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Hurricane Maria may be U.S. preview of climate-fueled migration
Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico may offer a preview for Americans of one of the most jarring potential consequences of global warming: the movement of large numbers of people pushed out of their homes by the effects of climate change.
The storm, which destroyed houses, washed away roads and cut off power to the commonwealth’s 3.4 million residents, risks accelerating an exodus that’s already under way as people flee economic stagnation and rising taxes brought on by a fiscal and debt crisis.
On Tuesday, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello warned that without “unprecedented relief” from the U.S. government, “thousands if not millions” of residents could leave the island for the mainland. That would strain housing and job markets in the cities that received…
UN, businesses to expand cooperation on crises
United Nations aid and development chiefs, government officials, and business leaders today pledged to expand cooperation in preparing for and responding to crises through new networks engaging the private sector.
“We cannot afford not to involve the private sector in humanitarian response,” UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner said. “Some 43 percent of people now live in areas especially vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters and crises or in areas of conflict, and by 2030 that number is expected to climb to a staggering 62 percent.”
“Economic losses from natural disasters alone stand at US$314 billion annually. These challenges pose major risks to the private sector, and small and medium-sized companies are especially vulnerable,” he said.
Resulting risks to the world’s poorest people are high: Micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises account for 60-70 percent of all jobs globally and are the main income providers for people earning less than US$10 per day.
“Over recent years, global humanitarian needs have reached record highs,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark…
Tsunami carried Japanese animals to US
After Japan’s devastating 2011 tsunami, the receding waters pulled countless pieces of debris into the Pacific Ocean. That flotsam became “rafts” for endemic Japanese species on an unexpected 7,000-kilometer voyage. Researchers have recorded 289 separate species which they say survived the trip from Japan to Hawaii or the US West coast.
Among those species were fish, mussels, snails, worms, crabs and algae. Some of them survived up to six years at sea. Many reproduced during the voyage.
The species were discovered on more than 600 separate “objects” surveyed on the US Pacific coast by a team led by James Carlton of Williams College.
The objects included anything from small pieces of plastic to entire ships and even structures from harbors and marinas, such as a dock that washed up on the coast of the US state of Oregon.
How did they get there? Once the tsunami’s waters had pulled these objects into the ocean, currents sent them along on a subsequent journey of 7,000 kilometers or more.
One of the participating researchers, John Chapman from Oregon State University, described a sense of “shock” upon seeing so many species survive the journey – but also worry.
“The crustaceans and bivalves are of particular concern because they could introduce new diseases, and compete with, displace or otherwise affect our oyster or mussel populations…