EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Mentioned by:
Nasa Smithsonian BBC The Washington Post NPR

Gas and steam erupt from the Halemaumau Crater of the Kilauea Volcano on December 21, 2020 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Andrew Richard Hara / Getty Images

Kilauea, a large volcano on the Island of Hawai'i (or Big Island) and one of the most active in the world, erupted Sunday night following a series of earthquakes, CNN reported.

The eruption sent lava shooting into the air, along with a huge cloud of ash and steam. Hawaiian officials urged residents to stay indoors shortly after the eruption.

Kilauea, a large volcano on the Island of Hawai’i (or Big Island) and one of the most active in the world, erupted Sunday night following a series of earthquakes, CNN reported.


The eruption sent lava shooting into the air, along with a huge cloud of ash and steam. Hawaiian officials urged residents to stay indoors shortly after the eruption.

“Trade winds will push any embedded ash toward the Southwest. Fallout is likely in the Kau District in Wood Valley, Pahala, Naalehu and Ocean View. Stay indoors,” an official from Civil Defense Agency tweeted, according to CNN.

However, the lava posed little risk to residents due to the eruption’s location on Halemaumau within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the AP reported.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, (HVO) which monitors activity at Kilauea and its sister volcano Mauna Kea, issued a red aviation code alert after the initial eruption, but has since lowered it to an orange alert, meaning another significant eruption may still be possible.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) also reported a 4.4 magnitude earthquake that struck about an hour after the initial eruption. The USGS received more than 500 reports from people who felt the earthquake, but no major damage has been reported, according to the AP.

Kilauea last erupted in May 2018. That event involved a period of earthquakes and eruptions lasting for four months, creating lava flows that destroyed more than 700 homes, the AP reported.

The 2018 activity also caused Halemaumau’s longtime lava lake to drain, according to the AP. In 2019, a new body of water was discovered in Kilauea’s crater, leading to speculation about future eruptions, the New York Times found.

Jessica Ferracane, a Hawaii Volcanoes National Park spokeswoman, told the AP that curious park spectators should take precautions. “There are high amounts of hazardous sulfur dioxide gas and particulates and those are billowing out of the crater right now and those present a danger to everyone, especially people with heart or respiratory problems, infants, young children and pregnant women.”

Despite 67 confirmed eruptions around the world in 2020, experts at the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program say this number is normal.

HVO confirmed that Kilauea summit eruptions can last more than a decade, based on 200 years of tracking.

Read More
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Met Office Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership Programme / YouTube

2021 is forecasted to be slightly colder worldwide than years previous, according to meteorologists at the United Kingdom Meteorological Office, but will still be one the hottest on record due to greenhouse gas effects.

A La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean will cause strong winds to blow warm surface water around the equator westward, making the ocean temperature a few degrees colder. The variance in ocean temperature during a La Niña winter can cause temperature changes worldwide. It will likely increase rainfall in Australia, Indonesia, and eastern Asia, while drier conditions will likely occur in the southwestern U.S.

2021 is forecasted to be slightly colder worldwide than years previous, according to meteorologists at the United Kingdom Meteorological Office, but will still be one the hottest on record due to greenhouse gas effects.


A La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean will cause strong winds to blow warm surface water around the equator westward, making the ocean temperature a few degrees colder. The variance in ocean temperature during a La Niña winter can cause temperature changes worldwide. It will likely increase rainfall in Australia, Indonesia, and eastern Asia, while drier conditions will likely occur in the southwestern U.S.

Forecasters calculate the hottest years by comparing temperatures before and after the industrial era of 1850-1900, when greenhouse gases became mostly human-made from automobiles, factories, and large-scale agriculture.

“The global temperature for 2021 is unlikely to be a record year due to the influence of the current La Niña, but it will be far warmer than other past La Niña years such as 2011 and 2000 due to global warming,” Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office, told the BBC.

But next year is predicted to be still above 1 degree Celsius preindustrial levels — empirical proof greenhouse gases cause hotter temperatures and climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated a 0.2°C increase in global temperature every decade since the industrial era, due to human activities.

Around the U.S., the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a milder winter, with average to “warmer-than-normal” temperatures for most of the country, while New England, the desert Southwest, and the Pacific Southwest will be a bit chillier than normal in the winter.

According to the BBC, 2016 remains the warmest year on record. 2020 and 2019 are both contenders for second place.

Read More

The Trump administration cites 161 vulnerable species that are already waiting in line ahead of monarch butterflies. Steve Satushek / Getty Images

The Trump administration said Tuesday that federal protection for monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act is still a few years away. The reason? The administration cited 161 vulnerable species that are already waiting in line ahead of monarchs.

Monarchs will likely have to wait until 2023 to be added by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Reuters reported. The federal agency oversees listing endangered species.

The Trump administration said Tuesday that federal protection for monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act is still a few years away. The reason? The administration cited 161 vulnerable species that are already waiting in line ahead of monarchs.


Monarchs will likely have to wait until 2023 to be added by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Reuters reported. The federal agency oversees listing endangered species.

“Protection for monarchs is needed — and warranted — now,” said George Kimbrell, legal director at the Center for Food Safety, Reuters reported.

Monarch butterfly populations have exponentially decreased in the past decade, mostly due to habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change. For example, North America’s Eastern monarch butterflies traditionally migrate up to 3,000 miles every year from the eastern U.S. to Mexico to spend the winter, but migration numbers are falling.

Overall, the Western monarch population declined by more than 97 percent to fewer than 30,000 between 1997 and 2019, Reuters reported, while the Eastern U.S. population declined 84 percent during the same period.

“We conducted an intensive, thorough review using a rigorous, transparent science-based process and found that the monarch meets listing criteria under the Endangered Species Act,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith told CBS News. “However, before we can propose listing, we must focus resources on our higher-priority listing actions.”

Monarch butterflies may not have the time to wait.

“Forty-seven species have gone extinct waiting for their protection to be finalized,” Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, told CBS News. “This decision continues the delay in implementing a national recovery plan which monarchs desperately need.”

A decline in milkweed plants partly explains the falling monarch numbers. Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed, but the plants are being killed off thanks to farmers spraying Roundup, a common herbicide, on their crops, The New York Times reported. Milkweed generally grows in between crops and cannot survive Roundup. It doesn’t help that affected farmland is also prime monarch breeding ground.

In the meantime, there are numerous environmental groups and citizen efforts working to protect the species, including farmers paid by the federal government to maintain pollinator habitats. As adults, monarch butterflies pollinate many types of wild flowers. However, monarchs will have to wait for federal protection before herbicide use is regulated in their habitats. This is key to saving monarchs from extinction.

“One, we restore a lot of habitat,” Chip Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch, told the New York Times.

“And two, we try to convince our fellow citizens and particularly our politicians that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.”

Read More
Spinning icon while loading more posts.