Maui Wildfires Blaze, Persian Gulf Region Suffers Under Brutal Heat

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Below are a few stories on extreme weather around the world from Nexus Media. Enjoy … or not.

Lahaina, Hawaii, Devastated By Fire

Rampaging wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui have killed at least 36 people and devastated Lahaina, the former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and a popular tourism destination. The fires, supercharged as though with a bellows by winds from Hurricane Dora hundreds of miles away, are incinerating fuel desiccated by months of drought.

Lahaina was an important political and cultural center even before the foundation of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1795, and was a central point of resistance against American occupation and annexation, as well as the displacement of subsistence fishing by the whaling industry, in the late 19th century.

“Our home is on fire right now. There needs to be more action and more investment,” Kaniela Ing, co-founder of the Native Hawaiian-focused organization Our Hawaii and a seventh-generation Kānaka Maoli, or indigenous Hawaiian, told NBC. “People hit first and worse by the climate crisis tend to be Black, indigenous and low-income. Yet we’re the keepers of the knowledge of how to build a society that wouldn’t cause ecological collapse and societal doom.”

Sources: (Lahaina devastation: NBC, Hawaii News Now, KHON; Drought and climate change: New York Times $, Washington Post $; Additional coverage: The Conversation, AP, USA Today, Reuters, Washington Post $, The Independent, CNN; Climate Signals background: Wildfires, Drought)

Courtesy of Nexus Media.

People are fleeing into the sea to escape raging wildfires on Maui and Hawaii’s Big Island. “The fire can be a mile or more from your house, but in a minute or two, it can be at your house,” Fire Assistant Chief Jeff Giesea told reporters. The fast-spreading blazes, fueled by winds from passing Hurricane Dora, forced evacuations, caused power outages, and burned at least two homes along with much of downtown Lahaina. “Buildings on both sides were engulfed. There were no fire trucks at that point; I think the fire department was overwhelmed,” Front Street business owner Alan Dickar told Hawaii News Now. “That is the most important business street on Maui.”

Maui County officials said the people who fled into the ocean to escape the smoke and fire conditions were transported by the Coast Guard to a safe area. Maui County is one of the dozens of states and municipalities across the country suing fossil fuel companies for — allegedlyconspiring to deceive the public about climate science and the climate-heating impacts of their products.

Sources: (CNN, Hawaii News Now, AP)

Courtesy of Nexus Media.

NPR — Updated August 11, 2023 7:36 PM ET Friday:

As of Friday at 1 p.m. local time, the death toll on Maui was raised to at least 67 people. Earlier that day, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green warned at a news conference that the death toll will rise, as rescuers reach parts of the island that had been inaccessible due to the three ongoing fires.

“We are seeing loss of life,” Green said. “As you know, the number has been rising and we will continue to see loss of life.” He said that the fires were the “greatest emergency we’ve seen in decades.”

Persian Gulf Region Suffers Under Brutal Heat

Extremely warm waters in the Persian Gulf are pushing temperatures in the region to superlative-defying heights. Temperatures hit 122°F in Iraq, where drought and “oil industry excess” have set off a water crisis, killing off livestock and destroying crop harvests. Heat indices in the region have regularly topped 140°F in recent weeks and coastal Iran hit 158°F on Tuesday. In Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City, nighttime “low” heat indices have remained above 100°F.

“Standing in searing heat in that scarred landscape, breathing air polluted by the many gas flares dotting [southern Iraq’s oil-producing Basra] region, it was clear to me that the era of global boiling has indeed begun,” UN human rights chief Volker Turk told reporters in Baghdad on Wednesday. “What is happening here is a window into a future that is now coming for other parts of the world if we continue to fail in our responsibility to take preventive and mitigating action against climate change.”

Sources: (Iraq heat: Reuters; Iraq water crisis: AP; Persian Gulf region: Washington Post $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)

Courtesy of Nexus Media.

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