How this small sensor startup became essential to helping California deal with toxic wildfire smoke

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PurpleAir’s network of air quality monitors and its real time map have provided vital information to people looking to avoid bad health outcomes. Over the last 12 days, wildfires have burned more than 1.2 million acres of land in California, an area collectively larger than Delaware. As the smoke pours into cities like San Francisco, making the air dangerous to breathe, many people aren’t turning to government sites to check the air quality, but to PurpleAir , a tiny startup that maps air quality using sensors in backyards. Read Full Story

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‘I worked 246 hours in 15 days’: What it’s like to fight wildfires in 2020

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Doug Thackery, a forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry, shares his harrowing experience fighting the Holiday Farm Fire, during a fire season like no other. The size, speed, and number of wildfires ravaging the western U.S. this season has been unprecedented. A third of Oregon’s 15 largest wildfires since 1900 have taken place this year. In California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, thick smoke has hung in the air for weeks as fires fueled by climate change burned millions of acres and resulted in at least 30 deaths . Read Full Story

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How Salesforce has helped plant 10 million new trees (with 90 million to go)

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The company is working on its commitment to plant 100 million trees, with some valuable lessons about how forest restoration can be most effectively deployed. In Madagascar, where 90% of the country’s forests have been lost to deforestation, the tech company Salesforce is working with a nonprofit to pay workers to plant and protect 10 million trees. In Australia, it’s paying to restore 150,000 native trees on degraded farmland. In Latin America, it’s funding more than 600,000 new trees in six countries in the Andes. In Tanzania, it’s helping fund the natural regeneration of 800,000 trees. In areas destroyed by wildfire in California, it’s helping support work to replace thousands of trees with species that will be less likely to burn in the next fire . Read Full Story

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2020 saw a record drop in emissions—but it’s not the climate win it should be

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There are ways to get this kind of climate win without also experiencing all the simultaneous pain. After a record breaking wildfire season that burned more than four million acres on the West Coast, and a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season that included 30 named storms (12 of which made landfall), the news that carbon emissions would drop a record 2.4 billion tonnes in 2020 seemed like a turning point for the climate. But taking a look around makes it clear that it had incredible costs. It’s a lesson in how we should—and shouldn’t—plan on lowering emissions in the future. Read Full Story

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Look at the West Coast’s apocalyptic hell sky

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As wildfires rage up and down the western seaboard, people in California and Oregon woke up to an eerie, orange-tinted world. Fires have been burning in California for weeks, and a new heat wave and strong winds over Labor Day weekend sparked several more across the state and in Oregon. With those fires has come intense, thick smoke affecting the region’s air quality (San Francisco has had 23 straight days of warnings about bad air ), but the amount of smoke in the sky on September 9 reached a new level, blocking the sun and creating a disturbing orange-hued world. Read Full Story

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California, Oregon, and Washington live wildfire maps are tracking the devastation in real time

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Location-based data tools reveal the scale of the historic wildfires raging on the West Coast. Historic wildfires continue to burn across the western United States, causing tragic loss of life, mass evacuations, insurmountable damage, and a vast haze of deep orange in the skies. The fires have been raging out of control from Southern California, through Oregon, and up into the northern tip of Washington State, and they include some of the worst wildfires on record. Read Full Story

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California is on fire, and the smoke is visible from space

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In San Francisco, wildfires are currently making the air quality among the worst in the world. There are now 367 wildfires burning in California. In the Bay Area, where fires are burning in every direction from San Francisco, the air quality is currently among the worst in the world. There’s an eerie orange glow in my apartment in Oakland, and ash is falling outside. The smoke is so thick it’s visible from space. Read Full Story

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The world lost enough trees to cover Pennsylvania last year—but some countries are reversing the trend

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Losing 29 million acres of tree covering is devastating for the planet, but the success in some places points to lessons on how to combine national and corporate policy to help curb the problem. Last year, the world lost trees covering more than 29 million acres, an area roughly the size of the entire state of Pennsylvania. Around a third of the trees were in mature tropical rainforests, where the equivalent of a soccer field’s worth of primary forest was lost every six seconds. But there are also early signs that some efforts to stop business practices that drive deforestation might be working. Read Full Story

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Bad design kills: Why COVID-19 spread like wildfire at one of America’s worst prisons

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Poorly designed architecture has exacerbated the spread of COVID-19 at San Quentin, where more than two-thirds of inmates have been infected. In California’s San Quentin State Prison, the toll of the coronavirus has been staggering. More than two-thirds of the prison’s roughly 3,200 inmate population has been infected with the virus, and 25 people there have died, including one guard . According to experts, a major reason the outbreak has been so extreme in San Quentin and at other prisons is their design. Read Full Story

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