Ammonium nitrate, the explosive agricultural fertilizer that blew up in Lebanon this month, killing dozens and severely damaging Beirut’s center, is stored by the thousands of tons all over the United States. But regulatory blindspots and secretive information policies mean few know exactly where. Backgrounder reviews the chemical’s oversight regime — and its gaps — and has ideas for reporting from your community.
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that American Indians and Alaska Natives have a COVID-19 infection rate 3.5 times than white people and younger Native people are more affected."
"The wildfires that exploded over the past few days in California and Colorado show clear influences of global warming, climate scientists say, and evidence of how a warming and drying climate is increasing the size and severity of fires from the California coast to the high Rocky Mountains."
"Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura tore through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, forcing thousands of coastal residents in Louisiana and Cuba to flee, and flooding roads in Haiti’s capital, with damage across the region expected to worsen this week."
In Europe, policymakers have seized on the coronavirus pandemic to re-envision how cities should look, feel and function. ... So far, American policymakers have shown noticeably less ambition."
"The National Hurricane Center is forecasting for two tropical depressions to reach hurricane strength, with both sharing the Gulf of Mexico at the same time."
"At least four people have died as a result of wildfires fueled by a heat wave and a blitz of lightning strikes in [California's] northern areas. The clusters of fires merged into orange infernos that are creeping up on residential areas, turning neighborhoods into ash and smoldering ruins."
"Climate change hit home in Colorado this week, exacerbating multiple environmental calamities: wildfires burning across 135,423 acres, stream flows shrinking to where state officials urged limits on fishing, drought wilting crops, and record temperatures baking heat-absorbing cities."
"When a weather station in Death Valley, Calif., registered an astonishing 130 degrees Fahrenheit this week, it got meteorologists' attention. After all, there's a possibility that this is the highest such temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth — if it's for real."