6 Dead in Worst Storm to Drench Eastern Spain in 140 Years
More than 3,000 people had to be rescued from the storm that drenched Murcia, Valencia and eastern Andalusia on Spain's Mediterranean coast last week. Some towns recorded their highest rainfall on record. While it is normal for the region to see autumn storms, last week's deluge was the worst to hit eastern Spain in 140 years, EL PAÍS reported.
Floods in southeast Spain 🇪🇸— Copernicus EMS (@CopernicusEMS) September 14, 2019
This #Sentinel2 🇪🇺🛰 image acquired yesterday 13 September shows flooded areas north and northwest of Cartagena and the runoff into the Mar Menor (in blue)
Thanks to @adelgado for the cue pic.twitter.com/X4kYKuLC7O
Because warmer air holds more moisture, the climate crisis increases the chance of extreme rainfall events. Heavy rains and snowfalls are already becoming more frequent, even in dry regions, a 2016 study published in Nature Climate Change found.
In the most recent Spanish storms, Ontinyent in Valencia recorded 250 millimeters (approximately 10 inches) of rainfall in 12 hours, 10 times the normal amount for this time of year, according to EL PAÍS.
"All my warmth and solidarity for the people affected by the heavy rains," Acting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez tweeted Saturday, as The New York Times reported. "Together, we will deploy all our resources and aid to help the population and return things to normal."
Tristemente lamentamos una nueva víctima mortal en Orihuela. Todo mi cariño para sus familiares y mi solidaridad con todas las personas afectadas por las intensas lluvias.— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) September 14, 2019
Coordinados, volcaremos todos los recursos y ayudas para atender a la población y recuperar la normalidad. pic.twitter.com/p9gg710GEa
The storm killed two siblings on Thursday when their car was swept away by flood waters in Caudete, in Albacete, EL PAÍS reported further. On Friday, another man drowned in Almería when he entered a flooded underpass. Two other men were found dead Friday: one, aged 36, in Granada, and another, aged 58, near Orihuela in Alicante. A sixth man was found dead in Orihuela Saturday. He was 41 years old.
The town of Orihuela was especially hard hit. It was cut off for three days due to flooding on the roads.
More than 1,100 military personnel were deployed to rescue people from flooding in Murcia and Valencia, The Guardian reported. Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said 3,500 people had to be rescued, according to The New York Times. Some people had to be rescued from rooftops by helicopter, and four people were saved from the tops of cars by boat and jet ski. The deluge closed the airports of Murcia and Almería, as well as train lines, roads and schools.
The region could be in for a lengthy recovery. The storm displaced thousands and destroyed at least 300,000 hectares (approximately 741,316 acres) of agricultural land, according to EL PAÍS.
It is too early to estimate the cost of the damages, but Ximo Puig, the head of the Valencia region, requested "something like a Marshall Plan" to help the region recover.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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