The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
'Civil Society Is Pretty Much Gone' in Puerto Rico as White House Scrambles to Defend Slow Response
President Trump spent the weekend playing golf and attacking Puerto Rican leadership on Twitter while the island remains in a state of severe crisis and recovery moves at a "glacial pace."
While FEMA aid has begun reaching remote parts of the island, severe shortages of food, water and diesel are grinding on residents from rich and poor regions as 95 percent remain without electricity nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit.
Critics in the U.S. and Puerto Rico said that the administration's robust defense of its disaster response—including numerous tweets from the president—only serves to highlight inadequacies and inaccuracies in its reaction, while ignoring the extremely complex nature of the problem.
"We have to think of this as societal collapse: no power, no water, no food, no nothing," a disaster response official told Politico Friday. "We came in thinking this would be a traditional model of disaster response … It is up to us to keep everything moving. Civil society is pretty much gone, and we didn't realize that until like 36 or 48 hours ago. And who knows when it's going to end."
In a memo to colleagues leaked this weekend by Axios, Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert instructed the White House how to "pivot" White House messaging on Puerto Rico this week, emphasizing that "the storm caused these problems, not our response to it."
As reported by PBS NewsHour:
"Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the Department of Defense's primary military liaison with FEMA, toured the damage in Puerto Rico for the first time Saturday during a helicopter ride from San Juan to Ceiba. After landing at a hangar in Ceiba with no power, internet or cellular service, Buchanan spoke with the PBS NewsHour's Monica Villamizar.
'Sometimes we don't know what's going to happen until the storm actually hits, and this is the worst I've ever seen,' Buchanan said."
For a deeper dive:
Recovery: CNN, ABC, Reuters, USA Today, Politico, PBS NewsHour. Memo: Axios, Washington Post, Mother Jones. Commentary: CNN, Chris Cillizza column, Bloomberg View, Timothy O'Brien column, NBC, Raul Reyes op-ed, Washington Post, Andrew Reeves analysis
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Carey Gillam
For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.
The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.
By Jake Johnson
A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.
By Irene Banos Ruiz
Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.
Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.