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A for sale sign next to a home destroyed by a wildfire in Cedar Glen, California in 2003. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

For homeowners, it’s relatively easy to find out if a property is located in an area prone to disasters like flooding or earthquakes. But it hasn’t always been clear to know if a home is at risk of wildfires, despite more and more homes being destroyed by wildfires each year as climate change increases the risk of these disasters. Now, a new online tool will allow homeowners or those looking to buy a home to know how much wildfire risk a property faces.

Risk Factor is an online tool that allows homeowners to input an address and determine the property’s risk for wildfire and floods based on past disasters, ongoing risks and projections. The tool was created by nonprofit First Street Foundation, which aims to make climate risk easier to understand and take action against.

For homeowners, it’s relatively easy to find out if a property is located in an area prone to disasters like flooding or earthquakes. But it hasn’t always been clear to know if a home is at risk of wildfires, despite more and more homes being destroyed by wildfires each year as climate change increases the risk of these disasters. Now, a new online tool will allow homeowners or those looking to buy a home to know how much wildfire risk a property faces.

Risk Factor is an online tool that allows homeowners to input an address and determine the property’s risk for wildfire and floods based on past disasters, ongoing risks and projections. The tool was created by nonprofit First Street Foundation, which aims to make climate risk easier to understand and take action against.

While other maps exist to share general areas prone to wildfires, the new Risk Factor tool is unique in that it tracks specific addresses and ranks each property’s risk of flooding and fire on a scale from 1 to 10. From there, it includes risks for the general area, information about what kind of damage fires or floods could cause to the property and details on past fire and flood events in the area around the address.

“The First Street Foundation Wildfire Model determines any home’s probability of burning by identifying potential ignition points from both natural and man-made sources, calculating how local fuels, landscape, and fire intensity will contribute to flame spread and ember cast, and quantifies the risk to the structure based on whether the home was built before the implementation of modern fire codes, its building materials, and distance to nearby vegetation,” the Risk Factor website states.

According to First Street Foundation, flooding is the most expensive disaster in the U.S. at over $1 trillion, adjusted for inflation, in damage since 1980. Wildfires are the fastest-growing disaster, expected to cost $16 billion by 2029, three times higher than the previous decade.

The Risk Factor tool will provide its information for properties on Realtor.com and is set to expand to other real estate websites later, as reported by NPR. Buyers will be able to see past, current and projected events and risks for wildfires for the first time.

“The results are going to be surprising for some folks to say the least,” Matthew Eby, executive director of First Street Foundation, told NPR. “What we see is that in some areas that risk will double, triple, quadruple. And in areas that really have high levels of risk already, like California, we see almost a 50% increase.”

The tool isn’t perfect, but it can be helpful for climate risk mitigation. First Street Foundation also recommends using the Risk Factor tool together with other resources, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood maps, the USDA Forest Service’s WildfireRisk.org tool and other local risk resources.

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A vegan pizza from the restaurant Purezza in Brighton, UK. Purezza / Instagram

Move over Portland, Oregon… there’s a new vegan capital of the world. According to online cooking resource Chef’s Pencil, Brighton and Hove has been named the new global vegan hotspot for the first time.

This marks the first time that Chef’s Pencil has not named Portland or Bristol, UK as the vegan capital, and Brighton and Hove reportedly beat out other top contenders such as Seattle, Washington in the U.S. and Berlin in Germany.

Move over Portland, Oregon… there’s a new vegan capital of the world. According to online cooking resource Chef’s Pencil, Brighton and Hove has been named the new global vegan hotspot for the first time.

This marks the first time that Chef’s Pencil has not named Portland or Bristol, UK as the vegan capital, and Brighton and Hove reportedly beat out other top contenders such as Seattle, Washington in the U.S. and Berlin in Germany.

Why Brighton and Hove? According to Plant Based News, this city has more than 240 vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurants, including popular spots for plant-based pizza and even sushi. 

The data showed a recent drop in vegan-related searches after years of growth, but sales of plant-based foods have still been increasing. Chef’s Pencil researchers believe this is due to growing interest in flexitarianism, an adaptable diet that reduces overall meat intake in favor of more plant-based foods without eliminating animal products entirely.

“As flexitarianism becomes more mainstream, with 40% of European meat eaters planning to eat less meat, it’s no longer only vegans and vegetarians who are recognizing that every meal is an opportunity to eat more sustainably,” said Carlotte Lucas, corporate engagement manager at the Good Food Institute Europe.

Chef’s Pencil relies on data from Google Trends to determine vegan trends around the world, and searches showed the highest interest in veganism in Brighton and Hove. Researchers from Chef’s Pencil also found that the UK was leading the world as the most popular country for vegans, followed by Germany, Austria, New Zealand and Australia. The U.S. landed in the eleventh spot on the list.

It’s no surprise that the UK tops the charts, as many restaurants, even major fast food chains, are offering a growing amount of vegan items on their menus. Consumers can also find vegan options at every grocery store in the country.

“The amount of choice these days is mouth-watering,” said Derek Sarno, head of plant-based food innovation at the UK’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, as reported by Plant Based News. “Almost every category within supermarkets now has plant-based options, making it easier than ever for those considering or switching to embracing more meat-free days of the week.”

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A donkey in South America. Cameris / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A new report has found traders illegally selling donkey skins on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. According to the investigation, donkey skins are in high demand for ejiao, a traditional Chinese remedy.

Traders are ignoring bans on sales of donkey skins, including in Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, even listing the animal parts in high quantities on social media. On Facebook, a trader in Kenya listed 2,000 donkey skins for sale on Facebook at $40 per skin. Many sellers even acknowledge the illegality of the sales in their advertising and communications with potential buyers, outlining exactly how they avoid punishment.

A new report has found traders illegally selling donkey skins on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. According to the investigation, donkey skins are in high demand for ejiao, a traditional Chinese remedy.

Traders are ignoring bans on sales of donkey skins, including in Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, even listing the animal parts in high quantities on social media. On Facebook, a trader in Kenya listed 2,000 donkey skins for sale on Facebook at $40 per skin. Many sellers even acknowledge the illegality of the sales in their advertising and communications with potential buyers, outlining exactly how they avoid punishment.

“Donkey skin is prohibited in Kenya as of now and we ship under total discretion alongside heavy bribery to the port authorities. Chinese residents are completely banned dealing with donkey skin in Kenya. We have 2,000 skins available now and priced at $40 per skin. If you are interested, we can start shipping smaller quantities to avoid too much questioning. We can start with 500 skins,” a supplier told investigators from The Donkey Sanctuary, which published the report.

The donkey skins are sought after to make a form of gelatin for ejiao, which is believed to have medicinal properties, as reported by The Guardian. According to the report, published by The Donkey Sanctuary, 20 countries have trade deals with China to allow for donkey skin trading, but China is receiving donkey skins from over 50 countries.

The investigation also found over 382 individual vendors listing donkey skins for sale online, along with other wildlife parts. Over 20% of the vendors selling donkey skins online were selling parts from a total of 11 other species, including endangered species such as pangolins, elephants, and tigers. Aside from skins, traders were illegally selling furs, teeth, scales, tusks, and even live cheetah cubs.

Social media and online websites are failing to crack down on the illegal trading. According to the report, many platforms that joined the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online with a commitment to reduce these sales by 80% have not come close to meeting the target.

“Online trading platforms have a greater role to play in detecting and addressing illegal activity occurring on their sites,” the report said. “Until they do, the donkey skin trade will continue to act as a Trojan horse for the sale and shipping of wildlife products.”

Each year, an estimated 4.8 million donkeys are slaughtered for the donkey skin trade. The theft and murder of these donkeys hurts communities that rely on the animals for their livelihoods, and the unhygienic slaughtering process puts public health at risk. Further, the report noted that the donkey skin trade is often tied with other highly organized international crimes, including illegal selling of other wildlife, hardwoods, and Class A drugs.

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