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    Page Updated:
    September 15, 2021




     

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    Record Num. of Environmental
    Defenders Killed in 2020
    -ZME Sciencen
     
    September 13, 2021
    While the world was busy with the pandemic, a record number of 227 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2020 — an average of four people a week, according to a new report by the NGO Global Witness. As it so often happens, these attacks took place in a wider context that includes a range of threats against defenders, arrests, smear campaigns, and other violent attacks.
    The report defines land and environmental defenders as people who carry out peaceful actions against unjust, discriminatory, corrupt, or damaging exploitation of natural resources or the environment. This covers a broad range of people, such as those whose land is threatened by deforestation and mining.
    Since 2012, Global Witness has been gathering data on killings of defenders. In that time, a grim picture has been identified by the authors – as the climate crisis intensifies, violence against those protecting the planet also increases. Now, the new report shows the highest ever number of activists killed for the second year in a row.
    Once again, Colombia was the country with the highest recorded attacks, with 65 defenders killed in 2020. A third of these attacks targeted indigenous and afro-descendant people, and almost half were against small-scale farmers. Nicaragua saw 12 killings, making it the most dangerous country per capita for defenders last year.
    One of the U.S.'s Biggest Oil and
    Chemical Hubs Hit by Ida
    -NY Timres Climate Forward
    August 30, 2021
    The most intense hurricane on record to strike Louisiana swept through one of the nation’s largest chemical, petroleum and natural gas hubs. And while it may take days or weeks for the full extent of the storm’s impact to become clear, early reports of damage have heightened concerns over the vulnerability of the region’s fossil fuel infrastructure to intensifying storms.
    On Monday, officials warned that floodwaters had spilled over a temporary levee erected near a Phillips 66 refinery in Plaquemines, the state’s southernmost parish and one of most severely affected by Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago. And in neighboring St. Bernard Parish, almost two dozen barges unmoored by Hurricane Ida’s 150 miles-per-hour winds damaged the dock at the giant Valero Refinery there. And news photos showed extensive flooding and dark flares at Shell’s refining and chemical complex in Norco, farther inland.
    Earlier hurricanes, including Harvey in 2017 and Laura in 2020, caused oil and chemical releases from storage tanks and other installations along the coast.
    Bernardo Fallas, a spokesman for Phillips 66, said the company would “conduct a post-storm assessment of the refinery and its levees when it is safe to do so.” The refinery “completed a safe and orderly shutdown of operations” ahead of Ida’s arrival, he said.
    Baltimore's Leaky Pipes Dump
    Poison into Local Waterways
    -ZME Science
     
    August 18, 2021
    Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay intakes tens of thousands of doses of various drugs every year, according to a new report. This results in persistent (if variable) levels of drugs in the water year-round, at concentrations that affect ecological processes. The source, according to the report, is the city’s leaky sewage system.
    The sheer scale of human society means that much of what we do impacts the world around us. Climate change is the most consequential one, but pollution and habitat destruction are arguably the most visible. Sometimes, however, they can happen unnoticed right under our noses, meaning we have a very poor understanding of their scale and effects.
    Pharmaceutical or drug pollution in freshwater is one example — it is global in scope and yet, very poorly quantified. A new report, however, comes to fill in at least one piece of this overall story. According to the paper, the sewage infrastructure of Maryland is leaking tens of thousands of human doses of pharmaceutical compounds into the Chesapeake Bay every year. The paper illustrates how outsized an effect old or damaged infrastructure can have on our environment.
    Pharmaceutical pollution in lakes, rivers, and streams can have an immense effect on wildlife communities. Since our drugs are so varied in composition and effect, they can interfere with and disrupt everything from animal biology and behavior to algal growth.
    Sicily Records Highest
    Temp. in European History
    --The Guardian
    Climate Change
    August 11, 2021
    The highest temperature in European history appears to have been recorded in Italy during a heatwave sweeping the country, with early reports suggesting a high of 48.8C (119.85F).
    If this is accepted by the World Meteorological Organisation it will break the previous European record of 48C (118.4F) set in Athens in 1977. The temperature was measured at a monitoring station in Syracuse, Sicily, and confirmed soon after by the island’s meteorological authorities.
    The finding comes amid a fierce heatwave stretching across the Mediterranean to Tunisia and Algeria. Fires have blazed across much of the region for more than a week. Italy’s government has declared a state of emergency. Turkey and Greece have also been hit by devastating conflagrations.
    Trevor Mitchell, a meteorologist from MetDesk, said: “The Società Meteorologica Italiana say that the temperature report of 48.8C is genuine. However, with potential records such as these there is typically a process of verification before they can be declared officially.
    “Sicily has been experiencing a heatwave in the last few days. The foehn effect [a change from wet, cold conditions on one side of a mountain to warmer, drier conditions on the other] in the lee of the mountains to the west of Syracuse is likely to have assisted in generating the 48.8C observed there today.”
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