Arctic once again loses thick multiyear ice Staff Report At the end of its melt season, the Arctic’s ice cover fell to the fourth lowest extent in the satellite record, both in the daily and monthly average, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Sea ice extent hit 4.41 million square kilometers (1.70 million square miles) on September 11 and averaged 4.63 million square kilometers (1.79 million square miles) for the month of September. This year edged out 2008 as the fourth lowest extent since satellites started regularly monitoring sea ice in 1979. The lowest Arctic extent on record occurred in 2012, when sea ice measured 3.62 million square kilometers (1.40 million square miles).
Swiss study tracks online sales of potential invaders Staff Report Online commerce is accelerating the invasive species threat worldwide, Swiss reasearchers said last week after taking a close look at at the unbridled market for buying and selling plants on the internet. These days, all it takes is one click to spread potentially invasive plants from continent to continent – and unintentionally encouraging biological invasions, the researchers said, referring to invaders like goldenrod, Himalayan balsam and the Chinese windmill palm — all of which now threaten native biodiversity in the Alpine republic.
Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, delivered a stark warning on the disruptions climate change will bring if steps aren’t taken to mitigate it. He made his remarks in a speech to a gathering at Lloyds of London Tuesday.
“The challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance with what might come,” the former Governor of the Bank of Canada told the gathering of insurers.
“The far-sighted among you are anticipating broader global impacts on property, migration and political stability, as well as food and water security.”
Carney noted that since the 1980s the number of registered weather-related loss events has tripled and related insurance losses have increased from an annual average of around $10 billion in the 1980s to roughly $50 billion in the last decade.
In order to meet the IPCC’s carbon budget limiting a rise in global warming to two degrees over pre-industrial levels, Carney said the budget would amount to between one-fifth and one-third of the world’s proven reserves of oil, gas and coal.
“If that estimate is even approximately correct it would render the vast majority of reserves ‘stranded’ – oil, gas and coal that will be literally unburnable without expensive carbon capture technology, which itself alters fossil fuel economics.”
Tom Steyer’s crusade to force politicians to confront climate change is well known, manifesting itself in millions of dollars of campaign funding, including the windfall he raised for Hillary Rodham Clinton recently in his San Francisco home.
Less well known is the billionaire’s crusade to force farmers to confront it.
At an 1,800-acre cattle ranch that Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, own near Half Moon Bay, they are plotting to upend agribusiness with the same precision – and even some of the same tools – that served Steyer well in the hedge fund business. They are also surprising some allies in the climate movement by cattle ranching at all. Many see the presence of massive numbers of cows on the planet as incompatible with efforts to contain global warming.
The couple have a different take.
“We would continue raising cattle even if no one ever ate another steak,” said Taylor. That’s how beneficial she and Steyer think these large farm animals can be. They want the cows to mimic the ancient migratory patterns of wild ungulates and naturally fertilize and aerate soil to reverse the mass erosion believed to be accelerating climate change.
This striking green-blue image isn't a lost work of Van Gogh — it's a giant, growing bloom of microscopic plants and animals in the Baltic Sea, which NASA photographed from space on August 11. But don't let its beauty fool you.
The fate of industrially farmed animals is one of the most pressing ethical questions of our time. Tens of billions of sentient beings, each with complex sensations and emotions, live and die on a production line
By Bob Berwyn Shell Oil’s hotly contested Arctic oil-drilling operation will shut down for the foreseeable future, the multinational fossil fuel company announced today, drawing sighs of relief from environmental advocates who had described the exploration efforts in apocalyptic terms. The company’s efforts have been stop-and-go for a long time. In 2013, for example, Shell announced a temporary pause in the program after a string of incidents, including failed tests of oil spill containment gear, runaway ships and notices for violations of environmental regulations. That same year, the U.S. Department of Interior released a report showing serious flaws in Shell’s Arctic oil drilling plans, including lack of a meaningful plan for containing potential spills. “Shell has found indications of oil and ga
Up to 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs may be affected Staff Report Global warming is causing global coral bleaching, ocean scientists said today, confirming that rising ocean temperatures are resulting in massive and widespread impacts to reefs around the world. “The coral bleaching and disease, brought on by climate change and coupled with events like the current El Niño, are the largest and most pervasive threats to coral reefs around the world,” NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator, Mark Eakin, said in a statement.“As a result, we are losing huge areas of coral across the U.S., as well as internationally. What really has us concerned is this event has been going on for more than a year and our preliminary model projections indicate it’s likely to last well into 2016,” Eakin added.
Compiled by University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute and the Global Challenges Foundation, the report titled "12 Risks that Threaten Human Civilization" lists the most likely ways that apocalypse could occur.
"The idea that we face a number of global risks threatening the very basis of our civilization at the beginning of the 21st century is well accepted in the scientific community and is studied at a number of leading universities," the authors state in the assessment.
Far from being alarmist, however, the report's authors say they don't mean to cause panic, but rather find ways to turn challenges into opportunities.
‘The Central Valley has many areas where recent groundwater levels are more than 100 feet below previous historical low …’ Staff Report Farmers in California’s Central Valley pumped more groundwater than ever during the state’s ongoing drought, causing aquifers to drop to new record low levels, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency recently launched a website to help track Central Valley groundwater depletion and land subsidence. A new paper released about the same time shows geographical nuances in the decline. The biggest changes are in the southern Central Valley, where farmers have shifted from planting annual and seasonal crops to perennial plants.Land subsidence has caused costly infrastructure damage such as canal buckling and reduced freeboard on canals and bridges. At some points, up to 11 inches of land subsidence was measured from 2012 to present. “The Central Valley has many areas where recent groundwater levels are more than 100 feet below previous historical lows,” said Michelle Sneed, USGS hydrologist. “These correspond to areas of recent active subsidence.”
A new salmon farm in Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island was dismantled and hauled away this week after being occupied by members of Ahousaht First Nations and local supporters from Tofino.
“This is the very first salmon farm that’s pulled out of B.C. because of protesters,” said Alexandra Morton, an independent salmon research scientist who has documented the devastating impacts of salmon farms on wild salmon and other marine species. Morton was part of the two-week occupation.
Lennie John, an Ahousaht man, was the first to tie his boat to the floating fish pens in the long narrow channel near the eastern shore of Flores Island with its intact ancient cedar rainforest and many creeks supporting runs of wild salmon. This is also home of the Ahousaht First Nations. Cermaq, a Norwegian-based salmon farming company (recently purchased by the Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi) was granted permits this summer to install its 16th farm in Clayoquot Sound.
“We blocked Cermaq’s access and told them they were trespassing,” John, an Ahousaht tourism business owner, said.
“You wouldn’t want someone to come into your house and make a mess,” John told more than 100 people attending a Clayoquot Action event, called “Take a Stand for Wild Salmon,” in Tofino on Wednesday. Clayoquot Action is a local environmental organization.
John was soon joined by others who literally camped on the steel catwalks that frame large salmon net pens that can hold up to a million Atlantic salmon at a time when fully stocked. The group spent two weeks camped on the open water despite the very windy and wet weather the region is known for.
On ancestral lands, the Fond du Lac band in Minnesota is planting wild rice and restoring wetlands damaged by dams, industry, and logging. Their efforts are part of a growing trend by Native Americans to bring back traditional food sources and heal scarred landscapes.
The US Department of Agriculture has identified 14 species of glyphosate-resistant weeds in the United States, and 32 have been documented worldwide, according to a government-industry-university coalition.
Wyoming toad has been on endangered species list since 1984 Staff Report After more than a quarter century on the Endangered Species List, Wyoming toads may have a chance at recovery under a new plan that sets specific targets and requires long-term monitoring. The once-common toads died off in massive numbers starting in the 1970s, succumbing to a deadly fungal disease that has afflicted amphibians around the world.
Fertilizer companies are the "Exxons of agriculture" and are blockingbeneficialclimateclimatepolicieswith their massive lobbying power, a new report charges.
The publication by GRAIN, an international nonprofit organization that advocates for locally-controlled, biodiversity-based food systems, describes how the fertilizer industry, whose products the group says are responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, has joined forces with major corporations like Walmart in order to cast itself as a purveyor of "climate smart" policies while protecting its interests.
Up to three-quarters of fish sampled from the River Thames have been found to have plastic fibres in their gut. The Royal Holloway study was small and looked at just two species - but it highlights, say scientists, the pressing issue of plastic waste in London's great waterway. The Port of London Authority (PLA) has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the curse of litter. It wants public support to stop plastic from getting into the Thames. The PLA has teamed with other groups, including the charity Thames21, to ask people to "Do The Right Thing" and make sure any rubbish they have goes securely into a bin. "This is not just a problem along the river; it's affected by litter from across London," explained the authority's environment manager, Tanya Ferry. "So you might discard plastic near Buckingham Palace or Selfridges but if it gets into the drains, those drains could potentially discharge into the Thames and carry those plastic pieces with them."
Three years ago, environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote an article for Rolling Stone that catapulted the divestment movement into popular conversation. But it was a fairly subtle article, slightly hidden in the magazine’s glossy pages.
It didn’t even earn a cover photo, McKibben recalls. That spot went to Justin Bieber.
But, he said, it soon became the most shared article in Rolling Stone’s history. The piece’s popularity was a moment that helped start the global movement of fossil fuel divestment. And that movement has gained quick support, much to McKibben’s surprise.
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