New USGS study measures North Slope shoreline losses Staff Report FRISCO — In the eternal battle between land and sea, the sea appears to be winning in northern Alaska, where much of the coastline is retreating at a rate of more than three feet per year, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. The region has some of the highest shoreline erosion rates in the world, according to the research, which analyzed more than 50 years worth of measurements. “Coastal erosion along the Arctic coast of Alaska is threatening Native Alaskan villages, sensitive ecosystems, energy and defense related infrastructure, and large tracts of Native Alaskan, State, and Federally managed land,” said Suzette Kimball, acting director of the USGS.
Commercial mussel hatcheries in India seen as threatened by climate change Staff Report FRISCO — Ocean acidification isn’t the only threat to the planet’s shellfish. In parts of the tropics, warming ocean temperatures and increased rainfall is likely to dilute salt concentrations on the surface of the sea, which will change microscopic communities of bacteria and plankton.
Nearly four years after Prague, Okla., became the unlikely epicenter of three earthquakes of at least magnitude 5.0 and sent a fireplace and chimney tumbling into Sandra Ladra's living room, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has stepped in and offered her a surprising ray of hope.
Ladra, 65, suffered a severe leg injury from the falling fireplace. And in 2014 she sued multiple oil and gas companies, based on recent research that has tied Oklahoma's suddenly commonplace earthquakes to the fracking boom. It seemed like a long shot until this week, when the state's highest court said her case could proceed.
In late 2013, as if to flip its middle finger at the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the state of Idaho dispatched a hunter-trapper on horseback to track and slaughter two packs of wolves in the Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness, the largest wilderness area in the contiguous United States. Ragged with mountains and cut by chutes of whitewater, the Frank Church is a forbidding and trackless place. Here the cougars slip through the forests. The wolverines show their claws. And the wolves howl and hunt and take down elk for dinner, which was the behavior that prompted the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to hire its mercenary. Elk bring in wholesome revenues for the state in the form of hunting licenses and fees, and large herds of elk—preferably unnaturally large herds, fat and lazy and without threat from native predators—provide local guiding concerns a major source of profit. A total of nine wolves in the Frank Church wilderness were killed in January 2014 in contravention of the spirit and letter of the Act, which was passed by Congress in 1964 to protect those tracts of land “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man,” where the land retains “its primeval character and influence” and is “managed so as to preserve its natural conditions.”
Not surprisingly, the American Chemistry Council responded with accusations that the professional associations were “creating confusion and alarm among expectant mothers.” The trade group insisted that current regulations reflect the available evidence and offer protection from any purported health risks.
It is understandable, of course, that chemical companies and their allies would want to deflect public attention from any suspected harms caused by their products. They argue that the documented exposures to synthetic substances should not generate concern because the presence of a chemical in the body does not mean it is causing damage.
That might be true for some chemicals, but the absence of evidence of harm cannot be presumed to mean that a compound is safe. It is not a reassuring message for women of reproductive age—or for anyone—to be told, “Don’t worry, just because intruders are in your house doesn’t mean they intend to harm you.”
Why do I keep hearing about the California drought, if it's the Colorado River that we're "killing"? Pretty much every state west of the Rockies has been facing a water shortage of one kind or another in recent years. California's is a severe, but relatively short-term, drought. But the Colorado River basin—which provides critical water supplies for seven states including California—is the victim of a slower-burning catastrophe entering its 16th year. Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California all share water from the Colorado River, a hugely important water resource that sustains 40 million people in those states, supports 15 percent of the nation's food supply, and fills two of largest water reserves in the country.
The severe shortages of rain and snowfall have hurt California's $46 billion agricultural industry and helped raise national awareness of the longer-term shortages that are affecting the entire Colorado River basin. But while the two problems have commonalities and have some effect on one another, they're not exactly the same thing.
Never before has a single species become the top predator on land and sea, and human dominance over the natural environment has caused shifts in world ecosystems unprecedented in the last 500 million years, researchers said on Tuesday.
Human activity is leading to an international decline in the variety of plants and animals through extinction, as organisms not useful to human needs are killed off by ecosystem changes or over-exploitation, according to a new study.
FRISCO — Warmer global temperatures are enabling the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes, putting millions of people at risk, Oxford University researchers say.
The scientists recently created the first global distribution maps of two species of dengue and chikungunya-carrying mosquitoes, showing a rapid expansion in parts of the US, Southern Europe and China during the past 10-15 years.
The study identifies areas not yet populated by the insects that are suitable for their survival, for example in Europe. The findings are published in the journal eLife.
“Given the lack of a vaccine or any antiviral treatment for either virus and the debilitating pain they both cause, knowing where the mosquitoes are spreading to and where they might turn up next is crucial for helping to protect communities,” said first author Moritz Kraemer. This is especially true in Africa, where records are sparse.
Human ingenuity and creativity never fail to surprise us. As some of us may be aware, not only are bees dying out in worrying numbers, but bats are also suffering due to increased levels of white noise.
No-fishing zone seen as key piece of new management plan
FRISCO — The National Park Service says a 10,000-acre no-fishing zone will help restore the heart of Key Biscayne National Park’s coral reef ecosystem and boost fish populations in surrounding waters.
The new marine reserve was announced earlier this month as part of an updated management plan for the popular park near Miami. The no–fishing zone covers about 6 percent of the park’s waters. Some other ecologically important shoreline areas will be protected by slow-speed, no-wake, and no-motor zones to benefit seagrass beds, manatees, mangroves and nesting birds.
“Our primary goal is a natural, healthy marine ecosystem for visitors to explore, learn about, and enjoy” said park superintendent Brian Carlstrom. “This plan will guide us and help ensure that the park’s vital and extraordinary coral reefs, mangrove forests, extensive tracts of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys, and 10,000 years of human history, will be protected for future generations.”
Study says $40 billion in park assets at risk Staff Report FRISCO — Researchers are only a third of the way through their efforts to catalog how rising sea level threatens national parks, but they’ve already documented risks to more than $40 billion worth of park assets. “Many coastal parks already deal with threats from sea level rise and from storms that damage roads, bridges, docks, water systems and parking lots,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a prepared statement. “This infrastructure is essential to day-to-day park operations, but the historical and cultural resources such as lighthouses, fortifications and archaeological sites that visitors come to see are also at risk of damage or loss.”
Staff Report FRISCO — U.S. Wildfire activity has surged above the 10-year average in the past few weeks, primarily because of what will be a record-breaking fire season in Alaska. After months of mostly above-average temperatures, Alaska’s vast forests and brushlands were primed, and the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center is reporting that more 600 fires have burned across more than 1.8 million acres in the state.
Staff Report FRISCO — Loss of Arctic sea ice caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases remains as the primary threat to polar bears, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after updating their research models. Even if greenhouse gas emissions drastically reduced, sea ice will continue to shrink for decades, leading to a significant loss of polar bear habitat in many parts of the Arctic. The Canadian Archipelago is a notable exception. That region may serve as a climate refuge for the bears and other ice-dependent species, the federal scientists said. The latest modeing looked at polar bear populations in four Arctic ecoregions based on sea ice projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change under two greenhouse gas emission scenarios — one with stabilization in climate warming by century’s end because of reduced GHG emissions, the other looked with unabated rates of GHG emissions, leading to increased warming by century’s end.
Runit Dome in the Pacific islands houses 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive waste. Photograph: Guardian Coleen Jose, Kim Wall and Jan Hendrik Hinzel on Runit Island Friday 3 July 2015 11.00 BST Last modified on Friday 3 July 2015 11.33 BST Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Shares 264 Comments 43 Black seabirds circle high above the giant concrete dome that rises from a tangle of green vines just a few paces from the lapping waves of the Pacific. Half buried in the sand, the vast structure looks like a downed UFO.
At the summit, figures carved into the weathered concrete state only the year of construction: 1979. Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb.
Below the 18-inch concrete cap rests the United States’ cold war legacy to this remote corner of the Pacific Ocean: 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive debris left behind after 12 years of nuclear tests.
Brackish water pools around the edge of the dome, where sections of concrete have started to crack away. Underground, radioactive waste has already started to leach out of the crater: according to a 2013 report by the US Department of Energy, soil around the dome is already more contaminated than its contents.
The British oil giant will pay $18.7 billion to settle legal claims for its "grossly negligent" and "reckless" role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The largest environment settlement in U.S. history — $18.7 billion — was announced today resolving claims against BP brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, five Gulf states and local governments for the British oil giant's role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Scientists have warned that marine life will be irreversibly changed unless CO2 emissions are drastically cut. Writing in Science, experts say the oceans are heating, losing oxygen and becoming more acidic because of CO2. They warn that the 2C maximum temperature rise for climate change agreed by governments will not prevent dramatic impacts on ocean systems. And they say the range of options is dwindling as the cost of those options is skyrocketing. Twenty-two world-leading marine scientists have collaborated in the synthesis report in a special section of Science journal. They say the oceans are at parlous risk from the combination of threats related to CO2. They believe politicians trying to solve climate change have paid far too little attention to the impacts of climate change on the oceans.
Staff Report FRISCO — Wildlife advocates say a federal plan to cap the Mexican gray wolf population at 300 to 325 animals won’t ensure the long-term survival of the species, and they’re going to court to make sure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopts policies that give endangered Mexican gray wolves a fair shot at recovery in their historic U.S. range. At issue is a final federal rule issued early this year that would likely prevent the wolves from recolonizing suitable habitat in northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. “Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the USFWS Mexican gray wolf plan,” said John Mellgren, the Western Environmental Law Center attorney representing the advocacy groups in the lawsuit. “Our goal in this case is to put the science back into the management of Mexican wolves in the U.S.” “Banishing Mexican wolves from their native habitats to appease political interests is the latest mistake in the Service’s long history of mismanagement of the species’ recovery,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “The only wild population of Mexican wolves is clearly essential to the species’ survival and recovery.”
Symphony of the Soil is a 104-minute documentary feature film that explores the complexity and mystery of soil. Filmed on four continents and sharing the voices of some of the world’s mostesteemed soil scientists, farmers and activists, the film portr
A major motorway construction project in Serbia has stalled because of a dispute over a centuries-old oak tree, it's reported.
The tree is said to be 600 years old, and stands in the western village of Savinac, right in path of the new Corridor 11 motorway, the Balkan Insight website reports. Once completed, the road will connect Serbia's capital, Belgrade, with the Montenegrin coast. But local people are unhappy about plans to chop the tree down. Some consider it sacred, and believe that anyone who tries to remove it will be cursed. "By God, I wouldn't dare get a digger anywhere near it," local resident Milan Petrovic tells the Blic website.
tudy tracks links between melting ice cap, Atlantic Ocean currents
FRISCO — The retreat of sea ice caused by global warming could lead to colder weather for parts of northwestern Europe, Canadian researchers said after studying changing ocean dynamics in the North Atlantic.
The new research reinforces previous findings that the shrinking Arctic ice cap is likely to change the delicate balance between the cold and dense water pouring out of the Arctic and the warm waters of the subtropical Atlantic, according to professor G.W.K. Moore, of the University of Toronto Mississauga.
“A warm western Europe requires a cold North Atlantic Ocean, and the warming that the North Atlantic is now experiencing has the potential to result in a cooling over western Europe,” said Moore.
The overuse of antibiotics, both in human patients and, importantly, in livestock, has led to an explosion of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, both in the U.S. and around the world. Deaths from resistant infections are currently at about 700,000 per year, and estimated to rise to 10 million per year by 2050. If nothing changes, the World Health Organization predicts the future will look a lot like the past—where people die from minor injuries that become infected.
“The problem is so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine,” the WHO wrote in a recent report.
Two massive guide outfitting bear-hunt territories —one in the north and one in the south —appear to have willing sellers for the first time in years, leading to the tantalizing possibility for conservationists who envision buying the areas up to shut down the majority of the trophy hunt in the Great Bear Rainforest.
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