Environment

New California fire grows as crews make headway on other blazes

by Jocelyne Zablit  LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — A new wildfire in California grew to nearly 9,000 acres (3,700 hectares) on Friday, sending thousands of people fleeing and further stretching resources in a state struggling with a spate of wildfires this season. The so-called Maria Fire erupted Thursday evening in Ventura County, 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, and burned out of control through the night, driven by high winds and threatening […]

Japan retailers to charge for plastic bags from 2020

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japanese retailers including supermarkets and convenience stores will be required to charge for plastic bags from next summer ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, a government panel agreed Friday. The move brings Japan in line with many other countries that have already adopted the environmentally friendly measure, but it will only come into effect in July 2020. There will be no set price for a bag, with each retailer able to decide […]

Photos taken a century apart show stark Mont Blanc glacier melt

by Amélie BOTTOLLIER-DEPOIS Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — In 1919 a pioneering aviator took iconic photos of the Mont Blanc glaciers. A century later, a team of experts has recreated the images to highlight the drastic ice melt caused by rising temperatures. Despite an overwhelming body of scientific evidence tracking humanity’s contribution to climate change, it is often difficult to grasp the enormity of a phenomenon that unfolds so gradually. Numerous studies have […]

Swiss glaciers shrink 10 percent in five years: study

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Switzerland’s glaciers have lost a tenth of their volume in the past five years alone — a melting rate unmatched during observations stretching back more than a century, a study showed Tuesday. Measurements on 20 Swiss glaciers have shown that melt rates this year have reached “record levels”, according to the annual study on the state of the glaciers, published by the Cryospheric Commission at the Swiss Academy of Sciences. The […]

Killer Japanese fungus found in Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — One of the world’s deadliest fungi has been discovered in Australia’s far north for the first time — thousands of miles from its native habitat in the mountains of Japan and Korea. The Poison Fire Coral fungus was discovered in a suburb of Cairns by a local photographer and subsequently identified by scientists, James Cook University announced Thursday. Several people have died in Japan and Korea after mistaking the bright red […]

US sizzles in rare autumn heat wave

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A freakish heatwave is making early autumn feel like the dog days of summer in much of the southern and eastern United States, with forecasters predicting that temperatures Wednesday could get close to triple digits. Washington hit 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) late in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), surpassing the city’s previous monthly record of 96 degrees on October 5, 1941. The mercury rose into […]

Massive iceberg breaks off Antarctica — but it’s normal

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A more than 600-square-mile iceberg broke off Antarctica in recent days, but the event is part of a normal cycle and is not related to climate change, scientists say. The iceberg, dubbed D28, broke away from the Amery ice shelf between September 24 and 25, according to observations from European and American satellites. It measures 1,582 square kilometers (610 square miles), according to the European Copernicus program. It is about […]

Ocean plastic waste probably comes from ships, report says

by Ivan Couronne Agence France Presse Most of the plastic bottles washing up on the rocky shores of Inaccessible Island, aptly named for its sheer cliffs rising from the middle of the South Atlantic, probably come from Chinese merchant ships, a study published Monday said. The study offers fresh evidence that the vast garbage patches floating in the middle of oceans, which have sparked much consumer hand-wringing in recent years, are less the product of […]

Massive iceberg breaks off Antarctica — but it’s normal

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A more than 600-square-mile iceberg broke off Antarctica in recent days, but the event is part of a normal cycle and is not related to climate change, scientists say. The iceberg, dubbed D28, broke away from the Amery ice shelf between September 24 and 25, according to observations from European and American satellites. It measures 1,582 square kilometers (610 square miles), according to the European Copernicus program. It is […]

More than 2 million animals perish in Bolivia wildfires

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AFP) — More than two million wild animals, including jaguars, pumas and llamas, have perished in weeks of wildfires that devastated huge swaths of Bolivian forest and grassland, environmental experts said Wednesday. The fires devastated the Chiquitania tropical savanna in the east of the country. “We have consulted the biologists of Chiquitania and we have exceeded the estimate of more than 2.3 million missing animals in many protected areas,” Professor Sandra Quiroga […]

Tropical fish swim into Europe’s waters as common species head north

  by Nicolas GUBERT Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Cod, sole and plaice might be regulars on European dinner tables but as climate change heats the oceans common species are heading to cooler northern waters — with profound potential consequences for fish stocks and consumers. Experts say bluefin tuna, seahorse and the bright triggerfish from the tropics are swimming to Europe’s warming seas while fish such as cod are migrating northwards. “We will […]

Greta Thunberg’s ‘How dare you?’ a major moment for climate movement

by Ivan Couronne WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Her imperious “How dare you?” to world leaders at the UN cemented Swedish teen Greta Thunberg’s role as her generation’s leading spokeswoman on climate change, the culmination of a year of dogged relentlessness, say those who know her. Though her words did not seem to move the leaders who spoke after her, her speech of only four and a half minutes immediately went viral, racking up tens […]