In the midst of fear and isolation, we are learning that profound, positive change is possible. By Rebecca Solnit
Disasters begin suddenly and never really end. The future will not, in crucial ways, be anything like the past, even the very recent past of a month or two ago. Our economy, our priorities, our perceptions will not be what they were at the outset of this year. The particulars are startling: companies such as GE and Ford retooling to make ventilators, the scramble for protective gear, once-bustling city streets becoming quiet and empty, the economy in freefall. Things that were supposed to be unstoppable stopped, and things that were supposed to be impossible – extending workers’ rights and benefits, freeing prisoners, moving a few trillion dollars around in the US – have already happened. The word “crisis” means, in medical terms, the crossroads a patient reaches, the point at which she will either take the road to recovery or to death. The word “emergency” comes from “emergence” or “emerge”, as if you were ejected from the familiar and urgently need to reorient. The word “catastrophe” comes from a root meaning a sudden overturning.
The annual Australia’s Environment report finds last year’s heat and drought caused unprecedented damage Record heat and drought across Australia delivered the worst environmental conditions across the country since at least 2000, with river flows, tree cover and wildlife being hit on an “unprecedented scale”, according to a new report. The index of environmental conditions in Australia scored 2019 at 0.8 out of 10 – the worst result across all the years analysed from 2000.
There’s a kind of hush all over the world as the reduction in human activity stops the Earth buzzing so much
The dramatic quietening of towns and cities in has changed the way the Earth moves beneath our feet, scientists say. Seismologists at the have found that their sensors are twitching less now that human activity has been curtailed, leading to a drop in the anthropogenic din that vibrates through the planet. In theory, this reduction in noise means we should be able to detect more earthquakes in the UK, in Europe and all around the world
Exclusive: Poor air quality contributed to 400 deaths and more than 4,000 hospital attendances, research in Medical Journal of Australia shows Smoke pollution that for many months during the bushfire crisis may have killed more than 400 people, according to the first published estimate of the scale of health impacts – more than 10 times the number killed by the fires themselves. The figures, published in the , are “definitely alarming”, according to Chris Migliaccio, who studies the long-term effects of wildfire smoke at the University of Montana in Missoula and was not involved in the research.
A year after eastern Zimbabwe was devastated by one of the worst storms on record, many people remain amid the wreckage living in makeshift shelters The sound of the rising wind and the heavy rain trigger fear at Garikai camp in Ngangu, Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe. Villagers here are haunted by traumatic memories of the aftermath of the cyclone that swept over this region last March, when they were forced to bury the dead in makeshift coffins. Some people have never found their loved ones.
From the mega-rich to ‘prepsteaders’, Bradley Garrett has spent the last four years with people preparing for the end of the world. What can they teach us about our current crisis? “Nothing sets your priorities straight better than a disaster,” says . “Making sure your basics are covered, making sure your loved ones are cared for. These are the things that matter. Going back to survival mode is a good thing … We’re going to be in lockdown for some months. But although the worst-case scenarios are terrifying, we will survive as a species. And we will learn.” A California geographer and urban explorer, Garrett has spent the past four years researching his book , which will be published in August. The research has involved hanging out with millenarian fruitcakes, disaster profiteers and the uber-rich, not to mention tooled-up, swivel-eyed anarcho-libertarians from America to Australia. Garrett became known in 2012 for climbing the Shard before it opened. As part of his ethnographical research into hidden aspects of cities he joined a . In 2014, he during sorties into disused London Underground tunnels and published .
People are increasingly looking to restore the soil’s ability to retain water, planting trees and hedges, and creating relief channels to tackle the recurring threat of high waters There is ponding on nearly every field in the valley where the rivers Severn and Vyrnwy meet on the English-Welsh border. Swollen rivers have been sluggishly sitting in the valley for months. Inhabitants’ attempts to protect their homes from flooding are part of a losing battle played out across the country. The UK’s flooding this year is a story of desperation – but also hope, says John Hughes, development manager at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, who works in the valley. Following widespread acceptance of the , Hughes believes people are increasingly looking to nature for solutions. We need to take a holistic view – land can do many, many things Not one size fits all. It must be an open discussion Wiggly rivers move more slowly. We’re delaying flood peak
As rivers and wildflower meadows in the UK struggle to recover from repeated flooding, the ecosystems they support are collapsing For 900 years, Lugg and Hampton wildflower meadows in Herefordshire have bloomed into a wash of colour in spring. These fertile meadows were highly prized, and the Norman lords who owned them used the hay crop to help fund Hereford’s cathedrals, churches and castles. The secret to their wonderful bounty was the flowing through the middle, fertilising the valley floor with lime and silt each winter it flooded. But this longstanding system is broken. This winter the valley was submerged under several feet of chocolate-coloured water. It has been flooded almost continuously since October, turning the 120-hectare (297-acre) reserve into an inland lake, with just the tops of gates and fence posts peeping out of the water. Now, as spring approaches, the water is still several inches deep and swans and gulls frolic where mice and rabbits would have burrowed six months earlier.
Exclusive: Mass bleaching seen along Great Barrier Reef could mark start of global-scale event, expert warns Rising ocean temperatures could have pushed the world’s tropical coral reefs over a tipping point where they are hit by bleaching on a “near-annual” basis, according to the head of a US government agency program that monitors the globe’s coral reefs. Dr Mark Eakin, coordinator of at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Guardian Australia there was a risk that could mark the start of another global-scale bleaching event.
It’s been a shitty, exhausting day on the . I feel like an art lover wandering through the Louvre....as it burns to the ground.
The end of winter is normally prime tree-tapping time for New York maple farmers. But as climate change accelerates, hotter winters make it harder for farmers to pull sap from the trees and threaten to end the production season early.