Environment

Football pitch of rainforest destroyed every six seconds

by Marlowe HOOD Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Vast tracts of pristine rainforest on three continents went up in smoke last year, with an area roughly the size of Switzerland cut down or burned to make way for cattle and commercial crops, researchers said Tuesday. Brazil accounted for more than a third of the loss, with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia a distant second and third, Global Forest Watch said in its […]

Wayward whale takes city break in Montreal

MONTREAL, Canada (AFP) — A young humpback whale that swam up one of Canada’s major rivers and has been exploring the waters off Montreal for a few days was likely led astray while on a hunting trip, authorities have said. Since Saturday, the giant creature has been swimming in the St Lawrence river against the backdrop of the Montreal skyline — hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the waters it usually calls home. The humpback is […]

Deadly Tropical Storm Amanda hits El Salvador, Guatemala

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AFP) — Tropical Storm Amanda, the first named storm of the season in the Pacific, killed 10 people as it lashed El Salvador and Guatemala on Sunday amid flooding and power outages. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency for 15 days to cope with the effects of the storm, which lost strength later in the day as it moved into Guatemala. The fatalities were all recorded in El […]

Indonesia starts cloud seeding to keep forest fires at bay

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia has started cloud seeding to induce rain as the archipelago moves to head off annual forest fires blamed for blanketing swathes of Southeast Asia in toxic haze. Last year’s fires were the worst since 2015 due to dry weather, with some 1.6 million hectares (3.95 million acres) of land, mostly on Sumatra and Borneo islands, razed by the out-of-control blazes. Authorities deployed tens of thousands of personnel and water-bombing aircraft […]

Host Britain asks to delay climate summit to November 2021

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — The UN environmental agency said Wednesday it has received a request from host nation Britain to postpone this year’s global climate conference until November 2021 because of the coronavirus. This year’s COP 26 summit had been due to take place in the Scottish city of Glasgow in November before the pandemic forced a rethink and the possibility of rescheduling for March 2021. But it now appears it could take place […]

Scientists warn of ‘zombie fires’ in the Arctic

by Marlowe HOOD Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Dormant “zombie fires” scattered across the Arctic region — remnants of record blazes last year — may be coming to life after an unusually warm and dry Spring, scientists warned Wednesday. “We have seen satellite observations of active fires that hint that ‘zombie’ fires might have reignited,” said Mark Parrington, a senior scientist and wildfire expert at the European Union’s Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service. The hotspots, which […]

India wilts under heatwave as temperature hits 50 degrees Celsius

NEW DELHI, India (AFP) — India is wilting under a heatwave, with the temperature in places reaching 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) and the capital enduring its hottest May day in nearly two decades. The hot spell is projected to scorch northern India for several more days, the Meteorological Department said late Tuesday, “with severe heat wave conditions in isolated pockets”. As global temperatures rise, heatwaves are a regular menace in the country — […]

Bushfire-hit Australians still in tents as virus slows recovery

by Andrew LEESON Agence France-Presse COBARGO, Australia (AFP) — Victims of Australia’s catastrophic bushfires are still living in tents, garages and makeshift shelters months after the blazes ended, with efforts to rebuild their lives hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. Inside a small tin shed on Australia’s southeast coast, a family of six takes refuge from the cold as the southern hemisphere winter begins to bite. The structure — chock-full of toys and beds — has […]

South Sudan: an unexplored Eden of biodiversity

by Nick Perry PICTURES BY TONY KARUMBA Agence France-Presse BOMA, South Sudan (AFP) — The light plane banked sharply to circle back over the plains. The pilot had spotted something below: antelope, first one, then many, the stragglers of a million-strong migration across this vast wilderness. But there are other wonders out here on the savanna. A trio of extremely rare Nubian giraffe lumber by, the seldom-seen, majestic giants casting long shadows over the grasslands. “There’s […]

Weather iffy for SpaceX astronaut launch

WASHINGTON D.C., United States (AFP) — Aside from a threat of bad weather, NASA and SpaceX confirmed Monday that everything is all-systems-go for their upcoming rocket launch with two American astronauts. Scheduled for Wednesday, the launch to the International Space Station will be the first US crewed space launch in nine years. “NASA and @SpaceX officials have given the ‘go’ for the launch on a mission that will return human spaceflight to the US,” NASA […]

Climate change is turning Antarctica green, study finds

by Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Parts of the Antarctic Peninsula will change color as “green snow” caused by blooming algae is expected to spread with increases in global temperatures, research showed Wednesday. Although often considered devoid of plant life, Antarctica is home to several types of algae, which grow on slushy snow and suck carbon dioxide from the air. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey […]

Oil collapse wipes out profits at Total

PARIS, France (AFP) — Total said Tuesday its quarterly profit fell by 99 percent because of dropping oil prices and announced it would slash investments in response to ongoing turmoil in crude markets. The French oil major reported a net profit of $34 million for the first quarter, against $3.1 billion a year earlier. Oil prices suffered a sharp drop in the first quarter due to overproduction and a price war between Saudi Arabia and […]