The Environment

Statewide death toll rises to 31

California wildfire deadliest and most destructive in state history

By David Brown, 12 November 2018

Social infrastructure, including fire departments, have been starved of funds for decades as trillions of dollars have been funneled into the bank accounts of the rich.

California wildfires kill nine, drive 150,000 from their homes

By David Brown, 10 November 2018

Driven by heavy winds, three major fires broke out Thursday across California, one of which destroyed the northern town of Paradise.

World vertebrate populations have fallen 60 percent since 1970

By Bryan Dyne, 1 November 2018

The latest Living Planet Report demonstrates the far-reaching implications of human activity on both the climate and the degradation of the natural environment.

Dozens missing in Hurricane Michael as death toll rises

By Patrick Martin, 16 October 2018

President Trump’s visit to the devastated area Monday was a cynical and empty display, under conditions where there will be little federal aid to rebuild the region.

Hurricane Michael brings death, devastation to US Southeast

By Kate Randall, 13 October 2018

Mexico Beach, Florida, known for its pristine beaches, fishing and boating, now resembles a war zone, with 95 percent of its structures uninhabitable.

Hurricane Michael leaves trail of death and destruction in southeastern US

By Daniel de Vries, 12 October 2018

The death toll, which currently stands at six, will almost certainly rise as emergency personnel gain access to more communities laid to waste by the storm.

UN report warns of catastrophic consequences of climate change within 20 years

By Bryan Dyne, 10 October 2018

The increasingly dire warnings from scientists about the impact of human-caused global warming stand in stark contrast with the tepid and complacent response of world governments.

Indonesian tsunami relief grossly inadequate as death toll tops 1,200

By Tom Peters, 2 October 2018

Among survivors, there is growing outrage over the lack of assistance and the absence of a functioning tsunami warning system.

As new flooding forces evacuations in South Carolina

Hurricane Florence unleashes coal ash, hog waste pollution

By Ed Hightower, 26 September 2018

The areas around Conway and Georgetown in coastal South Carolina continue to see massive flooding as rivers surge from last week’s record rains.

Tropical Storm Florence inundates toxic manure ponds, coal ash dumps in the Carolinas

By Ed Hightower, 19 September 2018

The storm’s devastating impact demonstrates the immense costs of deregulation on the one hand and the need for socialist planning and public ownership of industry on the other.

Thirty-one dead as Hurricane Florence continues to ravage the Carolinas

By Matthew Taylor, 18 September 2018

Cities cut off from aid, police guarding storefronts against desperate displaced residents, widespread power outages—this scene is now routine during America's Hurricane season.

Typhoon Mangkhut kills dozens in the Philippines, leaves trail of destruction in China and Hong Kong

By Oscar Grenfell, 18 September 2018

As in previous natural disasters, the poor and workers in low-paid precarious industries have been the hardest hit.

Hurricane Florence kills five in North Carolina, leaves nearly one million without power

By Matthew Taylor, 15 September 2018

Once again, a natural disaster has exposed the totally inadequate state of public infrastructure in the United States.

Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina

By Patrick Martin, 14 September 2018

A storm surge of as much as 11 feet of water was accompanied by winds approaching 120 miles per hour.

Proposed methane rule repeal continues Trump’s deregulation of polluters

By Daniel de Vries, 14 September 2018

The EPA announced a plan Tuesday to enable oil and gas companies to release more greenhouse gases.

Hurricane Florence exposes disastrous state of US infrastructure

By Tom Hall, 13 September 2018

Trump’s self-congratulation for his response to last year’s devastation of Puerto Rico, even as Carolina residents brace for one of the worst Atlantic storms in history, sums up the callousness and criminality of the American ruling class.

Nearly 200 clean-up workers sickened or dead from 2008 Tennessee coal ash spill

By Warren Duzak and Zackary Thorton, 13 September 2018

A press investigation has exposed what can only be called a social crime against the working class in eastern Tennessee.

Waste plastics poison the food chain and contribute to global warming

By Philip Guelpa, 7 September 2018

A variety of recent research highlights the ways in which the huge amounts of discarded plastic products are harmful to the environment and human health.

New Trump coal regulations will kill as many as 1,400 Americans annually by 2030

By Alec Andersen, 25 August 2018

According a report by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the agency’s recent rule change will lead to 1,400 more premature deaths by 2030.

Verizon throttled emergency data during California wildfires

By Henry Allan, 25 August 2018

While many workers have lost their homes and lives, the telecommunications giant has seen the disaster as an opportunity to make some extra profits.

Death toll rises from Greek forest fires

By John Vassilopoulos, 23 August 2018

Fire victims have demonstrated outside parliament to protest inadequate assistance from the Syriza government.

Firefighter casualties mount from California wildfires

By Rafael Azul, 16 August 2018

The deadly fires which have claimed the lives of six firefighters, are part of a wave of wildfires affecting the entire western United States and British Columbia in Canada.

A year after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, victims still face long recovery

By Trévon Austin, 16 August 2018

Federal assistance has been slow and ecological issues in Houston make future flooding more likely.

Heat wave and climate change drive California fires, now largest in state history

By David Brown, 10 August 2018

Last month was the hottest July on record for California going back 124 years, contributing to the drying out of vegetation and setting the stage for a record fire season.

California’s burning: The social and political background of the deadly infernos

By David Brown, 1 August 2018

For the second year in a row, the US state of California is the scene of death and destruction, as wildfires surge throughout the state and drive thousands from their homes.

Seven killed, hundreds of homes destroyed as Carr wildfire spreads across Northern California

By Alec Andersen, 30 July 2018

Some 38,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate the area, many of whom have been forced to proceed to hastily-constructed relief centers run by charities.

The social and political background to the forest fire disaster in Greece

By Katerina Selin, 28 July 2018

The depiction of forest fires as an inevitable natural phenomenon serves to cover up the impact of ten years of austerity ordered by the European Union, which have led to the total collapse of basic public services throughout Greece.

Extreme weather in Japan has deadly impact on the elderly

By Gary Alvernia, 25 July 2018

The elderly are consistently the most affected victims of heat waves, floods, and other disasters, pointing to the social neglect of the aged by the Japanese government.

Global warming will increase the severity of hurricanes

By Philip Guelpa, 21 July 2018

Superstorms like Hurricane Harvey are now predicted to occur once every 16 years, rather than once every 100 years.

Air pollution leading cause of death among children in sub-Saharan Africa

By Eddie Haywood, 2 July 2018

Recent reports have confirmed the deadly effects of pervasive air pollution, which is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children across Africa every year.

Trump EPA to shred rules on toxic pollution

By Patrick Martin, 9 June 2018

The chemical industry is writing the rules that will regulate its discharge of toxins.

Death toll rises as volcanic eruption buries entire towns in Guatemala

By Andrea Lobo, 5 June 2018

When such natural disasters strike a society built on capitalist exploitation and extreme inequality, the poorest and most vulnerable always pay the heaviest price.

Puerto Rican resident speaks on death toll cover up, crisis on the island

By Genevieve Leigh, 1 June 2018

Jose, a 29-year-old resident of the island, spoke to the WSWS about the conditions which led to 5,000 deaths after Hurricane María and about the way forward for the working class

Ellicott City, Maryland hit by major flood, one reported dead

By Matthew Taylor, 1 June 2018

The Baltimore suburb was still recovering from a similar flood two years ago when it was inundated by heavy rains on Sunday.

A social crime and cover-up exposed

Five thousand deaths in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria

By Genevieve Leigh, 31 May 2018

A Harvard study estimating nearly 5,000 deaths of Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane María is a damning exposure of the official cover up of death and devastation on the island.

Australian government reports whitewash responsibility for toxic foam crisis

By Patrick Davies, 29 May 2018

Official cover-ups are scrapping any notion of potential buybacks or compensation.

Official report “just a fob off”

Australia: Residents denounce government response to PFAS health disaster

By our correspondents, 29 May 2018

The WSWS spoke to Terry and Jenny Robinson, who live on a contaminated property near a military base.

Trump axes NASA climate research program

By Daniel de Vries, 18 May 2018

The Carbon Monitoring System was the latest target of the Trump administration’s anti-science agenda.

Study finds alarming decline in biodiversity worldwide

By Philip Guelpa, 14 May 2018

The increasingly rapid loss of plant and animal species threatens a sixth mass global extinction.

EPA head Scott Pruitt subject of growing demands for removal over open corruption

By Matthew Taylor, 7 April 2018

Pruitt has personified the close ties between big business and the political system throughout his career.

Dozens of fatalities during European cold snap

By Tom Pearce and Robert Stevens, 9 March 2018

According to reports, more than 60 people, including many homeless people, have perished across the continent, with 29 dying in Poland alone.

Canadian big business presses Trudeau to push through Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

By Roger Jordan, 20 February 2018

Notwithstanding Trudeau’s attempts to pose as a “progressive,” his government is just as determined as its Conservative predecessor to push through socially and environmentally destructive resource projects.

Explore the complexities and beauty of Earth’s oceans in Blue Planet II

By Bryan Dyne, 22 January 2018

The series is a vindication of what can be achieved with scientifically coordinated and socially progressive human activity.

Death toll in Southern California mudslides rises to 20

By Dan Conway, 16 January 2018

Rescuers have all but given up hope of finding anyone else alive in the coastal community of Montecito, transitioning from a “search and rescue phase” to a “search and recovery phase.”

Death toll in Southern California mudslides rises to 17

By Dan Conway, 11 January 2018

Rescuers continued to search for survivors in the upscale community of Montecito, California Wednesday after rivers of mud and debris had raged through the area a day earlier.

At least 13 dead as rainfall in Southern California triggers mudslides and flooding

By Dan Conway, 10 January 2018

The deaths were primarily due to mudslides triggered by heavy rains in areas largely denuded by massive wildfires only a few weeks before.

America’s poor and homeless freeze in winter storm

By Kate Randall, 5 January 2018

As in all weather-related disasters, society’s most vulnerable are the worst affected, with the poor and homeless bearing the brunt.

Trump administration to roll back regulations on offshore drilling

By Matthew Taylor, 5 January 2018

The Trump administration is repealing restrictions adopted after the 2010 well blowout that polluted much of the Gulf of Mexico.

Cold wave, house fires prove lethal for US homeless, poor

By Patrick Martin, 29 December 2017

The current bout of severe weather has created conditions for an upsurge in fatal house fires, accidents and deaths due to exposure.

Erie, Pennsylvania buried by more than five feet of snow

By Samuel Davidson, 29 December 2017

Tens of thousands of people are unable to get to work, homeless shelters have filled up, and area hospitals are feeling the impact.

Toxic contamination zone expanded around Australia’s Williamtown air force base

By Patrick Davies, 27 December 2017

The suddenly re-drawn “red zone” encompasses another 250 households who were previously told that their properties were not affected and no health precautions were necessary.

Southern California wildfires continue into third week

By Dan Conway, 21 December 2017

Firefighters in Southern California continue to battle the Thomas Fire, now the second largest in state history, northwest of Los Angeles more than 16 days after it began.

Puerto Rico governor orders review of official hurricane death toll

By Niles Niemuth, 19 December 2017

The review comes amid growing anger on the island and media reports that the true death toll from Hurricane Maria could exceed 1,000.

After ten days, largest of Southern California wildfires continues to rage

By Dan Conway, 15 December 2017

As the massive wildfires that engulf Southern California continue, a fire that consumed portions of Los Angeles’ wealthiest neighborhood is being blamed on the city’s homeless.

Southern California wildfires continue to rage for third day

By Dan Conway, 8 December 2017

Wildfires continue in Southern California with high winds stoking at least five major blazes in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura County areas.

Massive wildfires grow across Southern California

By Dan Conway, 7 December 2017

Increasing temperatures coupled with funding cuts have left forestry services around the country woefully unprepared to deal with the rising danger.

Trump administration silences government environmental scientists

By Daniel de Vries, 27 October 2017

The EPA ordered three agency scientists to cancel long planned talks this week which were related to climate change.

Puerto Rico power blackout the biggest in US history

By Rafael Azul, 24 October 2017

Some 3 million people are without electricity and there are predictions that some remote parts of the mountainous island will not see power restored until next June.

Estimated death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria rises to 450

By Rafael Azul, 20 October 2017

Amidst a systematic cover-up of the true scale of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, Trump declared yesterday that the response of the US government was a “10.”

Why weren't residents warned about the Northern California fires?

By Rafael Azul and Eric London, 16 October 2017

In neither Napa nor Sonoma counties were the residents warned through the mobile-phone emergency alert systems of the impending catastrophe. In Lake County, the county used mobile alerts and is the only county to report zero deaths.

President Trump threatens to pull the plug on Puerto Rico

By Rafael Azul, 13 October 2017

In Twitter messages, the president blamed the US territory for its crisis and said that federal disaster relief had to be limited.

Evacuees speak about devastating California fires

By our reporters, 13 October 2017

The death toll from the still uncontrolled wildfires in Northern California rose to 31 Thursday, making it the deadliest outbreak in the state’s history.

At least 23 dead as reports point to electrical infrastructure as possible cause of California fires

By Kevin Martinez, 12 October 2017

Reports are emerging that power lines owned by Pacific Gas and Electric, the utility for Northern California, may have sparked the fires.

Trump administration axes Obama-era climate regulations

By Daniel de Vries, 11 October 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to revoke the Clean Power Plan is part of a broader drive to gut environmental regulations.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey flooding

“Chemical coast” residents to be tested for toxic exposures in Houston, Texas

By Gary Joad, 4 October 2017

Houston area residents are being tested for petrochemical and Superfund toxic poisoning in the wake of recent severe Hurricane Harvey flooding.

Trump visits Puerto Rico as anger grows over government response

By Rafael Azul, 3 October 2017

In contrast to the indifference of the Trump administration, people across the United States are volunteering to help residents of the hurricane-ravaged island.

Puerto Rico confronts the devastation wrought by hurricanes and Wall Street

By Rafael Azul, 25 September 2017

Puerto Rico is reeling not only from the catastrophic effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria, but from the predatory ravages of Wall Street.

Dam collapse threatens to kill thousands in Puerto Rico

By Rafael Azul, 23 September 2017

Three days after Hurricane Maria devastated the Island, residents are left without power and basic necessities, while an ongoing dam collapse threatens to inundate tens of thousands.

Death toll rises in Mexico City earthquake

By Alex González, 21 September 2017

The working class has mobilized to lead rescue efforts through its own self-sacrifice and solidarity.

Hurricane Maria devastates Puerto Rico

By Rafael Azul, 21 September 2017

The suffering caused by the hurricane was made worse by the absence of any serious official evacuation plan and the lack of resources due to the financial plundering of the US territory

Catastrophic Hurricane María heads for Puerto Rico

By Rafael Azul, 20 September 2017

The Category Five storm is the largest to hit the island territory in nearly 90 years.

More than 140 dead and counting as a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocks Mexico City

By Andrea Lobo, 20 September 2017

Less than two weeks after an earthquake killed 99 people in southern Mexico, another quake has left widespread death and destruction in the continent's largest metropolis.

A social crime: Eight elderly dead in Florida nursing home after days without air conditioning

By Niles Niemuth, 14 September 2017

Police evacuated 115 remaining residents from a nursing home north of Miami after they spent days in suffocating heat after the power was knocked out by Hurricane Irma.

Officials estimate one quarter of homes in Florida Keys destroyed by Hurricane Irma

By Niles Niemuth, 13 September 2017

Millions remained without power across Florida and Georgia on Tuesday as officials surveyed the damage in the Florida Keys in Irma's aftermath.

Large wildfires continue to spread in US Northwest

By Hector Cordon, 13 September 2017

Since August, the large northwestern US wildfires have more than tripled in size.

Petrochemical giants dumped deadly carcinogens during Hurricane Harvey

By Gary Joad, 12 September 2017

As Hurricane Harvey bore down on Texas, scores of plants owned by ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and other corporations released deadly toxins into the atmosphere.

Millions face devastation from Hurricane Irma in southwest Florida, Tampa metro area

By Patrick Martin, 11 September 2017

The destruction accompanying the huge storm is not merely a natural disaster, but a measure of the crisis of American society.

Caribbean islands devastated by storm surge, winds, rain

By our reporter, 11 September 2017

The worst impact of Hurricane Irma was in Lesser Antilles and the US and British Virgin Islands.

Why was American capitalism unable to prepare for Hurricane Irma?

By Niles Niemuth, 11 September 2017

As Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc on Florida, the failure to adequately prepare for the storm and protect those in its path has exposed the irrationality of American capitalism.

Hurricane Irma heads towards Florida after tearing through the Caribbean

By Matthew Taylor, 8 September 2017

Florida residents are bracing for Hurricane Irma, which has already killed at least 14 people and left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Irma slams into Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands

By Jerry White, 7 September 2017

Like Houston, the human cost of Irma will be far greater because of the lack of any serious government preparation and the long neglect of physical and social infrastructure.

Hurricane Harvey to be costliest US natural disaster

By Patrick Martin, 4 September 2017

With published estimates approaching $200 billion, Hurricane Harvey may have caused damage greater than Katrina and Sandy combined.

“The working class has organized to save the working class”

A Hurricane Harvey diary: Part 2

By Charles Abelard, 4 September 2017

A reader who has lived in Houston for four decades describes the impact of the storm, the rescue efforts organized by workers and runaway real estate development that has left the city vulnerable to flooding.

Death toll expected to rise as chemical explosions add to devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey

By Niles Niemuth, 1 September 2017

Officials at every level of government continue to congratulate themselves on their response to the storm, while the endless media commentary avoids any discussion of those responsible for the disaster.

“I grew to call the oil industry the rape, pillage and plunder industry”

Former Shell Oil civil engineer and Berkeley Professor Emeritus Robert Bea speaks on Hurricane Harvey

By Barry Grey, 1 September 2017

Robert Bea, a retired civil engineer, has had a long career in the fields of flood control and risk assessment and management.

Flooding continues to inundate Gulf Coast as Harvey makes landfall in Louisiana

By Niles Niemuth, 31 August 2017

Hurricane Harvey is expected to far surpass any previous storm as the costliest in American history, with at least $190 billion in damage, equivalent to one percent of the national GDP.

Deportation fears prevent many Houston immigrants from seeking emergency shelter

By Eric London, 31 August 2017

Immigrants are risking rising flood waters because of anti-immigrant maneuvers and false reports of deportations at evacuation sites.

The working class responds to Hurricane Harvey

By Joseph Kishore, 31 August 2017

The self-sacrifice and organizational initiative of the working class in response to the hurricane make a powerful case for independent workers’ organizations and workers’ control over economic and social life.

As Trump gloats over “success” of government response to Hurricane Harvey

Reservoir breaches in Houston threaten more death and destruction

By Kate Randall, 30 August 2017

While floodwaters continued to rise in Houston, Governor Abbott and President Trump praised one another and hailed the government response to the disaster.

The Houston flood, the anarchy of the capitalist market and the case for socialist planning

By Niles Niemuth, 30 August 2017

Twelve years after Katrina, nothing has been done to strengthen flood control systems and build up the social infrastructure to limit the impact of major storms.

Government negligence exacerbates Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston, Texas

By Charles Abelard in Houston and Jerry White, 29 August 2017

Emergency shelters, hastily established by authorities in Houston, are overflowing with at least 30,000 residents, while at least nine deaths are blamed on the storm.

The Houston flood disaster: A social crime of the American oligarchy

By Barry Grey, 29 August 2017

Catastrophes such as Hurricane Harvey are the product of a half-century of neglect of America’s social infrastructure, accompanied by a fantastic accumulation of private wealth at the very apex of society.

Houston residents speak out on historic flooding from Hurricane Harvey

By Trévon Austin, 29 August 2017

Stories of devastation along the Gulf Coast continue to emerge three days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas.

Tanker makes solo voyage through melting Arctic Sea

By Daniel de Vries, 29 August 2017

The natural gas tanker’s passage marks a new milestone in the decay of the Arctic Ocean ice cap.

Capitalism and the Houston flood catastrophe

By Tom Hall, 28 August 2017

Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina, a major hurricane has once against exposed the brutal reality of class relations in the United States.

Trump signs order cutting environmental regulation of infrastructure projects

By E.P. Milligan, 19 August 2017

Energy development projects such as oil and gas pipelines will receive heavy federal subsidies while being fast-tracked through the already lax process of environmental review.

Australia: Anger grows over fire at Melbourne recycling plant

By Will Morrrow, 22 July 2017

Firefighting services have been called to the plant nine times in the last five years—four times this year, three times in 2015 and once in both 2012 and 2013.

Court rejects Trump’s delay of methane rules

By Daniel de Vries, 8 July 2017

The decision is a minor setback for an administration charging ahead with environmental deregulation

Trump, the coal miners and the environment

By Jerry White, 6 June 2017

Stripped of the demagogy and lies, the line of the Trump administration amounts to the proposition that miners must place their full trust and confidence in the benevolence of the coal bosses.

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement: The socialist solution to climate change

By Bryan Dyne, 3 June 2017

A serious response to the dangers posed by climate change is not possible within the framework of the capitalism and the nation-state system.