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Puerto Rico's Storm of Misery

cbsnews.com - by Steve Kroft - November 5, 2017

Many Puerto Ricans have endured the longest blackout in American history following a direct hit from Hurricane Maria. Due to a multitude of factors, some say the lights won't be coming back on anytime soon.

It's safe to say that of all the places in the country, the one that is suffering the most right now is the hurricane-ravaged island of Puerto Rico . . . For the past 46 days, most of them have been without power, the longest blackout in American history. FEMA says it has distributed more food and water there than any disaster its ever been involved in.

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The Great Thaw of America's North is Coming

Vladimir Romanovsky crouches as he collects temperature recordings beneath the forest floor (Credit: Anthony Rhoades)

Image: Vladimir Romanovsky crouches as he collects temperature recordings beneath the forest floor (Credit: Anthony Rhoades)

bbc.com - Sara Goudarzi - October 17th 2017

Vladimir Romanovsky walks through the dense black spruce forest with ease. Not once does he stop or slow down to balance himself on the cushy moss beneath his feet insulating the permafrost.

It’s a warm day in July, and the scientist is looking for a box that he and his team have installed on the ground.

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How a Seed Bank, Almost Lost in Syria’s War, Could Help Feed a Warming Planet

Ali Shehadeh, a plant conservationist from Syria who fled the war in his country, at work in Terbol, Lebanon. Credit Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

Image: Ali Shehadeh, a plant conservationist from Syria who fled the war in his country, at work in Terbol, Lebanon. Credit Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

nytimes.com - Somini Sengupta - October 13th 2017

Ali Shehadeh, a seed hunter, opened the folders with the greatest of care. Inside each was a carefully dried and pressed seed pod: a sweet clover from Egypt, a wild wheat found only in northern Syria, an ancient variety of bread wheat. He had thousands of these folders stacked neatly in a windowless office, a precious herbarium, containing seeds foraged from across the hot, arid and increasingly inhospitable region known as the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of farming.

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Nation's largest oil refinery forced to shut down as Harvey floods Port Arthur

money.cnn.com - Julia Horowitz and Jill Disis - August 30th 2017

The largest oil refinery in the country is shutting down as Hurricane Harvey causes more catastrophic flooding, and more have followed suit.

Early Wednesday, Motiva said it started closing its Port Arthur refinery "in response to increasing local flood conditions." The plant won't open until flood waters recede.

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Global fuel prices jump as Harvey's impact ripples beyond U.S. Gulf

reuters.com - Erwin Seba and Devika Krishna Kumar - August 31st 2017

Tropical Storm Harvey’s impact on the energy industry spread worldwide as flooded U.S. refiners and closed fuel pipelines threatened to squeeze national supply, roiling global fuel markets and rerouting millions of barrels of fuel to the Americas to avert shortages.

The storm, which lashed Louisiana with rain on Thursday, has pummeled the U.S. Gulf Coast, immersing Houston, Texas, and the surrounding area in several feet of water and forcing the closure of about a quarter of U.S. refining capacity.

Benchmark U.S. gasoline prices RBc1 and margins RBc1-Clc1 surged anew on Thursday.

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Haitians Found at Sea Show Dire Conditions Could Worsen on Island Nation

reuters.com - by Sebastien Malo - July 13, 2017

U.S. authorities sent home some 100 Haitian immigrants discovered on a rickety boat this week, the most found at sea in more than a year and a sign of more people likely to flee the impoverished island, advocates said on Thursday.

Haitians are struggling to survive a homeland devastated by natural disasters and disease, and the situation could worsen if U.S. officials return home more than 50,000 Haitians in the United States on temporary visas, they said.

Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has cast uncertainty over whether to extend a special immigration status that has been granted to Haitians since a 2010 earthquake.

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Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction Event Under Way, Scientists Warn

Researchers talk of ‘biological annihilation’ as study reveals billions of populations of animals have been lost in recent decades

           

Earth already in midst of sixth mass extinction, scientists say

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - PNAS - Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines

theguardian.com - by Damian Carrington - July 10, 2017

A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research.

Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost . . . 

 . . . “All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life” . . . 

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Graziano da Silva: 20 Million People Could Starve to Death in Next Six Months

The 156th session of the FAO Council runs from 24-28 April 2017.

Famine in the spotlight at FAO Council

fao.org - April 24, 2017

Urgent action is needed to save the lives of people facing famine in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, FAO Directory-General José Graziano da Silva said today at the opening of the UN agency's Council. 

"If nothing is done, some 20 million people could starve to death in the next six months," the Director-General said in his opening address. "Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and also perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aid dependency that endures for decades."  

Council members will be briefed on the extent of the hunger crises, and the steps required to prevent catastrophe, during the week-long session.

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Why the Menace of Mosquitoes Will Only Get Worse

Aedes aegypti. Credit Andrew Bettles for The New York Times

Climate change is altering the environment in ways that increase the potential for viruses like Zika.

nytimes.com - by Maryn McKenna - April 20, 2017

 . . . Climate change is turning abnormal weather into a common occurrence: Last year was the warmest year on record, the third in a row, and there were more heat waves, freezes and storms in the United States that caused $1 billion or more in damage just in 2016 than in the years 1980 to 1984 combined. Anything that improves conditions for mosquitoes tips the scales for the diseases they carry as well: the West Nile virus that flattened Dallas, the dengue that returned to Florida in 2009 after 63 years and the newest arrival, Zika, which gained a toehold in the United States last year and is expected to surge this summer . . .

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