Beijing’s ‘sandstorm’ was actually a dust storm – and that’s much worse
The skies in Beijing turned orange recently, thanks to what was widely reported as a massive sandstorm.
The problem, at least in terms of public health, is that it was not actually a sandstorm. It was a dust storm. This might sound like an act of geological pedantry, but it represents a crucial difference, and it comes down to a question of size. Sand grains are mineral particles greater than 0.06mm in diameter – the sort that scratches your ankles on a windy day at the beach and ends up spoiling the picnic by feeling crunchy in your sandwiches. Dust is potentially a far more serious issue than blowing sand.
Dust particles (or silt and clay as many geologists would term them) are those smaller grains, which would feel silky to the touch, and don’t scratch the skin. Crucially, these smaller, lighter grains may travel much, much further…
Natural disasters occurring three times more often than 50 years ago: new FAO report
New and unprecedented forms of natural disasters are most heavily felt in the agricultural industry, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Thursday.
At no other point in history have agri-food systems faced more hazards such as megafires, extreme weather, unusually large desert locust swarms, and emerging biological threats, as during the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor have they been seen at such frequency, intensity, and complexity, the agency said in a new report .
These disasters devastate agricultural livelihoods, inflicting cascading negative economic consequences from household to national levels, that could potentially endure for generations. According to FAO, disasters happen three times more often today, than in the 1970s and 1980s.
Agriculture absorbs a disproportionate 63 per cent share of their impact, compared to other sectors, such as tourism, commerce and industry…