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Gender-reveal party sparks huge wildfire in California, causing helicopter evacuations and chaos

California continues to be torched by a devastating scourge of wildfires and officials are blaming a gender reveal party for one of the wild fires.

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As California continues to be torched by a devastating combination of heat waves and a scourge of wildfires, officials are blaming a gender reveal party for one wild fire that’s scorched over 8,500 acres in Southern California.

“A smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” used during a party sparked the El Dorado fire, according to the Cal Fire San Bernardino Unit.

“Cal Fire reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire,” the agency warned in a press release. “Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible.”

The news comes as the Golden State is being fried to a crisp by a record-shattering heatwave, with parts of the Los Angeles metropolitan region reaching highest-ever temperatures of 121F (49.4C)

Sunday’s weather was “one of the hottest days since weather records began across much of south-western California,” said the National Weather Service.

The grim record comes one month after Death Valley National Park, also in California, recorded temperature of 130F (54.4C), potentially the highest temperature recorded on the entire planet.

Over two dozen fires are raging across the state, with Cal Fire struggling to gain a grip on the huge Creek Fire, which has scorched over 73,000 acres. None of it has been contained.

The fire began on Friday evening in the steep, rugged terrain of the Sierra National Forest, home to a popular camp site lying near Fresno.

On late Saturday, rescuers in Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters were deployed to help airlift 207 people to safety when the explosive wildfire cut all road access to the Mammoth Pool Reservoir. Roughly 20 people were hurt, including some who sustained serious burn injuries.

“We had to splash water on our hair because our hair was catching on fire,” Rylee Zukovsky, 16, told the New York Times. “I was shoveling so much water into my face that I was almost drowning myself.”

“Nobody knew helicopters were coming,” she added. “The Chinook just flew out of the smoke.”

The Creek Fire is one of three major fires in California cited by Gov. Gavin Newsom in an emergency declaration Sunday night that applies to the counties of Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, San Bernardino, and San Diego.

This unfortunately was not the first fire caused by a gender reveal party, which are celebrations where expecting parents announce whether they are having a boy or a girl. Since gender reveal parties have gained popularity, they have grown more elaborate and even dangerous.

In April 2017, a gender reveal party sparked a fire that consumed over 45,000 acres in Arizona and caused over $8 million in damage over the span of a week. In 2018, a U.S. Border Patrol agent admitted he was guilty of a misdemeanor violation of U.S. Forest Service regulations for igniting the fire.

Since August 15, California has been inundated by almost 1,000 wildfires, including many caused in Northern California and the Bay Area by a blitz of lightning strikes.

An unsparing heat wave has also hit parts of the state, and officials in the Southern California beach community of Malibu have urged locals and visitors to refrain from hiking after one hiker died from the high temperatures.

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Animals

Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral

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A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.

Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.

The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.

Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.

While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.

“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”

“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.

It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.

The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.

“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.

The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.

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Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History

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For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.

Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.

However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.

Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.

The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.

To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.

The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.

“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”

“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

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South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash

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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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