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...
Vue du ciel, l'Amazonie ressemble à une immense table de billard, d'un vert intense mité de taches couleur café: ce sont des sites miniers illégaux, reflet d'une ruée vers l'or qui menace le poumon de la planète. «La perte pour nos ressources naturelles est incalculable», explique à l'AFP le haut commissaire du Pérou contre les mines illégales, Antonio Fernandez Jeri. «Chaque hectare perdu représente des espèces uniques de flore et de faune», déplore-t-il.
"Mercury levels in bluefish caught off the U.S. Atlantic coast dropped more than 40 percent over the past four decades thanks to federal restrictions on coal emissions, according to a new study.
This is good news not only for bluefish but for the entire predator fish population in the Mid-Atlantic. And it's better news for people fond of eating the tasty fish, often served broiled or baked, as it suggests that mercury reductions due to coal-fired plant emissions crackdowns in North America have quickly led to less contamination in marine life.
“This is an important study … this is the type of work that we need to encourage policy makers to support clean-coal technology,” said Katlin Bowman, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California’s Department of Ocean Sciences who was not involved in the study.
Coal-fired plants are big mercury contributors to the atmosphere – where most emission pollution gets dumped – and the ocean, where those pollutants eventually settle."
FRISCO — The coyote hunter who shot a protected gray wolf in Utah last year won’t face any criminal charges for killing an endangered species. Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Department of Justice found that the Utah resident was legally hunting coyotes near Beaver in late December when he mistook the collared female gray wolf for a coyote. The female wolf had gained some notoriety after wandering from the northern Rocky Mountains all the way down to the Grand Canyon, where wildlife advocates one day hope to see a restored wolf population. Another wandering wolf was similarly killed near Kremmling, Colorado in late April, in an incident that’s also being investigated by various agencies. Wolves from the Yellowstone area have been dispersing quite widely around the West in search of good habitat and conservation advocates say they should be allowed to re-establish populations in suitable areas, including western Colorado and northern Arizona.
Larry Skinner finished planting corn and soybeans by Memorial Day. In midsummer, the pace slows down on his farm near the town of Newman in Central Illinois. He walks his fields monitoring moisture levels, watching for insects and looking for sprout growth.
In a profession facing constant uncertainty from the weather, Skinner has one more variable to consider: how to repair uneven farmland sunken by coal mining more than 20 years ago.
The coal mine near his farm closed in the 1980s, but he and his neighbors are still cleaning up the mess. Mining caused land to subside – or sink – unevenly, resulting in marshy areas that can reduce crop yields.
“This shows what greed does to the American farmland,” said Skinner, shaking his head as he pointed to a subsided area, an extensive brown spot in a field of green.
Some of the best farmland in the world can be found on the Illinois prairie. Rich soil mixed with plenty of precipitation produces high yields of corn and soybeans year after year. Underneath much of this same land are coal reserves deposited roughly 300 million years ago. That has created friction between two of the state’s biggest industries.
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.
Booming Asian economies fuel huge poaching and wildlife trafficking issues Staff Report FRISCO —Federal wildlife managers hope that a near-total ban on the U.S. ivory trade will help slow the slaughter of elephants poached for their tusks. By some estimates, as many as 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012 — about one every 15 minutes. Elephants are threatened in formerly safe areas, and some of Africa’s most famous wildlife parks are littered with carcasses. Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed new regulations that would prohibit most interstate commerce in African elephant ivory and further restrict commercial exports. The proposed rule builds upon restrictions put in place last year following President Obama’s Executive Order on combating wildlife trafficking.
New study shows food shortages will catch up to the Arctic predators Staff Report FRISCO — When it comes to finding food as Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears don’t exactly have a lot of options. That’s one of the main reasons the Arctic predators are under the global warming gun, and a new study of how the bears respond metabolically during lean times underscores the existing science. Researchers with the University of Wyoming set out to learn as much as they could by using satellite collars and surgically implanted monitors to track polar bear’s summertime movements and core body temperatures on ice and shore. They found the animals are able to reduce their energy expenditure a little, but not enough to make up for the associated food shortages. Their findings suggest that increasing sea ice loss represents a significant threat to these carnivorous bears.
indings suggest human health risks from inhaling pollen laced with neonicotinoids Staff Report FRISCO — Scientists with Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health say their new study examining pollen and honey shows there’s a need to develop public policies that aims to reduce neonicotinoid exposure. After working 62 Massachusetts beekeepers who volunteered to collect monthly samples of pollen and honey from foraging bees, the researchers found more that 70 percent of the samples contained at least one neonicotinoid, a class of pesticide that has been implicated the steep decline of honeybee populations, specifically colony collapse disorder, when adult bees abandon their hives during winter.
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