Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. has taken the nation by storm. Bill McKibben credits the Pope for "minor miracles on the climate front," galvanizing the public into taking action on climate change. McKibben notes a 50-fold increase over last year in fossil fuel divestments, and even Leonardo DiCaprio announced that he was divesting. In his first public address yesterday, the Pope already honed in on his climate message and endorsed President Obama's Clean Power Plan.
Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor as the Pope touched down in Washington, DC to praise the Pope's advocacy work. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. hailed the Pope's call to tackle climate change as a "moral imperative." Bill McKibben pointed out that it's probably no coincidence that Hillary Clinton chose the day of the Pope's arrival to announce her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. And both Senate Democrats and House Republicans submitted climate bills ahead of the Pope's visit. Though, certainly the Pope has his critics. At least one Republican Congressman is boycotting the speech.
Today, marking the first time ever a Pope has addressed Congress, Pope Francis is speaking to a joint session in which he is expected to ruffle some feathers on both sides of the aisle.
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California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
For a deeper dive:
- Bond Fire South of LA Forces 25,000 to Flee - EcoWatch ›
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- 10 Wildfires Ignite Around Los Angeles in Unseasonable Wind and ... ›
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By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.