In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

Yasuni National Park

Amazon rainforest in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador. (© Lucas Bustamante)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. Major Trump administration climate report says damage is ‘intensifying across the country’

Authors of the National Climate Assessment, published last week by the Trump administration, warn that climate change is already affecting the country, and will get worse in the future.

The story: The report, a congressionally mandated document, was the first climate report of its kind to be published during this administration, Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney reported in The Washington Post last week. The authors say that climate change is behind deadly wildfires, hurricanes and heat waves that are already devastating the United States and will worsen if no action is taken.

The big picture: This report contradicts much of the Trump administration’s actions, such as the rolling back of environmental regulations, incentivizing fossil fuel production and the planned withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The report was released on Black Friday, one of the slowest news days, in order to dodge public attention, Dennis and Mooney wrote.

“This is further evidence that we need to get serious about climate change – it’s not going to be easy, but it’s both possible and necessary,” Shyla Raghav, a climate expert at Conservation International, said. “While the president may not acknowledge that climate change is an important issue, our government has spoken in this report. We’ve tended to consider climate change as a distant problem that’ll mostly affect developing or low-lying countries. This report corroborates that climate change is an issue that affects each and every one of us – even those of us in the United States. And its solutions come from all of us as well.”

Read the story here.

  1. Brazil records worst annual deforestation for a decade

Deforestation in Brazil rose 13.7 percent from last year.

The story: From August 2017 to July 2018, 7,900 square kilometers (XXX square miles) were deforested, an area roughly the size of 987,000 football fields, Dom Phillips reported in The Guardian last week. This is the highest level of deforestation Brazil has experienced in the past decade, and when president-elect Jair Bolsonaro takes office in January, experts expect that it will increase even more.

The big picture: The destruction of the Amazon has far-reaching effects: It is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, affects rainfall and water cycles all the way to California, and it stores large amounts of carbon — preventing our Earth from warming even faster.

Read the story here.


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  1. ‘Like a terror movie’: How climate change will cause more simultaneous disasters

A new study found that climate change could have compounding effects in some parts of the world — hitting areas with more than one natural disaster at a time.

The story: The study found that the some of the effects of climate change, including heat waves, wildfires, sea-level rise, drought and freshwater scarcity, could end up happening in the same area at the same time, John Schwartz wrote in The New York Times last week. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Florida has suffered drought, record temperatures, wildfires and a hurricane recently.

The big picture: If this compounding effect is already happening in some regions of the world, it’s only going to get worse, the authors warn. If humans do not take quickly unprecedented action against climate change, by 2100, areas of South and Central America could be hit by six climate change effects at the same time.

Read the story here.

Olivia DeSmit is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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