Brazil's Trump, right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, formally authorized deployment of military forces in the Amazon rainforest region, purportedly to fight deforestation and fires. Surely the massive influx of armed troops to the region populated by indigenous people won't result in coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths. The decree was published in the government gazette today. Read the rest
? Yes, that's a 100-meter record-setting Margherita Pizza. A pizza with a purpose. Read the rest
The massive scale and force of the ongoing bushfires in Australia is hard to comprehend. Read the rest
Dozens are likely dead in Australia, which is beset by uncontrolled wildfires. Experts believe a third of the koala population on the continent's east coast is already wiped out, and there's no end in sight. Residents are fleeing to the beaches to escape the flames. In the video embedded here from New South Wales Fire + Rescue, a crew sits in their truck, unable to do anything to fight the the blaze as it tears throught the forest toward them, then around them, then away from them.
Here's (NSFW) footage from Tyson Whelan, which he says he took at 10:30 a.m. in Mallacoota, Victoria:
How bad are the #AustralianFires? Absolutey fucked.
— rbm (@doc_ryan) December 31, 2019
Australia's government appears unmoved. Here's the Prime Minister, talking earlier in wildfire season, about why there would be no change in policy toward carbon emissions: “What we won’t do is engage in reckless and job-destroying and economy-crunching targets which are being sought."
In 2017, cartoonist Brian Fies lost his northern California home in the Calistoga wildfires; in the days after, working with the cheap art supplies he was able to get from a surviving big box store, he drew A Fire Story, a strip about how he and his wife barely managed to escape their home ahead of the blaze, and about life after everything you own (and everything your neighbors own) is reduced to ash and slag. The strip went viral, and in the months after, Fies adapted it into a deeply moving, beautiful book. Read the rest
Pacific Gas and Electric has gone from Wall Street darling to bankruptcy, thanks to the $30 billion in liability from the fires that were started in California by its power-lines. Read the rest
Climate change is why California is burning, and thousands of its citizens displaced, injured, or killed by the wildfires that spread with never-before-seen intensity. Read the rest
At times this week, wildfires made San Francisco's air the worst in the world, and the city's stores have largely sold out of the N95 filter masks that make the air barely breathable, leading to at least one enterprising Uber driver selling the masks out of his car (at a substantial markup: $5 each, compared with $1.30 each on Amazon in ten-packs); other drivers are giving the masks away for free. (via /.) Read the rest
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's $50,000,000 Calabasas, California mansion was spared from last week's wildfires thanks to the actions of private firefighters working on behalf of insurers who've written policies on about 1,000 of California's priciest homes. Read the rest
On Sunday, NASA's Earth-monitoring Terra satellite captured this image of a smoke plume from the brutal Alamo Fire blazing in the County of Santa Barbara, California. According to the County, more than 600 firefighters have contained about 45% of the fire that's currently burning across 28,926 acres. It started on July 6. Read the rest
Almost all of Canada's tar sands production has been shut down by a raging wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray region. Read the rest
At Outside, Kyle Dickman interviews the lone survivor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team and tells the story of the decisions that lead to the deaths of 19 men. Read it, and then head over to The New York Times Magazine, which has an amazing piece by Paul Tullis about the scientists, fire fighters, and forest rangers who are trying to get a better handle on how wildfires behave ... and how best to control and limit the damage they cause. That's no small task when you're talking about a force of nature capable of creating its own weather systems. Read the rest