- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his government to ship tons of trash back to Canada that he says was illegally dumped in the Philippines.
- However, shortly after this announcement, Canada said that it would hire a shipping company to remove the trash by the end of June.
- The trash was originally sent to the Philippians between 2013 and 2014 by Chronic Plastics, Inc., a private Canadian company.
The Philippines announced Wednesday plans to ship tons of trash that it says was illegally dumped in Manila, back to Canada after years of waiting for something to be done.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to take 69 containers of trash back. “The government of the Philippines will shoulder all expenses. And we do not mind,” said Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“If Canada will not accept their trash, we will leave the same within its territorial waters or 12 nautical miles out to sea from the baseline of any of their country’s shores.”
“The president’s stance is as principled as it is uncompromising: The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nations. We hope this message resonates well with the other countries of the world.”
Between 2013 and 2014, the approximately 2,450 tons of trash was sent to the Philippines by Chronic Plastics Inc., a private Canadian company, under the guise of being recyclables. Once it arrived in Manila, inspectors found that the containers were filled with “non-recyclable plastics, household wastes, and adult diapers,” according to the Philippine News Agency.
After Duterte’s announcement, Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said that the government had hired Bolloré Logistics Canada to remove the trash by the end of June.
McKenna also said that all the costs associated with the preparation, transfer, shipment, and disposal of the waste will be covered by the Canadian government.
As of now it is unclear which country’s plan will be implemented.
Over the years Canada and the Philippines have been in multiple talks to find a solution for the trash. Last month, Duterte threatened to go to war over the trash.
“We’ll declare war against them,” Duterte said, “I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.”
Earlier this month, Canada missed a May 15th deadline to repatriate the trash and the Philippines removed top diplomats from the country. This trash issue is not the only conflict the two countries have had. Last year the Philippines canceled a multimillion-dollar agreement for 16 helicopters after Canada questioned their intended use.
See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (CBC) (CNN Philippines)
Australian Fires ‘Contained’ in New South Wales as Flooding Dangers Loom
- Australia’s New South Wales Rural Fire Service said all fires within the state have been contained after heavy rains brought in by a now ex-tropical cyclone.
- Seemingly replacing one problem for the next, flash flooding has led to power outages and even prompted evacuations.
- Australia’s recent extreme weather shifts have raised concerns over climate change, with scientists predicting the country will continue to experience even more intense extremes as climate change worsens.
All Fires in New South Wales “Contained”
After months of struggling to contain brutal fires that ravaged millions of acres, firefighters in Australia’s state of New South Wales said all fires in the region have been contained.
“After what’s been a truly devastating fire season for both firefighters and residents, who’ve suffered so much this season, all fires are now contained in New South Wales, which is great news,” Rob Rogers, assistant commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, said.
“Not all fires are out,” he added. “There’s still some fire activity in the far south of the state, but all fires are contained, so we can truly focus on helping people rebuild.”
New South Wales is the country’s most populous state, with it being home to both Sydney and the country’s capital, Canberra. This is the first time since the bushfire season began in June that all fires have been contained—meaning fire crews have managed to surround them on all sides to prevent them from spreading.
While Australia sees a yearly brushfire season, its most recent one was particularly extreme thanks to a combination of below-average rainfall and high winds.
In November, NSW and Queensland both declared states of emergency. Throughout the season, thousands were forced to evacuate their homes, more than 3,000 homes were destroyed, and at least 33 people died.
In December, heavy smoke blanketed Sydney, with the air quality in the city measuring 11 times above the hazardous level at one point.
The fires have also been devastating to wildlife, with one billion animals estimated dead. On Tuesday, Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Water, and Environment listed 113 species in need “emergency intervention” following the fire, including the koala and the platypus, among others.
Rain Puts Out Fires but Leads to Flash Flooding
News that NSW’s fires were contained came after the region’s latest bout of rain. In fact, over the last few weeks, Australia has witnessed several waves of rain that have helped assist fire crews in controlling the blazes.
In NSW alone, the RFS said the downpour helped it put out 30 fires since Friday. That rain also helped to put out NSW’s two biggest fires, which were burning about 1.2 million acres of land each.
Over the past week, Australia’s east coast has experienced rain brought in by now ex-Tropical Cyclone Uesi. According to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology, NSW saw nearly 8 inches of rain within a 24 hour period. Over a four day period, it saw more than 15 inches of rainfall, reportedly the heaviest it’s seen in 30 years.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney’s dams are reaching their highest levels since April 2018.
However, with the rain, Australia seemed to have traded one problem for another. Both Queensland and NSW are currently facing a series of issues, including flash flooding, power outages, and more evacuations.
Queensland itself saw several reports of missing people, with one body being found.
Is Climate Change To Blame?
With Australia’s extreme weather shifts, some have wondered whether or not the heavy rainfall witnessed on the east coast is a result of climate change; however, the answer isn’t quite clear.
Many scientists have credited the bushfire season as a result of climate change. Those scientists also predict that Australia’s bushfire season will only continue to become more frequent and more intense. Part of this is because Australia is especially susceptible to climate change since it has a vast interior desert and rapidly-heating ocean currents surround the country.
As far as storms go, the Climate Council of Australia found in 2016 that climate is fueling more intense and more damaging storms.
“Extreme weather events including tropical cyclones, extreme rainfall, hail/thunderstorms and extra-tropical cyclones (for example, east coast lows) are now occurring in an atmosphere that is packing more energy and carrying more moisture than it did in the 1950s,” it found, adding that climate change also exacerbates coastal flooding.
It then predicted that “climate change will continue to exacerbate storms in Australia, increasing the risk of devastating impacts.”
Still, it’s unclear whether this ex-tropical cyclone is a result of that climate change, though as London School of Economics and Political Science Professor Tim Forsyth said, it is possible.
“For years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted weather will be more extreme and unpredictable,” he told NBC News. “This is consistent with the pattern this year in Australia of a longer than expected dry period, followed by unexpectedly high rainfall.”
“However, it is also important not to draw rapid conclusions,” he added. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty about long-term weather patterns. We have to acknowledge that human records of weather in Australia only go back to the early 20th century — so there are limits to what we know.”
See what others are saying: (BBC) (The Guardian) (NPR)
The Doomsday Clock Strikes 100 Seconds Until Midnight
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists last month announced last month that the doomsday clock is now 100 seconds from midnight—20 seconds closer than it was in 2019. Don’t know what the doomsday clock is? Well, it’s a symbolic tool used to show how close humanity is to destroying the earth—and it moves further or closer to midnight, the end of the world, depending on various issues like climate change and world politics. Watch our video to learn more about why the Bulletin put the clock at this time in 2020.
Anger Over Whistleblowers Mount in China as Coronavirus Deaths Pass 1,000
- The death toll for the coronavirus now sits at 1,018 as of Tuesday morning, but only one person outside of China has died.
- There are more than 43,000 cases worldwide but just under 400 outside of China and only 13 in the U.S.
- A day after describing most of the cases in China as “mild,” the World Health Organization said a clinical trial is underway in the country.
- In China, many citizens are displaying rare signs of public anger against the government after the whistleblower doctor who warned about the disease died and a journalist went missing.
How Many Deaths and Cases Have Been Reported?
As of Tuesday morning, 1,018 people have died from the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and 43,101 cases have been confirmed worldwide.
Though China saw its deadliest day with 108 deaths and nearly 2,500 reported cases on Monday, the virus still lacks that same impact outside of the country. Currently, only about 400 cases outside of China have been confirmed since the beginning of the outbreak. Of the over 1,000 people who died, only one was reported outside China. That death occurred in the Philippines.
In the U.S. alone, there are only thirteen confirmed cases — seven of which are in California. No one in the country has died of the virus, though it reportedly did kill one U.S. citizen in Wuhan.
What is the World Health Organization Saying?
On Monday, an advance team with the World Health Organization arrived in China. It is expected to lay the groundwork for a larger international team.
According to Tedros Adhanom, director-general of the WHO, there is still a good chance of stopping the outbreak of the coronavirus, which was officially named as COVID-19 at a press conference on Tuesday.
“If we invest now in rational and evidence-based interventions, we have a realistic chance of stopping the COVID19 outbreak,” he said at the conference.
According to Adhanom, one of the biggest concerns of the WHO remains the potential for the virus to “create havoc” if it reaches a country with a weak health system.
Additionally, the WHO’s executive director Michael J. Ryan said a clinical trial is “already on the way” in China. Thursday, China also began enrolling patients in a clinical trial of the antiviral drug, remdesivir.
On Monday, Adhanom said most cases of the virus are still mild.
Whistleblower Doctor’s Death
In a rather surprising turn of events, many Chinese citizens have engaged in a rare criticism of their authoritarian government on social media.
Much of the criticism stems from the death of 33-year-old doctor Li Wenliang. On Dec. 30, Li warned his medical school alumni group about the coronavirus, telling them that several people had been quarantined at Wuhan Central Hospital after coming down with a respiratory illness that seemed like SARS.
Li sent the message over the messaging app WeChat, and after someone screenshotted and shared that message publically, it went viral. The same day, the Wuhan Health Commission published a notice that several people had contracted pneumonia, possibly at a seafood market.
Then, on Jan. 3, Li was reportedly approached by Wuhan authorities, who forced him to sign a letter admitting that he had made “false comments” online.
Of course, a couple of weeks later, more cases of the coronavirus began popping up, with the virus becoming a very serious and real issue.
In that time, Li had resumed his work at the hospital, but soon after, he ended up contracting the virus from an infected patient. On Jan. 12, he checked himself into the hospital. He also continued to speak out against misinformation on his Weibo account while a patient himself.
“I was wondering why [the government’s] official notices were still saying there was no human-to-human transmission, and there were no healthcare workers infected,” he said from his hospital bed on Jan. 31
On Feb. 7, however, Li died from the virus.
Li’s Death Sparks Rare Criticism of Government in China
Because of Li’s censure and ultimate death by the virus, many are blaming Wuhan authorities for causing the virus to get out of hand. In fact, China’s Supreme People’s Court condemned those authorities, saying that listening to the rumor “…might have been a fortunate thing for containing the new coronavirus, if the public had listened to this ‘rumor’ at the time, and adopted measures such as wearing masks, strict disinfection and avoiding going to the wildlife market.”
However, many Chinese citizens have taken the criticism one step further by directly challenging the whole of the Chinese government.
On Feb. 8, 10 Wuhan professors signed a letter to the government asking it to enforce its own freedom of speech articles laid out in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, apologize to and compensate several other whistleblowers, and recognize Dr. Li as a national martyr.
Also following Li’s death, many Chinese citizens flooded social media sites with negative messages against the government. Some even seemingly tried to invoke the idea of a revolution by posting clips of the Les Misérables song “Do You Hear the People Sing?”
In response, the Chinese government dispatched a team to investigate “issues related to Dr. Li that were reported by the public,” though it failed to give specifics.
Journalist Goes Missing in Wuhan
That anger exacerbated after the disappearance of Chinese journalist and human rights activist Chen Qiushi, who has been missing since Feb. 6.
Chen operated a YouTube page where he has been uploading content featuring him visiting hospitals to speak with patients and doctors.
In a video shared to both Chen’s YouTube and Twitter, Chen’s mother asked people to help find her son, who has not been seen by family or friends since his disappearance.
The incident was enough to lead to speculation that the Chinese government is attempting to stop another whistleblower. On social media, many criticized the government by saying it is trying to silence the true conditions in Wuhan.
Many comments about Chen have since been wiped from Weibo.
Chen, however, is no stranger to run-ins with the government. Reportedly, he had been detained in August for covering the Hong Kong extradition protests.
In a second video posted on Feb. 7, a message from Chen’s mother revealed that Chen had been forcibly detained and quarantined. His mother then reportedly asked where and when Chen was taken, but police wouldn’t tell her.
On Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists, which based in New York, said, “Chinese authorities must immediately account for the whereabouts of journalist Chen Qiushi, and ensure that the media can cover the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan without fear of retribution.”