Environment

First Mammal Goes Extinct Due to Human-Caused Climate Change

June 30, 2016

The Bramble Cay melomys—a rodent found only on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—has been declared extinct, according to a new study from researchers at the Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and the University of Queensland. Alarmingly, this could be the first mammal species wiped out due to human-induced climate change. The researchers came to the conclusion after failing to find a single specimen of the melomys, also called the mosaic-tailed rat, from its only known habitat. “A thorough survey effort involving 900 small mammal trap-nights, 60 camera trap-nights and two hours of active daytime searches produced no records of the species, confirming that the only known population of this rodent is now extinct,” the study states. Sea-level rise and weather events in the Torres Strait region, which lies between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea, was determined as the root cause of the loss. The scientists said that the events destroyed the animals’ sole habitat on Bramble Cay, a small vegetated coral cay in northern Australia. Research showed that Bramble Cay had reduced dramatically in size from approximately 2.2 ha in 2004 to only 0.065 ha, equivalent to a 97 percent loss in the span of 10 years. Read

The Great Lakes Water Wars Have Begun After U.S. Officials Approve Drawing 30 Million Litres Per Day

June 29, 2016

A group of eight U.S. officials have voted to allow a Wisconsin-based region to begin drawing 30 million litres of water a day from lake Michigan for drinking water. A Canadian Mayor has spoken out on the recently-approved plan calling the recent decision “the end of the Great Lakes as we know them.” Last year, the city of Waukesha in Wisconsin had asked the Great Lake states for permission to divert water from Lake Michigan because its own aquifer is running low and the water is contaminated with high levels of naturally occurring cancer-causing radium. A panel representing governors of the eight states adjoining the Great Lakes unanimously approved a proposal from Waukesha, which is under a court order to find a solution to the radium contamination of its groundwater wells. The city says the project will cost over $200 million for engineering studies, pipelines and other infrastructure. Waukesha is only 27 kilometres from the lake but just outside the Great Lakes watershed. That required the city of about 72,000 to get special permission under the compact, which prohibits most diversions of water across the watershed boundary. Read

ROBERT HUNZIKER – Epicenter of Obliteration – Arctic Ice

June 21, 2016

“Obliteration” is intentionally Machiavellian, and over-reaching, but the hard truth is that obliteration (extinction) could really, truly happen, assuming certain things happen, or not, depending…. In such case, in order to gain a full understanding of Arctic ice loss as it relates to obliteration, query the world’s foremost Arctic expert, Peter Wadhams, professor of Ocean Physics, University of Cambridge. All of which brings to fore a fascinating fact: How many people have traveled under the ice of the North Pole? Read

Paul Fassa – Cannabis Remedies for Epilepsy Were Discovered and Buried in the 1940s

June 20, 2016

Applying low THC high CBD cannabis or cannabidiol successfully for seizures has become relatively widespread among families with children who are having chronic seizures, even several grand mal seizures daily. This awareness was greatly enhanced by an unusual mainstream August 2013 media report by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, M.D., called “Weed.” Since that report, high CBD (cannabidiol) low THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound of cannabis, is being used successfully for children with terminal seizures throughout the nation. Harken back to the days of former alcohol prohibitionist Harry Anslinger who was appointed head of The Bureau of Narcotics, formed around the time of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. You may be surprised to find that in 1947, a similar study was underway for using a synthetic form of THC with at least 50% success rate for children with intractable seizure issues. Anslinger and company did what they could do to prevent the news from getting out. But the study papers slipped through and were recently discovered. More about that incident later in this article. For now let’s explore what could have existed for 66 years as relief from the ever increasing numbers of seizure stricken children, which corresponds with the increased CDC childhood

Jonathan Marshall – Global Warming Adds to Mideast Hot Zone

June 20, 2016

While Washington decision-makers debate whether to launch U.S. military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, as if Syria suffers from a shortage of war and foreign intervention, the United States continues to ignore underlying issues that have helped trigger recent conflicts in the Middle East and threaten to create much bigger upheavals in decades to come. Taking the long view, our number one enemy should not be Assad, or even ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but climate change. Predictions by climate scientists that the Middle East will become nearly uninhabitable by the end of the century — barring decisive global action to curb carbon pollution — put all current conflicts into much-needed perspective. Experts have been warning for years about the social and political implications of environmental stresses. Consider these cautionary words from the International Institute for Sustainable Development in 2009: Read

Reynard Loki – 10 of the Great World Heritage Sites That Could Be Destroyed by Climate Change

June 20, 2016

An alarming new report finds that climate change is a major threat to several of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. From mountains, jungles, cedar forests and ice fjords to towns, ports, beaches, ruins and statues, no site is safe from the wide-ranging impacts of man-caused climate change. Released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Program and the Union of Concerned Scientists, the report identifies 31 natural and cultural World Heritage sites across 29 countries that are vulnerable to a range of climate change-related impacts, from increasing temperatures, melting glaciers and rising sea levels to extreme weather events, intensifying droughts and more frequent and more severe wildfires. “Climate change could eventually even cause some World Heritage sites to lose their status [3],” said Adam Markham, lead author of the report and deputy director of the Climate and Energy Program at UCS. Tourism, one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors, will likely be affected by the dramatic changes expected at these sites, and so will the local communities that depend on that tourism. At stakes are billions of dollars in both conservation expenses and tourism revenue. But tourism and climate are engaged in a vicious

Jeremy Adam Smith, Summer Allen – How Nature Helps Fathers Nurture

June 16, 2016

Some dads are very involved in the lives of their children—while other fathers neglect, ignore, or even abuse their kids. That’s a fact. Are there biological factors that could help explain why some fathers are more nurturing than others? That’s the question being explored by Emory University anthropologist James Rilling in a series of innovative studies that are documenting how differences in hormone levels, sexual anatomy, and brain activity seem to relate to involvement with children. For many, many years, we assumed that men’s bodies did not change when they became fathers, which probably seemed logical, since males cannot bear or nurse children. As a result, researchers knew almost nothing about which biological factors might drive fathers to spend time caring for their children—and which ones might interfere.We know quite a lot about the biological changes that occur in women when they become mothers. At the most visible level, their hips spread and their breasts swell. There are also changes that aren’t visible to the naked eye: New neurons and connections develop in the grey matter of their brains, for example, and their bodies are flooded with hormones like oxytocin that facilitate bonding with an infant. Read

World’s Banks Driving Climate Chaos with Hundreds of Billions in Extreme Energy Financing

June 15, 2016

Turning their backs on climate science and the consensus of governments and civil society across the globe, the world’s biggest banks are dangerously advancing the climate crisis by pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the world’s most polluting fossil fuel industries, according to a new report published Tuesday. The report, $horting the Climate: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2016 (pdf), put forth by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), BankTrack, Sierra Club, and Oil Change International, evaluates the private global banking industry based on its financing for fossil fuels. For the first time, the seventh annual installment of the report breaks that funding down by the most high-risk subsectors of that industry, including coal power, extreme oil (tar sands and Arctic and ultra-deep offshore drilling), and Liquified National Gas (LNG) export. According to the report’s analysis of the last three years, Citigroup, topping the list with $24.06 billion of coal power plant funding, and Bank of America “are the Western world’s coal banks.” At the same time, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and Bank of America—with a respective $37.7 billion, $26.49 billion and $24.85 billion in high-risk financing—”are the bankers of extreme oil and gas.” Read

Landmark Study Shows Our Bodies are Rife with Cancer-Causing Chemicals

June 15, 2016

The first inventory of its kind has found that hundreds of cancer-causing chemicals are building up in the bodies of Americans. The analysis from Environmental Working Group (EWG), based on more than 1,000 biomonitoring studies—which measure the burden of certain chemicals present in the human body—and other research by government agencies and independent scientists, found that up to 420 chemicals known or likely to cause cancer have been detected in blood, urine, hair, and other human samples. “The presence of a toxic chemical in our bodies does not necessarily mean it will cause harm, but this report details the astounding number of carcinogens we are exposed to in almost every part of life that are building up in our systems,” said Curt DellaValle, author of the report and a senior scientist at EWG. According to the report, Pollution in People, carcinogens detected in biomonitoring studies come from diverse sources, including: Industrial chemicals Commercial products including flame retardants in furniture and other items; dry cleaning chemicals; styrene in plastics; nonstick, waterproof and grease-resistant chemicals in cookware, clothing and food wrappers; other chemicals in paints and hair coloring; and flavoring and fragrance ingredients Pesticides Heavy metals Byproducts of combustion, heating and disinfection Solvents Read

How solar panels save everybody money

June 15, 2016

The solar panels of about 40,000 Massachusetts households and community groups cut electricity prices for all of the approximately three million electricity ratepayers in the state, even those without the panels, also called photovoltaics (PV) systems. “Until now, people have focused on how much was being saved by those who owned PV,” says Robert Kaufmann, professor of Earth and environment at Boston University. “What this analysis quantified was that it actually generates savings for everybody.” The study looks at how electricity prices and consumption, power plant efficiency, and the capacity utilization of PV systems, are related to one another on an hourly basis. The paper, published in the journal Energy Policy, notes that using an hourly average for electricity prices, rather than a daily average—as many past studies have done—is a more accurate way to quantify how PV systems affect electricity prices, because such prices fluctuate greatly throughout the day. There are about one million solar installments—private rooftop, community, and commercial—in the US, and they account for about one percent of the electricity produced in this country. With the cost of PV systems continuing to fall, that number is expected to double in the next two years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association
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