TRAGIC WEATHER EVENTS CONTINUE.
Canada has become the most recent country to be battered by torrential rains and subsequent catastrophic flooding. Per the Globe and Mail, “Premier John Horgan has declared a state of emergency in British Columbia, granting the province extraordinary powers to deal with the devastation of this week’s historic rainfall and flooding, which has displaced thousands from their homes and crippled the province’s highway system. Thousands of farm animals have died, grocery store shelves are bare, and Abbotsford, a city that produces much of the province’s dairy and poultry, is largely submerged in water. At least one person died in a mudslide, three others have been reported missing, and confirmation of additional fatalities is expected in coming days, the Premier said.” While it’s natural to focus on death counts, the economic damage floods like this cost can be equally devastating, though in a more delayed and indirect way. The loss of livelihoods is hard to measure. https://tgam.ca/3cn6EvS
BUTTERFLIES ON THE REBOUND.
It’s not all bad news on the environmental front, particularly when it comes to endangered species such as the monarch butterfly. According to the Associated Press, “An annual winter count last year by the Xerces Society recorded fewer than 2,000 butterflies, a massive decline from the tens of thousands tallied in recent years and the millions that clustered in trees from Northern California’s Mendocino County to Baja California, Mexico, in the south in the 1980s. Now, their roosting sites are concentrated mostly on California’s central coast. This year’s official count started Saturday and will last three weeks but already an unofficial count by researchers and volunteers shows there are over 50,000 monarchs at overwintering sites, said Sarina Jepsen, director of Endangered Species at Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.” Hopefully, the upward trend continues. Summers would be horrible without the black and orange butterflies. https://bit.ly/3kQFx10
AFRICAN FOREST ELEPHANT POPULATIONS UNDERCOUNTED.
Building on the good butterfly news, it appears that there are more African forest elephants in the wild than believed. The good news comes out of Gabon. Per the Associated Press, “Loss of habitat and poaching have made African forest elephants a critically endangered species. Yet the dense forests of sparsely populated Gabon in the Congo River Basin remain a “last stronghold” of the magnificent creatures, according to new research that concluded the population is much higher than previous estimates. Now the survey by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Parks of Gabon, released Thursday, has concluded that the central African country of about 2.3 million people harbors about 95,000 forest elephants. Previous estimates put the population at 50,000 to 60,000 — or about 60% of the world’s remaining African forest elephants.” If only the same positive trend came out of other African countries that are also home to the African forest elephant. https://bit.ly/3kJWl9K
COVID-19 VIRUS SELF-EXTINCTION?
Among the great mysteries of the Covid-19 pandemic is ebb and flow of infections in a given country. There are times when the virus just seems to run out of steam and dissipates rapidly only to resurface with a vengeance down the line. Japan is currently experiencing the better part of the myster. Per the Japan Times, “Why did Japan’s fifth and biggest wave of the coronavirus pandemic, driven by the supercontagious delta variant, suddenly come to an abrupt end following a seemingly relentless rise in new infections? And what made Japan different from other developed countries that are now seeing a fresh surge in new cases? According to one group of researchers, the surprising answer may be that the delta variant took care of itself in an act of ‘self-extinction.’” In all honesty, self-extinction doesn’t come across as a great analysis, but hey, we know nothing.
THE COVID-19 MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS.
A new study has laid bare the terrible mental health issues that accompanied the long and, sometimes, harsh lockdowns put in place to stem the disease’s spread. Per Nature, “A sweeping study of 8 million calls to helplines in 19 countries and regions found that call volumes jumped during the first wave of coronavirus infections. Loneliness and concerns about the pandemic drove most of the callers, rather than imminent threats such as suicidal thoughts or abuse. The analysis, published on 17 November by Nature, is one of the largest to address mental-health challenges during the pandemic. The authors report that calls to helplines increased over the first six weeks of the initial wave of coronavirus infections. At the six-week peak, the total number of calls was 35% higher than before the pandemic.” Mental health improved when people were provided with financial assistance from governments. https://go.nature.com/30zq4Lw
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.
IMAGE CREDIT: Thomas Breuer.