Sand storms, wildfires, heatwaves, drought ... what is it with the weather?

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A trio of super strong hurricanes pummeled the Caribbean and US Gulf coast with each storm causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.
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In a spate of ice slides dozens were killed in a series of avalanches on the Afghanistan Pakistan border.
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The dry conditions that fueled flames in some spots also perpetuated long term drought in others.
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Hurricane irma hit Florida hard; growers are worried about the long term effects on their crops.
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Experts estimate the damage from Hurricane Harvey alone could cost upwards of $100 million.
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California spent much of the fall in flames.
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Chinese village was utterly destroyed in a June landslide but the death toll there is still a mystery.
Updated 30 July 2018
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Sand storms, wildfires, heatwaves, drought ... what is it with the weather?

  • The World Meteorological Organization has predicted temperatures from Ireland to Scandinavia and the Baltic countries will remain at record levels until early August
  • The perils of extreme heat have been illustrated in Greece, where the worst forest fires in the country’s history have killed 82 people

DUBAI: From heatwaves to white-outs, from fires to floods … the weather appears to be throwing everything it has at our planet.
Across the world, the climate and the conditions are going to vastly different extremes. For some, it means delight. For others, it spells danger. And for those living in the Arabian Gulf, it has just brought dust.
Riyadh, the Saudi capital, was blasted by a sandstorm last week, and on Sunday it was the turn of the UAE. High winds and sandstorms swept across the emirates, cutting visibility to virtually zero at times, and giving the nation its own weather talking-point as countries around the world coped with both heat and horror.
In Myanmar, at least 10 people were killed and tens of thousands more driven from their homes as the region was drenched by monsoon rain that, in some places, left only the rooftops of houses visible above the rising waters.
Tragedy has also struck 12,500km away in northern California, where wildfire has claimed five lives and entire neighborhoods have been devastated by a blaze that has now destroyed more than 500 buildings and has already continued into its seventh day. The US state has seen temperatures rise to a record 48.9C in the city of Chino.
In Japan, western areas which have already had to withstand floods and landslides earlier this month were hit by a fresh weather crisis, as Typhoon Jongdari struck. Winds of up to 180km an hour were accompanied by torrential rain and travel chaos.
But across the northern hemisphere, the vagaries of the weather have brought something that sounds like a dream but which carries its own threat — record high temperatures.
The perils of extreme heat have been illustrated in Greece, where the worst forest fires in the country’s history have killed 82 people. But they have also been felt in Sweden, hardly a nation used to sweltering temperatures, but now suffering an unprecedented drought and devastating wildfires amid its hottest spell in 250 years.
Meanwhile, in less-than-tropical Germany, farmlands in northern areas have been stripped bare by unrelenting sun, leaving combine harvesters to kick up dust rather than gather up crops. Farmers have voiced concerns that their livelihood is in danger, with talk now turning to whether a natural disaster — which is declared in Germany when 30 percent of the average annual harvest is destroyed — will be called.
There is no respite in immediate sight, either: The World Meteorological Organization has predicted temperatures from Ireland to Scandinavia and the Baltic countries will remain at record levels until early August. Its deputy secretary-general, Elena Manaenkova, has said the heatwave is “consistent with what we expect as a result of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
It perhaps should not come as a surprise, as the past three years have been the hottest ever recorded on Earth. But as Anders Levermann, a professor at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “The most important question is ‘Will we see this more often if we don’t reduce carbon emissions?’
“And this question is the one we can say ‘yes’ to.”


OIC countries seek to be dependent on their own halal vaccines

Updated 54 min 4 sec ago
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OIC countries seek to be dependent on their own halal vaccines

Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata, JAKARTA: Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are forging a way to become self-reliant on vaccines and medicines to the Islamic nations as representatives of their respective heads of national medicine regulatory authorities are meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the first time.
Penny Lukito, chairwoman of Indonesia’s National Agency of Drug and Food Control, said the first-ever meeting, which was called by Indonesia and kicked off on Wednesday, was timely since the dire health situation due to the lack of access to medicines and vaccines in some Islamic countries is worrying, especially in the least developing ones and those mired in conflicts.
“The capacity and ability of pharmaceutical industries in the Islamic world to produce essential medicines and vaccines are still at low proportions,” Lukito said in her opening speech. “We can’t let this situation continue unabated.”
This meeting, therefore, serves as a platform to identify gaps and opportunities for improving medicines' regulatory capacity, promoting public health and how to advance the pharmaceutical industry in OIC countries, said OIC Assistant Secretary-General for Science and Technology, Muhammad Naeem Khan.
“Overdependence on imported medicine and vaccines has had an adverse impact on the provision of health care in some OIC countries, including the refusal by some communities to use such medicines and vaccines,” Khan said in his opening remarks.
“It has also made many member states vulnerable to counterfeit and substandard medicines,” he added.
President of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority Hisham Saad Aljadhey said the outcome of this meeting will be very fruitful for individuals living in OIC countries in terms of availability and safety of medication.
“We have issues such as high prices of medication and building capacity," Aljadhey told Arab News on the sidelines of the two-day meeting. "We need to build a medicine regulatory agency within OIC countries which will focus on guidelines in accordance with the international ones and include good manufacturing practices for medication, review of scientific evidence, and to follow up on the safety of the product.”
Of the 57 OIC member states, only seven are vaccine producers and only a few produce export-quality medicines, while many countries, including the least developed ones -– many of whom are OIC member states -– still have to rely heavily on imported vaccines and medicines.
Saudi Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Al-Shuaibi said Islamic countries need to collaborate on vaccine products because there are halal and non-halal vaccines, and vaccines would have to be approved by the ulema council.
However, he said Islam is very open and even if the medicine is not halal, people should take it to prevent death or illness to themselves and others.
“You can’t say this is not halal and your child is dead. This meeting will build more trust between Islamic countries to start producing their own medicines which are halal, if there is only a non-halal one. We try to find something halal, but if there is not, we have to have the medicine, whatever it is,” he told Arab News.
Febrian Ruddyard, the director general for multilateral cooperation at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, said the meeting would produce a joint statement dubbed the Jakarta Declaration, which reaffirms the OIC countries’ commitment to strengthen the regulatory framework on medicines and vaccines.
“Health problems could disperse and cause other problems if we don’t regulate them. We can’t be healthy on our own. We have to stay healthy together,” he said.