Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 earthquake hits the Anatahan region in the North Mariana Islands.

5.2 earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

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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.