As sea ice in the Arctic vanishes, the Navy looks to begin naval training including live bombing runs and the use of active sonar in the middle of the most pristine, economically valuable and sustainable salmon fishery in the country.
Reprinted with permission by TomDispatch [This essay is a joint TomDispatch/Truthout report.]
I lived in Anchorage for 10 years and spent much of that time climbing in and on the spine of the state, the Alaska Range. Three times I stood atop the mountain the Athabaskans call Denali, "the great one." During that decade, I mountaineered for more than half a year on that magnificent state’s highest peaks. It was there that I took in my own insignificance while living amid rock and ice, sleeping atop glaciers that creaked and moaned as they slowly ground their way toward lower elevations.
Alaska contains the largest coastal mountain range in the world and the highest peak in North America. It has more coastline than the entire contiguous 48 states combined and is big enough to hold the state of Texas two and a half times over. It has the largest population of bald eagles in the country. It has 430 kinds of birds along with the brown bear, the largest carnivorous land mammal in the world, and other species ranging from the pygmy shrew that weighs less than a penny to gray whales that come in at 45 tons. Species that are classified as "endangered" in other places are often found in abundance in Alaska.
Warming and tainted waters raise threats to wood frog tadpoles
FRISCO — With more than a third of the world’s amphibian species threatened by extinction, scientists have been try to figure out what’s driving the decline. For some species, the chytrid fungus has been pinpointed as the biggest threat, but a study by scientists from California and Alaska shows that climate change and pollution may also be big factors.
Labeling may actually reduce opposition to GMOs among some demographic groups
FRISCO — A new Vermont study suggests that consumers don’t necessarily see GMO lables on food as a negative warning. In some cases, such labels may actually increase consumer confidence, the researchers said after analyzing five years worth of data.
Country’s largest rainforest to be protected from destructive logging
FRISCO — A federal court has overturned yet another lawless environmental decision made by the former Bush administration by striking down a huge roadless rule exemption for logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest — thew country’s largest.
Conservation groups hailed the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit as a major victory for efforts to preserve southeast Alaska’s environment. The national roadless rule, issued in 2001, protected about 60 million acres of public lands across the country, which the Bush administration promptly tried to undermine with all sorts of administrative exemptions.
Report says fragmented habitat isn’t adequate for protection of species Staff Report FRISCO — After a detailed mapping analysis maps, wildlife conservation advocates say the federal government downsized important habitat for sage grouse. The findings are outlined in a new report released by WildEarth Guardians. It compares protected areas to remaining key population hotspots. Almost 20 million acres designated as Priority Areas for Conservation disappeared from the Priority Habitat areas proposed in U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management sage grouse plans.
Noah’s Ark supposedly provided shelter to animals from the rising floodwaters. But at a federal breeding site near Shasta Lake, Calif., the opposite is occurring: The tanks of Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery are providing refuge this summer for salmon nearly out of water. There, staffers are rearing the only insurance policy that the Sacramento River’s winter-run Chinook have against extinction: a living genetic bank of 1,035 baby fish, selected to reseed the population should it extinguish in the wild. Unique coloring, genetics and size distinguish this subspecies, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The Golden State’s extreme drought, now well into its fourth year and said by climate scientists at the University of Minnesota and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to be the state’s worst in more than 1,200 years, has been accelerating the anticipated demise of several of California’s endangered fishes, including its salmon.
Chemical analysis informs potential hybridization efforts Staff Report FRISCO — As the widespread and disastrous consequences of heavy pesticide use become ever-more apparent, wine-makers and grape growers are trying to figure out ways to make their grapes more resistant to bugs and fungi without using toxic chemicals.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The waters where Olympians will compete in swimming and boating events next summer in South America's first games are rife with human sewage and present a serious health risk for athletes, an Associated…
The other item was more sobering -- an article in London's Independent newspaper headlined, "Society will collapse by 2040 due to catastrophic food shortages, says study." The study, based on a model created at Anglia Ruskin University's Global Sustainability Institute, forecasts that if global emissions continue unabated, plausible climate trends will lead to catastrophic crop failures and food riots around the globe. "In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption," Aled Jones, director of the Institute, told reporters. The study echoes a similar, peer-reviewed report from Lloyds of London, which found the probability of a major food crisis "significantly higher" than the insurance industry's benchmark return period of 1:200 years.
Higher temperatures are melting Greenland ice directly, but also indirectly via increased rainfall Greenland, one of the largest ice sheets in the world, is melting. In fact, it is melting ahead of schedule as the world warms.
‘If we do not implement emissions reductions measures in line with the 2 degrees Celsius target in time, we will not be able to preserve ocean life as we know it’
FRISCO — Removing CO2 from the atmosphere as a last-ditch effort to avoid dangerous climate change probably wouldn’t be enough to ameliorate impacts to the world’s oceans, where the legacy of carbon pollution will likely play out for centuries to come in the form of deep ocean heat and increasing acidification.
Petroleum coke, or “petcoke,” is still a problem in Chicago despite city regulations, and it could quickly become a problem in other parts of the state if there are no limits or rules on storage of the toxic powdery byproduct of oil refining.
That’s the message of groups that sent a letter to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) on June 11, decrying the agency’s decision not to pursue making such statewide rules.
In January 2014, the IEPA had asked the Illinois Pollution Control Board for permission to make emergency rules regarding the storage of petcoke and other bulk materials in the state.
The move was sparked by controversy over petcoke storage on Chicago’s Southeast Side, including by the Koch Industries subsidiary KCBX Terminals. In asking for rules the IEPA cited fugitive particulate matter air emissions and run-off from petcoke storage piles into water.
“These are exciting times, these are challenging times, but the breakthroughs are incredible,” says Erik Andrejko, VP of Science at Climate Corp. When it comes to finding ways to feed our ever-increasing population while combating the effects of climate change, Andrejko sees some clear parameters: “It’s going to be about integrated solutions—integrating information from different sources from different pieces of equipment. Data science will tie together the information and this data will maximize the use of resources to produce the most food for the least amount of inputs.”
As Andrejko notes, however, the existing critical flow of information doesn’t run as smoothly as possible. One of farmers’ biggest grievances when it comes to implementing precision agriculture technologies is the capability—or lack thereof—to sync different programs on a single platform. “It’s not a solved problem today,” says Andrejko. “Things like the Open Ag Data Alliance are key steps to help get to this level of interoperability, but its an important element that we need to meet the food security needs of the future.”
More research showing the cascading ecosystem impacts of climate change
FRISCO — Plovers, grouse and other bird species will suffer as global warming changes the hydrology of the UK’s far-reaching blanket bogs, scientists warned after developing a model that shows how climate change will play out in those wetland ecosystems.
Over the past fifty years, Marek’s disease—an illness of fowl—has become fouler. Marek’s is caused by a highly contagious virus, related to those that cause herpes in humans. It spreads through the dust of contaminated chicken coops, and caused both paralysis and cancer. In the 1970s, new vaccines brought the disease the under control. But Marek’s didn’t go gently into that good night. Within ten years, it started evolving into more virulent strains, which now trigger more severe cancers and afflict chickens at earlier ages.
Most of us are aware that our cars, our coal- or gas-generated electric power and even our cement factories adversely affect the environment. Until recently, however, the foods we eat had gotten a pass in the discussion. Yet according to a 2013 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the livestock supply chain that produces meat and milk for our diets causes more greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and the like—to spew into the atmosphere than does either transportation or industry. (Greenhouse gases trap solar energy, thereby warming the earth's surface. Because gases vary in greenhouse potency, scientists tally them according to the amount of CO2 that would have the same warming effect over decades.)
Ancient, highly valuable forests are being lost at an "unprecedented" rate from protected lands in Cambodia, according to a new report. The analysis, from campaign group Forest Trends, says that large corporations are using legitimate development permits to illegally clear land. Around 2,000 sq km of forests are being lost every year, they say. Effective governance of the forests in Cambodia has broken down, they argue.
An oil field boom in North Dakota has turned a quiet agricultural region into an industrial zone, where farmers and ranchers report over 100 oil spills per month.
In a July 23 webinar, members of North Dakota’s environmental community spoke about the impacts of the second-largest fracking oil field in the United States, the Bakken Shale.
Earthworks, a non-profit American environmental agency, presented the webinar entitled "Inside the Bakken: National Impacts and How You Can Help."
One of the largest oil developments in the U.S. in the last 40 years, the Bakken Shale extends over eastern Montana, western North Dakota and into parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. While the oil was initially discovered in 1951, hydraulic fracking made it economical to put the field into production.
“Bakken oil is transported by oil and the vast majority of oil trains travel from North Dakota,” said Deborah Thomas, a board member with the non-profit group ShaleTest Environmental Testing, while introducing the speakers.
“These trains with their payloads of extremely explosive, fracked crude travel through communities across North America, putting millions of Americans and Canadians at risk.”
Just over two years ago, the air and hand brakes failed on one such train filled with Bakken crude. It careened at 104 kilometres per hour into the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, derailing near the town’s centre at 1:15 a.m. and spilling six million litres of crude oil.
The extremely volatile oil burst into flames and, with the subsequent explosions, killed 47 people, forced another 2,000 from their homes, and destroyed much of the downtown core.
In 2005, I argued that ice sheets may be more vulnerable than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated, mainly because of effects of a warming ocean in speeding ice melt. In 2007, I wrote "Scientific Reticence and Sea Level Rise," describing and documenting a phenomenon that pressures scientists to minimize the danger of imminent sea level rise.
About then I became acquainted with remarkable studies of geologist Paul Hearty. Hearty found strong evidence for sea level rise late in the Eemian to +6-9 m (20-30 feet) relative to today. The Eemian is the prior interglacial period (~120,000 years ago), which was slightly warmer than the present interglacial period (the Holocene) in which civilization developed. Hearty also found evidence for powerful storms in the North Atlantic near the end of the Eemian period.
It seemed that an understanding of the late Eemian climate events might be helpful in assessing the climate effects of human-made global warming, as Earth is now approaching the warmth that existed then. Thus several colleagues and I initiated global climate simulations aimed at trying to understand what happened at the end of the Eemian and its relevance to climate change today.
Manufacturing and wastewater treatment sites are releasing bisphenol A into the air, exposing people to high levels of the chemical, according to a study Researchers have long known people can be exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly...
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