MEEA News Feed
Education and environmental news stories featured in recent months in the MEEA newsletter.
- Education News Stories
- Missouri Environment News Stories
- National and Global Environment News Stories
School is too easy, students report. USA Today. July 9, 2012. Millions of kids simply don't find school very challenging, a new analysis of federal survey data suggests. The report could spark a debate about whether new academic standards being piloted nationwide might make a difference....The findings, out today from the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank that champions "progressive ideas," analyze three years of questionnaires from the Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress, a national test given each year.
Skills-based Math, Just in Time Learning and Bad Habits of Mind. Barry Garelick. Education News. June 28, 2012. -- Opinion piece on recent Department of Educaiton Report on Math Education that digs into the issue of the prior knowledge students need to solve the problems.
Region 7 awarded Comprehensive Small Grant contract from EPA. MEEA News. June 27, 2012. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Region 7 Environmental Education Leadership Team (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska) a grant to distribute small environmental education grants in the four state region.
Let Kids Outside for Long-Lasting Learning. Julia Steiny. Education News. June 27, 2012. -- Interview with Outdoor Education proponent David Sobel: "...if you want healthier, smarter, more socially-adept, resilient kids, work with your community to make a cool, accessible place where kids can mess around with nature. The adults’ job is to be around, but always at a little distance. At that remove, adults’ can figure out how to feed kids’ natural hunger to know more about how to master whatever they’re doing."
U.S. Sutents Strong on Science Facts, Weak on Comprehension. Julia Lawrence. Education News. June 27, 2012. --For example: " On the portion of the exam that required a student to select the correct answer from multiple options, but then subsequently explain their reasoning, over 70% of students were able to choose the correct answer, but less than a third were then able to justify their selection. The discrepancy was particularly stark among 4th graders, were 71% identified the correct answer, but only 15% were able to explain their reasoning in obtaining it."
Registration Open for the Siemens STEM Competition. Julia Lawrence. Education News. June 3, 2012. -- This week, the registration opens for the nation’s premier science competition, the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. High school students interested in competing can submit their original research and be eligible to win college scholarships that range from $1000 to $100,000 for first place. The competition, sponsored by the Siemens Foundation and administered by the College Board will accept submissions until October 1, 2012 at 5PM Est. Other relevant deadlines, submission guidelines and additional information are available on the competition’s College Board website.
Missouri State Board of Education Affirms the Healthy Missouri Initiative Petition. MO DESE Website. June 21, 2012. -- The State Board of Education voiced its approval Tuesday for the Healthy Missouri Initiative Petition measure aimed at raising new funds for education in Missouri. The measure, also known as the Missouri Tobacco Tax Initiative, may appear on the November ballot and calls for an additional 73 cent tax on each package of cigarettes and an increase in tax for other tobacco products.
State Education Board Approves Pilot of New Educator Evaluation System. MO DESE Website. June 20, 2012. -- The State Board of Education approved a one-year pilot project of Missouri's new Educator Evaluation System for the 2012-2013 school year. The new system focuses on the improvement of effective educational practices and the professional development of teachers, principals and school superintendents. The Educator Evaluation System fulfills a portion of Goal 3 of the Department's Top 10 by 20 initiative, which states that Missouri will prepare, develop and support effective educators. The Top 10 by 20 initiative is the state plan to launch Missouri into the top 10 states by the year 2020.
A World With No Math. Save the Children. June 20, 2012. Fundraiser for math programs in the developing worlds uses a YouTube video featuring Simon Helberg (Big Bang), John Oliver (Daily Show), Julie Bowman (Modern Family) and Michael Boatman (Anger Management) who have to live in a World With No Math. spoiler alert: no timing, no bets....
Missouri State Board of Education Supports MSIP 5 Scoring Guide. MO DESE Website. June 19, 2012. -- After more than two years of working with parents, educators, associations, education experts and school district leaders, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education presented its new scoring guide, which outlines its methods of creating each school district's Annual Performance Report (APR) — the tool used by the state to determine a school district's accreditation. State Board members discussed the impact of the new scoring guide and the advantages of the new system.
Missouri Teachers Recognized for Excellence in Math and Science. MO DESE Website. June 14, 2012. Two Missouri teachers were selected this week as recipients of the 2011 Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Missouri's mathematics recipient is Jennifer Baker, Hazelwood West High School, Hazelwood School District; and science recipient is Robert Becker, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood School District. CONGRATS!
Missouri's Graduation Rates on the Rise. MO DESE Website. June 7, 2012. -- Missouri's graduation rate increased for the third year in a row, according to Education Week's seventh annual "Diplomas Count 2012" report released today. Well above the national average, Missouri's public high schools graduated 79.3 percent of its students in 2009, an increase of 2.4 percent over the previous year....All five primary demographic areas (American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Black and White) saw gains in graduation rates over the past year in Missouri and all were above the national averages.
8 states get waiver from No Child Left Behind By DORIE TURNER AP Education Writer May 29, 2012 The Education Department has approved waivers for Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. The states that won waivers earlier this year are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Eighteen other states have applied, including Missouri, and could recieve waivers in the next few weeks.
Report: More students taking science, math By CHRISTINE ARMARIO AP Education WriterMay 24,
The annual "Condition of Education" report (issued by the Department of Education) said there has been a marked increase over the last two decades in the percent of high school graduates who had taken calculus, from 7 percent in 1990 to 16 percent in 2009. Overall, the percentage enrolling in math and science courses increased in all subjects except algebra I, a class many students now take in middle school.
Yet while more are enrolling, the report also states that scores have largely stagnated: Seventeen-year-old students performed neither significantly better nor worse on a national math and reading assessment than they did in the early 1970s.
National conference in Ohio focuses on teachers DAN SEWELL Associated Press May 22, 2012
"The AFT, National Education Association, National School Boards Association and other participating groups are setting out the plan for improving the teaching profession, noting that schools can take different approaches to reach its targets. They are: more shared decision-making in schools; recruiting from a high-performing and diverse talent pool; providing for career-long learning; evaluating teachers and principals on student academic growth and their other contributions; offering career paths with competitive pay and advancement; having schools with the right environment for teachers and for helping high-needs students, and reaching out for more engagement between schools and their communities."
Administration sets criteria for new school grants By CHRISTINE ARMARIO AP Education Writer May 22, 2012. Following a wave of state education reforms spurred by its Race to the Top competition, the Education Department said Tuesday that individual school districts will be able to compete for $400 million in grants to bring the initiative to the classroom level.
School districts with at least 2,500 students and 40 percent or more qualifying for free or reduced price lunch - a key indicator of poverty - will be eligible to receive up to $25 million to create plans targeting specific groups of students with the aim of closing the achievement gap.
In Joplin, a senior year to remember after tornado By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER Associated Press May 21, 2012. "Monday night's graduation, which featured commencement speeches by President Barack Obama and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, capped a senior year for the 428 members of the Class of 2012 marked by tragedy, turmoil and perseverance."
"The (2011) twister arrived hours after last year's high school graduation, forever defining the Joplin High Class of 2011 and their younger classmates as well. The tornado's victims included two Joplin High students, sophomore Lantz Hare and senior Will Norton, a school system secretary and several younger students."
Number of homeschoolers growing nationwide JULIA LAWRENCE Education News May 21, 2012. "As the dissatisfaction with the U.S. education system among parents grows, so does the appeal of homeschooling. Since 1999, the number of children who are being homeschooled has increased by 75%. Although currently only 4% of all school children nationwide are educated at home, the number of primary school kids whose parents choose to forgo traditional education is growing seven times faster than the number of kids enrolling in K-12 every year."
EPA Grant of $150,000 Awarded to Region 7 (IA, KS, MO, NE) for EE grants EPA Website. EPA awarded a $150,000 Environmental Education Grant to the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education, of Manhattan, Kan.
This grant will provide funding for approximately 19 small sub awards, up to $5,000 each, to organizations for the development and implementation of projects, programs and solutions to meet a variety of educational and environmental priorities. The sub awards will be based on priorities established through state environmental literacy and strategic plans from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. These projects will bring together diverse organizations working on a number of environmental issues that will meet the needs of their community. Mini-grant applicants will have the flexibility to support the strategic initiatives identified at the state level or through one or more EPA educational priorities such as community projects, human health and the environment.
Next Generation Science Standards released for public comment. Next Gen Science Standards website. The review period closed June 1, but the next draft will be available in the fall
Interface 2013 Deadline for Submission: JULY 1, 2012 MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education May 11, 2012. The 2013 Interface Professional Development Event will highlight teaching practices and assessments that focus on important concepts and skills. Sessions will focus on ways to increase teacher content knowledge, pedagogy, and the use of technology in preparing college- and career- ready students. JULY 1, 2012 DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION
Missouri Science Olympiad Winners: Pembroke Hill (KC) and Ladue (St. Louis). MO Science Olympiad 2012.04.26.Congratulations to Ladue and Pembroke Hill for securing a trip to Orlando, FL for the National Science Olympiad tournament. For Division B, Ladue took 1st place while Pembroke Hill took 2nd place. In Division C the roles were reversed and Pembroke Hill took 1st and Ladue secured 2nd place.
Two schools honored for environmental education. St. Louis Today 2012.04.25. TwoSt. Louis private schools — Crossroads College Preparatory School and The College School — are recipients of the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools award, given for the first time this year to 78 schools across the country for their environmental education. Missouri is among 29 states and Washington, D.C., with schools receiving the awards.
Computer scoring of essays shows promise. USA Today 2012.04.23. The new findings, unveiled last week at the National Council on Measurement in Education meeting in Vancouver, Canada, analyzed 17,500 essays that had already been graded by humans. Funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the analysis was part of an ongoing competition, an X-Prize of sorts, that Hewlett is sponsoring to push the field forward.
History and Geography to get the Common Core treatment. Education News 2012.03.29. The Social Studies fields covered by the Common Core Curriculum will be getting a second look as teachers and other education experts protest that not enough attention is being paid to subjects outside the STEM fields. The body responsible for drafting the standards has announced that it will be developing curriculum maps in history and geography, drawing for their inspiration from the best social studies standards in the nation.
Study reveals young not as green-minded as baby-boomers. AP 2012.03.15. A generation ago about 1/3 of baby boomers said it was important to take action to protect the environment. Only 1/4 of GenX'ers(1962-1981 and 21% of Millenials(after 1982) thought it was important. study available at http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-ofp-twenge.pdf
Can green games save the world? Triple Pundit 2012.03.14.The UVA Bay game is a massive, multiplayer simulation of impacts of various stakeholders on the health of Chesapeake Bay. the simulation runs for 20 years with players making moves every two years. At Southby Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Associate VP of Resarch at UVA reported that stakeholders (farmers, regulators, fisherman, etc.) using the UVA Bay Game quickly started to exchange information and collaborate with the goal of optimizing relationhships among players.
DNR Awards Loans and Grants for Water Protection. MO DNR. June 2012. . Over the last month, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has awarded funds for these projects: Hartville recieves $100,000 loan from the State Water Pollution Bond for wastewater plant upgrades; Cass County PWSD No. 11 awarded $11 million for drininking water improvements; Lake Area Industries' Gifted Garden awarded $10,000 to reduce stormwater run off;Perry receives $292,000 low interest loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for wastewater treatmen upgrades; Boone Co Regional Sewer District receives $1.36 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for wastewater treatment upgrades.
St. Louis County to build $650,000 hazardous waste site. St. Louis Business Journal. June 27, 2012. Construction could begin as early as July on St. Louis County’s first permanent collection site for household hazardous waste. The new facility will cost around $650,000 and be financed in part by a $500,000 one-time grant from the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste District, the St. Louis Beacon reports. The remaining cost will be picked up by state and county tipping fee funds. The facility is expected to be complete in October.
American Burying Beetle Restoration Results in Grubs. MO Department of Conservation. June 27, 2012.On June 15, zoo staff removed sod plugs at some of the 150 sites where beetles were released. "I’m very happy to report that we excavated successful broods,” said Bob Merz, director for the Center For American Burying Beetle Conservation at the Saint Louis Zoo.Merz said 27 of the 39 sites checked had larvae, so the American burying beetles are reproducing as hoped. With that success rate, he hopes more than 1,185 adults could emerge in mid-August.
Cast your Vote for MDC Photo Contest Submissions. MO Department of Conservation. June 25. 2012. More than 1,880 people submitted almost 13,000 photos in seven categories during the submission period of Feb. 1 through May 15. A panel of photography and nature experts had the challenging task of narrowing the submissions to a top selection in each of the following categories: mammals, plants, reptiles and amphibians, insects and spiders, birds, outdoor recreation, and habitats and landscapes. MDC now encourages Missourians to cast their votes for their favorite photo from among the seven category winners for a “Best-of-Show” top photo. Voting will run during the month of July (July 1-31). To cast a vote, go to the MDC website at http://mdc.mo.gov/about-us/get-know-us/75th-anniversary/photo-contest
EPA Expands Real-Time Monitoring of Kansas City Area Streams and Launches KCWaterBug Mobile Application. Region 7 EPA. June 25, 2012. EPA and local partners will gather on Wednesday, June 27 in Riverside, Mo., to announce an expansion of water-quality monitoring of Kansas City area streams and introduce a related application for smartphones and mobile devices.The free application is available now for iPhone, iTouch, and iPad through Apple’s iTunes store. A version for Android phones will be available in the future.
Crayfish Regulation Discussions Continue. MO Department of Conservation. June 15. The Department of Conservation continues to gather information to make an informed scientific decision on invasive crayfish. The Department has listened and consulted with bait producers and dealers on invasive crayfish. Education efforts have worked to inform anglers and bait sellers about how to prevent invasive crayfish from damaging the state’s sport-fishing industry.Crayfish sales represent about 1% of industry sales based on surveys from 2010, 2011.
Toyota's Kansas City Regional Technical Training Center receives LEED Gold certification. Mother Nature Network. June 7, 2012. Toyota, home of the best-selling hybrid Toyota Prius, is also the proud home of 29 LEED green building certifications. The Kansas City Regional Technical Training Center in Kansas City, Missouri recently received a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The automaker leads the industry with 11 LEED certified Toyota/Lexus facilities and 18 Toyota/Lexus dealerships.
WiFi Keeps You Connected in Missouri State Park Camgrounds.MO DNR. June 5, 2012. Eleven state parks campgrounds currently offer free wireless Internet access for guests and visitors and the service will be added to more campgrounds throughout the summer...Campgrounds with wireless access are located in the following state parks: Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon; Montauk State Park near Salem; Roaring River State Park near Cassville; Table Rock State Park near Branson; Meramec State Park near Sullivan; Sam. A. Baker State Park near Patterson; Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park in Wildwood; Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park near Middlebrook; Onondaga Cave State Park near Leasburg; Long Branch State Park near Macon; and Finger Lakes State Park near Columbia.
Major (Missouri) Tour Caves Open to Visitors in 2012. MO DNR. For the 2012 season, Onondaga Cave and Cathedral Cave at Onondaga Cave State Park, Fisher Cave at Meramec State Park, and Ozark Caverns at Lake of the Ozarks State Park will be open for public tours.
Midwest Democracy: Bill to ease radioactive rules makes some in Missouri worry. Kansas City Star 2012.04.25. The chair of the MO House Transportation Committee can't recall where it came from, but a rule removing fee and inspection requirements for radioactive cargo that travels through Missouri was added to legislation approved by the committee on April 11 without any apparent debate.
Columbia, EPA, slowly moving forward on Hinkson Creek cleanup. Columbia Missourian 2012.04.23. After 12 years, City, County, MU, EPA agree to plan for monitoring stream health as stormwater abatement projects are implemented.
Missouri Botanical Garden, others, to catalog "World Flora". AP 2012.04.24. Four of world's leading botanical institutions plan to make list of over 400,000 plants availalble free on-line by 2020 as part of effort to ensure survival of world's flora. Plan is to add images of each species and detailed scientific information.
Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo recognized as "Waters to Watch". National Fish Habitat Action Plan 2012.04.20. The 2012 "Waters to Watch" features 10 rivers, streams, estuaries, watershed systems, shores and lakes that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts.
Oz Hawksley named Master Conservationist. MDC news release 2012.04.20. Hawksley was recognized by the Conservation Federation of Missouri for a 6-decade long commitment to conservation, including teaching at the University of Central Missouri and authoring Missouri Ozark Waterways.
Ameren, Westinghouse seeking to build Small Modular Reactors. St. Louis Today. 2012.04.19. Companies teaming to win $450 million in federal money to license and develop small-scale, next generation Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The SMRs, 1/4 size of typical reactors, would be built in Callaway Co., where Missouri's only existing reactor is already working.
$40.6M to Purchase, Restore Lands in 15 States Including Missouri Mark Twain National Forest 2012.04.06. Funds designated by Congress in the 1964 Land and Water Conservation Fund will be purchased from willing sellers at fair market prices to meet conservation goals. In Missouri $990,000 is designated to purchase prime riparian river frontage on the Current River, to help connect existing national forest lands to the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Consolidating the lands will help protect watershed quality and provide maximum benefit for both resident and migratory wildlife species.
White-nose syndrome confirmed in Missouri bat population. Riverfront Times 2012.04.03. Missouri Department of Conservation confirmed syndrome in bats in Pike, Shannon and Lincoln counties.
Chronic wasting disease a concern in Missouri Deer. Missourian 2012.03.30. MDC hoping to avoid different outcome than Wisconsin where infections have increased 10% per year.
4th Annual MO Archery Tournament draws almost 1,200 competitors. MDC News 2012.03. 27. Brandon Whitley of St. Clair Junior High School set a new scoring record for the meet and was top individual male shooter and top shooter for middle school males. Anna Hughes of Logan-Rogersville High School was the top female archer. The highest possible score from shooting 30 arrows at two distances is 300. Whitley set the new meet record for an individual competitor with a 293 score, while Hughes was tops among female archers with 281.
Martinsburg MO (Audrain Co.) receives $100,000 low-interest loan from DNR to update its wastewater system. DNR News 2012.03.23. Funds will go to construct a new lagoon, a land application system and new sewer mains to reduce municipal sewage discharges into local streams. The entire project will cost around $2 milion with additional funding from USDA grants and loans.
Zebra mussels confirmed at Smithville Lake (KC Area). MDC News 2012.03.23. Biologists on Wednesday determined that zebra mussels are present in Smithville Lake, a 7,200-acre impoundment north of Kansas City. Zebra mussels, mollusks which look like small clams, are an invasive species from Eurasia that can cause ecological and property damage.
American Burying Beetle to be reintroduced at Wah' kon-Tah Pairie. Riverfront Times 2012.03.2. The St. Louis Zoo has perfected culture of the carrion-eating beetle and will work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce the beetles into their native prairie habitat.
Late Don Robinson donates 843 acres for new Missouri State Park. St. Louis Business Journal 2012.03.22. The land is located in Cedar Hills, 38 miles southwest of St. Louis in the upper watershed of Le Barque Creek. The sandstone bedrock supports a diverse plant community. The donation includes a trust fund for park maintenance.
MIssouri 8th most miserable state (Kansas 7th happiest). KC Star 2012.03.05. Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measured state well-being on a 100 point scale. Missouri was 11th in smoking, and in the top 20 in heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
MO river funding priorities anger farmers affected by flooding. Associatied Press 2012.03.03. President's budget allocates $90 million for environmental projects, including shallow water habitat for pallid sturgeon, piping plover and least tern. Growers groups want more funds for flood control.
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.
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.
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://22.214.171.124/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.
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.