NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, designed to give the world an unprecedented glimpse of infant galaxies in the early stages of the universe, arrived at its gravitational parking spot in orbit around the sun on Monday, nearly a million miles from Earth.
    With a final five-minute, course-correcting thrust of its onboard rocket, Webb reached its destination at a position of gravitational equilibrium known as the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, or L2, arriving one month after launch, NASA officials said.
    The thruster was activated by mission control engineers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, with radio signals confirming Webb was successfully “inserted” into its desired orbital loop around L2.
    From there, Webb will follow a special “halo.” path that keeps it in constant alignment with Earth but out of its shadow, as the planet and telescope circle the sun in tandem.    The prescribed L2 orbit within the larger solar orbit thus enables uninterrupted radio contact, while bathing Webb’s solar-power array in non-stop sunlight.
    By comparison, Webb’s 30-year-old predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, orbits the Earth from 340 miles (547 km) away, passing in and out of the planet’s shadow every 90 minutes.
    The combined pull of the sun and Earth at L2 – a point of near gravitational stability first deduced by 18-century mathematician Joseph-Louis Legrange – will minimize the telescope’s drift in space.
    But ground teams will need to fire Webb’s thruster briefly again about once every three weeks to keep it on track, Keith Parrish, the observatory’s commissioning manager from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, told reporters on Monday.
    Mission engineers are preparing next to fine-tune the telescope’s primary mirror – an array of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-coated beryllium metal measuring 21 feet, 4 inches (6.5 meters) across, far larger than Hubble’s main mirror.
    Its size and design – operating mainly in the infrared spectrum – will allow Webb to peer through clouds of gas and dust and observe objects at greater distances, thus farther back in time, than Hubble or any other telescope.
    These features are expected to usher in a revolution in astronomy, giving a first view of infant galaxies dating to just 100 million years after the Big Bang, the theoretical flashpoint that set the expansion of the known universe in motion an estimated 13.8 billion years ago.
    Webb’s instruments also make it ideal to search for signs of potentially life-supporting atmospheres around scores of newly documented exoplanets – celestial bodies orbiting distant stars – and to observe worlds much closer to home, such as Mars and Saturn’s icy moon Titan.
    It will take several more months of work to ready the telescope for its astronomical debut.
    The 18 segments of its principal mirror, which had been folded together to fit inside the cargo bay of the rocket that carried the telescope to space, were unfurled with the rest of its structural components during a two-week period following Webb’s launch on Dec. 25.
    Those segments were recently detached from fasteners and edged away from their original launch position.    They now must be precisely aligned – to within one-ten-thousandth the thickness of a human hair – to form a single, unbroken light-collecting surface.
    Ground teams will also start activating Webb’s various imaging and spectrographic instruments to be used in the three-month mirror alignment.    This will be followed by two months spent calibrating the instruments themselves.
    Mirror alignment will begin by aiming the telescope at a rather ordinary, isolated star, dubbed HD-84406, located in the Ursa Major, or “Big Dipper,” constellation but too faint to be seen from Earth with the naked eye.     Engineers will then gradually tune Webb’s mirror segments to “stack” 18 separate reflections of the star into a single, focused image, Lee Feinberg, Webb’s optical telescope element manager at Goddard, said during Monday’s NASA teleconference.
    Alignment is expected to start next week when the telescope, whose infrared design makes it super-sensitive to heat, has cooled down enough in space to work properly – a temperature of about 400 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-240 Celsius).
    If all goes smoothly, Webb should be ready to begin making scientific observations by summer.
    Sometime in June, NASA expects to make public its “early release observations,” a ‘greatest hits’ collection of initial images used to demonstrate proper functioning of Webb’s instruments during its commissioning phase.
    Webb’s most ambitious work, including plans to train its mirror on objects farthest from Earth, will take a bit longer to conduct.
    The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies.    Northrop Grumman Corp was the primary contractor.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Karishma Singh, Rosalba O’Brien and Kenneth Maxwell)

1/28/2022 Scientists Amazed By Blinking Star’s ‘Totally Unexpected’ Behavior by Will Dunham
An artist's impression of an object located roughly 4,200 light years from our solar system that may be a type
of neutron star - the dense, collapsed core of a massive star that exploded as a supernova - called
a magnetar, in this handout image obtained January 27, 2022. The object was detected using the Murchison
Widefield Array telescope in Australia. Courtesty of International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research/Handout via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have detected what appears to be an incredibly dense star behaving unlike anything else ever seen – and suspect it might be a type of exotic astrophysical object whose existence has until now been only hypothesized.
    The object, spotted using the Murchison Widefield Array telescope in outback Western Australia, unleashed huge bursts of energy roughly three times per hour when viewed from Earth during two months in 2018, the researchers said.
    It may be the first known example of what is called an “ultra-long period magnetar,” they said.    This is a variety of a neutron star – the compact collapsed core of a massive star that exploded as a supernova – that is highly magnetized and rotates relatively slowly, as opposed to fast-spinning neutron star objects called pulsars that appear from Earth to be blinking on and off within milliseconds or seconds.
    “It’s mind-bogglingly wonderful that the universe is still full of surprises,” said radio astronomer Natasha Hurley-Walker at the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Australia, lead author of the study published this week in the journal Nature.
    The object may be continuously beaming strong radio waves from its north and south poles.    As that beam swept through the line of sight from Earth’s vantage point, it appeared to switch on every 18 minutes and 11 seconds for about 30 to 60 seconds, then off again.    That is an effect similar to a lighthouse with a rotating light that seems to blink on and off from the perspective of a stationary observer.
    It was found in a broader research effort mapping celestial sources of radio waves.
    “This is an entirely new kind of source that no one has ever seen before,” Hurley-Walker said.    “And while we know the Milky Way must be full of slowly spinning neutron stars, no one expected them to be able to produce bright radio emission like this.    It’s a dream come true to find something so totally unexpected and amazing.”
    It is located relatively close to Earth in cosmic terms, roughly 4,200 light years – the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km) – away.
    “It’s incredibly bright when it’s ‘on.’    It’s one of the brightest radio sources in the sky,” said study co-author Tyrone O’Doherty, a Curtin ICRAR node doctoral student who found the object.
    It fits into a category called “transients” – astrophysical objects that appear to turn on for limited amounts of time.    “Slow transients” like a supernova can suddenly appear then disappear a few months later as the stellar explosion dissipates.    Pulsars are “fast transients,” rapidly blinking on and off.    Transients between these two extremes had remained elusive until now.
    Neutron stars including pulsars are among the universe’s densest objects.    They are roughly 7.5 miles (12 km) in diameter – akin to the size of a city – but with more mass than our sun.    A neutron star with an extreme magnetic field, a magnetar, could potentially power the radio pulsations, the researchers said.
    As for why its rotation is so slow, it could be that it is very old and has slowed over time, according to Curtin ICRAR node astrophysicist and study co-author Gemma Anderson.
    “This is more likely to be the ‘first of its kind’ rather than ‘one of a kind,” Anderson said.
    It also perhaps could be another type of dead star called a white dwarf or something completely unknown, Hurley-Walker said.
    The researchers have not detected it since 2018.
    “We are now monitoring this object using many different radio telescopes in the hope it switches ‘on’ again,” Anderson said.
(Reporting by Will Dunham, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

1/29/2022 Australia Boosts Spending To Protect Koalas
FILE PHOTO: Wildlife officer Lindy Thomas poses with koalas and their joeys produced by artificial
insemination at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Gold Coast, October 30, 2006. REUTERS/Greg White/File Photo
    MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia will spend an additional A$50 million ($35 million) in the next four years to protect koala habitat and slow the decline of the vulnerable species, the government said on Saturday.
    The marsupials native to Australia have been decimated by bushfires, disease and vehicles, with estimates of their numbers ranging from about 330,000 to no more than 100,000 in the wild.
    “Koalas are one of Australia’s most loved and best recognised icons … and we are committed to protecting them for generations to come,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
    The new package will take the government’s koala investment to more than A$74 million since 2019, and will be spent on habitat restoration, studying the population and expanding research on koala health.
    Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease also found in humans, has spread among koalas, affecting half the animals in some areas.
    A study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund estimated that more than 60,000 koalas had been killed, injured or affected in some way by bushfires in 2019 and 2020.
    Koalas dwell mostly in eucalypt forests in eastern states and on the coastal fringes, usually living up to 20 years.    They carry their young in a pouch and sleep for up to 18 hours a day.
($1 = 1.4314 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Stephen Coates)

1/29/2022 Thai Beach Declared Disaster Area After Oil Spill
Workers clean oil spills caused by a leak from an undersea pipeline 20 km (12.4 miles) off Thailand's
eastern coast at Mae Ramphueng beach in Rayong province, Thailand, January 29, 2022. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
    BANGKOK (Reuters) – A beach in eastern Thailand was declared a disaster area on Saturday as oil leaking from an underwater pipeline in the Gulf of Thailand continued to wash ashore and blacken the sand.
    The leak from the pipeline owned by Star Petroleum Refining Public Company Limited (SPRC) started late on Tuesday and was brought under control a day later after spilling an estimated 50,000 litres (13,209 gallons) of oil into the ocean 20 km (12 miles) from the country’s industrialised eastern seaboard.
    Some of the oil reached the shoreline at Mae Ramphueng beach in Rayong province late on Friday after spreading over 47 sq km (18 sq miles) of sea in the gulf.
    The navy is working with SPRC to contain the leak and said the main oil mass was still offshore with only a small amount washing up on at least two spots along the 12-km-long beach.
    About 150 SPRC workers and 200 navy personnel had been deployed to clean up the beach and oil boom barriers had been set up, the navy said.
    Twelve navy ships and three civilian ships along with a number of aircraft were also working to contain the spill at sea with booms and dispersant spray.
    “We and the company are still working at sea to reduce the amount of oil by cornering the spill and sucking up the oil and spraying dispersant,” Rear Admiral Artorn Charapinyo, deputy commander of the first Naval Area command, told reporters.
(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Stephen Coates)

1/31/2022 Heavy Rains Cause Landslides And Flooding In Săo Paulo, Killing 19
A house's gate is seen broken by flooding after heavy rains
in Caieiras, Brazil January 30, 2022. REUTERS/Carla Carniel
    BRASILIA (Reuters) -Landslides and flooding from heavy rains in Sao Paulo state have killed at least 19 people since Friday, including seven children, public safety officials said on Sunday.
    According to Săo Paulo state authorities, nine other people were injured in the rains and four more were missing, while some 500 families were left homeless across the state.
    Sao Paulo Governor Joăo Doria flew over the flooded areas on Sunday and said he had authorized 15 million reais ($2.79 million) of emergency aid for the affected cities.
    The federal government said in a statement from the Ministry of Regional Development that it is monitoring the situation.
    The hardest-hit municipalities around greater Săo Paulo included Aruja, Francisco Morato, Embu das Artes and Franco da Rocha.
    The storms also caused damages upstate in Varzea Paulista, Campo Limpo Paulista, Jau, Capivari, Montemor and Rafard, state officials said.
    Since December, heavy rains have triggered deadly floods in northeast Brazil, threatened to delay harvests in the midwest and briefly forced the suspension of mining operations in the state of Minas Gerais.
(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Editing by Sandra Maler)

2/1/2022 Penguins Offer Varied Clues To Antarctic Climate Change by Gloria Dickie and Natalie Thomas
Adelie penguins stand together as scientists investigate the impact of climate change on Antarctica's penguin
colonies, on the eastern side of the Antarctic peninsula, Antarctica January 17, 2022. REUTERS/Natalie Thomas
    ABOARD THE MV ARCTIC SUNRISE, Antarctica (Reuters) – Peering through binoculars from an inflatable motorboat bobbing in frigid waters, polar ecology researchers Michael Wethington and Alex Borowicz scan a rocky outcrop on Antarctica’s Andersson Island for splatterings of red-brown guano that might signal a colony of penguins nearby.
    The birds have become far more than an iconic symbol of the earth’s frozen south.    Scientists now use them as key indicators for understanding climate change near the South Pole – with certain western regions like the Antarctic Peninsula having undergone rapid warming, while East Antarctica remains cold and capped in ice.
    “We are counting penguin nests to understand how many penguins are in a colony, producing chicks every year, and whether that number is going up or down with the environmental conditions,” said Borowicz, of Stony Brook University in New York.
    For climate researchers, nothing is easy in the remote and icy reaches of Antarctica.    But penguins are easier to track than other species because they nest on land and their black feathers and their waste can be spotted against the white expanse.
    “We can use penguins as a bioindicator to see how the rest of the ecosystem is operating,” said Wethington, also of Stony Brook.
    Simple counts of individual penguins alongside other methods like analyses of satellite images tell a nuanced story, with some penguins dubbed ‘winners’ as climate change opens new habitats, while others are forced to seek colder climes.
    Gentoo penguins, with bright red-orange beaks and distinctive white markings on their heads, are partial to open water without chunks of ice bobbing around.
    When temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsula began rising faster than almost anywhere else in the world during the latter half of the 20th century, gentoo populations expanded southwards in what some scientists call the “gentoofication” of Antarctica.
    “Gentoo penguins don’t like sea ice,” said David Ainley, a biologist with the ecological consulting firm H.T.     Harvey & Associates who has been studying penguins for more than 50 years.    “They mostly forage over the continental shelf and don’t go far out to sea.”
    As sea ice has decreased along the western side of the peninsula, gentoos have taken advantage of the hospitable conditions.    But the same conditions have been worse for tuxedo-wearing Adelies, who rely on sea ice for breeding and feeding.
    “When we find Adelie penguins, we typically know that sea ice is nearby,” Wethington said.    “And whenever we’ve seen sea ice declining or disappearing altogether, then we’re seeing corresponding Adelie penguin populations decline substantially.”
    Though widespread Adelie penguins are increasing in number overall, some populations have fallen by more than 65 percent.
    On their January expedition to the region, the Stony Brook scientists found that Adelie colonies around the still-icy Weddell Sea had remained stable during the past decade.
    “This peninsula is maybe a safe space as we see climate change progressing and overall warming throughout the globe,” Wethington said.
    Heather Lynch, an ecologist at Stony Brook University who helped lead the expedition aboard the MV Arctic Sunrise, said the findings highlighted the region’s conservation value.
    In 2020, a team from the British Antarctic Survey discovered 11 new emperor penguin colonies from satellite images, boosting known emperor penguin colonies by 20 percent.
    But since 2016 nearly every chick has perished in the Halley Bay colony along the far eastern side of the Weddell Sea, which has long been home to the world’s second largest emperor penguin colony, with some 25,000 breeding pairs gathering every year.
    Scientists suspect the 2016 El Nińo event changed the sea ice dynamic in the area, and worry for the penguins as climate change increases the frequency and severity of El Nińo events.
    While the chicks’ deaths were not a direct result of climate change, “there is a climate change aspect to the loss,” said Peter Fretwell, a geographic information scientist at the British Antarctic Survey.
(Reporting by Gloria Dickie in London; Reporting by Natalie Thomas in Antarctica; Editing by Katy Daigle and Philippa Fletcher)

2/1/2021 Huge Volumes Of COVID Hospital Waste Threaten Health – WHO by Manojna Maddipatla and Emma Farge
FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured on the World Health Organization (WHO)
headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    GENEVA (Reuters) – Discarded syringes, used test kits and old vaccine bottles from the COVID-19 pandemic have piled up to create tens of thousands of tonnes of medical waste, threatening human health and the environment, a World Health Organization report said on Tuesday.
    The material, a portion of which could be infectious since coronavirus can survive on surfaces, potentially exposes health workers to burns, needle-stick injuries and disease-causing germs, the report said.
    Communities close to poorly-managed landfills can also be affected through contaminated air from burning waste, poor water quality or disease-carrying pests, it added.
    The report calls for reform and investment including through the reduction in the use of packaging that has caused a rush for plastic and the use of protective gear made from reusable and recyclable materials.
    It estimates that some 87,000 tonnes of personal protective equipment (PPE), or the equivalent of the weight of several hundred blue whales, has been ordered via a U.N. portal up until Nov. 2021 – most of which is thought to have ended up as waste.
    The report also mentions some 140 million test kits with a potential to generate 2,600 tonnes of mostly plastic trash and enough chemical waste to fill one-third of an Olympic swimming pool.
    In addition, it estimates that some 8 billion vaccine doses administered globally have produced an additional 144,000 tonnes of waste in the form of glass vials, syringes, needles, and safety boxes.
    The WHO report did not name specific examples of where the most egregious build-ups occurred but referred to challenges such as the limited official waste treatment and disposal in rural India as well as large volumes of faecal sludge from quarantine facilities in Madagascar.
    Even before the pandemic, around a third of healthcare facilities were not equipped to handle existing waste loads, the WHO said.    That was as high as 60% in poor countries, it said.
(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru and Emma Farge in Geneva; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

2/8/2022 MIT researchers create material as strong as steel and light as plastic by Michelle Shen, USA TODAY
    MIT researchers have developed a new material that’s as strong as steel but as light as plastic.
    It can be easily manufactured in large quantities, and the use cases range from lightweight coatings for cars and phones to building blocks for massive structures such as bridges, according to Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and the senior author of a new study.
    'We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things,' he said in a statement from MIT.    'It has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that.'
    The material is several times stronger than bulletproof glass, and the amount of force needed to break it is twice that of steel, despite the fact that the material has only about one-sixth the density of steel, according to MIT.
    The researchers were able to do this by developing a new process to form polymers.    Plastics are an example of polymers, along with rubber and glass.
    The researchers wanted to see whether they could create a two-dimensional version of a polymer that could remain flat, thus making it lightweight.    They tried for decades to create such a material, and the new process they developed was published in peer-reviewed journal Nature last week.
    Polymers are essentially chains of individual molecules, called monomers, linked together by chemical bonds.    Normally, when polymers are formed, they expand into three-dimensional objects, like how a sheet cake rises as it bakes in an oven.    The challenge is if even one monomer begins to rotate, the polymer becomes three-dimensional.
    For example, imagine if you wanted to line up children and pack a bunch of them in an auditorium by having them link arms.    However, if even one of the children choose to be unruly and shift around, it would be impossible to maintain order.
    The key came from building a process that could allow the monomers to link up and grow into a polymer chain without causing any one of the monomers to stray.    If you could build several two-dimensional polymers, you could layer them like disks and stack a bunch of them together in a tight space, similar to how you could pack lines of children into an auditorium, if they’re well-behaved.
A newly created material could be used as a durable coating for car parts or
cell phones, or as a building material for structures. Christine Daniloff at MIT

2/13/2022 Biden’s climate damage cost estimate struck down by judge by Matthew Brown, Matthew Daly and Kevin McGill, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – A federal judge on Friday blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to put greater emphasis on the potential damage from greenhouse gas emissions when creating rules for polluting industries.
    U.S. District Judge James Cain of the Western District of Louisiana sided with Republican attorneys general who said the administration’s raising the cost estimate of carbon dioxide emissions threatened to drive up energy costs while decreasing state revenues from energy production.    The judge issued an injunction that bars the administration from using the higher cost estimate, which puts a dollar value on damages caused by every additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
    President Joe Biden on his first day in office restored the climate cost estimate to about $51 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions after the Trump administration had reduced the figure to about $7 per ton.    Trump’s estimate included only damages felt in the U.S. versus the global damages captured under the higher estimate.
    The Biden administration’s revival of a higher figure initially set under the Obama administration would be used to make future rules for oil and gas drilling, automobiles and other industries.
    Using a higher cost estimate would help justify reductions in planet-warming emissions by making the benefits more likely to outweigh the expenses of complying with new rules.    Known as the social cost of carbon, the rule uses economic models to capture damages caused by the consequences of climate change.

2/16/2022 Report: Sea rise is ‘clear and present risk’ - Predicted shift is greatest for Gulf and East coasts by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The United States is expected to experience as much sea-level rise by 2050 as in the previous 100 years, according to a federal report released Tuesday.
    “Sea-level rise driven by global climate change is a clear and present risk to the United States today and for the coming decades and centuries,” said the report, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and six other federal agencies.
    By 2050, seas lapping against the U.S. will be 10 to 12 inches higher, according to the report.    “Make no mistake: Sea-level rise is upon us,” said report co-author Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, at a press conference Tuesday.
    Sea level has risen nearly 8 inches worldwide since 1880 but, unlike water in a bathtub, it doesn’t rise evenly.    In the past 100 years, it has climbed about a foot or more in some U.S. cities because of ocean currents and sinking land.
    Here’s why: As the Earth’s temperature warms, so do the seas.     Heat-trapping greenhouse gases cause more land ice (glaciers and ice sheets) to melt and water to expand.    Warmer water simply takes up more room than cooler water. Scientists say global warming will be the primary cause of future sea-level rise.
    What’s at stake aren’t just beach mansions, but also thousands of working- class homes, as well as airports, military bases, seaports, power plants, oil refineries, bridges and highways.
    “This new data on sea rise is the latest reconfirmation that our climate crisis – as the president has said – is blinking ‘code red,’” said Gina McCarthy, the national climate adviser for the Biden administration.
    “We must redouble our efforts to cut the greenhouse gases that cause climate change while, at the same time, help our coastal communities become more resilient in the face of rising seas,” McCarthy said.
    The U.S. will get slightly more sealevel rise than the global average.    And the greatest rise in the U.S. will be on the Gulf and East coasts, while the West Coast and Hawaii will be hit less than average, said National Ocean Service oceanographer William Sweet, the report’s lead author.
    The report also finds that the sea level rise expected by 2050 will create a profound increase in the frequency of coastal flooding, even in the absence of storms or heavy rainfall.
    “Tens of millions of people in the United States already live in areas at risk of coastal flooding, with more moving to the coasts every year,” the report said.
    “It’s going to be areas that haven’t been flooding that are starting to flood,” Sweet added.    “Many of our major metropolitan areas on the East Coast are going to be increasingly at risk.”
    Contributing: The Associated Press
High tide laps against the sea wall in Charleston, S.C., in 2020. According to a report,
seas lapping against coastlines will be 10 to 12 inches higher by 2050. AP

2/17/2022 Bill Gates Visits Pakistan To Discuss Polio Eradication With PM Khan by Charlotte Greenfield
FILE PHOTO: A person passes by on a scooter in front of the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
    ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates visited Pakistan on Thursday, meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss polio eradication in one of the last two countries of the world where the virus is endemic.
    “This is the final, and hardest, phase of the eradication effort, but by keeping up the momentum and staying vigilant, Pakistan has an opportunity to make history by ending polio for good,” Gates said in a statement.    “Pakistan’s commitment to ending polio is inspiring.”
    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of which Gates is co-chair, is part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a major project between governments and international organisations.
    Pakistan, along with neighbouring Afghanistan, is one of two countries in the world where polio continues to circulate.
    Health and humanitarian officials say Pakistan’s attempts to eradicate the disease are at a hopeful but sensitive stage.    No children have been paralysed by wild polio in Pakistan in more than a year, according to the Gates Foundation, but the virus was detected in December in sewerage samples in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
    During Gates’s first official visit to Pakistan he also met with the country’s COVID-19 National Command and Operation Centre, which leads the country’s response to the pandemic.
    Pakistan President Arif Alvi conferred the award of Hilal-e-Pakistan, the country’s second-highest civilian award, to Gates at an investiture ceremony.
(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by David Holmes)

2/22/2022 Mount Etna roars again, sends up towering volcanic ash cloud
    ROME – Mount Etna has roared back to spectacular action after a few months of relative quiet, sending up a 7.5-mile-high volcanic ash cloud over eastern Sicily.    The lava flow from Etna, one of Europe’s most active volcanoes, was centered on the crater on the mountain’s southeast slope, Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology said Monday.    There were no immediate reports of injuries or property damage.    By Monday afternoon, the lava flow from the crater had stopped, the institute said.

2/23/2022 Largest flying dinosaur found in Scotland by Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY
    Scientists say they have discovered the largest Jurassic pterosaur in history, with a wingspan of more than 8 feet and a mouth full of sharp teeth.
    According to a peer-reviewed journal published in Cell, the dinosaur, Dearc sgiathanach, was found in Isle of Skye, Scotland, in 2017.    Its skeleton was embedded in limestone.
    Pterosaurs were the earliest known animals to evolve for flight.
    “While some of the last-surviving species were the size of airplanes, pterosaurs were long thought to be restricted to small body sizes from their Triassic origins through the Jurassic,” the journal said.
    The bones showed this reptile was young and still growing when it died.
    “When this thing was living about 170 million years ago, it was the largest animal that had ever flown, at least that we know of,” Steve Brusatte, coauthor of the research from the University of Edinburgh, said.
    Brusatte said that birds evolved from dinosaurs during the time this pterosaur was living, and the new discovery challenges the understanding of pterosaurs’ history.

2/23/2022 World’s First Octopus Farm Stirs Ethical Debate by Nathan Allen and GUILLERMO MARTINEZ
An octopus is seen inside a pond of the Spanish Oceanography Institute IEO
in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, February 4, 2022. REUTERS/Borja Suarez.
    MADRID (Reuters) – Spurred on by soaring demand for seafood, a Spanish company plans to open the first commercial octopus farm next year but as scientists discover more about the enigmatic animals some warn it could be an ethical and environmental disaster.
    “This is a global milestone,” said Roberto Romero, aquaculture director at Nueva Pescanova, the company pouring 65 million euros ($74 million) into the farm, which is pending environmental approval from local authorities.
    At the company’s research centre in Galicia, northwest Spain, several octopuses silently propelled themselves around a shallow indoor tank.
    Two technicians in waders plucked a mature specimen into a bucket for transfer to a new enclosure, with five other octopuses.
    Building on decades of academic research, Nueva Pescanova beat rival companies in Mexico and Japan to perfect the conditions needed for industrial-scale breeding.
    The commercial incentives for the farm, which is slated to produce 3,000 tonnes per year by 2026 for domestic and international food chains and generate hundreds of jobs on the island of Gran Canaria, are clear.
    Between 2010 and 2019 the value of the global octopus trade ballooned to $2.72 billion from $1.30 billion, according to data from the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organisation, while landings only rose around 9% to 380,000 tonnes.
    However, previous efforts to farm octopus have struggled with high mortality, while attempts to breed wild-caught octopus ran into problems with aggression, cannibalism and self-mutilation.
    David Chavarrias, the centre’s director, said optimising tank conditions allowed the company to eliminate aggression and breed five generations in captivity.
    “We have not found cannibalistic behaviour in any of our cultures,” he said.
    But not everyone is convinced.
    Since the 2020 documentary “My Octopus Teacher” captured the public imagination with its tale of a filmmaker’s friendship with an octopus, concern for their wellbeing has grown.
    Last year, researchers at the London School of Economics concluded from a review of 300 scientific studies that octopus were sentient beings capable of experiencing distress and happiness, and that high-welfare farming would be impossible.
    Raul Garcia, who heads the WWF conservation organisation’s fisheries operations in Spain, agrees.
    “Octopuses are extremely intelligent and extremely curious.    And it’s well known they are not happy in conditions of captivity,” he told Reuters.
    Any farming operation aiming for a high quality of life by approximating their natural habitat – solitary on the sea bed – would likely be too expensive to be profitable, he said.
    European Union laws governing livestock welfare do not apply to invertebrates and although Spain is tightening up its animal protection legislation, octopuses are not set to be included.
    Nueva Pescanova has not provided specific details on tank sizes, density, or feed, citing trade secrecy.    It has said the animals are constantly monitored to ensure their wellbeing.
    Chavarrias said more research was needed to determine if octopus were truly intelligent.
    “We like to say that more than an intelligent animal, it is a responsive animal,” he said “It has a certain capacity for resolve when faced with survival challenges.”
    Despite increasing concern for animal rights, demand is booming, led by Italy, Korea, Japan and Spain, the world’s biggest importer.    Natural fishing grounds are feeling the strain.
    “If we want to continue consuming octopus we have to look for an alternative … because the fisheries have already reached their limit,” said Eduardo Almansa, a scientist at Spain’s Oceanography Institute, which developed the technology used by Nueva Pescanova.
    “For now aquaculture is the only available option.”
    Half the seafood consumed by humans is farmed.    The industry has traditionally pitched itself as a means of meeting consumer demand while alleviating pressure on fishing grounds, but ecologists say that obscures its true environmental toll.
    Around a third of the global fish catch is used to feed other animals and rising demand for fishmeal for aquaculture is exacerbating stress on already depleted stocks, the WWF said.
    Nueva Pescanova’s Chavarrias said he recognised the concern around sustainability and stressed the company was researching the use of waste fish products and algae as alternative feed but said it was too early to discuss the results.
    Some activists say the solution is much simpler: don’t eat octopus.
    “There’s so many wonderful vegan alternatives out there now,” said Carys Bennett of animal-rights group PETA.    “We’re urging everyone to protest against this farm.”
    The project is pending approval from the Canary Islands’ environmental department.
    Asked if the department would consider opposition from rights-groups, a spokesperson said “all required parameters would be taken into account.”
    Traditional octopus fishermen are also wary of the venture, worried it could push down prices and undermine their reputation for quality produce.
    Pedro Luis Cervino Fernandez, 49, leaves the Galician port of Murgados at 5 a.m. every morning in search of octopus.    He fears he will not be able to compete with industrial farming.
    “Big companies just want to look after their bottom line … they couldn’t care less about small companies like us
,” he told Reuters on his small boat off the Galician coast.
    A few hundred miles inland at La Casa Gallega, a Madrid restaurant specialising in pulpo a la gallega – seared octopus with boiled potatoes and plenty of paprika – staff were unimpressed by the prospect of farmed produce.
    “I don’t think it will ever be able to compete with Galician octopus,” said head waiter Claudio Gandara.    “It will be like other farmed fish … the quality is never the same.”
(Reporting by Borja Suarez in the Canary Islands, Guillermo Martinez and Nacho Doce in Galicia, Michael Gore, Silvio Castellanos, Juan Medina, Catherine Macdonald and Nathan Allen in Madrid; Writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Alison Williams)

2/23/2022 Extreme Wildfires Are Here To Stay – And Multiply by Gloria Dickie
A house is fully engulfed by flames at the Dixie Fire, a wildfire near
the town of Greenville, California, U.S. August 5, 2021. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
    LONDON (Reuters) – Indonesia’s peatlands, California’s forests, and, now, vast swathes of Argentine wetland have all been ravaged by extreme wildfires, heralding a fiery future and the dire need to prevent it.
    With climate change triggering droughts and farmers clearing forests, the number of extreme wildfires is expected to increase 30% within the next 28 years.    And they are now scorching environments that were not prone to burning in the past, such as the Arctic’s tundra and the Amazon rainforest.
    “We’ve seen a great increase in recent fires in northern Syria, northern Siberia, the eastern side of Australia, and India,” said Australian government bushfire scientist Andrew Sullivan, an editor on the report, released Wednesday, by the UN Environment Programme and GRID-Arendal environmental communications group.
    At the same time, the slow disappearance of cool, damp nights that once helped to temper fires also means they are getting harder to extinguish, according to a second study published last week in the journal Nature.
    With night time temperatures rising faster than day time ones over the last four decades, researchers found a 36% increase in the number of after-dark hours that were warm and dry enough sustain fire.
    “This is a mechanism for fires to get much bigger and more extreme,” said Jennifer Balch, lead author of the Nature study and director of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Earth Lab.
    “Exhausted firefighters don’t get relief,” which means they can’t regroup and revise strategies to tackle a blaze.
    The consequences of extreme fires are wide-ranging, from loss and damage to costly firefighting response.    In the United States alone, the UNEP report said the economic burden of wildfire totals as much as $347 billion annually.
    With California’s forests ablaze, the state government spent an estimated $3.1 billion on fire suppression in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
    The fires raging since December in Argentina’s Corrientes province have taken an enormous toll, killing Ibera National Park wildlife, charring pasturelands and livestock, and decimating crops including yerba mate, fruit, and rice.    Losses already have exceeded 25 billion Argentine pesos ($234 million), The Argentine Rural Society said.
    The UNEP report calls on governments to rethink wildfire spending, recommending they put 45% of their budget toward prevention and preparedness, 34% toward firefighting response, and 20% for recovery.
    “In many regions of the world, most resources go toward response — they focus on the short-term,” said Paulo Fernandes, a contributing author of the UNEP report and fire scientist at Universidade of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro in Portugal.
(Reporting by Gloria Dickie; Editing by Katy Daigle and Jane Merriman)

2/23/2022 White House Press Secy. Psaki: Global Warming Important Despite Russia Tensions by OAN Newsroom
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks with reporters in the James Brady Press
Briefing Room at the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared to reiterate so-called global warming as America’s greatest threat despite elevated tensions with Russia.    In a press briefing Tuesday, she was asked whether the White House supports the U.S. military assessment that global warming is still the number one issue facing the country.
    Psaki attempted to deflect the question and referred the reporter to the Pentagon for commentary.    However, when pressed on the matter, Psaki did not deny the administration’s focus on climate change.
    Psaki also was unable to explain how Joe Biden would bring down gas prices now that are expected to increase due to tensions with Russia.
[What the Democrats are doing to the U.S. is the number one issue facing the country and once they are out of power the climate will still be there and okay as it is now.].

2/24/2022 Scientists found a prehistoric sea scorpion fossil that will haunt your nightmares by oshua Hawkins
© Provided by BGRtop-down view of new sea scorpion
    Scientists have finally identified a fossil discovered several years ago.    They believe the fossil is that of a prehistoric sea scorpion. They also believe it would have been the largest water predator in the area over 252 million years ago.
    This prehistoric sea scorpion had researchers scratching their heads
© Provided by BGRDinosaur Fossils
    The fossil in question was originally discovered on Nick Freeman’s family property in the 1990s.    The fossil was discovered in the town of Theodore, Queensland.    In 2013, Freeman delivered the fossil to the Queensland Museum with hopes they could identify it.    Now, after several years of studying it, researchers have named the sea scorpion Woodwardopterus freemanorum.

2/24/2022 9,000-year-old shrine found at Jordan dig by Omar Akour, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    AMMAN, Jordan – A team of Jordanian and French archaeologists said Tuesday that it had found a roughly 9,000-year-old shrine at a remote Neolithic site in Jordan’s eastern desert.
    The ritual complex was found in a Neolithic campsite near large structures known as “desert kites,” or mass traps that are believed to have been used to corral wild gazelles for slaughter.
    “The site is unique, first because of its preservation state,” said Jordanian archaeologist Wael Abu-Azziza, co-director of the project.    “It’s 9,000 years old, and everything was almost intact.”
    Within the shrine were two carved standing stones bearing anthropomorphic figures, one accompanied by a representation of the “desert kite,” as well as an altar, hearth, marine shells and a miniature model of the gazelle trap.
    The researchers said in a statement that the shrine “sheds an entire new light on the symbolism, artistic expression as well as spiritual culture."

2/26/2022 Magnitude 6.2 earthquake kills 7 on Indonesia’s Sumatra
    PASAMAN, Indonesia – A strong and shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Friday, killing seven people and injuring 85, while causing panic on the island and in neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.    The magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck about 41 miles north-northwest of Bukittinggi, a hilly town in West Sumatra province, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.    At least four people, including two children, were killed in Pasaman district, and three people died in the neighboring district of West Pasaman.

3/3/2022 Arctic Council In Upheaval Over Russia As Climate Change Transforms Region by Gloria Dickie and Timothy Gardner
FILE PHOTO: Floating ice is seen during the expedition of the Greenpeace's
Arctic Sunrise ship at the Arctic Ocean, September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Natalie Thomas
    LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Countries of the Arctic Council said on Thursday they would boycott future talks in Russia over its Ukraine invasion, throwing international cooperation in the region into upheaval at a time when climate change is opening it up to resource exploitation.
    The Arctic Council brings together countries with Arctic territories to collaborate on matters that affect the region’s residents.    It does not deal with security issues.
    Russia, which currently holds the council’s rotating chairmanship, has posed “grave impediments to international cooperation, including in the Arctic,” the council’s other seven member countries said in a statement.
    The countries – Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the United States, Canada and Denmark – said they were suspending their work indefinitely, and would skip planned talks in May in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk due to     Moscow’s “flagrant violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
    The Arctic Council leadership did not reply to a request for comment.
    The boycott raises uncertainty over development plans in the Arctic, which is warming three times as fast as the rest of the world due to climate change.
    As sea ice vanishes, polar waters are opening to shipping and other industries eager to exploit the region’s bounty of natural resources, including oil, gas, and metals such as gold, iron and rare earths used in everything from military equipment to renewable energy.
    Last week, the U.S. State Department said on Twitter that “Russia’s standing everywhere, including the Arctic, a region with strong rules and principles based on international law, is diminished by its further invasion of Ukraine.”
    When asked this week about the potential of Russian collaboration in the Arctic, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters that “we remain committed to the Arctic Council and its important work.”
    But it was unclear whether the United States and other council members see Russia as part of the group’s work going forward.    Russia accounts for 50% of Arctic landmass.
    Unless challenged, Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation,” would hold the Arctic Council chairmanship until 2023.
    “The Arctic is facing its biggest crisis in 35 years,” said Klaus Dodds, a geopolitician at Britain’s Royal Holloway University who studies Arctic relations.
    Established in 1996, the Arctic Council has been nominated several times for a Nobel Peace Prize – most recently last month.
    “The Arctic has been a relatively peaceful region, and many of us who work there brag about this, (including) working with the Russian Federation” in the past, said Michael Sfraga, founding director of the Wilson Center’s Polar Institute and chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.
    “For the last 25 years, Arctic leadership has been able to navigate the winds of change,” he said, including Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.    “There’s been a bubble around the Arctic, keeping other tensions out.”
    That bubble burst last month when Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
    “The spirit of Arctic exceptionalism and cooperation is in jeopardy,” said Pavel Devyatkin, a Moscow-based researcher at the Arctic Institute think tank.
    Russia also currently holds the chairmanship of the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, a group dedicated to ensuring safe, secure and environmentally responsible movement through Arctic waters.
    The Russian Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    The Arctic Council members said in their statement that they remained “convinced of the enduring value of the Arctic Council for circumpolar cooperation” and hold “a responsibility to the people of the Arctic.”
    In October 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, made an impassioned plea in Murmansk that the North should be “a pole of peace.”
    “What’s so tragic is that Gorbachev had this extraordinary vision for the Arctic,” Dodds said.    “And (Russian President) Vladimir Putin has done his very best to destroy it.”
(Reporting by Gloria Dickie in London and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Additional reporting by Reuters in Moscow; Editing by Katy Daigle, Mark Heinrich and Rosalba O’Brien)

3/8/2022 Study says 75% of rainforest shows signs of loss - ‘Resilience’ has declined; Amazon nears key stage by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    The Amazon rainforest may be nearing a “tipping point” of dieback, the point where rainforest will turn to savanna, a new study shows.
    Signs of loss have been found in more than 75% of the rainforest since the early 2000s, according to research that outlines this troubling trend.
    “Deforestation and climate change are likely the main drivers of this decline,” said study co-author Niklas Boers, a professor at the Technical University of Munich.    Using satellite remote sensing data, researchers found what they call “resilience” – the ability to recover from events such as droughts or fires – has declined consistently in the vast majority of the Amazon rainforest.
    Loss of resilience is most prominent in areas that are closer to human activity, as well as in those that receive less rainfall, the study said.
    Overall, the rainforest is becoming much less resilient – raising the risk of widespread dieback, the research shows.    “The rainforest can look more or less the same, yet it can be losing resilience – making it slower to recover from a major event like a drought,” said study co-author Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
    The study was published Monday in the peer-reviewed British journal Nature Climate Change.
    Experts believe the Amazon could soon reach a critical line, the crossing of which would trigger dieback and turn much of the forest to savanna.    That would have major consequences for biodiversity and climate change.
    It is not clear when that point could be reached, but the study said the loss of resilience is “consistent” with an approaching watershed moment.    “The Amazon rainforest is a highly complex system, so it’s very difficult to predict,” said study lead author Chris Boulton, also of the University of Exeter.
    Tropical forests such as the Amazon play a crucial role in climate regulation, experts say.    The Amazon rainforest is biologically the richest region on Earth, hosting about 25% of global biodiversity, and it is a major contributor to the natural cycles required for the functioning of the planet, according to the environmental group Panthera.
    “The Amazon is the largest tract of continuous rainforest on the planet, and it plays a critical role in the (Earth’s) climate system,” Laura Schneider, a geographer at Rutgers University, said in 2019, when devastating wildfires were scorching the forest.
    One crucial role is absorbing carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that’s a significant cause of global warming.
    “With nearly 100 billion tons of carbon stored in its trees, it keeps nearly 400 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” said Daniel Nepstad, director of the Earth Innovation Institute, an organization that works to promote low-emission rural development.
The Amazon rainforest contains unimaginable biodiversity. But deforestation
is assailing the “lungs of the world.” ILDO FRAZAO/GETTY IMAGES

3/8/2022 Leaded gas may have lowered IQs, study finds - 170 million people had ‘concerning’ level as kids by Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY
    Health experts say the effects of leaded gasoline in cars, although banned since 1996, still linger today after a new study found Americans exposed to the highly toxic metal may have a lower IQ.
    Researchers at Duke University and Florida State University analyzed publicly available data on U.S. childhood blood-lead levels, leaded-gas use and population statistics and determined the likely lifelong burden of lead exposure carried by every American alive in 2015.
    They found more than 170 million Americans – more than half of the U.S. population – had “clinically concerning” levels of lead in their blood when they were children, according to the study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    They estimated this level of lead exposure may have lowered a person’s IQ by an average of three points.     “I frankly was shocked,” said co-author Michael McFarland, professor of sociology at Florida State.    “And when I look at the numbers, I’m still shocked even though I’m prepared for it.”
    Lead is a neurotoxic metal that can erode brain cells after entering the body, health experts say.    There’s no safe level of exposure to lead, and children are especially vulnerable to impaired brain development.
    The current blood-lead value that would trigger clinical concern and case management is 3.5 micrograms per deciliter, said study lead author Aaron Reuben, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Duke University.     “We found over 4.5 million Americans had levels over 30 – 10 times what’s considered alarming,” he said.
    Previous studies have found a strong association between blood-lead levels and IQ, study authors said, but few have tried to measure that impact.
    Researchers say anyone born before leaded gas was banned may have suffered the cognitive consequences of lead exposure.    At its worst, people born during the peak use of leaded gas in the 1960s and '70s may have lost up to seven IQ points.
    “The tricky thing about health is that it often takes very long for health to show exposure,” said Hannes Schwandt, an expert in human development and social policy, and a professor at Northwestern University, who was not involved with the study.    “It’s not like you have lead exposure and the next day the problem shows up.    It comes to the surface over people’s entire lifetimes.”
    While the study demonstrates the impacts of average exposure, he said, not every American is exposed to the same level.    Children in vulnerable communities who live near busy streets and highways are more likely to be exposed and impacted by the toxic metal.
    Reuben says it’s important for patients and their physicians to understand the potential consequences of lead exposure.
    “It’s hard to know if you’re one of those Americans but if you grew up near lead emitting, you might just take a proactive approach,” he said.
    Lead is still used in aviation fuel for certain aircraft, Reuben said, and children also can be exposed to lead paint and contaminated water.
    “We document a history of problems but by no means is this a historical issue.    It’s very much current,” he said.
    Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare.    The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

3/8/2022 ‘Tough 24 Hours Ahead’ As Rains Drench Sydney, Forcing Snap Evacuations by Renju Jose
Kelso Beach Reserve is submerged by floodwater after the Georges River burst its banks in
East Hills, south-west of Sydney, Australia, March 8, 2022. AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Flood warnings stretched across Australia’s east coast on Tuesday and tens of thousands of Sydney residents fled their homes as torrential rains again pummelled the country’s largest city, flooding several big suburbs.
    Australia’s eastern rivers were already near capacity following record downpours in several parts of Queensland and New South Wales states over recent weeks, cutting off towns, and sweeping away farms, livestock and roads.
    A 67-year-old woman and her 34-year-old son were found dead near an abandoned car in a stormwater canal in western Sydney, authorities said, while Queensland police confirmed the death of a man missing in floods since Feb. 27, taking the death tally to 20 since the deluge began.    Most people were found dead either in flooded homes or in cars attempting to cross flooded roads.
    Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Dean Narramore said minor to major flooding was occurring from the Queensland to Victoria border, a distance of more than 1,555 kms (966 miles).
    “A tough 24 hours or even 48 hours ahead,” Narramore said during a media briefing on Tuesday as he forecast up to 120 mm (5 inches) of rains across Sydney over the next 24 hours, with the storm expected to clear by late Wednesday.
    Heavy rains lashed Sydney with some suburbs having received up to 200 mm since Monday morning, exceeding March’s mean rainfall of around 140 mm and triggering snap evacuation orders in the southwest and northeast of the city.
    Television footage showed flooded roads and submerged cars in Sydney’s northern beaches, with residents in low-lying areas told to evacuate.
    “We had a guy walking through last night, with water up to his neck,” said boat broker Angelo Testa, who used a dinghy to rescue people in Sydney’s southwest, according to the Guardian.
    “We picked him up and took him to the end of the street.    We’ve had people stuck in their houses, who had initially decided to wait out the flood but found they couldn’t.”
    Amid flash-flooding warnings, authorities asked Sydney’s 5 million residents to avoid unnecessary travel on roads and allow plenty of extra travel time for public transport.    Trains were cancelled on some routes due to flooding on tracks.
    Emergency services estimate around 60,000 people in NSW face evacuation orders, and urged people to follow them.
    “People make decisions based on past history and I think this event has shown that there is no past history similar to this event,” New South Wales Emergency Service Commissioner Carlene York told reporters.
    In the state’s north, frustration was growing among many flood-hit residents as they struggled to clear debris and sludge, with power and internet still down in several towns.    Authorities fear even more rain will hamper relief efforts as emergency crews look to clear roads to deliver essential supplies.
    Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is trailing in polls ahead of a federal election due by May, has ordered more defence force personnel to flood-affected areas.
    New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, on a tour of the flood-hit areas, took responsibility for his government’s shortcomings over rescue and relief measures.
    “From stories and people I have met, the heartbreaking stories over the course of the week where people felt isolated and abandoned, I don’t want anyone in my state to ever feel like that,” Perrottet told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Jane Wardell, Richard Pullin and Michael Perry)

3/9/2022 Australia To Declare East Coast Floods A National Emergency by Renju Jose
A man moves belongings out of a flooded-affected house in the suburb
of North Manly, Sydney, Australia, March 9, 2022. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy
    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Floods that have devastated Australia’s east coast will be declared a national emergency, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, as authorities look to deploy aid and urgent supplies to the worst-hit areas.
    Morrison, on a visit to the devastated town of Lismore in northern New South Wales, also pledged more financial support for people and businesses affected by weeks of rain that have submerged rural towns and suburbs across Sydney.
    The emergency declaration, which was set up after Australia’s destructive 2019 bushfires, will help cut red tape and speed up aid from defence personnel amid criticism about a slow response to the floods in which 20 people have died.
    “The feedback we’ve had … has helped us identify where the gaps are right now, and how we can get support out the door quickly to where it’s needed,” Morrison said in a statement.    The government had recommended the governor-general declare the floods a national emergency, he said.
    Morrison, who is trailing in polls ahead of a federal election before May, on Wednesday made private visits to a flooded farm, the office of an emergency crew and also met with a person who lost their home, media reports said.
    Television footage showed some people gathered in front of an emergency operations centre, where Morrison was due to visit, yelling “the water is rising, no more compromising” and “fossil fuel floods.”
    Morrison’s conservative government late last year adopted a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050, but climate activists are demanding more aggressive action.
    Two years ago, Morrison was criticised for taking a family holiday in Hawaii during the fire emergency and was later heckled by angry residents of a bushfire-hit town over fire service funding and a lack of assistance.
    A large swathe of Australia’s east coast has been inundated after a second intense low-pressure system in as many weeks led to fast-rising floodwaters that cut off entire communities and trapped many people trapped in their homes.
    Frustrated residents, with no access to power and internet for several days, have blamed authorities for the slow speed and scale of relief efforts.
    Major flooding continues in Sydney’s western suburbs, although thousands of residents in Sydney’s northeast returned to their homes after rains eased.
    “Thankfully, the rain has eased, and we’ll see water levels continue to slowly recede in the coming days,” Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Dean Narramore told reporters.
    Australia’s east coast summer has been dominated by the La Nina weather phenomenon, typically associated with greater rainfall, with most rivers at near capacity even before the latest drenching.
    Sydney has received nearly 900 mm (35 inches) of rain so far in 2022, or about 80% of its annual rainfall, official data showed, the wettest start to a year since records began.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Richard Pullin)

3/10/2022 Genetically modified mosquitoes generating buzz - Insects will descend on Fla., Calif. in EPA test by Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
    Millions of genetically altered mosquitoes that seek to ward off their natural, disease-causing counterparts may soon be released in Florida and California after the Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to further test the modified insects.
    Developed by the biotechnology company Oxitec, the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are genetically modified so that males, which do not bite, are released into the wild and mate with females, which do bite.    Their offspring are either male or females that never survive to reach maturity, the company says.
    Millions of the mosquitoes were released in the Florida Keys in a pilot project last year, and the EPA has authorized the extension of the project in Florida as well as the expansion into four counties in California, pending approval from the states’ regulators.
    Meredith Fensom, head of global public affairs at Oxitec, said that while the EPA approval covers one Florida county and four in California and the release of more than 2 billion genetically altered male mosquitoes across the states, the launch is planned to be much more limited – covering only the Florida Keys and expanding to Visalia in Tulare County, California.
    Oxitec says the goal is to reduce the transmission of harmful diseases, such as dengue, Zika, yellow fever and chikungunya.     Though the Aedes aegypti, an invasive species, make up a small fraction of the total mosquito population in Florida, they account for a large number of the cases of human diseases, Fensom said.
    In Florida, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are well-known, she added, and the state has seen dengue outbreaks as recently as 2020.    In California, the species is growing, but there have not been confirmed cases of dengue, chikungunya, Zika or yellow fever spread through the insect, according to health officials.
    Part of the goal with the EPA approval is to study the altered mosquitoes in two environments, Fensom said.
    The mosquitoes Oxitec produces are males with a “self-limiting gene,” she said.    The difference isn’t visible to the naked eye, but the modified insects produce similar male offspring and female offspring that cannot survive, Fensom said. In theory, as the female population declines, so will the population, according to Oxitec.
    The program has drawn pushback from some groups that are concerned about the possible consequences of releasing genetically altered insects.
    “This is a destructive move that is dangerous for public health,” said Dana Perls, food and technology program manager with Friends of the Earth.
    She said one of her major concerns with the expansion of the Florida project is the lack of widespread, peer-reviewed scientific data from the past year. Fensom said peer-reviewed data is expected to be released, but Perls said she was worried about the potential risk without a more rigorous and public review.
    The EPA did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
    The lack of confirmed transmission of diseases from Aedes aegypti in California also was of concern to Perls:     “There’s no immediate problem, and there are a lot of unknowns,” she said.
    Perls said that without the data, it’s unclear whether the mosquitoes and their offspring will function how Oxitec says they will.    A concern would be if a hybrid species could be produced and difficult to eradicate or whether other species will simply fill the hole Aedes aegypti may leave, she said.
    Fensom, however, said the company produces the mosquitoes with the environment in mind.    The insects are designed so that over time, the mosquito population dies out and is no longer circulating in the environment, she said.
    But for Perls, a new framework to regulate living, genetically altered organisms is needed before approving widespread testing of such insects.
    “Once you release these mosquitoes into the environment, you cannot recall them,” she said.    “This could create problems that we don’t have already.”
    The mosquitoes are males with a “self-limiting gene.”    The modified insects produce similar male offspring and female offspring that cannot survive.
    Meredith Fensom Head of global public affairs at Oxitec
An aedes aegypti mosquito can transmit the Zika virus and dengue fever. PROVIDED BY DREAMSTIME

3/10/2022 Global carbon emissions at highest level in history by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
    Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming – have rebounded to their highest level in history, experts reported Tuesday, as the world economy rebounded strongly from the COVID-19 crisis and relied heavily on coal to power that growth.
    The report, which was prepared by the International Energy Agency, found that emissions of carbon dioxide rose by 6% in 2021 to 36.3 billion metric tons.
    'The numbers make clear that the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis has not been the sustainable recovery that IEA executive director Fatih Birol called for during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020,' the IEA said.
    'The world must now ensure that the global rebound in emissions in 2021 was a one-off – and that an accelerated energy transition contributes to global energy security and lower energy prices for consumers,' the IEA said Tuesday.
    COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 caused a plunge in fossil fuel use, and Birol predicted at that time that 'the energy industry that emerges from this crisis will be significantly different from the one that came before.'    But that prediction didn't come true.
    The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases 'greenhouse' gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane into Earth's atmosphere and oceans.    The emissions have caused the planet's temperatures to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural factors, scientists say.
    In the past 20 years, the world's temperature has risen about twothirds of a degree Fahrenheit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Coal accounted for more than 40% of the growth in global CO2 emissions in 2021, reaching an all-time high of 15.3 billion metric tons, according to the IEA. CO2 emissions from natural gas rebounded above their 2019 levels to 7.5 billion metric tons.
    In China, emissions rose by 750 million metric tons from 2019 to 2021.
A factory in Chengde, China, in 2018. Carbon dioxide is near
pre-pandemic levels. PROVIDED BY SHUTTERSTOCK

3/10/2022 Thousands Of Australians Return To ‘Uninhabitable’ Homes As Floods Recede
People look on as residential properties and roads are submerged under floodwater in Windsor,
north-west of Sydney, Australia, March 9, 2022. AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi via REUTERS
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Thousands of Australians returned to their homes on Thursday after torrential rains eased and floodwaters receded as authorities ramped up clean-up efforts and unveiled new support packages for residents who lost their homes.
    Relentless rains since late last month burst river banks across Australia’s southeast, submerging homes, farms and bridges, and cutting off entire towns.    Twenty-one people have been killed so far.
    “We know it has been a devastating time up here, probably moving through the initial shock for many people and the trauma that is associated with that,” New South Wales state Premier Dominic Perrottet said from the worst-hit Northern Rivers area.
    “Many people are now coming back to their homes in very difficult conditions, many are not habitable,” Perrottet said as he unveiled a A$551 million ($403 million) aid package for flood-hit residents providing up to 16 weeks of rental support.
    More than 1,200 people remained in emergency accommodation in the Northern Rivers region while around 3,000 homes were deemed uninhabitable, authorities said.
    Rescue teams, including defence force personnel, took advantage of eased conditions to clear debris and deliver essential supplies but anger swelled among many residents, with no access to power and internet for several days.
    Amid criticism over slow relief, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, behind in polls in an election year, on Wednesday declared the floods a national emergency and designated catastrophe zones in flood-stricken towns.
    A Climate Council of Australia report published on Thursday described the recent flood events as one of the most extreme disasters in Australian history and said the devastation was “wide ranging.”    Total damages have been estimated at A$1.77 billion ($1.30 billion), the Insurance Council of Australia said.
    Meanwhile, skies cleared in Sydney after nearly two weeks but major flooding continued in the city’s western suburbs of North Richmond and Windsor as water continued to flow from overloaded dams and rivers.    Floodwaters could continue at the current levels over the next 24 hours, emergency services said.
($1 = 1.3669 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Michael Perry)

3/11/2022 Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupts multiple times, 250 evacuate
    YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano spewed avalanches of hot clouds in eruptions overnight Thursday that forced about 250 residents to flee to temporary shelters and left ash blanketing nearby villages and towns.    No casualties were reported.    The volcano on the densely populated island of Java unleashed clouds of hot ash at least seven times just before and after midnight and fast-moving pyroclastic flows, a mixture of rock, lava and gas, traveled up to 3.1 miles down its slopes.

3/15/2022 Earthquakes shake Indonesia, Philippines; no tsunami threat
    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Strong, shallow underwater earthquakes shook western Indonesia and the Philippine capital region Monday, but no serious damage was reported and no tsunami warnings were issued.    In Indonesia, a magnitude-6.7 quake that was 10 miles deep struck about 104.8 miles west of Pariaman, a town in West Sumatra province, the U.S. Geological Survey said.    The Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said the quake was felt in many parts of the province but there was no danger of a tsunami.

3/17/2022 7.3 magnitude earthquake hits northern Japan
    TOKYO – A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima in northern Japan on Wednesday evening, triggering a tsunami advisory and plunging more than 2 million homes in the Tokyo area into darkness.    The region was devastated by a deadly 9.0 quake and tsunami 11 years ago. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no longer a tsunami threat, though the Japan Meteorological Agency kept its low risk advisory in place.    There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

3/20/2022 Antarctica, Arctic 70 and 50 degrees above normal - Antarctica, Arctic 70 and 50 degrees above normal by Seth Borenstein, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Earth’s poles are undergoing simultaneous freakish extreme heat with parts of Antarctica more than 70 degrees warmer than average and areas of the Arctic more than 50 degrees warmer than average.
    Weather stations in Antarctica shattered records Friday as the region neared autumn.    The two-mile high Concordia station was at 10 degrees, which is about 70 degrees warmer than average, while the even higher Vostok station hit a shade above 0 degrees, beating its all-time record by about 27 degrees, according to a tweet from extreme weather record tracker Maximiliano Herrera.
    The coastal Terra Nova Base was far above freezing at 44.6 degrees.
    It caught officials at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, by surprise because they were paying attention to the Arctic where it was 50 degrees warmer than average and areas around the North Pole were nearing or at the melting point, which is really unusual for mid-March, said center ice scientist Walt Meier.
    'They are opposite seasons.    You don’t see the north and the south (poles) both melting at the same time,' Meier told The Associated Press Friday evening.    'It’s definitely an unusual occurrence.'
    'It’s pretty stunning,' Meier added.
    'Wow. I have never seen anything like this in the Antarctic,' said University of Colorado ice scientist Ted Scambos, who returned recently from an expedition to the continent.
    'Not a good sign when you see that sort of thing happen,' said University of Wisconsin meteorologist Matthew Lazzara.
    Lazzara monitors temperatures at East Antarctica’s Dome C-ii and logged 14 degrees Friday, where the normal is -45 degrees:
    'That’s a temperature that you should see in January, not March. January is summer there.    That’s dramatic.'
    Both Lazzara and Meier said what happened in Antarctica is probably just a random weather event and not a sign of climate change.    But if it happens again or repeatedly then it might be something to worry about and part of global warming, they said.
    The Antarctic warm spell was first reported by The Washington Post.
    The Antarctic continent as a whole on Friday was about 8.6 degrees warmer than a baseline temperature between 1979 and 2000, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, based on U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration weather models.    That 8-degree heating over an already warmed-up average is unusual, think of it as if the entire United States was 8 degrees hotter than normal, Meier said.
    At the same time, on Friday the Arctic as a whole was 6 degrees warmer than the 1979 to 2000 average.
    By comparison, the world as a whole was only 1.1 degrees above the 1979 to 2000 average.    Globally the 1979 to 2000 average is about half a degree warmer than the 20th century average.

3/21/2022 ‘Hypercarnivore’ predator roamed tropical California by Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
    Long before it was one of the most populated regions in the United States and full of freeways, Southern California had tropical forests and was also home to a saber-toothed, hypercarnivorous predator that “precedes cats by millions of years,” a newly published study says.
    In the 1980s, a 12-year-old boy discovered a fossil north of San Diego in what was the beginning of the fossil bed now known as the Santiago Formation.    A few years later, researchers discovered a lower jawbone with teeth intact.
    Scientists knew it belonged to some sort of meat-eating animal, but they weren’t sure what type of creature it was.    Now, scientists said the jaw belongs to a predator they named Diegoaelurus vanvalkenburghae, part of a “mysterious group” of mammals.    Their fiŤndings were published in the journal PeerJ on Tuesday.
    The fossil, named in honor of the San Diego area, is estimated to be about 42 million years old and estimated to have been alive during the Eocene period when some modern animals began to appear.    Much of the Earth was warming, and with San Diego closer to the equator at the time, conditions were like a rainforest.
    What caught the attention of the scientists was that the creature belongs to Machaeroidines, an extinct group of animals that are “the oldest known sabertoothed mammalian carnivores.”    The Diegoaelurus was a hypercarnivorous animal – with an all-meat diet – at a time when mammals were trying to fiŤgure out how to survive on such a diet.
    “Nothing like this had existed in mammals before,” Ashley Poust, postdoctoral researcher at The San Diego Natural History Museum and co-author of the study, said in a statement.    “A few mammal ancestors had long fangs, but Diegoaelurus and its few relatives represent the fiŤrst cat-like approach to an all-meat diet, with saber-teeth in front and slicing scissor teeth called carnassials in the back.“    Despite the scientists’ fiŤndings, very little is known about the species.    Only a few Machaeroidines fossils have been found in Wyoming and Asia, and it’s unknown what the bobcat-sized Diegoaelurus preyed on.    Yet, Poust said there were plenty of options, such as tiny rhinos and early tapirs.
    “This richness of prey species would have been a smorgasbord for Diegoaelurus, allowing it to live the life of a specialized hunter before most other mammals,” Poust said.
    Scientists hope their fiŤndings will help understand how these early mammals evolved into hypercarnivore cats such as lions and tigers today.
“Nothing like this had existed in mammals,” says Ashley Poust.

3/22/2022 No Country Met WHO Air Quality Standards In 2021 – Data
FILE PHOTO: A woman crosses railway tracks as a goods train passes by, on a smoggy day
in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2021. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo
    SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Not a single country managed to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality standard in 2021, a survey of pollution data in 6,475 cities showed on Tuesday, and smog even rebounded in some regions after a COVID-related dip.
    The WHO recommends that average annual readings of small and hazardous airborne particles known as PM2.5 should be no more than 5 micrograms per cubic metre after changing its guidelines last year, saying that even low concentrations caused significant health risks.
    But only 3.4% of the surveyed cities met the standard in 2021, according to data complied by IQAir, a Swiss pollution technology company that monitors air quality.    As many as 93 cities saw PM2.5 levels at 10 times the recommended level.
    “There are a lot of countries that are making big strides in reduction,” said Christi Schroeder, air quality science manager with IQAir.    “China started with some very big numbers and they are continuing to decrease over time.    But there are also places in the world where it is getting significantly worse.”
    India’s overall pollution levels worsened in 2021 and New Delhi remained the world’s most polluted capital, the data showed.    Bangladesh was the most polluted country, also unchanged from the previous year, while Chad ranked second after the African country’s data was included for the first time.
    China, which has been waging war on pollution since 2014, fell to 22nd in the PM2.5 rankings in 2021, down from 14th place a year earlier, with average readings improving slightly over the year to 32.6 micrograms, IQAir said.
    Hotan in the northwestern region of Xinjiang was China’s worst performing city, with average PM2.5 readings of more than 100 micrograms, largely caused by sandstorms.
    It fell to third on the list of the world’s most polluted cities after being overtaken by Bhiwadi and Ghaziabad, both in India.
(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

3/22/2022 Jergens recalls moisturizers for possible bacteria by Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY
    Kao USA is asking for customers to check their bottles of Jergens Ultra Healing Moisturizer as a part of a voluntary recall after a possible bacteria contamination.
    According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 3-ounce and 10-ounce products may contain Pluralibacter gergoviae, a bacterium that poses minimal health risk to healthy people but can cause infections in people who have weakened immune systems.
    Bottles manufactured between Oct. 1, 2021, and Oct. 18, 2021, could be affected.    The product is being removed from warehouses, and the company is working with retailers to have it pulled from shelves, the FDA said in a statement.
    The statement did not disclose if there were any reported adverse reactions.
    Kao USA are recalling these items: The affected lot codes for the 3-ounce size (UPC 019100109971 for single bottles and 019100267114 for pack of 3) can be found on the back of the bottle printed in black ink and begin with the prefix “ZU”: ZU712
851, ZU712911, ZU712861, ZU722851, ZU712871, ZU722881 and ZU712881.
    The affected lot codes for the 10-ounce size (UPC 019100109988) can be found on the bottom of the bottle printed in black ink and begin with the prefix “ZU”: ZU722741, ZU722781, ZU732791, ZU732811, ZU722771, ZU732781, ZU732801, ZU73282, ZU732801, ZU722771, ZU732791 and ZU722741.
    Investigators are trying to determine the scope of the possible contamination, and customers with a recalled product are urged to call Kao USA Inc. Consumer Care Center for a free product coupon at 1-800-742-8798 and will receive a plastic bag to return the product.
    In 2020, select packages of Cottonelle flushable wipes were voluntarily recalled for possible contamination of the same bacteria.    The company received “non-serious” complaints such as irritation and minor infection.
Bottles of Jergens Ultra Healing Moisturizer manufactured in October 2021 could be affected. PROVIDED BY FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION

3/22/2022 Tornadoes Touch Down In Texas by OAN Newsroom
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    A massive storm caused heavy winds and even tornadoes across Texas.    On Monday, the first Spring storm brought more than just showers as entire towns faced the prospect of being flattened by the heavy winds.
    The city of Jacksboro was in the direct line of the storms as they moved east across the Lone Star State.    Witnesses taking shelter at the local school said they could hear the walls shaking, but didn’t think the damage would be as severe as it ended up being.
    “Substantial damage to our elementary and high school, both of the gym at the elementary, the roof was taken off.    Walls collapsed.    You can see the damage here at our high school gymnasium."
— Brad Burnett, Superintendent Jacksboro School District
    More than 65,000 people reportedly lost power overnight as a result of the storms with one county being forced to shut down its grid after numerous lines went down.
    Texas Governor Greg Abbott visited the site of the damage in Williamson County, declaring it to be a miracle that no deaths had been reported as a result of the storms.
    “At the very same time, and what I’m about to say may be early and premature, but it may be a miracle also,” he stated.    “Because even though there’s been some devastating physical damage, to my knowledge as of right now, there is no report of loss of life, which is just stunning.”
    Abbott went on to praise meteorologists and television weather people for giving quick warnings just before the tornadoes hit towns in which potentially saved dozens of lives.    The governor is expected to sign a disaster declaration on Tuesday after these storms, plus wildfires, hail and snowfall all hit the state at once.
    For Texans who want a reprieve from the severe weather, there is no luck as more violent storms are expected on Tuesday.

3/25/2022 Young Australians Take Climate Protest To Prime Minister’s Residence
FILE PHOTO: A lone tree stands near a water trough in a drought-effected paddock located on the
outskirts of Walgett, in New South Wales, Australia, July 20, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Student activists converged on the Australian prime minister’s official residence on Friday to demand stronger action against climate change, with recent floods that killed at least 20 people giving their campaign a sense of urgency.
    Hundreds of school students, young trade union members and indigenous Australians chanted and waved placards at Kirribilli House as part of what they said was a global protest.
    “What I do wish for is a government that is not in denial and one that listens to the science and the people,” 13-year-old Ella O’Dwyer-Oshlack, who lost her home and her school in the recent floods, told the crowd.
    Climate change is a charged political issue in Australia which is a major producer of coal and gas and has long been criticised for being one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters on a per capita basis.
    Australia has a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but activists say that date is too distant.
    Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was not at the residence during the protest, told reporters he took climate change seriously.
    “It’s not just about reducing emissions,” said Morrison, who is facing a general election within weeks.
    “You’ve got to deal with the built-up, existing impact of climate change.    The impacts of weather events and these things are the product of things that have been happening for decades.    We have to build up our resilience and adaptation.”
    Climate experts have said the recent flooding was linked to a protracted La Nińa weather pattern.
    A royal commission investigation into the worst bushfires in a generation in 2019 and 2020 partly blamed climate change and warned that extreme weather would become more frequent due to global warming.
(Reporting by Cordelia Hsu and James Redmayne; Writing by Byron Kaye; Editing by Robert Birsel)

3/26/2022 Thinning Antarctic Ice Shelf Finally Crumbles After Heatwave by Isla Binnie
NASA Modis satellite image of an Antarctic ice shelf taken March 21, 2022 in this
handout image obtained March 25, 2022. NASA Modis satellite image/Handout via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – An East Antarctica ice shelf disintegrated this month following a period of extreme heat in the region, according to scientists.
    Satellite images show the 1,200 square-kilometre Conger Ice Shelf collapsed completely on or around March 15.
    “Possible it hit its tipping point following the #Antarctic #AtmosphericRiver and heat wave too?” asked NASA Earth and Planetary Scientist Catherine Colello Walker on Twitter on Friday, sharing images of a white expanse crumbling into shards over the dark ocean.
    Ice shelves, permanent floating sheets of ice attached to land, take thousands of years to form and act like levees holding back snow and ice that would otherwise flow into the ocean, causing seas to rise.
    The March heat wave, with temperatures reaching 70 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) above normal in parts of East Antarctica, was tied to the atmospheric river phenomenon, said Peter Neff, a glaciologist at the University of Minnesota.
    This process creates columns hundreds of miles long that carry water vapour from the tropics, creating an effect Neff described as “a fire hose of moisture.”
    “The (Antarctic) climate is incredibly variable but this was off-scale,” Neff said.    “This was at least twice as extreme of a warming event as we would have expected.”
    Temperatures in the region normally sit around -60 degrees Fahrenheit (-51 degrees Celsius) at this time of year, but they were around 10 degrees (-12 Celsius) earlier this month.
    They have now gone back to normal, Neff said.
    Surrounded by vast oceans and buffered by winds that tend to protect it from large warm-air intrusions, the frozen continent is responding more slowly to climate change than the Arctic, which is warming at three times the rate of the rest of the world.
    In the last century, East Antarctica barely warmed at all, but some regions have been affected and the continent lost an average of 149 billion tonnes of ice per year from 2002 to 2020, according to NASA.    The loss of the Conger Ice Shelf is the latest example of changes afoot.
    “This poor little ice shelf was just hanging on for dear life in this really warm coastal climate and it had been thinning and getting damaged over the last few decades,” said Neff.
    The Conger shelf was splintering long before the heat wave, and its demise shows the Antarctic system is sensitive to atmospheric changes, but the event itself is not a cause for concern, said Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder.
    A small glacier behind where Conger used to sit may now flow faster and unload a little more ice into the sea, he said.
    “If it was in your back yard it’d be huge … but by Antarctic standards and by sea level standards its a tiny area,” he said.
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Richard Chang)

3/28/2022 Evacuation Order Issued For Avalanche-Stricken Anchorage Suburb by Yereth Rosen
Drone footage shows the aftermath of an avalanche down a mountainside at Hiland Road in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S morning
of March 27, 2022 in this still image obtained from a social media video. Michael D. Larson/via REUTERS
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) -Residents of a suburb of Anchorage in Alaska were ordered on Sunday to evacuate a mountainous area after one massive avalanche buried a road and another huge slide was considered imminent.
    Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson issued the evacuation order, citing “a grave and immediate threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens” in the affected area at Eagle River, on the city’s outskirts.
    The avalanche roared down a mountainside shortly before midnight local time on Thursday (0800 GMT) covering the main road with a snow layer up to 80 feet (24 metres) deep.    But only about half of the snow in the unstable slide zone was released then, and a secondary avalanche is considered certain, local officials said.
    “If we have an uncontrolled release at an unknown time, that could result in the loss of life.    We want to do everything we can to prevent that,” Anchorage Municipal Manager Amy Demboski said at a Sunday news conference.
    The avalanche cut off access to about 100 homes, some of which are now without power, Demboski said.
    The evacuation of homes in the affected neighborhood and mitigation efforts that include placing explosives by helicopter to create a controlled avalanche are intended to make the area safer over the coming days, Demboski said.
    Emergency responders have cut a small trail to those stranded residents and are running snowmobile shuttles, said Assistant Anchorage Fire Chief Alex Boyd, the incident commander.
    There have been no injuries reported, said Corey Allen Young, Bronson’s spokesman, by email, and officials are assessing the extent of damage to houses.
    While avalanches are common in the region’s Chugach Mountains, the size and location of this slide make it an unprecedented event, officials said.
    “The size of this avalanche is massive.    It has been described by avalanche experts as a once-in-a-hundred-year event,” Demboski said at the news conference.
    Without mitigation, the road in the area could be blocked by snow until summer, Demboski said.
(Reporting by Yereth Rosen; Editing by Karishma Singh)

3/28/2022 Volcanologists Seek Answers As Island In Portugal’s Azores Keeps Shaking by Catarina Demony
Fatima Viveiros brings her soil gas monitoring equipment in Rosais near Velas as small earthquakes
have been recorded in Sao Jorge island, Azores, Portugal, March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes
    SAO JORGE, Portugal (Reuters) -Fatima Viveiros was a little girl when she decided to become a volcanologist.    It was a dream come true and now, at age 44, she is putting her skills to use to protect her home in Portugal’s Azores islands.
    The lush mid-Atlantic volcanic island of Sao Jorge, where she grew up, has been rattled by more than 14,000 small earthquakes in the past seven days.
    Viveiros and other experts fear the tremors, which have reached a magnitude of up to 3.3 on the Richter scale, could trigger a volcanic eruption for the first time since 1808, or a powerful earthquake.
    “My home is located on an active volcanic system,” said Viveiros, who works for the region’s CIVISA seismo-volcanic surveillance centre.
    “When (something happens) in our home we must be a little cold-blooded, so our feelings don’t affect our thinking,” she added.    “But the feelings are there because it’s my home, my people.”
    Viveiros was carrying a yellow machine on her back to measure soil gases on Sao Jorge.
    Soil gases, such as carbon dioxide and sulphur, are indicators of volcanic activity, and Viveiros and her team have been battling Sao Jorge’s rain and strong winds for days to dig for answers.    So far, the levels remain normal.
    The island’s sudden increase in seismic activity is reminiscent of the earthquakes detected before the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on Spain’s La Palma island last year, some 1,400 km (870 miles) southeast of the Azores.
    Over 85 days, that eruption destroyed thousands of properties and crops.
    Viveiros, who travelled to La Palma at the time to support the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute and monitor soil gases there, said Sao Jorge’s volcanic system was similar to the one on the Spanish island.
    “One of the possible scenarios on the table is that we see something similar to what happened in La Palma,” she added.
    Spanish and other international teams of experts are prepared to travel to Sao Jorge if needed, Viveiros said.
    CIVISA raised the volcanic alert to Level 4 on Wednesday, meaning there is a “real possibility” the volcano could erupt.
    Jose Bolieiro, the president of the Azores, which is an autonomous region of Portugal, said the number of earthquakes that hit Sao Jorge in recent days was double those recorded in the region as a whole last year.
    “There is clearly an abnormality,” he told reporters.
    Although authorities have said an eruption was not imminent, around 1,500 people have left the island by air or sea in recent days.    Many have no idea when they will be able to return.
    Arriving by helicopter, Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited Sao Jorge on Sunday to attend a briefing about the situation and calm the local population.    He also visited a historic tower that survived the 1808 eruption.
    Later on Sunday, Rebelo de Sousa interacted with locals in Calheta, a town on the eastern part of the island where people have sought safety.    Most of the seismic activity has been in the western side of Sao Jorge.
    He drank a traditional Azorean spirit, kissed and hugged members of the crowd and took selfies with them.
    Dozens of soldiers have been mobilised to Sao Jorge where they are staying in large tents with beds that could accommodate 100 people in case of an evacuation.    Sao Jorge’s municipalities also have transformed various facilities into temporary reception centers.
    As soldiers worked behind him, Major Rodolfo Romeiro told Reuters more resources would be sent to the island next week.
    “Our mission is to help the population,” Romeiro said.    “In these situations the motivation (of the armed forces) is even greater.”
(Reporting by Catarina Demony, Guillermo Martinez and Pedro Nunes; Editing by Pravin Char and Paul Simao)

3/29/2022 NASA Announces Future Space Missions At Annual Address by OAN Newsroom
Painters refurbish the NASA logo on the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center
in Florida in Florida on May 29, 2020. (Photo by GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images)
    NASA Administrator Bill Nelson discussed future space missions at the organization’s annual address.    His comments came after the Biden administration granted their request for an increased budget to continue with their operations.
    “We’re having this discussion today because President Biden and his administration released this budget request…NASA’s $26 billion fiscal year budget for ’23,” Nelson stated.    “It’s a request from the President, from us and it is a significant increase over last year’s budget.”
    The NASA administrator also took the time to provide several updates about the James Webb Telescope.
    According to Nelson, the first batch of images of a new galaxy captured by the telescope will be released to the public in the Summer.
    “This summer, we’re going to see the first images I’ve seen and you all have as well, the first Target store,” he stated.    “And what we’re going to see in the images that are coming is revealing the stars and the galaxies.    That happened to form the first Galaxy 13 and a half billion years ago.    Just after the beginning.    Think about that.”
    Nelson then went on to address their plans to have astronauts return to the surface of the Moon and the establishment of a lunar space station.
    “Just last week we announced a plan for more competition to add additional landers to carry astronauts to the lunar surface,” he continued.    “We expect to land about once a year for more than a decade.    We’re going to put an outpost or something like a station in lunar orbit.    It’s going to be in a polar orbit of the Moon and we’re going to call it Gateway.    It will provide essential support for our return to the lunar surface, but it will also serve as a staging point for deep space exploration.”
    Nelson ended the address with an announcement of a plan to have an astronaut touchdown on the surface of Mars.

3/29/2022 World Delegates Appear To Kick Deal To Halt Nature Loss Into Long Grass by Emma Farge
FILE PHOTO: Bees fly near a thermosolar hive in Chrudim May 25, 2015. Picture taken May 25, 2015. REUTERS/David W Cerny/File Photo
    GENEVA (Reuters) – Negotiations on an ambitious global biodiversity deal to halt or reverse nature loss closed in Switzerland on Tuesday, with countries agreeing to little more than further talks in June.
    The Geneva meeting of around 1,000 negotiators from 164 countries was meant to be the last before the postponed U.N. Convention on Biodiversity meeting in the Chinese city of Kunming where countries are due to ratify a deal to protect some 1 million plant and animal species threatened with extinction.
    The framework has the potential to be the biodiversity equivalent of the 2015 Paris climate deal but campaigners have bemoaned glacial progress in the talks that on Tuesday approved another round of negotiations in Kenya in late June.
    Greenpeace East Asia senior policy adviser Li Shuo said the process was “on shaky ground.”
    “This process has so far been ill-designed and underwhelming,” he added.    A group of countries, including Britain, the United States and New Zealand, said in a closing statement that moving forward would require a “fundamental shift in our approach.”
    The final draft text showed a large portion of the framework’s 21 targets still in square brackets – such as specific goals for reducing pesticide use and eliminating billions of dollars in agricultural subsidies that incentivise farmers to destroy habitats – indicating a lack of formal agreement.
    On the main mission of halting and reversing biodiversity losses, negotiators could not decide whether they were aiming for 2030 or 2050, the document showed.
    “It’s been incredibly frustrating,” said one delegate who declined to be named since the negotiating sessions are confidential.
    In an illustration of the challenges, the convention’s co-chair Francis Ogwal begged delegates to approve wording that negotiators had carefully finessed until past 3 a.m. on Monday morning.
    “I beg you not to square-bracket anything here.    Can I gavel?” the Ugandan said addressing the room.    He pounded the table and burst into laughter, only for Bolivia to object seconds later and unravel the consensus.    A solution was later agreed.
    Another major area that remains unresolved is how the framework will be financed, with Africa and developing countries calling on wealthy nations to provide up to $700 billion in annual funding by 2030.
    “The current architecture for global biodiversity financing should be transformed,” Stanislas Stephen Mouba, Gabon’s head of delegation, told the conference.
    A coalition of organisations, including the World Wildlife Fund have called for wealthy countries to spend $60 billion annually on conservation in developing countries and in that way account for the harm done by international trade.
    One positive outcome, even if not formalised, is that participants said there was convergence around the idea of protecting 30% of land and sea areas globally by 2030.    A co-chair Basile van Havre told Reuters he saw support for that target from China, the talks’ president, for the first time.
    China’s Zhou Guomei praised the Geneva meeting, called it a “successful conclusion” and urged delegates to continue working to build consensus.    Other officials hailed an outcome on the sharing of species’ genetic resources.
    However, some participants have called for greater ambition from China, which only twice took the floor in its capacity as president in 15 days of talks.
    “They have been listening but we hope for more engagement and ambition,” Brian O’Donnell, the director of the Campaign for Nature told Reuters.
    Some also voiced frustration about the lack of clarity on the Kunming summit timing as it faces a fourth delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.    Organisers said on Tuesday it would take place in the third quarter, without giving a date.
    China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment did not respond to a request for comment and Chinese officials in Geneva declined an interview request.
(Additonal reporting by David Stanway in Shanghai; editing by Barbara Lewis, Nick Macfie and Aurora Ellis)

3/30/2022 Report: ‘Radical’ climate push needed by Frank Jordans, ASSOCIATED PRESS
    BERLIN – The world must take “radical action” to shift away from fossil fuels, including investing $5.7 trillion annually in solar, wind and other forms of clean power this decade, to ensure that global warming doesn’t pass dangerous thresholds, the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency said Tuesday.
    Other measures proposed in a 348-page report on the global energy transition include improving energy efficiency, increasing electrification, capturing carbon emissions and expanding the use of hydrogen gas.
    Scientists say global emissions need to drop 45% by the end of the decade compared to 1990 levels.    But recent data show they are going up, not down.
    “The energy transition is far from being on track, and anything short of radical action in the coming years will diminish, even eliminate, chances to meet our climate goals,” said Francesco La Camera, the director-general of IRENA.
    Countries agreed seven years ago in Paris to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, ideally no more than 2.7 degrees F, to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences for the planet.    With temperatures now 1.98 degrees F above the pre-industrial average, a recent report by a U.N. science panel found that billions around the world are already vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
    La Camera told an energy conference in Berlin that “not only the 1.5 C (2.7 F), the 2 C (3.6 F) goal is really in danger if we don’t act and don’t make a dramatic change in the way we produce and consume energy.”
    IRENA, based in the oil-rich Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi, said investments of $700 billion should be diverted away from the fossil fuel sector each year to avoid creating wells, pipelines and power plants that can’t be used anymore.
    This demand was echoed by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who called for an end to private sector financing for coal power, which surged to record highs last year.
    “Lenders need to recognize that coal and fossil fuels are futile investments that will lead to billions of dollars in stranded assets,” he said.
    With countries such as the United States ramping up domestic fossil fuel production amid energy price hikes and fears of supply shortages because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Guterres urged governments not to delay the shift away from fossil fuels.
    “The current crisis shows that we must accelerate, not slow, the renewable energy transition,” he said.    “This is the only true path to energy security.”
    Such calls have been met with mixed results.
    At a forum in Dubai this week, energy ministers of major oil producers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the secretary general of the OPEC oil cartel, insisted that fossil fuels are part of the energy transition and hundreds of billions of dollars in oil and gas investments are still needed.
    While the two Gulf countries have pledged to reduce emissions within their borders to net zero, they tout their barrels of oil as less carbon-intensive than those extracted elsewhere and have no plans to cut production.
Scientists say global emissions need to drop 45% by the end of the decade compared to 1990 levels. MICHAEL SOHN/AP

3/30/2022 Global Wind And Solar Growth On Track To Meet Climate Targets
FILE PHOTO: Power-generating windmill turbines are seen at the Eneco Luchterduinen
offshore wind farm near Amsterdam, Netherlands September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    PARIS (Reuters) – Solar and wind power can grow enough to limit global warming to 1.5C if the 10-year average compound growth rate of 20% can be maintained to 2030, independent climate think tank Ember said in a report on Wednesday.
    Solar generation rose 23% globally in 2021, while wind supply gained 14% over the same period.    Together, both renewable sources accounted for 10.3% of total global electricity generation, up 1% from 2020, data from Ember showed.
    The Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam had the fastest growth rates for the renewable sources, switching around 10% of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to wind and solar in the last two years, they said.
    “If these trends can be replicated globally, and sustained, the power sector would be on track for 1.5 degree goal,” Ember said in their report.
    The main issue currently slowing the growth rate is on-the-ground constraints like permitting, and if governments want to supercharge growth they need to solve problems slowing deployment, Ember’s global lead Dave Jones said.
    However, despite gains in wind and solar, coal-fired power generation saw its fastest growth since at least 1985, up 9% in 2021 at 10,042 terawatt hours (TWh), or 59% of the total demand rise, the report said.
    This came in a year of rapid demand recovery, as 2021 saw the largest recorded annual increase of 1,414 TWh in global electricity demand in 2021, up 5.4% and the equivalent of adding a new India to global demand, they said.
    “We’re getting closer to that break-even where wind and solar can cover new electricity demand, but we are still not quite there.    If we maintain those growth rates we see, we will be there shortly,” Jones said.
    The biggest demand rise was recorded in China, up 13% in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, the data showed.
    The country relies largely on coal for power production, but passed the one-tenth of power generation from wind and solar landmark for the first time in 2021 along with six other countries, the report said.
    China “is installing not only record levels of wind and solar, but also installing record levels of clean electricity like hydro, nuclear and bioenergy which means their coal generation will start falling,” Jones said.
    “What’s not clear is how quickly that will be,” he added.
    China plans to continue to use coal as a vital part of its energy strategy, as it bids to balance economic stability with its longer-term climate goals.
(Reporting by Forrest Crellin; Editing by David Gregorio)

3/31/2022 As Floods Ease, Australia’s Biggest State Braces For Damaging Surf And Wind
FILE PHOTO: A view shows a flooded street following heavy rains in the town of Byron Bay, New South Wales,
Australia March 30, 2022 in this still image taken from a video. Australian Broadcasting Corporation/Handout
    SYDNEY (Reuters) – The entire coast of Australia’s most populous state was told to brace for high waves and powerful winds on Thursday as a low pressure system that left entire towns flooded moved offshore.
    The change brought a reprieve for large swathes of northern New South Wales – flooded this week for the second time in a month – but it spreads the risk across some 2,000 km (1,200 miles) of coastline including the country’s biggest city, Sydney.
    There were still 20 evacuation orders affecting some 30,000 people, but the deluge had eased, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Dean Narramore told reporters. The Wilsons River which runs through regional centre Lismore, among the worst affected by flooding, had peaked at 11.4 metres (37.4 feet), lower than the 12 metres that authorities had feared.
    “We’re transitioning into a wind and damaging surf threat,” Narramore told reporters.
    “The main concern will be abnormally high tides and also coastal erosion … and also inundation of low-lying areas, particularly for properties right on the beach.”
    Two years since the worst bushfires in a generation, Australia’s densely populated east coast has been grappling with record floods as a protracted La Nina weather pattern brings abnormally high rainfall and wind, causing rivers to overflow and leaving thousands of homes uninhabitable.
    Near Lismore, the popular tourism hub of Byron Bay, 750 kilometres (465 miles) north of Sydney, had its main street underwater for the first time in decades. Sydney itself has clocked its wettest March and sixth-wettest month overall since records began in 1859, weather experts say.
    So far, two people have been confirmed as having died in the current weather pattern, while the police say they are searching for a third person, a woman, believed to be missing in floodwaters at Lismore.
    “We are now regrouping as we look towards the recovery efforts with waters starting to recede,” New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Steph Cooke told reporters.
    “This weather system will (now) make its way down the east coast and we will see other communities impacted.”
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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