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Journalism of Courage

Top climate stories of this week: Hurricane Ian pummels Florida, Mexico tops list of deadliest countries for environmentalists

We also bring you the story of an outback town in Western Australia that the Australian government is trying to wipe off the face of the earth.

Here are the top climate stories of this week

Hurricane Ian swept through Florida earlier this week, killing at least 10 people and leaving behind a trail of destruction —  buildings destroyed, trees uprooted, traffic signals bent out of shape, boats crashed and broken on the streets and luxury cars worth millions stuck in the viscous mud. The storm headed to South Carolina for a second landfall with maximum sustained wind speeds of 120 kph, as per the US National Hurricane Center.

In other news, at least 200 environmental activists were killed around the world in 2021, with Mexico topping the list. We also bring you the story of an outback town in Western Australia that the Australian government is trying to wipe off the face of the earth.

Here goes.

Hurricane Ian veers toward South Carolina after pummeling Florida

A resurgent Hurricane Ian barreled north Friday toward a second landfall in South Carolina, a day after carving a path of destruction across central Florida that left rescue crews racing to reach trapped residents along the state’s Gulf Coast.

Ian, which had weakened to a tropical storm during its march across Florida, regained Category 1 hurricane strength on Thursday afternoon while churning toward South Carolina above the Atlantic Ocean, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 120 kph, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

An aerial view of damaged boats and buildings after Hurricane Ian caused widespread destruction in Fort Myers, Florida, US, Sept. 29, 2022. (Reuters)

The hurricane was forecast to hit near low-lying Charleston, South Carolina at about 11.30 pm IST on Friday, bringing potentially life-threatening flooding, storm surges and winds. Hundreds of miles of coastline, stretching from Georgia to North Carolina, was under a hurricane warning.

Study finds that climate change added 10% to Ian’s rainfall

Climate change added at least 10% more rain to Hurricane Ian, a study prepared immediately after the storm shows.

Homes are surrounded by flood waters caused by Hurricane Ian, Sept. 29, 2022, in Fort Myers, Florida. (AP)

Thursday’s research, which is not peer-reviewed, compared peak rainfall rates during the real storm to about 20 different computer scenarios of a model with Hurricane Ian’s characteristics slamming into the Sunshine State in a world with no human-caused climate change.


“The real storm was 10% wetter than the storm that might have been,’’ said Lawrence Berkeley National Lab climate scientist Michael Wehner, study co-author. Read more

The last days of an outback town where every breath can be toxic

Sitting on a roof in a ghost town in the middle of the Australian outback, Mario Hartmann waited for the bulldozers to come.


He climbed up every day because it was the only spot to get an internet signal. With the nearest town an hour and a half away, he knew he must be careful. “I go, you can only have 15 beers,” he said. “More than 15 beers, you don’t come up here.”

A mining truck near Hamersley Gorge in Western Australia (NYT photo)

But far worse risks haunt this town. In the yard below, Hartmann’s Australian sheepdog scampered after a ball, kicking up dust clouds laced with an invisible threat: blue asbestos. Just one breath can send the fibers coursing into someone’s lungs, triggering an aggressive, incurable cancer. That is why the government is about to wipe this town, Wittenoom, off the face of the earth. Read more

200 environmental activists killed globally in 2021

Some 200 environmental and land defense activists were killed around the world in 2021, including some 54 in Mexico, which assumed the position of the deadliest country in the annual report by non-governmental organisation Global Witness.

A Yaqui Indigenous wears a bandana over his mouth as he walks through dust past the cemetery where slain water-defense leader Tomás Rojo is buried in Potam, Mexico, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP)

More than three-quarters of the killings took place in Latin America, where Colombia, Brazil and Nicaragua also logged double-digit death tolls. It was the third consecutive year of increases for Mexico and a jump from 30 such activists killed in 2020. Read more

Tropical rains flood parts of Thailand, 5,000 seek shelter

Water up to waist-high flooded some riverfront neighbourhoods and other areas of Thailand on Thursday after a tropical depression dumped heavy rains and knocked down trees, causing at least one death.

The heaviest rainfall, about 22 cm in 24 hours, was recorded in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani where more than 5,000 people were moved to shelters on higher ground. One person was reported killed and two injured by falling trees in Sisaket province.

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The remnants of Tropical Storm Noru advanced into Thailand overnight after hitting central Vietnam, causing blackouts and blowing off roofs and billboards. No casualties were immediately reported in Vietnam. Read more

First published on: 30-09-2022 at 04:10:36 pm
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