Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Atlantic Ocean: Tropical Storm Chantal is located about 445 mi…715 km s of Cape Race Newfoundland with maximum sustained winds…40 mph…65 km/h. Present movement…e or 90 degrees at 22 mph…35 km/h.

In the Western Pacific Ocean: Tropical depression (td) 12w (Bailu), located approximately 716 nm south-southeast of Kadena AFB, Japan, is tracking northwestward at 07 knots.

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Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.0 earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

5.4 earthquake hits the Bougainville region, Papua New Guinea.

5.3 earthquake hits the Ryukyu Islands off Japan.

5.0 earthquake hits the Philippine Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits Kepulauan Babar, Indonesia.

5.0 earthquake hits off the coast of Central America.

Wildlife

California to build largest wildlife crossing in world

Hoping to fend off the extinction of mountain lions and other species that require room to roam, transportation officials and conservationists will build a mostly privately funded wildlife crossing over a major Southern California highway. It will give big cats, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes and other creatures a safe route to open space and better access to food and potential mates.

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Environment

Smoke from Burning Amazon Turns São Paulo Afternoon into Midnight

There’s so much smoke from wildfires in the Amazon rainforest that São Paulo plunged into darkness on Monday afternoon (Aug. 19), with day turning into night. The atmosphere was a reminder that forest fires in the Amazon have surged 82% this year compared with the same period last year (from January to August).

That smoke, combined with clouds and a cold front (it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere), led to the midnight-like darkness in São Paulo. The fires are largely burning in northern Brazil and have prompted the Brazilian state of Amazonas to declare a state of emergency.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Alaska

The Alaska Division of Forestry has called in over 200 firefighters from Washington to help contain multiple wildfires raging across Southcentral in a late-season flareup in drought-stricken parts of the State.

Fire officials on Monday went over the latest news for the Deshka Fire — currently burning around 2,000 acres along Nancy Lake Parkway — the McKinley Fire — burning steady at 3,000 acres, and compromising 50 structures — and the Swan Lake Fire on the Kenai Peninsula, which DOF spokesperson John See says has burned over 100,000 acres since it started back up on Sunday.

Wildlife

Freshwater species on a fast decline

Freshwater species have declined 88 percent since 1970 — twice the decline of animals on the land or ocean, according to recent research, yet large gaps remain in monitoring and conservation efforts. The two main threats, they found, are overexploitation and the loss of free-flowing rivers. “The results are alarming and confirm the fears of scientists involved in studying and protecting freshwater biodiversity,” said Sonja Jähnig, of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries.

Thousands of birds killed during hailstorm

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More than 11,000 waterfowl and wetland birds were killed after “baseball-sized” chunks of hail fell on a Montana wildlife management area last weekend, state officials said Friday. Ducks and shorebirds with broken wings, smashed skulls and other signs of internal bleeding were found on the shores around Big Lake Wildlife Management Area in Molt, Montana.

Biologists who surveyed the area estimated that between 11,000 and 13,000 birds were found dead or badly injured after the hailstorm. Most of the injured birds are not expected to survive. About 20 to 30 percent of the entire bird population at the lake died in the storm.

Panama – A Broken Link in an Intercontinental Wildlife Route

The expansion of human populations has left animals such as white-lipped peccaries, jaguars, giant anteaters, white-tailed deer and tapirs isolated throughout Panama, a study recently published in Conservation Biology found. The nation represents the narrowest portion of a system of protected areas and connecting corridors that extend through the length of Central America and part of Mexico, known as the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC).

The results of the study strongly suggest that the bridge [through Panama] is broken. Until a few decades ago, many of these large mammal species still occurred continuously throughout the isthmus.

Now the animals live in forest “islands,” surrounded by cattle ranches, fields of crops, roads and other human developments that jeopardize their ability to move from one place—and, correspondingly, from one group—to another. The habitat fragmentation prevents animal movement and gene flow between populations, which can be detrimental to their long-term survival.

Panama has always played a crucial role in the movement and gene flow of numerous neotropical forest species. When the Isthmus of Panama, connecting North and South America, emerged about 2.8 million years ago, the event led to the Great American Biotic Interchange, allowing species to migrate between the two continents.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Canary Islands

A fire raged out of control on the Spanish holiday island of Gran Canaria Monday, forcing evacuations as flames rose so high even water-dropping planes could not operate in what was dubbed an “environmental tragedy”. The blaze, the third in 10 days in the mountainous centre of the island, has forced the evacuation of several villages with a combined population of 9,000.

Altogether, 1,000 firefighters and other crew and 14 water-dropping helicopters and planes were working on controlling the blaze, which is estimated to have destroyed 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres).

Wildfires – Texs, USA

Firefighters in Texas are battling three wildfires covering more than 17,000 acres across the state.

A fire in Hardeman County near Quanah has burned an estimated 8,830 acres and is 40 percent contained, said the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Another fire in Sutton County has burned over 2,400 acres. The Bird Ranch Fire in Cottle County is estimated to have spread to 7,000 acres and is 25 percent contained.

Wildfires – Alaska

The Alaska Railroad has cancelled passenger service between Anchorage and Denali National Park because of a fire burning along tracks north of Willow. The fire began Saturday when high wind blew a tree onto a powerline at Mile 91 Parks Highway. Continued strong winds Sunday night pushed the fire across the highway and across railroad tracks. Crews are removing numerous burned trees that fell on tracks. The fire by Sunday night had grown to nearly 3 square miles (7.7 sq. kilometers).

Disease

Hepatitis A – Flordia, USA

Florida state health officials reported an additional 72 hepatitis A cases last week, bringing the outbreak total since January 2018 to 2,814 cases. In addition, 31 deaths have been reported through July 31.

Bird Flu – China

The China National Health Commission reported a human case of avian influenza A(H5N6) today. The patient is in a critical condition in a Beijing hospital.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

India – Heavy rains lashed northern parts of India, leaving at least 28 people dead and 22 missing in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab on Sunday, while a flood alert was sounded in parts of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh as Yamuna and other rivers were in spate.

Wildlife

World’s nations gather to tackle wildlife extinction crisis

From giraffes to sharks, the world’s endangered species could gain better protection at an international wildlife conference.

The triennial summit of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), that began on Saturday, will tackle disputes over the conservation of great beasts such as elephants and rhinos, as well as cracking down on the exploitation of unheralded but vital species such as sea cucumbers, which clean ocean floors.

Extraordinary creatures being driven to extinction by the exotic pet trade, from glass frogs to star tortoises, may win extra protection from the 183-country conference. It may even see an extinct animal, the woolly mammoth, get safeguards, on the grounds that illegal elephant ivory is sometimes laundered by being labelled as antique mammoth tusks.

The destruction of nature has reduced wildlife populations by 60% since 1970 and plant extinctions are running at a “frightening” rate, according to scientists. In May, the world’s leading researchers warned that humanity was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the planet’s natural life-support systems, which provide the food, clean air and water on which society ultimately depends.

South Africa pushes for trade in endangered wildlife

The South African government, together with those of the DRC, Namibia and Zimbabwe, is proposing measures which, if enacted, could open the door to the international trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn and other endangered species.

In a submission to the eighteenth conference of the parties (CoP18) to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to be held in Switzerland in September 2019, the countries argue for a major overhaul in the way in which the organisation operates.

They believe they should be allowed to sell threatened wildlife species anywhere in the world in the same way that mineral resources and mass-produced plastic trinkets are traded on global commercial markets.

In essence, the countries proposing these changes to CITES are upset that current rules prohibit them from deriving profits from wild animals which they consider to be valuable products that they should be entitled to harvest and sell as they see fit.

South Africa is one of the best examples of this philosophy in action. Over the past decade or so, the government, guided by economists promoting extreme free-market policies and the unrestricted commodification and commercialisation of nature, has succeeded in crafting laws and regulations that explicitly lay out this interpretation of sustainable use, for instance in the case of lions and rhinos.

The government-supported industry of breeding lions in captivity in South Africa provides an illustration of the outcomes of this philosophy. Supposedly proud of its global wildlife conservation status, the country now hosts more of these caged and commodified lions than live in its national parks and nature reserves.

The problem is that wild animals are not the same as commercial goods and lions bred in captivity for the sole purpose of becoming targets for wealthy trophy hunters and a ready supply of bones for the market in traditional Chinese medicine, are neither capable of surviving in the wild nor have any conservation value whatsoever. In fact, one could argue that they are no longer truly lions in an ecological sense.

Given the current extinction crisis, we should do everything to protect endangered species, not expand ways to exploit them to their greatest commercial potential and it is extremely short-sighted and irresponsible for South Africa and other countries to make proposals that would diminish CITES’ effectiveness.

Global Warming

Iceland honours passing of first glacier lost to global warming

Iceland on Sunday honoured the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, as scientists warn that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate. As the world recently marked the warmest July ever on record, a bronze plaque was mounted on a bare rock in a ceremony on the former glacier in western Iceland.

By memorialising a fallen glacier, they want to emphasise what is being lost — or dying — the world over, and also draw attention to the fact that this is something that humans have ‘accomplished’, although it is not something we should be proud of.

Disease

Chikungunya

Brazil – From the beginning of the year through July, Brazil health authorities have reported 97,900 probable cases of chikungunya in the country.

Thailand – In an update on the chikungunya situation in Thailand, the Ministry of Health reports that since the beginning of the year through August 4, 5,996 cases from 44 provinces have been reported, an increase of some 1,500 in about one month.

Measles – New Zealand

Officials with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service have reported some 100 additional measles cases during the past week. On August 13, officials were reporting 410 cases and this morning the total has risen to 507 with some 50 cases reported just over the weekend. Nationally, New Zealand’s measles total has reached 639 cases.

Crimea-Congo Haemorrhagic fever – Uganda

A confirmed case of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) involving a 42-year-old businessman dealing in cattle has been reported from Kasagama Subcounty, Lyantonde District.

Malaria – Uganda

The Uganda Ministry of Health is reporting an increase in malaria cases in 2019. The cases of malaria have increased by over 400,000 cases when compared with 2018 and 2019 from about 1 million cases in June 2018 to 1.4 million in June 2019 (40% increase). However, it is worth noting that cases are still low compared to 2017 and 2016 in the same period.

Diphtheria – India

Health officials at the Government Fever Hospital in Hyderabad, Telangana state, India are reporting a surge in cases of the vaccine-preventable disease, diphtheria. According to a Times of India report, during the past two months they have seen 240 cases reported from Hyderabad, including seven death in just the past month.

Measles kill more people in DR Congo than Ebola

Measles has killed 2,758 people in the DR Congo since January, more than the Ebola epidemic in a year, medical NGO Doctors Without Borders said. The disease, preventable with a vaccine, has infected over 145,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo between January and early August.