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The coronavirus is followed by flood, drought and famine. Forecasts for 2020 are getting darker

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Drought, fires, locust invasions, hurricanes and floods. Global warming continues. In 2020, the coronavirus alone was clearly not enough for the planet…

The pandemic that has covered all countries is not the only natural disaster that will plague our planet. A snowy winter, brought in low water on rivers and lakes, threatens droughts, and this will inevitably entail a significant reduction in yields, which for countries with an agricultural economy threatens with real hunger. Meteorologists warn that this year we should expect a wide variety of abnormal natural phenomena – from monstrous hurricanes and floods, to drought and locust invasions.

At any other time, the world would have no difficulty coping with the elements. But just not now, when the coronavirus pandemic takes away all the forces. Business and transport seemed to have hibernated. And now, any natural disaster can be a real disaster. Moreover, it will have to cope without the help of the international community.

After all, even money now may not solve the problems – transport and trade in the world are practically frozen. Ships with cargo stopped at raids, planes fly only as a last resort, traffic volumes fell in some areas by more than 20%.

Bans on the export of medicines and food have been introduced, many countries are blocking the financing of even planetary projects, for example, the United States refused to finance WHO.

Global warming

Humanity on Earth as if hibernated. But natural processes go on and do not stop for a moment. And the worst in recent years remains global warming. The largest observation stations indicate that March was perhaps the warmest month since 1880 in the entire history of observations. Moreover, people have nothing to do with it – traffic flows are significantly reduced.

The oceans are heating up. In March of this year, it became 0.8 ° C warmer than usual. It is known that hurricanes are born over warm streams in the ocean. And the warmer the current. The more powerful the hurricane. This year, they already managed to “pat” the US coast, and the time of the hurricane season has not yet arrived …

It is known that over warm waters it rains more often and more abundantly than over land – which means that continents are waiting for drought. The increased temperature of the western waters of the Indian Ocean is dangerous because it can cause dry summers and forest fires in Australia, and in the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean they can cause fires in the Amazon.

Global warming is not scary in itself. It upsets the balance of the natural cycle: hotter and drier in summer, harsher and colder in winter. Any wind can turn into a hurricane, rain – into a flood and flood. It is enough to recall the last year, which became the hottest ever recorded. Moreover, this has been going on for at least the second ten years – since the beginning of the XXI century 11 summer temperature records have been recorded.

The rains that began only this week do not have time to fill the reservoirs in Romania and Ukraine to at least an average level, drought is already tormenting French agricultural land

In Germany, the situation is not much better, but the authorities are in no hurry to sound the alarm.

Russia and Kazakhstan, leaders in wheat production in the world, are restricting grain exports, fearing a shortage of this crop in the domestic market due to increased demand and uncontrolled exports.

Long dry weather, of course, is not only a minus, but also a plus – “green” electricity is becoming an increasingly significant part in energy consumption and, therefore, the supply of electricity from thermal plants is becoming smaller, which, of course, has a great impact on the environment.

It\’s not only dry in Europe: America also suffers from a lack of rain. Texas, California, and Oregon are already talking about a drought of the second degree, and the third degree is already plaguing a dozen southern and central states.

True, the state of crops in the world can not be called catastrophic – at least two months ahead, decisive for the ripening of food crops around the world. Record harvests of the past also inspire understandable optimism.

All would be well if the coronavirus pandemic did not supplement the picture with bright colors. She violated the usual patterns of moving freight flows from global to local — warehouse workers, truck drivers, aircraft and ship crews are ill. Which, of course, sharply reduced transportation.

The situation is not even better for farmers – the crops of early crops ripened, which there is no one to harvest and export – labor migrants returned to their countries during quarantine. Poles do not go to Germany, Ukrainians go to Poland, Moroccans cannot get to Spain to harvest strawberries … And this problem is still far from being resolved, which threatens a much worse crisis than it did in 2007–2008 or 2010–2012 years.

Famine and Locust

The threatening food crisis is becoming a hefty problem for rich countries — difficulties in logistics cause a reduction in aid to poor countries. True, even without the appearance of coronavirus, the world lived in anticipation of one of the largest humanitarian crises. But now the likelihood of such a course of events has increased significantly. At least 30 of the poorest countries will experience massive hunger in 2020. This may affect at least every eighth inhabitant of the planet. And then help will need to increase dramatically.

The largest humanitarian organization in the world “feeds” every day about 100 million people. If this help is not available, almost 300 thousand will die of hunger every day …

But this is not all the disasters that await us in 2020. It would seem that hunger, drought and a pandemic are enough. But no … Another “Egyptian plague” raised its head – locust invasions.

By the beginning of 2020, 23 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East were already suffering from the appearance of these huge gluttonous insects. And this was only the first wave. Now the world is waiting with horror for the second – in Kenya, Iran, Ethiopia … Harvest in many countries of Africa and Asia, not all will survive.

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Planet Earth

Geologists have confirmed a strange unprecedented “boomerang” earthquake deep under the Atlantic Ocean

Earthquakes come and go, often leaving destruction behind. What they luckily don’t usually do is turn around immediately and come back for another push. Except … it looks like they can do it on very rare occasions.

In a new study, scientists have uncovered evidence of an unusual and almost unprecedented boomerang earthquake that shook the deep seafloor under the Atlantic Ocean in 2016.

This earthquake, dubbed “reverse super-shear rupture”, occurred along the Romansh fracture. It is an area that lies near the equator, about halfway between the east coast of Brazil and the west coast of Africa.

The rift, which stretches about 900 kilometers between the South American and African tectonic plates, adjacent to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, caused a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in August 2016, which was detected by underwater seismometers in the region, as well as by remote monitoring stations.

Analysis of the signals reveals that this was not an ordinary earthquake, but a strange earthquake that went one way before turning around and returning and with a significant increase in speed.

“While scientists have found that this reverse rupture mechanism is possible on the basis of theoretical models, our new study provides some of the clearest evidence that this mysterious mechanism actually occurs,” Stephen Hicks said, lead researcher and seismologist of Imperial College London.

According to the analysis of seismic data, the 2016 earthquake had two separate phases.

First, the rip extended upward and eastward towards the weak point where the rip zone meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Then, in a sudden U-turn, an “unusual westward propagation” occurred, with the tremors returning to the center of the fault and at significantly accelerated “super-shear” velocities of up to 6 kilometers per second.

“Even though the structure of the fault appears to be simple, the quake grew differently, and it was completely the opposite of how we expected the quake to look before we started analyzing the data.”

While the team’s explanation for how this boomerang unfolded remains speculative so far, the researchers speculate that the first, deep phase of the quake released enough fracture energy to initiate a reversal of the rift in the shallower, western underwater terrain.

“Either both sections of the fault were preseismically loaded enough to promote seismogenic failure, or the deeper SE1 fracture instantly increased static stress, immediately causing the shallower portion of SE2 to collapse,” the authors explain in their paper.

Although earthquakes propagating in the opposite direction have been studied by seismologists before, so far there has been little evidence of their existence, and this phenomenon is mainly observed in theoretical modeling.

Finding this type in the real world – in the middle of the ocean – is the first of its kind, not to mention the boomerang that returned at super shear speed.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time this has been reported,” geophysicist Yoshihiro Kaneko of GNS Science in New Zealand, who was not part of the research team, told National Geographic.

The results are reported to Nature Geoscience.

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Planet Earth

What is the real cause of explosions and fires around the world in the past few days?

What has caused all these giant explosions and apocalyptic fires in China, North Korea, Lebanon, India, USA, Iraq, Iran over the past few days?

China

It all began on August 3, 2020 in the Chinese province of Hubei, where an instant explosion at a chemical plant killed at least six people and injured four. The reason is under investigation.

North Korea

This first explosion was followed a few hours later by a giant explosion following a possible “gas leak” in Hyesan, Yangan Province, North Korea, killing 9 people and injuring at least 30 residents. The reason is being investigated.

Lebanon

The next day, the port area of ​​Beirut, Lebanon, was destroyed by a giant explosion, killing more than 140 people and injuring thousands.

India

Also on the afternoon of August 4, 2020, an explosion caused panic among residents living around the Vijayshree Pharma Company plant in the Rambilli Zone FEZ in Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India. The reason is being investigated.

Great Britain

On 4 August, an explosion occurred again in the middle of a residential street in Birmingham, UK, causing smoke and fireballs to rise into the air and residents fleeing to seek refuge. The explosion was so strong that fire alarms went off in the houses.

United States of America

Finally, on Tuesday, firefighters put out a massive fire in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, that engulfed a building under construction. When the firefighters arrived at about 4:20 am, the flames were flying high into the air, and the glow was visible for miles.

Iran

A fire broke out on Tuesday inside three industrial warehouses east of Tehran. The fire destroyed production materials, including lumber and leather.

Then, on August 5, at least seven ships burst into flames at a shipyard in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr. According to reports, the reason remains unclear, no casualties.

United Arab Emirates

On 5 August 2020, on Wednesday evening at 18:30, a fire broke out in a market in the emirate of Ajman, 50 km from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The reason is being investigated.

China

A gas pipeline exploded and several roads collapsed after torrential rains flooded parts of Yulin, a city in China’s northwestern Shaanxi province. Local authorities evacuated about 600 people from the area. The reason is being investigated.

United States of America

On the same day in Midland, Texas, an investigation is under way of an explosion and subsequent fire in an oil storage facility. The reason is also unknown.

Iraq

Again, on August 6, 2020, a major fire broke out in over 20 wholesale market warehouses in Najaf, Iraq. The reasons are being investigated.

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Planet Earth

Geneticists have clarified the origin of American slaves

Frame from the movie "Django Unchained" - imdb.com

It is the largest study of DNA from people living in the Americas. It shows where the slaves came from in the United States and reveals the details of their abuse.

The work includes information on 50 thousand people, of which 30 thousand are of African origin. The article, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics , serves as “evidence that genetics can shed light on history,” said Alondra Nelson, professor of social sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

The study began with the work of Joanna Mountain, senior director of research at the company 23andMe. Together with the team, she created a genetic database, which included mainly information about the company’s clients, whose grandparents were born in regions where slavery flourished. Dr. Stephen Micheletti, the geneticist at 23andMe who led the study, compared it to data from the Slave Travels digital project, which contains information about the people brought in: information on ports of embarkation and disembarkation, the number of enslaved men, women and children. He also collaborated with historians to learn more about the plight of African regions, such as contemporary Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the 17th and 19th centuries.

Scientists have found out: the DNA of the study participants from the United States showed their Nigerian origin. This means that there are far more ships that transported enslaved people directly to America from Nigeria than would be expected based on historical records. 

At first, historians “could not believe how many Nigerian ancestors were there in the United States,” Micheletti said. 

Later, after consulting with experts, the study authors learned that slaves were first sent to the British Caribbean Islands, and only then sold to the Americans.

Percentage of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Red denotes the descendants of slaves from Senegal and Gambia, blue - from the west coast of Africa, green - from Nigeria, orange - from Congo / © Stephen Micheletti
Percentage of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Red denotes the descendants of slaves from Senegal and Gambia, blue – from the west coast of Africa, green – from Nigeria, orange – from Congo / © Stephen Micheletti

Experts estimate that more than half of the people were brought into the United States and Latin America from West Africa. The study found that the modern black population is genetically related to six regions, among them Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria and Benin. Moreover, according to historical sources, there were more regions from which slaves were exported.

The work also showed that the brought women made a much greater contribution to the modern gene pool than men, although there were much fewer of them. Scientists have calculated that in the United States there are 1.5 times more descendants of slaves, and in Latin America and the Caribbean – 13-17 times. Moreover, in the United States, European men have influenced the modern gene pool of people of African descent three times more than European women, and 25 times more in the Caribbean.

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