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Category Archives: Futurist
Posted: July 5, 2020 at 10:20 am
An expert has warned the world could be plunged into a new Great Depression under a coronavirus worst case scenario.
Peter Schwartz believes the 'cascading crises' currently gripping the world could result in an almost decade-long disaster.
He said these crises include the social turmoil from the Black Lives Matter movement and leadership problems in some countries.
The futurist has warned if scientists fail to find a vaccine, the world could face a Great Depression-style ordeal for years on end.
He added: "We don't have vaccines for a lot of these viruses. So it's entirely plausible we won't for this (coronavirus) either.
"And that means, in turn, that we're not going to get back to 100% of where we were before for years.
"It's like 1929-1937 that sort of timeframe. We are in the Great Depression and so we're below the economic potential for quite a long time.
"Maybe someday we'll get a vaccine but you kind of learn to live in a pandemic world.
"And that is a plausible scenario of depressed economic activity and a persistent pandemic where Covid is the new normal."
Mr Schwartz said the world is currently suffering from four crises - health, economic, social and leadership.
He has described how the situation developed from a health crisis into an economic one.
The expert added: "We had somewhat of an economic crisis going in, a trade war that has now been amplified.
"We have a social crisis now created by the Black Lives Movement worldwide and the response to the George Floyd killing,
"And then finally we have a leadership crisis in some countries. So this is the scenario where essentially the virus really persists."
Mr Schwartz, head of strategic planning at tech company Salesforce, told the World Economic Forum no 'new normal' would arrive without a vaccine.
The expert wrote: "Instead, a 'Covid normal' emerges, with continuing waves of the virus, persistent economic uncertainty and deep societal unrest."
Posted: at 10:20 am
New research suggests that climate change threatens to wipe out significantly more species of fish than previously thought.
If average global temperatures rise by five degrees Celsius thatd be a global warming nightmare scenario then New Scientist reports that 60 percent of all fish species could go extinct by the year 2100. Its grim news, as previous studies predicted that fish would be far more resilient.
Other research gauging the impact of rising water temperatures on fish populations focused exclusively on how well adultfish would be able to adapt. Based on those measurements alone, New Scientist reports that scientists expected only five percent of fish species to die off under the same conditions.
But the new study also takes fish larvae, embryos, and other stages in the fish life cycle into account. And in those phases, the fish are far more vulnerable to higher temperatures.
This is casting light on a life phase that has been largely ignored, Hans-Otto Prtner of the Alfred Wegener Institute told New Scientist.
Thankfully, the year 2100 is still pretty far away, and ambitious efforts to limit climate change could mean many of those species are spared.
We can say 1.5 [degrees] is not paradise, there will be changes, Prtner told New Scientist. But we can limit those changes if we manage to stop climate change. Fish are so important for human nutrition, so this study makes a strong case for protecting our ecosystems and natural environments.
READ MORE: Climate change will make world too hot for 60 per cent of fish species [New Scientist]
More on extinction: Scientists: Human Extinction Is Extremely Likely
See the article here:
Climate Change Threatens 60 Percent of the World's Fish Species - Futurism
Posted: at 10:20 am
This past autumn, a professor at Wuhan University named Jau Tang was hard at work piecing together a thruster prototype that, at first, sounds too good to be true.
The basic idea, he said in an interview, is that his device turns electricity directly into thrust no fossil fuels required by using microwaves to energize compressed air into a plasma state and shooting it out like a jet. Tang suggested, without a hint of self-aggrandizement, that it could likely be scaled up enough to fly large commercial passenger planes. Eventually, he says, it might even power spaceships.
Needless to say, these are grandiose claims. A thruster that doesnt require tanks of fuel sounds suspiciously like science fiction like the jets on Iron Mans suit in the Marvel movies, for instance, or the thrusters that allow Doc Browns DeLorean to fly in Back to the Future.
But in Tangs telling, his invention lets just call it a Tang Jet, which he worked on with Wuhan University collaborators Dan Ye and Jun Li could have civilization-shifting potential here in the non-fictional world.
Essentially, the goal of this technology is to try and use electricity and air to replace gasoline, he said. Global warming is a major threat to human civilization. Fossil fuel-free technology using microwave air plasma could be a solution.
He anticipates this happening fast. In two years, he says, he thinks Tang Jets could power drones. In a decade, hed like to see them fly a whole airplane.
That would all be awesome, obviously. But its difficult to evaluate whether Tangs invention could ever scale up enough to become practical. And even if it did, there would be substantial energy requirements that could doom aerospace applications.
One things for sure: If the tech works the way he hopes, the world will never be the same.
Tangs curriculum vitae flits between a dazzling array of strikingly disparate academic topics, from 4D electron microscopy to quantum dot lasers, nanotechnology, artificial photosynthesis, and, of course, phase transitions and plasmonics.
Hes held several professorships, done research at Caltech and Bell Laboratories, published scores of widely-cited papers, edited several scientific journals, and won a variety of awards. He holds a U.S. patent for a device he calls a synchrotron shutter, designed to capture electrons traveling near the speed of light.
Tang says he first stumbled onto the idea for the plasma thruster when he was trying to create synthetic diamonds. As he tried to grow them using microwaves, he recalls, he started to wonder whether the same technology could be used to produce thrust.
Other huge stories, like the coronavirus pandemic and the baffling saga of Elon Musk naming his baby X A-12, were sucking a lot of oxygen out of the news cycle in early May, when Tang announced his invention to the world. A few outlets picked up Tangs story, including New Atlas, Popular Mechanics, and Ars Technica, but no journalist appears to have actually talked to him.
Because of that, there was little fanfare surrounding the sheer scope of his ambition for the technology and it went overlooked that Tang sometimes sounds as though hes invented a hammer and is now seeing a lot of things as nails.
After describing his plans to conquer aerospace with his new thruster, for instance, he starts to describe plans to take on the automotive industry as well with jet-powered electric cars.
I think the jet engine is more efficient than the electric motor, you can drive a car at much faster speeds, he mused. Thats what I have in mind: to combine the plasma jet engine with a turbine to drive a car.
But you wouldnt want to drive behind it, he warned, because you could be scorched by its fiery jet stream.
Over the course of our interview, Tang also brought up the possibilities of using the technology to build projectile weapons, launch spaceships, power boats, and even create a new type of stove for cooking. On that last point, Tang said that hes already built a prototype kitchen stove powered by a microwave air plasma torch but its so deafeningly loud that it sounds like a constant lightning strike.
Technically, the Tang Jet is an attempt to build a plasma thruster, a concept thats periodically gained attention in scientific circles. Michael Heil, a retired aerospace and propulsion engineer with a long career of Air Force and NASA research, told Futurism that Tangs research reminds him of several other attempts to build air propulsion tech that hes encountered over the years.
Plasma thrusters like those that would power a Tang Jet have been around for a while. NASA first launched a satellite equipped with plasma thrusters back in 2006, but its capabilities are a far cry from what Tang is proposing with his research.
Engineers have long dreamed of a plasma jet-powered plane, but every attempt has been smacked down by the technological limitations of the day. For example, New Scientist reported in 2017 that a team from the Technical University of Berlin attempted to build a similar thruster but like every attempt over the previous decade, their work never became useful outside of the lab.
The problems with these attempts arent so much faults with the theory the concept of generating thrust with a plasma torch is fairly sound. Rather, issues begin to pop up when working out the logistics of building a vehicle that actually works.
Tang has little interest in commercializing the jet himself. Instead, he wants to demonstrate its merits in hopes that well-funded government leaders or titans of industry will be inspired to take the ideas and run with them.
The steps toward realization of a full plasma jet engine would cost lots of money, time and energy, he said. Such investment is beyond our present resources. Such tasks should be taken by aerospace industries or governmental agencies.
Thats a common mindset for scientists, said Christopher Combs, an aerodynamics researcher at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Thats what us academics do, we figure out the physics and say Well I dont want to make a product,' he told Futurism. Its kind of a common refrain to see people in academia who have had something that gets a lot of attention.
Though hes intrigued by the underlying principles of the Tang Jet, Combs says its unlikely that it will scale up to the size needed to lift a plane in other words, the same challenges that proved insurmountable to previous plasma thrusters will rear their heads once again. The current prototype, for perspective, only produces about 10 Newtons of thrust about the same as a medium-sized model rocket.
Youre talking about scaling something by five orders of magnitude more than 100,000 times! Combs said. Which almost never works linearly. Lots of engineering happens in the middle.
And even if it were to scale perfectly, theres the issue of power. Iron Mans suit was powered by an Arc Reactor, and the flying DeLorean was powered by a Mr. Fusion unit that turned household trash into more than a gigawatt of power both of which, unfortunately, are fictional.
Fossil fuels store vastly more energy by weight than batteries, and thats unlikely to change any time soon. And thats too bad, because the Tang Jet needs a whole lot of power.
According to a paper Tang and his collaborators publishedabout the thruster prototype in the journal AIP Advances in May, the technology produces about 28 Newtons of thrust per kilowatt of power. The engines on the Airbus A320, a common commercial jet, produce about 220,000 Newtons of thrust combined, meaning that a comparably-sized jet plane powered by Tang Jets would require more than 7,800 kilowatts.
For perspective, that would mean loading an aircraft up with more than 570 Tesla Powerwall 2 units for a single hour of flight an impractical load, especially because the A320s payload could only carry about 130 of the giant battery units. Long story short, no existing battery tech could provide enough juice.
Does this thing just become a flying Tesla battery? Combs said. With the weight of these batteries, you dont have room for anything else.
The battery weight issue doesnt doom the Tang Jet, but it pushes options for its power source into the fringe. Tang is banking on improvements to battery technology over the next years and decades; those Technical University of Berlin researchers speculated about nuclear fusion. Unfortunately, any possible answers could be decades away or impossible.
It is worth noting that there exist compact nuclear fission reactors, like Russias KLT-40S, that produce enough power and weigh little enough that they could fit in a passenger plane or rocket.
But the safety and environmental implications of nuclear-powered aircraft are grim, and Heil was quick to point out that generating enough power isnt the only problem facing a Tang Jet. Actually getting the electricity from the power source to the thrusters would pose its own difficulties, perhaps requiring superconducting materials that dont exist yet.
You need power to generate thrust. And how do you move that power around on the aircraft? Heil said. Moving and controlling megawatts from the reactor to the jet is a huge challenge. You have to use big thick copper wires, that adds a lot of weight.
Overall, both Combs and Heil questioned the feasibility of a practical Tang Jet based on the technology we have today. Without a quick fix to the energy problem, its certainly a tall order.
But both said they were fascinated by the research and hoped to see future progress. They also pointed out that a plasma thruster could be useful for pushing satellites or spacecraft that are already in orbit though at that point it would need to bring propellant with it rather than using atmospheric air, since thered be none in the vacuum of space.
The bottom line, Heil and Combs agreed, is that we wont have a firmer grasp of the future of the tech until Tangs colleagues have evaluated and experimented with it.
Im rooting for this, and Id love to see it pan out, Combs said. But the scientist in me has some questions and some concerns.
More on Tangs plasma jets: Scientists Create Jet Engine Powered by Only Electricity
Posted: at 10:20 am
Physicists at CERNs Large Hadron Collider just discovered a brand-new kind of subatomic particle and its composition is a baffling world-first.
The yet-unnamed particle is the first that we know of to be entirely made up of the same kind of quark, which is a building block for subatomic particles. In this case, according to preprint research shared online Tuesday, the particle is composed of four charm quarks an arrangement that could help physicists better probe the underlying forces holding particles together.
Charm quarks are just one of six flavors of quark, along with up, down, strange, top, and bottom. As one of the heavier flavors, the charm quarks are bound together by the same, poorly-understood fundamental force that binds protons to neutrons. Researchers hope the unusual combination can help them explain how that particular force works.
Particles made up of four quarks are already exotic, project spokesperson Giovanni Passaleva said in a press release, and the one we have just discovered is the first to be made up of four heavy quarks of the same type, specifically two charm quarks and two charm antiquarks.
Next, the team hopes to sort out whether theyve found a true tetraquark or rather two quark pairings that are bound together like atoms in a molecule though both would be valuable discoveries.
Todays discovery opens another exciting chapter in this scientific book, allowing us to study our theory of matter particles in an extreme case, spokesperson Chris Parkes said in the release.
READ MORE: Exotic never before seen particle discovered at CERN [University of Manchester]
More on the LHC: The LHC Just Discovered A New System of Five Particles
Read the original here:
The Large Hadron Collider Just Discovered a Brand-New Particle - Futurism
Posted: at 10:20 am
Overall, the Earth is getting warmer at an ominous rate which, according to an overwhelming majority of climate scientists, is probably a result of greenhouse gas emissions.
Thats why its so interesting, as Mashable points out in a fascinating new story, that one spot in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean appears to be getting colder each year.
A new paper in the journal Nature Climate Change explores possible reasons for the cold spot, which is known as the warming hole or, charmingly, the blob.
The researchers conclusion is that the blog is probably caused by a number of complex factors but mainly changing ocean currents and thick clouds that congregate over it.
Counterintuitively, the researchers say, the same greenhouse effect thats warming most of the Earth is likely causing the complex phenomena that are causing the blob to get colder.
Anthropogenic climate change changes the circuitry of the climate system, said Kristopher Karnauskas, an oceanographer at the University of Colorado Boulder who had no role in the research. [The cold blob] is an interesting manifestation of the peril were bringing on.
READ MORE: Why Earth has a stubborn spot thats cooling [Mashable]
More on climate change: Climate Change Threatens 60 Percent of the Worlds Fish Species
See original here:
One Particular Spot on Earth Is Getting Colder Instead of Hotter - Futurism
Posted: at 10:20 am
For the first time, scientists have managed to find our solar systems precise center of gravity down to about 100 meters a flabbergastingly precise measurement on the scale of our vast solar system.
It sounds like a trivial feat think back to the posters hanging in your classroom and you might reasonably assume that the center of our solar system is smack dab in the middle of the Sun. But finding the gravitational center its barycenter,in the lingo is actually a complex task, ScienceAlert reports, that involves factoring in the pull of every planet, asteroid, and moon in the star system.
With all those gravitational tugs especially Jupiters particularly strong pull accounted for, the real center of gravity in our solar system lies just above the Suns surface, according to research published in The Astrophysical Journal.
With that knowledge in hand, astronomers can more accurately hunt for gravitational waves given off by faraway supermassive black holes and pulsars, ScienceAlert reports. Thats because these measurements are extremely sensitive to error and depend on us knowing where Earth is relative to the solar systems barycenter.
Now, armed with a better understanding of the solar systems balance, scientists expect their gravitational recordings to suddenly improve.
Using the pulsars we observe across the Milky Way galaxy, we are trying to be like a spider sitting in stillness in the middle of her web, NASA astronomer Stephen Taylor said in a press release. How well we understand the solar system barycenter is critical as we attempt to sense even the smallest tingle to the web.
READ MORE: Astronomers Have Located The Centre of The Solar System to Within 100 Metres [ScienceAlert]
More on the solar system: Astronomers Discover Mirror Image of our Solar System
Posted: at 10:20 am
It would have been easy for Max Brookss World War Z to feel gimmicky. An oral history of a worldwide zombie apocalypse? There are many, many places where that could have gone wrong. Instead, what Brooks created succeeded on a host of levels, from the geopolitical to the horrific. It balanced big-picture momentum with a few fantastic setpieces; via its framing device, it also allowed Brooks to present a bold vision of what the world might look like after such an outbreak was contained.
On paper, Brookss followup has more than a few things in common with World War Z. Like its predecessor, Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre is presented as a found document. Like its predecessor, it involves humans coming into conflict with something uncanny. And, like its predecessor, its structure offers plenty of foreshadowing of discomfiting events. But Devolution differs from World War Z in a few substantial ways as well, which ultimately make it a more intimate book than its predecessorand a far stranger one.
The bulk of the narrative comes from the journal of one Kate Holland, with additional interviews and annotations by an unnamed writer. From the early pages, Brooks offers a broad outline of whats to come. Holland was one of the residents of an isolated, high-end, high-tech eco-community of Greenloop. Were told that Mount Rainier erupts, leading to chaos in the Pacific Northwestfor humans and non-humans alike. The introduction alludes to a troop of hungry, apelike creatures who would soon attack Greenloop.
All of that information gives the narrative the sort of doomed intensity of the best disaster movies. Greenloop itself, designed to be isolated in nature but also easy for its affluent residents to access Seattle, plays out like a lightly satirical take on Elon Musk-style futurism. Once the eruption hits and the communitys members find themselves isolated in ways they never expected, Brooks balances the more satirical elements of the situation with keen attention to the unique methods such a community would use to survive.
Being cut off from civilization is but one struggle that the residents of Greenloop must face. Kates journal includes allusions to strange sounds heard at night, and massive shadowy figures seen in the distance. The reader knows whats coming, which means that the plot has more than a little horror movie in its DNA. Were introduced to a disparate group with their own rivalries and shifting dynamics; as anyone whos seen a horror movie knows, were about to see most of these people meet terrible fates.
Interspersed with the Kate Holland narrative are interviews conducted with experts in the field and people with ties to Greenloops residents. Its here that Brooks offers a glimpse into Devolutions larger worldbuilding: namely, the idea that the sasquatches (or Bigfoots? Bigfeet?) that attacked Greenloop represent a species that evolved concurrently to humanity, and which have developed a keen ability to hide themselves away from human civilization.
The novels title, then, comes from the notion that the extreme circumstances of the volcanic eruption pushed the sasquatches to adopt more violent behavioreffectively devolving into a more base state. As the plot develops, the human characters find themselves relying less and less on technology and using more and more brutal tacticsmeaning, essentially, that devolution works both ways.
In showing humans pitted against a close evolutionary relative in a desperate attempt at survival, Brooks offers a bleak view of the world. Its telling that neither sidehuman or sasquatchsuggests cooperating to save both communities. Throughout the book, Brooks makes allusions to areas around the globe where neighboring populations have gone to war, including a passing reference to the Balkans in the 1990s and another character looking back on their time in the IDF.
But Brookss ambitious take on human (and primate) nature sometimes balances unsteadily with the smaller details of life in Greenloop, including a few odd pop culture references. When Devolution shows a wider canvaseven a secret history of the worldit works brilliantly, and the scenes of two species each fighting for their life abound with harrowing moments. But there are times where the intimate scale of this novel feels at odds with some of Brookss larger thematic points. As compelling as it is, you might find yourself wishing hed opted to tell this story using a larger canvas.
Devolution is available from Del Rey.
Tobias Carroll is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. He is the author of the short story collection Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and the novel Reel (Rare Bird Books).
Posted: at 10:19 am
Researchers have yet to find any evidence of life on any other planet, including Mars.
But that hasnt stopped some rogue scientists from making outlandish claims and self-publishing evidence of the existence of a microbiological presence on the Red Planet, as CNETsJackson Ryan reports in an outstanding feature.
Self-described neurobiologist Rhawn Gabriel Joseph a man referred to by Ryan as the Space Tiger King, a nod to the popular Netflix docuseries is convinced that life already exists on Mars and Venus, and that we already have the evidence to back it up.
The roots of Josephs school of thought first started with the labeled release (LR) experiments on Mars in the 1970s, when NASAs Viking lander looked for biosignatures on the planet by carrying out a series of tests.
While the lander found no significant amount of organic molecules, some scientists, most notablythen-NASA researcher Gilbert Levin, believed the results did indeed confirm the existence life on Mars.
NASA refuted any such claims outright, writing that the experiments provided no clear evidence for the presence of living microorganisms in soil near the landing sites.
Joseph built on the research from this fringe group of researchers, by claiming that life was brought to the cosmos by a process called panspermia, a theory that suggests life in space was seeded with microbes carried by dust and meteors.
Over the decades, Joseph has attempted to get his work peer-reviewed and published in a variety astrobiology journals. He even went as far as creating his own journal, which he calls the Journal of Cosmology, likely an attempt to make his work appear more legitimate.
The journal is not much more than an outdated website, and has published claims made by Richard Hoover, another former NASA scientist, who suggested that we discovered fossilized bacteria in space, as CNET reports yet another claim NASA wants nothing to do with.
In 2014, Joseph even attempted to sue NASA into examining a biological organism the agencys Opportunity rover discovered on the surface of Mars. He claimed the rover found a mushroom-like fungus, a composite organism consisting of colonies of lichen and cyanobacteria, and which on Earth is known as Apothecium. It turned out to be a rock.
Just last year, Joseph caught a break when the reputableAstrophysics & Space Science journal published a paper of his that claimed life on Venus had already been found.
Based on photographic evidence made up of grainy black and white images, Joseph argues that Russias Venera 13 lander found evidence of life on Venus in 1982. The paper is still online, as CNET found. The journal added an editors note to the paper this month warning readers that conclusions of this article are subject to criticisms that are being considered by the editors.
Mainstream astrobiologists are not amused.
I feel like these guys have just poisoned the whole field, Paul Myers, a developmental biologist at the University of Minnesota, told CNET.
READ MORE: The search for life on Mars and the Space Tiger King [CNET]
More on life on Mars: Former NASA Scientist Convinced We Already Found Life on Mars
Posted: at 10:19 am
Right now, it is not business as usual. Theres no going back to normal. Charged conversations and changing times call for meaningful, intentional action on the part of large and small brands alike.
How do well-meaning brands communicate where you stand and show your support of your audience at this time?
Jennifer Jen Kem is a Brand Futurist, Business Strategist and Leadership Mentor to women-founded companies and her entire mission is to help them get seen, heard and paid more, based on their values. Her brand and personal values are founded on Autonomy, Justice, Generosity, Leadership and Legacy, and as a 2nd generation Filipino-American, she speaks out often about racial injustice and gender inequality.
Jen shares 5 ways brands can take meaningful action right now.
5 Ways Brands Can Take Meaningful Action During This Time | Stephanie Burns
1. For Your Community: Listen - Dont defend.
Instead of muting them or saying thats not true, say honestly that youre not fully equipped to respond. Say youre listening and from that place of listening, you are committed to fixing it, advises Kem.
Now is the time to listen to those that are hurting.
2. For Your Audience: Educate.
Pass the torch to those qualified to answer. Bring educators, consultants, and coaches who are experts in Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) into your business and hire them to help you assess and audit your stance and policies internally and externally, says Kem. Make it part of your company, not something extra or on top of the everyday work of your company. Communicate your stance with impunity in your communication with your audience.
3. For Your Messaging: Bridge.
One part of branding is managing optics, and going forward (not just during this time), its important to communicate with authentic and honest optics. Stay true to your brand voice but acknowledge that you want to address where you stand, notes Kem.
Bridge the gap of where your brand is now, where you stand and where you are going.
4. For Your Values: Re-Assess.
Center your brand around values-driven metrics, not purely results-driven. Ask yourself - how can we get to the result and understand through the lens of our core values? Your clients dont have to align perfectly with your values, but they should resonate with at least 1 or 2. If youre not making People and Inclusion an authentic value in your brand even if you feel that you are, youre not a values-driven brand, says Kem.
It might be time to take a hard look at the values of your company to see if you truly are aligned with them or if there is need for adjustment.
5. For You: Your Brand Is A Reflection Of You.
This is the world of business now. For me, Ive been choosy in who I has help and amplify. Create REALationships with your audience and understand why they come to you for your expertise. Your audience trusts you, and thats a currency you should not take lightly. Be sure to check on your partnerships and affiliates to see where they stand and if it aligns with your values, explains Kem.
If you feel stuck on what to do or how to help, start with your values and your brand will follow.
Originally posted here:
5 Ways Brands Can Take Meaningful Action During This Time - Forbes
Posted: at 10:19 am
The Bighorn Fire is a vicious blaze thats been raging in Arizona since the beginning of June forcing evacuations as recently as this week.
In fact, the fire has grown so large that satellites can easily see it from space, according to a new post by NASAsJet Propulsion Laboratory.
NASA grabbed the imagery using its Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument, on board its Terra satellite, which was launched back in 1999.
The epic shot included in the post shows the fires progress over the Santa Catalina Mountains, North of Tucson. Vegetation is shown in red, according to NASAs description of the shot, and burned areas are shown in gray.
ASTER, the space agency wrote, is a useful instrument for mapping the changing surface of the Earth because of its high resolution and capability of imaging in thermal infrared wavelengths.
NASA has used it to study the movement of glaciers, volcanic activity, crop health, weather, and the wellbeing of wetlands and coral reefs.
READ MORE: NASAs ASTER Sees Arizonas Bighorn Fire Burn Scar From Space [NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory]
More on fires: Devastating Fires in Amazon Rainforest Can Be Seen From Space