Tag Archives: Coastlines and beaches

Key Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit heads to Supreme Court

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RICHMOND, Va. —
When plans for the 605-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline were first unveiled in 2014, supporters of the natural gas project brimmed with enthusiasm and promises.

The pipeline would bring natural gas from West Virginia to growing markets in Virginia and North Carolina, and with it, would come economic development, thousands of jobs and reduced energy costs for consumers, supporters said.

A beaming Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called it a “win-win,”saying it would be good for the environment,too, because it would help speed up the closing of aging coal plants.

Since then, the project hasfaced one setback after another, with legal challenges brought by environmental groups — prompting the dismissal or suspension of eight permits and halting construction for more than a year.

Now,three yearsbehind schedule, with a price tag that has nearly doubled to $8 billion, the project is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a hearingMonday on a critical permit.

Backed by the Trump administration, the project developers — Dominion Energy and Duke Energy — will ask the high court to reverse a federal appeals court ruling that threw out a permit needed for the pipeline to cross two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, the historic footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine.

In its ruling, a three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sharply criticized the U.S. Forest Service for granting a special-use permit to build the pipeline through parts of the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, and to cross the Appalachian Trail.

The court found that the Forest Service did not have the statutory authority to approve the trail crossing and said the agency had “abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources.”

The question before the Supreme Court is whether the Forest Service has authority to grant rights-of-way for gas pipelines through lands crossed by the Appalachian Trail within national forests.

The project developers, joined by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, say the answer is yes, arguing the Forest Service is the agency that holds jurisdiction over land in the George Washington National Forest. But the environmental groups say the answer is no because the 2,200-mile (3,540-kilometer) scenic trail is considered a unit of the National Park System and only Congress can approve such a crossing.

Under plans for the project, a 0.1-mile segment of the pipeline would cross about 700 feet (213 meters) beneath the Appalachian Trail.

That tiny segmentis a key component of the pipeline project’s route.

“It’s important because Dominion has really bet its project on this crossing point,” said Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which sued on behalf of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups.

Dominion spokeswoman Ann Nallo said the company chose that crossing point after consulting with federal agencies to determine the best route for the pipeline.

“Part of the determination involved the impact on the environment,” Nallo said.

In its ruling, the 4th Circuit found that the Forest Service had “serious environmental concerns” about the project that were “suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company’s deadlines.”

Environmental groups say the pipeline would scar pristine landscapes, put numerous rivers and streams at risk of increased sedimentation and harm sensitive species.

The stakes are high for lead developer, Dominion, a dominant corporate power in Virginia politics and favorite landing spot for government officials. U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr spent a decade on the company’s board before joining the Trump administration.

The company is counting on the project to help balance its books after aggressive purchases of other energy companies in recent years.

“Make no mistake, if that pipe is canceled, it certainly is balance sheet destructive, and it will impact Dominion’s growth rate,” said Shar Pourreza, an analyst who follows Dominion as Guggenheim Partners’ managing director for North American power and utilities.

Dominion has some heavy-hitters on its side, with support from 18 state attorneys general, more than 60 members of Congress, trade associations and labor unions.

A host of environmentalists, land owners and communities along the pipeline route have urged the Supreme Court to uphold the 4th Circuit’s ruling.

Dominion says the pipeline will bring a critical new gas supply to Virginia and North Carolina to support the shift away from coal and toward intermittent natural resources like solar. The company also says greater availability of natural gas will attract manufacturing businesses.

Critics question the assertion that the gas is needed.

In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office said recent analyses indicate the demand for natural gas will remain flat or decrease for the foreseeable future.

In an earnings call with investment analysts earlier this month, Dominion CEO Tom Farrell said the company is “optimistic” that the Supreme Court will issue an order reversing the 4th Circuit ruling in May or June. He said Dominion is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a separate permit related to endangered species and then anticipates resuming construction “across major portions of the pipeline.”

But opponents of the project emphasize that six other permits have been revoked or suspended, including a permit to build a gas compressor station in the historic African American community of Union Hill in Virginia.

“The bottom line is, no matter what happens on Monday, there are others issues,” said Lew Freeman, executive director of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of 51 organizations opposing the pipeline.

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BP oil spill cash rebuilds eroded Louisiana pelican island

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A Louisiana island that provides critical nesting habitat for pelicans and other seabirds is being restored to nearly its former size after decades of erosion and a crippling 2010 oil spill

NEW ORLEANS —
A Louisiana island that provides a crucial nesting ground for pelicans and other seabirds is being restored to nearly its former size after decades of coastal erosion and the devastating blow of an offshore oil spill 10 years ago.

About 6,500 brown pelicans and 3,000 smaller seabirds cram their nests every summer onto Queen Bess Island, which shrank from 45 acres (18 hectares) in 1956 to about 5 acres (2 hectares) by 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon spill fouled its beaches with oily gunk.

Though barely a blip of an island off the Gulf of Mexico in Barataria Bay, Queen Bess plays an outsize role as one of Louisiana’s largest rookeries for brown pelicans, supplying prime real estate for up to a fifth of the state’s nests. It’s also where the pelican, the Louisiana state bird, was reintroduced in the 1960s after pesticides had killed off the entire population.

Loss of coastal wetlands and other problems have crowded the big birds into far fewer colonies than they had two decades ago, according to Todd Baker, the biologist supervising restoration work for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The number of colonies has fallen 54 percent since 2010, he said.

The $18 million to restore Queen Bess Island and funds for future monitoring and upkeep flow from a $20 billion settlement that the federal government and the five Gulf Coast states reached with energy giant BP PLC for environmental damage from the 2010 spill.

The offshore explosion and fire that year on BP’s leased drilling rig killed 11 people. The well spewed more than 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of oil into the water over 87 days.

When the oil reached the island about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of New Orleans, brown pelicans and other birds could be seen struggling, their wings weighed down by the black muck. About 1,000 died.

“This is the first time we’ve done any really large-scale restoration specifically for birds. And I can’t wait to see the results” as birds arrive, Baker said.

Under the restoration project, contractors for Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority have dredged up Mississippi River sand and pumped it inside two rock outlines. Those outlines were nearly all that remained of failed attempts in the 1990s to rebuild the island using silt dredged nearby. This time around they’re using barges to bring in the more stable sand. The authority also has built a line of rock breakwaters 75 to 95 feet (23 to 29 meters) from shore to slow erosion and provide calm water for young birds.

Once a mere strip of land, the island now covers 37 acres (15 hectares), providing much-needed space for the increasingly cramped birds. Most of the island is being restored as a pelican habitat, with 7 acres (2.8 hectares) for skimmers, terns and other birds that nest on rocks.

In recent years, Baker said, nests have been so jammed “you can’t hardly step on land without touching a nest.”

He said the crowding has made the island’s woody plants look like apartment houses, with nest above nest above nest: perhaps a laughing gull on the ground, an egret or roseate spoonbill in middle branches and a brown pelican nest at the top.

“It was cool to look at but not necessarily good for those birds,” Baker said.

In an assist to the birds, The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission designated the island a wildlife refuge in November. The commission is taking comments on rules that, among other things, forbid people from stepping on the island or fishing inside the breakwaters for eight months of the year.

Restoration work should be completed by a Feb. 15 deadline, Baker said. He added that remaining work includes creating ramps on which young birds that still can’t fly can walk in and out of the water.

Contractors also will plant about 24,000 woody plants for species such as night herons and egrets, as well as pelicans, to build their nests. Those are essentially 3-foot-high (1-meter-high) sticks, Baker said. He noted that while pelicans prefer nesting on scrub-shrubs, they can also build nests on grass or even bare ground. The ground-nesting terns, skimmers and gulls will probably use the expanses of bare sand between the plants as well as the rocky area created for them, he said.

Most important for Baker: Will pelicans return to the island where they built nests or were hatched? Five hundred were banded last year to help him and other conservationists answer that question.

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Q&A: How climate change, other factors stoke Australia fires

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Australia’s unprecedented wildfires are supercharged thanks to climate change, the type of trees catching fire and weather, experts say.

And these fires are so extreme that they are triggering their own thunderstorms.

Here are a few questions and answers about the science behind the Australian wildfires that so far have burned about 5 million hectares (12.35 million acres), killing at least 17 people and destroying more than 1,400 homes.

“They are basically just in a horrific convergence of events,” said Stanford University environmental studies director Chris Field, who chaired an international scientific report on climate change and extreme events. He said this is one of the worst, if not the worst, climate change extreme events he’s seen.

“There is something just intrinsically terrifying about these big wildfires. They go on for so long, the sense of hopelessness that they instill,” Field said. “The wildfires are kind of the iconic representation of climate change impacts.”

Q: IS CLIMATE CHANGE REALLY A FACTOR?

A: Scientists, both those who study fire and those who study climate, say there’s no doubt man-made global warming has been a big part, but not the only part, of the fires.

Last year in Australia was the hottest and driest on record, with the average annual temperature 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above the 1960 to 1990 average, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. Temperatures in Australia last month hit 121.8 F (49.9 C).

“What would have been a bad fire season was made worse by the background drying/warming trend,’’ Andrew Watkins, head of long-range forecasts at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, said in an email.

Mike Flannigan, a fire scientist at the University of Alberta in Canada, said Australia’s fires are “an example of climate change.”

A 2019 Australian government brief report on wildfires and climate change said, “Human-caused climate change has resulted in more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires in recent decades for many regions of Australia.”

Q: HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE MAKE THESE FIRES WORSE?

A: The drier the fuel — trees and plants — the easier it is for fires to start and the hotter and nastier they get, Flannigan said.

“It means more fuel is available to burn, which means higher intensity fires, which makes it more difficult — or impossible — to put out,” Flannigan said.

The heat makes the fuel drier, so they combine for something called fire weather. And that determines “fuel moisture,” which is crucial for fire spread. The lower the moisture, the more likely Australian fires start and spread from lightning and human-caused ignition, a 2016 study found.

There’s been a 10% long-term drying trend in Australia’s southeast and 15% long-term drying trend in the country’s southwest, Watkins said. When added to a degree of warming and a generally southward shift of weather systems, that means a generally drier landscape.

Australia’s drought since late 2017 “has been at least the equal of our worst drought in 1902,” Australia’s Watkins said. “It has probably been driven by ocean temperature patterns in the Indian Ocean and the long term drying trend.”

Q: HAS AUSTRALIA’S FIRE SEASON CHANGED?

A: Yes. It’s about two to four months longer, starting earlier especially in the south and east, Watkins said.

“The fires over the last three months are unprecedented in their timing and severity, started earlier in spring and covered a wider area across many parts of Australia,” said David Karoly, leader of climate change hub at Australia’s National Environmental science Program. “The normal peak fire season is later in summer and we are yet to have that.”

Q: IS WEATHER, NOT JUST LONG-TERM CLIMATE, A FACTOR?

A: Yes. In September, Antarctica’s sudden stratospheric warming — sort of the southern equivalent of the polar vortex — changed weather conditions so that Australia’s normal weather systems are farther north than usual, Watkins said.

That means since mid-October there were persistent strong westerly winds bringing hot dry air from the interior to the coast, making the fire weather even riskier for the coasts.

“With such a dry environment, many fires were started by dry lightning events (storms that brought lightning but limited rainfall),” Watkins said.

Q: ARE PEOPLE STARTING THESE FIRES? IS IT ARSON?

A: It’s too early to tell the precise cause of ignition because the fires are so recent and officials are spending time fighting them, Flannigan said.

While people are a big factor in causing fires in Australia, it’s usually accidental, from cars and trucks and power lines, Flannigan said. Usually discarded cigarettes don’t trigger big fires, but when conditions are so dry, they can, he said.

Q: ARE THESE FIRES TRIGGERING THUNDERSTORMS?

A: Yes. It’s an explosive storm called pyrocumulonimbus and it can inject particles as high as 10 miles into the air.

During a fire, heat and moisture from the plants are released, even when the fuel is relatively dry. Warm air is less dense than cold air so it rises, releasing the moisture and forming a cloud that lifts and ends up a thunderstorm started by fire. It happens from time to time in Australia and other parts of the world, including Canada, Flannigan said.

“These can be deadly, dangerous, erratic and unpredictable,” he said.

Q: ARE THE AUSTRALIAN TREES PRONE TO BURNING?

A: Eucalyptus trees are especially flammable, “like gasoline on a tree,” Flannigan said. Chemicals in them make them catch fire easier, spread to the tops of trees and get more intense. Eucalyptus trees were a big factor in 2017 fires in Portugal that killed 66 people, he said.

Q: HOW CAN YOU FIGHT THESE HUGE AUSTRALIA FIRES?

A: You don’t. They’re just going to burn in many places until they hit the beach, Flannigan said.

“This level of intensity, direct attack is useless,” Flannigan said. “You just have to get out of the way… It really is spitting on a campfire. It’s not doing any good.”

Q: WHAT’S THE LONG-TERM FIRE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR AUSTRALIA?

A: “The extreme fire season in Australia in 2019 was predicted,” said Australian National University climate scientist Nerilie Abram. “The question that we need to ask is how much worse are we willing to let this get? This is what global warming of just over 1 degree C looks like. Do we really want to see the impacts of 3 degrees or more are like, because that is the trajectory we are on.”

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Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears .

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Some flee, others restock earlier than Australia’s wildfires develop

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Hundreds of vacationers are fleeing Australia’s wildfire-ravaged japanese coast forward of worsening circumstances because the navy began to evacuate individuals trapped on the shore additional south

PERTH, Australia —
Hundreds of vacationers fled Australia’s wildfire-ravaged japanese coast Thursday forward of worsening circumstances because the navy began to evacuate individuals trapped on the shore additional south.

Cooler climate since Tuesday has aided firefighting and allowed individuals to replenish provides. Autos shaped lengthy traces at gasoline stations and supermarkets, and site visitors was gridlocked as highways reopened. However hearth circumstances had been anticipated to deteriorate Saturday as excessive temperatures and robust winds return.

“There’s each potential that the circumstances on Saturday will likely be as dangerous or worse than we noticed (on Tuesday),” New South Wales Rural Fireplace Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers mentioned.

Authorities mentioned 381 houses had been destroyed on the New South Wales southern coast this week and at the least eight individuals have died this week within the state and neighboring Victoria, Australia’s two most-populous states, the place greater than 200 fires are presently burning.

New South Wales authorities within the morning ordered vacationers to depart a 250-kilometer (155-mile) zone alongside the picturesque south coast. State Transport Minister Andrew Constance mentioned it’s the “largest mass relocation of individuals out of the area that we have ever seen.”

In Victoria, the place 68 houses have burned this week, the navy was serving to 1000’s of people that fled to the shore as a wildfire threatened their houses Tuesday within the coastal city of Mallacoota. Meals, water, gasoline and medical experience had been being delivered and about 500 individuals had been going to be evacuated from the city by a naval ship.

“We predict round 3,000 vacationers and 1,000 locals are there. Not all of these will wish to depart, not all can get on the vessel at one time,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews informed the Australian Broadcasting Company.

The early and devastating begin to Australia’s summer season wildfires has led authorities to price this season the worst on report. About 5 million hectares (12.35 million acres) of land have burned, with at the least 17 individuals useless and greater than 1,300 houses destroyed.

Prime Minster Scott Morrison mentioned the disaster was prone to final for months. “It (fires) will proceed to go on till we will get some respectable rain that may take care of among the fires which have been burning for a lot of, many months,” Morrison informed reporters on Thursday.

Smoke from the wildfires brought on the air high quality within the nationwide capital, Canberra, to be the world’s worst and was blowing into New Zealand.

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Nestor heads into Georgia after tornados injury Florida

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Nestor raced throughout Georgia as a post-tropical cyclone late Saturday, hours after the previous tropical storm spawned a twister that broken properties and a college in central Florida whereas sparing areas of the Florida Panhandle devastated one 12 months earlier by Hurricane Michael.

The storm made landfall Saturday on St. Vincent Island, a nature protect off Florida’s northern Gulf Coast in a frivolously populated space of the state, the Nationwide Hurricane Heart stated.

Nestor was anticipated to carry 1 to three inches of rain to drought-stricken inland areas on its march throughout a swath of the U.S. Southeast. Forecasters stated it additionally was elevating an in a single day risk of extreme climate within the Carolinas because it continued to hurry towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Whereas all tropical storm and surge warnings had been canceled by Saturday afternoon in Florida, the storm escalated weekend threats of potential twisters and extreme thunderstorms elsewhere within the South.

The storm spun off at the least three tornadoes in Florida because it moved north via the Gulf that prompted injury.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Workplace stated a number of properties had been broken and Kathleen Center College had a big part of its roof torn off when the twister hit late Friday close to Lakeland, about an hour’s drive southwest of Orlando.

Photographs posted by The Ledger newspaper confirmed a house with a destroyed roof, downed timber, a big leisure car thrown onto its facet and automobiles buried below particles. About 10,000 properties had been with out energy Saturday.

“Fortunately, we’ve not had any reported critical accidents,” Sheriff Grady Judd stated in a Saturday assertion. “Nonetheless, there are numerous folks coping with injury to their properties and property this morning, a few of it extreme.”

One other suspected twister in southwest Florida broken at the least a dozen properties in Cape Coral, some severely, the police division stated in a press release. No accidents had been reported. One other twister was reported in Pinellas County, producing minor injury at a cell residence park.

In Georgia, remnants of the storm unfold heavy rains and triggered two Nationwide Climate Service warnings of potential twisters within the state’s south on Saturday night. Radar indicated potential tornados individually in areas round Rhine and Vienna, Georgia. However there was no instant affirmation of any tornadoes and no accidents or damages had been reported.

Elsewhere, information shops reported some downed timber and energy strains in metro Atlanta as heavy rains unfold throughout Georgia. Images confirmed downed timber blocking some roadways.

In Mexico Seaside, Florida, the place a strong October 2018 storm practically worn out that Panhandle city and left 1000’s homeless, the mayor stated Saturday that Nestor introduced some wanted rain to a portion of the state affected by drought. However there was no injury there.

“There have been no points,” stated Mayor Al Cathey, whose metropolis remains to be recovering from Michael. “I might name us lucky.”

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Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Shock rescue of Jamaica coral reefs exhibits nature can heal

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Everton Simpson squints on the Caribbean from his motorboat, scanning the dazzling bands of shade for hints of what lies beneath. Emerald inexperienced signifies sandy bottoms. Sapphire blue lies above seagrass meadows. And deep indigo marks coral reefs. That is the place he is headed.

He steers the boat to an unmarked spot that he is aware of because the “coral nursery.” ”It is like a forest beneath the ocean,” he says, strapping on blue flippers and fastening his oxygen tank earlier than tipping backward into the azure waters. He swims straight down 25 toes carrying a pair of steel shears, fishing line and a plastic crate.

On the ocean ground, small coral fragments dangle from suspended ropes, like socks held on a laundry line. Simpson and different divers are likely to this underwater nursery as gardeners thoughts a flower mattress — slowly and painstakingly plucking off snails and fireworms that feast on immature coral.

When every stub grows to concerning the measurement of a human hand, Simpson collects them in his crate to individually “transplant” onto a reef, a course of akin to planting every blade of grass in a garden individually.

Even fast-growing coral species add only a few inches a 12 months. And it isn’t attainable to easily scatter seeds.

A couple of hours later, at a website known as Dickie’s Reef, Simpson dives once more and makes use of bits of fishing line to tie clusters of staghorn coral onto rocky outcroppings — a short lived binding till the coral’s limestone skeleton grows and fixes itself onto the rock. The purpose is to jumpstart the pure progress of a coral reef. And up to now, it is working.

Nearly everybody in Jamaica is dependent upon the ocean, together with Simpson, who lives in a modest home he constructed himself close to the island’s northern coast. The energetic 68-year-old has reinvented himself a number of occasions, however at all times made a residing from the ocean.

As soon as a spear fisherman and later a scuba-diving teacher, Simpson began working as a “coral gardener” two years in the past — a part of grassroots efforts to deliver Jamaica’s coral reefs again from the brink.

Coral reefs are sometimes known as “rainforests of the ocean” for the astonishing range of life they shelter.

Simply 2 p.c of the ocean ground is crammed with coral, however the branching constructions — formed like every little thing from reindeer antlers to human brains — maintain 1 / 4 of all marine species. Clown fish, parrotfish, groupers and snappers lay eggs and conceal from predators within the reef’s nooks and crannies, and their presence attracts eels, sea snakes, octopuses and even sharks. In wholesome reefs, jellyfish and sea turtles are common guests.

With fish and coral, it is a codependent relationship — the fish rely on the reef construction to evade hazard and lay eggs, and so they additionally eat up the coral’s rivals.

Life on the ocean ground is sort of a slow-motion competitors for area, or an underwater recreation of musical chairs. Tropical fish and different marine animals, like black sea urchins, munch on fast-growing algae and seaweed that will in any other case outcompete the slow-growing coral for area. When too many fish disappear, the coral suffers — and vice-versa.

After a collection of pure and man-made disasters within the 1980s and 1990s, Jamaica misplaced 85 p.c of its once-bountiful coral reefs. In the meantime, fish catches declined to a sixth of what that they had been within the 1950s, pushing households that depend upon seafood nearer to poverty. Many scientists thought that the majority of Jamaica’s coral reef had been completely changed by seaweed, like jungle overtaking a ruined cathedral.

However in the present day, the corals and tropical fish are slowly reappearing, thanks partially to a collection of cautious interventions.

The fragile labor of the coral gardener is just one a part of restoring a reef — and for all its intricacy, it is really probably the most easy half. Convincing lifelong fishermen to curtail when and the place they fish and controlling the surging waste dumped into the ocean are trickier endeavors.

Nonetheless, slowly, the comeback effort is gaining momentum.

“The coral are coming again; the fish are coming again,” says Stuart Sandin, a marine biologist on the Scripps Establishment of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. “It is most likely a few of the most vibrant coral reefs we have seen in Jamaica because the 1970s.”

“Once you give nature an opportunity, she will restore herself,” he provides. “It isn’t too late.”

Sandin is learning the well being of coral reefs around the globe as a part of a analysis mission known as the “100 Island Problem.” His beginning assumption was that probably the most populated islands would have probably the most degraded habitats, however what he discovered as a substitute is that people may be both a blessing or a curse, relying on how they handle sources.

In Jamaica, greater than a dozen grassroots-run coral nurseries and fish sanctuaries have sprung up previously decade, supported by small grants from foundations, native companies reminiscent of lodges and scuba clinics, and the Jamaican authorities.

At White River Fish Sanctuary, which is barely about 2 years previous and the place Simpson works, the clearest proof of early success is the return of tropical fish that inhabit the reefs — in addition to hungry pelicans, skimming the floor of the water to feed on them.

Jamaica’s coral reefs had been as soon as among the many world’s most celebrated, with their golden branching constructions and resident bright-colored fish drawing the eye of vacationers from Christopher Columbus to Ian Fleming, who wrote most of his James Bond novels on the island nation’s northern coast within the 1950s and ’60s.

In 1965, the nation turned the location of the primary international analysis hub for coral reefs, the Discovery Bay Marine Lab, now related to the College of the West Indies. The pathbreaking marine biologist couple Thomas and Nora Goreau accomplished basic analysis right here, together with describing the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae and pioneering the usage of scuba gear for marine research.

The identical lab additionally offered a vantage level because the coral disappeared.

Peter Gayle has been a marine biologist at Discovery Bay since 1985. From the yard exterior his workplace, he factors towards the reef crest about 300 meters away — a skinny brown line splashed with white waves. “Earlier than 1980, Jamaica had wholesome coral,” he notes. Then a number of disasters struck.

The primary calamity was 1980’s Hurricane Allen, some of the highly effective cyclones in recorded historical past. “Its 40-foot waves crashed in opposition to the shore and mainly chewed up the reef,” Gayle says. Coral can develop again after pure disasters, however solely when given an opportunity to get well — which it by no means received.

That very same decade, a mysterious epidemic killed greater than 95% of the black sea urchins within the Caribbean, whereas overfishing ravaged fish populations. And surging waste from the island’s rising human inhabitants, which almost doubled between 1960 and 2010, launched chemical compounds and vitamins into the water that spur quicker algae progress. The consequence: Seaweed and algae took over.

“There was a tipping level within the 1980s, when it switched from being a coral-dominated system to being an algae-dominated system,” Gayle says. “Scientists name it a ‘part shift.'”

That appeared like the top of the story, till an unlikely alliance began to tip the ecosystem again within the different path — with assist from residents like Everton Simpson and his fellow fisherman Lipton Bailey.

The fishing group of White River revolves round a small boat-docking space a few quarter-mile from the place the river flows into the Caribbean Sea. One early morning, as purple daybreak mild filters into the sky, Simpson and Bailey step onto a 28-foot motorboat known as the Interceptor.

Each males have lived and fished their complete lives in the neighborhood. Just lately, they’ve come to imagine that they should defend the coral reefs that entice tropical fish, whereas setting limits on fishing to make sure the ocean is not emptied too shortly.

Within the White River space, the answer was to create a protected space — a “fish sanctuary” — for immature fish to develop and attain reproductive age earlier than they’re caught.

Two years in the past, the fishermen joined with native companies, together with resort homeowners, to kind a marine affiliation and negotiate the boundaries for a no-fishing zone stretching two miles alongside the coast. A easy line within the water is hardly a deterrent, nevertheless — to make the boundary significant, it have to be enforced. At present, the native fishermen, together with Simpson and Bailey, take turns patrolling the boundary within the Interceptor.

On this morning, the boys steer the boat simply exterior a row of orange buoys marked “No Fishing.” ”We’re searching for violators,” Bailey says, his eyes skilled on the rocky coast. “Generally you discover spearmen. They assume they’re good. We attempt to beat them at their recreation.”

Many of the older and extra established fishermen, who personal boats and set out strains and wire cages, have come to simply accept the no-fishing zone. In addition to, the chance of getting their gear confiscated is simply too nice. However not everyone seems to be on board. Some youthful males hunt with light-weight spearguns, swimming out to sea and firing at close-range. These males — a few of them poor and with few choices — are the most definitely trespassers.

The patrols carry no weapons, so they have to grasp the artwork of persuasion. “Allow them to perceive this — it isn’t a you factor or a me factor. This is not private,” Bailey says of previous encounters with violators.

These are generally dangerous efforts. Two years in the past, Jerlene Layne, a supervisor at close by Boscobel Fish Sanctuary, landed within the hospital with a bruised leg after being attacked by a person she had reprimanded for fishing illegally within the sanctuary. “He used a persist with hit my leg as a result of I used to be doing my job — telling him he can not fish within the protected space,” she says.

Layne believes her work could be safer with extra formal assist from the police, however she is not going to cease.

“Public mindsets can change,” she says. “If I again down on this, what sort of message does that ship? It’s important to stand for one thing.”

She has pressed costs in court docket in opposition to repeat trespassers, usually leading to a effective and gear confiscation.

One such violator is Damian Brown, 33, who lives in a coastal neighborhood known as Stewart City. Sitting exterior on a concrete staircase close to his modest residence, Brown says fishing is his solely possibility for work — and he believes the sanctuary boundaries lengthen too far.

However others who as soon as had been skeptical say they’ve come to see limits as an excellent factor.

Again on the White River docking space, Rick Walker, a 35-year-old spearfisherman, is cleansing his motorboat. He remembers the early opposition to the fish sanctuary, with many individuals saying, “‘No, they’re attempting to cease our livelihood.'”

Two years later, Walker, who isn’t concerned in operating the sanctuary however helps its boundary, says he can see the advantages. “It is simpler to catch snapper and barracuda,” he says. “At the very least my nice grandkids will get to see some fish.”

When Columbus landed in Jamaica, he sailed into Oracabessa Bay — in the present day a 20-minute drive from the mouth of the White River.

Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary was the primary of the grassroots-led efforts to revive Jamaica’s coral reefs. Its sanctuary was legally integrated in 2010, and its strategy of enlisting native fishermen as patrols turned a mannequin for different areas.

“The fishermen are totally on board and comfortable — that is the excellence. That is why it is working,” sanctuary supervisor Inilek Wilmot says.

David Murray, head of the Oracabessa Fishers’ Affiliation, notes that Jamaica’s 60,000 fishermen function with out a security internet. “Fishing is like playing, it is a recreation. Generally you catch one thing, generally you do not,” he says.

When fish populations started to break down 20 years in the past, one thing needed to change.

Murray now works as a warden within the Oracabessa sanctuary, whereas persevering with to fish exterior its boundary. He additionally spends time explaining the idea to neighbors.

“It is folks work — it is a course of to get folks to agree on a sanctuary boundary,” he says. “It is a powerful job to inform a person who’s been fishing all his life that he cannot fish right here.”

However as soon as it turned clear {that a} no-fishing zone really helped close by fish populations rebound, it turned simpler to construct assist. The variety of fish within the sanctuary has doubled between 2011 and 2017, and the person fish have grown bigger — almost tripling in size on common — based on annual surveys by Jamaica’s Nationwide Atmosphere and Planning Company. And that enhances catches in surrounding areas.

After phrase received out about Oracabessa, different areas wished recommendation.

“We now have the info to point out success, however much more necessary than information is phrase of mouth,” says Wilmot, who oversaw coaching to assist begin the fish sanctuary at White River.

Belinda Morrow, a lifelong water-sports fanatic usually seen paddle-boarding along with her canine Shadow, runs the White River Marine Affiliation. She attends fishers’ conferences and raises small grants from the Jamaican authorities and different foundations to assist gear purchases and coral replanting campaigns.

“All of us depend upon the ocean,” Morrow says, sitting in a small workplace adorned with nautical maps within the iconic 70-year-old Jamaica Inn. “If we do not have an excellent wholesome reef and an excellent wholesome marine surroundings, we are going to lose an excessive amount of. An excessive amount of of the nation depends on the ocean.”

———

This Related Press collection was produced in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

Heroic efforts to revive ecosystems and save species are being waged worldwide, geared toward reversing a few of humankind’s most harmful results on the planet. “What Can Be Saved?,” a weekly AP collection, chronicles the atypical folks and scientists combating for change in opposition to monumental odds _ and forging paths that others might observe.

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Worldwide traveler with measles visited Disneyland

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A New Zealand teenager who visited Disneyland, Common Studios, Hollywood vacationer scorching spots and the seashore this month had measles and should have uncovered others, public well being businesses introduced Friday.

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The lady arrived at Los Angeles Worldwide Airport on Aug. 11 and went to the Desert Palms Resort in Anaheim, officers mentioned. She is believed to have gone to Disneyland and the Disney California Journey Park on Aug. 12 after which Common Studios, the TCL Chinese language Theatre and Madame Tussauds in Hollywood and the Santa Monica seashore and pier on Aug. 14-15, authorities mentioned.

The lady has since returned to New Zealand, mentioned Dr. Nichole Fast, Orange County’s well being care officer.

The company mentioned it has been working with the services to achieve individuals who had shut contact. There are not any present reviews that anybody has contracted measles from the teenager, Fast mentioned.

She mentioned she expects to see extra measles circumstances, typically, amongst worldwide vacationers who go to California due to a rise within the sickness abroad.

“We’re generally involved with the outbreaks occurring in locations on this nation in addition to internationally,” she mentioned.

Disneyland officers on Friday mentioned no workers on the theme park have been reported to have contracted the sickness. Dr. Pamela Hymel, Disneyland’s chief medical officer, mentioned in a press release that well being officers mentioned the chance to workers and guests “is probably going low.”

The park boosted an present immunization program earlier this 12 months for workers, she mentioned.

Disneyland and adjoining Disney California Journey Park are main vacationer locations, drawing tens of hundreds of holiday makers a day.

In 2015, a measles outbreak involving Disneyland sickened 147 folks and unfold throughout the U.S. and into Canada.

As of early this month, Los Angeles County well being officers reported 16 measles circumstances amongst county residents this 12 months and — along with the New Zealand lady — 10 others amongst non-residents who traveled by way of.

The Orange County well being company says individuals who might have been uncovered ought to monitor themselves for signs corresponding to fever and rash occurring as much as 21 days from publicity. Fast urged anybody who has signs to name their well being care supplier earlier than going to the physician to keep away from further exposures. Persons are additionally urged to examine their information to find out if they’ve been vaccinated or beforehand had measles.

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Traditionally moist US Northwest faces rising wildfire risk

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Nestled within the foothills of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, the bustling Seattle suburb of Issaquah appears an unlikely candidate for nervousness over wildfires.

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The area, well-known for its rainfall, has lengthy escaped main burns whilst international warming has pushed a rise within the dimension and variety of wildfires elsewhere within the American West.

However in line with consultants, beforehand too-wet-to-burn elements of the Pacific Northwest face an rising threat of serious wildfires resulting from adjustments in its local weather pushed by the identical phenomenon: World warming is bringing greater temperatures, decrease humidity and longer stretches of drought.

And the area is uniquely uncovered to the risk, with property house owners who are sometimes much less ready for hearth than these in drier locations and extra houses tucked alongside forests than some other western state.

In Issaquah and cities prefer it throughout the area, that takes a form acquainted from latest harmful California wildfires: heavy vegetation that spills into backyards, typically urgent towards homes in neighborhoods constructed alongside mountains, with sturdy seasonal winds and few roads main out.

“The one factor that is holding it from going off like a nuclear bomb is the climate,” stated Chris Dicus, a professor at California Polytechnic State College, San Luis Obispo and head of the Affiliation for Hearth Ecology, a nationwide group that research wildfire and consists of consultants from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey.

With traditionally brief summers, the swath of densely forested coastal territory stretching from British Columbia into northwestern Oregon has lengthy been cloaked in a protecting veil of moisture, making even medium-sized fires comparatively uncommon. So-called “megafires” — enveloping lots of of 1000’s of acres and even producing their very own climate — have occurred solely at century-plus intervals.

However international warming is altering the area’s seasons. A nationwide local weather evaluation ready by 13 federal businesses and launched in 2018 stated the Pacific Northwest had warmed practically 2 levels Fahrenheit since 1900 and that development would proceed into the century, resulting in hotter winters and fewer mountain snowpack.

Consultants say these long-term adjustments create a particular threat in Pacific Northwest forests, the place previous moist climate has created ample gasoline for fires: Even a modest enhance in contributing components, like days with out rain, may make them way more liable to burning.

“It is a few levels distinction. It is a few weeks’ distinction,” stated Michael Medler, a fireplace scientist and chair of the environmental research division at Western Washington College. “These are the sorts of adjustments that quantity to taking a forest and pushing it over the sting.”

Precisely when anyone a part of the area will attain that time is difficult to foretell, and researchers confused that unknowns exist in modeling hearth in woods which have burned so occasionally. However all pointed to adjustments already starting to happen.

This yr’s hearth hazard, as an example, reached above-normal ranges within the area a full three months sooner than at any time in additional than 10 years, pushed partly by an abnormally dry winter.

And hearth counts are up: As of late June, western Oregon forests have seen double the typical variety of hearth begins from the earlier decade — 48 in contrast with 20. Western Washington noticed a good bigger enhance, with 194 begins in contrast with a median of 74.

Even the area round Astoria, Oregon, which ceaselessly will get 100-plus wet days per yr, making it one of many wettest elements of the state, has seen a dozen small fires in 2018 and 2019, in line with knowledge from the Oregon Division of Forestry. That compares with a median of simply two per yr over the earlier decade.

Final yr, 40% of Washington’s wildfires have been on its wetter western aspect, in line with Janet Pearce, a spokeswoman for that state’s pure sources company.

“That was alarming and a primary for us,” she stated in an e mail.

The chance is amplified by improvement patterns all through the Pacific Northwest, the place consultants say the lengthy gaps between main fires have created a notion of the forest as being too moist to burn.

Partly resulting from that notion, the area boasts among the West’s most concentrated forest-edge improvement.

A 2013 survey of improvement inside 550 yards (500 meters) of forestlands discovered that simply six counties alongside the foothills of Washington’s Cascade mountains host extra houses in such zones than all of California.

Collectively, western Washington and the northwest nook of Oregon contained roughly 1,400 sq. miles (3,626 sq. kilometers) of forest-edge improvement — practically as a lot as California, Colorado and Montana mixed, in line with the report by Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit land administration analysis group.

Ray Rasker, who heads the group, cautioned the report was narrower than others, which depend improvement as much as 1.5 miles (2.four kilometers) from any sort of wildland. And the outcomes do not essentially translate to the Northwest being at greater general threat, Rasker stated, as a result of different kinds of wild areas are extra liable to burning than mature forests.

However whereas officers in California and different states have begun reforming forest-edge constructing and landscaping guidelines, such codes are nonetheless uncommon within the Northwest, and just about none apply to homes already constructed, stated Tim Ingalsbee, who heads Firefighters United for Security Ethics and Ecology, an Oregon-based nonprofit that works to replace constructing codes.

“The western slopes of the Cascades and the Northwest are simply woefully unprepared,” Ingalsbee stated.

When wildfires penetrate neighborhoods, they change into a lot tougher to struggle.

Fires that did that final yr in California destroyed houses and killed residents in cities together with Redding, the place the Carr hearth destroyed over 1,000 houses and compelled the evacuation of 38,000, and Paradise, the place the Camp hearth killed greater than 80 individuals and burned 14,000 houses.

Medler, of Western Washington College, pointed to sprawl radiating from cities within the Northwest’s coastal hall — resembling Seattle — towards the Cascade mountains, which outline the area’s japanese edge and stretch from Canada into Oregon.

“Those that hold me awake at evening are locations like Issaquah,” stated Medler.

The similarities between Paradise earlier than the 2018 Camp hearth and present-day Issaquah — a bustling suburban metropolis of 39,000 lower than half an hour from Seattle’s downtown — are noticeable.

Each are tucked into foothills. Each function neighborhoods surrounded by dense forests, some with solely a single highway main in or out. And whereas not as frequent because the seasonal winds that fanned the Camp Hearth, the Cascades are additionally liable to related sturdy winds.

The California fires have been “completely” a wake-up name, stated Wealthy Burke, deputy hearth chief with the Eastside Hearth Division, which oversees hearth safety in Issaquah and the encompassing space.

Wildfire-oriented setbacks and less-flammable supplies nonetheless aren’t written into constructing codes on town’s edges. However Burke stated the division now fields frequent calls from owners involved about wildfire protections, hosts preparedness trainings and has 4 wildland hearth engines of its personal.

Nonetheless, a neighborhood lower than a mile from town’s heart reveals what Medler describes as a traditional Northwest scene: branches of towering conifers brushing towards dozens of wood-sided houses.

Jason Ritchie owns a house simply north of Issaquah, in neighboring Sammamish, and stated a 2015 hearth within the woods beside his property drove house the dangers.

“It grew so quick,” Richie stated. “Had the wind been blowing from the north to the south, it could have engulfed the neighborhood very, in a short time.”

The neighborhood options many homes constructed steps from the woods’ edge however solely two principal routes out, a threat that wasn’t on the entrance of Richie’s thoughts when he purchased his house.

“If a kind of roads will get blocked, we’re in a heap of bother,” he stated.

Questions stay about wildfire dangers in beforehand moist forests, partially as a result of they’ve burned so occasionally up to now, stated Crystal Raymond, a fireplace ecologist with the College of Washington’s Local weather Influence Group.

An absence of information makes it tough to foretell precisely what number of extra days of summer time or drought the area’s forests will tolerate earlier than the dangers enhance, stated Raymond and others.

However consultants broadly agreed: World warming is altering the moist local weather of the Pacific Northwest, in methods that can make its forests extra prone to burn.

“On the west aspect, there is a notion that fireside would not occur right here — perhaps up on the mountains, however not right here,” Ingalsbee stated. “That was then. That is now.”

———

Comply with reporter Tom James on Twitter at @TomJames206

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Pilot whales strand on Iceland beach in group of 50 or more

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Tourists and a pilot on a helicopter sightseeing tour of Iceland have found dozens of dead whales on a remote beach in Iceland.

David Schwarzhans, a pilot for Reykjavík Helicopters, said he and his passengers counted 50 long-finned pilot whales washed up on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in western Iceland on Thursday.

Schwarzhans said “there might have been more. Some were already buried in sand.” He says the whales were concentrated in one spot and described it as “a very sad scene.”

The whales are believed to have swum ashore at the same time and died of dehydration.

The pilot whale is notorious for stranding in mass numbers, for reasons that are not entirely understood.

Last year, locals got a large group of whales to turn away from a spot on the opposite side of the peninsula.

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Lonely Planet’s top destination suffers a blow after blasts

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Sipping fresh coconut water while sunbathing on deserted Hikkaduwa beach, Alexi Konchayenko, a sports trainer from Ukraine, struck a stoical note.

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Bomb blasts can happen “anywhere, anytime,” he said, adding that he was not afraid. “Sri Lanka is an amazing country. This is my first visit and I will tell my friends also to come.”

His is a lone voice — and a lone presence. Sri Lanka was the Lonely Planet guide’s top travel destination for 2019, but since the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and luxury hotels, foreign tourists have fled.

Many of those booked to come in the next few months have canceled. Hotel occupancy across the island has plummeted by 85% to 90%. The tropical beaches, restaurants and shops are empty.

The coordinated suicide bombings on April 21 not only destroyed lives but also wiped out the livelihoods of Sri Lankans who depend on tourism.

More than 250 people, including 45 foreigners mainly from China, India, the U.S. and the U.K., died in the Islamic State group-claimed blasts.

Tourists normally come to Hikkaduwa, in the southwest, for the strong waves that are perfect for surfing and sparkling clear waters made for snorkeling. Today, of the 27 hotels, very few are open. Most, along with the eateries that line the 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) stretch of palm-fringed beach, are closed.

Among the few hotels still open is Hikkaduwa Beach Hotel. On April 21, all 50 rooms were occupied; today, only a handful. “It’s a real disaster. We don’t know what to do right now,” said Sanjeewani Yogarajah, an executive with the hotel. She said the attack has cost the hotel 5.5 million Sri Lankan rupees ($31,000), forcing the hotel’s management to send half the staff home.

Some tourism officials say the damage to the industry after the bombings is worse than during the 26-year civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government which ended a decade ago. At least then, the violence was mostly contained to the north of Sri Lanka, they said. This time, no part of the island has remained untouched by the blasts.

Lankesha Ponnamperuma, general manager of hotel chain Hikka Tranz, is one of the luckier ones. While most hotels report wholesale cancellations, he is surviving thanks to business from local residents. Last Friday, two-thirds of the 150 rooms were booked, mostly by domestic tourists.

“I haven’t sacked anyone yet. Instead, we are training our people to adjust their expenditure and helping them restructure their bank loans,” Ponnamperuma said.

The president of Sri Lanka’s Hotels Association, Sanath Ukwatta, said hotels have offered 30-50% discounts to entice local residents.

Such a strategy won’t solve the problem, he said, but will “help at least to keep the hotels going.”

The manager of a clothing shop said the owner had shut the group’s other two shops and the factory too. “Business collapsed after April 21,” said Kumari, who declined to give her surname.

According to government figures, there has been an 80% drop in arrivals since the attack. Tourism accounts for 4.9% of Sri Lanka’s GDP. Last year, 2.3 million tourists visited the island, generating $4.4 billion in revenues, a nearly 12% jump from 2017. Around half a million Sri Lankans directly depend on tourism while 2 million depend on it indirectly.

One of them is Mohomed Musflick, the owner of a souvenir shop in Galle which is full of wood carvings, local paintings and postcards. “I have not sold one item. There are no tourists and we are in a huge crisis,” he said.

While life is gradually returning to normal on the island with offices and schools re-opening, the tourism industry is in a somber mood over the slump in foreign tourists. Tour operators from Russia, Norway and Britain have canceled bookings going right up to April 2020.

A travel ban issued by nearly a dozen countries is the greatest cause for concern. “The ban is our main worry. Until it is removed or softened, we can’t start our marketing to attract tourists. If it is lifted soon, we are hopeful we can bounce back this year or otherwise definitely next year for sure,” said Yogarajah.

In the meantime, Sri Lanka’s government should target “people and countries resilient to this kind of attacks and situations, such as Russia, Israel and India,” said Anusha Frydman, managing director of the Lavanga Resort and Spa.

The industry is clear about what else it wants from the authorities: Ensure that stringent security measures are in place to reassure potential visitors; persuade politicians to put their differences aside and adopt a bipartisan approach on national security; and work fast to get the travel ban lifted.

To help the industry cope, the government has put together a relief package comprising easy loans at special rates and reduced taxes. The government also plans to formulate a $100 million insurance fund for compensation to any tourist injured or killed while visiting the island.

“In the past we have had many serious crises and we have recovered. I am quite positive we can do it again,” said Jan van Twest, general manager of the Fortress Resort and Spa near Galle, where 750 room nights have been canceled from May to October.

“But we need to recover, recover very fast,” he said.

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