The Stream, September 21: Havana, Cuba Threatened by Tropical Storms, Rising Sea Levels

The Global Rundown

Rising sea levels and more frequent tropical storms threaten the crumbling infrastructure of Havana, Cuba. Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding and power outages across the island. The Arctic ice cap shrinks to hundreds of thousands of square miles below summertime averages. The EPA installs a barrier in a Colorado mine after a wastewater spill contaminated rivers in three states. Water companies in the United Kingdom face scrutiny after customers submitted 2.3 million complaints last year.

“Water companies received more than 2m contacts from customers last year to resolve issues which they should get right the first time.” –Tony Smith, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, in reference to the record number of water service complaints in England and Wales last year. The majority of complaints were related to billing, water supply, and sewerage. The water companies are now facing “closer scrutiny” and must routinely report on efforts to improve their services. The Guardian

By The Numbers

3 million gallons Amount of wastewater that the EPA accidentally released from a mine in southwestern Colorado in August 2015. The spill contaminated rivers in Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah with aluminum, iron, and other heavy metals. To avoid future spills, the EPA has begun installing a barrier and valve which will give the agency control over the flow of wastewater from the mine. ABC News

155 miles per hour Maximum sustained winds of Hurricane Maria when it made landfall on the southeastern end of Puerto Rico on Wednesday. The Category 4 storm tore roofs off buildings and filled streets with debris. In the wake of the storm and flooding, power outages are being reported throughout the island. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

Data gathered by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) shows that the Arctic ice cap has melted to well below its average summertime size. The 2017 minimum ice coverage was 610,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average and the eighth-lowest of 38 years. The Guardian  

On The Radar

The ageing infrastructure of Havana, Cuba is becoming increasingly vulnerable due to rising sea levels and increasing tropical storms. Hurricane Irma caused severe damage to the Cuban capital earlier this month, and further issues loom in the future as the effects of climate change continue. Al Jazeera