August 1, 2012, from Charleston Gazette
Dealing another blow to the Obama administration's crackdown on mountaintop removal, a federal judge on Tuesday threw out new federal guidance that aimed to reduce water pollution from Appalachian coal mining operations.
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its authority under federal water protection and strip mining laws when it issued the water quality guidance.
August 1, 2011, from Vanity Fair
Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the stranger walked in and issued his threat. Rinehart was behind the counter of the Square Deal, his "old-time country store," as he calls it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm community 100 miles north of Kansas City....
As Rinehart would recall, the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that Rinehart had planted Monsanto's genetically modified (G.M.) soybeans in violation of the company's patent. Better come clean and settle with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told him--or face the consequences.
Rinehart was incredulous, listening to the words as puzzled customers and employees looked on. Like many others in rural America, Rinehart knew of Monsanto's fierce reputation for enforcing its patents and suing anyone who allegedly violated them. But Rinehart wasn't a farmer. He wasn't a seed dealer. He hadn't planted any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a small--a really small--country store in a town of 350 people....
Rinehart says he can't remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: "Monsanto is big. You can't win. We will get you. You will pay."
Scenes like this are playing out in many parts of rural America these days as Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers' co-ops, seed dealers--anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country....
Farmers call them the "seed police" and use words such as "Gestapo" and "Mafia" to describe their tactics.
August 1, 2009, from National Geographic News
It may lack the allure of the North Pole or Mount Everest, but a Pacific Ocean trash dump twice the size of Texas is this summer's hot destination for explorers. The Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch, situated in remote waters between California and Hawaii, is created by ocean currents that pick up millions of tons of the world's discarded plastic... This summer, two separate expeditions will set sail for the patch to document the scope of the problem and call global attention to disastrous ocean pollution...Follow the Kaisei expedition's progress with an interactive voyage tracker: http://www.projectkaisei.org/
August 1, 2013, from Blue and Green Tomorrow
Greenland - 80 percent of which is ice - experienced its highest temperature since records began on Wednesday.
The new record, 25.9C (78.6F), was measured at Maniitoq Mittarfia near Baffin Bay on the west coast. The previous high was 25.5C (77.9F) at Kangerlussuaq in July 1990, with records dating back to 1958.
Scientists have previously calculated that if the annual average temperature in Greenland increases by 3C (5.4F), its ice sheet will begin to melt at an abnormal and potentially catastrophic rate....
NSIDC scientist Walt Meier said, "By itself it's just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set.
August 1, 2012, from San Jose Mercury News
Climate change is real and unfolding, and the outlook for California is bleak.
A series of state-sponsored scientific studies released Tuesday warns that California can expect more scorching heat waves, severe and damaging wildfires, emergency room visits and strain on the electric grid as the Earth continues to warm and sea levels rise along the state's 1,100-mile long coast.
Higher temperatures in the next decade means that far more of the state's 37 million people will depend on air conditioning--increasing demand for electricity by up to 1 gigawatt during hot summer months. One gigawatt is roughly the size of two coal-fired power plants and is enough energy to power 750,000 homes.
August 1, 2012, from Live Science
While humans are emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere, the planet sucks some of it back up.
A new study indicates that natural, carbon-removing processes, have not yet reached capacity, in spite of humans' increasing emissions over recent decades.
The oceans can absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, as can trees and other vegetation.
"Globally, these carbon dioxide 'sinks' have roughly kept pace with emissions from human activities, continuing to draw about half of the emitted [carbon dioxide] back out of the atmosphere," said study researcher and climate scientist Pieter Tans, with the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory, in a statement. "However, we do not expect this to continue indefinitely."
August 1, 2011, from Reuters
The United States is on a pace in 2011 to set a record for the cost of weather-related disasters and the trend is expected to worsen as climate change continues, officials and scientists said on Thursday.
"The economic impact of severe weather events is only projected to grow," Senator Dick Durbin said at a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and Government, which he chairs. "We are not prepared. Our weather events are getting worse, catastrophic in fact."...
As of June, the United States has seen eight weather disasters exceeding $1 billion each in damage, and the annual hurricane season has hardly begun, said Kathryn Sullivan, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and NOAA's Deputy Administrator.
The record is nine in a single year, 2008. But April alone saw separate tornado, wildfire, flood and drought disasters.
"Any one such a event in a year would be considered quite notable, and we had four in totally different hazard categories in the space of a month," Sullivan told Reuters.
The costs of weather-disaster damages have climbed past $32 billion for 2011, according to NOAA estimates....
"Every weather event that happens nowadays takes place in the context of the changes in the background climate system," University of Illinois scientist Donald Wuebbles, who worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the panel.
"So nothing is entirely 'natural' anymore," he said.
August 1, 2009, from Charleston Daily Progress
As U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello was considering how to vote on an important piece of climate change legislation in June, the freshman congressman’s office received at least six letters from two Charlottesville-based minority organizations voicing opposition to the measure.
The letters, as it turns out, were forgeries.
“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”
August 1, 2009, from via ScienceDaily
An odd songbird with a bald head living in a rugged region in Laos has been discovered by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Melbourne. Dubbed the "Bare-faced Bulbul" because of the lack of feathers on its face and part of its head, it is the only example of a bald songbird in mainland Asia, according to scientists. It is the first new species of bulbul – a family of about 130 species – described in Asia in over 100 years.