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This Year’s Fire Season Should Be a Wake Up Call

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CBS News reported on Tuesday that the fires in Eastern Washington, which have been threatening population areas, have begun to quiet down.  While this brings a collective sigh of relief to the residents of the state, it should also give us a reason to take stock of our property and life insurance situation, as well as our preparedness in the event of a disaster.

In the midst of a disaster, such as a flood, a hurricane, or a wildfire, our collective focus has to be on making it through.  Those who are directly victimized must struggle for their own survival.  Those who can lend a hand practically must do so.  The rest of us ought to invest in charities – or at least pray – for the safety of the victims.  During that time it’s just bad manners to opine about disaster preparation.

But the reality is that, much as we would like to ignore it, we live at the mercy of nature.  Our insulated houses, our heaters and air conditioners, our stockpiles of food, and our emergency management services that respond so quickly and so well whenever we’re inconvenienced by the weather all combine to lull us into a sense of security.  That security is false.  Volcanoes will erupt.  Earthquakes will happen.  Disasters – both natural and manmade – are an intrinsic part of life.

Our preparedness is the only thing we have real control over.  Every home – and especially every home where young children live – should be equipped with an emergency kit.  There are numerous products available online that provide comprehensive disaster preparedness in one box, making it easy to equip the home.  To those kits, it’s important to add a week’s supply of non-perishable dry food that contains complex proteins.

And although none of us like to think that a natural disaster could become a personal one, that possibility always exists.  In tough economic times, it’s tempting to skimp on our insurance position, allowing high deductibles or eliminating aspects of coverage in order to keep the premiums down.  But possessing adequate property insurance is an imperative aspect of possessing property.  And it is irresponsible for anybody who has young, financially dependent children to fail to secure a life insurance policy.

Hopefully, the wildfires in Eastern Washington will continue to recede.  Hopefully, the rain will come soon and put them out.  And hopefully this disaster will encourage at least some residents of Washington to invest in disaster preparation, a dry food supply, and adequate property and life insurance.

Environmentalist. Consumer Tech Journalist. Science Explorer. And, a dreamer. I've been contributing informative news content since 2010. Follow me on all socials!

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Weather

Heat Waves Threatens Americans This Summer

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Photo by timJ on Unsplash

Thousands of American lives are in serious threat due to heat waves coming with the summer season that could kill almost 6,000 people in New York City or 2,500 in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, it will send tens of thousands more to emergency rooms across the country.

“Extreme heat conditions are defined as weather that is much hotter than average for a particular time and place—and sometimes more humid, too. Extreme heat is not just a nuisance; it kills hundreds of Americans every year and causes many more to become seriously ill,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC.

Heat waves are one of the serious killers in America but are often underestimated. The CDC says that heat waves coming with extreme heat conditions causes “more deaths than any other weather-related hazard—more than hurricanes, tornadoes, or flooding.”

Other circumstances related to heat waves involve Americans experiencing acute heat illnesses that sends more than 65,000 people on annual average to seek treatment in emergency rooms.

The most common health effects (or symptoms) caused by extreme heat include heat cramps, where muscles spasms — often in the abdomen, arms, or calves — are caused by prolonged exposure in extremely hot situations while doing extensive physical labor. Further exposure (usually days long) causes heat exhaustion which would require medical attention.

The most serious illness related to heat waves is heat strokes. Heat stroke (or hyperthermia) occurs when the body can no longer regulate its temperature, and its temperature rises rapidly—up to 106°F or higher. It can also strike suddenly without prior symptoms and can result in death without immediate medical attention.

Historically, an estimated 1,000 people died in the 1980 United States heat wave and drought, which impacted the central and eastern United States. Temperatures were highest in the southern plains. Economic losses were $20 billion (1980 dollars). In 1999, record heat throughout the country resulted in 502 deaths nationwide.

Furthermore, heat waves can also be attributed to extreme dry spells that form a convenient opportunity for wildfires. Last November, the deadliest wildfire in California history killed 85 and burned the town of Paradise to the ground.

Over the decades, wildfire season in California has also grown longer, beginning earlier in the spring and stretching later, said Lenya Quinn-Davidson, a fire advisor with the University of California. “It’s not unusual for us to see this many small fires in June,” she said. “But 50 years ago, so many fires this early on, plus these extreme, high temperatures in June – would have been abnormal.”

Particularly, in urban cities like New York —with concrete and gravel in most of the surroundings, heat is trapped that will only increase urban temperatures. Consequently, it also traps carbon dioxide emissions which are touted to increase over the next decade.

Researchers are expecting that extremely hot seasons will only continue to worsen with more frequent heat waves. Moreover, the hot season will last longer and cause higher temperatures.

Deaths Due To Extreme Temperature
Photo From: CDC

The figure above shows a projected analysis on the number of deaths caused by extreme temperatures—too hot or too cold—between the years of 2010 and 2100. Moreover, the map assumes that no significant efforts are exerted in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (“business as usual”).

Fortunately, new research by Eunice Lo, a climate scientist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, published in the Journal Science Advances states that all of the deaths could still be prevented if a global effort was exerted to honor the Paris agreement where global average temperature is maintained below 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels.

“There is, actually, still hope, and a very small window of opportunity to keep global warming below international targets and prevent some heat-related deaths”

“Lo and her team looked at daily deaths from 15 U.S. cities between 1987 to 2000 to see how many people died from heart-related events. Then, accounting for population increases, they simulated heat waves that would occur in a world that warmed by 1.5 C, 2 C, and 3 C. Compared to 3 C  (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit)  — which is where Lo says we’re likely headed if nations fail to commit to ambitious carbon cuts — many lives will likely be spared under the cooler alternatives,” describes Mashable.

“Los Angeles is expected to avoid some 1085 deaths during an extreme heat wave under a 1.5 C scenario, and 759 deaths under a 2 degree C scenario. Chicago would avoid around 875 (1.5 C) and 636 (2 C) deaths.”

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Weather

Chile’s Climate Problem: Deserts Are Flooding, Wetlands Are Burning

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Chile's Climate Problem: Deserts Are Flooding, Wetlands Are Burning

Climate change is indeed happening. The world’s driest desert is flooding, and some of the planet’s wettest woodlands are on fire.

For the first time in centuries, rains from the Andes mountains have led to torrential water pouring into the Atacama desert, the world’s driest desert, sweeping houses and structures built on it.

At the same time, the south has seen its wetlands blazing in forest fire after unprecedented temperatures leading the government to declare some regions in states of calamity.

Atacama desert, known as the world’s driest desert was flooded. Image from Creative Commons

President Sebastian Piñera declared a “zone of emergency” in northern Chile on Friday after heavy rains flooded El Loa province right below the Andes mountains.

According to the National Emergency Office, the flood has killed six people and has destroyed nearly 100 homes. They also have raised alert warnings for heavy rain in Arica, Parinacota, and Tarapaca.

Chile’s capital, Santiago, has been battling record-breaking heat and has not received its average annual rainfall in the past decade.

“Chile needs to be thinking about how to adapt to climate change, as it has such an isolated climate that makes it more vulnerable to droughts,” said Park Williams, a hydroclimatologist at Columbia University in New York.

“For the last several decades, temperatures have risen, and precipitation has declined in central Chile, making it more susceptible to wildfires.”

In the south, around 600 forest fires have been recorded through the entire stretch of its 9,500 ha of land.

After visiting the fire damage in the South, President Pinera traveled to the north to see the flooded Strong to moderate thunderstorms are expected to continue through Sunday, according to Chile’s weather service Meteochile. /apr

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Climate Change Is In The US Now – Scientists Said On Severe Condition

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The US is now facing a big problem with climate change. If not prevented, it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, or worse, more than 10% of its GDP by the end of the century to the country. Not to mention the damage it will have in the economy, health, and quality of life.

This devastating news was supposed to come out by December, but it seems like Trump administration cannot wait any longer as it needs to be taken action before it is too late. According to the 4th National Climate Assessment, the future risks from climate change depends on the decision that will have today. Skipping another day on spreading this kind of alarming news will just make it worse.

The director of the Technical Support Unit at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, David Easterling also gave an opinion about the status of the climate change. He says that there is no external interference in the report’s development. What the Earth is experiencing right now is unlike any other.

“THE GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IS MUCH HIGHER AND IS RISING MORE RAPIDLY THAN ANYTHING MODERN CIVILIZATION HAS EXPERIENCED, AND THIS WARMING TREND CAN ONLY BE EXPLAINED BY HUMAN ACTIVITIES,” EASTERLING SAID.

US President Donald Trump tweeted, “Whatever happened to global warming?”. He posted the tweet after Washington experienced a blast of icy weather this week. His question though was answered by his group of scientists. They say, without mentioning any particular person that the climate change is already in the US..now. It is already in a severe situation, deadly, and if we do not do anything about it, the case will be fatal.

This vital matter is now calling the attention of the government after numbers of disasters happened in different countries. Affected dams in South Carolina; failing crops in the withered Great Plains; a rise in insect-borne disease in Florida. At the same time, this news is to assert the White House to prioritize economic growth over environmental regulation.

Aside from the government’s move against climate change, it is also time for us to make an action to prevent or at least delay it. People should take part in creating a significant difference to avoid this kind of scenario. Because at the end of the day, we will also be the one who will benefit from the significant change.

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