FRISCO — Plastic debris in the world’s oceans is now so widespread that about 60 percent of all seabirds have bits of plastic in their gut. Based on current trends, 99 percent of all seabirds will be affected by plastic ingestion by 2050, a team of international scientists said this week.
Based on a review of all studies published since the early 1960s, the scientists estimated that more than 90 percent of seabirds have alive today have eaten plastic of some kind. In 1960, plastic was found in the stomach of less than 5 per cent of individual seabirds, rising to 80 per cent by 2010.
“For the first time, we have a global prediction of how wide-reaching plastic impacts may be on marine species … and the results are striking,” said CSIRO researcher Dr. Chris Wilcox. “We predict, using historical observations, that 90 per cent of individual seabirds have eaten plastic. This is a huge amount and really points to the ubiquity of plastic pollution.”
FRISCO — The West Coast isn’t the only place seeing unprecedented algae blooms this summer. Recent water sampling by researchers at William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science show some of the densest concentrations of algae recorded in Chesapeake Bay in recent years.
Since the 1950s, when mass production of plastics began in earnest, the world has embraced their ease of use and robustness. But with millions of tonnes of of plastic debris entering the world's oceans every year, their durability is also a curse, as Ann Jones reports.
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.
El Paso research shows strong link between school performance and air pollution Staff Report FRISCO — A new children’s health study by researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso reinforces existing evidence that exposure to toxic air pollution from cars and trucks has a big effect on school performance. The UTEP study found that fourth and fifth graders who are exposed to toxic air pollutants at home are more likely to have lower GPAs. The findings are based on an analysis of academic performance and sociodemographic data for 1,895 fourth and fifth grade children in the El Paso Independent School District.
Canada is facing a critical moment in its history.
The Canadian dollar is at an 11-year low, and some say the country is in a recession. Oil producers in the tar sands are selling at a loss. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which had banked on turning the country into a sort of petrostate, is now mired in scandals. A scathing critique of the Harper administration, entitled "The Closing of the Canadian Mind," recently became the most-read story in The New York Times.
Meanwhile, in oil-rich and notoriously conservative Alberta, the left-wing NDP swept to victory in the May provincial elections — a seismic shift that Globe and Mail columnist Doug Sanders described in a tweet as akin to "Bernie Sanders becoming Texas governor by a big majority."
With a national election scheduled for Oct. 19 fast approaching, an unlikely voting bloc – native people – could play a key role in deciding the future direction of the country.
Scientists say warming waters and melting ice were to blame for levels rising faster than 50 years ago and ‘it’s very likely to get worse’ Sea levels worldwide have risen an average of nearly eight centimetres (three inches) since 1992 because of...
The consequences of global sea level rise could be even scarier than the worst-case scenarios predicted by the dominant climate models, which don't fully account for the fast breakup of ice sheets and glaciers, NASA scientists said today (Aug. 26) at a press briefing.
What's more, sea level rise is already occurring. The open question, NASA scientists say, is just how quickly the seas will rise in the future.
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.
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