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Missouri Environmental Education Association

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Global environmental news - pollution, health, climate change, species, policies, economics and other topics

 

News: “Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.” Joseph Pulitzer, Editor and Publisher


 

 

 

 

 

Header Picture Captions: Left to Right: Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial S.P. Nature Detectives, Summer 2010; Academie Lafayette, Kansas City, Stream Class; Sustain Mizzou Green Team recycling at an MU home football game, Columbia. If you have pictures of your students learning aout or working in the environment (with permissions) send them to weaverjc@missouri.edu and we will post them.

National and Global Environment News Stories

MEEA is responsible for the summaries posted below. Not in the sense that we wrote them, but in the sense that we were selective in what we quoted or summarized. Be sure and visit the host site for full details on the story, accurate quotes and complete citations.

These are some of the sources used for stories posted below:

March 2015 (to MEEA April 2015 Newsletter)

Fracking chemicals can disrupt mouse development. Science News, Beth Mole. March 30, 2015. Wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may tote several hormone-disrupting chemicals that can alter the development of mice, researchers reported March 23 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

White House unveils strategy against antibiotic resistance. Science News, Nathan Seppa. March 27, 2015. The Obama Administration has launched a long-term plan to curb antibiotic resistance, unveiling incentives and requirements designed to boost surveillance and diagnosis of resistant microbes, speed new drug development and require that hospitals and clinics adopt antimicrobial stewardship programs.

Metals used in high-tech products face future supply risks. Science Daily. March 25, 2015. "The metals we've been using for a long time probably won't present much of a challenge. We've been using them for a long time because they're pretty abundant and they are generally widespread geographically," Graedel said. "But some metals that have become deployed for technology only in the last 10 or 20 years are available almost entirely as byproducts. You can't mine specifically for them; they often exist in small quantities and are used for specialty purposes. And they don't have any decent substitutes."...These findings illustrate the urgency for new product designs that make it easier to reclaim materials for re-use, Graedel said.

Antarctice ice shelves rapidly thinning. Science Daily. March 26, 2015. A new study has revealed that the thickness of Antarctica's floating ice shelves has recently decreased by as much as 18 percent in certain areas over nearly two decades, providing new insights on how the Antarctic ice sheet is responding to climate change.

Newstudy examines the media's response to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Science Daily. March 25, 2015. The researchers found ten different frames used to communicate climate change: Settled Science, Political or Ideological Struggle, Role of Science, Uncertain Science, Disaster, Security, Morality and Ethics, Opportunity, Economics and Health. The first five frames were used to communicate the IPCC reports much more frequently -- whereas the latter frames were not used much at all. Take away - help reporters use the frame you want for the story by providing illustrations and a compelling narrative.

A mile deep, ocean fish facing health impacts from human pollution. Science Daily. March 25, 2015. Deep-water marine fish living on the continental slopes at depths from 2,000 feet to one mile have liver pathologies, tumors and other health problems that may be linked to human-caused pollution, one of the first studies of its type has found...The research, conducted in the Bay of Biscay west of France, also discovered the first case of a deep water fish species with an "intersex" condition, a blend of male and female sex organs. The sampling was done in an area with no apparent point-source pollution, and appears to reflect general ocean conditions.

Common bacteria on verge of becoming antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Science Daily. March 25, 2015. Antibiotic resistance is poised to spread globally among bacteria frequently implicated in respiratory and urinary infections in hospital settings, according to new research. The study shows that two genes that confer resistance against a particularly strong class of antibiotics can be shared easily among a family of bacteria responsible for a significant portion of hospital-associated infections.

Pesticides not sole culprit in honey bee colony declines. Science Daily. March 18, 2015. To see significant negative effects of imidacloprid,, including a sharp decrease in winter survival rates, the researchers had to expose the colonies to at least four times as much insecticide encountered under normal circumstances. At 20 times the normal exposure levels, the colonies experienced more severe consequences...The study does not totally absolve imidacloprid of a causative role in honey bee colony declines. Rather, the results indicate that insecticides are but one of many factors causing trouble for the world's honey bee populations.

Lead concerns in artificial turf. USA Today, Thomas Frank. March 16, 2015.Lead levels high enough to potentially harm children have been found in artificial turf used at thousands of schools, playgrounds and day-care centers across the country, yet two federal agencies continue to promote the surfacing as safe, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Survival gardening going global. Science Daily. March 16, 2015. Subsistence farmers in Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean are learning how to construct raised planting beds and install drip irrigation systems to boost their agricultural productivity, conserve water and perhaps even halt the rapid advance of desertification in some drought-prone regions....This educational effort, led in large part by nonprofit groups and private donors, is getting a boost from Scientific Animations Without Borders, an initiative that produces animated educational videos that can be played and shared on cellphones and other digital devices. The videos are available at no cost, focus on health, agricultural production and development, and are narrated in local languages, reaching many who cannot read.

CO2 emissions stabilized in 2014. Climate Central. March 13, 2015. The International Energy Agency announced Friday that energy-related CO2 emissions last year were unchanged from the year before, totaling 32.3 billion metric tons of CO2 in both 2013 and 2014. It shows that efforts to reduce emissions to combat climate change may be more effective than previously thought.

Warm winter in Pacific Northwest means less snowpack and more water worries. Environmental News Network, Oregon State University. March 11. 2015. “It has been a very, very warm winter – almost historically so,” said Philip Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Center at Oregon State University. “On one hand, the warm temperatures have made for a rather pleasant winter. On the other hand, the snowpack situation has been atrocious, and that really raises concerns for water levels in many streams later this summer.”

Solar Impulse going around the world on sunshine. Environmental News Network, R.P. Siegel. March 10, 2015. After 13 years of planning, the Solar Impulse SI2 took off last night from Al-Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi at 7:12 a.m. local time. This initiated the first leg of its historic attempt to be the first solar-powered airplane to fly around the world. If all goes well, the plane will return to Al-Bateen in June or July. As reported here in January, the first leg was a short 12-hour “shakedown cruise” to Muscat, Oman, piloted by Andre Borschberg. The plane landed safely in Muscat, more or less on schedule, at 12:14 p.m. Eastern time.

Urban expansion could greatly increase flood risks. Environmental News Network, Texas A& M University. March 5, 2015. The study presents first-ever global forecasts of how the exposure of urban land to floods and droughts may change due to urban expansion in the near future. In 2000, about 30 percent of the global urban land (over 75,000 square miles) was located in the high-frequency flood zones; by 2030, this will reach nearly 40 percent (280,000 square miles) as the global urban land grows from 250,000 square miles to 720,000 square miles, the authors say.

Air pollution linked to slower cognitive development in children. Environmental News Network, PLOS. March 3, 2015. Attendance at schools exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution is linked to slower cognitive development among 7-10-year-old children in Barcelona, according to a study published by Jordi Sunyer and colleagues from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Spain, published in this week's PLOS Medicine....for example, there was an 11.5% 12-month increase in working memory at the lowly polluted schools but only a 7.4% 12-month increase in working memory at the highly polluted schools. These results were confirmed using direct measurements of traffic related pollutants at schools.

 

February 2015

Some California farmers to go without federal water. Columbia Daily Tribune/AP. February 28, 2015. For a second straight year, the federal government said Friday it will not send any of its reservoir water to the Central Valley, forcing farmers in California’s agricultural heartland to again scramble for other sources or leave fields unplanted.

Report: "Squeaky Clean" environment may encourage allergies. Education News, Grace Smith. February 25, 2015. Bad news for mothers around the world: in a report published this week in the journal Pediatrics, researchers in Sweden found that in households where dishes are washed by hand there were fewer cases of eczema, asthma, and hay fever than in households where dishes were washed and sterilized in dishwashers.

Agricultural insecticides pose a global risk to surface water bodies. Environmental News Network/Centre for Environmental Research, Tilo Arnhold. Februrary 25, 2015. Streams within approximately 40% of the global land surface are at risk from the application of insecticides. These were the results from the first global map to be modeled on insecticide runoff to surface waters, which has just been published in the journal Environmental Pollution by researchers from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Koblenz-Landau together with the University of Milan, Aarhus University and Aachen University. According to the publication, particularly streams in the Mediterranean, the USA, Central America and Southeast Asia are at risk.

Fuel hauling trains could derail 10 times a year. Southeast Missourian/AP, Matthew Brown and Josh Funk. February 23, 2015. The federal government predicts trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S.

Plastic-eating corals discovered on Great Barrier Reef. Environmental News Network/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. February 24, 2015. The plastic was found deep inside the coral polyp wrapped in digestive tissue, raising concerns that it might impede the corals ability to digest its normal food.

Filthy India air cutting 660 million lives short by 3 years. Kansas City Star/AP, Katy Daigle. February 21, 2015. India’s filthy air is cutting 660 million lives short by about three years, according to research published Saturday that underlines the hidden costs of the country’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels to power its economic growth with little regard for the environment.

U.S. charges utility with illegal pollution from coal ash dumps. Columbia Daily Tribune/AP. February 21, 2015. Federal prosecutors filed multiple criminal charges against Duke Energy on Friday over years of illegal pollution leaking from coal ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants....The three U.S. attorney’s offices covering the state charged Duke with nine misdemeanor counts involving violations of the Clean Water Act. The prosecutors say the nation’s largest electricity company engaged in unlawful dumping at coal-fired power plants in Eden, Moncure, Asheville, Goldsboro and Mount Holly.

Climate change driving brutal winter? Rutgers University, Kirk More. February 18, 2015. Prolonged cold snaps on the East Coast, California drought and frozen mornings in the South all have something in common – the atmospheric jet stream which transports weather systems that’s taken to meandering all over North America....Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis and colleagues link that wavy jet stream to a warming Arctic, where climate changes near the top of the world are happening faster than in Earth’s middle latitudes.

Water, air quality concerns heighten conflict with pig farms. Southeast Missourian/AP, David Pitt. February 17, 2015. From Washington state to North Carolina, federal lawsuits are challenging the livestock industry to change its ways....The arguments found in the suits are based on studies that increasingly show the effect phosphorus, nitrate and bacteria from fertilizer and accumulated manure have on lakes and rivers as well as air pollution that may be harmful to respiratory health.

New ozone-destroying gases on the rise. Leeds University/Nature Geoscience. February 17, 2015. Scientists report that chemicals that are not controlled by a United Nations treaty designed to protect the Ozone Layer are contributing to ozone depletion....In the new study, published today in Nature Geoscience, the scientists also report the atmospheric abundance of one of these ‘very short-lived substances’ (VSLS) is growing rapidly.

Study sees even bigger longer droughts for much of US West. Columbia Daily Tribune/AP. February 15, 2015. “Unprecedented drought conditions” — the worst in more than 1,000 years — likely will come to the Southwest and Central Plains after 2050 and stick around because of global warming, according to a new study in the journal Science Advances on Thursday.

Children in cities have increased risk of neurological damage due to air pollution. Environmental News Network/Univesity of Montana. February 12, 2015. Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race and climate change. Environmental News Network/NPR, Emiliy Schwing. February 8, 2015. That open question (the effect of warming) looms large for Alaska's state sport and the economy surrounding it. Unseasonably warm winter weather has slowed other dog races. Paige Drobny, a musher for eight years who will drive a dog team in the 1,000-mile Iditarod in March, says she's not sure how long her racing career will last...."With the weather that we're having, if we don't get winters here soon, I think that there's going to be no choice but for the sport to die out, if we don't get some snow in the state," Drobny says.

Children benefit from getting outdoors. Environmental News Network. February 7, 2015. Sports science academics at the University of Coventry asked kids aged 9-10 years to complete a series of 15-minute moderate-intensity cycling activities – one whilst viewing a video of a forest track synced to the exercise bike and another with no visual stimulus....The researchers found that after the 'green exercise' the children's post-activity blood pressure was significantly lower than it was without the simulated forest environment, indicating that the nature scenes promoted positive health effects.

Soil moisture satellite launched. Environmental News Network/NASA JPL. February 2, 2015. SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) now begins a three-year mission that will figuratively scratch below Earth's surface to expand our understanding of a key component of the Earth system that links the water, energy and carbon cycles driving our living planet. SMAP's combined radar and radiometer instruments will peer into the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil, through clouds and moderate vegetation cover, day and night, to produce the highest-resolution, most accurate soil moisture maps ever obtained from space.

 

January 2015

U.S. Senate votes to force Keystone XL pipeline approval. Environment News Service. January 29, 2015. The new Republican-controlled Senate today voted for the first time to force U.S. approval of the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Proposed by TransCanada, the pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to TransCanada’s existing pipeline in Nebraska for transfer to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

USA, India to cooperate on climate, clean energy, smart cities. Environment News Service. January 26, 2015. On Sunday, President Obama and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to enhance their cooperation on ambitious climate and clean energy goals....Stressing the importance of working together and with other countries on climate change, the two leaders said they plan to cooperate closely this year to achieve a successful and ambitious legally-binding global climate agreement in Paris in December.

Obama would widen wilderness in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Environment News Service. January 26, 2015. “Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place – pristine, undisturbed,” said President Obama in a YouTube video announcing his administration’s plan to protect core areas of the refuge, including its Coastal Plain, as Wilderness, the highest level of protection available to public lands.

Groups sue EPA seeking livestock farm air quality standards. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP, David Pitt. January 26, 2015. The lawsuits, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, say the EPA has not responded to petitions filed in 2009 and 2011 by the Environmental Integrity Project and the Humane Society of the United States. Those petitions asked the agency to categorize large-scale livestock farms as sources of pollution under the Clean Air Act, set air quality standards for new and current facilities and set health-based standards for ammonia.

India's wild tiger population grows by 30%. Environment News Service. January 21, 2015.The report, “Status of Tigers in India, 2014,” issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, is welcome good news about tiger recovery after decades of poaching and habitat destruction. It shows that the future of tigers in India depends on maintaining undisturbed core habitats for breeding tiger populations, habitat connectivity and protection from poaching of tigers and their prey.

CO2 speeds tropical tree growth, slowing down climate change. Environment News Service. January 18, 2015. Tropical forests have a bigger appetite for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than many scientists have believed – even greater than that of temperate forests, finds a new study led by NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR.

Earth heating up: 2014 warmest year on record. Environment News Service. January 18, 2015. The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since record keeping began in 1880, according to two separate analyses by scientists with two U.S. agencies – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.

Brazilian lab turns fruits, veggies into edible plastic. Environment News Service. January 14, 2015. The edible plastic is made of dehydrated food mixed with a nanomaterial which has the setting function...."The greatest challenge of this research was to find the ideal formulation, the recipe of ingredients and proportions so that the material had the features we needed,” says materials engineer José Manoel Marconcini, an Embrapa researcher who participated in the work.

U.S. to ban foreign fish caught by killing whales, dolphins. Environment News Service. January 10, 2015. In a landmark settlement with three environmental groups, the U.S. government has agreed to adopt new rules that ensure seafood imported into the United States meets high standards for protecting whales and dolphins.

Toyota opens hydrogen fuel cell patents royalty free. Environment News Service. January 6, 2015. Toyota is “opening the door to the hydrogen future,” offering to share nearly 6,000 hydrogen fuel cell patents with other automakers – royalty free. Bob Carter, senior vice president of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. announced the offer Monday at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show’s Press Day in Las Vegas.

December 2014

Declining Monarch Butterfly population warrants federal protection. Environmental News Network, Alicia Graef. December 31, 2014. As conservationists continue to worry about the possibility of a world without monarchs, they’ve gotten some hope with an announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that federal protection may be warranted for these iconic butterflies.

China imposes record fine in water pollution case. St. Louis Post Dispatch?AP. December 30, 2014. A court in eastern China has issued the country's biggest environmental fine resulting from public interest litigation against polluters as China tries to crack down on widespread environmental degradation.

Road salt not good for streams. Environmental News Network/NPR, Cheryl Corley. December 29, 2014. This is the time of year when it's not uncommon to see big trucks barreling down highways and streets spreading road salt...Steve Corsi, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says that translates into high levels of chloride concentrations for rivers like the Milwaukee in Wisconsin or 18 other streams near urban areas in Illinois, Ohio, Colorado and several other states.

East Coast "nuisance" flooding already increasing. Environmental News Network. December 28, 2014. By 2050, much of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding annually because of dramatically accelerating impacts from sea-level rise, according to a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study.

The mystery of the disappearing plastic trash in the oceans solved. Environmental News Network/Care 2, Lizabeth Paulat. December 27, 2014. Fibers of microplastic, which are similar in diameter to a human hair, have sunk into deep water reserves across the world. For every bag floating across the ocean’s surface, there’s much more of the stuff laying in the ocean floor underneath. How much plastic is there? Well, according to the research, it’s so widespread that they’ve estimated microplastic is on every kilometer of the sea floor across the globe.

NASA maps CO2 emissions over the entire planet. Environmental News Network/Climate Central, Brian Kahn. December 25, 2014. It’s been a busy five months for NASA’s newest carbon dioxide-monitoring satellite, snapping up to 1 million measurements a day of how carbon dioxide moves across the planet. Now NASA scientists have shared the first global maps created using that data, showing one of the most detailed views of CO2 ever created.

Carbon dioxide threat to mussels' shells. Environmental News Network/The Ecologist. December 24, 2014. The world's mussel population could be under threat as rising CO2 levels in atmosphere and oceans makes their shells weaker and more brittle shells - making them more vulnerable to stormy seas, and predation.

Southern glaciers in China or melting. Environmental News Network/Science AAS, Christina Larson. December 23, 2014. Glaciers in China that are a critical source of water for drinking and irrigation in India are receding fast, according to a new comprehensive inventory. In the short term, retreating glaciers may release greater meltwater, “but it will be exhausted when glaciers disappear under a continuous warming,” says Liu Shiyin, who led the survey for the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute in Lanzhou.

New York State to ban fracking due to health risks. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Jan Lee. December 19, 2014. This week, New York state joined the growinglist of states and communities to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within its boundaries. After years of contentious debate over the safety of fracking, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday that he would move to unilaterally ban fracking was not completely unexpected. Still, environmental groups are counting the Department of Health’s report that “[high volume hydraulic fracturing] should not proceed in NYS” as a victory.

Something new to blame climate change on: Beavers. Environmental News Network/Science Daily. December 17, 2014. There are consequences of the successful efforts worldwide to save beavers from extinction. Along with the strong increase in their population over the past 100 years, these furry aquatic rodents have built many more ponds, establishing vital aquatic habitat. In doing so, however, they have created conditions for climate changing methane gas to be generated in this shallow standing water, and the gas is subsequently released into the atmosphere.

Pollution may cause problems for pollinators. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Lisa Marie Potter. December 11, 2014. While unpleasant car exhaust makes us wrinkle our noses, such human-made fumes may pose serious problems to insects searching for nectar. Researchers recently revealed that background odors make finding flowers difficult for pollinators.

Scientists estimate the total weight of plastic floating in the world's oceans. Environmental News Networ/PLOS ONE. December 10, 2014. Nearly 269,000 tons of plastic pollution may be floating in the world's oceans, according to a study published December 10, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Marcus Eriksen from Five Gyres Institute and colleagues.

Can organic crops compete with industrial agriculture? Environmental News Network/UC Berkeley. December 10, 2014. A systematic overview of more than 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic crops and conventional farming.

Drugs released in environment affect plant growth. Environmental News Network/Uinversity of Exeter. December 5, 2014. Each drug was shown to affect the plants in very specific ways, with marked differences between drugs that are closely related. For example, drugs from the fenamic acid class affected the growth of radish roots, whilst ibuprofen had a significant influence on the early root development of lettuce plants.

Melt rate of West Antarctic glaciers has tripled. Environmental News Network/NASA. December 3, 2014. A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade.

What drives the global warming debate?. Environmental News Network/Michigan State University. December 1, 2014. Scientists have presented the most comprehensive evidence to date that climate extremes such as droughts and record temperatures are failing to change people’s minds about global warming....Instead, political orientation is the most influential factor in shaping perceptions about climate change, both in the short-term and long-term, said Sandra Marquart-Pyatt, a Michigan State University sociologist and lead investigator on the study.

November 2014

US tightens smog limits in bid to protect heatlh. Yahoo/AP, Josh Lederman and Dina Cappiello. November 26, 2014. In a fresh confrontation with Republicans, the Obama administration on Wednesday proposed stricter emissions limits on smog-forming pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness. The move fulfilled a long-delayed campaign promise by President Barack Obama but left environmental and public health groups wanting more.

Scientists discover how the environment can trigger disease in humans. Click Green, Staff. November 25, 2014. Using a new imaging technique, National Institutes of Health researchers have found that the biological machinery that builds DNA can insert molecules into the DNA strand that are damaged as a result of environmental exposures. ...These damaged molecules trigger cell death that produces some human diseases, according to the researchers. The work provides a possible explanation for how one type of DNA damage may lead to cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular and lung disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

World Bank warns of effects of warming climate now unavoidable. Environmental News Network News. November 24, 2014. As the planet continues to warm, heat-waves and other extreme weather events that today occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, will become the “new climate normal,” creating a world of increased risks and instability, a new World Bank study warns...The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources shift, sea-levels rise, and the livelihoods of millions of people are put at risk, according to a new scientific report released today by the World Bank Group.

Researchser use social media to track air pollution. Environmental News Network via Jennifer Smith. November 18, 2014. For 30 days, the team monitored Weibo posts from 108 cities to see how often people complained about the air. The group analyzed the text of the posts, as well as a time-and-space correlation among cities and days, since pollution flare-ups typically cover large amounts of territory and can last for days.... Between 350,000 and 500,000 Chinese citizens die prematurely each year because of air pollution, according to the medical journal The Lancet. Even as smoking rates decrease, lung cancer is on the rise. Yet, while large Chinese cities have physical monitoring stations to gauge air pollution levels, smaller cities generally do not due to the expense of establishing and maintaining them.

310 species added to IUCN Red List. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. November 18, 2014. Today, 22,413 species are threatened with extinction, according to the most recent update of the IUCN Red List. This is a rise of 310 species from the last update in the summer. The update includes the Pacific bluefin tuna (moved from Least Concern to Vulnerable), the Chinese pufferfish (newly listed as Critically Endangered), and Chapman's pygmy chameleon (also newly listed as Critically Endangered).

Study: Polar bears disappearing from key region. Columbia Daily Tribune/AP. November 19, 2014. A key polar bear population fell nearly by half in the past decade, a new U.S.-Canada study found, with scientists seeing a dramatic increase in young cubs starving and dying....Researchers chiefly blame shrinking sea ice from global warming.

New protection for migratory birds. Environmental News Network/Ecologist. Novmeber 14, 2014. Two new international agreements will help to save migratory birds from hunting, trapping and poisoning, and to protect their long-distance flyways. A key objective is to phase out lead shot within three years, and eliminate the toxic drug diclofenac.

China-US climate pact 'heartening' but short of what's needed: IPCC. Yahoo/Reuters, Alister Doyle. November 12, 2014. A deal between China and the United States to combat global warming is "heartening" although it falls short of the action needed to avert the worst impacts, the head of the U.N. panel of climate scientists said on Wednesday.

Climate change heating up groundwater. Environmental News Network/ETH Zurich, Peter Ruegg. November 12, 2014. Based on the readings, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the groundwater is not just warming up; the warming stages observed in the atmosphere are also echoed. “Global warming is reflected directly in the groundwater, albeit damped and with a certain time lag,” says Bayer, summarising the main results that the project has yielded. The researchers published their study in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

Fukushima radioactivity detected off west coast. Environmental News Network/Woods Hole Oceanographic institute. November 11, 2014. Monitoring efforts along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada have detected the presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident 100 miles (150 km) due west of Eureka, California. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean.

New study seeks to settle, once and for all, debates about GMOs. St. Louis Post Dispatch/Reuters, Carey Gillam. November 11, 2014. On Tuesday, a group with backing from institutions in Russia, the United States and Europe said it would undertake the longest, largest and most definitive study of GMOs to date to try to settle the debate once and for all.

30-year study reveals startling decline in European birds. Environmental News Network/Click Green. November 6, 2014. The study reveals a decrease of 421 million individual birds over 30 years. Around 90 percent of these losses were from the 36 most common and widespread species, including house sparrows, skylarks, grey partridges and starlings, highlighting the need for greater efforts to halt the continent-wide declines of our most familiar countryside birds.

Spotted Lanternfly invading U.S. Environmental News Network/NPR, Bill Chappell. November 4, 2014. The spotted lanternfly has officially arrived in the U.S., and leaders in Pennsylvania are hoping it won't be staying long. The invasive pest poses a threat to fruit orchards and grape vines, along with forests and the timber industry. It was detected in Berks County, northwest of Philadelphia.

October 2014 (to MEEA November Newsletter)

Pope delivers mini-encyclical on poor, the environment. ABC News/AP, Nicole Winfield. October 28, 2014. Pope Francis delivered an off-the-cuff, mini-encyclical on the rights of the poor, the injustices of unemployment, and the need for environmental protection Tuesday, saying he's not preaching communism but the Gospel.

Emissions drop puts EU just shy of 2020 goal. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP. October 28, 2014. The European Union's environment agency says the bloc's greenhouse gas emissions dropped by nearly 2 percent last year, putting the EU very close to reaching its emissions target for 2020.

Microscopic phages may take out honeybee killing foulbrood. Brigham Young University Press Release. October 27, 2014. Foulbrood is a disease so infectious and devastating that affected hives are destroyed to prevent its spread. A graduate student at BYU has identifed five phages that attack the bacteria that cause Foulbrood, a treatment more effective than short-term antiobiotics. While Foulbrood is not responsible for colony collapse disorder, it does take out bees, so this discovery will be a big help to the hives.

Renewables better than fracking in slashing US emissions. Click Green. October 20, 2014. Wind power, not shale gas, was the biggest single cause of the fall in US carbon emissions from coal use, according to new Greenpeace analysis published today....The findings, based on figures by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), contradict the established narrative that touted shale gas as the biggest single factor in bringing down US emissions in recent years.

Half of earth's wildlife gone, governments meet to save the rest. Environmental News Service. October 14, 2014. Global wildlife populations have declined, on average, by 52 percent in the 40 year period since 1970, reports the global conservation nonprofit WWF. Habitat loss and degradation are the greatest threats to biodiversity, with exploitation of wildlife and climate change close behind.

Hagel: Climate change will challenge US military. St. Louis Post Dispatch, Lolita C. Baldor. October 13, 2014. The new report — described as a Pentagon roadmap — identifies four things that it says will affect the U.S. military: rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, more extreme weather and rising sea levels. It calls on the department and the military services to identify more specific concerns, including possible effects on the more than 7,000 bases and facilities, and to start putting plans in place to deal with them.

Space-based methane maps find largest U.S. signal in Southwest. Science Daily/University of Michigan. October 9, 2014. An unexpectedly high amount of the climate-changing gas methane, the main component of natural gas, is escaping from the Four Corners region in the US Southwest, according to a new study. Four Corners sits on North America's most productive coalbed methane basin. Coalbed methane is a variety of the gas that's stuck to the surface of coal. It is dangerous to miners (not to mention canaries), but in recent decades, it's been tapped as a resource.

LED there be light: 3 share Nobel for blue diode. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP, Karl Ritter and Malin Rising. October 8, 2014. Two Japanese scientists and a Japanese-born American won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for inventing blue light-emitting diodes, a breakthrough that has spurred the development of LED technology to light up homes, computer screens and smartphones worldwide.

Consumer Reports seeks labeling of GMOs in U.S. food. Environmental News Service. October 7, 2014. Breakfast cereals, chips, and infant formula were among the common food items containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, according to tests conducted this summer by Consumer Reports, the world’s largest independent product-testing organization....Some of these foods carry labels like “natural,” suggesting they are free of these controversial ingredients.

Human CO2 emissions blocking California's normal rainfall. Environmental News Service. October 6, 2014. The ‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ formed by human-caused climate change has left California crippled by a withering record drought while diverting life-giving rainstorms to the north, Stanford scientists explain in a new study.

Failing to find sea ice, 35,000 walrus come ashore in Alaska. KRCG 13/AP, Dan Joling. October 2, 2014. Pacific walrus that can't find sea ice for resting in Arctic waters are coming ashore in record numbers on a beach in northwest Alaska....An estimated 35,000 walrus were photographed Saturday about 5 miles north of Point Lay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

September 2014 (to MEEA October Newsletter)

Wind and solar outpacing nuclear in global energy production. Environmental News Network/World Watch. September 30, 2014. Following a rapid rise from its beginnings in the mid-1950s, global nuclear power generating capacity peaked at 375.3 gigawatts (GW) in 2010. Capacity has since declined to 371.8 GW in 2013, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Adverse economics, concern about reactor safety and proliferation, and the unresolved question of what to do with nuclear waste have put the brakes on the industry. In stark contrast, wind and solar power generating capacities are now on the same soaring trajectory that nuclear power was on in the 1970s and 1980s. Wind capacity of 320 GW in 2013 is equivalent to nuclear capacity in 1990. The 140 GW in solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity is still considerably smaller, but growing rapidly.

Causes of California drought linked to climate change, Stanford scientists say. Environmental News Network/Stanford, Ker Than. September 29, 2014. In a new study, a team led by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh used a novel combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that a persistent region of high atmospheric pressure hovering over the Pacific Ocean that diverted storms away from California was much more likely to form in the presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.

A concrete idea! MIT develops greener concrete. Environmental News Network/MIT, David L. Chandler. September 25, 2014. Cement is made by cooking calcium-rich material, usually limestone, with silica-rich material - typically clay - at temperatures of 1,500 degrees Celsius, yielding a hard mass called "clinker." This is then ground up into a powder. The decarbonation of limestone, and the heating of cement, are responsible for most of the material’s greenhouse-gas output.
The new analysis suggests that reducing the ratio of calcium to silicate would not only cut those emissions, but would actually produce better, stronger concrete.

Obama extends vast marine reserve in central Pacific Ocean. Christian Science Monitor, Pete Spotts. September 25, 2014. Building on a legacy left by President George W. Bush, President Obama has extended the reach of the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument sixfold to nearly half a million square miles, turning it into the world's largest marine sanctuary, one fully protected from commercial fishing and deep-sea mining.

A new treaty to restore Buffalo herds and grazing land. Environmental News Network/Wildlife Conservation Society. September 24, 2014. This week, dignitaries from U.S. Tribes and Canadian First Nations signed a treaty-the first among them in more than 150 years-to establish intertribal alliances for cooperation in the restoration of American buffalo (or bison) on Tribal/First Nations Reserves or co-managed lands within the U.S. and Canada.

Greens: Climate march shatters record. Politico, Andrew Restuccia. September 21, 2014. rganizers initially estimated that the march had drawn 310,000 people, then raised that estimate to nearly 400,000 — far exceeding their projections of 100,000 attendees and making the procession through midtown Manhattan by far the largest climate-related protest in history. New York police did not offer their own crowd count.

Global population may surpass 13 billion by end of century. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. September 19, 2014. It's worth noting that 13 billion is at the very high end of the researcher's projections and, therefore, unlikely, but hardly impossible. The scientists estimated that there is an 80 percent probability the global population fall somewhere between 9.6 and 12.3 billion in 2100, meaning there is a ten percent chance that population will be above 12.3 billion.

Fall foliage may be delayed, but will last longer. Environmental News Network/Princeton Environmental Institute, Wendy Plump. September 18, 2014. Climate change could postpone fall leaf peeping in some areas of the United States as summer temperatures linger later into the year, Princeton University researchers report in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography. For instance, the paper birch — a popular foliage tree that is the state tree of New Hampshire — could change color one to three weeks later by the end of the century, the researchers found. Although some trees will be less susceptible to the ongoing heat than the paper birch, the more southern the region, the more likely there is to be a greater overall delay in leaf coloration, the researchers found.

Malaysia's 'Smart Villages' and other great ideas for sustainable development. Environmental News Network. September 18, 2014. Each community consists of about 100 affordable homes, high-tech educational, training and recreational facilities, with an integrated, sustainable farm system providing villagers with food and employment -- on average tripling monthly income to about US $475.

Pollinators are important to nutrition, especially in poorer regions. Environmental News Network/University of Leeds. September 17, 2014. The research, the first to study the relationship between nutrition and pollination across the globe, found some regions where disruptions in pollination could have serious implications for human health. Deficiencies in 'micronutrients' - nutrients such as iron and vitamins that are required by the body in small quantities - are three times as prevalent where production of micronutrients is heavily dependent upon pollinators, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the Middle East.

Electric vehicles getting even "Greener". Environmental News Network/Union of Concerned Scientists. September 16, 2014. Anair’s update to UCS’s 2012 report "State of Charge," finds that automakers are producing more efficient EVs. The average battery electric vehicle sold over the past year, for instance, uses 0.325 kilowatt hours of electricity per mile, a 5 percent improvement since 2011. The improvement in efficiency means that the average EV continues to achieve lower global warming emissions than the average new conventional gasoline vehicle no matter where a U.S. driver lives, and is the best choice for reducing global warming emissions for the majority of American drivers.

Protected areas do work says study. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. September 16, 2014. Protected areas are working. That's the conclusion of a new analysis of over 80 different studies on the efficacy of parks and nature reserves in safeguarding wildlife. Published in the open access journal, PLOS ONE, the new study finds that in general protected areas house higher abundances of wildlife as well as greater biodiversity than adjacent areas.

National Chicken Council to phase out some poultry antibiotics. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Jan Lee. September 16, 2014. Only about 10 percent of the antibiotics used in chicken are actually used in humans, says the National Chicken Council. Its statement comes on the heels of a controversial report by Reuters indicating increasing proof that the prophylactic medications used in chickens are fueling antibiotic resistance not just in fowl, but in humans as well.....new changes are on the horizon for those meds that are also used in human populations. "While minimally used in raising chickens, by December 2016, these antibiotics that are important to human medicine will be labeled for use in food animals only to prevent and treat disease, under the supervision and care of a veterinarian,"

Air pollution found harmful to young brains. Environmental News Network/University of Montana. September 15, 2014. Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

Most polluted countries. Environmental News Network/ Care 2, Lizabeth Paulat. September 15, 2014. The WHO has released a new study ranking countries with the worst air pollution. When we consider air pollution most of us will automatically think of China. However, it was nowhere to be found in the top 10 offenders. This, by the way, is not because they’ve suddenly cleaned up their act, but rather because this study ranked countries as a whole, rather than cities. Pollution ranked on PM 2.5 levels - the level of particulate matter sized 2.5 micrometers and smaller. The five worst in order Pakistan, Qatar, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran.

Illegal land clearing for commercial agriculture responsible for half of tropical deforestation. Environmental News Network/Forest Trends. September 11, 2014. A comprehensive new analysis released today says that nearly half (49%) of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture. The study also finds that the majority of this illegal destruction was driven by overseas demand for agricultural commodities including palm oil, beef, soy, and wood products. In addition to devastating impacts on forest-dependent people and biodiversity, the illegal conversion of tropical forests for commercial agriculture is estimated to produce 1.47 gigatonnes of carbon each year—equivalent to 25% of the EU's annual fossil fuel-based emissions.

Hazardous waste-eating bacteria discovered. Environmental News Network/University of Manchester. September 10, 2014. Working on soil samples from a highly alkaline industrial site contaminated with highlight alkaline lime kiln wastes, researchers discovered specialist "extremophile" bacteria that thrive under the alkaline conditions expected in cement-based radioactive waste. The organisms are not only superbly adapted to live in the highly alkaline lime wastes, but they can use the isosaccharinic acid (present in some nuclear wastes) as a source of food and energy under conditions that mimic those expected in and around intermediate level radwaste disposal sites... If they work, they can help keep radioactive materials fixed underground over the thousands of years requried for their decay.

How is a warming climate impacting coral reefs? Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. September 10, 2014. "Our analysis shows that corals in the study areas are now regularly experiencing temperatures above 84 F during July, August and September; average temperatures that were seldom reached 120 years ago," said Ilsa Kuffner, a USGS research marine biologist and the study’s lead author. "When corals are exposed to water temperatures above 84 F they grow more slowly and, during extended exposure periods, can stop growing altogether or die."

Kimberly-Clark moving big to sustainable forestry. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Gina-Marie Cheeseman. September 9, 2014. Its latest corporate social responsibility report lists short- and long-term goals to make its products more sustainably produced. One of the short-term goals is to source 100 percent of its wood fiber from suppliers who have achieved third-party certification by 2015. It has already achieved 71.1 percent. Two of KC’s long term-goals also involve sustainable forestry, including obtaining 90 percent of the fiber in its tissue products from environmentally-preferred sources by 2025, and transitioning at least 50 percent of wood fiber sourced from natural forests to alternative fiber sources by 2025.

Pesticide drift is persistent problem for farmers. Columbia Daily Tribune/AP. September 8, 2014. The cloud of insecticide that drifted from a neighbor’s corn field onto the asparagus on Andrew and Melissa Dunham’s central Iowa farm cast a shadow over their organic vegetable business.

Ozone pollution in India kills crops that could feed starving population. Environmental News Network/Click Green. September 4, 2014. According to the new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, surface ozone pollution damaged 6 million metric tons (6.7 million U.S. tons) of India's wheat, rice, soybean and cotton crops in 2005.India could feed 94 million people with the lost wheat and rice crops, about a third of the country's poor, according to Sachin Ghude, an atmospheric scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, India and lead author of the new study. There are about 270 million Indians that live in poverty, according to the study.

Green neighborhoods correlate with healthier pregnancies. Environmental News Network/Oregon State University. September 4, 2014. Mothers who live in neighborhoods with plenty of grass, trees or other green vegetation are more likely to deliver at full term and their babies are born at higher weights, compared to mothers who live in urban areas that aren’t as green, a new study shows.

New software helps choose products, ingredients based on sustainability. Environmental News Newtork/Triple Pundit, Alexis Petru. September 4, 2014.UL's search engine Prospector allows engineers and designers to look up materials they might want to use to create new products or reformulate existing ones — like developing a shampoo that rinses faster or a toothpaste that also whitens teeth. But, in addition to searching for ingredients that change the abilities or characteristics of a product, engineers can also identify materials that are more sustainable — ingredients that are free of certain chemicals, have received an environmental certification or comply with environmental regulations.

August 2014

Study suggests more research before fracking continues. Environmental News Network/Click Green. August 29, 2014. The interdisciplinary expert panel set up by the Nova Scotia regional government says the science of fracking is relatively unknown and therefore its introduction should be delayed in the Province until the science and its environmental effects are better understood.

Where should the roads go? New map offers a solution. MongaBay/Nature, Morgan Erickson-Davis. August 27, 2014. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads – and which should be left alone.

Groups want Monarch Butterfly declared a threatened species. KECT, Chris Clarke. August 26, 2014. The petition is prompted by a staggering drop in monarch numbers over the last two decades; current estimates put that drop at 90 percent in the last 20 years. The groups cite a rise in use of the herbicide Roundup as a key factor in the monarchs' decline. Farmers using the herbicide have wiped out much of monarch's supply of milkweed plants across the continent; monarchs require milkweed in order to reproduce successfully.

Environmental group wants Diablo Canyon (nuclear plant) shut down during earthquake risk review. CBS LA Affiliate. August 26, 2014. The petition (by Friends of the Earth) was filed after The Associated Press disclosed Monday that a federal nuclear expert is urging the NRC to shut down the seaside plant until it can determine whether its reactors can withstand shaking from nearby faults.

Study: Cutting emissions pays for itself. MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Audrey Resutek. August 24, 2014. MIT researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the United States, and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big — in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation. ...The researchers found that savings from avoided health problems could recoup 26 percent of the cost to implement a transportation policy, but up to to 10.5 times the cost of implementing a cap-and-trade program. The difference depended largely on the costs of the policie... Policies aimed at specific sources of air pollution, such as power plants and vehicles, did not lead to substantially larger benefits than cheaper policies, such as a cap-and-trade approach.

Levels of air toxics decreasing across US cities. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. August 23, 2014. Using national emissions and air quality data, the Urban Air Toxics Report shows the substantial progress that has been made to reduce air toxics across the country since the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

Lack of growth in power demand challenges utilities. Kansas City Star, Steve Everly. August 11, 2014. Instead of centralized power plants, so-called distributive power such as roof-top solar energy units on homes and businesses, or manufacturers that build small power plants to produce their own electricity, are gaining traction. Large plants still deliver most of the country’s power and they aren’t going away, but the rise of distributive power is already playing a role in flat or sluggish growth for electricity demand for most U.S. utilities.

Drought causes western US to rise. Environmental News Network. August 22, 2014. Scripps researchers Adrian Borsa, Duncan Agnew, and Dan Cayan found that the water shortage is causing an "uplift" effect up to 15 millimeters (more than half an inch) in California's mountains and on average four millimeters (0.15 of an inch) across the west. From the GPS data, they estimate the water deficit at nearly 240 gigatons (63 trillion gallons of water), equivalent to a four-inch layer of water spread out over the entire western U.S.

Ozone-depleting compound persists, NASA research shows. NASA. August 20, 2014. Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012....However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect.

100,000 African elephants killed in three years. Oxford University/Proc National Acad Sciences. August 19, 2014. The study, published in PNAS, provides the first verifiable estimation of the impacts of the ongoing ivory crisis on Africa's elephant populations. The researchers drew on data and experience from an Africa-wide intensive monitoring programme. The most thoroughly studied site was Samburu in northern Kenya where every birth and death over the past 16 years has been recorded in a long-term monitoring project co-founded by Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Oxford University's Department of Zoology and George Wittemyer of Colorado State University, for Save the Elephants. The work is done in association with the Kenya Wildlife Service.

New economic study shows marine debris costs California residents millions of dollars. NOAA. August 12, 2014. The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could benefit residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.

Chinese traditional medicine threatens turtle populations. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Erin Crandall. August 11, 2014. Despite a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating a causative link between turtle consumption and medicinal benefits, many people in China believe they provide benefits such as maintaining youthful beauty in women and improving sexual function in men. Because of these beliefs and their symbolic importance, turtles have been highly sought after for more than 3,000 years. However, in recent years, China's economy has changed in a way that has become increasingly threatening to the country's wild turtle populations.

Sea polluted by paint dust. Science Magazine, Erik Stokstad. August 7, 2014. Even when the sea looks clean, its surface can be flecked with tiny fragments of paint and fiberglass. That’s the finding from a study that looked for plastic pollution in the uppermost millimeter of ocean. The microscopic fragments come from the decks and hulls of boats, and they could pose a threat to tiny creatures called zooplankton, which are an important part of the marine food web.

Survey finds that U.S. leads the world in climate denial. Triple Pundit, R. P. Siegel. August 5, 2014 ...according to a Global Trends survey by the U.K.-based market research firm Ipsos MORI. The study polled 16,000 people in 20 leading countries on eight different topics, including the environment....Not only was the U.S. last, but it was last by a considerable margin. Consider the following question: “To what extent do you agree or disagree, the climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity?” A mere 54 percent of respondents from the U.S. agreed. Compare that with 93 percent from China and 84 percent from both Argentina and Italy. India, France, Turkey, Spain, Brazil, Belgium, South Korea and South Africa all scored 75 percent or higher.

Scientists may have cracked the giant Siberian crater mystery - and the news isn't good. Washington Post, Terrance McCoy. August 5, 2014. ...It may be methane gas, released by the thawing of frozen ground. According to a recent Nature article, “air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.”

Toledo water crisis in second day, but problems long coming. CBS News. August 4, 2014. The toxins that contaminated the drinking water supply of 400,000 people in northwest Ohio didn't just suddenly appear....Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup color in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets....In fact, the problems on the shallowest of the five Great Lakes brought on by farm runoff and sludge from sewage treatment plants have been building for more than a decade.

July 2014

World's park rangers murdered in widespread "Bush War". Environmental News Service. July 31, 2014. Over the past year, 56 rangers lost their lives in the line of duty – 29 of them killed by poachers, according to information released today by the International Ranger Federation to mark World Ranger Day, observed annually on July 31.

CO2 decrease cause of Antarctice ice sheet growth in ice age. Environmental News Network/Science Daily. july 31, 2014. Climate modelers from the University of New Hampshire have shown that the most likely explanation for the initiation of Antarctic glaciation during a major climate shift 34 million years ago was decreased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The finding counters a 40-year-old theory suggesting massive rearrangements of Earth's continents caused global cooling and the abrupt formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. It will provide scientists insight into the climate change implications of current rising global CO2 levels.

Ozone + rising temperatures = problems for food security. Environmental News Network. July 28, 2014. Under some scenarios, MIT researchers found that pollution-control measures could make a major dent in the expected crop reductions following climate change. For example, while global food production was projected to fall by 15 percent under one scenario, larger emissions decreases projected in an alternate scenario reduce that drop to 9 percent.

The important role of community forests. Environmental News Network/Yale Environment 360. July 25, 2014. Expanding and strengthening the community forest rights of indigenous groups and rural residents can make a major contribution to sequestering carbon and reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation, according to a new report. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Rights and Resources Initiative said that indigenous people and rural inhabitants in Latin America, Africa, and Asia have government-recognized rights to forests containing nearly 38 billion tons of carbon, equal to 29 times the annual emissions of all the world’s passenger vehicles. By enforcing community rights to those forests, the study said, governments can play a major role in tackling climate change.

New poll shows support for carbon tax, with exceptions. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundity. July 24, 2014. Sixty percent of those surveyed gave thumbs-up to the more creative form of a carbon tax where it is then used to fund renewable energy. Half (51 percent) of those who identified themselves as Republican said they would support a tax that was then reused for greener purposes. An estimated 54 percent of Independents and 70 percent of Democrats said they would support the idea as well....Stats also showed that respondents weren't really as worried about getting their money back as about seeing the funds go to a useful "green" purpose. A lower number (56 percent) overall of those questioned said they would support a carbon tax if the money were reimbursed to them. As to political leanings: 43 percent Republican-identified respondents said yea to this idea; 52 percent of Independents and 65 percent of Democrats said this was also a good way to approach carbon taxation.

Western inferno: Climate change worsening wildfire ristk. Environmental News Service. July 24, 2014. Climate change is producing hotter, drier conditions across the American West, which contribute to more large wildfires and longer wildfire seasons, a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists states.

New research compares environmental costs of livestock-based foods. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. July 22, 2014. New research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, conducted in collaboration with scientists in the US, calculates environmental costs of livestock production and compares various animal proteins to give a multi-perspective picture of what resources are really being used.... The winner? Or should we say, the protein with the biggest footprint? Beef. Which does not come as a surprise. Researchers calculated that in total, eating beef is more costly to the environment about ten times on average — than other animal-derived foods.

Big companies sign renewable energy buyer's principles. Environmental News Service. July 21, 2014. The 12 initial companies: Bloomberg, Facebook, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Novelis, Procter and Gamble, REI, Sprint, and Walmart, are hoping the principles will open up new opportunities for collaboration with utilities and energy suppliers to increase their ability to buy renewable energy.

California getting tough with water wasters!. Environmental News Network/NPR, L. Carol Richter. July 16, 2014. Californians who waste water will have to pay up to $500 a day for their extravagance under new restrictions approved Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board.
The move comes after the board concluded that voluntary conservation measures have failed to achieve the 20 percent reduction in water use that Gov. Jerry Brown was hoping for, reports The Associated Press....Although several southern state agencies have made significant cuts in water use in recent years, most residents just don't understand the seriousness of California's three-year drought, the worst since the 1970s, said Madely Glickfeld of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Drought conditions linked to human activity. Environmental News Network/Click Green. July 15, 2014. NOAA researchers conducted several climate simulations using this global climate model to study long-term changes in rainfall in various regions across the globe. One of the most striking signals of change emerged over Australia, where a long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall has been observed over parts of southern Australia....Simulating natural and manmade climate drivers, scientists showed that the decline in rainfall is primarily a response to manmade increases in greenhouse gases as well as a thinning of the ozone caused by manmade aerosol emissions.

Fertilizer threatens grasslands globally. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Paul Sutherland. July 14, 2014.The world's grasslands are being destabilized by fertilization, according to a paper recently published in the journal Nature. In a study of 41 grassland communities on five continents, researchers found that the presence of fertilizer weakened grassland species diversity.

Pesticide impairs bees' ability to forage. Environmental News Network/ClickGreen. July 14, 2014. A study that involved fitting bumblebees with tiny radio frequency tags found long-term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide hampers bees' ability to forage for pollen.

New study links kidney stones to ... warming climate? Environmental News Network/Click Green. July 11, 2014. The study team analyzed medical records of more than 60,000 adults and children with kidney stones between 2005 and 2011 in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, in connection with weather data. Tasian and colleagues described the risk of stone presentation for the full range of temperatures in each city....As mean daily temperatures rose above 50F (10C), the risk of kidney stone presentation increased in all the cities except Los Angeles. The delay between high daily temperatures and kidney stone presentation was short, peaking within three days of exposure to hot days.

Arctic sea ice trends confirmed by Whaler's logs. Environmental News Network/The Ecologist, Tim Radford. July 11, 2014. Log books from British whaling ships more than 200 years ago have given new insights into the history of the Arctic sea ice, reports Tim Radford. A new study reveals that the scale of ice melt in the Arctic over the last few decades is new and unprecedented. The retreat of the ice in the last 30 years is part of a more recent and new pattern of climate change.

Oceanic litter is widespread. Environmental News Network/Planet Earth Online, Harriet Jariett. July 8, 2014. The new study, published in Plos One, shows for the first time that there seems to be no area of the ocean left untouched by human litter....Using 588 video clips collected by unmanned submarine vehicles for geological mapping and marine biology studies, the team found that plastics waste like shopping bags is the most prevalent.

Ocean health depends more on whales than we thought. Environmental News Network/University of Hawai'i at Manoa. July 4, 2014. Among their many ecological functions, whales recycle nutrients and enhance primary productivity, locally and on a regional scale. Whales mix the water column, and after feeding at depth, release surface plumes of fecal material. This "whale pump" supplies iron and nitrogen - essentially fertilizers - to primary producers in the surface ocean. Further, the migrations of baleen whales between highly productive, high-latitude feeding and low-latitude calving grounds are among the longest annual movements of mammals. By fasting in these winter calving grounds near the equator, humpback whales, for example, release nitrogen in the form of urea into comparatively nutrient-poor areas — transporting nutrients nearly 10,000 kilometers on the "great whale conveyor belt."


June 2014

Ancient baby boom holds a lesson in overpopulation. Science Daily/Washington State University. June 30, 2014. Researchers have sketched out one of the greatest baby booms in North American history, a centuries-long 'growth blip' among southwestern Native Americans between 500 to 1300 A.D. It was a time when the early features of civilization -- including farming and food storage -- had matured to where birth rates likely 'exceeded the highest in the world today,' the researchers write. A crash followed, offering a warning sign to the modern world about the dangers of overpopulation.

All oceans have plastic debris on their surface. Science Daily/Spanish National Research Council. June 30, 2014.The Malaspina Expedition, led by the Spanish National Research Council, has demonstrated that there are five large accumulations of plastic debris in the open ocean that match with the five major twists of oceanic surface water circulation. In addition to the known accumulation of plastic waste in the North Pacific, there are similar accumulations in the central North Atlantic, the South Pacific, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

Emperor penguin in peril: Climate change threatens dramatic declines. Science Daily/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. June 29, 2014. Emperor penguins are heavily dependent on sea ice for their livelihoods, and, therefore, are sensitive to changes in sea ice concentration (SIC). The researchers' analysis of the global, continent-wide Emperor penguin population incorporates current and projected future SIC declines, and determined that all of the colonies would be in decline -- many by more than 50 percent -- by the end of the century, due to future climate change.

Endangered Species Act may be significantly weakened by new policy. Environmental News Network/Center for Biological Diversity. June 28, 2014. The Center for Biological Diversity will file a legal challenge to an Obama administration policy, finalized today, that severely limits when a species qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act - a change that ignores both broad legal precedent and congressional intent.

Safe salt could yield cheaper, more efficient solar cells. Science News, Ashley Yeager. June 26, 2014.Right now, the most efficient solar cells are made with a layer of cadmium telluride, which absorbs more sunlight and converts more of it to energy than silicon solar cells. However, cadmium telluride solar cells are made with cadmium chloride, an expensive and highly toxic salt....To cut costs and toxicity, scientists instead tried making cadmium telluride solar cells with magnesium chloride, a cheap, benign salt. Tests show that the solar cells made with the safer salt are as efficient as those made with cadmium chloride, researchers report June 26 in Nature.

New NASA images hilight U.S. air quality improvement. Science Daily/NASA. June 26, 2014. After ten years in orbit, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's Aura satellite has been in orbit sufficiently long to show that people in major U.S. cities are breathing less nitrogen dioxide -- a yellow-brown gas that can cause respiratory problems....the newly finalized policy sharply restricts the use of this part of the Act, defining "significant" to mean that only when the loss of a part of a species' range threatens the survival of the whole species would wildlife agencies protect that species under the Act.

Solar power meets half of Germany's energy demand. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Andrew Burger. June 26, 2014. Three national solar energy records were set in Germany over the past two weeks. According to the Fraunhofer ISE solar energy research institute:
- Solar met more than 50 percent of Germany's total electricity demand for the first time;
- A new solar peak power production record was set; and
- Weekly total solar power output hit new highs.

Former treasury secretaries, financial leaders press business to cut climate-change risks. Washington Post, Steve Mufson. June 24, 2014. A bipartisan group of prominent financial and political figures called for new policies to “reduce the odds of catastrophic outcomes” from extreme heat and rising sea levels linked to climate change and issued a report suggesting that the most severe risks could be avoided through early investments.

For healthy oceans, end illegal fishing: WWF. Environmental Network News/Triple Pundit. June 24, 2014. While the discussions were vibrant, one of the biggest announcements was made by President Barack Obama as he announced a new initiative to address illegal fishing. Through a government-led strategy, federal agencies — along with industry, NGOs and other key stakeholders — will work together to build a framework that ensures seafood products can be traced from "bait to plate." This is a critical step by the U.S. to combat illegally caught fish from reaching U.S. markets and ending up on dinner tables and on store shelves across the country.

Young gorillas caught dismantling poacher's snares. Environmental News Network/Ecologist, Danielle Radin. June 24, 2014. In the wild, gorillas are turning into primitive engineers as the newest field findings show that some of these large primates have taught themselves how to dismantle poaching traps in Africa.

Study links pesticides and pregnancies with increased risk of autism. Environmental News Network/Click Green. June 23, 2014. Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, according to a new study.

Can Obama save the honey bees? Christian Science Monitor, David Clark Scott. June 21, 2014. On Friday, Obama signed a presidential memo ordering the federal government to come up with a plan for protecting pollinators such as honey bees, butterflies, birds and bats. "The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment," Obama said in a memo was sent to Cabinet secretaries and agency heads.

New study shows link between bald eagle deaths and lead ammunition. Environmental News Network/Care 2, Alicia Graef. June 20, 2014. In 2011, researchers started a study to assess lead exposure in the upper midwest to see it if was related to ammunition and found that of 168 eagles they found dead, concentrations of lead were found in 48 percent of the livers and 21 percent had lead concentrations that were considered lethal....They concluded that eagles were feeding on gut piles from deer and other animals left behind by hunters after examining the remains from 25 animals and found that they had from as little as one fragment to as many as 107 fragments per pile.

Triclosan may spoil wastewater treatment. Science News, Beth Mole. June 19, 2014. Triclosan, after being flushed down the drain, may muck up sewage treatment. In wastewater treatment plants, the omnipresent antimicrobial can sabotage some sludge-processing microbes and promote drug resistance in others.

800+ species added to the IUCN Threatened List. Environmental News Network/MONGABAY, Jeremy Hance. June 17, 2014. Experts have added 817 species to the threatened categories of the IUCN Red List in the latest update. Those added include 51 mammals—mostly lemurs—and over 400 plants. The new update finds that over 90 percent of lemurs and 79 percent of temperate slipper orchids are threatened with extinction.

Group of 77 and China agree to fight climate change. Environmental News Service. June 16, 2014. The leaders ended their two-day summit on Sunday by adopting the Santa Cruz Declaration, which covers sustainable development, climate change, technology, economy, trade, the building of democratic institutions, eradication of poverty and inequality, inclusion of women in development and global economic governance.

Elon Musk opens Tesla technology to the world. Environmental News Service. June 13, 2014. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken down the patents posted at the California headquarters of his luxury electric car company. Instead the innovative CEO wants to allow other electric vehicle manufacturers to use his technology to advance sustainable mobility worldwide.

Governor signs bill making Illinois first state to ban micorbeads. Chicago Tribune News, Staff. June 8, 2014. “Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow,” [Governor] Quinn said. “Lake Michigan and the many rivers and lakes across our state are among our most important natural resources. We must do everything necessary to safeguard them.”

New EPA map shows details of CO2 emissions plan. Huffington Post/Climate Central, Bobby Magill. June 6, 2014. The new Clean Power Plan the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled this week will affect about 1,000 fossil fuel-fired power plants across the country, and now the EPA has a new interactive map that shows exactly where those power plants are and which states could be most affected by the proposed new rule.

CO2 emissions in EU down significantly. Environmental News Network/EurActive. June 5, 2014. The European Union's greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 19.2% compared to 1990s levels, according to the European Environment Agency....EU emissions dropped 1.3% in 2012, reaching their lowest level ever recorded, according to data reported to the United Nations by the EEA. The bloc's greenhouse gas output decreased by 1082 megatonnes since 1990, more than the combined emissions of Italy and United Kingdom in 2012.

Milkweed loss to blame for declining Monarch populations. Environmental News Netowrk, Allison Winter. June 5, 2014.The eastern North American monarch population is known not only for its iconic orange and black colors, but also for its late summer migration from the United States to Mexico, a migration covering thousands of miles. And despite the long-held belief that monarch butterflies are most vulnerable to disturbances on wintering grounds in Mexico, new research from the University of Guelph shows lack of milkweed in the US which provides breeding grounds for the species is playing more of a role for species decline.

May 2014

states set goal of 3.3M zero-pollution cars. USA Today, Chris Woodyard. May 30, 2014. Eight states, including California and New York, are vowing to collaborate to put 3.3 million electric cars on their roads and highways by 2025.

Too much screen time linked to childhood obesity. Education News, Grace Smith. May 28, 2014. ... follow-up research from JAMA Network, taken two years after the initial study and then four years after the study, at the two-year mark revealed that bedroom TV-watching had links to being overweight and to long-term weight gain. At four years, BMI had increased even more. An interesting note is that the obesity was not linked with time spent watching TV, it was the simple presence of the TV in the child’s room.

Is cat litter to blame for nuke dump leak? Denver Post/AP, Jeri Clausing. May 23, 2014. Federal officials have zeroed in on a barrel of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory as the source of the leak, and one theory is that a change in the type of cat litter that it was packed with caused a leak that contaminated 22 workers with low levels of radiation on Feb. 14, shuttering the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, Indefinitely.

Climate change threatens U.S. Landmarks. Environmental Network News/ClickGreen. May 22, 2014. 'National Landmarks at Risk', a report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, identifies 30 at-risk locations that potentially face serious natural disasters. They also include the Statue of Liberty, Boston's historic districts, the Harriet Tubman National Monument in Maryland and an array of NASA sites including the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Fungi clean contaminated soil. Environmental News Network/The Ecologist. May 22, 2014. A new system for cleaning soils contaminated with industrial toxins harnesses the power of White rot - a common fungus that decays fallen wood in forests. Research in Finland shows it can also destroy dioxins and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons.

Longer growing season does not yield growth increase for trees and shrubs. Environmental News Network, Robin Blackstone. May 21, 2014. As the earth's temperatures rise, some have speculated that trees and shrubs in the colder climates might experience and increase in growth as a result of the extended growing season. "Not so," says a recent study authored by a University of Washington biology and applied mathematics postdoctoral student. Her study demonstrates that bushes achieve less yearly growth when cold winter temperatures are interrupted by warm spurts that trigger growth.

"State of the Air 2014" shows half the U.S. lives with unhealthy Air. Environmental News Network/American Lung Association. May 20, 2014.The 15th annual national report card shows that while the nation overall continued to reduce particle pollution, a pollutant recently found to cause lung cancer, poor air quality remains a significant public health concern and a changing climate threatens to make it harder to protect human health. Especially alarming is that levels of ozone (smog), a powerful respiratory irritant and the most widespread air pollutant, were much worse than in the previous year's report. Missouri results are here - http://www.stateoftheair.org/2014/states/missouri/

Alarming data on Arctic ice loss. Environmental Network News/Planet Earth Online, Alex Peel. May 20, 2014. The Antarctic ice sheet has lost ice twice as quickly in the past three years as when it was last surveyed between 2005 and 2010, say scientists....Results from the CryoSat-2 satellite mission, published today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, say the largest ice sheet on Earth is now losing 159 billion tonnes of ice each year.

Greenland will be far greater contributor to sea rise than expected. Environmental Network News/Click Green. May 19, 2014. Greenland's icy reaches are far more vulnerable to warm ocean waters from climate change than had been thought, according to new research by UC Irvine and NASA glaciologists. The work, published today in Nature Geoscience, shows previously uncharted deep valleys stretching for dozens of miles under the Greenland Ice Sheet.

10,000 gallons of crude oil spilled in L.A. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. May 16, 2014. Yesterday morning, black oil sprayed nearly 20 feet into the air in Atwater Village, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California after a "valve malfunction" caused the oil to leak....Crude oil was spilled across a half-mile area, according to an LAFD alert. The oil spill had created a pool approximately 40-feet wide and was knee-high in some areas.

Tiny nuclear waste fee added up to billions. St. Louis Post Dispatch/Los Anageles Times, Ralph Vartabedian. May 16, 2014. A charge for electricity that millions of Americans didn’t even know they pay will suddenly disappear Friday, after the Energy Department this week quietly notified utilities across the country that it was suspending its fees for a future nuclear waste dump....The court-ordered suspension may be a modest victory for consumers, but it reflects the government’s failure over the last 40 years to get rid of what is now nearly 70,000 metric tons of highly radioactive spent fuel, accumulating at 100 nuclear reactors across the nation.

Tiipping point already reached? Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. May 15, 2014. Two hundred years from now, the planet could look very different. This week two landmark studies revealed that West Antarctica's ice sheet is in a state of seemingly inevitable collapse linked to climate change. The slow-motion collapse would by itself eventually lead to a rise in global levels of 3.6-4.5 meters (12-15 feet), overrunning many of the world's islands, low-lying areas, and coastal cities. The only silver lining is that scientists conservatively estimate that the collapse could take 200-1,000 years.

Overwhelming the Mississippi. Environmental News Network, Robin Blackstone. May 14, 2014. New evidence from University of Texas at Austin researchers posit that the great Mississippi's natural ability to chemically filter out nitrates is being overwhelmed. UT's hydrologists demonstrate the enormity of the filtering process for almost every drop of water that enters into the 311,000-mile long course ending in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bee booby-traps defend African farms from elephants. Environmental News Network/SciDevNet, Georgia Achia. May 14, 2014. The project, which is a collaboration between Save the Elephants, the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, studies how to use the African bush elephants' instinctive avoidance of African honey bees to avoid crop losses.

Scotland provides guidance to wind farms for the protection of bird life. Environmental News Network/Click Green. May 12, 2014. An innovative guide for wind farms is to be produced by the Scottish Government, industry and charities to help protect bird life. The Scottish Windfarm Bird Steering Group, made up of the Scottish Government, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB Scotland and Scottish Renewables, has already spent more than £50,000 on a series of studies.

President Obama details an Action Plan on Climate. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Alexis Petru. May 10, 2014. On the heels of the administration's release of the Third National Climate Assessment report, President Barack Obama today announced an array of executive actions and public and private sector commitments to increase solar installations and energy efficiency improvements, strengthen energy efficiency standards, and bolster the solar industry workforce. The actions and pledges that Obama laid out will deploy enough solar energy to power nearly 130,000 homes, cut carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 80 million cars off the road and save businesses $26 billion on their energy bills, the White House said in a statement.

National Priorities List of Superfund sites adds seven. Enviromental News Network. May 9, 2014. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country to protect people's health and the environment. "Cleaning up contaminated land is critical to the protection of human health and the environment," said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "Superfund cleanups also play an important role in advancing the economic well-being of communities by turning formerly idle properties into productive community assets that can broaden tax bases, create jobs, enhance property values and support improved overall well-being."

Climate change vs. natural variations: why is Greenland melting? Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. May 8, 2014. There's no question that Greenland's glaciers are in fact melting. And while the obvious culprit may be global warming caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions, University of Washington atmospheric scientists have estimated that up to half of the recent warming in Greenland and surrounding areas may be due to climate variations.

Cutting NYC air pollution will boost children's future earnings by $215 million. Environmental News Network/Click Green. May 8, 2014. The study is the first to estimate the costs of IQ loss associated with exposure to air pollution, and is based on prior research on prenatal exposure to air pollutants among low-income children by Frederica Perera, PhD, lead author of the current study, and colleagues at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Dan River coal ash problems not over, experts say. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Jan Lee. More than three months after regulators were told that a coal ash containment pond in North Carolina had failed and was dumping toxic sludge into the nearby Dan River, environmental experts are taking a hard look at what's left in the water. What they have found may not bode well for the long-range health of the area's ecosystem.

Climate change forecast to worsen U.S. Ozone pollution. Environmental News Service. May 5, 2014. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the United States – climate change has the potential to make your air worse,” said NCAR scientist Gabriele Pfister, lead author of the new study. “A warming planet doesn’t just mean rising temperatures, it also means risking more summertime pollution and the health impacts that come with it.”

Rare earthquake warning issued for Oklahoma. Yahoo Live Science, Becky Oskin. May 5, 2014. While scientists haven't ruled out natural causes for the increase, many researchers suspect the deep injection wells used for the disposal of fracking wastewater could be causing the earthquake activity. Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a method of extracting oil and gas by cracking open underground rock....Ongoing studies have found a link between Oklahoma's high-volume wastewater injection wells and regions with an uptick in earthquakes.

Human impact on earth predictable in Microsoft-UNEP Simulation. Environment News Service. May 2, 2014. Microsoft’s Computational Science Lab and United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, based in Cambridge, have created this simulation of life on Earth, following a set of basic ecological tools found in the real world....The open source technology allows scientists, for the first time, to simulate how all organisms on earth interact in a changing environment.

Texas family's nuisance complaint seen as win against fracking. NPR, Mose Buhele. May 2,2014. A Dallas jury recently awarded nearly $3 million to a family that said they were poisoned by natural gas drilling operation near their North Texas ranch. The verdict, reached on April 22, is being called a landmark by opponents of the drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

April 2014

Supreme Court upholds Obama EPA rules on cross-state pollution. Christian Science Monitor/AP, Dina Cappiello and Mark Sherman. April 29, 2014. The decision caps a decades-long effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to find a legally acceptable way to ensure that states are good neighbors and don't contribute to pollution problems in downwind states, where environmental officials can do nothing to control it. The rule upheld Tuesday was EPA's third attempt to solve the problem.

Glyphosate found in breast milk. Environmental News Network/Ecologist. April 28, 2014.A pilot study of American mothers' milk has found levels of the herbicide glyphosate around 1,000 times higher than allowed in European drinking water. Campaigners are demanding a ban on the use of glyphosate on food crops. (Glyphosate, aka Roundup, is used to control weeds in genetically engineered crops).

Illegal fishing still a big problem in US. Environmental News Network/Yale Environment360, Richard Conniff. April 26, 2014. When people talk about illegal trafficking in wildlife, the glistening merchandise laid out on crushed ice in the supermarket seafood counter — from salmon to king crab — probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But 90 percent of U.S. seafood is imported, and according to a new study in the journal Marine Policy, as much as a third of that is caught illegally or without proper documentation ...Up to 40 percent of tuna imported to the U.S. from Thailand is illegal or unreported, followed by up to 45 percent of pollock imports from China, and 70 percent of salmon imports. (Both species are likely to have been caught in Russian waters, but transshipped at sea and processed in China.) Wild-caught shrimp from Mexico, Indonesia, and Ecuador are also more likely to be illegal.

Odds of storm waters flooding Manhattan up 20-fold new study finds. Environmental News Network/Click Green. April 23, 2014. Maximum water levels in New York harbor during major storms have risen by nearly two and a half feet since the mid-1800s, making the chances of water overtopping the Manhattan seawall now at least 20 times greater than they were 170 years ago, according to a new study.

Are large dams economical? Environmental News Network/Ecologist. April 23, 2014. A study of 245 large dams carried out at Oxford University shows that big hydropower is uneconomic. Actual costs are typically double pre-construction estimates - and have not improved over 70 years.

Duke: Moving coal ash would cost up to $10 billion. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP, Michael Biesecker. April 22, 2014.Duke Energy told North Carolina lawmakers Tuesday that removing all of the company's coal ash away from the state's rivers and lakes would take decades and cost up to $10 billion, with its electricity customers likely footing nearly all the bill.

Wildlife response to climate change is likely underestimated, experts say. Science Daily/ U Mass Amherst. April 22, 2014. Analyzing thousands of breeding bird surveys sent in by citizen scientists over 35 years, wildlife researchers report that most of the 40 songbird species they studied shifted either northward or toward higher elevation in response to climate change, but did not necessarily do both. This means that most previous studies of potential climate change impacts on wildlife that looked only at one factor or the other have likely underestimated effects.

Apple offering free recycling of all used products. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP, Michael Liedtke. April 21, 2014. Apple is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all of its stores, offices and data centers with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services.

Bark beetles change Rocky Mountain stream flows, affect water quality. Science Daily/National Science Foundation. April 21, 2014. As the trees die (from beetle infestations), they stop taking up water from the soil, known as transpiration. Transpiration is the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from leaves, stems and flowers....The "unused" water then becomes part of the local groundwater and leads to increased water flows in nearby streams.

Narcotics + Defrestation = Narco-Deforestation. Environmental News Network, Robin Blackstone. April 21, 2014. Narco-Deforestation, a newly coined term for the destruction of sensitive forest ecologies in Central and South America has been identified as a greater threat to the South and Central American forests than other previously identified concerns such as legal logging and development. The drug traffickers are creating new autoroutes and airplane strips for greater access to and through the forests and jungles of the Central and South America.

Study: Fuels from corn waste not better than gas. Kansas City Star/AP, Dina Cappiello. April 20, 2014. Biofuels made from the leftovers of harvested corn plants are worse than gasoline for global warming in the short term, a study shows, challenging the Obama administration's conclusions that they are a much cleaner oil alternative and will help combat climate change.

States target tiny beads in facial cleansers that harm waterways, wildlife. Kansas City Star/Chicago Tribune, Michelle Manchir and Taylor Goldenstein. April 20, 2014. The tiny plastic particles found in many facial cleansers and soaps promise a gentle scrubbing and luxuriously smooth skin..But those little beads of grit are also piling up in waterways, where they can suck up toxins and harm wildlife, environmentalists say. Because of those concerns, Illinois is one of several states considering legislation to force manufacturers to drop products that use the particles, called microbeads.

NC State study: Dan River water safe for farm use. Kansas City Star/AP, Emery P. Dalesio. April 18, 2014. Farmers along the Dan River can use surface water for crops and livestock because toxic sludge from a massive coal ash spill has settled to the bottom, a report by university researchers found.

Researchers rethink 'natural' habitat for wildlife. Science Daily/Stanford University. April 18, 2014. Protecting wildlife while feeding a world population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050 will require a holistic approach to conservation that considers human-altered landscapes such as farmland, according to researchers. A new study finds that a long-accepted theory used to estimate extinction rates, predict ecological risk and make conservation policy recommendations is overly pessimistic. The researchers point to an alternative framework that promises a more effective way of accounting for human-altered landscapes and assessing ecological risks.

No-till not necessarily better at storing atmospheric carbon than traditional plowing. Science Daily/U Illinois. April 18, 2014. Turns out it is really tricky to measure soil sequestration of carbon and different studies do it in different ways. Simply measuring carbon in the top layers of soil ends up including carbon from fertilizers and other soil amendements, which doesn't count if you are trying to pull carbon out of the atmopshere. When comparing before and after carbon levels (instead of treated and untreated), and looking at deep layers, there is no benefit to no-till corn and soybeans that don't use cover crops or small grains in rotation.

Five anthropogenic (human-caused) factors that will radically alter northern forests in 50 years. Science Daily/USDA Forest Service-Northern Research Station. April 17, 2014. The research covered 172 million acres in 20 states from Maine to Minnesota and from Missouri to Maryland. Research Stephen Shifley found five short- and long-term factors other than climate change affecting forests 1) lack of diversity in age classes of trees (no young trees coming along); 2) urbanization of about 5 million hectares; 3) invasives species; 4) lowlevels of forest management (paradoxically, management may be needed to maintain "natural" conditions in the face of human impacts); 5) management for non-timber goals reducing funds for subsidizing other restoration activities.

Surge in deaths of environmental activists over past decade. The Guardian, Nina Lakhani. April 15, 2014. The killing of activists protecting land rights and the environment has surged over the past decade, with nearly three times as many deaths in 2012 than 10 years previously, a new report has found.

Court upholds EPA emission standards. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP, Pete Yost. April 15, 2014. A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Cost of fighting warming 'modest', says UN Panel. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP, Karl Ritter. April 13, 2014. The cost of keeping global warming in check is "relatively modest," but only if the world acts quickly to reverse the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the head of the U.N.'s expert panel on climate change said Sunday.

Unprecedented experiment to revive chinook salmon. St. Louis Post Dispatch/San Francisco Chronicle. April 11, 2014. Three hundred thousand juvenile chinook with tiny coded chips lodged in their heads were released in Rio Vista and under the Golden Gate Bridge last week in an experiment to determine optimal conditions for hatchery-raised salmon to survive and imprint on their native rivers.

Ohio geologists link seismic activity to fracking. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP, Julie Carr Smyth. April 11, 2014. Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation's strictest.

IKEA buying Illinois wind-energy project. Kansas City Star/AP, David Mercer. April 10, 2014. The U.S. subsidiary of Swedish furniture retailer IKEA announced Thursday that it is buying a long-planned wind-energy project in eastern Illinois as part of the company's initiative to offset its energy use with renewable energy generation.

From seals to starfish: Polar bears radically shift diets as habitat melts. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Andrew Mann. April 9, 2014. One of the most iconic species of the ongoing climate change drama, polar bears (Ursus maritimus) have dropped in numbers as their habitat melts, with previous estimates forecasting a further 30 percent reduction within three generations. However, their situation may not be as dire as it seems. A new study, published in the journals Polar Biology, Ecology and Evolution, and BMC Ecology, suggests that polar bears are able to resist the breakup of ice cover in Hudson Bay by shifting their diets to suit a warmer world.

Nutritional quality of food crops decreases as CO2 levels rise. Environmental News Network, Click Green. April 7, 2014. A field test has demonstrated for the first time that elevated levels of carbon dioxide restrict plants' ability to transform nitrate into proteins, indicating that the nutritional quality of food crops is at risk as climate change intensifies.

European Union gets 23.4% of electricity from renewables. Environmental News Network/Clean Techies, Eduard Stenger. April 4, 2014. According to official statistics from Eurobserv’ER, 23.4 percent of the electricity in the European Union came from renewable energy sources in 2012. The total output for 2012 has been estimated at 763.5 TW. This represents an important increase from 2011, when these energy sources brought "only" 20.4 percent of total electricity.

Wild bees improve farm revenues by boosting crop yields. Environmental News Network. April 3, 2014. Investing in habitat that attracts and supports wild bees in farms is not only an effective approach to helping enhance crop pollination, but it can also pay for itself in four years or less, according to Michigan State University research.

NASA study finds Arctic melt is now 15 days longer than 30 years ago. Environmental News Network/Click Green. April 1, 2014. The length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade, and an earlier start to the melt season is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap’s thickness, according to a new study by National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA researchers.

March 2014

Sustainability is important to most American food shoppers, survey finds .Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Phil Covington. March 28, 2014. While food commercials on television constantly bombard Americans with offerings that focus on price-point and convenience, a 2014 survey by Cone Communications found that people care about where their food comes from and how it is produced. In a poll of more than 1,000 people from a broad cross-section of the shopping public, 77 percent of respondents said sustainability was an important factor in deciding what to buy, while 74 percent said buying locally was a significant factor....Eighty-three percent of those surveyed said they wished companies would disclose information and educate consumers about GMOs in their products — especially as 55 percent of people didn’t know whether GMOs were good or bad for them, and 51 percent didn't understand what GMO food is.

A sooner spring and a later autumn suggests the new normal. Environmental News Network/University of Southampton. March 28, 2014. A study by the University of Southampton suggests that on average the end of Autumn is taking place later in the year and Spring is starting slightly earlier. A team of researchers examined satellite imagery covering the northern hemisphere over a 25-year period (1982 - 2006), and looked for any seasonal changes in vegetation by making a measure of its 'greenness'. They examined in detail, at daily intervals, the growth cycle of the vegetation — identifying physical changes such as leaf cover, color and growth.

Prarie chicken listed as threatened. St. Louis Post Dispatch, Matthew Daly. March 27, 2014.The administration of President Barack Obama announced Thursday it is placing the lesser prairie chicken on a list of threatened species, a move that could affect oil and gas drilling, wind farms and other activities in five central and southwestern states (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico).

NC regulators missed crack in Duke coal ash dam. St. Louis Post Dispatch, Michael Biesecker. March 27, 2014. Photos taken earlier this month show North Carolina regulators apparently failed to notice a large crack opening in an earthen dam holding back millions of tons of Duke Energy's coal ash near the Cape Fear River....The amount of ice draining collectively from those half-dozen glaciers increased by 77 percent from 1973 to 2013, scientists report this month in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Antarctic ice study reveals accelerated sea level rise. Environmental News Network/Click Green. March 27, 2014. Six massive glaciers in West Antarctica are moving faster than they did 40 years ago, causing more ice to discharge into the ocean and global sea level to rise, according to new research.

Japanese whaling threatened by customer's lack of appetite. Heartland Connection/AP, Mari Yamaguchi. March 27, 2014. The greatest threat to Japan's whaling industry may not be the environmentalists harassing its ships or the countries demanding its abolishment, but Japanese consumers. They've lost their appetite.

Grocery giant commit to zero-deforestation policy for palm oil sourcing. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Rhett Butler. March 26, 2014. Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY), the second biggest U.S. grocery chain, made the commitment in response to a shareholder proposal by the New York State Common Retirement Fund. In exchange for the fund withdrawing its sustainable palm oil shareholder proposal, Safeway will ask its suppliers to implement social and environmental criteria that ensure the palm oil it uses in branded products is "free of deforestation, free of expansion on carbon—rich peat lands, not developed or expanded on illegal or customary use lands without the free, prior and informed consent of local communities and free of human rights violations including forced and child labor, human trafficking and poor working conditions," according to a statement from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who has led the shareholder activist campaign.

BP confirms oil spill into Lake Michigan from Whiting refinerey. St. Louis Post Dispatch/Chicago Tribune, Michael Hawthorne. March 25, 2014. Less than a year after BP started up a new unit to process Canadian tar sands at its Whiting refinery, the company reported Tuesday that a malfunction allowed a slug of crude oil into Lake Michigan a few miles away from the Chicago city.

Air pollution, now the world's single largest environmental risk. Environmental News Network, Editor. March 25, 2014. The World Health Organization today released mortality data from 2012 estimating that around 7 million people (one person in eight) died globally that year as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

EPA and Army Corps bring clarity to Clean Water Act Expansion Proposal. Environmental News Network. March 25, 2014. In a joint document the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule to clarify protections provided by the Clean Water Act. Following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006, there has been much confusion about definitions within the Act and applicability. Specifically, the proposed rule clarifies that under the Clean Water Act and based on the science:
· Most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected.
· Wetlands near rivers and streams are protected.
· Other types of waters may have more uncertain connections with downstream water and protection will be evaluated through a case specific analysis of whether the connection is or is not significant. However, to provide more certainty, the proposal requests comment on options protecting similarly situated waters in certain geographic areas or adding to the categories of waters protected without case specific analysis.

Chernobyl: thirty years hence.... Environmental News Network/Smithsonian, Rachel Nuwer. March 24, 2014. It's not just people, animals and trees that suffer from radiation at Chernobyl, writes Rachel Nuwer, but also decomposer fungi and microbes. And with the buildup of dead wood comes the risk of catastrophic fire - which could spread radiation far and wide. Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. The effects of that catastrophe, however, are still felt today.

Nissan LEAF drivers save big! Environmental News Network/Click Green. March 22, 2014. Owners of more than 100,000 Nissan LEAFs worldwide have now collectively saved over £50 million through cheaper fuelling costs and are responsible for removing 204,000 tonnes of potential CO2 emissions from the environment.

The omni-benefits of regenerative pasture. Environmental News Network/Ecologist, Natasha Giddings. March 21, 2014. Managing grasslands in a way that mimics natural grazing by wild animals improves water infiltration, reduces erosion, conserves nutrients, reduces costs, raises production and increases profits, writes Natasha Giddings. Why isn't everyone doing it?

Forest Peoplesat risk from 'carbon grab' Environmental News Network/Ecologist, Oliver Tickell. March 20, 2014. As the United Nations and the World Bank prepare to develop world carbon markets as a tool to halt deforestation under so-called REDD+,new research warns of a new 'carbon grab' in the making.... And the grab could prove highly destructive to forest communities and indigenous peoples. First the process offers them no benefits. Worse, it may actually force their explusion, as natural forests are turned into intensively managed 'carbon plantations'.

U.S. public transit reports record ridership. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Alexis Petru. March 20,2014. Don't tell the public transit naysayers who maintain that Americans will never get out of their beloved automobiles: Americans took a record 10.7 billion trips on public transportation last year — the highest annual ridership number in 57 years, according to the 2013 ridership report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). In fact, public transit rides rose by 1.1 percent in 2013, while miles driven only increased 0.3 percent.

Thought-to-be-extinct Harlequin frog rediscovered in Costa Rica. Environmental News Network. March 19, 2014. The critically endangered harlequin frog (Atelopus varius), believed to be extinct in Costa Rica, has been rediscovered in the Talamanca Mountains of southern Costa Rica by an international team of researchers.

Can penguins cope with climate change? Environmental News Network/Mongabay. March 14, 2014. Human-caused climate change is altering the habitat of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). In an article recently published in PLOS ONE, a team of researchers led by Amélie Lescroël from the Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS) in France, found that changes in sea-ice content and newly formed icebergs significantly impacted Adélie penguin communities in the Ross Sea.

Warmer years linked to more malaria in tropical highlands. Environmental News Network/SciDevNet, Pablo Correa. March 13, 2014. [BOGOTA] People in densely populated highlands of Africa and South America — who have so far been protected from malaria by cooler temperatures — may be seeing more of the disease as the climate changes, according to a study in Science (6 March).

Which foods worst for the environment? Joplin Globe/Washington Post, Tamar Haspel. March 12, 2014. The argument that a vegetarian diet is more planet-friendly than a carnivorous one is straightforward: If we feed plants to animals, and then eat the animals, we use more resources and produce more greenhouse gases than if we simply eat the plants. As with most arguments about our food supply, though, it's not that simple. Although beef is always climatically costly, pork or chicken can be a better choice than broccoli, calorie for calorie.

Feral cats a growing health concern. Environmental News Network. March 11. 2014.A coalition of more than 200 groups which include various bird and wildlife conservation organizations and animal rights groups are calling on Secretary Sally Jewell of the Department of Interior to take action to reduce mortality to wildlife populations on public lands stemming from the nation's ever-increasing population of feral cats. The group brings evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that feral cats pose a threat to human health as a result of an exposure to rabies and toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease affecting the human brain when exposed to cat feces.

Study reveals deer slow down forest progression. Environmental News Network. March 10, 2014. A team of researchers at Cornell University report that deer can create environmental havoc in forests by disrupting the natural soils and seed banks thus causing additional problems for the forest ecosystem.

2013 marks record year for solar power in US. Environmental News Network/Triple Pundit, Andrew Burger. March 6, 2014. A new report shows that 2013 was another banner, record-setting year for solar energy in the U.S., with 4,751 megawatts (MW) of new photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed—a year-over-year increase of 41 percent—with another 410 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) coming online. A record 2,106 MW of solar power capacity was installed in the fourth quarter alone, amounting to 44 percent of the annual total. That bests the old quarterly record by 60 percent.s

250 million pounds of toxic beads at Mardi Gras. Environmental News Network/Care2, Judy Molland. March 4, 2014. Dr. Mielke (Tulane toxicologist), along with the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based non-profit group HealthyStuff.org and Dr. Holly Groh, a founder of VerdiGras in New Orleans, studied beads from China. They found lead and an array of toxic and cancer-causing metals and chemicals, including bromine, chlorine, cadmium, arsenic, tin, phthalates and mercury.

EPA sets cleaner fuel and car standards. Environmental News Network. March 4, 2014. Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized emission standards for cars and gasoline that will significantly reduce harmful pollution and in turn prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses related to respiratory ailments.

February 2014

Ash spill shows how watchdog was defanged. N.Y. Times, Trip Gabriel. February 28, 2014. Last June, state employees in charge of stopping water pollution were given updated marching orders on behalf of North Carolina’s new Republican governor and conservative lawmakers....From now on, regulators were told, they must focus on customer service, meaning issuing environmental permits for businesses as quickly as possible. Big changes are coming, the official said, according to three people in the meeting, two of whom took notes. “If you don’t like change, you’ll be gone.”...But when the nation’s largest utility, Duke Energy, spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in early February, those big changes were suddenly playing out in a different light. Federal prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into the spill and the relations between Duke and regulators at the environmental agency.

Plastic waste ingested by worms threatens marine food chains. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Nicholas Barrett. February 27, 2014. Small fragments of plastic waste are damaging the health of lugworms, putting a key cog in marine ecosystems at risk. Published in Current Biology, a new study by scientists at the University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth shows the impact of microplastics on the marine worms' health and behavior. By exposing specimens to contaminated sediment in a laboratory, the researchers were able to observe a 50 percent reduction in energy reserves and other signs of physical harm.

Off-shore wind turbines may weaken hurricanes. Environmental News Network. February 26, 2014.New research by the University of Delaware and Stanford University shows that an army of offshore wind turbines could reduce hurricanes' wind speeds, wave heights and flood-causing storm surge.

Teen invents flashlight that could change the world. Yahoo News, Andrew Lampard. February 25, 2014. Teen invents flashlight that runs on body heat. Think about that for a moment: a flashlight that shines for as long as you hold onto it. No more scrambling for and chucking away AA batteries. It could have an immediate impact on more than 1.2 billion people -- one-fifth of the world’s population -- who, according to the World Bank, lack regular access to electricity.

Limitations of Climate Engineering. Environmental News Network/GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Jan Steffen. February 25, 2014. Large-scale methods to artificially slow down global warming are increasingly being discussed. They include proposals to fertilize the oceans, so that stimulated plankton can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, or to reduce the Sun's incoming radiation with atmospheric aerosols or mirrors in space, so as to reduce climate warming. All of these approaches can be classified as "climate engineering". "However, the long-term consequences and side effects of these methods have not been adequately studied," says Dr. David Keller from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

Oli spill shuts down 65 miles of the Mississippi River. Think Progress, Katie Valentine. February 24, 2014. The spill occurred on Saturday when a barge carrying oil crashed into a tugboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Authorities closed the stretch of river on Sunday and said Monday that about 31,500 gallons spilled as a result of the crash, creating a light sheen of oil on the river. No injuries were reported from the crash.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear argument over EPA's GHG regulations for stationary sources. Environmental News Network/DAn Mach, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C. February 23, 2014. Monday's argument presents a narrow question: whether EPA's existing regulation of GHG emissions from motor vehicles triggered statutory permitting requirements that would apply to stationary sources....EPA's interpretation raises two questions. The first is whether, as Judge Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit has argued in a dissenting opinion, the CAA requires PSD permits only for facilities that emit those "air pollutants" for which EPA has issued ambient air quality standards—a category that does not include GHGs. The second is whether EPA's decision to raise the threshold of GHG emissions above which PSD permits are required was a permissible application of the statute.

North American leaders rightly commit to protecting Monarch butterfly migration. World Wildlife Fund Canada. February 20, 2014. Today, President Obama, Mexican President Peña Nieto, and Canada's Prime Minister Harper committed their nations to taking steps to protect the monarch butterfly migration‎ across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.....Recent scientific evidence by World Wildlife Fund and Mexico's National Commission on Natural Protected Areas document a steady decline of monarch butterflies in the hibernating sanctuaries in Mexico. In December 2013, scientists recorded the lowest levels on record, with monarchs covering a mere 0.67 hectares (1.65 acres) of forest cover -- a 44% decrease from the previous year.

Mercury contamination in Penobscot River (Maine) lobsters was known for 8 years. Portland Press Herald, Scott Dolan and Tom Bell. February 21, 2014. Researchers who conducted tests have known for at least eight years that lobsters at the mouth of the Penobscot River contained “hazardous” levels of mercury, but consumers were not told until the state announced it this week.

Americans want antibiotic-free chicken and the industry is listening. NPR, Maria Godoy. February 19, 2014. Industry leviathans Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods have both come out with their own antibiotic-free brands of chicken — something that might have seemed practically unthinkable several years back. In fact, this week Perdue is launching its first consumer advertising campaign for the Harvestland product line, which the company says is the nation's leading antibiotic-free brand of chicken. The ads urge shoppers to "eat like our ancestors."

The war over waste: how too little garbage threatens recycling. Treehugger, Christine Lepisto. February 18, 2014. German households make too little trash. What sounds like the successful culmination of policies to divert trash from landfill and promote recycling may now actually reduce the quantity of materials that get recycled instead of burned. The battle heating up in the land of world class waste separation offers a case study in urban planning and waste management.

How wolves change rivers. National Geographic Water Currents/ Paul Steyn. February 16, 2014. Short video (4:34) illustrates how introducing wolves to Yellowstone changed not just the ecosystem of the park but the rivers flowing through it.

Urban bees start using plastic waste to build hives. Environmental News Network/Click Green. February 12, 2014. Solitary bees (not honey bees) have been found to use either cauking or bits of plastic bags in their nest construction. Both species that used the plastic were able to raise healthy larva, so the plastic doesn't appear to have any negative effect on the bees.

More gunk spills in West Virginia, turning creek black. Chicago Tribune, David Zucchino. February 11, 2014. State officials in West Virginia were trying Tuesday to contain a coal slurry spill into a creek in the same general area where a toxic chemical spill last month tainted drinking water for 300,000 people in and around the state capital of Charleston.

Millions of birds killed annually due to window collisions. Environmental News Network/Mongabay. February 11, 2014. 365-988 million birds are killed in the U.S. each year in collisions with buildings, estimates a review published last month in the journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications....The research, based on some 92,869 records across 23 studies, finds that low-rise buildings (56 percent) and residences (44 percent) rather than skyscrapers (1 percent) are responsible for most of the toll....The results suggest that building collisions are the second largest cause of death from anthropogenic sources in the United States after domesticated and feral cats, which kill 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds per year according to a study published last year.

Climate change is making the world sick. Ecologist, Geordan Shannon. February 11, 2014. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 1970 and 2004, the environmental effects of climate change caused more than 140,000 deaths each year....And the direct financial cost of the damage it will have on our health is estimated to come in at around US$2-4 billion in just over 15 years time.

Maps show expected redistribution of global species due to climate change. Current, Julie Cohen. February 10, 2014. As part of a UC Santa Barbara National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) working group, 18 international researchers analyzed 50 years of sea surface and land temperature data (1960-2009). They also projected temperature changes under two future scenarios, one that assumes greenhouse gas emissions are stabilized by 2100 and a second that assumes these emissions continue to increase. The resulting maps display where new temperature conditions are being generated and where existing environments may disappear. - See more at: http://www.news.ucsb.edu/2014/013944/maps-show-expected-redistribution-global-species-due-climate-change#sthash.ulPApmiy.dpuf

U.S. plan to lift wolf protections in doubt after experts question science. Science, Virginia Morell. February 8, 2014. The ongoing battle over a proposal to lift U.S. government protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) across the lower 48 states isn’t likely to end quickly. An independent, peer-review panel yesterday gave a thumbs-down to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS’s) plan to delist the wolf. Although not required to reach a consensus, the four researchers on the panel were unanimous in their opinion that the proposal “does not currently represent the ‘best available science.’

Up to 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash spilled into North Carolina River. Environmental News Network/Think Progress, Joanna M. Foster. February 5, 2014. A stormwater pipe under an unlined coal ash pond at a shuttered plant in Eden, N.C., burst Sunday afternoon — draining tens of thousands of tons of coal ash into the Dan River.

24 fewer days of winter ice. Environmental News Network/Click Green. February 4, 2014. Here's a paradox, while the southeast U.S. digs it self out of the snowiest winter in decades, the winter ice season in arctic lakes is now 24 days shorter than it was in the 1950s. Not only has warming affected the timing of winter ice, the ice is 38 cm thinner than in 1950 (about 14 inches).

Big payoff for U.S. EPA Climate Protection Partnerships. Triple Pundit,Tina Casey. February 3, 2014. The Environmental Protection Agency has just released its annual Climate Protection Partnerships report, and it indicates that the U.S. is in a strong position to achieve economic growth – in other words, job growth – as it transitions to safer, healthier and more sustainable forms of energy.... The most recent data from 2012 highlights the achievements of EPA partnerships with more than 21,000 organizations, reducing energy bills by $26 billion, and the prevention of more than 365 million metric tons of GHG emissions....EPA Chief Gina McCarthy points out that compliance with the Clean Air Act has been an overall winner for the U.S. economy "…Every dollar we’ve invested to comply with the Clean Air Act has returned $4 to $8 in economic benefits. A clean and healthy environment lays the foundation for a strong, sustainable economy.”

January 2014

Air quality worries dampen Chinese New Year Fireworks. NPR, Frank Langfitt. January 31, 2014. People in China rang in the Year of the Horse overnight with the traditional barrage of fireworks, but Lunar New Year's celebrations in some cities were quieter than usual. After severe pollution choked much of eastern China last year, many people swore off the ancient tradition so they could protect their lungs and the environment.

Its great lake shriveled, Iran confront crisis of water supply. New York Times, Thomas Erdbrink. January 30, 2014.Iran is facing a water shortage potentially so serious that officials are making contingency plans for rationing in the greater Tehran area, home to 22 million, and other major cities around the country.

How industrial chemical regulation failed West Virginia. NPR, Ken Ward. January 29, 2014. Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies that the spill included "a chemical called crude MCHM, which was sold by a company called Freedom Industries — sold to coal companies for use in the process of cleaning and washing the impurities out of coal before they ship that coal to market."

Linking Alzheimer's to environmental contributors. Environmental Network News/Rutgers, Robin Lally. January 28, 2014. Scientists have known for more than 40 years that the synthetic pesticide DDT is harmful to bird habitats and a threat to the environment. Now researchers at Rutgers University say exposure to DDT, banned in the United States since 1972 but still used as a pesticide in other countries, may also increase the risk and severity of Alzheimer's disease in some people, particularly those over the age of 60.

Scientist transform old plastic shopping bags into vehicle fuel. Environmental News Network/Click Green. January 28, 2013. Scientists in India say they have developed a relatively low-temperature process to convert certain kinds of plastic waste into liquid fuel as a way to re-use discarded plastic bags and other products.

Mexico's Water Monster Disappears.The Telegraph, Bonnie Malkin. January 28, 2014.Mexico's salamander-like axolotl may have disappeared from its only known natural habitat in Mexico City's few remaining lakes.

UN - Business needs to play full part in tackling climate change. Environmental News Network/UN News Center. January 27, 2013. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kept up the drumbeat for business to play its full part in tackling climate change and promoting sustainable development for a second day today, telling the World Economic Forum in Davos that investments now will generate major savings for tomorrow. ... "The finance community is a key player. We need trillions of dollars of investment to move from the brown to the green economy," the United Nations chief told a session on Climate, Growth and Development, citing four areas for action: investment in low-carbon energy and climate resilient infrastructure; decreasing flow of funds to carbon-intensive and obsolete technologies; transparency about GHG emissions from financed projects; and last, working together to ensure market rules are conducive to sustainable development.

Winter Olympic Games may face threats of climate change. Environmental News Network, Staff. January 27, 2013. A new study conducted by the University of Waterloo says that most of the cities that have already hosted the Winter Olympics may be too warm to host the events again.

Emissions outsourced to China return to US as air pollution. Environmental News Network/Proceedings National Academy of Sciences. January 24, 2014. Twenty percent of China's air pollution can be attributed to goods exported to America, with some of those emissions drifting back to the Western United States, finds a study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Drinking water not tested for tens of thousands of chemicals. NPR, Elizabeth Shogren. January 24, 2014. The fact that a second contaminant in West Virginia's drinking water eluded detection for nearly two weeks — despite intense testing of the water — reveals an important truth about how companies test drinking water: In most cases, they only find the contaminants they're looking for.

Pope drafting encyclical on man and environment. Kansas City Star/AP. January 24, 2014. Pope Francis has begun drafting an encyclical on ecology. ... The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the document was still very much in its early stages and that no publication date has been set. He said it would be about ecology and more specifically the "ecology of man."

Biofuel crops 'may amplify mosquito-borne disease'. Environmental News Network/SciDev Net, Wagdy Sawahel. January 23, 2014. Researchers from the University of Illinois show, for example, that more eggs reached adulthood when they were laid in water that was infused with leaf material from the second-generation biofuel crops, switchgrass and Miscanthus, than that infused with maize leaves. ... But they add that these crops are also expected to improve wildlife diversity, which may reduce infection prevalence by redirecting mosquito bites to other hosts. The studynhighlights the "critical need for full life-cycle and environmental impact assessments of crops and agricultural practices".

New study shows differences in mammal responses to climate change. Environmental News Network/University of Colorado Boulder. January 23, 2013. A study of 140 scientific papers covering 73 North American mammal species showed that large size, followed by whether the species was limited to day or night activity, significantly affected a mammal's response to climate change. Large charismatic mammals were twice as likely to be negatively affected as smaller animals. And the less flexibility they had in feeding or activity times, the more likely mammals were to be affected.

General Mills makes Cheerios GMO-free. Ecologist. January 23, 2014. General Mills' acknowledgment that it was dropping GMOs from original Cheerios created a firestorm of media attention and made millions more Americans aware of the GMOs that are common in the cereals that start their days. Honey Nut Cheerios, the USA's biggest breakfast cereal is being targeted next.

One quater of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Loren Bell. January 23, 2014. One quarter of all sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, according to a new study published in the open-access journal eLife. The paper analyzed the threat and conservation status of 1,041 species of chondrichthyans—the class of fish whose skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bone which includes sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras—and found this group to be among the most threatened animals in the world.

How labeling helps us choose efficient light bulbs. Environmental News Network, Alison Winter. January 22, 2014. Energy efficient bulbs are more expensive than alternative ones and this has historically deterred people from buying them. However, when an estimated annual energy cost was placed on the label, consumers were more likely to give energy efficient bulbs a chance.

Handful of species key to ecosystem health, study says. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Ariel Mark. January 22, 2014. The research team created eight different experimental plots that simulated the loss of three dominant groups: purple marsh crab (Sesarma reticulatum), marsh periwinkle snail (Litoraria irrorata), and fungi (Mycosphaerella species and Phaeospheria spartinicola). Each of the three evolutionarily distinct species plays a critical role in regulating marsh functions and maintaining habitat structure. Over a period of eight months, the researchers assessed the impact of the loss of these species on ecosystem functions by measuring the rates of grass growth, decomposition and filtration of tidal or storm water. ... Hensel and Silliman found that although each species influenced just one or two specific ecosystem functions, the overall performance of marsh functions dropped considerably when one or more of the consumers were removed. Furthermore, the presence of very different groups was essential for providing a realistic assessment of marsh functions, particularly the inclusion of fungal species.

Natural sugar batteries could be running the word's gadgets within 3 years. Environmental News Network/Click Green. January 21, 2014. Scientists have developed a high-energy battery that runs on sugar and could be powering the world's gadgets within just three years.

Drought emergency declared in California. NPR. January 20, 2014. Jerry Brown says the state is facing possibly the worst drought it has ever seen since record keeping began about 100 years ago. For more on the drought and its impact, Renee Montagne talks to Michael Hanemann, professor of agricultural and resource economics at University of California, Berkeley.

Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CECs) identified in sewage sludge. Arizona State University, Richard Harth. January 16, 2014. n a study appearing today in the Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Reports, researchers outline a new approach to the identification of potentially harmful, mass-produced chemicals, describing the accumulation in sludge of 123 distinct CECs. .... Ten of the 11 chemicals found in greatest abundance in treated municipal sludge or biosolids were high-production volume chemicals, including flame-retardants, antimicrobials and surfactants.

Carbon emissions in U.S. rise 2% due to increase in coal. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. January 16, 2014. Carbon dioxide emissions rose two percent in the U.S. last year, according to preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration. Emissions rose largely due to increased coal consumption, the first such rise in U.S. emissions since 2010. Still, the annual emissions remain well below the peak hit in 2007 when emissions hit 6 billion tons.

Climate fail: Geoengineering would cool planet, but screw up rainfall patterns. Environmental News Network/Mongabay, Bobbie Edwards. January 15, 2014. Currently, one of the most talked about geoengineering ideas is Solar Radiation Management (SRM), which intends to block shortwave solar radiation, thus cooling the Earth to offset rising temperatures. In other words, SRM may be one way in which global temperatures could be artificially stabilized. But a new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, finds that while SRM-style geoengineering may succeed in cooling the Earth, it would also disrupt precipitation patterns around the world.

Supreme Court issues decision in landmark GMO lawsuit. Environmental News Network/ Food Democracy Now. January 15, 2014. Farmers were denied the right to argue their case in court and gain protection from potential abuse by the agrichemical and genetic engineering giant, Monsanto.
The decision also dashes the hopes of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court that Monsanto's genetically engineered seed patents are invalid.

Economic benefits of reducing nitrogen pollution. Environmental News Nework/Planet Earth Online, Tom Marshall. January 14, 2014. Falling levels of nitrogen in the atmosphere across Europe may be much more economically beneficial than previously believed, according to a recent study. ... Indeed, scientists think the UK alone benefits by around £65 million a year. Levels of atmospheric nitrogen have fallen by around a quarter in Europe since 1990, mostly because of tighter rules on emissions from engines and industry. Scientists are still working to understand the consequences.

New research uses popular literature to study climate change. Environmental News Network. January 13, 2014. Researchers comparing Thoreau's observations of plant life on Walden Pond with current observations show that plants in Concord today are leafing out earlier than in Thoreau's time in response to warm temperatures. Experiments also show that as spring weather continues to warm, it will be the invasive shrubs that will be best able to take advantage of the changing conditions.

Pine Island Glacier is shrinking. Environmental News Network/Planet Earth Online, Harriet Jarlett. January 13, 2014. Pine Island Glacier, the largest single contributor to sea-level rise in Antarctica, has started shrinking, say scientists. ... The work, published in Nature Climate Change, shows the glacier's retreat may have begun an irreversible process that could see the amount of water it is adding to the ocean increase five-fold.

California's pot farms could leave Salmon runs truly smoked. NPR, Alastair Bland. January 13, 2014. For many users and advocates of marijuana, the boom in the West Coast growing industry may be all good and groovy. But in California, critics say the recent explosion of the marijuana industry along the state's North Coast — a region called the "emerald triangle" — could put a permanent buzz kill on struggling salmon populations.

Chemical leak causes water emergency in West Virginia: Plant shut down. NPR, Mark Memmott. January 10, 2014. More than 100,000 customers of one water company in West Virginia have been warned not to drink, cook or wash with the water coming from their taps because of chemicals that seeped into the Elk River near Charleston on Thursday. ... Ashton Marra of West Virginia Public Broadcasting tells our Newscast Desk that the warning "was issued after methylcyclohexene methanol — a chemical used in a coal-washing process — leaked into the local water supply of the capital city of Charleston and surrounding areas. ... The chemical came from a storage tank at a site run by Freedom Industries, Ashton says. That company produces specialty chemicals for the coal and steel industries.

State officials warn climage impact predictions getting worse. Environmental News Network/ecoRI News, Tim Faulkner. January 10, 2014.Grover Fugate, head of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and the face of the state's climate research and planning, recently said climate change is happening faster than scientists can model it.

West African lion faces extinction. Environmental News Network. January 10, 2014. A new study reveals that the West African lion is down to a population estimated at 250, and these individuals are restricted to four isolated populations.

Cheap battery stores energy for a rainy day. Nature News, Mark Peplow. January 8, 2014. Harvard scientists recently published results for a flow battery that uses cheap biological materials instead of much more expensive vanadium. Flow batteries are able to store energy in tanks and then shuffle electrons across a membrane as needed to provide a charge. Bigger batteries are achieved by just making bigger tanks. (this could be a really BIG deal for intermittent power sources like solar and wind).

Renewables now cheaper than fossil fuels in Australia. Environmental News Network. January 8, 2014. A studyby Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm at a cost of AUD 80/MWh (USD 83), compared to AUD 143/MWh from a new coal plant or AUD 116/MWh from a new baseload gas plant, including the cost of emissions under the Gillard government's carbon pricing scheme. However even without a carbon price (the most efficient way to reduce economy-wide emissions) wind energy is 14% cheaper than new coal and 18% cheaper than new gas.

Global warming could impact antarctic food chain. Environmental News Network, Raja Bandi and Jeremy Hance. January 4, 2014. Resting near the bottom of the food chain, Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) underpin much of the Southern Ocean's ecosystem. But in a rapidly warming world, these hugely-abundant crustaceans could see their habitat shrink considerably. In a recent paper in PLOS ONE, scientists predict that Antarctic krill could lose 20 percent of their growth habitat, or 1.2 million square kilometers.

Funders behind climage change denial hide donations. Environmental News Service. January 2, 2014. Most donations behind the climate change denial effort in the United States are “dark money,” or concealed funding, finds the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the sources of funding behind the campaign.

December 2013

Fukishima meltdown? Mystery steam rising over Reactor 3. Ecologist, Oliver Tickell. December 31, 2013. Fukushima's Reactor Building 3 exploded on 13th March 2011 as a result of a hydrogen buildup, breaching the building's containment and emitting a huge plume of radiation. The reactor itself is in meltdown....And now fresh plumes of steam have been seen coming out the structure. These have now been confirmed by Tepco, the owner of the nuclear plant, from 19th December onwards. The company believes the steam is coming from the fifth floor of the building.

Impacts of climate change in the deep sea. Environmental News Network, Robin Blackstone. December 31, 2013. Even the most remote deep-sea ecosystems are affected by climate change according to a study conducted by the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, UK. According to the study, seafloor dwellers will decline by up to 38% in the North Atlantic and over 5% globally over the next century because of a reduction in the ocean’s surface plants and animals.

Persistent Energy Ghana (PEG) brings solar to those who need light. Triple Pundit, Justine Porter. December 30, 2013. PEG, a Ghanaian energy services company that launched last year, hopes to help under-electrified regions leap-frog directly from kerosene to solar in the same way that Ghana skipped over the installation of telephone lines thanks to the adoption of cell phones. “These are villages that have never had access to power before,” says Hugh Whalan, CEO of PEG. “We are taking these consumers from kerosene and candles all the way to plentiful, clean electricity. It’s exciting. The impact on these communities will be immense.”

Amazon forest loss and water supply are linked. Environmental News Network, Paul Brown. December 30, 2013. The continued destruction of the Amazon to exploit its resources for mining, agriculture and hydro-power is threatening the future of the South American continent, according to a report by campaigning groups using the latest scientific data....Five countries - Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru - share the Amazon, and for all of them the forest area occupies more than 40% of their territory. All face threats to their water supply, energy production, food and health.

New York City to use food waste to heat homes. Environmental News Network, Gina-Marie Cheeseman. December 27, 2013. New York City will reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills by converting it into energy. Last week, Deputy Mayor Cas Calloway announced that the city will partner with Waste Management to deliver pre-processed organic waste food to Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant where it will be added to wastewater sludge to increase biogas production. The biogas by-product will be converted into renewable natural gas for both residential and commercial use through a partnership with National Grid, an international electricity and energy company.

Time is running out for Florida's oranges. NPR, Greg Allen. December 27, 2013. It's not been a good year for Florida's citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year....The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California.

Could big batteries be big business in California. NPR, Richard Harris. December 23, 2014. The California Public Utilities Commission has called on utilities and private companies to install about $5 billion worth of batteries and other forms of energy storage to help the state power grid cope with the erratic power supplied by wind and solar energy.

Grasslands get squeezed as another 1.6 million acres go into crops. NPR, Dan Charles. December 22, 2013. As the year winds down, we here at NPR are looking at a few key numbers that explain the big trends of 2013.....Today's number: 1.6 million.....That's 1.6 million acres — about the area of the state of Delaware.....That's how much land was removed this year from the federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, which pays farmers to keep land covered with native grasses or sometimes trees. Most of that land now will produce crops like corn or wheat.

American Attitudes toward global warming. USA Today, Wendy Koch. December 20, 2013. Most Americans say global warming is serious and want the United States to address it, but their support for government regulations has fallen in recent years, says a poll Fridayconducted for USA TODAY. Check out "Weathering the Change" a USA Today Climate Change Series

Renewable energy use at record high in Scotland. BBC Scotland. December 19, 2013. UK government figures showed 40.3% of energy consumption in 2012 was met by the sector - up from 36.3% the previous year and 24.1% in 2010.

Rising sea levels torment Norfolk VA., and coastal U.S. USA Today, Wendy Koch. December 18, 2013. ....Sea level has risen nearly 8 inches worldwide since 1880 but, unlike water in a bathtub, it doesn't rise evenly. In the past 100 years, it has climbed about a foot or more in some U.S. cities because of ocean currents and land subsidence — 11 inches in New York and Boston, 12 in Charleston, 16 in Atlantic City, 18 in Norfolk and 25 in Galveston, Texas, according to a USA TODAY analysis of 2012 tide gauge data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Check out "Weathering the Change" a USA Today Climate Change Series

Chinese hospital opens smog clinic. Huffington Post/AP, Louise Watt. December 18, 2013. A hospital in southwest China has opened a clinic for patients who are suffering symptoms related to smog, a doctor said Wednesday, highlighting how big a concern pollution has become for Chinese.

Using plankton to control Malaria. SciDev Net, Joel Winston. December 17, 2013. The research, published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Vector Ecology, shows that mosquito populations decreased significantly in the ponds when there was a high diversity of crustaceans. The insects also became as much as ten times more sensitive to the Bti toxin in such ponds. But this effect was hardly detectable in the ponds with the most diverse and fully developed crustacean populations as the number of mosquito larvae was so low.

FDA examining antibacterial soaps, body washes. CNN, Saundra Young. December 16, 2013. "Millions of Americans use antibacterial hand soap and body wash products," the agency said in a statement. "Although consumers generally view these products as effective tools to help prevent the spread of germs, there is currently no evidence that they are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water...."Further, some data suggest that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products -- for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) -- could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects."

Chemicals used in fracking can disrupt human hormone function MU researchers say. Columbia Daily Tribune, Andrew Denny. December 16, 2013. Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a controversial method of extracting natural gas from underground, can disrupt human hormone function, according to a study released Monday by researchers from the University of Missouri and the U.S. Geological Survey.

FDA to phase out non-medial antibiotic use by farms. LA Times, Davie Pierson. December 11, 2013. In a major shift of national food policy, the Food and Drug Administration is phasing out the non-medical use of antibiotics on farm animals in an effort to combat growing human resistance to the crucial drugs.

Sea level rise threatens hundreds of U.S. animal species. USA Today, Doyle Rice. December 11, 2013.Hundreds of species of animals in the U.S. are threatened by sea-level rise due to climate change, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group based in San Francisco...."Our analysis finds that 17 percent — one in six — of the nation's threatened and endangered species are at risk from rising sea levels," the report notes. Left unchecked, the group says that rising seas threaten 233 federally protected species in 23 coastal states.Check out "Weathering the Change" a USA Today Climate Change Series

State leaders want to take lead on climate change.AP, Matthew Daly. December 10, 2013. When it comes to climate change, local officials have a message for Washington: Lead or get out of the way....Local governments have long acted as first responders in emergencies and now are working to plan for sea level rise, floods, hurricanes and other extreme events associated with climate change.

Diseases on the move because of climate change. USA Today, Elizabeth Wiese. December 5, 2013. ....Valley Fever is one of multiple diseases experts say are spreading in part because of climate change. They include a brain-eating amoeba showing up in northern lakes that were once too cold to harbor it and several illnesses carried by ticks whose range is increasing. USA TODAY is looking at the spread of these illnesses as part of a year-long series that explores the places and ways in which climate change affects us. Check out "Weathering the Change" a USA Today Climate Change Series

November 2013

Ammonia threatens national parks. Environmental News Network, Staff. November 27, 2013. Ammonia emissions have become a serious concern for scientists at Harvard University. Of particular note, thirty eight U.S. national parks are experiencing "accidental fertilization" at or above a critical threshold for ecological damage according the study recently published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Acidifying oceans alarm hundreds of scientists. Environment News Service. November 26, 2013.Climate change is causing the world’s oceans to acidify at rates not seen for the last 55 million years, and the only way to moderate this danger is to reduce human emissions of carbon dioxide, conclude 540 scientists from 37 countries in a new report.

Towboat sinks in Mississippi near Quad Cities IA. NewsPress (AP). November 26, 2013. A towboat sank Monday in the Mississippi River near the Quad Cities-area community of LeClaire, releasing oil into the water and prompting a response from several agencies who were trying to determine how much fluid leaked, the Coast Guard said.

Warsaw climate talks end with deals on forests, financing. Environmental News Service. November 24, 2013. The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw ended on Saturday, 24 hours behind schedule, with organizers declaring that governments are still on track to agree on a universal climate agreement in 2015 that will come into force from 2020.

Wind farm gets fined for killing eagles. Los Angeles Daily News/ AP, Dina Cappiello. November 22, 2013. The government for the first time has enforced environmental laws protecting birds against wind energy facilities, winning a $1 million settlement Friday from a power company that pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two Wyoming wind farms.

Ontario Premier's bill bans coal-fired power in the province. Environmental News Service. November 22, 2103. Ontario is going coal-free. The largest coal-burning power plant in North America, Nanticoke Generating Station on the north shore of Lake Erie, will stop burning coal this year, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced on Thursday....Premier Wynne also announced new legislation – the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act – which will permanently ban coal-fired electricity from the province, making Ontario the first jurisdiction in North America to do so.

Europe devotes 20% of budget to climate spending. Environmental News Service. November 20, 2013. At least 20 percent of the entire European Union budget for 2014-2020 will be spent on climate-related projects and policies, after the European Parliament Tuesday approved the budget for that seven-year period.

Nuclear reactor waste fees ordered to zero by appeals court. Bloomberg News, Andrew Zajac and Brian Wingfield. November 19, 2013.The U.S. Department of Energy was ordered by a federal appeals court to move toward ending a fee utilities pay for nuclear waste disposal because the government has no alternative to the canceled Yucca Mountain repository.

The dark side of green. Columbia Daily Tribune/AP, Dina Capiello. November 17, 2013. ...With the Iowa political caucuses on the horizon in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama made homegrown corn a centerpiece of his plan to slow global warming. And when President George W. Bush signed a law that year requiring oil companies to add billions of gallons of ethanol to their gasoline each year, Bush predicted it would make the country "stronger, cleaner and more secure."...But the ethanol era has proved far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.

Nature inspires 2013 LA auto show design challenge. Environmental News Service. November 13, 2013. “Biomimicry & Mobility 2025 – Nature’s Answer to Human Challenges” is the theme of this 10th year of the contest. The winner’s reward is recognition from hundreds of thousands of viewers who will enter a newly created Design Gallery that makes designers an integral part of the show.

Greenhouse gases hit new record high, forcing climate change. Environmental News Service. November 8, 2013. The concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2012, “continuing an upward and accelerating trend which is driving climate change and will shape the future of our planet for hundreds and thousands of years,” the World Meteorological Organization is warning.

Global map provides new insights into land use. Environemntal News Network, Editor. November 7, 2013. In order to assess the global impacts of land use on the environment and help provide appropriate countermeasures, a group of researchers under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) has created a new world map of land use systems. Based on various indicators of land-use intensity, climate, environmental and socio-economic conditions, they identified twelve global patterns called land system archetypes. The scientists from UFZ with colleagues from the Humboldt-University Berlin and University Bonn have recently published their results in the journal Global Environmental Change. Go here for orginal paper and map

Deforestation may hurt US agriculture, affect monsoon cycle. Envionmental News Network, Rhett A. Butler. November 6, 2013. Unchecked deforestation will have far-reaching impacts on temperature, rainfall, and monsoon cycles in regions well outside the tropics, affecting agriculture and water availability, warns a new report published by Greenpeace International.

Can fair trade chocolate curb the looming cocoa shortage. Triple Pundit, Jan Lee. November 5, 2013....In a special report published in the July/August 2013 edition of the Candy and Snack Magazine, the authors look at the efforts that are now underway to change the way cocoa is grown, harvested and produced. Companies like Mars, Inc., which projected cocoa shortages in 2011, are leading a push to improve sustainable farming in the chocolate industry and have found that it is not the absence of pesticides that is killing cacao plants and reducing yields, but the overabundance of non-sustainable farming practices.

Obama creates interagency council and task force on climate. Environmental News Service. November 1, 2013. To prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change already being felt across the country, President Barack Obama today established an interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, chaired by the White House and composed of more than 25 federal agencies.

October 2013

Wind turbine arrangement: staggering results. Environmental News Network, Robin Blackstone. October 31, 2013. (Professor Christina) Archer's team learned that the most efficient arrangement was a combination of two approaches. By maintaining a liberal amount of space between turbines and staggering them decreased the energy losses caused by eddies. By using this staggered approach Archer and her team was able to improve the collective performance by 33 percent.

'Lost" bird rediscovered in New Caledonia along with 16 potentially new species. Environmental News Network, Jeremy Hance. October 30, 2013. In early 2011, Conservation International (CI) dubbed the forests of New Caledonia the second-most imperiled in the world after those on mainland Southeast Asia. Today, CI has released the results of a biodiversity survey under the group's Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) to New Caledonia's tallest mountain, Mount Panié. During the survey researchers rediscovered the 'lost' crow honeyeater and possibly sixteen new or recently-described species. Over 20 percent larger than Connecticut, New Caledonia is a French island east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean.

School bus company fined $33K for excessive idling. Environmental News Network, Editor. October 29, 2013. Anti-idling laws on the federal, state, and local level are rapidly growing across the US in an effort to cut back on the billions of gallons of fuel that are wasted each year by idling vehicles.

The Ozone hole seems to be getting smaller. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. October 29, 2013.Remember the Ozone hole? Decades ago it was a big concern. It was getting bigger and bigger and our emissions of ozone-depleting substances was identified as the main reason. It continues to get smaller as anthropogenic emissions continue to be reduced. It was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data.

Asian carp reproduce in Great Lakes watershed. St. Louis Post Dispath, John Flesher. October 28, 2013. Scientists said Monday they have documented for the first time that an Asian carp species has successfully reproduced within the Great Lakes watershed, an ominous development in the struggle to slam the door on the hungry invaders that could threaten native fish.

The people's choice: Americans would pay to help Monarch butterflies. Environmental News Network, Ethan Alpern. October 28, 2013. Americans place high value on butterfly royalty. A recent study suggests they are willing to support monarch butterfly conservation at high levels, up to about 6 ½ billion dollars if extrapolated to all U.S. households.

ND spills went unreported; state testing website. St. Louis Post Dispatch, James MacPherson. October 25, 2013. North Dakota, the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas, recorded nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, state documents show. None was reported to the public, officials said.

Monsanto says its glyphosate weed-killers are safe after AP report of misuse in Argentina. Huffington Post, Michael Warren. October 23, 2013. Monsanto Co. is calling for more controls on agrochemicals, including its Roundup line of glyphosate-based weed-killers, in response to an Associated Press report about concerns that illegal pesticide applications are harming human health in Argentina.

California finds more instances of offshore fracking. St. Louis Post Dispatch, by Alicia Chang and Jason Dearen. October 19, 2013. The oil production technique known as fracking is more widespread and frequently used in the offshore platforms and man-made islands near some of California's most populous and famous coastal communities than state officials believed.

Supreme Court to review EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases. St. Louis Business Journal, Kent Hoover. October 15, 2013.The U.S. Supreme Court will review whether the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, such as power plants and oil refineries.

New study predicts year your city's climate will change. National Geographic, Ben Jervey. October 9, 2013. The global analysis also predicts that if greenhouse gases continue to be emitted at a "business as usual" rate, New York City and Washington, D.C., will experience radically altered climates in 2047 (plus or minus about five years for a margin of error). So in about 35 years, even the coldest monthly dips in temperature on the eastern seaboard will be warmer than any time in the past 150 years.

September 2013

Crossing the Northwest Passage: Cargo ship navigates Arctic route. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. September 30, 2013. The Northwest Passage is a 900-mile long sea route through the Arctic Ocean that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Access through this passage would allow many short cuts and benefits for the shipping industry. However, it's frozen waters and dangerous ice caps have proven to be obstacles for transport. That is, until now.

Climate change pushing tropical trees upslope "exactly as predicted". Mongabay via Environmental News Network, Claire Salisbury. September 30, 2013. Tropical tree communities are moving up mountainsides to cooler habitats as temperatures rise, a new study in Global Change Biology has found. By examining the tree species present in ten one-hectare plots at various intervals over a decade, researchers found that the proportion of lowland species increased in the plots at higher elevations. The study, which was undertaken in Volcan Barva, Costa Rica, adds to a growing body of evidence that climate change is having an impact on species range distributions.

New UN climate change report. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. September 29, 2013. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been leading the effort in collecting scientific evidence of climate change and in looking to answer the most important question, is it caused by human activity? Some argue that it is caused mostly by natural variability, and non-human factors. The new IPCC report, released this week, provides more evidence that human activity is a major cause.

NASA earth map shows where pollution kills. Discovery News, Alyssa Danigelis. September 28, 2013. Many of us would like to think that air pollution is a problem that can simply dissipate after a few days. But the health effects from it linger, and what we can’t see can kill us. Earth scientists studying air pollution have just released a map that shows air pollution deaths over time on a global scale. (Midwest has about 1 to 10 premature deaths per year per 1000 km2).

Global Warming: Why only 95% certainty? Discovery News, Eric Niiler. September 27, 2013. Climate scientists meeting Friday in Stockholm declared that there’s a 95 percent likelihood that climate change is the result of human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels which release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere....But why isn’t that figure 99, or even 100 percent?

EPA proposes carbon emissions limits on new U.S. power plants. Triple Pundit, Andrew Burger. September 25, 2013. Following through on a June 25, 2013 Presidential Memorandum, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September 20 proposed new, precedent-setting Clean Air Act limits on carbon emissions from new power plants. The proposed rule, which is open for public comment for 60 days upon publication in the Federal Register, marks a milestone in the Obama Administration’s broad-based, ongoing efforts to realize the goals expressed in the President’s National Climate Change Action Plan.

"Rivers on Rolaids": How acid rain is changing waterways. NPR, Christopher Joyce. September 13, 2013. Something peculiar is happening to rivers and streams in large parts of the United States — the water's chemistry is changing. Scientists have found dozens of waterways that are becoming more alkaline. Alkaline is the opposite of acidic — think baking soda or Rolaids....Research published in the current issue of Environmental Science and Technology shows this trend to be surprisingly widespread, with possibly harmful consequences....What's especially odd about the finding is its cause: It seems that acid rain actually has been causing waterways to grow more alkaline.

Tepco official: Fukishima contamination 'not under control'. UPI. September 13, 2013. A Tokyo Electric Power Co. official said Friday the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is "not under control."...On Thursday, Tepco said radioactive substances may have also leaked into the Pacific Ocean, Kyodo said.

Study: Wind farms killed 67 eagles in 5 years. Sci-Tech Today, Dina Cappiello. September 12, 2013. Wind energy facilities have killed at least 67 golden and bald eagles in the last five years, but the figure could be much higher, according to a new scientific study by government biologists.

Warm ocean rapidly melting Antarctic glacier from below. NASA. September 12, 2013.In a paper published in the journal Science on Sept. 13, a team of scientists describes how at one of their study sites, halfway down the ice shelf, the melt rate was as high as 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) per day.

Climate change leaves hares wearing the wrong colors. NPR, Lauren Sommer. September 9, 2013. The effects of climate change often happen on a large scale, like drought or a rise in sea level. In the hills outside Missoula, Mont., wildlife biologists are looking at a change to something very small: the snowshoe hare.

 

August 2013

Climate change mitigation essential for even the most common species. Environmental News Network/Ecologist, Anna Taylor. August 30, 2013. It is well known that climate change will impact a great many species and ecosystems. The ranges of many species will change, ecosystem services will be disrupted, and biodiversity will be lost. But a new study has asked previously overlooked questions: What will happen if we try to stop climate change? What benefits would this bring in terms of avoiding biodiversity loss? And what will happen if we do nothing?

Seabirds are indicator species for climate change. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. August 30, 2013. It has been said that seabirds are key indicators of the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans. How exactly? In Antarctica, for example, seabirds depend on ice: Seabirds eat fish, which eat krill. The krill eat algae, and the algae grow underneath sea ice. With warming oceans, and less ice, there will major consequences for this food chain.

Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths each year in the U.S. MIT News Office, Jennifer Chu. August 29, 2013. Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have come out with some sobering new data on air pollution’s impact on Americans’ health....The group tracked ground-level emissions from sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States, and found that such air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year. Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000.

Global warming hiatus tied to cooler temps in the Pacific. Science News, Erin Wayman. August 28,2013. The recent pause in global warming has resulted from cooling in the tropical Pacific Ocean, new simulations find. The colder ocean temperatures are a consequence of natural fluctuations in climate; global temperatures will start rising again when warmer conditions return to the Pacific, researchers propose August 28 in Nature.

Envisioning future sea level rise. Worldwatch Institute/Environmental News Network, Alison Singer. August 22, 2013. In the past one hundred years, the Global Mean Sea Level has risen between 4 and 8 inches, and is currently rising at a rate of approximately 0.13 inches a year. However, the sea level rise "lock-in" — the rise we don't see now, but which, due to emissions and global warming, is being locked in for the future — is increasing 10 times faster. While our current sea level rise is at a modest, but still threatening inch per decade, the future rise is at a foot per decade.

Climate change killing harp seals. Mongabay/Environmental News Network, Alexander Holmgren. August 20, 2013. As sea ice levels continue to decline in the northern hemisphere, scientists are observing an unsettling trend in harp seal young mortalities regardless of juvenile fitness. While a recent study found that in harp seal breeding regions ice cover decreased by up to 6% a decade from 1979 on, a follow-up study in PLoS ONE compared the rate of harp seal strandings to total ice cover from 1992 to 2010. The data showed a direct relationship between the two, with seal pup strandings rising sharply as ice cover was reduced.

Shale gas fracking linked to earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio. ClickGreen/Environmental News Network, staff. August 20, 2013.A leading seismologist has linked the process of shale gas fracking with more than 100 earthquakes that blighted a city in the US Midwest within the space of just 12 months.

How much will climate change cost coastal cities? SciDevNet/Environmental News Network, Jorg Dietze. August 19, 2013. According to the paper published today in Nature Climate Change, a "risk sensitive planning" strategy is needed to protect coastal cities, which are increasingly at risk because of climate change, subsidence and a growing population.

EPA debuts bee-protective pesticide labels, enviros demand more. Environmental News Service. August 16, 2013. To protect bees and other pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present. Environmentalists want the agency to take these pesticides off the market.

Reducing soot and methane emissions may not make as big of an impact as previously thought. Environmental News Network, Editor. August 15, 2013.Carbon dioxide is a heavy hitter when it comes to global climate change. But there are some other big players that contribute to rising temperatures as well including soot and methane. While some scientists have argued to cut these emissions, a new study suggests that targeting these emissions may make much less of an impact than previously thought.

China's state council has announced plans to make green industries central to the economy by 2015. Ecologist/Environmental News Network, Jennifer Duggan. August 15, 2013. China's cabinet, the State Council, recently announced plans to make the energy saving sector a "pillar" of the economy by 2015. In a statement the council said that under the new plan the environmental protection sector will grow by 15% on average annually, reaching an output of 4.5 trillion yuan (£474 billion / $438 billion USD).

Canadians warn Obama: Don't trust Harper's tar sands rhetoric. Environment News Service. August 14, 2013. Production of heavy crude oil from the Alberta tar sands is Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and if expansion continues as government and industry project, they will cancel out every other effort to mitigate emissions, Canadian experts told reporters today. Emissions from the tar sands are projected to double by 2020, which will send Canada’s greenhouse gases way over the 2020 climate change target it shares with the United States.

Breakthrough technology in diesel combustrion results in cleaner engines. Environmental News Network, Debra Goldberg. August 13, 2013. Diesel and gasoline emissions have become some of the leading concerns regarding greenhouse gases and global climate change. While diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline-powered engines, they have serious emissions problems. A breakthrough in diesel combustion technology may soon lead to cleaner diesel engines.

Coral reefs in danger of disappearing. Planet Earth/Environmental News Network, Alex Peel. August 13, 2013. A new paper, published in the journal Current Biology, says Caribbean reef growth is already much slower than it was 30 years ago. Its authors say that without serious action on climate change, the reefs may stop growing and begin to break down within the next 20-30 years.

2012 was a bad year for the Arctic. Care2/Environmental News Network, Steve Williams. August 10, 2013. During 2012, the Arctic broke several climate records, including a level of unprecedented warmth that created rapid ice loss....The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is warning in its "The State of the Climate in 2012" report that last year was one of the 10 hottest since the beginning of recording global average temperatures.

EPA looking at contaminated sites for renewable energy. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. August 5, 2013. There are a lot of contaminated sites in the US. Many are former landfills that are urban mounds of varying size, and they are often devoid of trees. This makes them good candidate sites for solar power or other forms of renewable energy. This is a win-win opportunity in many instances!

The American Chestnut is being restored. EcoMass News/Environmental News Network, Kevin Proft. August 4, 2013. Gary Jacob planted his Chestnut orchard in 2004 in association with the local chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF). The foundation has worked at a national level since 1983 to develop an American chestnut resistant to chestnut blight, an Asian fungus introduced in the early 20th century that nearly eliminated the chestnut from American forests.

Two more species declared extinct in Florida. Mongabay/Environmental News Network, Alexander Holmgren. August 2, 2013. Conservationist's faced a crushing blow last month as two butterfly species native to Florida were declared extinct.

July 2013

New EPA Chief targets climate change. Environmental News Service, Alvin Powell. July 31, 2013. Newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Tuesday pledged action on climate change during the Obama administration’s remaining years, saying the concern is as much economic as it is environmental.

Pope speaks out on Amazon during Brazil trip. ABC News, Bradley Brooks. July 27, 2013. Pope Francis took on the defense of the Amazon and the environment near the end of his weeklong trip to Brazil, as he donned a colorful Indian headdress Saturday and urged that the rainforest be treated as a garden.

EPA selects eight schools for toxics release university inventory challenge. Environmental News Service. July 25, 2013. The Toxics Release Inventory program collects information on chemical releases to the air, water and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities by facilities across the country. TRI data are submitted to EPA, states and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste facilities. Washington University in St. Louis, Brown School of Social Work and Public Health is one of the selected schools.

Climate science: Vast costs of Arctic change. Nature, Gail Whiteman, Chris Hope and Peter Wadhams. July 25, 2013. The costliness of environmental damage from development is recognized by some, such as Lloyd's3 and the French oil giant Total, and the dangers of Arctic oil spills are the subject of a current panel investigation by the US National Research Council. What is missing from the equation is a worldwide perspective on Arctic change. Economic modelling of the resulting impacts on the world's climate, in particular, has been scant....We calculate that the costs of a melting Arctic will be huge, because the region is pivotal to the functioning of Earth systems such as oceans and the climate. The release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia, alone comes with an average global price tag of $60 trillion in the absence of mitigating action — a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012 (about $70 trillion). The total cost of Arctic change will be much higher.

Dolphins name themselves with a whistle. Science News, Meghan Rosen. July 22, 2013. Bottlenose dolphins answer to high-pitched bursts of sound — but each animal responds to only one specific trill, its “signature whistle,” Stephanie King and Vincent Janik of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland report July 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ...The signature whistle, a distinct tune each dolphin develops for itself and broadcasts to others, may act as a sort of audible nametag.

Poll: Majority backs Obama plan to limit carbon emissions. Environmental News Service, July 19, 2013. The poll of 808 registered voters was conducted for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council in the first week of July by two firms – Hart Research, which often works with Democrats, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a firm that often works with Republicans....A majority of 61 percent of respondents support the administration’s plan, and support is strong in all regions of the country. A plurality of 39 percent of respondents strongly support the plan.

Air pollution shorting lives in China, Europe. Environmental News Network. July 11, 2013. A new study finds that air pollution during the 90’s caused the combined loss of more than 2.5 billion years of life for the 500 million residents of Northern China. The study, published in the Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences, found that residents in Southern China lived an average of five years longer than those in Northern China due to the health impacts of air pollution linked to the widespread use of coal for cooking and heating.

The US-China agree to further climate cuts. Environmental News Network. July 11, 2013. The new US-China initiatives are: reducing black carbon and other emissions from heavy-duty trucks and other vehicles; demonstrating carbon capture, utilization, and storage; increasing energy efficiency in buildings, where air conditioning accounts for a major part of energy use, as well as in industry and transport; strengthening capacity for collection and management of greenhouse gas data; and, collaborating on “smart” grid systems, deploying renewable and clean energy, and improving demand management.

Kenyan officials seize ivory disguised as peanuts. Yahoo/AP, Rodney Muhumuza. July 9, 2013. Officials at Kenya's Mombasa port impounded more than three tons of illegal ivory disguised as peanuts for export to Malaysia, the second such seizure there in less than a week.

Province investigates after spill complaint on Athabasca River. Canada News. July 7, 2013.The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) is demanding answers and action from the province following reports of a large petrochemical spill in the Athabasca River....A member of the ACFN first reported seeing a large oily sheen on the river about 60 kilometres north of Fort McMurray on Saturday morning.

A human wall helps baby sea turtles find their way to the ocean. Take Part, Andri Antoniades. July 6, 2013. This week, over 100 loggerhead sea turtles were born on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. That alone is reason enough to celebrate, considering the species is endangered....But in addition to their celebrated birth, the babies received some much needed help in finding their way from the beach into the ocean due to a mass of volunteers who formed a human wall around them.

The balancing act of producing more food sustainably. Science Daily. July 5, 2013. The goal of sustainable intensification is to increase food production from existing farmland says the article in the journal's Policy Forum by lead authors Dr Tara Garnett and Professor Charles Godfray from the University of Oxford. They say this would minimise the pressure on the environment in a world in which land, water, and energy are in short supply, highlighting that the environment is often overexploited and used unsustainably.

US initiative to combat elephant and rhino poaching in Africa. Environmental News Network, Suzanne Goldenberg (Guardian). July 4, 2013. Barack Obama launched a new initiative against wildlife trafficking on Monday, using his executive authority to take action against an illegal trade that is fueling rebel wars and now threatens the survival of elephants and rhinoceroses.

Searching for the 70's and finding America: The Documerica Project. Slate, David Rosenberg. July 4, 2013. How do you take a problem as broad as “the environment” and then subdivide that by issues specific to every state in America—and then further subdivide it by issues related to culture, politics, and race? You might try to divide and conquer. In a way, that was the idea behind the Documerica Project, created by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1971....Documerica set out to capture how America viewed the rapidly deteriorating environment marked by issues of pollution and waste taking shape around the country....Founded by Gifford Hampshire, Documerica lasted about six years, hired roughly 70 photographers, and knocked out 115 assignments in all 50 states. Photographers were paid $150 a day plus film and expenses and were given the creative freedom to interpret environmental issues outlined to them from EPA employees.

The connection of air pollution to lung cancer. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. July 3, 2013. A study by Oregon State University suggests reducing air-polluting PAHs may lower levels of lung cancer deaths....High emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be linked to lung cancer deaths in the United States and countries with a similarly high socioeconomic rank, including Canada, Australia, France, and Germany, according to a study by Oregon State University.

Greenhouse gas likely altering ocean foodchain: Atmospheric CO2 has big consequences for tiny bacteria. ScienceDaily. July 2, 2013. Climate change may be weeding out the bacteria that form the base of the ocean's food chain, selecting certain strains for survival, according to a new study...."Our findings show that CO2 has the potential to control the biodiversity of these keystone organisms in ocean biology, and our fossil fuel emissions are probably responsible for changing the types of nitrogen fixers that are growing in the ocean," said David Hutchins, professor of marine environmental biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and lead author of an article about this research that appeared in Nature Geoscience on June 30.

June 2013

California's Sierra a 'living lab' for climate change. Kansas City Star, Tracie Cone (AP). June 29, 2013. As indicators point toward a warming climate, scientists across 4 million acres of federally protected land are noting changes affecting everything from the massive trees that can grow to more than two-dozen feet across to the tiny, hamsterlike pika. But what the changes mean and whether humans should do anything to intervene are sources of disagreement among land managers.

Obama says climate change is a make-or-break issue. Kansas City Star, Josh Lederman (AP). June 29, 2013. President Barack Obama is trying to frame climate change as a make-or-break political issue, urging Americans to vote only for those who will protect the country from environmental harm....He says people in the United States already are paying a price for climate change, including in lost lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Federal agency finds lax regulation of chemicals. Kansas City Star, Ramit Plushnick-Masti (AP). June 27, 2013. The Environmental Protection Agency has displayed a lack of urgency in the wake of a deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion and must regulate potentially explosive chemicals immediately, legislators said Thursday....The Chemical Safety Board, one of several federal agencies investigating the April explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. that killed 15 people, presented its preliminary findings to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. It reported that the decades-old standards used to regulate potentially dangerous fertilizer chemicals are far weaker than those used by other countries.

Microbeads from facial cleansers may be polluting the Great Lakes with plastic. International Business Times, Zoe Mintz. June 27, 2013. Those little beads that make your face feel so clean might also be causing serious damage to the eco-system. A study conducted by the 5 Gyres Institute, a Los Angeles-based research group studying garbage patches in five subtropical gyres, found that most of the Great Lakes are polluted with microbeads commonly used as exfoliants in cosmetic facial and body scrubs. They're made of plastic, and that's cause for concern.

EU agrees on green-friendly farm reform outline. Kansas City Star, Raf Casert (AP). June 26, 2013. In what's being cast as a major breakthrough, the European Union agreed Wednesday on an outline for a major farm reform program that seeks to boost environment-friendly agriculture....The seven-year program is to kick off next year. It is designed to move away from the subsidy-heavy policies that led to excessive red tape and rules that were kinder to huge companies than to the small farmers.

Beyond Ethanol: Drop-In Biofuels squeeze gasoline from plants. National Geographic, Patrick J. Kiger and Marianne Lavelle. June 26, 2013. A few weeks ago, the company [energy start up KiOR] produced and shipped what it says is the world's first commercial volume of cellulosic diesel fuel from its new biorefinery in Columbus, Mississippi. KiOR's product, made from pine wood chips, is chemically identical to the petroleum-based fuel it is designed to replace, the company says. (Vote and comment: "Are Biofuels Worth the Investment?")

SCOTUS strikes blow for property rights in wetlands case. St. Louis Business Journal, Kent Hoover. June 25, 2013. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme court ruled for a property owner, Coy Koontz Sr., who wanted to develop land in Central Florida that contains wetlands subject to regulation by the St. Johns River Water Management District. To mitigate the environmental damage, Koontz offered to give the district a conservation easement on three-fourths of his property.

High methane in drinking water near fracking sites. Science News, Rachel Ehrenberg. June 25, 2013.Drinking water from wells near hydraulic fracturing operations in Pennsylvania and New York contains more methane than samples taken farther away, a new study finds. The results point to faulty construction and local geology as contributing factors.

Cleaner air may have brought more storms. Science News, Christy Gelling. June 24, 2013 (web). New climate simulations suggest that reducing the level of atmospheric aerosol particles produced by human activity might have been the main cause of a recent increase in tropical storm frequency in the North Atlantic.

Biggest dead zone ever forecast in Gulf of Mexico. National Geographic, Christine Dell'Amore. June 24, 2013. A possibly record-breaking, New Jersey-size dead zone may put a chokehold on the Gulf of Mexico (map) this summer, according to a forecast released this week....Unusually robust spring floods in the U.S. Midwest are flushing agricultural runoff—namely, nitrogen and phosphorus—into the Gulf and spurring giant algal blooms, which lead to dead zones, or areas devoid of oxygen that occur in the summer.

Satellite captures Earth's greenery. Science News, Christy Gelling. June 21, 2013 (web). A new instrument onboard the NASA–NOAA Suomi satellite has been capturing exquisitely detailed views of seasonal and environmental shifts in plant cover. Light sensors on the satellite identify vegetation by detecting differences in reflected amounts of visible light, which plants absorb for photosynthesis, and near-infrared light, which plants don’t absorb. Subtle changes in greenness can give advance warning of drought or fire conditions. Meteorologists can also use data on vegetation dynamics to improve weather prediction. Includes short video of monthly change over the year.

Oysters may struggle to build shells as carbon dioxide rises. Science News, Erin Wayman. June 17, 2013(web). Oyster larvae’s dependence on a fixed energy source could be a problem as atmospheric carbon dioxide rises. Oceans soak up more of the gas, driving reactions that lower the water’s pH and alter the availability of the compounds needed to make shells. Waldbusser and colleagues calculate that the amount of energy that oyster larvae need to build shells grows exponentially as CO2 dissolved in the water increases.

China and US agree on gas phase-out. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. June 14, 2013. ONE OF THE GREAT stumbling blocks of climate talks in the last 15 years has been that the United States refuses to move to cut emissions of greenhouse gases until China does - but at the weekend leaders of the world's two great polluters reached agreement to phase out one of the most potent of them: hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs).

Antarctic's ice shelves melting from bottom up. National Geographic, Jane J. Lee. June 14, 2013. Glacier experts have known for years that ice shelves melt at the boundary between the ice and the sea. But previous studies have only looked at individual glaciers and ice shelves in Greenland and Alaska, said Erin Pettit, a glacier expert at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks who was not involved in the new research....A study published today in the journal Science has gone beyond those individual observations and found that about 55 percent of the mass lost from ice shelves in Antarctica is through melting at the ice-ocean boundary. (Learn more about The Big Thaw in National Geographic magazine.)

New York's sea-level plan. National Geographic, Tim Folger. June 12, 2013. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement yesterday of a $19.5 billion, multidecade plan to defend New York City against rising seas and severe storms illustrated two truths that resonate far beyond his home city.... First, as the time when we could prevent dangerous climate change slips away, the time for costly investments to protect ourselves has arrived. Second, for some cities, less well situated or less wealthy than New York, protection is going to be extremely challenging—and in some cases perhaps impossible.

First "small modular" nuclear reactors planned for Tennessee. National Geographic, Will Ferguson. June 5, 2013. n the 1970s, the U.S. government and private industry partners sought to build the nation's first commercial-scale "fast breeder" reactor here, an effort abandoned amid concerns about costs and safety. Today, nuclear energy's future still hinges on the same two issues, and advocates argue that SMRs provide the best hope of delivering new nuclear plants that are both affordable and protective of people and the environment. And even amid Washington, D.C.'s budget angst, there was bipartisan support for a new five-year $452 million U.S. government program to spur the technology.

Frog long thought extinct is rediscovered in Israel. National Geographic, Ker Than. June 4, 2013. Israeli park ranger Yoram Malka caught only a fleeting glimpse of the frog as it leapt across the road, but he knew it was something special....When he first saw the frog in northern Israel's Hula Valley, Malka jerked his utility vehicle to a stop, bounded out of his seat, and jumped atop it, catching the creature in his hands....The animal had a mottled backside and a black belly with white dots. It belonged to a species that most scientists thought had disappeared from the Earth more than half a century ago.

Carbon dioxide in atmosphere reaches landmark level. Science News, Erin Wayman. June 1, 2013 (print). On May 9, the atmosphere above Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano reached a milestone: For the first time since record keeping began there in 1958, the daily mean carbon dioxide concentration reached 400 parts per million.

May 2013

Asia-Pacific Analysis: Rain harvesting can avert crisis. SciDevNet via Environmental News Network, Crispin Maslog. May 30, 2013....If properly done, "rainwater harvesting appears to be one of the most promising alternatives for supplying freshwater in the face of increasing water scarcity and escalating demand", according to the UN Environment Programme. Water catchments, whether it is just small ponds or large dams, can also be used for flood control.

New study predicts significant global warming. Monga Bay via Environmental News Network, Jeremy Hance. May 30, 2013. A new study by Australian scientists projects that the world will likely warm between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels by 2100. The study published in Nature Climate Change finds that exceeding the 2-degree threshold is very likely under business-as-usual emissions scenarios even as scientists have long warned that passing the 2-degree mark would lead to catastrophic climate change.

Natural catastrophes in 2012 dominated by U.S. weather extremes. Worldwatch Inst. via Environmental News Network, Petra Low. May 29, 2013. In 2012, there were 905 natural catastrophes worldwide, 93 percent of which were weather-related disasters. In terms of overall and insured losses (US$170 billion and $70 billion, respectively), 2012 did not follow the records set in 2011 and could be defined as a moderate year on a global scale. But the United States was seriously affected by weather extremes, accounting for 69 percent of overall losses and 92 percent of insured losses due to natural catastrophes worldwide.

Traditional knowledge 'can enable precision farming'. Science and Development Network, Lou Del Bello. May 28, 2013....Crop yields could be improved by applying traditional knowledge to mirror precision techniques such as using the satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) to analyse farm land, says Margaret Oliver, a visiting research fellow at the University of Reading's Soil Research Centre in the United Kingdom.

Data from HMS Challenger expedition helps confirm long term ocean warming. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. May 25, 2013. ...The Challenger expedition, from 1872 to 1876, was the world's first global scientific survey of life beneath the ocean surface. Along the way, scientists measured ocean temperatures, lowering thermometers hundreds of meters deep on ropes...."Our research revealed warming of the planet can be clearly detected since 1873 and that our oceans continue to absorb the great majority of this heat," said researcher and lead author Will Hobbs of the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. "Currently, scientists estimate the oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, and we attribute the global warming to anthropogenic (human-produced) causes."

Bonn Declaration on Water. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. May 24, 2013. The scientists assembled in Bonn have made a set of core recommendations to institutions, governments,and individuals focused on science, management and decision-making relevant to water resources on earth. They urged a united front to form a strategic partnership of scientists, public stakeholders, decision-makers and the private sector. Read recommendations here

Ocean acidification and deep-sea organisms. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. May 23, 2013. About 55.5 million years ago, the earth underwent a global warming of five degrees Celsius, which caused severe ocean acidification, and widespread extinction of microscopic organisms living on the deep-sea floor (foraminifera). By studying the survivors of this extinction, unique insight was discovered from past warming events that may resemble future consequences of fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

Deforestation dries up dams, threatening hydropower. SciDevNet, via Environmental News Network, Maria Eleana Hurtado. May 23, 2013. Deforestation may lead to electricity shortages in tropical rainforest regions that rely heavily on hydropower, as fewer trees mean less rainfall for hydropower generation, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy o f Sciencs May 13.

India's hornbill conservator is awarded the "Green Oscar". Mongabay via Environmental News Network, Akhila Vijayaraghavan. May 23, 2013. The Whitley Awards is a prestigious international prize awarded annually to individuals working in nature conservation at a grassroots level. They were first awarded in 1994 and over the past two decades, the Whitley fund for nature has given almost £10 million ($15 million USD) to conservation and recognized 160 conservation leaders in more than 70 countries....This year, the prestigious prize was awarded to Aparajita Datta's project, "threatened hornbills as icons for the conservation of the Himalayan forests of Arunachal Pradesh, India".

Fun and games help communicate disaster science. Science and Development Network, Jan Piotrowski. May 23, 2013. Speed Read: 1) Games, from role play and dice to digital apps, can engage people with information on natural disasters. 2) They have also helped build relationships between communities, scientists and policymakers. 3) But games must be tailored to social structure and gender, which is delaying their roll out.

Sneaker life cycle impact. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. May 22, 2013....A typical pair of running shoes generates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to keeping a 100-watt light bulb on for one week, according to a new MIT-led life cycle assessment. A life cycle measures the environmental impact of the raw materials, processing, and transport to the final market as well as waste disposal. But what’s surprising to researchers isn’t the size of a shoe’s carbon footprint, but where the majority of that footprint comes from....A team led by Randolph Kirchain, principal research scientist in MIT’s Materials Systems Laboratory broke down the various steps involved in both materials extraction and manufacturing. The group found that much of the carbon impact came from powering manufacturing plants.

Great lakes losing water, climate change a significant factor. Triple Pundit via Environmental News Network, Eric Justian. May 22, 2013. Great Lakes water levels are at historic lows, 26 inches below their long term averages, raising prices right at the beginning of the supply chain for iron ore, grain, and coal. ....The problem became so persistent the International Upper Great Lakes Study was formed in 2007 to initially research causes of water loss and remedial measures. They found a major contributing factor: human induced climate change combined with natural variation. A complex interplay of reduced ice cover in the winter and drier conditions means water in the Great Lakes is evaporating at an increased rate. Since 1973, the Great Lakes have lost 71 percent of their ice cover, leaving them exposed to winter evaporation.

Top 10 new species of 2012. Science Daily. May 22, 2013. An amazing glow-in-the-dark cockroach, a harp-shaped carnivorous sponge and the smallest vertebrate on Earth are just three of the newly discovered top 10 species selected by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. A global committee of taxonomists -- scientists responsible for species exploration and classification -- announced its list of top 10 species from 2012 today, May 23.

Bee and wildflower biodiversity loss slows. Science Daily. May 22, 2013. Researchers led by the University of Leeds and the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in the Netherlands found evidence of dramatic reductions in the diversity of species in Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands between the 1950s and 1980s....But the picture brightened markedly after 1990, with a slowdown in local and national biodiversity losses among bees, hoverflies and wild plants.

Aquifers in U.S. depleting, contribuing to sea-level rise. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. May 21, 2013. The High Plains aquifer depletion is just one example in a new U.S. Geological Survey study that reveals most of the Nation's aquifers are being depleted at an accelerating rate. ...The study, Groundwater Depletion in the United States (1900-2008) comprehensively evaluates long-term depletion volumes in 40 separate US aquifers....The study reports that from 1900 to 2008, the Nation's aquifers, decreased by more than twice the volume of water found in Lake Erie. Also, groundwater depletion in the U.S. in the years 2000-2008 can explain more than 2 percent of the observed global sea-level rise during that period.

Melting glaciers. Environmental News Network, Editor. May 20, 2013. ... new research found that all glacial regions lost significant mass from 2003 to 2009, with the biggest ice losses occurring in Arctic Canada, Alaska, coastal Greenland, the southern Andes and the Himalayas. The glaciers outside of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets lost an average of roughly 260 billion metric tons of ice annually during the study period, causing the oceans to rise 0.03 inches, or about 0.7 millimeters per year.

Want to benefit wildlife? Let land go untended. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. May 20, 2013. ...Turns out that parts of the farm landscape that look overgrown and 'scruffy' are more important in supporting wildlife than they first appear, according to new research published today in Ecology Letters.

Bacteria use hydrogen, CO2 to produce electricity. Science Daily. May 19, 2013. Researchers have engineered a strain of electricity-producing bacteria that can grow using hydrogen gas as its sole electron donor and carbon dioxide as its sole source of carbon.

Frogs, salamanders and climate change. Science News. May 18, 2013. When USGS scientists reviewed what was known about amphibian responses to rainfall, it turned out that both extremes in rainfall -- drought and heavy rainfall events -- can decrease the number of amphibians. The amphibians' response depends on a balance between these two key factors. If ponds dry up while aquatic juveniles are developing, survival of the next generation is lowered. However, if a deluge occurs at that time, nearby pools that often contain fish will be physically connected with the pools containing juvenile amphibians, and the fish will eat the juveniles.

Artificial forest for solar water-splitting: first fully integrated artificial photosynthesis nanosystem. Science Daily. May 16, 2013. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have reported the first fully integrated nanosystem for artificial photosynthesis. While "artificial leaf" is the popular term for such a system, the key to this success was an "artificial forest."

Change in cycle track policy needed to boost ridership, public health. Science Daily. May 16, 2013. ....U.S. guidelines should be expanded to offer cyclists more riding options and call for endorsing cycle tracks -- physically separated, bicycle-exclusive paths adjacent to sidewalks -- to encourage more people of all ages to ride bicycles.

Strategies to achieve net-zero energy homes. Science Daily. May 15, 2013. Gaps (in information) -- and strategies to overcome them -- are summarized in Strategies to Achieve Net-Zero Energy Homes: A Framework for Future Guidelines, a new publication* from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) based on the discussions at a 2011 workshop convened by the agency. Suggestsions: require energy costs to be listed in all real-estate transactions, establish a scoring system for new and used homes, guidelines for sizing equipment for meeting lower energy loads...

Nanoscavengers could usher in next generation water purification. Science Daily. May 15, 2013. Problem: recovering nanoscavengers after they have captured pollutants. Solution: In a paper published online May 14 in the journal Nature Communications, an interdisciplinary team of engineers at Stanford University announces it has developed a new type of nanoscavenger with a synthetic core that is ultraresponsive to magnetism, allowing the easy and efficient recovery of virtually every one of the nanoscale purifiers.

Groundwater unaffected by shale gas production in Arkansas. Science Daily, May 15, 2013.A new study by scientists at Duke University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finds no evidence of groundwater contamination from shale gas production in Arkansas...."Our results show no discernible impairment of groundwater quality in areas associated with natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in this region," said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

Methane levels studies across the continent. University of California, George Foulsham. May 15, 2013.After taking a rented camper outfitted with special equipment to measure methane on a cross-continent drive, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has found that methane emissions across large parts of the U.S. are higher than currently known, confirming what other more local studies have found. Their research is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. Science Daily. May 15, 2013. A comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming and climate change has revealed an overwhelming consensus among scientists that recent warming is human-caused.

Making gold green: new non-toxic method for mining gold. Science Daily. May 14, 2013. Northwestern University scientists have struck gold in the laboratory. They have discovered an inexpensive and environmentally benign method that uses simple cornstarch -- instead of cyanide -- to isolate gold from raw materials in a selective manner.

Climate change will cause widespread global-scale loss of common plants and animals, researchers predict. Science Daily. May 12, 2013. Research published today in the journal Nature Climate Change looked at 50,000 globally widespread and common species and found that more than one half of the plants and one third of the animals will lose more than half of their climatic range by 2080 if nothing is done to reduce the amount of global warming and slow it down.

New advance in biofuel production. Science Daily. May 9, 2013. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a bioenergy research center led by Berkeley Lab, have taken another step towards meeting this challenge (advanced biofuels production) with the development of a new technique for pre-treating cellulosic biomass with ionic liquids -- salts that are liquids rather than crystals at room temperature. This new technique requires none of the expensive enzymes used in previous ionic liquid pretreatments, and makes it easier to recover fuel sugars and recycle the ionic liquid.

Researchers find a way to make steel without greenhouse-gas emissions. Science Daily. May 8, 2013. Anyone who has seen pictures of the giant, red-hot cauldrons in which steel is made -- fed by vast amounts of carbon, and belching flame and smoke -- would not be surprised to learn that steelmaking is one of the world's leading industrial sources of greenhouse gases. But remarkably, a new process developed by MIT researchers could change all that....The new process even carries a couple of nice side benefits: The resulting steel should be of higher purity, and eventually, once the process is scaled up, cheaper.

Flame retardants, used in everyday products, may be toxic to children: lower intelligence, hyperactivity seen. Science Daily. May 6, 2013. ...Dr. Chen and his colleagues collected blood samples from 309 pregnant women enrolled in a study at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to measure PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) levels. They also performed intelligence and behavior tests on the women's children annually until they were 5 years old...."We found maternal exposure to PBDEs, a group of brominated flame retardants mostly withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004, was associated with deficits in child cognition at age 5 years and hyperactivity at ages 2-5 years," Dr. Chen said. A 10-fold increase in maternal PBDEs was associated with about a 4 point IQ deficit in 5-year-old children.

Economic development can restore lost biodiversity. Science and Development Network, Bernard Appiah. May 1, 2013. Using a modelling technique that considers factors including the proximity to neighbouring countries, a country's population density, and agricultural land area, researchers from the Center for International Development Research and Studies (CERDI), in France analysed the relationship between the GDP and biodiversity loss over a 20-year period, from 1992 to 2011....They found that the conservation of birds, but not mammals, increased as incomes rose....Conservation of birds tends to be easier, they say in a CERDI working paper, which may explain the difference.

Midwestern frogs decline, mammal populations altered by invasive plant, studies reveal. Science Daily. May 1, 2013. Lincoln Park Zoo Reintroduction Biologist Allison Sacerdote-Velat, Ph.D. and Northern Illinois University Professor of Biological Sciences Richard King have identified European buckthorn as a contributor to amphibian decline in the Chicagoland area. The plant releases the chemical compound emodin, which is produced in the leaves, fruit, bark and roots of the plant, into the amphibian breeding pond environment at various times of year. Sacerdote-Velat and King's research has found that emodin is toxic to amphibian embryos, disrupting their development, preventing hatching. What does it look like? - MDC guide to buckthorn

 

April 2013

Superstorm Sandy dumped 11 billion gallons of sewage. Environmental News Service, Editor. April 30, 2013. Six months after Superstorm Sandy struck the U.S. Atlantic coast, data from the eight hardest hit states shows that 11 billion gallons of untreated and partially treated sewage flowed into waterways and city streets, reports Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists and journalists based in Princeton.....

U.S. car buyers embrace new fuel efficiency standards. Environmental News Service, Editor. April 30, 2013. Consumer demand for new fuel-efficient vehicles is high in the United States and electrics are gaining in popularity, finds a new analysis by the Consumer Federation of America, an association of more than 260 nonprofit consumer groups....

Air pollution linked to hardening of the arteries. Environmental News Service, Editor. April 30, 2013. Long term exposure to air pollution is linked to heart attacks and strokes because it speeds up hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, according to University of Michigan scientists and colleagues from across the United States....

Environmental labels may discourage conservatives from buying energy-efficient products. Science News. April 30, 2013. When it comes to deciding which light bulb to buy, a label touting the product's environmental benefit may actually discourage politically conservative shoppers....The authors[of a study on how political ideology affects a person's choice] suggest that financial incentives or emphasizing energy independence may be better ways to get people to buy energy-efficient products than appealing to environmental concerns because these represent unifying concerns that cross political boundaries.

Green spaces promote happier communities. Scientific American, Christie Nicholson. April 29, 2013. UK researchers analyzed data from a national survey of more than 10,000 people between 1991 through to 2008. They found that those who live in green areas have higher life satisfaction and less depression and stress than others who live in more concrete-dense areas with few trees and lawns. This trend held even if residents experienced changes in their income, marital status and health....

European Union blocks bee-harming insecticides. Enviromental News Service, Editor. April 29, 2013. The European Commission will restrict the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides harmful to bees, imposing the world’s first continental ban on the popular chemicals.... The proposal restricts the use of three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam – for seed treatment, application of granules to the soil and foliar treatment on bee-attractive plants and cereals....

Earth sets 1,400 year record for warm temperatures. Environmental News Service, Editor. April 24, 2013.Earth’s climate heated up more between 1971 and 2000 than during any other 30 year period in the last 1,400 years, scientists have found using new regional temperature reconstructions covering all continents....

Appeals court upholds EPA block on W.Va. mine. St. Louis Post Dispatch, AP. April 23, 2013.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had the legal authority to retroactively veto a water pollution permit for one of West Virginia's largest mountaintop removal coal mines years after it was issued, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.....U.S. Rep Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., warned the ruling could "open the floodgates to disrupting coal mining in West Virginia and elsewhere" and "upend the traditional balance that has existed between the states and the federal government in the permitting process."....

Monsanto reviews mine safety after accident. St. Louis Post Dispatch. AP. April 22, 2013. Monsanto Co. is investigating the engineering and safety of the water treatment system at its new phosphate mine in southeast Idaho after an earthen holding pond recently sprung a leak, sending sediment and millions of gallons of water into an adjacent wetland.....

How's earth's health? New network to keep tabs. Scientiific American, Douglas Main. April 22, 2013. How healthy are America's plants, animals and environment? A new nationwide program will help answer that question....Called the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the program encompasses a series of monitoring stations that will measure the health of ecosystems by taking snapshots from strategically chosen locations across the country — analogous to the way an EKG monitors the health of the heart, said Lily Whiteman, a spokeswoman for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funds NEON.

U.S., Japan, G8 commit to climate change action. Environmental News Service, Editor. April 18, 2013. ..."Climate change remains a key global challenge which, if not controlled, would have dramatic consequences not only on the environment but also on economic prosperity,” the G8 foreign ministers said in a joint statement. “G8 Ministers recognised climate change as a contributing factor to increased economic and security risks globally. ” (italics added)... [the G8 or Group of Eight is a forum for governments ot the world's eight wealthiest countires - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the U.K, and the U.S.]

Onlin3 nonprofit InsideClimate News wins Pulitzer. St. Louis Post Dispatch. AP. April 16, 2013. InsideClimate News won the Pulitzer Monday for national reporting for its reports on problems in the regulation of the nation's oil pipelines. Founded five years ago, InsideClimateNews reports on energy and the environment. Writers Lisa Song, Elizabeth McGowan and David Hasemyer were recognized for a project that began with an investigation into a million-gallon spill of Canadian tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. The reporters went on to look more broadly at pipeline safety and the particular hazards of a form of oil called diluted bitumen, or "dilbit."...

Discovery finds waste sulphur can boost electric car industry. Environmental News Network from Clck Green. April 15, 2013. A new chemical process can transform waste sulphur into a lightweight plastic that may improve batteries for electric cars, reports a University of Arizona-led team.....

Recent Antarctic climate, glacier changes at the "upper bound" of normal. Science Daily. April 14, 2013. In the last few decades, glaciers at the edge of the icy continent of Antarctica have been thinning, and research has shown the rate of thinning has accelerated and contributed significantly to sea level rise....New ice core research suggests that, while the changes are dramatic, they cannot be attributed with confidence to human-caused global warming, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences....[note: research only applies to the antarctic, not necessarily to other areas]

New technique measures evaporation globally. Science News. April 11, 2013. Researchers at Columbia Engineering and Boston University have developed the first method to map evaporation globally using weather stations, which will help scientists evaluate water resource management, assess recent trends of evaporation throughout the globe, and validate surface hydrologic models in various conditions. ...

Innovative self-cooling, thermoelectric system consumes no electricity. Science News. April 11, 2013. Researchers at the UPNA/NUP-Public University of Navarre have produced a prototype of a self-cooling thermoelectric device that achieves "free" cooling of over 30ºC in devices that give off heat. It is a piece of equipment that acts as a traditional cooler but which consumes no electricity because it obtains the energy it needs to function from the very heat that has to be dissipated.....

New link between heart disease and red meat: new understanding of cardiovascular health benefits of vegan, vegetarian diets. Science News. April 7, 2013. A compound abundant in red meat and added as a supplement to popular energy drinks has been found to promote atherosclerosis -- or the hardening or clogging of the arteries -- according to Cleveland Clinic research published online this week in the journal Nature Medicine....

Air pollution stunts coral growth. Science News. April 7, 2013. A new study has found that pollution from fine particles in the air -- mainly the result of burning coal or volcanic eruptions -- can shade corals from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates....

New emissions standards would fuel shift from caol to natural gas. Science News. April 5, 2013. The cost of complying with tougher EPA air-quality standards could spur an increased shift away from coal and toward natural gas for electricity generation, according to a new Duke University study....

National Basketball Association tips off Green Week. Environmental News Service, Editor. April 4, 2013. NBA Cares Green Week starts today for all teams in the National Basketball Association, with community greening projects, cell phone recycling, green giveaways, adidas green on-court apparel and auctions to encourage fans to go green.....

Arkansas tar sands spill amps up Keystone XL debate. Environmental News Service, Editor. April 1, 2013. An ExxonMobil pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Canada broke open in Arkansas on Friday, spilling thousands of gallons of black diluted bitumen into residential streets outside Little Rock and forcing the evacuation of 22 homes.....

 

March 2013

New emissions/gas mileage standards. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. March 30, 2013. Once again, the EPA is tightening the fuel efficiency standards for autos and light trucks. It is also tightening the emissions limits that new vehicles will have to meet. This is, in general, a good thing since it will reduce gas consumption, and also reduce air pollutant emissions. Of course, not everyone is happy about this action. And the economic analysis of the cost/benefits seems to be overly optimistic.

Long outlawed in the West, lead paint sold in poor nations. Yale Environment 360, Rebecca Kessler. March 28, 2013. For years now, Perry Gottesfeld has been globetrotting in search of lead paints. These have been banned for decades from U.S. and European buildings because they poison children as they deteriorate. But as Gottesfeld, executive director of the U.S.-based NGO Occupational Knowledge International, and others have been showing, there’s still plenty of lead paint for sale in developing nations.

Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss. Ecologist, John Vidal. March 28, 2013. Both the extent and the volume of the sea ice that forms and melts each year in the Arctic Ocean fell to an historic low last autumn, and satellite records published on Monday by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice extent is close to the minimum recorded for this time of year.....According to (Jennifer) Francis (Rutgers Institute of Coastal and Marine Science) and a growing body of other researchers, the Arctic ice loss adds heat to the ocean and atmosphere which shifts the position of the jet stream – the high-altitude river of air that steers storm systems and governs most weather in northern hemisphere.

US Forest Service reopens caves despite risk to bats. Environmental News Network/Center for Biological Diversity. March 28, 2013. Despite the unabated threat of a devastating fungal disease that has already killed nearly 7 million hibernating bats, U.S. Forest Service officials released a plan today to rescind their three-year-old precautionary cave closure policy in the Rocky Mountain Region, including in Colorado and much of Wyoming and South Dakota. The new policy, described in an environmental assessment posted to the Forest Service website, reopens all caves in the region to recreational activities, nullifying an aggressive approach to containing white-nose syndrome unique among western federal land agencies.

Loss of wild pollinators would hit crops, finds study. SciDevNet/Science, Claudia Mazzeo. March 27, 2013. Led by Lucas Garibaldi, an assistant professor at the National University of Río Negro in Argentina, a team of researchers compared fields containing many wild pollinators — mostly insects — with those containing few. They studied 41 crop systems across all continents except Antarctica to understand how the loss of wild pollinators impacts crop production. ....They found that the more wild pollinators a field contained, the more fruit it produced. From this, the researchers deduce that the loss of natural pollinators could reduce crop yields and hit long-term food security.

Majority of US streams and rivers are in "poor condition" says EPA survey. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. March 26, 2013. During the summers of 2008 and 2009, data was collected from 1,924 river and stream sites across the country. EPA, state and university scientists analyzed the data to determine the extent to which these waters support aquatic life. Factors including biological quality, chemical stressors, physical habitat stressors, human health indicators, and change in stream conditions were all analyzed.....As a result of this survey, the EPA found that more than half — 55 percent — are in poor condition for aquatic life.

Urban greening may reduce crime rates in cities. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. March 26, 2013. According to a Temple University study, "Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA," researchers found that the presence of grass, trees and shrubs is associated with lower crime rates in Philadelphia.

Nanowire solar cells raise efficiency limit. Eureka Alert/AAAS, Gertie Skaarup. March 24, 2013. Scientists from the Nano-Science Center at the Niels Bohr Institut, Denmark and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, have shown that a single nanowire can concentrate the sunlight up to 15 times of the normal sun light intensity. The results are surprising and the potential for developing a new type of highly efficient solar cells is great.

Dams and levees aging and may pose future risk. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. March 22, 2013. The average age of the 84,000 dams in the US is 52 years old. The nation’s dams are aging and the number of high-hazard dams is on the rise. Many of these dams were built as low-hazard dams protecting undeveloped agricultural land. The average age of the 84,000 dams in the country is 52 years old....Many of these dams were built as low-hazard dams protecting undeveloped agricultural land. Both are in sad shape and rated a D for dams and a D- for levees by the American Society of Civil Engineers who are the engineers who build them. If they go, homes and vast stretches of land will be flooded and the environment literally drenched.

Cloning brings back extinct frog that gives birth. Environmental News Network/ARKive, Kathryn Pintus. March 21, 2013. Scientists in Australia have successfully cloned embryos of a unique but extinct species of frog that gives birth through its mouth....Unfortunately, this intriguing amphibian species went extinct in 1983, although the reasons for its disappearance remain unclear, with loss of habitat, pollution and parasites all being put forward as possible causes. This new and exciting research by scientists at the University of Newcastle, Australia, has sparked the possibility that this unusual species, once thought lost forever, could exist once again.

Redfield Ratio for proportion of carbon in plankton revised, may impact CO2 cycling models. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. March 20, 2013. The Redfield ratio has been a fundamental feature in understanding the biogeochemical cycles of the oceans and has been used since 1934 when oceanographer Alfred Redfield found that the elemental composition of marine organic matter is constant across all regions....As global marine temperatures have fluctuated trillions of plankton near the surface of warm waters have been found to be more carbon-rich than previously thought. Rising temperatures could mean that tiny Prochlorococcus and other microbes digest double the carbon previously calculated.

Shams 1: World's largest concentrated solar plant goes live. Green Prophet, Tafline Laylin. March 18, 2013. With 258,000 mirrors on 768 tracking parabolic trough collectors harnessing the sun’s energy to power a steam turbine, the plant developed by Shams Power Company occupies an area of 2.5 square kilometers or 285 football fields. Now that it is live, it is expected to generate sufficient energy to power 20,000 homes and divert 170,000 tons of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere each year....It cost $600 million USD and took three years to build Shams 1 about 120km outside of Abu Dhabi. It features the most current parabolic trough technology, which made the most sense at the time that the project was conceived, and includes a natural gas-powered booster that maximizes the steam generation’s efficiency.

Hunters, anglers urge Obama to act on climate change. Environmental News Service. March 15, 2013. Ten groups representing millions of anglers, hunters, scientists and conservationists sent a letter to the President on Monday asking that the Obama administration “develop and implement climate change adaptation strategies that support the resiliency of fish and wildlife populations.” Groups: American Fisheries Society, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society, Ducks Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, Quail Forever, Pheasants Forever, Trout Unlimited, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Wildlife Management Institute.

Disease threatens aquaculture in developing world. SciDevNet, Wagdy Sawahel. March 14, 2013. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, with 90 per cent of production coming from the developing world, where it makes a significant contribution to many nations' economies....By examining published reports of disease-induced mortalities in commercial aquaculture,(a study in the Journal of Applied Ecology) found that outbreaks were more deadly and progressed quicker in the tropics than in temperate regions, after controlling for differences in veterinary and disease-reporting infrastructure.

Bolivian researchers sound alarm over quinoa farming. SciDevNet, Cristina Pabon. March 12, 2013. Bolivian scientists have warned that growing international demand for quinoa is endangering local farming practices and the environment, as well as denying access to local consumers....local experts say that the current mode of export-oriented production is causing soil erosion, and spreading into wild areas where local communities farm livestock such as llamas and sheep.

Rainforests may be more resilient to global warming - in isolation - than previously forecast. Mongabay, Rhett A. Butler. March 11, 2013. Tropical forests may be less sensitive to global warming than previously thought, argues a new study published in Nature Geoscience....The research is based on computer simulations using 22 climate models for tropical forests in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It projects loss of forest biomass as a result of climate change only in the Americas.

Commercial trade in Amerian bullfrogs spreads deadly fungus. Environmental News Service. March 7, 2013. The fungus that has wiped out hundreds of frog species across the globe has been detected in amphibians sampled in Singapore for the first time, a warning sign that Southeast Asia’s commercial trade in these animals is spreading the disease.

The urban brain: analysing outdoor physical activity with mobile EEG. Sports Medicine, P. Aspinall, et. al. March 6, 2013. This study investigates the use of mobile electroencephalography (EEG) as a method to record and analyse the emotional experience of a group of walkers in three types of urban environment including a green space setting.... high-dimensional correlated component logistic regression analysis showed evidence of lower frustration, engagement and arousal, and higher meditation when moving into the green space zone; and higher engagement when moving out of it. (People feel better after a walk in the woods)

Warnings of global ecological tipping points may be overstated. Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. March 5, 2013. There's little evidence that the Earth is nearing a global ecological tipping point, according to a new Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper that is bound to be controversial. The authors argue that despite numerous warnings that the Earth is headed toward an ecological tipping point due to environmental stressors, such as habitat loss or climate change, it's unlikely this will occur anytime soon—at least not on land. The paper comes with a number of caveats, including that a global tipping point could occur in marine ecosystems due to ocean acidification from burning fossil fuels. In addition, regional tipping points, such as the Arctic ice melt or the Amazon rainforest drying out, are still of great concern.

Hotter temperatures link climate change to tree mortality. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. March 5, 2013. ...a team of scientists, led by researchers at Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology, has determined that decreased precipitation exacerbated by high summer temperatures has caused the widespread die-off of Colorado trembling aspen trees. The die-off, triggered by the drought from 2000-2003, is estimated to have affected up to 17% of Colorado aspen forests.

In the News: 100 million sharks killed each year by commercial fishing. Environmental News Network/ARKive, Katrina Armour. March 4, 2013. Ahead of the 16th meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species that runs from the 3rd to the 15th of March this year, researchers are again warning that sharks are in need of better protection. A new report, published in the journal Marine Policy, estimates the annual number of sharks killed by commercial fishing to be around 100 million, although the actual number could be anywhere between 63 million and 273 million.

Obama names McCarthy to head EPA, Moniz for Energy. Environmental News Service, March 4, 2013. Since 2009, (Gina) McCarthy has been serving as Assistant EPA Administrator for Air and Radiation. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would replace Lisa Jackson, who stepped down in February 2013....(Dr. Ernest) Moniz is a nuclear physicist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who also serves as director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment and director of the Energy Initiative at MIT. He has been on the faculty since 1973, and has served as head of the Physics Department and as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center.

Global warming being slowed by volcanic eruptions. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. March 2, 2013. A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder looking for clues about why Earth did not warm as much as scientists expected between 2000 and 2010 now thinks the culprits are hiding in plain sight -- dozens of volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide.

February 2013

Capturing carbon dioxide with a "Solar Sponge". Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. February 26, 2013. A new smart material called a MOF (metal organic framework) has the ability to adsorb carbon dioxide and release it when exposed to sunlight thus creating a new breakthrough in a way to recycle CO2 emissions using renewable energy.

How humans affect birds. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. February 26, 2013. Can man and bird live side by side? If not, how far apart should they be. Are some friendlier than others? According to a study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), impacts to bird communities from a single rural, exurban residence can extend up to 200 meters into the surrounding forest. The study also determined that sensitive bird species such as the hermit thrush and scarlet tanager prefer unbroken forests with no houses. Others, like the blue jay and black-capped chickadee, seem to like having, and often thrive with, human neighbors.

Blink and you'll miss it: how species are being lost before they're even found. Environmental News Network, Tony Whitten. February 25, 2013.Asia's karst landscapes are yielding new biological discoveries at an astonishing rate, yet the majority of species found here remain unknown (and unloved) by the wider world. With limestone quarrying (for the cement industry) threatening these fragile ecosystems, is there anything we can do to stem the tide of unnoticed extinctions?

Six tanks leaking at Hanford nuclear site. Environmental News Service. February 23, 2013.Six single-shell containment tanks are leaking highly radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Site in south-central Washington state, Energy Department officials have discovered.....Two-thirds of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste is stored at Hanford, a 586 square-mile site located on the Columbia River. Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup.

Tracing individual particulate pollutants. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. February 22, 2013. Air borne particulates come from both natural and man made sources. Their effects are similar from a health and esthetic point of view. Particle size is even more important. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have, for the first time, developed a system that can determine which types of air particles that pollute the atmosphere are the most prevalent and most toxic. Previous research has shown that air pollution containing fine and ultrafine particles is associated with asthma, heart disease and premature death. This new study, released today by the California Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute, marks the first time that researchers have conducted source-oriented sampling of these particles in the atmosphere. - See more at: http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/45635#sthash.lLcJU8ys.dpuf

Stress makes organic tomatoes more nutritious, sweeter. Environmental News Network, Jeremy Hance. February 22, 2013. Organic tomatoes are sweeter (more sugar) and more nutritious (more vitamin C and anti-oxidants) than tomatoes grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, according to a new study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. The scientists theorize that stress (lower mineral availability) may be why organic farming produces a more nutritious and tastier tomato.

Latin America analysis: Deforestation dropping in the Amazon. Environmental News Network, Carla Almeida. February 21, 2013. In a year that was marked by bad news on the environmental front — the polar ice caps melting at an increasing rate, the decline in biodiversity, the failure to reach agreement on climate change, amongst other things — the release of data, at the end of 2012, showing a fall in deforestation in the Amazon, one of the most important biomes in the world, came as a relief.....According to estimates by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) — a Brazilian organization that conducts environmental surveillance programs in the region — 4,600 km2 of jungle, in Brazilian territory, were deforested between August 2011 and July 2012. This is a drop of 27 per cent, compared with the same period, a year before.

Renewable energy capacity fuels power growth in January. Environmental News Network, Thomas Schueneman. February 21, 2013. The latest Energy Infrastructure Update released yesterday by the Office of Energy Projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports that the US had 1,231 megawatts (MW) of new in-service generating capacity come online in January of 2013 — all of it from renewable sources including wind, solar and biomass. The new capacity for January represents a three-fold increase from the 431 MW of new renewable generating capacity that came online in January of 2012.

Air pollution and heart attacks. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. February 20, 2013. There are many forms of air pollution. There is no doubt that air pollution is not healthy. The uncertainty is at what level is it an acceptable risk. The one of concern in this study is the finest of particulate matter. The largest study yet to investigate the links between fine air-borne particulate matter (PM) and patient survival after hospital admission for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) found death rates increased with increased exposure to PM2.5 — tiny particles that measure 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less, approximately 30 times smaller than a human hair. The amount of PM in the air is measured as micrograms per cubic meter of air. The main sources of PM2.5 are emissions from road traffic and industry, including power generation.

The seas rise but the lands rise too. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. February 20, 2013. As the Arctic ice melts it will raise the sea level. But as it does it removes the enormous weight of the ice and the land will rise too in places, Sophisticated computer modelling has shown how sea-level rise over the coming century could affect some regions far more than others. The model shows that parts of the Pacific will see the highest rates of rise while some polar regions will actually experience falls in relative sea levels due to the ways sea, land and ice interact globally. Reporting in the journal Geophysical Research Letters researchers have looked ahead to the year 2100 to show how ice loss will continue to add to rising sea levels. Scientists have known for some time that sea level rise around the globe will not be uniform, but in this study the team of Ice2sea researchers show in great detail the global pattern of sea-level rise that would result from two scenarios of ice-loss from glaciers and ice sheets.

Clean coal finally a reality? Environmental News Network, J. David. February 19, 2013. A team of researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) spent the past 2 years developing a clean way of harnessing the power of coal and have recently found great success in their research scale combustion system. The team is now able to harness clean coal energy chemically without combustion with air, while capturing 99% of the carbon dioxide produced from the reaction. With the next stage in testing on the horizon, could this possibly be the future of coal?

Lead pollution better, but still an issue. Environmental News Network, UCal Santa Cruz. February 17, 2013. "Things have substantially improved with the virtual elimination of leaded gasoline, restrictions on lead paint, and other efforts to limit releases of industrial lead into the environment. But the historic legacy of lead pollution persists, and new inputs of industrial lead are adding to it," said A. Russell Flegal, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Environmental excellence in auto racing? Yes! Environmental News Network, Staff. February 15, 2013. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has become the world's first motor sport team to receive the FIA Institute's Environmental Award for the Achievement of Excellence. ....The award is part of a broader initiative between the FIA and the FIA Institute aimed at evaluating and reducing the environmental impact of motor sport. It is also the highest level attainable within the FIA Institute Sustainability Programme, which helps motor sport stakeholders to measure, improve and be recognised for their environmental performance.

Decline of the Arctic sea ice. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. February 14, 2013. New research using combined records of ice measurements from NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 satellite, airborne surveys and ocean-based sensors shows Arctic sea ice volume has declined 36 percent in the autumn and nine percent in the winter over the last decade. The work builds on previous studies using submarine and NASA satellite data, confirms computer model estimates that showed ice volume decreases over the last decade, and builds a foundation for a multiple decade record of sea ice volume changes.

Polar bears may need to be fed by humans. Environmental News Network, Ed Struzik. February 13, 2013. In a paper released this week, the world’s leading polar bear scientists say the time has come to consider drastic measures to save these iconic animals, including supplemental feeding by humans during ice-free periods and relocating more southerly populations to the High Arctic.

Money down the pump: Where does our gas money go? Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. February 12, 2013. According to a new report, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), explain exactly what our gas dollars actually goes to. In my case of a $50 fill up, the UCS show that $33 of my total went to crude oil, $20 of which went to private oil companies, and $13 to government-run oil companies, the remaining dollars to the gas station — a break-down that I would not have expected.

Wildflowers at risk from 'safe' levels of pollution. Environmental News Network, Richard Payne and Nancy Dise. February 11, 2013. Dr Richard Payne and Professor Nancy Dise, of Manchester Metropolitan University, together with colleagues at Lancaster University and the Open University, studied more than 100 individual plant species' reactions to nitrogen deposition at 153 grassland sites across Europe..... The scientists found that many species, particularly wildflowers such as creeping buttercup, harebell, yarrow, and autumn hawkbit, were much less abundant in areas with high nitrogen levels, such as central Britain, the Netherlands, northern Germany and Brittany. But particularly surprising was the discovery that many species declined at very low levels of pollution, often below the legally-recognised 'safe' level.

Corn shortage idles 20 ethanol plants nationwide. ABC News, Jim Salter (AP). February 10, 2013. The persistent drought is taking a toll on producers of ethanol, with corn becoming so scarce that nearly two dozen ethanol plants have been forced to halt production.....The Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol industry trade group, provided data to The Associated Press showing that 20 of the nation's 211 ethanol plants have ceased production over the past year, including five in January. Most remain open, with workers spending time performing maintenance-type tasks. But ethanol production won't likely resume until after 2013 corn is harvested in late August or September.

Midwest busineses will benefit from high-speed rail. NBC News, Jason Keysey. February 9, 2013. Hundreds of Midwest manufacturers stand to benefit from a web of high-speed passenger rail routes emerging from Chicago's rail hub, according to a report released by an environmental policy group that has fought to defend the use of billions in taxpayer money on such projects.....The report released Friday by the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center found that 460 manufacturers in seven Midwest states are poised to reap new business, along with a dozen more highly visible companies that make rail cars and locomotives. Those additional supply-chain manufacturers make everything from seats, couplers and bolts to ceiling panels, interior lighting and air horns. They also cut sheet metal, provide electronics and communications equipment, and supply track maintenance machinery.

REI Chief tapped for Interior Secretary. Environmental News Network, Harry Stevens. February 7, 2013. President Barack Obama nominated REI CEO Sally Jewell to be the next Secretary of the Interior....Jewell, who took over REI in 2005, has a record both as a successful businesswoman and a longtime conservation advocate. REI, which was founded in 1938, grew rapidly under Jewell's tenure, and the company today operates over 100 stores in around 30 states.

USDA reports on climate change effects and adaptation strategies for U. S. Agriculture and Forests. USDA Forest Service News Release. February 5, 2013....the agricultural report indicates increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, rising temperatures, and altered precipitation patterns will affect agricultural productivity. Climate change will exacerbate the stresses already occurring from weeds, insects, and disease. Increases in the incidence of extreme weather events will have an increasing influence on agricultural productivity. Over the next 25 years, the effects of climate change on agricultural production and economic outcomes for both producers and consumers in the United States are expected to be mixed, depending on regional conditions. Beyond 2050, changes are expected to include shifts in crop production areas, increases in pest control expenses, and greater disease prevalence. .....The forest sector report indicates that the most rapidly visible and significant short-term effects on forest ecosystems will be caused by fire, insects, invasive species, and combinations of multiple stressors. Wildfire is expected to increase throughout the United States, causing at least a doubling of area burned by the mid-21st century.

McDonald's opts for sustainable fish. Environmental News Network, Amelia Timbers. February 4, 2013.Last week, McDonald's exhibited bold leadership by agreeing to shift their entire seafood supply-chain to Marine Stewardship Council-approved fish. This assures that fish products from McDonald's will now be sourced from stocks that are sustainable, well-managed and environmentally sound. This amazing move signifies a leap forward for both the labeling model promoted by the Marine Stewardship Council, and for the McDonald's brand.

January 2013

Polluted air linked to poor birth outcomes, early deaths. Environmental News Service. January 31, 2012. Long-term exposure to fine particles of pollutants in the air can trigger adverse birth outcomes, childhood respiratory diseases and atherosclerosis, the World Health Organization warned today.

Poll: Cleaner gasoline, vehicles endorsed by U.S. voters. Environmental News Service. January 31, 2013. ....Pollsters found that nearly two-thirds of respondents support strengthening standards that limit sulfur in gasoline and tighten the limits on tailpipe emissions from new vehicles....Voter support of stronger air pollution standards was found to persist across partisan, gender, racial, and geographic lines.

Caribbean's coral reefs approach tipping point. Science News, Rachel Ehrenberg. January 28, 2013. Reefs in the Caribbean are experiencing a budget crisis: Corals’ production of calcium carbonate — their bony material that creates reefs — is way down, a 16-month-long investigation finds. Shallow-water reefs are in especially bad shape, with growth rates that are 30 to 40 percent of historical values. Many of these shallow sites also lack Acropora species, which are key reef-building corals that typically produce a lot of carbonate. These degraded reefs also have a lot of smothering seaweed and few critters to graze upon it, the study of 19 sites found.

Nicholas Stern: " I got it wrong on climate change - it's far, far worse". The Observer, Heather Stewart and Larry Elliott. January 26, 2013. The Stern review, published in 2006, pointed to a 75% chance that global temperatures would rise by between two and three degrees above the long-term average; he now believes we are "on track for something like four ". Had he known the way the situation would evolve, he says, "I think I would have been a bit more blunt. I would have been much more strong about the risks of a four- or five-degree rise."

West Antarctica warming fast. Science News, Alexandra Witze. January 26, 2013.From 1958 to 2010, the average temperature at the mile-high Byrd station rose by 2.4 degrees Celsius, researchers report online December 23 in Nature Geoscience. That warming is nearly twice what earlier, indirect studies had suggested.

Human-made waste heat warms climate. Science News, Erin Wayman. January 25, 2013. The waste heat generated by car engines, power plants, home furnaces and other fossil fuel-burning machinery plays an unappreciated role in influencing regional climates, new computer simulations suggest. By altering atmospheric circulation, human-made heat may raise temperatures by as much as 1 degree Celsius during winter in the northernmost parts of the world.

Obama signals new focus on climate change. Tribune Washington Bureau, Neela Banerjee and Christi Parsons. January 24, 2013.In discussing the urgency of climate change before a national audience, the president elevated the issue into the top tier of second-term priorities that include fiscal reform, gun control and immigration reform. "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," he said Monday. "Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more-powerful storms."

Pacific Bluefin Tuna population down 96%. Environmental News Service. January 24, 2013. Pacific bluefin tuna numbers have dropped 96.4 percent from unfished levels due to decades of overfishing, finds a new stock assessment, prompting conservationists to call for a moratorium on the fishery....Like the closely related Atlantic bluefin and southern bluefin, the Pacific bluefin is a commercially valuable species and several thousand tonnes are caught each year.....Fishermen from Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and the United States all fish Pacific bluefin, but about 80 percent of the Pacific bluefin caught are consumed in Japan.

Presence of trees may mitigate cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Monga Bay, Jeremy Hance. January 17, 2013. Scientists with the U.S. Forest Service have observed a link between human health and trees, implying that trees may actually mitigate both cardiovascular and lower respiratory disease. Although the researchers do not yet put forward a reason why or how the presence of trees save lives, they are convinced there is a link, according to their new paper published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

NASA satellite images reveal dramatic increase in air pollution over China. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. January 16, 2013.NASA's Terra satellite acquired natural-color images of northeastern China on January 3 and January 14, highlighting a drastic shift in air quality for the region. According to the images, the opaque, gray areas are clouds or fog, which are saturated with a gray or yellow tint as a result from the air pollution. Areas that are cloud-free appear gray and brown as a result from the smog that hides the cities below. Residual snow is also noted in the images...At the time that the January 14 image was taken by satellite, sensors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported PM2.5 measurements of 291 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This is over ten times the level of which the World Health Organization considers to be safe.

Bee politics: interacting with wild bees makes honey bees better pollinators. Environmental Network News, Andy Soos. January 15, 2013. Honey bees are more effective at pollinating almonds when other species of bees are present, says an international research team in ground-breaking research just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The research, which took place in California's almond orchards in Yolo, Colusa and Stanislaus counties, could prove invaluable in increasing the pollination effectiveness of honey bees, as demand for their pollination service grows. When blue orchard bees and wild bees are foraging in almonds with honey bees, the behavior of honey bees changes, resulting in more effective crop pollination, said lead author Claire Brittain. Wild bees include non-managed bees such as bumble bees, carpenter bees and sweat bees.

Big wave energy test center sited at Newport, Oregon. Environmental News Service. January 15, 2013.The new facility, called the Pacific Marine Energy Center, will test energy generation potential and the environmental impacts of wave energy devices, at an ocean site about five miles from shore....Subsea cables will transmit energy from the wave energy devices to the local power grid, and data to scientists and engineers at on-shore facilities.

Ozone "sink" in south Atlantic helps reduce GHGs. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. January 14, 2013. Scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Science and the Universities of York and Leeds discovered up to 50% of Ozone in the lower atmosphere of the south Atlantic was being broken down and taking methane with it. Ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gase (GHG), so a reduction in this ozone and in methane means an overall reduction in GHGs. The ozone appears to be broken down by bromine and iodine oxides produced by sea spray and phytoplankton. A good news story for now, one of the study's authors warns that only a small introduction of nitrogen oxide pollution carried by trade winds could tip the balance in the other direction.

California turns its carbon market dream into reality. Triple Pundit, Emilie Mazzacurati. January 14, 2013. Currently California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) are trading for about $15 a ton on the secondary market. Point Carbon reported a big spike in volume traded since January 1st, as a lot of new companies have entered the markets and are cutting their teeth on West Coast-style carbon trading.....The Governor’s California budget, released on January 10, shows that the state expects to raise $200 million for budget year 2012- 2013, and $400 million the following year. Auctions let private companies buy allowances directly from the state. As explained in an earlier post, the permits auctioned have a minimum (reserve) price of $10.71 per ton, but in reality those permits could sell for a higher price if a lot of compliance entities decide to buy allowances rather than reduce their emissions.

Draft Climate Assessment Report released. National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee. January 11, 2013.The NCADAC is 13 federal agencies working to empower the nation with global change science. From the executive summary: climate change is already affecting Americans' health, livilihoods and ecosystems. The change are part of the pattern of global climate change which is primarily driven by human activity.

Up to half of global food production wasted. Environment News Service. January 11. 2013. Four billion tonnes of food a year are produced globally. Yet, due to poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, between 30 and 50 percent of all food produced each year never feeds a human being, finds a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, a registered British charity.

West African lions nearing extinction. ARKive, Liz Shaw. January 10, 2013. The report, by conservation group LionAid, says that as few as 645 lions may now remain in the wild in western and central Africa, following a worrying decline in recent years. This decline has been mirrored across Africa, with estimates suggesting that only around 15,000 wild lions remain across the whole continent, compared to about 200,000 a few decades ago. This iconic species is now extinct in 25 African countries, and virtually extinct in another 10.

BPA in plastics and aluminum cans linked to heart and kidney disease. Environmental News Network, David. A. Gabel. January 10, 2013. New scientific data has been released linking a chemical commonly found in plastic bottles and inside aluminum cans to a biomarker for higher risk of heart and kidney disease in children and adolescents. The chemical, known as bisphenol A (BPA) is used to provide an anti-septic function to the liquids and food products it contains. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently banned the chemical, but it is still widely used in aluminum cans.

Mercury managment strategies. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. January 10, 2013. International negotiators will come together next week in Geneva, Switzerland for the fifth and final meeting to address global environmental controls on mercury. Ahead of the negotiations, researchers from MIT and Harvard University are calling for aggressive emissions reductions and clear public health advice to reduce the risks of mercury.

Australia reels from record heatwave, fires. Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. January 9, 2013. Yesterday Australia recorded its highest average temperature yet: 40.33 degrees Celsius (104.59 Fahrenheit). The nation has been sweltering under an unprecedented summer heatwave that has spawned wildfires across the nation, including on the island of Tasmania where over 100 houses were engulfed over the weekend. Temperatures are finally falling slightly today, providing a short reprieve before they are expected to rise again this weekend.

Invading species can extinguish native plants. University of Toronto Press Room. January 9, 2013. Ecologists at the University of Toronto and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) have found that, given time, invading exotic plants will likely eliminate native plants growing in the wild despite recent reports to the contrary.... "The impacts of exotic plant invasions often take much longer to become evident than previously thought,” says Benjamin Gilbert of U of T’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and lead author of the study. “This delay can create an ‘extinction debt’ in native plant species, meaning that these species are slowly going extinct but the actual extinction event occurs hundreds of years after the initial invasion.”

Global Risks 2013 Report. World Economic Forum. January 8, 2013. This years report identifies three cases or factors that could undermine global well being. 1) Testing Economic and Environmental Resilience: on the economic front, global resilience is being tested by bold monetary and austere fiscal policies, on the environmental front by rising global temperatures and extreme weather events that are likely to become more frequent and severe; 2) Digital Wildfires in a Hypter Connecte World: think 1938's War of the Worlds and the paranoia and confusion it created in listeners who missed the radio show's introduction. Now imagine that scenario in today's hyperconnected society; 3) The Dangers of Hubris on Human Health: the loss of effectiveness of antibiotics. Also, a special report on National Resilience and a chapter on X factors from nature and 5 emerging game changers: runaway climate change, significant cognitive enhancement, rogue deployment of geoengineering, costs of living longer, discovery of alien life (for real)

New doubt cast on link between global warming and increased drought. Environmental News Network, David A. Gabel. January 7, 2013. The seemingly increasing prevalence of droughts has some announcing the effects of climate change coming to fruition. However, a new study from researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey and the Australian National University in Canberra has cast doubt on this premise. Their work indicates that the development of drought is much more complex than formerly believed and that recent droughts were more an aberration than an overall drying trend.

New connection links Parkinson's with pesticide exposure. Environmental News Service, David A. Gabel. January 4, 2013. Scientific evidence already has connected pesticide exposure with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease. Chemicals like paraquat, maneb, and ziram, commonly found in pesticides have been found in farmworkers and others living and working near the fields, and are tied to an increase in the disease. New research has identified another chemical from pesticides, benomyl, that is linked to Parkinson's. The toxic effects of benomyl are still found in the environment, even 10 years after the chemical was banned by the EPA. This chemical triggers a series of cellular events leading to Parkinson's.

Natural relationship between CO2 concentrations and sea level documented. Science Daily. January 2, 2013. By comparing reconstructions of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and sea level over the past 40 million years, researchers based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton have found that greenhouse gas concentrations similar to the present (almost 400 parts per million) were systematically associated with sea levels at least nine metres above current levels.

December 2012

Annual bird counts give scientists climate clues. Associated Press, Ramit Plushnick-Masti. December 31, 2012. The annual counts, begun in 1900, now number 2200 groups across the Western Hemisphere. Changes in the midwest and other parts of the country reflect this year'd drought. More seriously, a 40% decline in numbers over the past 40 years shows impacts of habitat loss and climate change.

11 Billion dollar weather events hit US in 2012. Environmental News Service, News Editor. December 31, 202. In 2012, the United States experienced 11 extreme weather and climate events that cost more than $1 billion in losses, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climactic Data Center....NOAA counts seven severe weather and tornado events, two tropical storm or hurricane events, and the year-long drought and associated wildfires....These 11 events combined are believed to have caused 349 deaths.

Sustainable aviation on the horizon. Clean Techies via Environmental News Network. December 28, 2012. In 2010 NASA launched its N+3 initiative which awarded four major airlines extensive funds to research, design and develop more environmentally friendly aircraft. Lockheed Martin, MIT, GE Aviation and Boeing have been charged with the challenge to create a commercial plane that would expend 75% less emissions and consume 70% less fuel. Not a small undertaking but significant progress has already been made, especially by Boeing who have a promising hybrid aircraft in development stage.

China's corals fall to "wicked environmental problems". Environmental News Service, Editor. December 28, 2012. China’s coral reefs have declined by 80 percent in the past three decades, destroyed by the consequences of economic development, finds a new international scientific study....The corals of the South China Sea region cover an area of 30,000 square kilometers, have high conservation values, and support the livelihoods of tens of thousands of fishers.

Lisa Jackson departs the EPA. Triple Pundit via Environmental News Network, R.P. Siegel. December 28, 2012. EPA chief Lisa Jackson announced yesterday that she will be leaving her position as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. She said she has discussed her departure with the President and will step down after the January inauguration.

Average temperatures in west antarctica showmarked rise over 54 years. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. December 24, 2012. Global average temperatures are rising in most places, but the rise is not uniform. In western Antarctica, temperatures have risen significantly over an extended period. In a finding that raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise, a new study by the University of Colorado University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder finds that the western part of the continent's ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought.

EPA finalizes clean air standards for boilers and incinerators, makes progress in protecting public health. Environmental News Network, Editor. December 21, 2012. ...The final adjustments to the standards are based on an analysis of data and input from states, environmental groups, industry, lawmakers and the public. As a result, the final rule dramatically cuts the cost of implementation by individual boilers that EPA proposed in 2010. At the same time, these rules will continue to deliver significant public health benefits. EPA estimates that for every dollar spent to reduce these pollutants, the public will see $13 to $29 in health benefits, including fewer instances of asthma, heart attacks, as well as premature deaths.

Ice sheets at both poles are losing ice at an increasing rate. Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. December 21, 2012. The ice loss in the Arctic and and in the Antarctic is accelerating, according to a new study by an international team of experts supported by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). This team has combined data from multiple satellites and aircraft to produce the most comprehensive and accurate assessment to date of ice sheet losses in Greenland and Antarctica and their contributions to sea level rise.

In the midwest, bringing back native prairires yard by yard. Yale 360. Rebecca Kessler. December 20, 2012. ...Government agencies and conservation groups, aided by volunteers, have undertaken numerous restoration projects across U.S. and Canadian prairieland, some of them thousands of acres in scale. In recent years a cadre of private citiz567890ens has joined in, restoring prairie to their own properties, from city yards up to 100 acres or more around rural homes and farms. In some cases they’ve re-created prairie where it never was before — on land that was originally forest or wetlands before settlers plowed it for crops.

Peel and Stick Solar Panels. Stanford University Press Release, Glen Martin. December 19, 2012. For all their promise, solar cells have frustrated scientists in one crucial regard – most are rigid. They must be deployed in stiff and often heavy fixed panels, limiting their applications. So researchers have been trying to get photovoltaics to loosen up. The ideal: flexible, decal-like solar panels that can be peeled off like band-aids and stuck to virtually any surface, from papers to window panes. ..... Now the ideal is real. Stanford researchers have succeeded in developing the world’s first peel-and-stick thin-film solar cells. The advance is described in a paper in the December 20th issue of Scientific Reports.

Study proclaims the arrival of peak farmland. Environmental News Network, David A. Gabel. Decemeber 18, 2012. Peak Farmland is a term used to indicate that the amount of land needed to grow crops worldwide is at a peak, meaning, no new farmland will have to be created. A group of experts has even said that an existing area of farmland more than twice the size of France will be able to return to its natural state by the year 2060. The area is also equivalent to all the arable land now in use in China. This is due to rising yields and slower population growth. Their report conflicts with a United Nations study which states that more cropland will be needed to stem hunger and avert price spikes as the global population pushes past 7 billion.

EPA reviews PM 2.5 standards, expects counties to comply by 2020. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. December 14, 2012. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an update to its national air quality standards for PM2.5 today, setting the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. PM2.5 is the term used for particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers (which is approximately 1/30th of the width of a human hair). It is a harmful fine particle pollutant that comes from wood burning, soot, power plants, and motor vehicles.

Good luck, Kihansi spray toad! Environmental News Network, Roger Greenway. December 12, 2012. This is an historic achievement! For the first time, an amphibian species, the Kihansi spray toad, that had been declared extinct in nature has been kept alive in a zoo, bred in captivity, and been re-introduced in the wild.

Green Schools: Long on promise, short on delivery. USA Today, Thomas Frank. December 11, 2012. The Houston Independent School District took a big step in 2007 toward becoming environmentally friendly by designing two new schools to meet a coveted "green" standard set by a private-builders' group....The nation's seventh-largest school district added features such as automated light sensors and a heat-reflecting roof, in hopes of minimizing energy use.....But the schools are not operating as promised.....Thompson Elementary ranked 205th out of 239 Houston schools in a report last year for the district that showed each school's energy cost per student. Walnut Bend Elementary ranked 155th. A third "green" school, built in 2010, ranked 46th in the report, which a local utility did for the district to find ways of cutting energy costs.

2012 marks extraordinary year for US wildfires. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. December 11, 2012. The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) is the nation's support center for wild land firefighting and provides up-to-date reports on current forest fires. While the NIFC has been collecting data for the past 50 years, records maintained by the center and by NASA both indicate that 2012 was an extraordinary year for wildfires in the United States.

20-Year-Old report successfully predicted warming. Yahoo Live Science, Wynne Parry. December 9, 2012. Time has proven that even 22 years ago climate scientists understood the dynamics behind global warming well enough to accurately predict warming, says an analysis that compares predictions in 1990 with 20 years of temperature records.....The accuracy of the 1990 predictions is notable because scientists, 22 years ago, relied on much more simplistic computer models than those now used to simulate the future, said one of the researchers behind the current analysis, Dáithí Stone, now a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

At Doha climate talks, modest results at best. NPR, Richard Harris. December 7, 2012. This is the 18th round of climate talks. One new issue on the table this year is a question of how rich countries should help poor countries respond to climate-related disasters....."There must be a mechanism of really addressing this issue," said Pa Ousman Jarju, a diplomat from Gambia who speaks on behalf of some of the world's poorest nations. "We have heard in the news, in the United States they are mobilizing over 80 billion U.S. dollars for Hurricane Sandy," he said. But many nations in the world simply don't have the resources to cope with disasters of that magnitude.....So the world's poor countries say there should be a special fund created to deal with losses and damage caused by typhoons and droughts. No big surprise — the countries that would be expected to fill those coffers are not so interested in creating a new fund.

Arctic report card 2012. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. December 7, 2012. A major finding of the Report Card 2012 is that numerous record-setting melting events occurred, even though, with the exception of a few limited episodes, Arctic-wide it was an unremarkable year, relative to the previous decade, for a primary driver of melting - surface air temperatures. From October 2011 through August 2012, positive (warm) temperature anomalies were relatively small over the central Arctic compared to conditions in recent years (2003-2010). Yet, in spite of these relatively moderate conditions, new records were set for sea ice extent, terrestrial snow extent, melting at the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, and permafrost temperature.

The race for developing plant-based renewable plastics. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. December 6, 2012. In March of 2010, PepsiCo announced the world's first PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable plant-based resources ensuring production of a new 100% recyclable bottle in 2012. PET plastics are typically labeled with the #1 code near the bottom of the containers and are commonly used for soft drinks, salad dressings, water, etc. Once the pilot production is complete, the company intends to move to full-scale commercialization....In order to keep up, Coca-Cola responded last December by announcing a partnership with three leading biotechnology companies to accelerate development of the first commercial solutions for next-generation bottles made 100% from plant-based raw materials.

Obama invests $120 million in battery research hub. Environmental News Service, News Editor. December 5, 2012. A team led by Argonne National Laboratory will receive up to $120 million to establish a research Hub for advanced batteries to power electric and hybrid cars and develop energy storage technologies for the electricity grid....Advancing next generation battery and energy storage technologies is a critical part of President Barack Obama’s strategy to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and lower energy costs.

Milling chemicals with no solvents. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. December 4, 2012.Traditionally new chemicals are made within a solvent solution. This aids in the active chemicals reaching one another. Solvents are flammable and often pose other hazards, For the first time, scientists have studied a milling reaction in real time, using highly penetrating X-rays to observe the surprisingly rapid transformations as the mill mixed, ground, and transformed simple ingredients into a complex product. This research, reported Dec. 2 in Nature Chemistry, promises to advance scientists' understanding of processes central to the pharmaceutical, metallurgical, cement and mineral industries — and could open new opportunities in green chemistry and environmentally friendly chemical synthesis.

November 2012

Earth on acid: the present and future of global acidification. Geological Society of America Meeting Abstract, Karen Rice and Janet Herman, November 5, 2012. We examined anthropogenic activities that cause acidification of Earth’s air, waters, and soils, based upon an extensive literature review, compilation of data, and development of maps. We elucidated the underlying biogeochemical reactions and assessed the magnitude of the effects due to acidification resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels and smelting of ores, mining of coal and metal ores, and application of nitrogen fertilizer to soils.

New Emperor Penguin colonies found in Antarctica. Science Daily. November 8, 2012. "While about 2500 chicks of emperor penguins are raised this year at the colony close to the French Dumont d'Urville Station, two new colonies totalling 6000 chicks have just been observed about 250 km away, near Mertz Glacier by the scientists Dr André Ancel and Dr Yvon Ancel, from the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien in Strasbourg (CNRS and Université de Strasbourg). Since a pair of emperor penguins may only successfully raise one chick a year, the population of breeding emperor penguins in this area of the Antarctic can therefore be estimated to more than about 8500 pairs, about three fold that previously thought."

Scientists fear extinction of Arabica coffee in the wild by 2080. Triple Pundit, Leon Kaye. November 9, 2012. Scientists at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens "ran a series of analyses to gauge the future of Arabica coffee production in a world affected by climate change. The results showed that by 2080, the most favorable outcome would be that the world would suffer a 38 percent reduction in land suitable for coffee production–but the worst case scenario was a 99.7 percent reduction, which would effectively wipe out wild Arabica plants....The team then traveled to the Boma Plateau region in South Sudan, a region where coffee cultivation has endured for centuries. The area had already undergone dramatic change, from deforestation to land clearing for agriculture. Compared to earlier studies, the Boma Plateau had suffered environmental degradation, with reduced seedlings, a lower frequency of flowering and fruiting and finally, a decrease in mature pants. Add the fact that coffee has risen in price in recent years because of poor harvests yet continued increased demand, and the long term prospects for coffee could become very grim."

World Energy Outlook 2012. International Energy Agency. November 12, 2012. WEO-2012 presents in-depth analysis of several topical issues, such as: the benefits that could be achieved if known best technologies and practices to improve energy efficiency were systematically adopted; the dependence of energy on water, including the particular vulnerabilities faced by the energy sector in a more water-constrained future; how the surge in unconventional oil and gas production in the United States is set to have implications well beyond North America; and a detailed country focus on Iraq, examining both its importance in satisfying the country’s own needs and its crucial role in meeting global oil and gas demand. Furthermore, it analyses the implications of energy trends on climate change, quantifies the cost of subsidies to fossil fuels and renewables, which are both coming under closer scrutiny in this age of austerity, and presents measures of progress towards providing universal access to modern energy services. download executive summary here

Streams affected by even the earliest stages of urban development. USGS Circular 1373, James F. Coles et al. November 14, 2012. In response to general concerns about the degradation of urban streams, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a national-scale, scientific investigation of the effects of urban development on nine metropolitan study areas -Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Boston, Massachusetts; Denver, Colorado; Dallas, Texas; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Results found that no single environmental factor was universally important in explaining why the health of streams decline as levels of urban development increase. However, results also showed that sensitive invertebrate s were affected even at low levels of development.

BP pleads guilty to criminal charges in Gulf oil spill. Environmental News Service. November 16, 2012. "Oil giant BP has agreed to pay the U.S. government more than $4 billion to settle criminal charges stemming from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico......Today in New Orleans the Justice Department charged BP with 14 criminal actions including, 11 counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony obstruction of Congress, and violations of the Clean Water and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began in April 2010."

Scientists pioneer method to predict environmental collapse. Science Daily. November 19, 2012. Researchers at the University of Southampton applied a mathematical model to a real world situation, the environmental collapse of a lake in China, to help prove a theory which suggests an ecosystem 'flickers', or fluctuates dramatically between healthy and unhealthy states, shortly before its eventual collapse.

Globally averaged temperature for October 2012 fifth warmest. Environmental News Network, Andy Soos. November 21, 2012." The globally-averaged temperature for October 2012 was the fifth warmest October since record keeping began in 1880. October 2012 also marks the 36th consecutive October and 332nd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average....The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October tied with 2008 as the fifth highest for October on record, at 58.23°F (14.63°C) or 1.13°F (0.63°C) above the 20th century average. The margin of error associated with this temperature is ±0.22°F (0.12°C)." from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/

Forests worldwide near tipping-point from drought. Mongabay. November 23, 2012. "Forests worldwide are at "equally high risk" to die-off from drought conditions, warns a new study published this week in the journal Nature....The study, conducted by an international team of scientists, assessed the specific physiological effects of drought on 226 tree species at 81 sites in different biomes around the world. It found that 70 percent of the species sampled are particularly vulnerable to reduction in water availability. With drought conditions increasing around the globe due to climate change and deforestation, the research suggests large swathes of the world's forests — and the services they afford — may be approaching a tipping point". Brendan Choat et al. Global convergence in the vulnerability of forests to drought. Nature (2012) doi:10.1038/nature11688

Sea-level rise outpaces expert predictions. Environmental News Network, David Gabel. November 28, 2012. "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected an annual sea level rise last year in 2011 of 2 millimeters per year. According to new satellite data, there appears to be a stark difference between their projections and reality. Sea-levels are rising 60 percent faster than predicted, at a rate of 3.2 millimeters per year. Global temperatures, on the other hand, are continuing to rise at the consistent pace which IPCC predicted. The study shows that the increased rate in sea-level rise is not significantly affected by internal variability in Earth's climate system, but is rather reflective of a general trend." Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011. Environmental Research Letters

Human-caused climate change signal emerges from the noise. Science Daily. November 29, 2012." By comparing simulations from 20 different computer models to satellite observations, Lawrence Livermore climate scientists and colleagues from 16 other organizations have found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities." Scientists found cooling in the lower stratosphere, and warming in the troposphere. "No known mode of natural climate variability can cause sustained, global-scale warming of the troposphere and cooling of the lower stratosphere."

Gulf of Mexico clean-up makes 2010 spill 52-times more toxic Science Daily. November 30, 2012. Research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes (UAA), Mexico found that the oil-dispersant mixture significantly increased the mortality and egg hatching of rotifers, commonly used for testing because of their sensitivity, the ease of rearing and their importance at the base of the marine food chain.

At UN Climate Talks, researchers identify "Big Facts" on how food is driving - and is driven by - climate change. Environmental News Network, Editor. November 30, 2012. "It is well understood that climate change has an enormous impact on what we can grow and eat. Conversely, the global food system—from production to transportation and refrigeration—emits up to a third of human-generated greenhouse gases. But with so much information about climate change available, it's difficult to know what the key facts are," said Sonja Vermeulen, the head of research at CCAFS and leader of the "Big Facts" initiative. "We scoured the latest research to identify the best and most current scientific knowledge. The result is a set of need-to-know facts that quickly and accurately crystalize the undeniable relationship between climate change and food security." ..... Big Facts; Whare Agriculture and Climate Change Meet. Infographics on food demand, agriculture emissions, climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation.

Study finds multiple pollutants in women can be passed on babies. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. November 30, 2012." In an analysis of data on over three thousand women, Brown University researchers concluded that all but 17.3 percent of the women aged 16 to 49 were at or above the median blood level for one or more of hese chemicals (like lead, mercury and PCBs), which can then passed to fetuses and babies." Concentrations increased with age and the amount of fish in the diet. The effect of the chemicals on babies was not explored in this study.

U.S. proposes federal protection for 66 coral species. Environmental News Service. November 30, 2012. "Sixty-six species of coral in U.S. waters should be protected under the Endangered Species Act because global warming, disease and ocean acidification are pushing them toward extinction, the federal government proposed today....Of the 66 corals covered in NOAA’s proposed rule, seven live in Florida and the Caribbean. In these waters, five corals would be listed as endangered and two as threatened....The other 59 species proposed for protection live in the Pacific, including Hawaii. In the Pacific, seven species would be listed as endangered and 52 as threatened."

CO2 reduces productivity of dwarf varieites, with implications for food supply. Science Daily. November 30.2012. Increased CO2 mimicked the effects of growth hormone gibberellic acid in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, causing it to grow like control plants. This may be the explanation for the decline in yields of IR8, a dwarf variety of rice that used to yield more than conventional varieties, but whose yields have gone down by 15%. Dwarf varieties are bred and widely used because the products of photosynthesis are diverted into grain production instead of stem growth, increasing the average yield of a plant. Increased CO2 levels may increase plant growth, but paradoxically, may have negative effects on grain production.

October 2012

The Connection between climate change and hurricane Sandy. Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. October 29, 2012. "The sea surface temperatures along the Atlantic coast have been running at over 3C above normal for a region extending 800km off shore all the way from Florida to Canada. Global warming contributes 0.6C to this," writes climatologist Kevin Trenberth in an article today in The Conversation. "With every degree C, the water holding of the atmosphere goes up 7%, and the moisture provides fuel for the tropical storm, increases its intensity, and magnifies the rainfall by double that amount compared with normal conditions."

Smartphone aps allowusers to see critical environmental issues. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. October 29, 2012. Collins Geo, a cartographic team of UK-based developers has created an interactive app that enables users to explore global data on several critical issues, including how human populations are impacting the natural world and the production and consumption of energy resources.

Ozone hole at smallest size in decades. Science News, Erin Wayman. October 26, 2012. There’s good news from Antarctica this fall: The seasonal hole in the ozone layer above the continent reached its smallest maximum extent and second smallest average in 20 years thanks to warm air temperatures.

Gulf stream might be releasing seafloor methane. Science News, Tanya Lewis. October 24, 2012. While it’s no ice-nine, a frozen form of methane trapped in ocean sediments could be cause for concern. Warm Gulf Stream waters off the east coast of North America are converting large amounts of the substance into methane gas, which could lead to underwater landslides and influence global climate.

Air conditioning consumes 1/3 of peak electric consumption in the summer. Science Daily, October 23, 2012. Air conditioning in homes may account for up to one third of electricity use during periods in the summer when the most energy is required in large cities, according to a study carried out by Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spanish National Research Council -- CSIC). The research attempts to determine not only the amount of energy that is consumed, but also its environmental impact.

World's worst pollution problems: 2012. Environmental News Service. October 23, 2012. Two nonprofit organizations – the New York-based Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland – today issued a report detailing their findings from the past year of research on thousands of polluted sites in dozens of low-income and middle-income countries.In order: lead acid battery recycling, lead smelting, mining and ore processing, tannery oprations, industrial dump sites, municipal dump sites, artisanal gold mining, product manufacturing, chemical manufacturing and the dye industry

Decline in salt marshes in US caused by increased nutrient levels. Environmental News Network, David A. Gable, October 19, 2012. A new report from the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA postulates that the cause of the decline (in salt marshes) is due to excess nutrients seeping into the marshes. These nutrients from sewer systems and lawn fertilizers, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, have been shown to cause salt marsh loss.

One in eight people suffer from malnutrition. Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. October 16, 2012.
In a world where technology has advanced to a point where I can instantly have a face-to-face conversation via online video with a friend in Tokyo, nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, still suffer from malnutrition, according to a new UN report. While worldwide hunger declined from 1990 to 2007, progress was slowed by the global economic crisis. Over the last few years, numerous and record-breaking extreme weather events have also taken tolls on food production. Currently, food prices hover just below crisis levels.

Gulf Stream Diversion. Environmental News Network. October 12, 2012. At a meeting with New England commercial fishermen last December, physical oceanographers Glen Gawarkiewicz and Al Plueddemann from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) were alerted by three fishermen about unusually high surface water temperatures and strong currents on the outer continental shelf south of New England. The result of his investigation was a discovery that the Gulf Stream diverged well to the north of its normal path beginning in late October 2011, causing the warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures along the New England continental shelf.

Increased Rainfall Causes Drop in Sea Level? Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. October 12, 2012. Current perception of climate change leads us to believe that sea levels are constantly rising due to thermal expansion and melting ice caps. However, from the beginning of 2010 until mid-2011, the average level of the world's oceans dropped by 0.2 inches. According to a recent study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, this sea level decline was due to an increase in the amount of rainfall in Australia, northern South America and Southeast Asia.


Banana fibre can fix marine oil spills, says study. Science and Development Network, Archita Bhatta. October 12, 2012. Fibre from the stem of the banana plant can efficiently absorb oil spills that pollute coasts and threaten marine life says a new study by Indian researchers. Banana fibre, when treated with certain chemicals, can absorb up to 18 times their weight of oil, according to the study published last month (16 September) in the online journal, Carbohydrate Polymers.

Anthropogenic Methane Traced Back 2,000 Years. Environmental News Network, Allison Winter. October 11, 2012. A new study suggests that human have been producing traceable amounts of atmospheric methane earlier than thought. The results will challenge global warming predictions, because what was assumed to be 'natural' levels of methane, have in fact been inflated by human activities since Roman times. An international team of researchers looked at carbon isotopes in methane trapped in air bubbles from Arctic ice cores, to reveal the different levels and concentrations of methane.

Majority of Americans believe Climate Change is worsening extreme weather. Mongabay, Jeremey Hance. October 11, 2012. According to a new poll, 74 percent of Americans agree that climate change is impacting weather in the U.S., including 73 percent who agreed, strongly or somewhat, that climate change had exacerbated record high temperatures over the summer. The findings mean that a large majority of Americans agree with climatologists who in recent years have found increasingly strong evidence that climate change has both increased and worsened extreme weather events.

Top US court rejects Chevron's appeal in Ecuador pollution case. Environmental News Service. October 9, 2012. Chevron today lost its U.S. Supreme Court bid to block global enforcement of a $19 billion judgment by an Ecuadorean court in a long legal fight over contamination of the Amazon rainforest....The high court’s decision removes a hurdle for 30,000 people in rainforest indigenous and farmer communities as they try to seize billions of dollars of Chevron assets around the world to satisfy the judgment.

Sepetember 2012

Fish to shrink as global warming leaves them gasping for oxygen. Reuters > Yahoo, Alister Doyle. September 30, 2012. Average maximum body weights for 600 types of marine fish, such as cod, plaice, halibut and flounder, would contract by 14-24 percent by 2050 from 2000 under a scenario of a quick rise in greenhouse gas emissions, it said.

Atmospheric methane reductions (good news) due to capture of natural gas from oil fields. Natue>Science Daily>Environmental Network News. September 3, 2012. Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields probably accounts for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new UC Irvine research being published in the journal Nature.

Organic farming not necessarily better for environment. Environmental Network News, Scott Sincof. September 3, 2012. A comparative study of 71 reports on organic and conventional farming methods to be published by Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Unit finds that organic practices support biodiversity, some products - milk, pork, cereals - have higher GHG emissions per unit. The study author concludes that organic is not intrinsically better across the board.

Arctic summer sea ice decline seems irreversible. Yale Environment > Environmental Network News, Fen Montaigne, YE.. September 4, 2012. ....Peter Wadhams, who heads the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge and who has been measuring Arctic Ocean ice thickness from British Navy submarines, says that earlier calculations about Arctic sea ice loss have grossly underestimated how rapidly the ice is disappearing. He believes that the Arctic is likely to become ice-free before 2020 and possibly as early as 2015 or 2016 — decades ahead of projections made just a few years ago.

Biodiversity typically rises with warming, but not this time. Environmental News Network, David Gabel. September 4, 2012. According to a new study from the University of Leeds,the speed at which the climate is changing will cause biodiversity loss, unlike past incidents of warming. Some species die off, but others cannot fill the void because there is not enough time to evolve.

U.S. emissions reach 20-year low due to warm winter, reduced gasoline demand and switch from coal. World Watch Institute > Environmental News Network, Reese Rodgers WWI. September 6, 2012. CO2 emissions from energy consumption for the January-March period fell to 1.34 billion metric tons, down 8 percent from a year ago. While the depressed economy and rising renewable energy generation have contributed to emissions reductions in the past few years, the early 2012 low-point is due mainly to a combination of three factors: the relatively warm winter, reduced gasoline demand, and the continued decline in coal-fired electricity.

Climate change a mixed blessing for wheat. Science and Development Network > Environmental News Network, Li Jiao, SDN. September 7, 2012. India and Mexico can expect reduced wheat production, while production in places like northern China may increase. Wheat is likely to be the crop most severely affected by climate change. The underlying concern is the rise in global food prices, one of the factors that lead to the Arab spring.

Global groundwater use outpaces supply. Science News, Meghan Rosen. September 8, 2012. India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mexico, and the United States lead the global pack of water-thirsty nations, researchers report online August 8 in Nature. Irrigation for agriculture drives much of the demand, says hydrogeologist and study coauthor Tom Gleeson of McGill University in Montreal.

Extreme hot spells rising. Science News, Janet Raloff. September 8, 2012. Since the 1980s, that metaphorical die has increasingly become weighted toward delivering a warm day, Hansen and his coworkers report August 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In fact, Hansen says, since 2000 it’s as though on any roll almost 4.5 sides will draw hotter than average summer heat.....Hansen says the study also suggests that a new level of extreme heat is emerging “that almost never occurred 50 years ago.” Formerly striking about 0.2 percent of the Northern Hemisphere in any given summer, this degree of anomalous warmth now strikes about 10 percent of the land area. Within a decade, his data suggest, these hot spells could reach 16.7 percent of the hemisphere's summer weather.

Summer temps in lower 48 are 3rd highest in history. Environmental Network News, David A Gabel. September 10, 2012. Between June and August, the contiguous United States experienced its 3rd hottest summer. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average temperature around the lower 48 states was warmer than average in June and August, and set a new heat record for July. The average for the whole summer was 74.4 degrees F, 2.3 degrees above the 20th century average.

Study shows workers at "green" companies are more productive. Environmental News Network, David A Gabel. September 10, 2012. The study, conducted by UCLA, determined productivity by taking a company’s value added (aka profits), divided by the number of employees. This produced the average value of production per employee. After using this logarithm, they discovered a difference of one standard deviation, corresponding to 16 percent higher-than-average labor productivity in green companies....Tools used by managers of these companies include green certification. Sometimes this symbolic gesture for a workplace can be a boost to morale and productivity. The certification can also be used as a marketing tool and shown off to investors as an indicator of good management practices.

Deep water bacteris took a big bite out of oil spill. Environmental News Network, David A Gabel, September 12, 2012. A new study from the University of Rochester and Texas A&M found that for five months following the disaster, bacteria in the gulf consumed and removed at least 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas.

If corporations are people, then why not rivers? Triple Pundit > Environmental News Network, RP Siegle, TP. September 12, 2012. The Whanganui, New Zealand's third longest river, was determined, in a landmark decision, to be a person, "in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests." This should put to rest a longstanding dispute between the indigenous Maori iwi (group) of the Whanganui and the government.... The settlement establishes the river as a protected entity that both the government and the iwi will oversee.

Urban sprawl could doom biodiversity hot spots by 2030. Mongabay. September 17, 2012.City populations are expected to grow by five billion people and expand by 1.2 million square kilometers by 2030. Much of this expansion is forecast to occur in the tropics, which contain the bulk of the world's species.A new study by Yale, Texas A&M and Boston University attempts to quantify the impact of urbanization on the world's so-called "hotspots" — nearly three dozen areas with exceptionally high levels of species found no where else...."Africa and Europe are expected to have the highest percentages of AZE species to be affected by urban expansion, 30% and 33%, respectively," the authors write. "However, the Americas will have the largest number of species affected by urban expansion, 134, representing one quarter of all AZE species in the region."

Agriculture causes 80% of the world's deforestation. Mongabay. September 27, 2012. The report funded by British and Norwegian governments: "Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation" notes that industrial activities are the principal driver of deforestation and degradation worldwide, but subsistence agriculture and fuelwood consumption remains an important direct driver of deforestation, especially in Africa. Drivers vary on a regional scale. For example, cattle ranching and large-scale agriculture are major drivers of deforestation in Latin America, whereas palm oil development, intensive agriculture, and pulp and paper plantations are principal drivers in Indonesia.

IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) kicks-off "Green List" for fully conserved species. Mongabay, Jeremy Hance. September 27, 2012. Bummed by the Red List (endangered species)? The new Green List will cover conservation success stories.

August 2012

Utah officials open talks with outdoor trade groups. AP, Paul Fov. August 30, 2012. State officials said Wednesday they have opened discussions with an outdoor-recreation trade group that represents companies such as Patagonia and The North Face, after the organization threatened to pull lucrative biannual trade shows from Salt Lake City in a dispute over the fate of public lands.....Leaders of the 4,000-member-strong trade group are upset with Herbert's plans to sue the federal government for control of public lands. The Legislature has authorized lawsuits, with Utah officials looking to open more federal lands to motor vehicles and energy development.

Singapore students win Stockholm Junior Water Prize. World Water Week Organization, Lovisa Selander. August 29, 2012. The three 18 year olds from Singapore won the Stockholm Water Prize for their research on howclay can be used to remove and recover pollutants from wastewater. The compounds studies are so-called non-ionic surfactants, soap-like additives which are used in industry as well as in household detergents and cosmetic products. They are common pollutants of wastewater that are hard to remove and current techniques used to treat them produce hazardous sludge which is difficult to dispose of. Luigi Marshall Cham, Jun Yong NicholasLim and Tian Ting Carrie-Anne Ng have developed a method where bentonite clay is used to remove and recover the pollutants from the water without generation of any waste products. The clay is able to absorb up to 100% of the non-ionic surfactants and can then be flushed with alcohol, allowing the compounds to be reused.

China beats U.S. in installed wind power. Triple Pundit, Gina-Marie Cheeseman. August 28, 2012. China surpassed the U.S. this year to become the number one in the world for installed wind power generating capacity. In the last six years, installed wind power generating capacity in China increased from 2,000 megawatts (MW) to 52,580 MW, according to the country’s state grid company, the State Grid Corporation, which is the country’s largest utility company. In 2011, China generated 70.6 terrawatt hours (TWh) of wind power, a 96 percent increase. The Chinese government projects that China’s wind generating capacity would be more than 100,000 MW in 2015 and 200,000 MW in 2020.

New mileage standards would double fuel efficiency. AP, Tom Krisher and Matthew Daly. August 28, 2012. The rules mean that all new vehicles would have to get an average of 54.5 miles per gallon in 13 years, up from 28.6 mpg at the end of last year. The requirements will be phased in gradually between now and then, and automakers could be fined if they don't comply.

Himalayan melt may be less than thought. Science News, Allison Bohrac. August 22, 2012. Rising temperatures in the Himalayas may bring more moderate melting for the region’s glaciers than some previous studies have concluded. Combining six years of topographic measurements gathered by NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite with radar data collected aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000, an international team mapped out glacier activity throughout the range. Glaciers are thinning faster in some regions than others, but the researchers believe the range as a whole lost nearly 13 billion metric tons of ice per year from 2003 to 2008. While on-the-ground observations indicate heavier losses, this new figure is more than twice the melting tonnage reported earlier this year by another team using data from NASA’s GRACE satellites. The study also challenges the long-accepted idea that an insulating coat of rocky debris can slow down ice loss: Dirty glaciers like Ngozumpa in Nepal shrank at about the same rate on average as their cleaner neighbors, the researchers note August 23 in Nature.

Nanosized pollutants pose crop risks. Science News, Janet Raloff. August 21, 2012. Nanoscale pollutants can enter crop roots, triggering a host of changes to plants’ growth and health, two studies find. These tiny particles can stunt plant growth, boost the plants’ absorption of pollutants, and increase the need for crop fertilizers.....The new data now “forewarn of agriculturally associated human and environmental risks from the accelerating use of manufactured nanomaterials,” Patricia Holden of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her colleagues report in one of the studies, published online August 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

11-Mile stretch of Mississippi closed. AP, Adrian Sainz. August 20, 2012. A stretch of river near Greenville Mississippi has been closed intermittently since August 11 when a barge ran aground. There are 40 northbound and 57 southbound barges stalled on either side of the closing waiting for a deeper channel to be dredged. Levels are the lowest since 1988.

Study off Massachusettes coast finds noise harming whales. AP, Jay Lindsay. August 20, 2012. A paper published by Cornell University and federal scientist find that in the last 50 years, areas where the endangered North Atlantic right whales can communicate in the waters off Massachusettes has dropped by 2/3 due to underwater noise from shipping and other sources.

White House dinner rewards kids who cook and eat their veggies. NPR, April Fulton. August 20, 2012. FLOTUS (First Lady of the U.S.) and POTUS (President of the U.S.) joined 54 kids and their parents at a White House luncheon to recognize the winners of the Lets' Move recipe contest.Click here to get a copy of the recipes. Kyle Moore, age 12, submitted Missouri's winning recipe - Chicken Spinach Pasta - linguine tossed with cooked or grilled chicken pieces sauted with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh spinach and seasoned with oregano, basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

The Real Reason CO2 Emissions in the U.S.Plummeted. Live Science, Wynne Parry. August 18, 2012. Carbon emissions early in 2012 reached lowest level since 1992. The causes are the switch from natural gas to coal for generating electricity, the increase in automobile efficiency, slowed economic growth and the unusually warm winter. Unfortunatly, the blistering summer is likely to cause a jump in the annual emisisons due to increased air conditioning.

Reversing decades of decine, the number of hunters and anglers is on the rise. U.S. Department of the Interior. August 15, 2012. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that hunters nationwide increased by 9 percent while anglers grew by 11 percent. Nearly 38 percent of all Americans participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. They spent $145 billion on related gear, trips and other purchases, such as licenses, tags and land leasing and ownership, representing 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

West Nile (virus) spreads faster. USA Today by Elizabeth Weise. August 15, 2012. States are are reporting more cases than usual, due to a mild winter, ample spring rains and the hot humid weather of this summer. Nationwide there have been 693 cases and 28 deaths. Public health experts expect the incidence to increase with climate change.

NASA image shows northwest passage through arctic ice free. Mongabay. August 15, 2012. A satellite image released by NASA last week showed Parry Channel in northern Canada ice free on July 30. Medain ice coverage for that date 1980 - 2010 was 79%.

New toilet technology after 150 years of waste. AP by Donna Gordon Blankenship. August 14, 2012. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is sponsoring a competition to invent a toilet that requires no electricity, water or septic system, must not discharge pollutants and if possible be able to generate energy or other resources and finally, run at less than 5 cents per day.The winning project from CalTech uses chemistry and engineering to transform waste.

Livestock farmers seek pause in ethanol production. AP, by Jim Abrams. August 9, 2012. Livestock farmers and ranchers seeing their feed costs rise because of the worst drought in a quarter-century are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency waive production requirements for corn-based ethanol....The Obama administration sees no need for a waiver, siding with corn growers — many of them in presidential election battleground states Iowa and Ohio — who continue to support the mandate.

Ocean Acidification Undermining West Coast Oyster Fisheries. NPR, by Jessica Camille Aquirre. August 2, 2012. West coast oyster farmers started noticing a problem in the mid-2000s when their oyster larvae populations started dying. At first they assumed bacterial contamination, Richard Feely, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, recently published in Limnology and Oceanography, that the cause of the decimation was ocean acidification, caused by increasing carbon dioxide, that was corroding the baby oysters' growing shells.

July 2012

Thank the Simple Wasps for that Complex Glass of Wine. NPR, by Elizabeth Shogren. July 31, 2012...."Wasps are indeed one of wine lovers' best friends," says Duccio Cavalieri, a professor of microbiology at the University of Florence in Italy.....Cavalieri and his colleagues discovered that these hornets and wasps bite the grapes and help start the fermentation while grapes are still on the vines by spreading a a yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae that helps give a region's wine its distinctive flabor.

Legal battle erupts over whose plastic consumers should trust. NPR Jon Hamilton. July 30, 2012. In 2007, Eastman Chemical began marketing a tough new BPA-free plastic called Tritan. However, testing companies CertiChem and PlastiPure claim even BPA-free plastics have estrogenic activity when exposed to boiling, microwaving, dishwashing or exposure to sunlight. Eastman is suing.

The conversion of a climate change skeptic. New York Times, Richard Muller. Opinion Piece. July 28, 2012. Study by climate skeptic Richard Muller funded by climate skeptics Koch Brothers finds that the climate has warmed and also, that most of the warming is due to humnan activity. Muller believes his findings are even stronger than those of the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Chinese city kills project after pollution protest. AP. July 28, 2012. Pollution is becoming a leading cause of unrest in China. Authorities in Qidong dropped plans for a waste water discharge project for a paper plant after thousands of protesters angry about pollution took to the street. Earlier this month, Shifang city scrapped plans for a copper plant after thousands of protesters, including high school students, clashed with riot police.

UN treaty keeps idea alive of reversing ivory ban. AP July 27, 2012. Reversing a global ban on ivory trading that took effect in 1989 to curb poaching was debated at the recent CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) conference. Proponents believe legalizing trade in existing stocks of ivory gathered from elephants dead from natural causes would dampen prices, and reduce black market demand.

CITES sanctions seven countries for endangered species violations. AP. July 26, 2012. UN delegates at the recent CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting, sanctions Comoros Islands (Lemurs), Guinea-Bissau (marine turtles, manatees and chimpanzees), Paraguay (jaguars, tamarins and forestland), Nepal (tigers, rhinos, elephants, snow leopards and red pandas), Rwanda (mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, black rhinos, Solomon Islands (parrots, cockatoos and other wild birds) and Syria (lizards, snakes, parrots, ibis, flamingos and other birds).

Massive ice melt in Greenland worries scientists. NPR., by Mark Memmott. July 25, 2012. A pair of NASA images snapped on July 8 and July 12 shows an increase of 40 % to 97% in probable or confirmed surface melting of the Greenland landmass. Scientists blame a massive heat dome parked over Greenland for the condition.

EPA: Water is safe in Pennsylvania town drilling region. AP. July 25, 2012.Residents of Dimock, a town in the Marcellus shale region of the eastern U.S. are still concerned about the effects of fracking on the town's drinking water supply even after the EPA finds no evidence of contamination. The Marcellus shale covers large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, and is expected to be a rich source of natural gas, which is typically extracted by fracking, or injecting large volumes of water, sand and chemicals into the shale to break it apart and release the gas.

TOP STORY: Midwest Drought. USDA. July 25.The most severe and extensive drought in at least 25 years is seriously affecting U.S. agriculture, with impacts on the crop and livestock sectors and with the potential to increase food prices at the retail level. The site has regularly updated reports on various sectors affected by the drought.

France looks to green cars to save its auto industry. AP. July 25, 2012. The new Ministry for Industrial Recovery, set up by President Francois Hollande, hopes to carve out a space for French autos by rewarding automakers that focus on environmentally friendly cars, mainly by providing up to $600 million in rebates for electric or hybrid cars.

Interior plan expedites solar development in the west. AP. July 24, 2012. After a two year study, the Obama administration moved to streamline large-scale solar projects on BLM lands by approving 17 vast tracts across the West it says has the highest power-generating potential and the fewest environmental impacts. This announcement opens a 30-day protest period. The zones cover 285,000 acres with five sites in Nevada, four in Colorado, three in Utah, two each in California and Arizona, and one in New Mexico.

Experts: Fracking critics wrong on some(but not all) claims. AP. July 22, 2012. Drilling companies aren't the only ones twisting the truth. Researchers say there is no credible scientific support for a breast cancer spike in the north Texas Barnett Shale where drilling began about 10 years ago; environmental authorities have not seen detectable increases in radiation levels of local water supplies except in two cases, where levels did not exceed background; and air pollution should go down, not up as natural gas replaces coal in power plants. The resistance to scientific facts that shows up on both sides of such debates is called "motivated reasoning".

Tribal leaders say climate is changing native way of life. AP. July 19, 2012. Native Americans and Alaska Native leaders testified at a Senate hearing about villages under water, droughts, changes in snowfall and other changes in their local environments caused by climate change.

Can adding iron to oceans slow down warming? NPR , by Richard Harris. July 18, 2012. In 2004 scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany were able to fertilize a natural "container" of southern ocean water (maintained by ocean currents) with iron and then follow the effect for four weeks. Now, after 8 years of calculation they conclude that adding iron caused an algal bloom which pulled CO2 out of the air and dropped it down to the sea floor when the algae dies. Results were published in Nature 487, July 19, 2012

Our Microbes are under threat- and the enemy is us. USA Today. July 17, 2012.."It's true that no man is an island. Scientists say we're closer to a coral reef, with an estimated 10,000 species of bacteria, fungi, yeasts and assorted others making up our ecosystem....And while a few of these microbes can make us sick if they get out of control, 99% are benign or even protect us from harm. Bacteria have evolved with humans for millennia, helping us digest our food, synthesize vitamins, regulate our immune system and more, Proctor says....Yet our microbes are under threat — and the enemy is us."

Using "smart growth" may not be that smart. USA Today. July 16, 2012. At a time when the nation is deeply polarized along ideological lines, environmentalists and opponents of suburban sprawl — traditionally associated with liberal values — are tweaking their language to reach out to conservatives and libertarians......The "z" word is more palatable if you call it "land-use planning," says Christopher Cooper, head of the political science and public affairs department at Western Carolina University. "Climate change" is better received as "rising sea levels" in some places. "Self-reliance" gets a better reception than "sustainability." Everywhere, the most effective words are the ones that focus on saving money and improving health.

Tens of thousands rally in Tokyo for end to nuclear power. USA Today. July 16, 2012. TOKYO (AP) – Tens of thousands of people rallied at a Tokyo park Monday demanding that Japan abandon nuclear power as the country prepares to restart another reactor shut down after last year's tsunami-generated meltdown at the Fukushima power plant....Led by Nobel-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe, pop star Ryuichi Sakamoto and visual artist Yoshitomo Nara, the protesters expressed outrage over a report that blamed the Fukushima disaster on Japan's culture of "reflexive obedience" and held no individuals responsible.

June 2012

Is Acid Rain a Thing of the Past? Marissa Weiss. Science AAAS. June 29, 2012. -- The story of acid rain from the 1970s is preserved in newspaper headlines, textbooks, and, it turns out, the soils of the northeastern United States. Forty years after humans first began tackling the problem, the impact of acid rain still lingers in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, according to a new study. But the research also shows the first signs of recovery.

Africa's Savannas May Become Forests. Science Daily. June 28, 2012. -- A new study published today in Nature by authors from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Goethe University Frankfurt suggests that large parts of Africa’s savannas may well be forests by 2100. The study suggests that fertilization by atmospheric carbon dioxide is forcing increases in tree cover throughout Africa. A switch from savanna to forest occurs once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, yet each site has its own critical threshold. The implication is that each savanna will switch at different points in time, thereby reducing the risk that a synchronous shock to the earth system will emanate from savannas.

Improving Efficiencies in Fuel, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries. ScienceDaily. June 28, 2012. -- University of Minnesota engineering researchers are leading an international team that has made a major breakthrough in developing a catalyst used during chemical reactions in the production of gasoline, plastics, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals. The discovery could lead to major efficiencies and cost-savings in these multibillion-dollar industries.

EXXON CEO Admits Fossil Fuels Cause Warming. Argues Society Will Adapt. Jonathan Fahey. Associated Press June 27, 2012.-- In a speech Wednesday, Tillerson acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt. The risks of oil and gas drilling are well understood and can be mitigated, he said. And dependence on other nations for oil is not a concern as long as access to supply is certain, he said.

Tillerson blamed a public that is "illiterate" in science and math, a "lazy" press, and advocacy groups that "manufacture fear" for energy misconceptions in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Scientists Spark New Interest in the Century-Old Edison Battery. ScienceDaily. June 26, 2012.-- Stanford University scientists have breathed new life into the nickel-iron battery, a rechargeable technology developed by Thomas Edison more than a century ago.

Designed in the early 1900s to power electric vehicles, the Edison battery largely went out of favor in the mid-1970s. Today only a handful of companies manufacture nickel-iron batteries, primarily to store surplus electricity from solar panels and wind turbines.

Ozone Exposure Linked to Heart Attacks. Science News. June 25. 2012. --Young, healthy adult volunteers exposed for two hours to ozone developed physiological changes associated with cardiovascular ailments, according to a small study reported in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal.

Study participants showed evidence of vascular inflammation, a potential reduced ability to dissolve artery-blocking blood clots, and changes in the autonomic nervous system that controls the heart's rhythm. The changes were temporary and reversible in these young, healthy participants.

Two Warmest Winter Months in Midwest, U.S. History May Have Connection. Science News. June 14, 2012. -- This past March was the second warmest winter month ever recorded in the Midwest, with temperatures 15 degrees above average. The only other winter month that was warmer was December of 1889, during which temperatures were 18 degrees above average. Now, MU researchers may have discovered why the weather patterns during these two winter months, separated by 123 years, were so similar. The answer could help scientists develop more accurate weather prediction models.

Tony Lupo, chair of the Department of Soil, Environment and Atmospheric Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at MU, created computer models with global weather records and ship captains' logs to determine why these two months were unusually warm. He discovered that the preceding months were also dry and warm, as well as the previous summers, which led him to determine that both 2012 and 1889 were La Niña years.

Nanoparticles in Polluted Air, Smoke & Nanotechnology Products Have Serious Impact On Health. Science News (June 11, 2012) -- New groundbreaking research by scientists at Trinity College Dublin has found that exposure to nanoparticles can have a serious impact on health, linking it to rheumatoid arthritis and the development of other serious autoimmune diseases. The findings that have been recently published in the international journal Nanomedicine have health and safety implications for the manufacture, use and ultimate disposal of nanotechnology products and materials. They also identified new cellular targets for the development of potential drug therapies in combating the development of autoimmune diseases.

April 2012

New EPA Mapping Tool. Env News Network 2012.04.25. The National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA, requires federal agencies to consider environmental impacts of their decisions. The EPA announced the release of a new mapping tool, NEPAssist to help with that requirement. Visit http://134.67.99.123/nepassist/entry.aspx, type in a zip code or other location information and it opens up a map that allows you to download info on environmental features of the area.

Five initiatives launched targeting short-lived climate pollutants: black carbon, methane, HFCs. Env News Network 2012.04.24. The US, Canada, Mexico, Ghana and Bangladesh were recently joined by other nations and ther world bank in an effort to reduce short-lived climate pollutants by half or more in the next 30 to 40 years. Five initiatives are reducing diesel and sulfur emissions from heavy duty vehicles, upgrading inefficient brick kilns, reducing methane emissions from landfills, cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and accelerating alternatives to HFCs.

FDA: Gulf seafood safe despite oil spill concerns. AP 2012.04.25. Although a small percentage of fish show sores and lesions, federal and state regulations ensure that no visibly diseased fish enter the market, and testing shows contamination is far below levels that could make anyone sick.

Two years later, fish sick near BP oil spill site. AP 2012.04.20. While not conclusive, circumstantial evidence points towards long term impacts of spill on deep water coral, seaweed beds, dolphins, mangroves as well as fish.

Car emissions claim more UK lives than road accidents. ClickGreen 2012.04.19. MIT researchers looking at 2005 data found truck emissions were responsible for 3,300 premature deaths each year, more than the number caused by road accidents.

New proposed Keystone XL pipeline route unveiled. AP 2012.04.19. The new route proposed by TransCanada veers east around Sandhills before looping back to original route, adding about 100 miles to original project. The 36" pipeline would travel through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas carrying oil from Alberta tar sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Ghost Factories: poison in the ground. USA Today 2012.04.19 Both the EPA and state regulators consistently failed to follow up on testing and clean-up of former lead smelter sites, exposing thousands of children to potential lead poisoning from contaminated soil. News report, video, historical maps, documents.

Why the extreme weather? USA Today 2012.04.19 Opinion by Penn State Glaciologist Richard Alley explains how warming is loading the dice for more extreme weather events. While you can't prove a link between a specific event and warming, warming makes extreme events more likely.

Bats rebound in NY caves first hit by white-nose. AP 2012.04.19. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation found notable increases in little brown bats in three out five hibernation caves where white-nose was first seen decimating populations six years ago. Scientists cautiously optimistic.

EPA issues air pollution rules for fracking wells. USA Today 2012.04.18. First ever rules require drillers to burn or capture emissions from fracking that cause smog.

Change in labeling of corn syrup opposed. USA Today 2012.04.18. While nutritionists say there is little evidence of difference between corn syrup and sugar nutritionally, consumers (by 100 to 1) and consumer groups, oppose name change from corn syrup to corn sugar as intentionally misleading.

Drought sparks water dispute with Texas, Mexico. AP 2012.04.16. Rocky Mt. meltwater is divided between Mexico, New Mexico and Texas. With concern over potential drought, NM and TX water districts attempted to delay releases until May but the International Boundary Water Commission agreed with Mexico's request to get its share in March, when it is needed for cotton planting.

As ice cap melts, militaries vie for Arctic edge. AP 2012.04.16. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 13% of the world's undiscovered oil and 30% of its natural gas lie in the arctic, which means increased competition for mineral resources as warming makes this region more accessible. Military chiefs of Canada, the U.S. Russia, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, gathered to discuss arctic security issues posed by warming.

New energy efficient bulb goes on sale on Earth Day (April 22). USA Today 2012.04.16. The bulb from Phillips lasts up to 20 years and will cost from $20 to $60 depending on utility subsidies available in various markets. The 10 watt bulb should save $8 a year if used 4 hours a day, so payback is with 7 to 8 years or half its life.

Farmers must spend more on herbicides as effectiveness fades. 2012.04.16. Weeds that Roundup (glyphosate) once controlled are now resistant to levels of the herbicide previously used. Due to evolution, widespread use of any pesticide ends up selecting for resistant strains of the pests it is supposed to control. Farmers are returning to other herbicides and more tillage to combat resistant weeds.

Study blames ocean CO2 for oyster decline. AP 2012.04.11. A study in Limnology and Oceanography finds that ocean acidification caused by increased atmospheric CO2 is preventing larval oysters from laying down enough shell (made of calcium carbonate) to survive early stages of settling in hatcheries and oyster farms on the west coast.

Army Lab to develop energy-saving technology. AP 2012.04.11. New U.S.Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory simulates desert and arctic conditions to discover ways to save energy and make combat-vehicles more fuel efficient. The lab is part of Obama administration initiatives to make military greener, both to reduce environmental impact and to improve fighting capabilities.

Gas prices may have peaked. USA Today 2012.04.10. Falling prices due to slumping crude oil prices, down because of slower economic growth, especially in China, falling consumer demand, and a slight easing of tension with Iran.

March 2012

Gas prices driving behavior change. USA Today 2012.03.30. 84% of those responding to a AAA survey are changing routines as a result of fuel prices - planning trips, carpooling, taking buses, biking and buying more efficient cars.

Two studies in Science Magazine show insecticides affect bees. Environmental Network News 2012.03.29. Dosed bumblebee hives were smaller and produced fewer queens, and dosed honeybees died 2-3 more often before returning to the hive than undosed bees.

New EPA rules for future power plants limit emissions to 1000 lbs of CO2 per megawatt hour. Environmental Network News 2012.03. 29. The rules do not affect existing plants, plants that begin construction over the next 12 months, or plants smaller than 25 megawatts.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts rise in extreme climate events. Science and Development Network. 2012.03.28. First time report synthesizes data and research on extreme events and makes predictions about temperature, rainfall and drought for 26 regions. (increased dry weather for central North America). See written summary for policy makers and related video (about 5 minutes) at http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/

Sustainable Cities Meeting: "Planet Under Presssure 2012" . Environmental Network News 2012.03.28. Increase in human population to 9 billion by 2030 means 1.5 million more square km of urbanized land. The question is how should that happen, in sprawling suburbs or dense, efficient and sustainable communities.

Economic impact of climate change could be huge. Environmental Network News. 2012.03.28. Under a low emissions scenario, income impacts from ocean fisheries, tourism, sea-level rise and storms could be $612 billion per year by 2100. Under a high emissions scenario, the cost rises to $2 trillion per year.

U.S. forms water partnership to boost national and global security. Environmental News Service 2012.03.22. The National Intelligence Council's report found that by 2040, fresh water availability will not keep up with demands without more effective management of resources. While shortages have historically led to more agreements than to conflict, the State Department is taking the initiative to ensure cooperation.

Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement awarded to air pollution experts. Environmental News Service 2012.03.22. John Seinfeld of the California Inst Tech won for research on the role of airborne particles that led to enhanced standards and Kirk Smith of UCal Berkeley won for discovering the role of indoor pollution in premature deaths in the developing world.

EPA regulates five new chemicals under Toxic Substances Control Act (ToSCA). Environmental News Service 2012.03.20. Anyone who intends to manufacture, import or process any of the chemicals for a significant new use must submit notification to EPA at least 90 days before beginning any activity. The chemicals are Polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), Benzidine dyes, a short chain chlorinated paraffin, a lubricant and other uses, Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), a flame retardant, and Pthalate di-n-pentyl pththalate (DnPP), a plasticizer. This effort is part of EPA's plan to systematically evaluate chemicals under ToSCA.

New biomass co-generation plant replaces coal-fired plant at Savannah River. Environmental News Service 2012.03.13. The new plant usese biomass and a more efficient coal operation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 tons a year. The plant is also expected to save $34 million in utility costs.

Unusual Warmth Expected to Fuel Extreme Weather in U.S. Scientific American 2012.03.12. Forecasters expect more tornadoes than normal in 2012, following the near-record tornado season of 2011.