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Here on Earth, weather disasters are topping the news. In Norway and Croatia, heavy rains caused severe flooding. In Spain, the third major heat wave of the summer caused temperatures in Valencia to reach 46 Celsius. Huge forest fires burned across Portugal. In China, numerous people were killed by flooding and mudslides from heavy rain, including 33 people who died in Beijing. Flooding in Myanmar since mid-July from monsoon rains has displaced tens of thousands.
Damage in Lahaina harbor on the island of Maui following a devastating wildfire | Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Hawai'i Pacific District 14
The world is celebrating that a major ecological disaster in the Red Sea, which threatened one of Earth’s largest marine ecosystems, has been averted. A decaying oil super tanker floating off the coast of Yemen had become a ticking time bomb, creating fears that it could rupture or explode. However, oil from the FSO Safer was successfully removed last week. The ship had been abandoned about eight years ago loaded with one million barrels of oil—four times more than the Exxon Valdez carried when it spilled off the coast of Alaska in 1989.
FSO Safer is a floating oil storage and offloading vessel that is moored in the Red Sea north of the Yemeni city of Al Hudaydah. | Credit: Holm Akhdar
As our planet changes, so also changes the vocabulary needed to describe it. Our lexicon includes words we might not have often uttered ten years ago—phrases like greenhouse gases, carbon footprint, or anthropogenic. Now try to imagine employing those words if you are a deaf student, teacher, or scientist using sign language. It could get quite cumbersome spelling out each character if a sign doesn’t exist.
Each of the new 200 signs that have been added to British Sign Languge have a video and definition. More signs will launch later in 2023. | Credit: The Royal Society
Contrails—short for condensation trails—are the wispy, white lines you see left behind planes as they travel across the sky. Contrails are not “chemtrails”— governments spraying us with substances for mind control—as conspiracy theorists would have you believe. However, those folks are right that contrails can be bad. They can trap heat in the atmosphere and add to the climate crisis. The 2022 IPCC report noted that contrails account for 35 percent of aviation's global warming impact.