Beekeepers accuse pesticide industry of trying to ‘hijack’ public policy
FRISCO — The public comment period for proposed EPA rules on bee-killing pesticides may be over, but the battle over pesticide policies will continue, as conservation groups suspect that the pesticide industry may have exerted undue influence over the rule-making process. ADVERTISEMENT
Those concerns are reinforced by some of the country’s beekeepers, who say the proposed rule doesn’t do enough to address federal responsibility to address the impact of pesticides on bee deaths. The Pollinator Stewardship Council recently submitted a letter to the EPA detailing its concerns about the proposed new rule.
Many hydroelectric dams produce modest amounts of power yet do enormous damage to rivers and fish populations. Why not take down these aging structures, build solar farms in the drained reservoirs, and restore the natural ecology of the rivers?
FRISCO — Simple, everyday uses of some cosmetics and cleaning products releases huge amounts of plastic micropollution into the environment, potentially at levels harmful to marine life.
Scientists at Plymouth University recently tried to quantify the well-known environmental problem by studying brands of facial scrubs that listed plastics among their ingredients. They used vacuum filtration to sort out the plastic particles and analyzed the debris with electron microscopes, finding that each 150ml of the products could contain between 137,000 and 2.8 million microparticles.
The particles are used as bulking agents and abrasives in hand cleansers, soaps, toothpaste, shaving foam, bubble bath, sunscreen and shampoo. Because of their small size, many won’t be caught by conventional sewage treatment systems, thus ending up in rivers and oceans.
Hurricane Katrina demolished New Orleans 10 years ago, a grim anniversary to be marked next week. Huge earthen levees dissolved and concrete floodwalls toppled over. But the real culprit when the tropical cyclone made landfall was outside the city. Thousands of square miles of wetland marshes and swamps that had once provided a buffer between the city's coastline and the ocean had been badly tattered from decades of human damage. Thick, robust wetlands would have absorbed much of the surge of water that Katrina pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico. But levees had starved the wetlands of needed nutrients, making plants weak, and thousands of miles of manmade canals had torn the vegetation apart, allowing Katrina’s onrushing storm surge to flow right into New Orleans.
Extensive studies done after Katrina verified what lifelong residents of southeastern Louisiana already knew: Unless the rapidly disappearing wetlands are made healthy again, restoring the natural defense, New Orleans will soon lay naked against the sea (see satellite image, below).
Protecting oilseed rape crops with a controversial nicotine-like pesticide has led to the loss of honeybee colonies across England and Wales, a government-backed study has found.
The research, based on large-scale data on pesticide use, crop yields, and honeybee losses spanning 11 years, looked at the effects of coating seeds with imidacloprid in nine regions between 2000 and 2010.
Use of the pesticide led to reduced spraying with other insecticide chemicals – but was also significantly associated with the death of honeybee colonies, the results showed.
As imidacloprid usage went up, so did the decline in bee populations, according to the research.
Bulgaria's capital is grassing over some of its tram lines as part of a programme to make the city greener.
An initial 60m (197ft) stretch of the "green rails" has already opened in Sofia's Ruski Pametnik Square. Architects hope the new turf will muffle traffic noise, improve air quality and cool the often torrid Sofia summer heat, Nova TV reports. A drainage system has been installed to divert rain water off the rails into the soil beneath the grass.
Although other vehicles will use the square for the time being, the authorities want to include it in a car-free zone which will cover three blocks in the city centre by 2020. Other tramways elsewhere in the zone will be grassed over too, according to the plan.
As is so often the case, things started to go wrong when humans got involved.
The East Asian beetle, Harmonia axyridis, was introduced to parts of North America and Europe as a means to control pests such as aphids - but it has since spread, almost uncontrollably, and become a problem in itself.
Otherwise known as the harlequin ladybug, because of its many colors, Harmonia axyridis has become a grape pest and a threat to native biodiversity.
It has also threatened the existence of Europe's most common - and much loved - ladybug, the seven spot, Coccinella septempunctata.
Experts say the first evidence of Harmonia axyridis in Germany is from 2002. Within two years, it was virtually the only ladybug you could find.
More than 110 people have died and close to another 100 people are still missing after massive explosions destroyed a chemical warehouse in Tianjin, China.
In addition to immediate concerns of finding missing colleagues and loved ones, residents of the port city may now also have to worry about environmental consequences: toxins could have been spilled into the water surrounding the plant, and fumes could pollute the air.
Information about what exactly was stored at the warehouse, and how much of it, is only slowly trickling down. What is known: There were hundreds of tons of sodium cyanide there - even though the warehouse was only allowed to store 24 tons, according to reports from the "Beijing News" paper.
David Santillo, a senior scientist at the Greenpeace Research Laboratories in Exeter, the United Kingdom, told DW that until there are harder facts on which chemicals exactly were stored at the warehouse, it will be difficult to predict exactly how the explosions and the aftermath could affect the environment.
But the release of sodium cyanide alone, Santillo told DW, could have devastating environmental consequences.
FRISCO — Dammed rivers, global warming and increased agricultural runoff all contribute to the growing threat of toxic cyanobacteria, scientists said after taking a far-reaching look at the issue of blue-green algae blooms in fresh water.
The study, conducted by researchers with Oregon State University and the University of North Carolina, found that the threat is poorly monitored and represents an under-appreciated risk to recreational and drinking water quality in the United States. More testing and monitoring is needed to track potential threats to human health, the scientists concluded.
Maddy Harland tells the story of the Shona African community who healed their damaged ecosystems. They restored their springs, rebuilt their soil, regenerated their agriculture and alleviated poverty and malnutrition. Permaculture farming has proven effective all over the planet.
FRISCO — Policy makers should pay more attention to the potential to the potential for greenhouse gas emissions from melting permafrost, a team of researchers warned in a special bulletin, released as President Obama prepares to attend an international conference on the Arctic.
Arctic permafrost – ground that has been frozen for many thousands of years – is thawing, and the results could be disastrous and irreversible, potentially triggering a spiral of global warming far beyond any of the scenarios currently envisioned, a team of scientists with the Woods Hole Research Center wrote in a policy brief.“The release of greenhouse gases resulting from thawing Arctic permafrost could have catastrophic global consequences,” said Dr. Max Holmes, a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center who has been advising State Department officials on the problem.
If humans had never existed, the whole world would look strikingly similar to the Serengeti of Africa. There would be lions in America, and elephants and rhinos roaming Europe.
That's the conclusion of a new study that details how human-driven animal extinctions have influenced the distribution and populations of large mammals around the world.
"The study shows that large parts of the world would harbor rich large mammal faunas, as diverse as seen in protected areas of eastern and southern Africa today, if it was not for historic and prehistoric human-driven range losses and extinctions," Dr. Jens-Christian Svenning, a biologist at Aarhus University in Denmark and a co-author of the study, told NBC News.
(AFP) - Australian scientists revealed Tuesday they are using micro-sensors attached to honey bees as part of a global push to understand the key factors driving a worldwide population decline of the pollinators.
There has been a sharp plunge in the population of honey bees, which pollinate about 70 percent of global crops, or one-third of food that humans eat including fruits and vegetables, raising fears over food security.
Researchers have said the falling hive numbers were caused by threats such as the sudden death of millions of adult insects in beehives -- known as "colony collapse disorder" -- a blood-sucking mite called Varroa, pesticides and climate change.
"The micro-sensors that we are using help us to ask different questions that we couldn't ask before because we've never really been able to quantify the behaviour of bees both out in the environment and in their hives," Gary Fitt from Australia's national science agency CSIRO told AFP.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are spreading throughout the environment with as-yet unknown effects on human health, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The agency found the systemic pesticides in more than half the streams sampled across the country and in Puerto Rico during a survey between 2011 and 2014. This study is the first to take a nationwide look at the prevalence of neonicotinoid insecticides in agricultural and urban settings.
The research spanned 24 states and Puerto Rico and was completed as part of ongoing USGS investigations of pesticide and other contaminant levels in streams.
FRISCO — Food waste doesn’t just mean that a few scraps end up being tossed in the garbage bin. There’s a huge environmental footprint, including the waste of water associated with the production of the food.
In the EU, according to a new study, the surface and groundwater footprint from avoidable food waste has reached an average of 27 liters per person, per day, which is slightly higher than the average amount per capita municipal water use. The rainwater footprint is even higher, at 294 litres per capita per day, equivalent to the amount used for crop production in Spain.
And the amount of nitrogen contained in avoidable food waste averaged 0.68 kg per capita per year. The food production nitrogen footprint was 2.74 kg per capita per year, the same amount used in mineral fertilizer in both the UK and Germany put together.
The study took a close look at food waste in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Romania, where consumer patterns are very different due to differing lifestyles and purchasing power.
Romania is believed to have the largest wolf population in Europe, but a culture of fear surrounding the predators may put their future at risk. Conservationists are calling for the wolves to be better protected.
Climate change is increasing the risk of severe 'food shocks' where crops fail and prices of staples rise rapidly around the world.
Researchers say extreme weather events that impact food production could be happening in seven years out of ten by the end of this century.
The authors argue that an over reliance on global trade may make these production shocks worse.
The impacts are most likely to be felt across Africa and the Middle East.
Poor harvests and low stocks of grains in 2008 combined with a host of other factors to produce a spectacular price rise in cereals, with a UN index of prices peaking at 2.8 times higher than it was at the turn of the millennium.
Risky business in one of the country’s most biodiverse regions
FRISCO — No place is safe from the never-ending quest to feed modern society’s addiction to fossil fuels. One of the latest targets is Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, where Burnett Oil, of Ft. Worth, Texas, is seeking a permit to do seismic testing across approximately 110 square miles.
The National Park Service is taking comments on the proposal at this website through Aug. 16, and conservation advocates are rallying supporters to try and block or limit the proposal. Acknowledging that the enabling legislation for the preserve allows for fossil fuel exploitation, the nonprofit nonetheless says it’s a bad idea in one of the most biodiverse pieces of public land in our nation.
Rocky Morales is watching his small Louisiana town of Delacroix slowly melt into the water. The woods where he played hide-and-seek as a boy are gone. It's all water and mud back there now. So, too, is the nearby marsh where townsfolk once trapped for muskrat, otter and mink.
Many of the fishermen who once lived here — his friends and relatives — have disappeared as well, fleeing behind the intricate levee system protecting New Orleans out of fear that one more hurricane will be all it takes to send the rest of Delacroix into the sea.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast — killing more than 1,830 people and causing more than $150 billion in damage in the nation's costliest disaster — New Orleans has been fortified by a new $14.5 billion flood protection system. But outside the iconic city, efforts have lagged to protect small towns and villages losing land every year to erosion. And as that land buffer disappears, New Orleans itself becomes more vulnerable.
In the past century, more than 1,880 square miles of Louisiana land has turned into open water — an area nearly the size of Delaware. And the loss continues unabated, with an estimated 17 square miles disappearing on average each year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
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