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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(9)
Plague/Virus:(5)
Climate Chaos:(11)
Resource Depletion: (4)
Biology Breach:(15)
Recovery:(10)
This Week's Top Ten Very Scary Tags:
bad policy  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ toxic water  ~ toxic buildup  ~ alternative energy  ~ global warming  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ smart policy  ~ canary in coal mine  ~ marine mammals  ~ sixth extinction  



ApocaDocuments (54) gathered this week:
Sun, Oct 26, 2008
from St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Wild hogs overrun Missouri
...The feral hog population exploded in the early 1990s when state conservation officials believe some began releasing the pigs for recreational hunting. More than 10,000 are rooting around 20 counties, mostly in the southern part of the state....The swine are ecological wrecking balls, ruining crops, pastures, hayfields and stock ponds. They eat almost anything, including salamanders, young quail, turkey and even small fawns. ...


All hail ... the Lord of the Flies!

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Sun, Oct 26, 2008
from New Scientist:
New roads could bring pollution to Yellowstone
Some of the US's pristine forests could soon be criss-crossed with roads for logging and mining as the federal government once again relaxes conservation rules -- this time in Idaho. US national parks are still protected, but at threat are so-called "roadless" areas of national forests. These cover more than 230,000 square kilometres -- an area nearly as large as the UK. Bill Clinton banned virtually all development in these areas just before leaving office in January 2001. The Bush administration scrapped this policy in 2005, working out rules on a state-by-state basis instead. ...


What's the point of all that forest if you can't use it?

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Sun, Oct 26, 2008
from Science News:
Book Review: Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault On Our Children
The authors capture community efforts to connect clusters of disease to chemicals -- including TCE, phthalates, chromium 5 and Teflon -- and illuminate the underlying policy reasons for gaps in governmental oversight.... More than a hundred interviews with corporate researchers, public health leaders, government insiders and affected families support this cautionary tale of collusion that falls short of being alarmist. The authors ask readers to demand accountability and public health scrutiny for the benefit of future generations. ...


Like "you can't build a waste dump by a school" but you can build a school by an an existing waste dump. Go figure.

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Sun, Oct 26, 2008
from Pacific Daily News (Guam):
Bush approach to restricting fishing meets local resistance
The local fishing community on Guam is joining the Northern Marianas in a battle against a plan in Washington, D.C., to classify the Marianas Trench a national marine monument.... "We're only little guys with little boats," he said of Guam's local fishing community. All of Guam's small boat fishing operations combined catch 50 tons of fish a year, he said. A purse seiner -- which local fishermen don't use -- can catch 1,500 tons in just one fishing trip, he said. ...


Maybe ban the method and mode, not the means.

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Sun, Oct 26, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Britain threatens plan for climate spy in space
A major programme to monitor climate change from space could be in jeopardy after it emerged that the British government is poised to slash funding for the project.... [Kopernicus satellite programme] has the specific purpose of providing accurate data for policymakers around the world. The first of the five satellites, packed with scientific instruments, Sentinel 1, is due to be sent into orbit in 2011. 'It's essential that we recognise that the Earth is changing and that we put an Earth-management plan in place. Kopernikus is that global view of a changing environment,' said Monks. ...


Cutting off an arm to save its finger.

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Sun, Oct 26, 2008
from Myrtle Beach Online:
S.C. DHEC doesn't track AVX pollution
"It just continues to amaze me that all of this flew under the radar for so long and now that there has been a public outcry by the neighbors DHEC is finally taking some action," said Mary Henry, president of the homeowners association at Sterling Village I, which is near AVX.... The possible criminal investigation would focus on decades' worth of trichloroethylene, or TCE, contamination in groundwater at AVX. TCE is an industrial degreaser that has been linked with liver and other cancers. The contamination has spread from AVX to a roughly 10-block neighborhood adjacent to the manufacturer. ...


It's my factory! You can't tell me what to do! You're not the boss of me!

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Sat, Oct 25, 2008
from Infoshop News:
Ivory Coast: Two Underlings Jailed for Toxic Dumping, But Oil Company Bosses Still Free
Yesterday Ugborugbo, the Nigerian owner of an Ivorian waste-disposal firm called Tommy, was handed 20 years in jail for directing an operation to dump chemicals from the tanker throughout the Ivorian port city of Abidjan in 2006. A shipping agent named Desire Kouao was sentenced to five years in jail for "complicity." Executives and Directors of Trafigura aren't going to jail. The company paid off the Ivory Coast and they didn't even have to face any criminal charges.... As usual the crime bosses get a get out of jail card, while their [underlings] serve time for them. ...


Same as it ever was.

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Sat, Oct 25, 2008
from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Are the orcas starving?
Showing signs of starvation as salmon runs faltered up and down the West Coast, Puget Sound's orca population lost seven of its number over the past year, bringing the population to just 83, anxious scientists reported Friday. The development marks the biggest reduction in the orca population since a series of bad chinook salmon seasons in the 1990s battered the killer whales' numbers. Revealing the degree to which the orcas are interrelated to a far-flung marine ecosystem, the collapse of California's Sacramento Valley chinook run seems likely to be partly to blame for declining killer whale numbers... ...


Feed Willy

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Sat, Oct 25, 2008
from San Diego Union-Tribune:
Drought, beetles killing forests
Bugs and diseases are killing trees at an alarming rate across the West, from the spruce forests of Alaska to the oak woodlands near the San Diego-Tijuana border. Several scientists said the growing threat appears linked to global warming. That means tree mortality is likely to rise in places as the continent warms, potentially altering landscapes in ways that increase erosion, fan wildfires and diminish the biodiversity of Western forests. ...


Treehuggers, unite! Your bosom buddies need you.

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Sat, Oct 25, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Bush Administration Rushes Regulatory Changes Before Time Is Up
The Bush administration is hurrying to push through regulatory changes in politically sensitive areas such as endangered-species protection, dismaying opponents on the left, just as conservatives were irritated by rules rushed out at the end of the Clinton administration. Proposals now in final stages of review at various federal agencies affect mining, endangered-species protection, health-care policy and other areas. In some cases, the administration has set unusually short deadlines for the public to comment -- so short that one agency summoned employees across the country to Washington this week to help agency leaders vet 200,000 comments in the space of four days. ...


To save time, they can just read the comments' headlines!

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Sat, Oct 25, 2008
from Vancouver Sun:
Greener lifestyle also means eating less meat
Like the UN, the IPCC says that transportation -- all those SUVs, 4x4s and RVs we hear so much about -- account for 13 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, while burgers, ribs and chicken strips account for 18 per cent. Closer to home, Simon Donner, a University of B.C. specialist in the effects of climate change and land use, said plainly in an interview: "In terms of personal bang for your environmental buck, just eat less meat." ...


So I can drive-thru in my Hummer as long as I get the salad.

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Sat, Oct 25, 2008
from Times Online (UK):
Plug points in street will boost battery car revolution
Charging points for electric cars are to be installed in thousands of car parks and on streets as part of a government plan to convert drivers from petrol and diesel to electricity. Under the scheme, motorists will be able to plug in and recharge their batteries while shopping or at work. In the longer term, those who are unable to wait will be able to exchange their empty battery and drive on with minimal delay.... They intend to borrow ideas pioneered in Israel, where half a million recharging points are being installed in a scheme known as Project Better Place. ...


Now there's an idea with some juice.

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Salt levels in the ocean reflect human-induced climate change
Global warming is changing levels of salt in the ocean leading to different weather patterns on land, meteorologists have found.... In the subtropical zone salt has increased to a level outside natural variability over the last 20 years, suggesting less rainfall and increased evaporation caused by human-induced climate change. However in the North Atlantic, where there are more changeable weather patterns, an increase in salt levels was put down to natural variation. ...


Add to that the salt from my tears.

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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Times of India:
Dengue cases cross 1000 mark in Delhi
With 13 more patients testing positive for dengue, the cases of the vector-borne disease in the national capital shot up to 1008 on Thursday. Compounding the problem for the citizens and civic authorities, the city has also reported six cases of chikungunya fever so far, officials said. ...


Pshaw. Delhi has a population of 5.6 million! That's just a hemorrhagic rounding error.

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Sofia Echo (Bulgaria):
Massive ivory auctions to lead to new killing of elephants, conservationists warn
Ivory auctions that will take place in Namibia on October 28, Botswana on October 31, Zimbabwe on November 3, and South Africa on November 6 2008 have raised the concerns of international conservationists ... who said that the ivory auction was approved by members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), despite an international outcry from scientists and conservationists.... "For some inexplicable reason, some people think that all elephant populations are adequately protected and thriving. Nothing could be further from the truth. For many of the most vulnerable elephant populations across Africa, any increased poaching pressure will almost certainly result in localised extinction in the near future," he said. ...


There's an elephant in the room, and he never forgets.

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
Corals gain climate-change shield
Rare species of staghorn corals may bear some good news for reef conservation: It appears that some rare types of staghorns can readily breed with related species, creating hybrids that may be far more resilient to climate change or other stresses than anyone thought.... "This is good news, to the extent that it suggests that corals may have evolved genetic strategies for survival in unusual niches," notes Zoe Richards, who led the effort. ...


We may be clutching at straws for good news.

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Globe and Mail (Canada):
Iraq scarred by war waste
Destroyed factories have become untended hazardous waste sites, leaking poison into the water and the soil. Forests in the north and palm groves in the south have been obliterated to remove the enemy's hiding places... Iraq is planted with 25 million land mines. Chemical weapons and depleted uranium munitions have created 105 contaminated areas, the minister said. Sewers need attention and more than 60 per cent of Iraq's fresh water is polluted. ...


But at least it's now free of that awful dictator.

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Inter Press Service:
Worst Forms of Pollution Killing Millions
Gold mining and recycling car batteries are two of the world's Top 10 most dangerous pollution problems, and the least known, according a new report. The health of hundreds of millions of people is affected and millions die because of preventable pollution problems like toxic waste, air pollution, ground and surface water contamination, metal smelting and processing, used car battery recycling and artisanal gold mining, the "Top Ten" report found....In previous years, the Blacksmith Institute has released a Top Ten list of toxic sites. The Institute continues to compile a detailed database with over 600 toxic sites and will release the world's first detailed global inventory in a couple of years. However, this year, rather than focus on places, it wants to bring specific pollution issues to world attention. And in particular highlight the health impacts -- a 2007 Cornell University study that 40 percent of all deaths worldwide are directly attributable to pollution, he said. ...


Great news for the hazmat and respirator industries!

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Critics slam chemical report
Lawmakers, scientists and advocacy groups intensified their criticism Thursday of a government report declaring bisphenol A to be safe....The Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that the draft was done primarily by representatives of the plastics industry and those with an interest in downplaying concerns about the chemical. Bisphenol A, used in baby bottles and other hard plastic, has been detected in the urine of 93 percent of Americans tested. Hundreds of studies have found it to cause health problems in laboratory animals, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hyperactivity, autism and reproductive failure. ...


That's the fox guarding the henhouse with a bib around its neck!

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from McClatchy Newspapers:
EPA weakens new lead rule after White House objects
After the White House intervened, the Environmental Protection Agency last week weakened a rule on airborne lead standards at the last minute so that fewer known polluters would have their emissions monitored. The EPA on Oct. 16 announced that it would dramatically reduce the highest acceptable amount of airborne lead from 1.5 micrograms of lead per cubic meter to 0.15 micrograms. It was the first revision of the standard since EPA set it 30 years ago. However, a close look at documents publicly available, including e-mails from the EPA to the White House Office of Management and Budget, reveal that the OMB objected to the way the EPA had determined which lead-emitting battery recycling plants and other facilities would have to be monitored. EPA documents show that until the afternoon of Oct. 15, a court-imposed deadline for issuing the revised standard, the EPA proposed to require a monitor for any facility that emitted half a ton of lead or more a year. The e-mails indicate that the White House objected, and in the early evening of Oct. 15 the EPA set the level at 1 ton a year instead. ...


Even in a lame duck administration, it's business as usual, and more than just ducks are suffering!

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Farmers Weekly:
Parliament climbdown could save key weedkillers and fungicides
In the parliament's first reading of the controversial pesticides approval legislation, MEPs voted for a proposal that would remove any pesticide that triggered any of the three criteria (persistence, bio-accumulation and long-distance environmental transfer) for an active ingredient to be termed a "persistent organic pollutant" (POP). By contrast, the European Commission and EU agricultural minister both say a substance will be called a POP only if it meets all three criteria. ...


Whew! That was a close one, diflufenican, chlorotoluron, mesosulfuron-methyl, and the rest of the gang -- wasn't it!

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Strategic Management Journal:
Green Practices: When Do Corporations Respond To Stakeholders' Pressure?
The authors find that firms with powerful marketing departments were more responsive to pressures from customers and competitors... In contrast, they find that firms with powerful legal departments were more responsive to pressures from regulators and environmental NGOs, and were especially likely to adopt government-initiated voluntary programs. ...


There's a science to societal change?

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from UCSD, via EurekAlert:
Potent greenhouse gas more prevalent in atmosphere than previously assumed
A powerful greenhouse gas is at least four times more prevalent in the atmosphere than previously estimated, according to a team of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Using new analytical techniques, a team led by Scripps geochemistry professor Ray Weiss made the first atmospheric measurements of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is thousands of times more effective at warming the atmosphere than an equal mass of carbon dioxide.... Nitrogen trifluoride is one of several gases used during the manufacture of liquid crystal flat-panel displays, thin-film photovoltaic cells and microcircuits. Many industries have used the gas in recent years as an alternative to perfluorocarbons, which are also potent greenhouse gases, because it was believed that no more than 2 percent of the NF3 used in these processes escaped into the atmosphere. ...


Whoops! Guess all our cool laptops and gizmos may be making things hot!

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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, via EurekAlert:
Diversity of trees in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest defies simple explanation
Trees in a hyper-diverse tropical rainforest interact with each other and their environment to create and maintain diversity, researchers report in the Oct. 24 issue of the journal Science.... It is difficult to determine the effects of climate change, habitat fragmentation and species extinctions on life's diversity without a coherent model of how communities are organized; but a unified theory of diversity patterns in ecological communities remains elusive. The most complex biological systems -- such as tropical rainforests -- are the most important testing grounds for theories that attempt to generalize across ecological communities; as they pose the greatest challenge. At Yasuni, in addition to the 600 species of birds and 170 of mammals, there are approximately 1,100 species of trees in the 25 hectare plot -- more than in all of the U.S. and Canada, combined. ...


Let's hope we can figure it out before the Amazon has been turned into cattle ranches.

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Thu, Oct 23, 2008
from Hampton Roads Daily Press:
Most believe climate change is real
...The Miller Center survey, conducted this September, found 75 percent of Virginians believe "there is solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades." That's a pretty high number. Further, 39 percent said they believe human activity is causing the warming, while 33 percent said it was a combination of human activity and natural patterns. Twenty percent said only natural patterns were to blame. ...


If these results are supposed to be good news, I'd hate to see the bad!

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Thu, Oct 23, 2008
from Reuters:
China report warns of greenhouse gas leap
BEIJING: China's greenhouse gas pollution could double or more in two decades says a new Chinese state think-tank study that casts stark light on the industrial giant's role in stoking global warming. Beijing has not released recent official data on greenhouse gas from the nation's fast-growing use of coal, oil and gas. Researchers abroad estimate China's carbon dioxide emissions now easily outstrip that of the United States, long the biggest emitter. ...


Maybe China could just go start its own planet.

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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Thu, Oct 23, 2008
from University of Georgia via ScienceDaily:
Ecosystem-level Consequences Of Frog Extinctions
Streams that once sang with the croaks, chirps and ribbits of dozens of frog species have gone silent. They're victims of a fungus that's decimating amphibian populations worldwide. Such catastrophic declines have been documented for more than a decade, but until recently scientists knew little about how the loss of frogs alters the larger ecosystem. A University of Georgia study that is the first to comprehensively examine an ecosystem before and after an amphibian population decline has found that tadpoles play a key role keeping the algae at the base of the food chain productive. ...


Tadpoles... propping up the ecosystem!

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Thu, Oct 23, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
UK announces world's largest algal biofuel project
The world's biggest publicly funded project to make transport fuels from algae will be launched today by a government agency which develops low-carbon technologies. The Carbon Trust will today announce a project to make algal biofuels a commercial reality by 2020. The plan could see up to 26m pounds spent on developing the technology and infrastructure to ensure that algal biofuels replace a signficant proportion of the fossil fuels used by UK drivers. ...


Say... maybe we can make use of those ocean dead zones we're creating!

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Thu, Oct 23, 2008
from findingDulcinea:
Dead Humboldt Squid Wash Up on Oregon, Washington Beaches
The Oregonian reports that beaches along Oregon's northern coast have seen an influx of dead Humboldt squid washing ashore over the past few days. The squid are typically about 3 1/2 feet long, and thrive in the warmer waters of Southern California and Mexico. However, these squid swam north in search of food.... "The fact this is happening in both hemispheres could be a sign it is tied in with global warming," but noted that pieces of the puzzle were still missing. There are possible explanations other than global warming. Some biologists suggest that overfishing of the squid's "natural predators, including tuna, sharks and swordfish" has allowed Humboldt squid to swim further. ...


There are so many tentacles to this problem.

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Thu, Oct 23, 2008
from UNSW, via EurekAlert:
Magic solar milestone reached
UNSW's ARC Photovoltaic Centre of Excellence has again asserted its leadership in solar cell technology by reporting the first silicon solar cell to achieve the milestone of 25 per cent effiency.... "Our main efforts now are focussed on getting these efficiency improvements into commercial production," he said. "Production compatible versions of our high efficiency technology are being introduced into production as we speak." ...


Are we starting to see the light?

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Wed, Oct 22, 2008
from London Independent:
Organic farming 'could feed Africa'
Organic farming offers Africa the best chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition it has been locked in for decades, according to a major study from the United Nations to be presented today. New evidence suggests that organic practices -- derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad -- are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers who remain among the poorest people on earth. ...


A-maize-ing!

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Wed, Oct 22, 2008
from U.S. News and World Report:
Some Nuclear Energy Backers Say Uranium Alternative Could be a Magic Bullet
In the midst of renewed global interest in nuclear energy, a long-overlooked nuclear fuel, thorium, is being re-examined as a potential solution to some of the industry's most daunting problems, including disposal of waste. Widely available in the sandy beaches of India, Australia, and the United States, among other places, thorium is a naturally occurring, slightly radioactive element that is being heralded by advocates as a safer alternative to uranium that could help limit the production of nuclear waste and prevent nuclear technology from being used for weapons rather than energy. ...


Walk softly and carry an enchanted hammer called a Mjolnir.

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Wed, Oct 22, 2008
from Boston Globe:
The nature of cigarette butts
According to the American Littoral Society, cigarettes are the most common type of litter on earth. A study in the Journal of Tobacco Control reports smokers litter more than 4.5 trillion of them each year. Smoking's environmental impact (we won't go into the health woes here) is already atrocious: It emits 5.5 billion pounds of CO2 and more than 11 billion pounds of methane annually. Discarded butts add insult to injury, leaching hundreds of toxic chemicals (arsenic, lead, and benzene among them) into the water, air, and ground, killing birds, fish, and healthy microorganisms. ...


Hey, butt out.

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Wed, Oct 22, 2008
from Reuters:
Birdflu pushed back, pandemic threat remains: UN
International efforts have pushed back the spread of bird flu this year but the risk of a global influenza pandemic killing millions is as great as ever, the United Nations and World Bank reported on Tuesday. Most countries now have plans to combat a pandemic, but many of the plans are defective, said the report, issued before a bird flu conference due to be attended by ministers from some 60 countries in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from Friday to Sunday. The report, fourth in a series since a bird flu scare swept the globe three years ago, followed a new World Bank estimate that a severe flu pandemic could cost $3 trillion and result in a nearly 5 percent drop in world gross domestic product. ...


Gosh -- that's almost as much as we've poured into the vaults of criminally stupid bankers!

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Wed, Oct 22, 2008
from Saskatoon Star Phoenix:
Ecological stocks plummet around the world
In fully 52 per cent of the mammals for which population trends are known, numbers are dwindling. Some 188 species are in the highest threat category of critically endangered. An additional 29 species have been flagged as critically endangered possibly extinct, and nearly 450 mammals have been listed as endangered. The greatest threats mammals face are deforestation and other habitat loss, as well as overhunting. Habitat loss and degradation affect 40 per cent of the world's mammals and climate change is increasingly a factor affecting habitat. ...


Only 52 percent? We can do better than that!

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from Springer News:
Fertilizers -- a growing threat to sea life
She highlights how population growth, agricultural expansion, and urbanization have released nitrogen from the land and moved it to Chesapeake Bay, where it has accumulated and degraded both the natural wildlife and water quality. The combination of the increasing use of fertilizers, deforestation and the draining of wetlands and floodplains to provide more land for crops, has led to an imbalance in the nitrogen cycle, in particular reduced opportunities for the natural removal of nitrogen. As a result, there is an excess of nitrogen in the estuary, also known as eutrophication. This in turn has led to the deterioration of the local ecosystem through reduced concentrations of oxygen in the bay, affecting both the water quality and the fish populations. ...


Those scientists always talk about "systems" and "interactions" and "correlations" and "causation." Don't they understand that fertilizers fertilize?

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Redband trout's decline under study
The redband index - like the Dow Jones - is headed south. On one stretch of the upper Spokane, redband counts dropped 75 percent between 1980 and last year. Though downstream counts are higher, redband populations aren't healthy in any part of the river, Donley said. The declines have occurred despite two decades of catch-and-release regulations for anglers.... But hydropower dams altered the river's flows, while withdrawals sucked water out of the river. Gravel spawning beds, where redbands lay their eggs, dry out too soon, killing the young fry. Pollutants also hurt the trout. More than other fish in the Spokane system, redbands need cold, clean water for survival. "They're the canary in the coal mine," Donley said. "We use them as an environmental indicator." ...


Another freakin' canary in that overpopulated mine.

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Cow burps are making a growing contribution to global warming
Dr Andy Thorpe, an economist at the University of Portsmouth, found a herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent in energy terms to driving a family car more than 100,000 miles (180,000km).... He added that while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased by 31 per cent during the past 250 years, methane has increased by 149 per cent during the same period. ...


Maalox? Bean-o? What's the right additive? Or maybe we just stop eating so much beef!

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from Christian Science Monitor:
Wood heat rises again
But as people polish their stoves and admire their woodpiles, environmentalists and health officials are expressing concern that burning wood in old or poorly designed stoves could add significantly to air pollution. And although wood represents a local and renewable fuel source, its credentials as a "carbon neutral" fuel -- not adding to global warming -- are hazy at best.... "I like to call it '75 percent carbon neutral,'" Mr. Gulland says. While wood burning does release carbon dioxide and methane, advocates argue that the trees would do that anyway in the forest as they die, fall over, and decompose.... "On a scale of carbon neutrality, it's better than burning a fossil fuel, but it's not the same as wind or solar," Rector says. "It's a very complicated question," she says. "We still need to let the scientists figure it out." ...


It's a knotty problem, but I'll go out on a limb....

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from Science News:
Clean coal for cars has a dirty side
If the United States tried to achieve independence from foreign oil by making gasoline from vast reserves of domestic coal, the country would probably end up increasing its carbon emissions, a new study concludes. Researchers found that in realistic scenarios, the mass production of fuel from coal or natural gas would lead to the emission of more climate-changing greenhouse gases than the current oil-based economy. But even in the most optimistic scenarios, which assumed that breakthroughs in technology could be achieved, coal and gas would not help reduce emissions from transportation, the researchers report in the Oct. 15 Environmental Science & Technology. ...


Senator Obama.... are you listening?

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from US News and World Report:
California Maps a Plan to Slow Down Global Warming
...This week, the California Air Resources Board, the state agency tasked with implementing the law, released the first details of exactly what the state must do to achieve its global warming goals. In a 142-page report many experts believe could serve as a policy template for other states--and even the federal government--the board provides specific estimates of exactly how and where the state could have an impact on climate change. To return to 1990 carbon emissions levels, the plan says, the state will need to reduce its annual emissions by about 4 tons per person--from 14 tons currently to about 10 tons in 2020. The report calls this goal "ambitious but achievable." ...


This sacrificial mentality is a Sacramento go-go!

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from London Daily Telegraph:
Bumblebee decline threatens British countryside
The continuing decline in bees will destroy the British countryside as important iconic plants die without pollination, experts have warned. They are also key to a number of rare flowers including fox gloves, honey suckle and a range of wild orchids that cannot be pollinated by other insects. However bumblebees are in sharp decline. Of the 25 species found in the UK, three are nationally extinct and many more are seriously threatened. ...


Perhaps we could release animatronic bumblebees into the British countryside!

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Tue, Oct 21, 2008
from USA Today:
Experts predict next epidemic will start in animals
...A report by the non-profit Trust for America's Health, to be released next week, asserts that infectious diseases from the developing world are anything but "a back-burner concern." The report, "Germs Go Global: Why Emerging Infectious Diseases Are a Threat to America," cites National Intelligence Estimates that conclude outbreaks of new and resurgent infectious diseases, many of which "originate overseas," kill more than 170,000 people in the USA each year....Chikungunya may well become the next epidemic to reach the USA. Carrying an African name that roughly means "bent over," chikungunya is a mosquito-borne illness that causes severe flu-like symptoms and muscle aches that may last a lifetime. ...


Wasn't it chikungunya that said "The sky is falling!"?

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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from Washington Post:
Risk of Disease Rises With Water Temperatures
When a 1991 cholera outbreak that killed thousands in Peru was traced to plankton blooms fueled by warmer-than-usual coastal waters, linking disease outbreaks to epidemics was a new idea. Now, scientists say, it is a near-certainty that global warming will drive significant increases in waterborne diseases around the world. ...


It's gonna be one big jacuzzi party for the bugs!

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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from The Sydney Morning Herald:
Dramatic drop in Kiwi sperm quality
The quality of New Zealand men's sperm has halved in two decades - the most dramatic drop of any western country. New research presented to a gathering of international fertility researchers in Brisbane today was told that the sperm volume carried by the average New Zealand man decreased from about 110 million to 50 million per millilitre between 1987 and 2007. ...


This is one of those rare cases where quality EQUALS quantity -- and vice versa.

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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from Issues in Science and Technology:
A National Renewable Portfolio Standard? Not Practical
To sum up, we estimate that the states could accommodate 10 percent of the electricity coming from wind (or solar, if the costs were to come down) at any one time. With some attention and adjustment, we find that the electricity system could accommodate 15 percent or even 20 percent.... A national system must also deal with the fact that the best wind resources are in the Great Plains, about 1,000 miles from the Southeast where the electricity is likely to be needed. Policymakers must remain mindful of the difficulty of expanding transmission infrastructure. Community opposition will be widespread, the cost will be high, and the lines themselves will be vulnerable to disruption by storms or terrorists. Thus, although a 20 percent national RPS might be physically possible with a very large transmission network and large amounts of spinning reserve, the logistical barriers will be high and the costs daunting. Embarking on this path without considering alternative strategies to reach the same ultimate goal would be short-sighted. ...


I hate it when facts get in the way of rosy sustainable scenarios.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from USGS, via American Society of Agronomy:
Pesticide Concentrations Decreasing
Over the years, frequent research has detected pesticides in ground water around the country, including in aquifers used for drinking-water supply. Over the past few decades, the use of some pesticides has been restricted or banned, while new pesticides have been introduced. One goal of the study was to track the retention of various types of contaminants that would be found in the different pesticides used over the years.... The results of this study are encouraging for the future state of the nationís ground-water quality with respect to pesticides," said Laura Bexfield, who conducted the data analysis. "Despite sustained use of many popular pesticides and the introduction of new ones, results as a whole did not indicate increasing detection rates or concentrations in shallow or drinking-water resources over the 10 years studied." ...


RoundUpô is now guilt-free!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from The Intelligencer:
Well-grounded fears of aquifer depletion
But this year, as Palisades' well dropped to its lowest level, as housing and commercial development expanded, as quarry production continued and as natural gas drilling stood on the horizon in Nockamixon, Stanfield said homeowners should start taking notice. Stanfield, who volunteers as vice chairman of the Bridgeton-Nockamixon-Tinicum Groundwater Management Committee, said in the several years he has monitored water levels, the high school's well is at the highest variation he has seen ó with the water level rising and falling. "It suggests that the aquifer they are drawing from is seriously stressed and there needs to be a review of how to respond to this," he said. ...


Water, water, once was there
now fewer drops to drink.


ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from University of Deleware:
When under attack, plants can signal microbial friends for help
Researchers at the University of Delaware have discovered that when the leaf of a plant is under attack by a pathogen, it can send out an S.O.S. to the roots for help, and the roots will respond by secreting an acid that brings beneficial bacteria to the rescue.... "Plants are a lot smarter than we give them credit for," says Bais from his laboratory at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute. ...


Dit-dit-dit, da-da-da, dit-dit-dit.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from News.com.au (Australia):
Popular Pacific holiday spots hit by dengue 'pandemic'
MOre than 500 people have been diagnosed in Samoa, at least 1000 in both New Caledonia and Fiji and close to 900 in Kiribati. But researchers believe the real number is at least double these figures, because so many people do not seek, or cannot reach, medical help.... There is no vaccine for dengue fever, and no specific treatment. Once contracted doctors advise patients to take fluids and rest. ...


This may slow down the ecotourism.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Not so common: scientists raise alarm as Britain's seals disappear
Marine biologists have warned of significant and serious changes in the seas around Britain after detecting a steep and "frightening" fall in the numbers of common seals around the coast.... "This is very abnormal. To give you an idea of the level of abnormality, the rates of decline are equivalent to these populations producing no offspring for five or six years." ...


This should seal the deal.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from Timmins Daily Press (Canada):
Toxic chemicals found in Ottawa River: Memo
Not only is raw sewage flowing into the Ottawa River, so are toxic chemicals. In a memo sent to city councillors last week deputy manager for infrastructure services Nancy Schepers stated that recent testing found at least 10 chemicals, some of them toxic, in the river that serves as the city's main source of drinking water. At least one chemical, perfluorobutane sulfonate, can result in birth or developmental effects, affect the brain and nervous system, cause cancer and affect reproduction and fertility. Raw river water samples taken in April 2008 showed 10 compounds from a list of 51 compounds the city tested for.... "In the long run we may conclude there are health effects or that there are no significant health effects," said Levy. ...


That long run is pretty short, I'm afraid.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from The Independent (UK):
Don't kill the planet in the name of saving the economy
We are living through two great meltdowns -- the credit crunch, and the climate crunch. The heating of the planet is now happening so fast it's hard to pluck a single event to fix on, but here's one. By the summer of 2013, the Arctic will be free of ice. How big an event it this? The Wall Street Crash hadn't happened for 80 years. The Arctic Crash hasn't happened for three million years: that's the last time there was watery emptiness at the top of the world. The Arctic is often described as the canary in the coal mine. As one Arctic researcher put it to me this week: the canary is dead. It's time to clear the mine, and run. ...


How can we clear the mine of so damn many canaries?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 20, 2008
from The Scotsman:
For every 100 of these birds that graced our skies, just five remain
THE number of Arctic terns in Scotland has dropped by a shocking 95 per cent in the past two decades. The graceful seabirds, well known in Shetland and Orkney for zealously guarding their nests and letting out rasping cries, are suffering severe declines. The dramatic decline, outlined in the Scottish Government's consultation into the Scottish Marine Bill, has been described as a "wake-up call". Other seabirds, including the Arctic skua and the black-legged kittiwake, have also suffered large drops in numbers. ...


What a lousy way to wake up.

ApocaDoc
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