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In addition to being the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in 100 years, the disaster on Maui is likely to have devastating effects on the island’s ecosystems. Maui has some of the oldest coral reefs in all of Hawai'i, which could be killed from ash and runoff from the fire. Also, as the Guardian reports, invertebrates that feed on plankton might ingest contaminants, mistaking them for food.
Lahaina, Maui, August 10, 2023 | Credit: U.S. National Guard media by Master Sgt. Andrew Jackson
Recent research shows that those who live in areas with wildfire smoke have an increased risk of developing dementia. A new study examined different sources of contaminants, including those from traffic and coal combustion. They found small particles from wildfires and agriculture are more damaging to the brain than the others. The study looked at tiny inhalable particles, 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Smoke from wildfires has already been known to worsen lung conditions like asthma and COPD and can increase risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also cause inflammation in the liver, kidneys, and other organs, in addition to the new evidence of its effects on the brain.
Credit: Malachi Brooks/Unsplash
The aloe vera plant (Aloe barbadensis) has been used for centuries to moisturize skin, improve gut health, and heal wounds. But while the plant’s sap is in high demand for its health and beauty properties, the rinds are tossed out as agricultural waste, which if left to rot, release methane and contribute to the climate crisis.
Aloe rinds, like those pictured here, contain bioactive compounds that could be used to deter insects from feasting on agricultural fields. | Credit: Nazmul Huda
To keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and avoid climate catastrophe, we need not only to reduce emissions as soon as possible but also, as most experts agree, to remove carbon already in the atmosphere. One way to get there is by planting more trees, but according to new research, we should also be planting…rocks.
Enhanced rock weathering improves soil health, sequesters carbon, and combats ocean acidification. | Credit: AGU