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Wildfire smoke clouds sky, hurts air quality on East Coast

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Smoke and ash from massive wildfires in the American West clouded the sky and led to air quality alerts Wednesday on parts of the East Coast as the effects of the blazes were felt 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) away.

Strong winds blew smoke east from California, Oregon, Montana and other states all the way to other side of the continent. Haze hung over New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The nation’s largest wildfire, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, grew to 616 square miles (1,595 square kilometers) — just over half the size of Rhode Island. Fires also burned on both sides of California’s Sierra Nevada and in Washington state and other areas of the West.

The smoke blowing to the East Coast was reminiscent of last fall, when large blazes burning in Oregon’s worst wildfire season in recent memory choked the local sky with pea-soup smoke but also affected air quality several thousand miles away. So far this year, Seattle and Portland have largely been spared the foul air.

People in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and elsewhere with heart disease, asthma and other health issues were told to avoid the outdoors. Air quality alerts for parts of the region were in place through Thursday.

“One of the things about this event that makes it so remarkable is that the smoke is affecting such a large swath of the U.S,” said Jesse Berman, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and an expert on air quality. “You’re not just seeing localized and perhaps upstate New York being affected, but rather you’re seeing numerous states all along the East Coast that are being impacted.”

David Lawrence, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said wildfire smoke usually thins out by the time it reaches the East Coast, but this summer it’s “still pretty thick.”

In California, a wildfire burning completely uncontained south of Lake Tahoe crossed the state line into Nevada. New voluntary evacuation orders were issued for portions of Douglas County, Nevada.

The Tamarack Fire, started by lightning in Alpine County, California, has now burned more than 65 square miles (168 square kilometers). Authorities say more than 1,200 firefighters are battling the blaze, which has destroyed at least 10 structures.

Meanwhile, Oregon on Wednesday banned all campfires on state-managed lands and in state campgrounds east of Interstate 5, the major highway that is commonly considered the dividing line between the wet western part of the state and the dry eastern half.

The regulation includes the designated fire rings at campsites, as well as candles and tiki torches. Propane grills are still allowed, but the state still urged campers to pack food that doesn’t require heating or cooking.

The Oregon fire has ravaged the sparsely populated southern part of the state and has been expanding by up to 4 miles (6 kilometers) a day, pushed by gusting winds and critically dry weather that’s turned trees and undergrowth into a tinderbox.

Fire crews have had to retreat from the flames for 10 consecutive days as fireballs jump from treetop to treetop, trees explode, embers fly ahead of the fire to start new blazes and, in some cases, the inferno’s heat creates its own weather of shifting winds and dry lightning. Monstrous clouds of smoke and ash have risen up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) into the sky and are visible for more than 100 air miles (161 kilometers).

Authorities in Oregon said lower winds and temperatures Tuesday allowed crews to improve fire lines, and they hoped to make more progress Wednesday. The fire was approaching an old burn area on its active southeastern flank, raising hopes it would not spread as much.

The blaze, which is being fought by more than 2,200 people, is about one-third contained. It was within a few hundred acres of becoming Oregon’s third-largest wildfire in modern history.

At least 2,000 homes have been evacuated at some point during the fire and an additional 5,000 threatened. At least 70 homes and more than 100 outbuildings have burned, but no one is known to have died.

Extremely dry conditions and recent heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

While Berman is hopeful that the smoke will last only a couple of days, he said we may see more of it due to climate change.

“We fully expect that you’re going to see more situations where smoke, from fires occurring farther away, is going to travel long distances and affect people in other parts of the country,” Berman said. “I would not be surprised at all if these events did become more frequent in the future.”

———

Associated Press video journalists Haven Daley in Minden, Nevada, and David Martin in New York City contributed to this report. Follow Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus.


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Wanna squad up in Pokémon Unite? Here’s how

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Pokémon Unite is a new 5-v-5 free-to-play MOBA on the Nintendo Switch. In this multiplayer Pokémon game, players choose from one of 20 Pokémon and battle it against one another. And what better way to celebrate a hard-fought victory than with your friends? Playing Pokémon Unite with friends is the best way to play, but playing with friends on the Nintendo Switch isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is possible. Here’s how to invite your friends to a play in Pokemon Unite.

How to invite friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch

Inviting friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch is pretty simple.

  1. First, go ahead and exchange friend codes with the person you want to invite.
  2. Open Pokémon Unite.
  3. At the main menu, select Unite Battle and start a lobby.

    Source: iMore

  4. Select one of the plus signs around your character or press the Y button to open up your friends list.

    How to invite friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch: Select one of the plus signs around your character, or press the Y button to open up your friends list.

    Source: iMore

  5. Choose the person you want to invite, and select Player Info.

    How to invite friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch: Choose the person you want to invite, and select Player Info.

    Source: iMore

  6. Then select Invite Friends.

    How to invite friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch: Then select Invite Friends.

    Source: iMore

All your friend has to do at this point is accept the invitation.

How to invite players using a Lobby ID

If you want to play with someone you’re not friends with, you can still invite them to your game without adding their friend code.

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  1. Start Pokémon Unite.
  2. At the main menu, select Unite Battle and start a lobby.
  3. At the top left of the screen, you’ll see a Lobby ID. Share that ID with whoever you’d like.

    How to invite players using a Lobby ID: At the top left of the screen, you'll see a **Lobby ID**. Share that ID with whoever you'd like.

    Source: iMore

That’s all it takes. The player joining just has to input the Lobby ID into the Lobby Search option of the main menu.

How to invite cross-platform players

Pokemon Unite is available on the Switch but will come to iOS and Android in September. You won’t need their friend code to invite them, but you’ll need to share your Trainer ID.

  1. Start Pokémon Unite.
  2. At the main menu, press L to open your Trainer Info.

    How to invite cross platform players:At the main menu, press L to open your Trainer Info.

    Source: iMore

  3. Share the code at the bottom of the screen to add your cross-platform friend.

We’ll have to put this to the test once the iOS and Android versions release this September.

Unite for the fight

Pokémon Unite is a great multiplayer game, made even better when you’re playing with friends. It also has a surprising amount of depth, so be sure to check out our Pokémon tier list to figure out who is the best Pokémon for your play style. And while you’re at it, check out all of the free gifts available for Pokémon Unite now. Coordinate with friends and claim victory!


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The next MacBook Air: Mid-2022 eyed for mini-LED M2 redesign

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Roman has covered technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he’s worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life, and TechTV.


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Explained: History of IPCC, the international body that reviews climate change effects-World News , Firstpost

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The body meets next week to vet and validate a summary of part one of its first major assessment in seven years.

Representational image. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, addresses the Copenhagen meeting in 2014. Image: IPCC

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) compiles comprehensive reviews of scientific literature on climate change, past and future.

The body meets next week to vet and validate a summary of part one of its first major assessment in seven years. Here’s a thumbnail profile of the panel.

History

The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and Environment Programme (UNEP).

Its mandate is to give policymakers neutral, science-based updates about global warming — physical science, climate impacts, and scenarios for bringing the problem under control. Providing explicit policy recommendations is not part of its mandate.

An intergovernmental body, the IPCC currently counts 195 member countries.

Organisation

Based in Geneva, the panel is chaired by South Korea’s Hoesung Lee, an expert on the economics of climate change.

Its reports are compiled by thousands of atmospheric scientists, climate modellers, oceanographers, ice specialists, economists and public health experts, mostly drawn from universities and research institutes. They work on a volunteer basis.

The IPCC does not conduct new research but trawls through thousands of published studies and summarises key findings, indicating degrees of likelihood and confidence.

It is often described as the biggest peer-review exercise in the world.

Assessment reports

Every five or six years the IPCC produces vast overviews, typically several thousand pages long. The first came out in 1990, the most recent in 2014.

Three separate teams, or “working groups”, look at the physical science of global warming, climate change impacts and options for tackling the problem. Each working group’s report is published separately, followed by a final “synthesis report”.

The sixth assessment cycle, like those before it, will produce reports in four instalments: working group one’s findings will be made public on August 9; working group two’s in February 2022; working group three’s in March 2022; and a final synthesis in the autumn of 2022.

Summary for policymakers

The IPCC concludes each review with a crucial summary for policymakers that undergoes multiple rounds of editing, first by scientists and then by government officials.

The last draft is submitted to an IPCC plenary, which vets it line-by-line before approval by consensus.

Governments can seek amendments to the summary, which are approved if the argument is supported by what is in the underlying report written by the scientists.

Special reports

Member nations can request so-called “special reports” between major assessments. Since 2014, there have been three.

A special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius came out in October 2018; one on land use, agriculture and food security in August 2019; and another on oceans and Earth’s frozen regions, known as the cryosphere, in September 2019.

Nobel prize & critics

Defenders of the IPCC say that its exhaustive work, and a summary for policymakers endorsed by the world’s governments, give it exceptional clout.

“It’s unique in science, and it’s uniquely powerful in science,” Peter Thorne, a lead author of the sixth assessment and a professor at Maynooth University in Ireland, told AFP.

“There is no other field that has for decades undertaken such a robust assessment process.”

Its 2014 report provided the scientific underpinning for the landmark Paris Agreement, inked outside the French capital in 2015.

The 2007 edition earned the IPCC a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, alongside former US vice president and climate campaigner Al Gore.

The IPCC’s image was later dented by several minor errors uncovered in the report that provided ammunition for sceptics who claim the IPCC is flawed or biased.

More recently, some scientists have said the panel is too conservative, leading it to underestimate the climate change threat.

The last published report, for example, did not factor in potential contribution to sea-level rise — widely recognised today — from melting ice sheets in West Antarctica and Greenland.

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