Quantcast
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Oprah speak onstage during 'Oprah's Super Soul Conversations' at The Apollo Theater on Feb. 7, 2018 in New York City. Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey has donated $2 million to help Puerto Rico recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Hurricane Florence, one of two hurricanes that devastated the U.S. during the 2018 season, lingers over the Carolinas. NOAA / GOES East satellite

Fallen trees from 2018's Hurricane Michael are still a hazard in the Florida Panhandle, but that won't stop the 2019 hurricane season from starting June 1.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Trees downed by Hurricane Michael. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

A wildfire that broke out in Florida's Panhandle Saturday that should have been easy to contain was quicker to spread and harder to fight because of debris left over from Hurricane Michael.

The fire burned around 678 acres over the weekend and forced 20 homes to be evacuated in Bay County, AccuWeather reported. The fire burning near Allanton, Florida was 50 percent contained at only 15 acres Saturday evening when wind caused it to spread to 100 acres within an hour. Winds also pushed it south Sunday, and the Florida Fire Service described it as "stubborn."

Read More Show Less
The Virginia National Guard drove through high water following Hurricane Florence to deliver supplies to shelters on Sept. 17, 2018, in North Carolina. The National Guard

Extreme weather events impacted close to 62 million people in 2018 and displaced more than two million as of September of that year. That's just one of the alarming findings in the UN World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018.

"The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels," the WMO wrote in a press release announcing the report Thursday.

2018 saw record sea level rise and high land and ocean temperatures, the report found. Since the WMO first began producing the report 25 years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have jumped from 357 parts per million (ppm) in 1994 to 405.5 ppm in 2017.

Speaking at the launch of the report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres used the findings to call for serious decision making from world leaders at the Climate Action Summit he is convening in New York on Sept. 23.

"Don't come with a speech, come with a plan," he said, according to a UN press release. "This is what science says is needed. It is what young people around the globe are rightfully demanding," he said. Two weeks ago, youth in more than 130 countries went on strike from school to protest inaction on climate change.

The report found that flooding was the climate-related disaster that impacted the largest number of people in 2018 —more than 35 million. Hurricanes Florence and Michael in the U.S. cost around $49 billion in damages and killed more than 100 people. Super typhoon Mangkhut killed at least 134 people and impacted 2.4 million, mostly in the Philippines.

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that the extremes recorded for 2018 showed no sign of reversing.

"Extreme weather has continued in the early 2019, most recently with Tropical Cyclone Idai, which caused devastating floods and tragic loss of life in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. It may turn out to be one of the deadliest weather-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere," Taalas said in the WMO press release. "Idai made landfall over the city of Beira: a rapidly growing, low-lying city on a coastline vulnerable to storm surges and already facing the consequences of sea level rise. Idai's victims personify why we need the global agenda on sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction."

The report was completed with assistance from UN agencies, national weather and hydrological services and scientists from around the world. Here are some of its other key findings.

1. Temperature: 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record, and the four warmest years on record all took place between 2015 and 2018. The average global temperature is now around one degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

2. Ocean Temperature: 2018 set new records for ocean heat in the top 700 meters (approximately 2,297 feet) and top 2,000 meters (approximately 6,562 feet).

3. Sea Level Rise: The global mean sea level hit a new record and was around 3.7 millimeters higher than in 2017.

4. Arctic Sea Ice: Arctic sea ice extent hit record lows for February and January of 2018. Its maximum extent in March of that year was the third lowest in the 1979 to 2018 satellite record.

5. Food Security: The report found that climate change could reverse progress made in fighting global malnutrition. In 2017, the number of people suffering from malnutrition rose to 821 million, and this was partly caused by droughts related to 2015-2016's El Niño.

6. Heat Waves and Wildfires: Between 2000 and 2016, around 125 million more people were exposed to heat waves, and the average heat wave grew 0.37 days longer compared to heat waves between 1986 and 2008. Heat waves and wildfires in the U.S., Japan and Europe in 2018 killed more than 1,600 people.

Petra Gonzalez, 85, spends hours of the day standing and walking on the potholed road that runs past her house. To get food to cook, Gonzalez has to hike to a refrigerator up the hill, covered only by a blue tarp,, Aug. 28 2018. Sarah L. Voisin / The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

With more than a million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico facing devastating food stamp cuts as Congress fails to provide necessary hurricane relief funding, President Donald Trump reportedly complained to Republican senators on Tuesday that the island is receiving "too much" aid — a position that was decried as both false and cruel.

Read More Show Less
Oil drifting from the site of the former Taylor Energy oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana Environmental Action Network

By Ian MacDonald

Like generals planning for the last war, oil company managers and government inspectors tend to believe that because they survived the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, they are ready for all contingencies. Today they are expanding drilling into deeper and deeper waters, and the Trump administration is opening more offshore areas to production.

In fact, however, the worst-case scenario for an oil spill catastrophe is not losing control of a single well, as occurred in the BP disaster. Much more damage would be done if one or more of the thousand or so production platforms that now blanket the Gulf of Mexico were destroyed without warning by a deep-sea mudslide.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
View from space shows the Bomb Cyclone moving toward New England on Jan. 4, 2018. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

An extensive analysis of more than 2 billion U.S. Twitter posts found that people have short memories when it comes to what they consider "normal" weather, according to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Generally, people base their judgment of "normal" weather on what has happened in the last two to eight years rather than linking it to the climate record. This creates a disconnect with the historical weather events, potentially obscuring how people perceive climate change.

Read More Show Less
A sea turtle swims above a fragile coral reef in Wailea, Maui, Hawaii. M Swiet Productions / Moment / Getty Images

By Ilissa Ocko

The world's oceans are heating up. Scientists have found that 2018 was the hottest year ever recorded for our oceans, and that they are warming even faster than previously thought.

When documenting global warming trends, we often focus on air temperature. But the oceans actually absorb more than 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by human emissions of greenhouse gases. So if we really want to know how much our planet is warming up, we look to the oceans.

Read More Show Less
The USS Ashland, followed by the USS Green Bay, in the Philippine Sea on Jan. 21. U.S. Department of Defense

By Shana Udvardy

After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.

Read More Show Less
FEMA Director Brock Long testifying at a House hearing on disaster response in November 2018. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Brock Long, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director who oversaw the agency's controversial response to Hurricane Maria, announced his resignation Wednesday.

"It has been a great honor to serve our country as @fema Administrator for the past two years. While this has been the opportunity of the lifetime, it is time for me to go home to my family," Long said in a tweet announcing his departure.

Read More Show Less
A "chicken confinement system" in North Carolina. Friends of Family Farmers / CC BY-ND 2.0

North Carolina, a state known for the devastating environmental and public health impacts of industrial-scale hog production, now has more than twice as many poultry factory farms as swine operations, according to a new investigation from the Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance.

The groups' research found that in 2018, manure from 515.3 million chickens and turkeys joined the waste from 9.7 million hogs already fouling waters and threatening North Carolinians' health. By scouring satellite data, examining U.S. Department of Agriculture imagery and conducting site visits, EWG and Waterkeeper experts identified more than 4,700 poultry and about 2,100 swine concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOS.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored