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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
Fridays for Future climate activists demonstrate in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 25, 2020. Roberto Pfeil / picture alliance via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Smoke covers the skies over downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 9, 2020. Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire

By Isabella Garcia

September in Portland, Oregon, usually brings a slight chill to the air and an orange tinge to the leaves. This year, it brought smoke so thick it burned your throat and made your eyes strain to see more than 20 feet in front of you.

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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.

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Cyclone Gati on Sunday had sustained winds of 115 miles per hour. NASA - EOSDIS Worldview

Cyclone Gati made landfall in Somalia Sunday as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, the first time that a hurricane-strength storm has made landfall in the East African country, NPR reported.

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The Castle Fire burned through portions of giant sequoia groves on the western slopes of California's Sierra Nevada mountains, the only place on the planet where they naturally grow. Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

The Castle Fire killed likely more than a thousand giant sequoias — including many that had stood for well over 500 years and some for 1,000 — on the western slopes of California's Sierra Nevada mountains, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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A dog is seen amongst rubble left behind from Hurricane Eta, in Bilwi, Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, on November 15, 2020, before the arrival of Hurricane Iota. STR / AFP / Getty Images

Hurricane Iota made landfall along the coast of northeastern Nicaragua at 10:40 p.m. Monday night as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm.

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A well-insulated, weather-tight house holds heat longer. DonNichols / Getty Images

Living in an energy-efficient home does not just save money on utility bills. A well-insulated, weather-tight house holds heat longer than one that's poorly insulated and drafty.

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A boy plays in the rubble of his Nicaragua home, destroyed by Hurricane Eta, as Hurricane Iota approaches on Nov. 15, 2020. Maynor Valenzuela / Getty Images

Hurricane Iota, the 30th named storm and 13th hurricane of a record-breaking season, is now bearing down upon Central America less than two weeks after Hurricane Eta devastated the region.

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The Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site vulnerable to sea level rise. Ian.CuiYi / Moment / Getty Images

By Erin Seekamp

With global travel curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are finding comfort in planning future trips. But imagine that you finally arrive in Venice and the "floating city" is flooded. Would you stay anyway, walking through St. Mark's Square on makeshift catwalks or elevated wooden passages – even if you couldn't enter the Basilica or the Doge's Palace? Or would you leave and hope to visit sometime in the future?

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Aerial view of a flooded area in the village of Queja, in San Cristobal Verapaz, Guatemala on Nov. 7, 2020 where it is estimated that dozens of people died after a mudslide caused by the passage of Hurricane Eta. ESTEBAN BIBA / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

A large landslide caused by torrential rains during Hurricane Eta buried half a small village's residents, leaving the other half searching for family members and neighbors in Guatemala on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.

Officials deemed Queja, a farming community of a few hundred residents, "uninhabitable," and ended rescue operations, calling for the survivors to abandon the area now mostly covered in tons of rock and mud. 99 people were reported missing, with 44 confirmed deaths.

Mayor Ovidio Choc, representing the San Cristobal Verapaz region, including Queja, said the evacuated village would be declared a cemetery.

The former director of Guatemala's national disaster management agency said the country is ranked among the highest risk countries for natural disasters, based on data by the World Risk Index.

"It is a structural problem that is linked not only the threat or the probability of producing elements like Eta, but rather other factors that make us vulnerable and are directly tied to the development of the country," Alejandro Maldonado said, The Washington Post reported.

The inability to invest in mitigation plans, and deforestation were likely to be circumstances that caused the landslide, noted Maldonado.

The residents of Queja are the latest addition of what is being called the "great climate migration." Climate change is causing sea level rise and extreme weather conditions, such as intense heat, drought, wildfires and enlarged hurricanes and typhoons, which induce mudslides, landslides and flooding, forcing many to flee their homes, never to return.

And climate refugees are predicted to increase in number in the coming years as more natural disasters occur. According to Ecological Threat Register, a September 2020 report by the non-profit think tank Institute for Economics & Peace, one billion people live in areas were there is not enough infrastructure in place to combat ecological changes.

2020 already claims the largest number of hurricanes and wildfires ever recorded.

Eta first made landfall just south of Puerto Cabezas, a city on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast on Nov. 3, as a Category 4 hurricane, causing 140 mph winds, massive downpours and destructive flooding to several countries in Central America, including Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras.

Hurricane Eta is expected to hit Florida's Gulf Coast in its fourth landfall on Wednesday, as a Category 1 hurricane, bumped up from a subtropical storm with rains hitting southern Florida on Sunday and Monday. While diminished in intensity from its peak in Central America, landslides and flooding are expected.

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Florida National Guard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

From broken buildings to uprooted trees, extreme weather can leave behind a lot of visible damage. But there is invisible damage, too. Many survivors face mental health struggles after a storm.

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A satellite view of the Atlantic, from the National Hurricane Center and NOAA.

Tropical Storm Theta became the 29th storm of the exceptionally active and record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season Monday night.

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A clapper rail with a fiddler crab in its bill. Michael Gray / CC BY-ND

By Scott Rush and Mark Woodrey

When storms like Huricane Zeta menace the Gulf Coast, residents know the drill: Board up windows, clear storm drains, gas up the car and stock up on water, batteries and canned goods.

But how does wildlife ride out a hurricane? Animals that live along coastlines have evolved to deal with a world where conditions can change radically. This year, however, the places they inhabit have borne the brunt of 10 named storms, some just a few weeks apart.

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