A series of about a hundred fires are burning out of control in Chile. Some of them, firefighters classify as “highly resistant to control.” As it stands, over 35,000 acres (14,161 ha). Sadly, it has not only been tracts of wilderness that gone up in smoke, but also 15 houses. Australia is also battling wildfires, which are threatening several vineyards in the wine growing region, Adelaide Hills. Wine, it turns out, is very sensitive to smoke, and what is known as smoke taint is bad news for vintages. The smoke gets into grapes’ skins and the resulting wine tastes like an ashtray; obviously an unpopular drink. While there is no estimate of damages from smoke taint just yet, in previous years it has easily topped $7 million. Sadly, hundreds of animals have also been killed in the fires. In the US, another cash crop might be in trouble; chile peppers. The ongoing US drought in the Southwest is forcing farmers to rely more on well water than water from the Rio Grande. This well water is saltier than river water and it results in weakened, smaller crops. Farmers fear that within a few years they will not be able to grow the crop at all. Brazil is also having trouble with crop production, even as drought recovery is beginning. Coffee trees will not recover easily from the extreme heat and drought in 2014.
Also in Australia, in the Northern Territories and surrounding areas, three people were successfully rescued from flash flooding. One man was not so lucky. He was reported missing after tire-tubing along a riverbed and police recovered his body. Police are urging residents to use extreme caution while the rain continues, as there is a risk of further flash flooding. Travellers are advised to check road conditions before going anywhere. In other news, the Middle East is facing a new humanitarian threat. Lebanon, Syria, and several other countries are being covered in snow. Refugee camps in Syria were not prepared for the arctic blast, and at least two refugees are dead as a result. More deaths will likely follow, as temperatures are expected to plummet to -17ºC (1.4ºF.) While this is on par with what Canadians experience annually, it is dramatic for Lebanon. Meanwhile, in Myanmar, four people are dead after a landslide at a jade mine. Heavy rain triggered this fatal event.
This summary in no way reflects all of what has been going on in the world. If you would like to see all of our headlines from the past week, please click here.