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Geopolitics

How Austerity Measures Are Fueling Spain's Deadly Forest Fires

The regional governments have decided to save money on firefighting equipment, staff and prevention campaigns. In a drought year, this has dramatic consequences: 17 forest fires have already destroyed thousands of hectares across the country.

Fire rages in Spain
Fire rages in Spain
Sandrine Morel

MADRID - Some 900 Spanish and French firefighters have been battling the fires that are devastating the region of Alt Emporda in northern Catalonia, along the French border. The toll is currently at four dead, including three French citizens, with approximately 15,000 hectares touched by the flames.

By Tuesday morning, the firefighters, supported by thirty planes and helicopters, were waiting for weather conditions to improve, fearing that a change in wind direction would push the fire north towards the French border.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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