Nature & Science

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NOAA’s updated hurricane outlook calls for even more storms in 2021

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday updated its 2021 Atlantic hurricane seasonal forecast, slightly increasing expectations for the number of named storms and powerful hurricanes.

Why it matters: With the U.S. already reeling from extreme heat and wildfires, disaster response agencies are overstretched. A particularly destructive and active hurricane season could overwhelm some of its response capacity.

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Progress made but western wildfires continue to bring poor air quality across US

The Bootleg Fire in Oregon was up to 84% containment early Monday as firefighters made progress over the weekend battling the blaze, which is the nation’s largest at 646 square miles.

Elsewhere, authorities canceled evacuation orders near the Dixie Fire in Northern California and another on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Despite the good news, authorities warned that with unpredictable winds and extremely dry fuels across the West, the risk of flare-ups remained high. In addition, while predicted thunderstorms in many areas could bring welcome rainfall, the storms could also cause flash flooding.

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CDC document warns Delta variant appears to spread as easily as chickenpox and cause more severe infection

The Delta coronavirus variant surging across the United States appears to cause more severe illness and spread as easily as chickenpox, according to an internal document from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The document — a slide presentation — outlines unpublished data that shows fully vaccinated people might spread the Delta variant at the same rate as unvaccinated people.

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Lauren Boebert’s Sarcastic Question To ‘Siri’ About Mask Mandates Didn’t Go Over As Planned

Rootin’ tootin’ Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) can’t (or refuses to) help herself. She’s only a congressional freshman and is nearly as good at self-owning as Sen. Ted Cruz, especially at the U.S.-Mexico border, where lectured a cardboard standee of VP Kamala Harris. Boebert’s latest mission, however, is to endlessly rage against Covid-19 protocols. Earlier this week, she reportedly threw a mask before (not reportedly) tweeting about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “anti-science, totalitarian mask mandate” with a GIF of ex-President Trump saying “bullsh*t.”

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EPA to expand clean water protections to smaller U.S. waterways, reversing Trump policy

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army on Wednesday announced their intent to expand the number of waterways that receive protection under the Clean Water Act.

The move would reverse a rule adopted last year by the Trump administration, which limited the bodies of water that could receive federal protection. The Biden administration wants to expand protections to smaller waterways like streams, ditches and wetlands that feed into bigger bodies of water.

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Great white shark numbers increasing off Northern California coast

You’re still far more likely to see them in movies or TV shows than in person, but the number of great white sharks appears to be increasing along the Northern California coast, say scientists who spent years tracking hundreds of the toothy predators by their distinctive fins.

The exhaustive new study concluded there are nearly 300 adult and sub-adult white sharks living between Monterey Bay, the Farallon Islands and Bodega Bay, an area sometimes called “the red triangle.” Sub-adult sharks are not fully mature but still big enough to eat seals, sea lions and other marine mammals.

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Dutch research funding agency, paralyzed by ransomware attack, refuses to pay up

Hackers published a batch of internal documents from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) on the dark web yesterday, after the agency refused to pay up in a ransomware attack. The attack, which began on 8 February, has completely knocked out the agency’s grant application and review process and cut off NWO’s communication with applicants, grantees, and universities.

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The new politics of climate change

A billionaire, a novelist and a professor all write a book about climate change. 

That may sound like the start of a joke but it is not, especially for philanthropist Bill Gates and author Jonathan Franzen. Their books have come out just as Michael E Mann, one of the world’s best known climate scientists, has published a book accusing each of abetting new forces of inactivism slowing efforts to tackle climate change.

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