Devastating wildfires raise concerns about lack of preparedness for climate change

first_imgdeepblue4you/iStockBy STEPHANIE EBBS, GINGER ZEE and LINDSEY GRISWOLD, ABC News(NEW YORK) — Six of the 20 largest wildfires in California history started in August and September 2020 and with average high temperatures continuing to set records, calls are increasing to address the connection between extreme weather events and climate change.Leaders in western states have said it’s impossible to deny the impacts of climate change after witnessing the devastation from recent fires.“California, Oregon and Washington — we are all in the soup of cataclysmic fire, and the reason we are in the same soup is because the grass is so dry, the temperature is so hot and the winds are so heavy,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said after touring wildfire damage this week.“And these are conditions that are exacerbated by the changing climate that we are suffering,” he added.California Gov. Gavin Newsom also said it’s urgent to address climate change. Newsom has sparred with President Donald Trump over differing views on the state’s wildfires after Trump criticized the state’s approach to managing forests and threatened to withhold federal funding.“I quite literally have no patience for climate change deniers. You may not believe it intellectually, but your own eyes tell a different story, particularly here in the state of California. Never have I felt more of a sense of obligation and purpose to maintain California’s status in terms of addressing climate change head on,” he said this week.There is strong evidence wildfires have become larger and more destructive due to climate change. Warmer temperatures and heat waves have caused droughts and other conditions like bark beetles that kill millions of trees, creating more dry fuel for a fire to spread. Expanding development has also put buildings and neighborhoods closer to forests and areas prone to wildfires, making fires more destructive and putting more people in harm’s way.“A recent UC Merced study compared fire seasons from the 1970s to today and on average our fire seasons are about 75 days longer than they were back then. We have a longer period of temperatures able to dry the conditions out even further,” Cal Fire Assistant Deputy Director Daniel Berlant said in a recent video.“So it’s not that we’re seeing more fire, it’s that the fires are able to burn at a larger size with more destruction; that’s why we’ve seen so many destructive fires as well,” he continued.The current wildfires have capped off a summer of extreme weather, including the derecho that knocked out power for millions of people in the Midwest and Hurricane Laura that hit the coast of Louisiana.The impact of climate change on events like tropical storms is more challenging to measure. The way meteorologists and climatologists study them has changed over the years and identifying a trend depends how far back researchers look.The U.N. panel on climate change has looked at thousands of studies from around the world and found that while the warming climate impacts the variables that affect extreme weather, because the events are already outside the norm there’s still uncertainty around those impacts and what they will look like going forward.But most climate scientists agree that extremes are happening closer together and for longer periods of time, and experts say the country should be better prepared for them to get worse.“We are in fact not seeing an increase in the total number of tropical storms. But what we are seeing is an increase in the strongest one, so Category 3, 4 and 5,” said Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center.“We’re also seeing a tendency for storms to intensify more rapidly, which is exactly what we saw happen with Laura, and Michael and Florence and Harvey, and we’ve got so many examples just in the last few years where storms have intensified extremely rapidly and this is one of the clear signals associated with climate change,” she added.Francis researches how climate change impacts the jet stream and how warming in the Arctic could be influencing extreme weather all over the world. She said her area of research is new and complicated, but is starting to show patterns that suggest warming temperatures could be impacting the very physics in the atmosphere that create extreme weather.Francis’ theory is that a warmer Arctic is lessening the push and pull on the jet stream, which is created by the contrast between cold temperatures at the poles and heat at the equator. She said her data shows that the smaller contrast makes the jet stream weaker and more likely to get stuck in place, extending weather patterns like drought that contribute to fire conditions.“There are many many factors that affect the jet stream. It’s a very noisy sort of creature that exists in the atmosphere; it has a lot of north-south waves and a lot of changes in speed. And if you look at a map any given day of the jet stream it looks like just a swirly mess often, so it’s very difficult to extract a very clear signal of how the jet stream is changing over time,” she said.“But the evidence is starting to pile up, suggesting that what we expect to see happen is in fact happening and what we expect to see happen is that the westerly west, east winds of the jet stream, which is the predominant wind direction, are starting to slow down,” Francis added.Other climate experts, like Roger Pielke Jr., an environmental studies professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, are more skeptical of the theory and say that while the connection between climate change and events like tropical storms makes sense, there isn’t enough data to prove it yet.“Let me just say from the outset humans are affecting the climate — there’s no doubt about it. And that impact can be profound and significant, but it also means that we don’t, we shouldn’t just jump to associate every weather event that we see with some sort of an increasing trend,” he said, adding that climate change is looked at over many decades so even observations over several years don’t indicate a trend.“Anyone who thinks they can look at a single storm, Florence or Laura, or Katrina or whatever, and say, ‘I see the impact of climate change on this storm,’ it’s probably fairly out of step with where the science is today,” Pielke said. “It’s just climate change is observed over many decades, not individual storms, and I know there’s a literature now that uses models and tries to tease that out. But that’s not quite ready for prime time.”Even if scientists don’t fully understand the connection between climate change and different types of extreme weather, emergency management experts say we’ll still have storms and the country should take steps to prepare for them to get worse.“These disasters that are unfolding around us all over the country are not inevitable. There are things that we can do to prevent them or at least significantly minimize their impact,” said Samantha Montano, assistant professor of emergency management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.While we can’t control extreme weather events, they say we can control how it impacts the people it hits — the part we call the disaster — by changing policies and using more resources to prepare.“I talk a lot about kind of getting communities that are getting trapped in kind of a cycle of recovery, so in parts of Texas and parts of Louisiana, North and South Carolina, we’re seeing that. It’s flooding so regularly that people aren’t able to get out to get themselves recovered and back on kind of stable footing before the next slide comes and so we’re seeing kind of this compounding of vulnerabilities in communities across the country,” said Montano.Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, who left last year, said there needs to be big changes in how the federal government deals with storms, but also that individual choices like having insurance, emergency savings and choosing where to live and build a home can limit how much people are impacted by extreme events.“I’m not the type of person that wants to dictate where Americans can live in this country. But I also think that if you want to live on some of these mountains they’re vulnerable to wildfires and oversee the the Pacific Ocean or you want to live down in some of these most vulnerable areas to storm surge, you know along the coast, you can do that, but don’t expect the federal government to come bail you out,” he told ABC News Live.Long said most people don’t realize how busy FEMA is, but that the agency can’t keep up with constantly responding to every emergency, saying the country needs FEMA to be more focused on disaster resilience than being 911.“Right now, because of the way the system is set up, FEMA can’t concentrate every day on blue sky, day mitigation planning because they’re constantly having to respond,” he said.And Pielke said climate scientists don’t need to know everything about how much climate change is impacting extreme weather to agree the country can be better prepared and that climate change should be addressed by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.“There is some randomness to the process, but that doesn’t take away the fact that we know San Francisco gets earthquakes. Louisiana gets hurricanes. The Midwest gets tornadoes. The West gets fires. And to be better prepared. That’s about all you need to know,” he said.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

As Virus Surges, Northeast Governors To Mull Next Steps

first_imgNew York State Governor Andrew Cuomo wearing a mask. File image by Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Photo date: 06/24/20.ALBANY (AP) — Six northeast U.S. governors are having an “emergency summit” on COVID-19 this weekend as the virus continues to spread throughout the region, New York Gov Andrew Cuomo said Friday.Cuomo said the group will discuss potential coordination of restrictions on restaurants and bars, as well as interstate travel and quarantine rules. Several states have passed new restrictions this week, including New York’s 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants and a ban on gatherings over 10 people in private residences.“We believe we’re going to have to be taking additional steps,” Cuomo said, though he said he doesn’t expect any major changes to existing rules over the weekend.Cuomo said he expects infection rates will keep increasing in New York and nationwide as the holiday season begins. New York has reported more than 45,700 new coronavirus cases in the past 14 days. The state is reporting an average of 4,163 new cases per day over the past seven days. That’s nearly double the rate 11 days ago and quadruple where things stood at the end of September.“You cannot take this rate of increase and survive pending the arrival of a vaccine,” Cuomo said. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window),Obviously the masks, social distancing, & plexiglass are working….But this virus is SO smart.. It knows not to come out before 10 pm, it mainly affects small businesses, and family gatherings.It DOESN’T affect corporations … like Wegmans, Walmart, Home Depot, McDonald’s…..(even tho their parking lots are packed)We must do as we’re told and live in our bubbles inside our homes…FOREVERMaybe when Cuomo meets with the 5 governors again (as he did in the beginning of January, don’t forget) they will come up with a NEW Nursing Home plan to save us all. Hail King Cuomo….last_img read more

Contract Awarded for Corps Island Dredged Material Unloading Project

first_imgThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, awarded a $7.475 million contract September 24, 2018, to Dubuque Barge & Fleeting Services, Co. to carry-out a Corps Island Dredged Material Unloading project.The project involves unloading approximately 500,000 cubic yards of dredged material from Corps Island, located in Pool 3 of the Mississippi River, near Diamond Bluff, Wisconsin.The contractor is removing the material by mechanical and/or hydraulic means.HistoryCorps Island was endorsed for use as a dredged material placement site by the River Resources Forum in December 1995, as recommended in the 1995 Lower Pool 3 Reconnaissance Report prepared by USACE. The report recommends that channel maintenance material be placed on Corps Island until site capacity is reached – approximately 500,000 cubic yards – then transferred (unloaded) to an upland placement site.Since 1995 Corps Island has been used to manage more than 1 million cubic yards of dredged material. To date, there have been 24 placement events and 2 major site unloads in 1998 and 2011.ProjectIn November 2017 the St. Paul District began to prepare contract plans and specifications for the third major site unload of Corps Island. It was anticipated that approximately 500,000 cubic yards of material would need to be unloaded. The contract was written to give the awarded contractors flexibility with how material could be removed from Corps Island, allowing mechanical, hydraulic or a combination of both.USACE is currently establishing permanent placement sites via long-term Dredge Material Management Plans. However this work has not been completed in Pool 3, resulting in an immediate need to unload Corps Island.Work is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2019 and be complete by December 2019.last_img read more

Authorities remain silent on charges connected to restaurant raids

first_imgBatesville, In. — Law enforcement officials have remained tight-lipped about the nature and scope of the criminal investigation into a raid conducted at four Mexican restaurants Thursday, but this statement has been released:In response to inquiries regarding the search warrants served Thursday across southeastern Indiana, the involved law enforcement agencies and prosecuting attorneys issue the following statement:In Indiana, prosecutors are bound by the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct. Pursuant to those Rules, we may not offer comment on this matter at this time, except to state that a criminal investigation is pending. In the same way, all law enforcement officers are bound to honor those Rules and will not be offering comment on the pending investigation.If the investigation results in charges, there will be public records to which the public may be referred for further information. In the meantime, all subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty.Respectfully,Lynn M. Deddens                                                   Nathan W. Harter IVDearborn/Ohio County Prosecutor                              Decatur County ProsecutorMelvin F. Wilhelm                                                  Philip J. CavinessFranklin County Prosecutor                                            Rush County ProsecutorAndrew Bryson                                                      Union County Prosecutor                                                Indiana Office of the Attorney GeneralLindsay Hyer                                                                                   Indiana State Excise PIOlast_img read more

Blues beat Spurs at Stamford Bridge

first_img Drogba, deputising for suspended striker Diego Costa, returned a pass to Hazard, whose shot squirmed under Hugo Lloris to give Chelsea a 19th-minute lead. Worse was to follow for the France goalkeeper as his dreadful clearance went straight to Hazard, who found Oscar, with the Brazilian playing the kind of pin-point pass Drogba relishes. The striker’s fifth of the season – and 162nd Chelsea goal – effectively ended the match as a contest and ensured Mourinho’s men would extend their unbeaten start to the season to 21 matches ahead of this weekend’s trip to Newcastle. Substitute Loic Remy embarrassed the hapless Jan Vertonghen in netting Chelsea’s third to complete a comfortable victory. It was not all positive for Chelsea as Nemanja Matic will miss the trip to St James’ Park through suspension after picking up his fifth booking of the campaign, while Gary Cahill could be a doubt after going off at half-time following an earlier clash of heads. Chelsea, who lost at Newcastle last season, remain six points clear of second-placed Manchester City, the defending champions, with Spurs 16 points adrift in 10th. Tottenham, who play Crystal Palace on Saturday, will hope to climb the table before their next contest with Chelsea, on New Year’s Day at White Hart Lane. Chelsea had failed to score for the first time this term in drawing last Saturday at Sunderland, while Spurs, who lost 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in March, travelled in optimistic mood following Sunday’s 2-1 defeat of Everton. Spurs were bidding for a first win at their rivals’ west London home since February 1990 at the 28th attempt and began well, with Harry Kane hitting the crossbar with an early header. There was a sense the visitors had to take an opportunity when enjoying the early supremacy and their failure to do so was punished by two goals in four first-half minutes through Eden Hazard and Didier Drogba. Gary Lineker scored the winner when Spurs last won at Stamford Bridge and Kane, born more than three years after that victory, appeared to be on a crusade to emulate the England striker turned Match of the Day presenter. Cahill appeared groggy after a clash of heads with Vertonghen and was then caught napping as Kane stole a yard on him to meet Aaron Lennon’s cross. The striker’s header beat Thibaut Courtois, but bounced back off the woodwork. Kane then dispossessed Cahill on the left wing and ran into the area before firing across goal as Spurs spurned another opportunity. Chelsea stepped up a gear. John Terry surged to win the ball down the left and fed Willian, who in turn found Drogba. The striker teed-up Fabregas, whose attempted curling shot was held by Lloris. Again Chelsea attacked down Spurs’ right as Hazard turned Lennon before finding Drogba, who had his back to goal and held off Federico Fazio with ease. Lennon neglected to follow the run of Hazard, whose shot beat the unconvincing Lloris at the near post to give Chelsea the lead. Lloris then presented Hazard with the ball midway inside the Spurs half. Two passes later it was 2-0. Hazard played it centrally to Oscar, who threaded the ball through to Drogba, who shook off the attentions of Vertonghen and finished with aplomb. Spurs were deflated. Drogba needed assistance in departing the field at half-time, but did return for the second half. Cahill did not, with Kurt Zouma on in his place. Spurs failed to test Kurt Zouma in what had almost turned into a defensive drill for Chelsea, who were content to play on the counter-attack. Speculative shots were about all Spurs could muster and manager Mauricio Pochettino turned to his bench, with Paulinho and Nacer Chadli replacing ineffective duo Mason and Lennon. Tottenham still lacked energy and were being outplayed by a 36-year-old veteran. Drogba was unable to direct Hazard’s fizzing pass towards goal and, despite appearing laboured, managed to out-muscle Fazio before firing straight at Lloris. The Ivory Coast striker was then granted his leave as Remy came on with 23 minutes to go. The France striker made his mark six minutes later, receiving the ball in the left channel before brushing off Vertonghen and passing into the corner to complete the rout. Press Association Ruthless Chelsea extended Tottenham’s torment at Stamford Bridge with a 3-0 win which saw Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten Blues consolidate their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League.last_img read more