Environment

Whale strandings: Five questions answered

Hobart, Australia (AFP) — The death of about 200 pilot whales at a Tasmanian beach has renewed questions about what causes such mass strandings and whether they can be prevented. With the help of Karen Stockin, a whale stranding expert at New Zealand’s Massey University, here are the answers to five key questions: What causes mass strandings? Scientists are still trying to work that out. They do know that there are multiple types of stranding […]

As oceans rise, are some nations doomed to vanish?

by Amélie BOTTOLLIER-DEPOIS Agence France Presse United Nations, United States (AFP) — If rising seas engulf the Maldives and Tuvalu, will those countries be wiped off the map? And what happens to their citizens? The prospect is no longer science fiction as global warming gathers pace, posing an unprecedented challenge to the international community, and threatening entire peoples with the loss of their land and identity. “This is the biggest tragedy that a people, a […]

Climate change made 2022 drought ‘at least 20 times likelier’

by Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse Paris, France (AFP)– Human-caused climate change made this summer’s drought across the Northern Hemisphere at least 20 times more likely, according to a rapid analysis released Wednesday that warns such extreme dry periods will become increasingly common with global heating. The three months from June-August were the hottest in Europe since records began, and the exceptionally high temperatures led to the worst drought the continent has witnessed since the […]

Australia lists small wallaby, snake among new endangered species

Sydney, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s government vowed to stop plant and animal extinctions Tuesday as it listed the grey snake and a small wallaby among 15 new threatened species. Many of Australia’s unique species are clinging to existence, their habitats shrinking from human activity and extreme events such as the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, wildlife groups say. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government announced a new 10-year scheme to try to halt the slide into extinction […]

Hurricane Ian dumped 10% more rain due to climate change: research

Paris, France | AFP | by Kelly MACNAMARA Climate change increased the rainfall from Hurricane Ian by more than 10 percent, according to a new quick-fire analysis, as one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the United States devastated parts of Florida. Ian “could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida history”, President Joe Biden said after the storm brought ferocious winds, turned streets into churning rivers that swept away homes and left an […]

Nature’s cleaners: Cyprus returns rare vultures to wild

KORFI, Cyprus (AFP) – With a wingspan as wide as a basketball hoop is tall, it took just a few flaps for the vulture to soar to freedom towards the glittering seas off Cyprus. Griffon vultures, birds that perform the vital job of clearing carcasses that could otherwise spread disease, are on the “brink of extinction” on the Mediterranean island due to poisoning, experts warn. But 15 have been returned to the wild in recent […]

Swiss glaciers melting away at record rate

by Christophe VOGT / Elodie LE MAOU Agence France Presse Geneva, Switzerland (AFP) — Switzerland’s glaciers lost six percent of their total volume this year due to a dry winter and repeated summer heatwaves, shattering previous ice melt records, a report revealed Wednesday. The study by the Cryospheric Commission (CC) of the Swiss Academy of Sciences laid bare the drastic scale of glacial retreat — which is only set to get worse. “2022 was a […]

Almost 200 pilot whales perish on Australian beach

by Andrew LEESON Agence France Presse OCEAN BEACH, Australia (AFP) — Almost 200 whales have perished at an exposed, surf-swept beach on the rugged west coast of Tasmania, where Australian rescuers were only able to save a few dozen survivors Thursday. After an arduous, day-long effort in difficult conditions, state wildlife services said just 32 of the 226 beached long-finned pilot whales were strong enough to be rescued. “We’ve been refloating those whales that have […]

230 pilot whales stranded in Australia, ‘about half’ feared dead

  SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Around 230 pilot whales were found stranded on the rugged west coast of Tasmania Wednesday, with Australian officials saying only half appeared to be alive. “A pod of approximately 230 whales has stranded near Macquarie Harbour,” said the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment. “It appears about half of the animals are alive.” Aerial images showed a devastating scene of dozens of black glossy mammals strewn along a stretch […]

Hurricane Fiona leaves one dead in Dominican Republic after ravaging Puerto Rico

by Erika Santelices Agence France-Presse NAGUA, Dominican Republic (AFP) — Hurricane Fiona dumped torrential rain on the Dominican Republic and left one person there dead on Monday after triggering major flooding in Puerto Rico and widespread power blackouts across both Caribbean islands. The storm strengthened to a Category Two hurricane late Monday, said the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), which forecast continuing rains and possible new catastrophic floods during the night in both Puerto Rico […]

More Australia floods ‘very real possibility’ as third straight La Niña declared

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) – Flood-battered eastern Australia faces further extreme weather in the coming months after the country’s forecasters confirmed Tuesday that a “triple-dip” La Niña was under way in the Pacific. The Bureau of Meteorology said La Niña, which brings intense downpours to Australia’s heavily populated east coast, would probably peak in spring with above-average rainfall expected to last through the southern hemisphere’s summer. The country’s east is still recovering from intense storms and […]

Hong Kong September heat record broken twice

HONG KONG, China (AFP) — Hong Kong has broken two heat records for September in a little over a week, the city’s weather observatory said Tuesday, as the crowded financial hub swelters through one of its hottest summers. The Hong Kong Observatory said a temperature of 35.4 degrees Celsius (95.7 Fahrenheit) was recorded on Tuesday afternoon, “once again breaking the record for highest temperature in September” since the city started keeping records in 1884. The […]