Fungi and plants clean up California pollution

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – In an industrial wasteland in Los Angeles, Kreigh Hampel is uprooting California buckwheat with a pitchfork to find out how much lead it has absorbed. The plant’s delicate white and pink flowers belie an astonishing cleaning power, which scientists think could be harnessed to get rid of dangerous pollutants — and even recycle them. “That’s the miracle of life,” enthuses 68-year-old Hampel, who is volunteering on the project. “Plants really can […]

Shanghai swelters through hottest May day in 100 years

SHANGHAI, May 29, 2023 (AFP) – Shanghai recorded its hottest May day in more than 100 years on Monday, the city’s meteorological service announced, shattering the previous high by a full degree. Scientists say global warming is exacerbating adverse weather, with many countries experiencing deadly heatwaves and temperatures hitting records across Southeast and South Asia in recent weeks. “At 13:09, the temperature at Xujiahui station hit 36.1 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking a 100-year-old […]

Dangerous slowing of Antarctic ocean circulation sooner than expected

PARIS, May 26, 2023 (AFP) – Climate change-driven shifts in the circulation of waters to the deepest reaches of the ocean around Antarctica, which could reverberate across the planet and intensify global warming, are happening decades “ahead of schedule”, according to new research. Scientists have said that an acceleration of melting Antarctic ice and rising temperatures, driven by the emission of planet-warming gases, is expected to have a significant effect on the global network of […]

Guam ‘weathers storm’ as Typhoon Mawar moves west

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Typhoon Mawar was moving away from Guam on Thursday, prompting the governor of the US territory to declare the island had “weathered the storm.” Forecasters said the typhoon had blasted Guam with winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kilometers per hour) on Wednesday when the eye of the storm passed just north of the island. Mawar was now heading towards the Philippines and Taiwan, packing stronger winds of […]

Typhoon Mawar leaves trail of destruction as it moves from Guam

LOS ANGELES, May 25, 2023 (AFP) — A typhoon that slammed into Guam, knocking out power and flooding buildings with a powerful storm surge, was moving away Thursday — leaving residents of the US Pacific Ocean territory to survey the damage. Governor Lou Leon Guerrero was set to venture out when conditions allow to see what damage has been wrought on the island, a key US military outpost and home to 170,000 people. The governor […]

Typhoon Mawar set for direct hit on Guam

LOS ANGELES, United States, May 24, 2023 (AFP) — Typhoon Mawar was expected Wednesday to bring catastrophic winds directly to Guam, a US territory in the Pacific that is home to a crucial military outpost. The storm’s top winds had weakened slightly but it remained a dangerous Category Four typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kilometers per hour), and gusts up to 175 mph at landfall, the National Weather Service […]

Guam braces for direct hit from Super Typhoon Mawar

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Super Typhoon Mawar packing potentially catastrophic winds is heading for a direct hit on Guam, a US territory in the Pacific that is a crucial US military outpost. A National Weather Service report said Mawar was intensifying into a Category Five super typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour, and gusts up to 200 mph. “I am worried for the safety of our people. This is […]

Smoke choking Canadians but cooling wildfires by blocking out sun

OTTAWA, May 22, 2023 (AFP) – Wildfire smoke blanketing western Canada has triggered health warnings in several cities, but was also helping to cool blazes by blocking out a hot sun across hard-hit portions of the country Sunday. The wildfires in Alberta province have displaced tens of thousands of people and scorched more than 941,000 hectares over several weeks. “It is a mixed bag certainly with smoke,” Christie Tucker of the Alberta Wildfire agency told […]

Scent of tradition lingers in Lebanon’s ‘village of roses’

By Elisa Amouret Agence France-Presse QSARNABA, Lebanon, May 18, 2023 (AFP) — On a gentle slope looking out over Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, villagers work their way across pink-dotted terraces, gathering perfumed Damask roses that are used for essential oils, sweets and cosmetics. The rose harvest “gives you a bit of hope, it makes things beautiful, it calms you down — it gives you strength to carry on”, said Leila al-Dirani, picking the flowers from her […]

Next five years set to be hottest period ever: UN

GENEVA, May 17, 2023 (AFP) – It is near-certain that 2023-2027 will be the warmest five-year period ever recorded, the United Nations warned Wednesday as greenhouse gases and El Nino combine to send temperatures soaring. There is a two-thirds chance that at least one of the next five years will see global temperatures exceed the more ambitious target set out in the Paris accords on limiting climate change, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said. […]

Nepali mountaineer climbs Everest for record 27th time

By Paavan MATHEMA KATHMANDU, May 17, 2023 (AFP) – Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa reached the top of Mount Everest for the 27th time on Wednesday, reclaiming the record for the most summits of the world’s highest mountain. “He successfully reached the summit this morning guiding a Vietnamese climber,” Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, his expedition organiser, told AFP. Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 10 highest peaks, including the 8,849-metre (29,032-foot) […]

Water woes shake up Spain’s election campaign

By Valentin BONTEMPS Agence France-Presse DOÑANA NATIONAL PARK, Spain, May 17, 2023 (AFP) – Concern over the future of Spain’s Donana natural park, which is threatened by overfarming, has made water management a key issue ahead of local elections at the end of May. Spain’s water resources are becoming exhausted while its irrigation needs keep rising, “an unsustainable situation”, said Felipe Fuentelsaz of WWF Spain. The Donana National Park in the southern Andalusia region, home […]