TIME Disaster

Residents of Pahoa, Hawaii, Are Preparing to Flee a Frightening Lava Flow

The lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano is seen advancing across a pasture near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii
The lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano is seen advancing across a pasture between the Pahoa cemetery and Apa'a Street in this U.S. Geological Survey image taken near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii on Oct. 25, 2014. Reuters

Those living in the direct path of the molten mass have already begun to leave

Lava inched closer to homes in Pahoa, Hawaii, on Monday evening, spurring the evacuation of residents living in the direct path of the molten mass gushing from the Big Island’s most active volcano.

Authorities and Pahoa residents have been nervously watching the lava coming from the nearby volcano Kilauea for months, since a fresh flow started moving northeast toward the tiny town of 900 earlier this summer.

One official told TIME that locals were taking the necessary precautions in case widespread evacuations are ordered. Over the weekend, residents living in close proximity to the lava flow packed their possessions into trailers in preparation.

As of Monday evening, the lava flow was within 70 yards of the nearest home, according to a statement released by the County Civil Defense Agency.

“Residents in the flow path were placed on an evacuation advisory and notified of possible need for evacuation beginning last night,” read the report.

Local officials continued to fret over the possibility that the lava may eventually cut into nearby Highway 130. The road serves as the major transportation thoroughfare in and out of the town and is used by approximately 8,000 to 10,000 commuters a day. As a precaution, county authorities have opened two auxiliary roads in the area.

Earlier in the day, reports of small-scale looting in the remote community began to surface. “Crime is starting to pick up because a lot of people abandoned their houses. Two of my brother-in-laws’ houses got ripped off,” Matt Purvis, an owner of a local bakery, told CNN.

Late last week, Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie penned an official request for a presidential disaster declaration, which would provide the state with federal assistance to bolster local emergency services.

TIME Disaster

BP Oil Spill Left Rhode Island-Sized ‘Bathtub Ring’ on Seafloor

BP announced that it is ending its "active cleanup" on the Louisiana coast from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 19, 2014 in Grand Isle, Louisiana. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and spilling millions of gallons of oil.
BP announced that it is ending its "active cleanup" on the Louisiana coast from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 19, 2014 in Grand Isle, Louisiana. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and spilling millions of gallons of oil. Sean Gardner—Getty Images

The rig blew on April 20, 2010, and spewed 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf

New research shows that the BP oil spill left an oily “bathtub ring” on the sea floor that’s about the size of Rhode Island. The study by UC Santa Barbara’s David Valentine, the chief scientist on the federal damage assessment research ships, estimates that about 10 million gallons of oil coagulated on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico around the damaged Deepwater Horizons oil rig. Valentine said the spill left other splotches containing even more oil. The rig blew on April 20, 2010, and spewed 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf through the summer. Scientists are still trying to figure where…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME photography

See Breathtaking Aerial Views of Fall Foliage

Autumn is here, and photographers everywhere are capturing the changing colors of the season. Poland-based photographer Kacper Kowalski captured the most unique views of all, opting to shoot his country’s fall foliage by paraglider (and sometimes gyroplane), creating these magnificent images of the landscape.

“I fly alone as the pilot and photographer,” Kowalski told TIME. “I use a regular reportage camera in my hand. [In this] way I can have control over the image, I can decide by myself where, how and when I will fly to take the image.”

The pictures are part of a larger body of work by Kowalski where he has captured both rural and urban parts of Poland over several years. “I work and live in Gdynia in the northern part of Poland . . . very close to Gdansk at the Baltic sea. The landscape is very rich. And the nature. It is absolutley amazing. Because of the climate in this geographical location it is different each week.”

You can see more of Kowalski’s work and read more about his process here.

TIME weather

1934 Dust Bowl Drought Was North America’s Worst in a Millennium

More than 70% of western North America was affected

The 1934 drought that helped kick off the Dust Bowl era was the worst to hit North America for the past 1,000 years, according to a new study.

Scientists from NASA and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory reconstructed the history of droughts in the U.S. using modern practices and tree-ring records from the years 1000 to 2005.

They found that the 1934 drought covered more than 70% of western North America and was 30% severer than the next worst, which struck in 1580.

“It was the worst by a large margin, falling pretty far outside the normal range of variability that we see in the record,” said Ben Cook, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and the study’s lead author.

Cook says a high-pressure system during the west coast’s winter that kept rains at bay, combined with poor land management practices, led to dust storms in the spring.

The study is due to be published in the Oct. 17 edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

TIME Retail

Whole Foods Will Now Tell You How Organic Their Veggies Are

Produce will be rated based on pesticide, water and soil use, and its impact on human health and farmworkers

The next time you find yourself in Whole Foods’ fresh produce aisles, you’ll find that much of the research you wanted to do on how your food is grown has already been done for you.

Whole Foods began implementing a program Wednesday that rates fresh produce in its grocery aisles based on pesticide, water and soil use, and its impact on human health and farmworkers. The upscale supermarket chain said it is rating fresh produce on a scale from “good” to “better” to “best” with the intention of informing shoppers about the way fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers are tended and grown.

In addition, Whole Foods said it was prohibiting some insecticides that can impair neurological development in children. “After three years of research and planning, Responsibly Grown is the result of our collaboration with suppliers, scientists and issue experts to continue our strong commitment to organic, while embracing additional important topics and growing practices in agriculture today,” said Matt Rogers, global produce coordinator at Whole Foods Market.

Farms that participate in the program have to take steps to protect air, soil, water and human health, and only use pesticides registered EPA in order to earn a “good” rating. The “better” and “best” ratings indicate improved performance in those categories.

Whole Foods says the program will encourage farmers to recycle plastics, install solar panels, plant wildflowers to restore natural bee habitats, and more efficiently irrigate their fields, for example. About half the produce sold in Whole Food’s stores will carry the labels, the New York Times reports.

Whole Foods has been struggling to compete with cheaper food sources like Walmart, which recently announced its own organic food program. The company’s stock has dropped more than 30% this year, though its earnings have been stable.

TIME 2014 Election

Paul Ryan Says Humans May Not Cause Climate Change

Paul Ryan
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is interviewed by Maria Bartiromo during her "Opening Bell With Maria Bartiromo" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York City on Sept. 29, 2014. Richard Drew—AP

"We've had climate change forever"

The jury is still out on whether humans cause climate change, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan said at a debate Monday.

“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Ryan said, in response to a question about whether humans are responsible for the warming of the planet. “I don’t think science does, either.” His remarks were reported by the Associated Press.

Ryan, who is running for reelection in southern Wisconsin against Democrat Rob Zerban, argued that “we’ve had climate change forever” and that proposals to stem climate change are expensive and will not guarantee results. Zerban said humans are to blame for climate change and need to address the issue.

The exchange was a heated moment in a wide-ranging debate that included foreign affairs and the economy. Ryan is widely expected to hold his seat in the GOP-leaning district.

[AP]

TIME Environment

Garlic Is Being Used in the U.K. to Cure Trees of Deadly Diseases

Autumn Colours Begin To Show In The UK
Autumn colors begin to show on trees in Royal Victoria Park in Bath, England, on Oct. 7, 2014 Matt Cardy—Getty Images

The bulbs contain the compound allicin, which can fight bacterial and fungal infections

It might not be great for vampires, but it turns out garlic can be very good for trees.

Trees in the U.K. are being injected with a garlic extract to cure them of deadly diseases, the BBC reports.

“Over the last four years we have treated 60 trees suffering badly with bleeding canker of horse chestnut. All of the trees were cured,” said Jonathan Cocking, an arboreal specialist involved with the development and deployment of the treatment.

“This result has been broadly backed up by 350 trees we have treated all over the country, where we have had a 95% success rate,” Cocking told the BBC.

Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which has antibacterial properties and can fight fungal infections too.

The injection device, which is being deployed in forests in the English Midlands, is made up of a pressurized chamber with eight tubes that inject the allicin solution directly into a tree’s sap system. The needles are positioned to ensure the even spread of allicin all around the tree.

According to the BBC, scaling up this method of treatment is costly and impractical. However, it can be used to save trees of historic or sentimental value.

[BBC]

TIME Environment

Good News, Southern California: The Smog Is Going Away

Snow covered San Gabriel Mountains rise behind the downtown Los Angeles skyline on Dec. 27, 2012.
Snow covered San Gabriel Mountains rise behind the downtown Los Angeles skyline on Dec. 27, 2012. Nick Ut—AP

A new study says that cancer-causing pollutants have dropped more than 50%

Southern California’s air quality is getting better, according to a study released Thursday. Cancer-causing pollutants have dropped over 50% on average since 2005, the last time the South Coast Air Quality Management District checked air quality extensively.

Efforts to reduce emissions from diesel trucks and other vehicles can account for a great deal of the drop. California residents may have noticed the positive effects of such endeavors in the sky: smog rarely browns out the mountains in the region now.

Though the air is getting healthier overall, small pockets in the region still contain many toxic pollutants, including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and areas near freeways. And the risks for cancer because of pollutants in the air are still some of the highest in the nation, according to the Associated Press.

[AP]

TIME Economy

Why Everyone Who Lives in Alaska Is Getting $1,884 Today

North slope oil rush Alaska
The North slope oil rush in Alaska, circa 1969 Ralph Crane&—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

That's enough to buy a trip to somewhere warmer

If polar bears and Snow Dogs weren’t enough to make you want to move to Alaska, consider this: You can get paid thousands of dollars a year just for living there.

Today, Oct. 2, almost every permanent resident of Alaska — even babies — will get paid $1,884 as a dividend from the state’s Alaska Permanent Fund, a government fund that invests proceeds generated from the state’s oil reserves to ensure future wealth for the state.

When the first dividend checks were issued to residents in 1980, TIME predicted that the windfall would be long-lasting:

Nor is there any end in sight to the flow of dividends from the oil fund, which by the end of this year is expected to total more than $1 billion. Oil price increases could also continue to swell the fund. While most Americans complain bitterly every time OPEC members raise prices, Alaskans have reason to applaud. With the price of domestic oil now decontrolled, Alaskan crude can rise to the world level; thus the state’s royalties will grow with each foreign price hike.

Today the Alaska Permanent Fund is valued above $50 billion, and the dividend paid to residents this week will total $1.1 billion.

And for the individual who’s squirreled away his dividend payment each year since the program launched in 1980? He’s made a cool $37,000 just for being loyal to the state.

Read more about the origins of the Alaska Permanent Fund in TIME’s archives: Alaska Bonanza

TIME Environment

See How a Siberian Lake Has Almost Disappeared

The Aral Sea has shrunk to a fraction of its original size

Aral Sea
NASA; Gif by Joseph C. Lin for TIME

New photos from NASA show that a lake in Siberia has almost disappeared since 2000, thanks to a Soviet water diversion program from the 1960s.

The Aral Sea, in Uzbekistan, was once the fourth largest lake in the world. Now it’s now a fraction of the size it was in 1960, according to the photographs. Even since 2000, the lake has shrunk dramatically, and seems poised to disappear altogether.

The lake was fed by the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers before the Soviet Union diverted them in the 1960s in order to irrigate the arid deserts in Kazhakstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Since then, the lake has almost completely dried up, which spells disaster for communities that depend on it, and the water has become too salty and polluted to support native fish populations.

Check out the dramatic change between the Aral Sea in 2000 and the Aral Sea today.

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