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What A Week It Was: Apocadocuments from
View By Scenario:
Species Collapse:(5)
Plague/Virus:(2)
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stupid humans  ~ global warming  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ short-term thinking  ~ deniers  ~ contamination  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ climate impacts  ~ oil issues  ~ economic myopia  ~ carbon emissions  



ApocaDocuments (42) gathered this week:
Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from Postmedia News:
U.S. study says people are hesitant to believe good news from scientists
A newly released American study suggests the public often rejects the opinions of scientific experts. The public tends not to trust scientists, says research from California - but there's a twist. People are mainly reluctant to believe good news, it turns out - such as the message that a flu vaccine is safe. But the public is more likely to trust the researchers who frighten with bad news. Overall, the study, published in a research journal called Public Understanding of Science, concludes that "scientists' efforts to influence public opinion have a limited effect." ...


Thank goodness politicians listen to scientists!

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from Post-Tribune:
Area universities urged to study climate change
Adapting to climate change and mitigating its impacts are about to become bigger priorities in Northwest Indiana. A committee of the region's largest planning agency, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, has taken an official stand on the issue and is calling on local universities to study the impact of climate change on health, the economy and the environment in the region. At least one university is ready to help. The committee wants NIRPC to expand its public education program and spread the word that municipalities need to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, climate change. The committee also wants the commission to promote green infrastructure as a way to mitigate climate change. Green infrastructure is a way of using nature to filter precipitation into the ground rather than sending it to sewers. ...


They need the universities because they sure as hell won't get any help from the governor!

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from The Asian Age:
Indian Ocean rising faster than others
Newly detected rising sea levels in parts of the Indian Ocean have led Indian scientists to conclude that the Indian Ocean is rising faster than other oceans. Dr Satheesh C. Shenoi, director, Indian National Centre for Ocean Infor-mation Services, speaking at a workshop on "Coasts, Coastal Populations and their Concerns" organised by the Centre for Science and Environment, warned that sea surface measurements and satellite observations confirm that an anthropogenic climate warming is amplifying regional sea rise changes in the Indian Ocean. This would have far-reaching impacts on the climate of vulnerable nations, including the coastlines on the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka and parts of Indonesia as a result of human-induced increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases. ...


Being ahead of everyone else ain't always a good thing.

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from Glasgow Herald:
War on the car
Stricter and lower speed limits, higher parking charges and a five pence per kilometre road-pricing scheme are being proposed by the Scottish Government as part of a major new offensive to cut the pollution that is disrupting the climate. The suggestions, contained in a key policy report leaked to the Sunday Herald, are part of radical plans being drawn up to meet the ambitious target of a 42 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2020. The government's new package of 30 "proposals and policies" to combat climate change has been welcomed by environmentalists. But some of the measures have already provoked the ire of the car lobby and businesses. The Association of British Drivers dismissed the curbs on cars as "lunatic". They would spark widespread anger, claimed Peter Spinney, the association's co-ordinator in Scotland. ...


Way to cut carbons!

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Sun, Sep 5, 2010
from New Orleans Times-Picayune:
5 key human errors, colossal mechanical failure led to fatal Gulf oil rig blowout
A string of mistakes, first by people, then by a supposedly fail-safe machine, sealed the fates of 11 rig workers and led to the fouling of the Gulf of Mexico and hundreds of miles of its coastline. More than 100 hours of testimony before a federal investigative panel, two dozen congressional hearings and several internal company reports have brought the genesis of the spill into sharp focus. The record shows there was no single fatal mistake or cut corner. Rather, five key human errors and a colossal mechanical failure combined to form a recipe for unprecedented disaster. The rig's malfunctioning blowout preventer ultimately failed, but it was needed only because of human errors. Those errors originated with a team of BP engineers in Houston who knew they had an especially tough well, one rig workers called "the well from hell." ...


The "well from hell" turned out to be the "rig you don't dig."

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Sat, Sep 4, 2010
from Seed Magazine:
All consuming
...are the world's environmental ills really a result of the burgeoning number of humans on the planet -- growing by more than 150 people a minute and predicted by the United Nations to reach at least 9 billion people by 2050? Or are they more due to the fact that, while human population doubled in the past 50 years, we increased our use of resources fourfold?...Ultimately, the problem isn't the number of people, necessarily. It's what those people do. The average American (just one of 309 million) uses up some 194 pounds of stuff -- food, water, plastics, metals and other things -- per day, day in and day out. We consume a full 25 percent of the world's energy despite representing just 5 percent of global population. And that consumerism is spreading, whether it be the adoption of cars as a lifestyle choice in China or gadget lust in the U.S. "Consumerism is now spreading around the world," says Erik Assadourian, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute. "Is this going to keep spreading? Or are countries going to start recognizing that this is not a good path?" ...


I'll give these questions my undivided attention when I return from copulating at the mall.

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Sat, Sep 4, 2010
from Chemical and Engineering News:
Accumulating Contaminants Kick Off Concerns
Certain members of a class of compounds used in personal-care and cleaning products have been steadily growing in the waters around Manhattan, delivered through shower drains and passing relatively unscathed through wastewater treatment plants into the environment. Now researchers report that levels of at least one of these contaminants have increased exponentially over the past decade... Rarely studied, these quaternary ammonium compounds--known as QACs or "quacks"--are cationic surfactants used in household cleaners, fabric softeners, shampoos, and other personal care products. Various compounds from this chemical family have been reported in watery sediments in Europe and the U.S., at concentrations sometimes as high as micrograms per gram. But long-term trends have remained unreported. ...


Hey, Cationic Surfactants is the name of my surf rock band, dude! How weird!

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Sat, Sep 4, 2010
from San Diego Union-Tribune:
Dead zones a coastal threat
Dead zones increased dramatically in U.S. waters over the past 50 years, threatening ecosystems and fisheries nationwide, according to a sweeping report Friday by the federal Office of Science and Technology Policy. The multiagency assessment said that incidents of hypoxia -- a condition in which oxygen levels drop so low that fish and other animals are stressed or killed -- have risen nearly 30-fold since 1960 due in part to man-made pollutants...."If current practices are continued, the expansion of hypoxia in coastal waters will continue and increase in severity, leading to further impacts on marine habitats, living resources, economies, and coastal communities,” the report's authors said. ...


"Zombie zones" may be a more accurate term!

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Sat, Sep 4, 2010
from New Scientist:
Pakistan's flood weather eased Atlantic hurricanes
The stalled weather pattern blamed for disastrous floods in Pakistan and a record heatwave in Russia may have averted disasters elsewhere by putting the North Atlantic hurricane season on hold. Forecasters had predicted that warm sea-surface temperatures and the onset of the weather pattern known as La Nina would make a busy Atlantic hurricane season this year. In June, Phil Klotzbach and William Gray of Colorado State University predicted 18 tropical storms, with 10 reaching hurricane force and five becoming deadly major hurricanes. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast similar numbers. Yet this year's hurricane season got off to a very slow start, with only three storms by 20 August, and only one of them, Alex, reaching hurricane strength even briefly. That seemed a fizzle compared with the last busy storm season in 2008, when six of the year's 16 named storms, including major hurricane Bertha, had formed by 20 August.... Klotzbach attributes the calm conditions to dry air subsiding over the oceans, denying tropical storms the moisture that powers their growth. The dry air came from the blocking pattern that stalled the jet stream over Russia and Pakistan, says Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Air rose over Europe and Asia, then descended over the oceans depleted of the atmospheric moisture that fuels hurricanes. ...


Well done, Pakistan. Earl could have been catastrophic!

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Sat, Sep 4, 2010
from New York Times:
Mariner Rig Accident Undercuts Efforts to End Drilling Moratorium
Despite the favorable outcome, the accident's timing could not have been worse for the offshore oil and gas industry and its supporters, who in recent weeks have stepped up an already aggressive campaign against the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Just one day before the fire erupted on the rig, executives from Mariner Energy were taking part in a rally against the moratorium, which was struck down by a succession of federal judges but continues to affect the region's deepwater drillers. The rally took place in Houston and was sponsored by the American Petroleum Industry. "This administration is trying to break us," Barbara Dianne Hagood, a Mariner executive who attended the rally, told The Financial Times. "The moratorium they imposed is going to be a financial disaster for the Gulf Coast, Gulf Coast employees and Gulf Coast residents."... Jim Noe, an attorney with Hercules Offshore, a major driller in the Gulf of Mexico, called the fire a "drag," and "another challenge" for the industry, in an interview with Bloomberg News. "It's another issue that we have to explain," he said. ...


I'm so sorry random circumstance became meaningful prescience.

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Fri, Sep 3, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Rolling the dice with evolution: Massive extinction will have unpredictable consequences
New research by Macquarie University palaeobiologist, Dr John Alroy, predicts major changes to the rules of evolution as we understand them now. Those changes will have serious consequences for future biodiversity because no one can predict which groups will come to dominate after the current mass extinction..... Thus, a group's average rate of diversification or branching into new species in the past is not a good predictor of how well it will fare after a mass extinction event.... Organisms that might have adapted in the past may not be able to this time, he said. "You may end up with a dramatically altered sea floor because of changes in the dominance of major groups. That is, the extinction occurring now will overturn the balance of the marine groups." When there is a major mass extinction, it's not just a temporary drop in richness of species, he said. Alroy likens what is happening now to rolling the dice with evolution. "What's worrisome is that some groups permanently become dominant that otherwise wouldn't have. So by causing this extinction, we are taking a big gamble on what kind of species will be around in the future. We don't know how it will turn out. People don't realise that there will be very unpredictable consequences." ...


Snake eyes, when baby needs new shoes.

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Fri, Sep 3, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Cheaper, better solar cell is full of holes
A new low-cost etching technique developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory can put a trillion holes in a silicon wafer the size of a compact disc. As the tiny holes deepen, they make the silvery-gray silicon appear darker and darker until it becomes almost pure black and able to absorb nearly all colors of light the sun throws at it. At room temperature, the black silicon wafer can be made in about three minutes. At 100 degrees F, it can be made in less than a minute. The breakthrough by NREL scientists likely will lead to lower-cost solar cells that are nonetheless more efficient than the ones used on rooftops and in solar arrays today.... Could the same black-silicon etching result be achieved by substituting the inexpensive chloroauric acid for costly colloidal gold, and then mixing it as before with hydrogen peroxide and hydrofluoric acid? Yost and Branz wondered. Yes, it worked. "Chloroauric acid is much cheaper than colloidal gold," Branz said. "In essence, by skipping a few steps, they were able to make gold nanoparticles from the chloroauric acid at the same time as they were etching holes into the silicon with the gold they had made."... NREL estimates that the black silicon can reduce cell conversion costs by 4 to 8 percent, while using widely available industrial materials and equipment. "That's big," Goodrich added. "The people who are interested in this technology recognize that that difference is valuable real estate." ...


That's an Au-ful big step!

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Scientific American:
Eternal Fascinations with the End: Why We're Suckers for Apocalyptic Endings
You might think that the enterprise of science, with its method and its facts, would inoculate us against the most extravagant doomsday obsessions. But it doesn't. If anything, it just gives us more to worry about. Some of the most fervent and convincing doomsayers, after all, are scientists. Bill Joy, co-founder and former chief scientist of Sun Microsystems, has warned that of out-of-control nanobots could consume everything on earth. Astronomer Royal Martin Rees has publicly offered a bet that a biological catastrophe--accidental or intentional--will kill at least one million people by 2020 (so far, no takers). Numerous climatologists sound the alarm about the possibility of runaway global warming. They all stand on the shoulders of giants: British economist Thomas Malthus predicted in the 19th century that the rise in population would lead to widespread famine and catastrophe. It never happened, but that didn't stop Stanford biologist Paul R. Ehrlich from renewing the warning in his 1968 book The Population Bomb when he predicted that global famine was less than two decades away. Catastrophe didn't arrive then, either, but does that mean it never will? Not necessarily. Still, people often worry disproportionately about disasters that are unlikely to occur.... Some researchers think that apocalyptic dread feeds off our collective anxiety about events that lie outside our individual control.... The desire to treat terrible events as the harbinger of the end of civilization itself also has roots in another human trait: vanity.... Our fears of the apocalypse may in the end mirror the most fundamental fear of all: fear of our own mortality. ...


Does it matter if we hope we're wrong?

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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!
Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Der Spiegel:
German Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis
A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how "peak oil" might change the global economy. The internal draft document -- leaked on the Internet -- shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis. The term "peak oil" is used by energy experts to refer to a point in time when global oil reserves pass their zenith and production gradually begins to decline. This would result in a permanent supply crisis -- and fear of it can trigger turbulence in commodity markets and on stock exchanges. The issue is so politically explosive that it's remarkable when an institution like the Bundeswehr, the German military, uses the term "peak oil" at all. But a military study currently circulating on the German blogosphere goes even further.... It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the "total collapse of the markets" and of serious political and economic crises.... According to the German report, there is "some probability that peak oil will occur around the year 2010 and that the impact on security is expected to be felt 15 to 30 years later." The Bundeswehr prediction is consistent with those of well-known scientists who assume global oil production has either already passed its peak or will do so this year. ...


But I thought the world was infinite.

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from desmogblog:
Wetlands Front Group Funded By Big Oil Wants To Ensure Taxpayers Foot The Bill For BP's Gulf Destruction
A group of oil companies including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Citgo, Chevron and other polluters are using a front group called "America's WETLAND Foundation" and a Louisiana women's group called Women of the Storm to spread the message that U.S. taxpayers should pay for the damage caused by BP to Gulf Coast wetlands, and that the reckless offshore oil industry should continue drilling for the "wholesale sustainability" of the region. Using the age-old PR trick of featuring celebrity messengers to attract public attention, America's Wetland Foundation is spreading a petition accompanied by a video starring Sandra Bullock, Dave Matthews, Lenny Kravitz, Emeril Lagassi, John Goodman, Harry Shearer, Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees and others. ...


This Shell game is the Am-way.

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Jeffrey Sachs, in Scientific American:
The Deepening Crisis: When Will We Face the Planet's Environmental Problems?
During the four years of this column, the world's inability to face up to the reality of the growing environmental crisis has become even more palpable. Every major goal that international bodies have established for global environmental policy as of 2010 has been postponed, ignored or defeated. Sadly, this year will quite possibly become the warmest on record, yet another testimony to human-induced environmental catastrophes running out of control. This was to be the year of biodiversity. In 2002 nations pledged, under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, to slow significantly the planetary loss of biodiversity by 2010. This goal was not even remotely achieved. Indeed, it was barely even noticed by Americans: the U.S. signed the convention in 1992 but never ratified it. Ratifi­cation fell victim to the uniquely American delusion that virtually all of nature should be subdivided into parcels of private property, within which owners should have their way.... The Senate, true to form, sustained its 18th year of inaction on global warming since ratifying the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.... Fifth, vested corporate interests have mastered the dark arts of propaganda, and they can use their deep pockets to purchase a sea of deliberate misinformation to deceive the public. ...


The free market of corporate politics is my friend! They told me so!

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from San Francisco Chronicls:
Early humans were cannibals
New anthropologic research suggests that early humans -- those living about 800,000 years ago in Europe -- ate their young. Or the young of their enemies, anyway. Among the remains of bison, sheep and other animals in a cave in northern Spain, researchers found the "butchered remains" of 11 children and adolescents. The youngsters had been decapitated and their skulls smashed, as if to get at the brain and marrow -- which are surprisingly nutritious. The remains dated from a period of about a hundred thousand years, demolishing the theory that cannibalism only happened when food was extremely scarce. And because the human bones had simply been tossed away with the other animal bones, it appears the early humans didn't attach any particular ceremonial value to eating kids. Researchers speculate that eating your enemies' young was simply a way to reduce the competition and get a square meal in the bargain. Creepy. ...


Let's hope prehistory isn't repeated.

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Mother Jones:
12 Most Toxic Fish (For Humans and the Planet)
1. King crab: Even though crab is abundant in some parts of the US, imports from Russia -- which aren't well regulated -- are much cheaper and more common. 2. Caviar, especially from beluga and other wild-caught sturgeon: Overfishing and poaching of this coveted species is very common. 3. Atlantic bluefin tuna: Extreme overfishing, plus concerns about mercury and PCB contamination. 4. Orange roughy: May contain mercury and "is particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to its long lifespan and slow maturation." 5. Atlantic flatfish (e.g. flounder, sole and halibut): Seriously overfished. 6. American eel: Concerns about mercury and PCBs. 7. Atlantic Cod: Overfished, and also has major bycatch problems. 8. Imported catfish: Much of it comes from Southeast Asia, "where use of chemicals and antibiotics is barely regulated." 9. Chilean seabass: Concerns about mercury, plus illegal fishing in Chile damages marine life and seabirds. 10. Shark: May contain mercury, also overfished. 11. Atlantic and farmed salmon: Concerns about contamination with PCB, pesticides, and antibiotics. Also, waste and germs from salmon farms often leaches out of the cages and can harm the surrounding marine life. 12. Imported shrimp: About 90 percent of it comes from countries where the seafood industry (waste control, chemical use, and labor) isn't well regulated. ...


What about FishStix™?

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Associated Press:
Discovery Channel hostage-taker hated programming
A gunman police shot to death after he took hostages at Discovery Channel's headquarters said he hated the company's shows such as "Kate Plus 8" because they promote population growth and its environmental programming because it did little to save the planet. Three hostages -- two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard -- escaped unhurt after the four-hour standoff Wednesday in Silver Spring, just outside the nation's capital. After several hours negotiating with the gunman, tactical officers moved in when authorities monitoring him on building security cameras saw him pull out a handgun and point it at a hostage, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said. ...


Thank goodness they killed him before he got to Fox Studios!

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Mongabay, via DesdemonaDespair:
Morgan Stanley to underwrite coal mining on Borneo
Morgan Stanley, CIMB Securities, and Credit Suisse will underwrite the initial public offering of PT Borneo Lumbung Energi (Borneo Energy), a company that owns Asmin Koalindo Tuhup, a mining company that operates in Central Kalimantan in Indonesia Borneo, reports ANTARA. The news comes on the same day that India's state-run National Aluminum Co. Ltd (NALCO) said it plans to "buy stakes in Indonesian coal mines to secure supplies for its aluminum project in East Kalimantan," according to Reuters. Nalco said it is seeking to buy 8-10 million metric tons per year of thermal coal, half of which would go towards its Borneo operation and half of which would be shipped abroad.... The Borneo Energy offering may prove controversial for the underwriters, with environmentalists ramping up campaigns around coal production in Borneo. Green groups fear that increased coal production could increase deforestation and pollution on the rainforest island, while boosting greenhouse gas emissions globally. Today, two UK-based organizations published reports on coal mining: Mines and Communities, an activist network, released Dark Materials, a paper which details increased coal use in Asia, while Down To Earth issued a sister report on coal mining in Indonesia. ...


Thank you for watching over our financial well-being, financial overlords.

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from New Scientist:
For self-healing concrete, just add bacteria and food
Like living bone, concrete could soon be healing its own hairline fractures - with bacteria in the role of osteoblast cells. Worked into the concrete from the beginning, these water-activated bacteria would munch food provided in the mix to patch up cracks and small holes. Concrete reinforced with steel forms the skeleton of many buildings and bridges. But any cracks in its gritty exterior make it vulnerable: "Water is the culprit for concrete because it enters the cracks and it brings aggressive chemicals with it," says Henk Jonkers of Delft University of Technology in Delft, the Netherlands. These chemicals degrade both concrete and steel.... To find bacteria that are happy in such an alkaline environment, Jonkers and his colleagues looked to soda lakes in Russia and Egypt where the pH of the water is naturally high - and found that some strains of Bacillus thrived there. Moreover, the bacteria can take on a dormant spore state for long periods - up to 50 years, according to Jonkers - without food or water. He compares them to seeds waiting for water to germinate. To keep the spores from activating in the wet concrete mix, and to keep them and their calcium lactate food from affecting the quality of the concrete, Jonkers and his colleagues first set both into ceramic pellets 2 to 4 millimetres wide and then added them to the concrete. ...


Can we get some bacteria to make concrete? Now there's some GMO I could get behind.

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Associated Press:
Calif. rejects ban on plastic shopping bags
California lawmakers have rejected a bill seeking to ban plastic shopping bags after a contentious debate over whether the state was going too far in trying to regulate personal choice. The Democratic bill, which failed late Tuesday, would have been the first statewide ban, although a few California cities already prohibit their use. The measure offered California an opportunity to emerge at the forefront of a global trend... Republicans and some Democrats opposed it, saying it would add an extra burden on consumers and businesses at a time when many already are struggling financially. "If we pass this piece of legislation, we will be sending a message to the people of California that we care more about banning plastic bags than helping them put food on their table," said Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Lake Forest. ...


And what would I use to pick up my dog's shit?

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from Upshot:
Noted anti-global-warming scientist reverses course
With scientific data piling up showing that the world has reached its hottest-ever point in recorded history, global-warming skeptics are facing a high-profile defection from their ranks. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the influential tract "The Skeptical Environmentalist," has reversed course on the urgency of global warming, and is now calling for action on "a challenge humanity must confront." Lomborg, a Danish academic, had previously downplayed the risk of acute climate change. A former member of Greenpeace, he was a vocal critic of the Kyoto Protocol -- a global U.N. treaty to cut carbon emissions that the United States refused to ratify -- as well as numerous other environmental causes. ...


He's a bjorn-again believer!

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from IOP, via EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Insecticide implicated in bee decline
Honeybees, bumblebees and many other insects are being slowly poisoned to death by persistent insecticides used to protect agricultural crops. Small doses of the toxic chemicals accumulate over time, meaning that there is no safe level of exposure. That's the conclusion from recent research looking at the long-term effects of a commonly used class of insecticides.... Neonicotinoid insecticides are widely used worldwide; they work by acting on the central nervous system of the insect. The chemicals have little affinity for vertebrate nervous systems, so they are much less toxic to mammals and birds.... In the case of honeybees, up to 6000 times less insecticide was required to kill them if it was administered in multiple tiny doses over a long time period.... Right now it still isn't possible to say if neonicotinoids are the sole cause of CCD in honeybees, but it seems likely that they play a significant role. "It explains the rapid increase in CCD since 2004, which coincides with the rapid growth in worldwide use of neonicotinoids - the most widely used class of insecticides," said van der Sluijs. ...


We bee in trouble.

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from IRIN:
New strains of HIV spreading in Ugandan fishing communities
A study of HIV-positive people in fishing communities on the shores of Lake Victoria in central Uganda has found that more than a quarter have "recombinant" viruses that might threaten both treatment and prevention efforts. Of the numerous sub-types of HIV circulating worldwide, A and D are the most common in Uganda and were found in most of the 117 men and women surveyed from five fishing communities in the two districts of Masaka and Wakiso. But the study also found that 29 percent had "recombinant" forms of HIV called A/D and D/A - evidence that re-infection has occurred. Some of the recombinant strains may have been the result of "superinfection" which occurs when an HIV-positive person is re-infected with another strain of HIV and can increase the likelihood of drug resistance to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy if a resistant virus is transmitted and could also speed up disease progression. ...


I'm being superinfected with recombinant worry.

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Acidifying Oceans Spell Bleak Marine Biological Future 'by End of Century', Mediterranean Research Finds
A unique 'natural laboratory' in the Mediterranean Sea is revealing the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels on life in the oceans. The results show a bleak future for marine life as ocean acidity rises, and suggest that similar lowering of ocean pH levels may have been responsible for massive extinctions in the past.... 'A tipping point occurs at mean pH 7.8. This is the pH level predicted for the end of this century'. Rising carbon dioxide levels acidify the ocean, which has a particularly devastating effect on organisms that have calcium carbonate shells, like Foraminifera. 'Forams are well preserved in the fossil record, which is why we chose to study them', says Dr Hall-Spencer. 'We knew the results were likely to show a decline in foram diversity but we weren't expecting such a seismic shift'. ...


Ninety years ago we were in Model T's! I'm sure we'll think of something.

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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):
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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.
Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from PNAS, via BBC:
Mammoth-killing space blast 'off the hook'
The theory that the great beasts living in North America 13,000 years ago were killed off by a space impact can now be discounted, a new study claims. Mammoths, giant bears, big cats and the like disappeared rapidly from the fossil record, and a comet or asteroid strike was seen as a possible culprit. But tiny diamonds said to have been created in the collision have been misinterpreted, a US-UK team says. Without these diamonds, the theory falls, the group tells PNAS journal. "This was really the last pillar for this theory and I think it's time now everyone moved on," said co-author Professor Andrew Scott, from Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, told BBC News. ...


They were just good eatin'.

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from CBC:
Oilsands water toxins natural, monitor says
Pollutants in Alberta's Athabasca River system are natural, the joint oilsands industry-government group responsible for monitoring the region's water maintains. "We do find elevated levels of things in [our] study area," said Fred Kuzmic on behalf of the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), a joint industry-government group. "Those are generally associated with naturally occurring compounds." Kuzmic, who heads a research and reclamation team for Shell Albian Sands, was responding to a study [that] linked high levels of toxins to oilsands mining. Concentrations of pollutants like mercury and cadmium were higher downstream from oilsands mining than upstream, the researchers found. They did not find the same difference between water upstream and downstream of undeveloped oilsands deposits. ...


Sure, we found elevated levels of... carnage in the chicken coop. But blood and poultry intestines are associated with naturally occurring compounds.

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Wed, Sep 1, 2010
from American Institute for Biological Sciences, via EurekAlert:
Researchers analyze 'the environmentalist's paradox'
Global degradation of ecosystems is widely believed to threaten human welfare, yet accepted measures of well-being show that it is on average improving globally, both in poor countries and rich ones. A team of authors writing in the September issue of BioScience dissects explanations for this "environmentalist's paradox."... Three likely reasons they identify--past increases in food production, technological innovations that decouple people from ecosystems, and time lags before well-being is affected--provide few grounds for complacency, however.... The researchers resolve the paradox partly by pointing to evidence that food production (which has increased globally over past decades) is more important for human well-being than are other ecosystem services. They also establish support for two other explanations: that technology and innovation have decoupled human well-being from ecosystem degradation, and that there is a time lag after ecosystem service degradation before human well-being will be affected. ...


None are so paradoxed as those who will not see.

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Tue, Aug 31, 2010
from Washington Post:
Judge rejects Ken Cuccinelli's probe of U-Va. global warming records
A Virginia judge on Monday dismissed a civil subpoena issued by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II to the University of Virginia that had sought documents related to the work of a global warming scientist and former university professor.... Cuccinelli, a vocal global warming skeptic who has contended that climate scientists have colluded to skew data, said he thinks that the documents are key to deciding whether to launch a fraud investigation into Mann's work. He said he plans to reissue the demand, crafting it with the judge's ruling in mind. He indicated that he might appeal portions of the ruling. ...


I don't think global warming skeptics should be in positions of decision-making power.

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Tue, Aug 31, 2010
from New York Times:
Banks Grow Wary of Environmental Risks
Blasting off mountaintops to reach coal in Appalachia or churning out millions of tons of carbon dioxide to extract oil from sand in Alberta are among environmentalists' biggest industrial irritants. But they are also legal and lucrative. For a growing number of banks, however, that does not seem to matter. After years of legal entanglements arising from environmental messes and increased scrutiny of banks that finance the dirtiest industries, several large commercial lenders are taking a stand on industry practices that they regard as risky to their reputations and bottom lines. ...


Ya think insurance companies might catch on?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 31, 2010
from TreeHugger:
Millions of Dead Fish Poison Bolivian Drinking Water
In the northern hemisphere, the winter of 2010 was notable for its unpredictability and extreme conditions. From East Coast blizzards to a devastating cold snap in Florida, cities struggled to to keep pace and entire ecosystems hovered on the brink of collapse. Now, as winter wears on in the Southern Hemisphere, Bolivia is reeling from uncharacteristically cold weather that is clearing entire watersheds of life. Bolivian rivers that normally run around 59 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year have dropped below 39 degrees Fahrenheit. This 20 degree drop has been enough to kill an astonishing number of fish and other wildlife. Already, an estimated six million fish have died. Michel Jégu, a researcher from the Institute for Developmental Research in Marseilles, France, commented that: "There's just a huge number of dead fish... in the rivers near Santa Cruz there's about 1,000 dead fish for every 100 metres of river." The exceptional quantity of dead and decomposing fish in the rivers has tainted the water supplies of several Bolivian towns and completely destroyed the livelihoods of fisherman living in the area. With bans now in place to protect the small populations of fish that remain, the economic recovery will be slow even after temperatures begin to warm. ...


I hate it when natural variation seems so unnatural.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 31, 2010
from Herald Scotland:
Pakistan: A land left to drown by the 'timber mafia'
The warnings regularly given by all manner of experts had been ignored for decades. If Pakistan's authorities continued to allow the country's timber mafia and a benighted and oppressed peasantry to strip the country's forests at a faster rate than anywhere else in Asia, as is happening, floods of Biblical proportions would be inevitable. They would not be acts of God. They would be man-made catastrophes. And so it came to pass - as August began - that heavier than usual, but not unprecedented, monsoon rains fell.... "Other than landslides, soil erosion and the occasional homes and crops being swept away, it [the forest denudation] was not considered a disaster and hence didn't make the headlines," wrote Ayesha Tammy Haq, a columnist with the Pakistan daily Express Tribune newspaper.... This year's monsoon lashing northern Pakistan with unusual intensity would historically have been absorbed by extensive forests, much like multiple layers of blotting paper, allowing the rains to run off more sedately than in modern times. But this month the mud and water deluge cascaded off the tree-bare mountains and hills with exceptional force and barrelled down towards the plains in mammoth fury. ...


Hey, a guy's gotta eat. Capiche?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Toledo Blade:
Toxic algae blooms choking Lake Erie
After years of recovery, Lake Erie is sick again. Ask the boaters who get the spinach-like clumps of algae on their boat propellers, the tourists grossed out by the sight of pea-green water, the property owners picking up whiffs of stench, the beach-goers confronted by signs urging them to stay out of the water, and the scientists who have said at conferences for at least five years that an ecological backslide is in progress. Biologists such as Roger Knight, who manages Ohio's Lake Erie fisheries program, are drawing correlations between algae-induced oxygen losses and below-average walleye hatches. Walleye are the backbone of the Great Lakes region's $7 billion fishery, which lives and dies with what happens in Lake Erie's western basin, which is the Great Lakes region's warmest, shallowest, and most productive area for spawning fish. ...


Now we'll have to come up with some new example of lake restoration... if one indeed exists.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Discovery:
9 Essential Clothing Repair Skills - Make Your Clothes Last Longer!
One of the best ways to buy less stuff is to buy fewer, but higher quality items, and to keep them in good repair. This is very true for clothing, and by learning a few simple skills, you can keep your clothes looking and fitting great, longer. These skills are also important to learn if you have kids -- the things they manage to do to clothes are just amazing sometimes. Save money, save your clothes -- here are nine simple skills to learn. ...


I thought clothes had no user-serviceable parts!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Climate change implicated in decline of horseshoe crabs
While the current decline in horseshoe crabs is attributed in great part to overharvest for fishing bait and for the pharmaceutical industry, the new research indicates that climate change also appears to have historically played a role in altering the numbers of successfully reproducing horseshoe crabs. More importantly, said King, predicted future climate change, with its accompanying sea-level rise and water temperature fluctuations, may well limit horseshoe crab distribution and interbreeding, resulting in distributional changes and localized and regional population declines, such as happened after the last Ice Age.... "Population size decreases of these ancient mariners have implications beyond the obvious," King said. "Genetic diversity is the most fundamental level of biodiversity, providing the raw material for evolutionary processes to act upon and affording populations the opportunity to adapt to their surroundings. For this reason, the low effective population sizes indicated in the new study give one pause." ...


Those horseshoes are just unlucky.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from MSN Malaysia:
Malaysia mulls landmark trial of GM anti-dengue mosquitoes
Malaysia is considering releasing genetically modified mosquitoes designed to combat dengue fever, in a landmark field trial that has come in for criticism from environmentalists. In the first experiment of its kind in Asia, 2,000-3,000 male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes would be released in two Malaysian states in October or November. The insects in the study have been engineered so that their offspring quickly die, curbing the growth of the population in a technique researchers hope could eventually eradicate the dengue mosquito altogether.... But environmentalists are not convinced, and are concerned the genetically modified (GM) mosquito could fail to prevent dengue and could also have unintended consequences. "Once you release these GM mosquitoes into the environment, you have no control and it can create more problems than solving them," said Gurmit Singh, head of the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development. "There are a lot of risks involved," he told AFP. ...


How risk-free do those crazy environmentalists want? After all, I'm sure they understand all the implications -- or they wouldn't be doing it, right?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Bloomberg News:
Low prices stoke coal sales, despite pollution concerns
Coal trading is poised to rise to a record high this year as prices at less than half their 2008 peak stoke demand, defying governments' efforts to phase out the most-polluting fossil fuel. The volume of coal derivatives bought and sold around the world may jump as much as 46 percent this year to 2.3 billion metric tons, based on data from exchanges and brokers, according to Guillaume Perret, founder of Perret Associates Ltd. and a former trader at RWE AG, Germany's second-biggest utility. That would exceed the record 2.2 billion tons traded in 2007. "It's looking pretty good for coal," Kris Voorspools, director of 70Watt Capital Management, a Luxembourg hedge fund that specializes in trading spreads in energy and carbon markets, said last week. "It's the fuel for the developing world. China and India are using it to grow." ...


That sucking sound you hear is humanity's last gasp of growth.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Center for Investigative Reporting:
Under fire from industry, scientific panel is 'gutted'
Five out of nine members of a scientific panel that advises the state on toxic chemicals have been fired in recent weeks, following disputes with the chemical industry and a conservative group that targets environmental laws... Among the dismissed members is panel chairman John Froines, who also heads the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA's School of Public Health. Froines has served on the panel since it was founded and has been its chairman since 1998. Froines says he learned of his dismissal July 22 in a two-sentence letter from Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles. Panel members, including Froines, have come under fire over the years when their designation of certain substances as toxic came at a cost to industry. ...


Given the toxic relationship between business and science, I'd suggest purchasing one of these.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Xinhua, via China.org.cn:
China sets up base to explore deep-sea energy
China will build a multi-million dollar research base on its east coast to accelerate the study and exploration of deep-sea energy resources, officials with the preparatory group of the base said Thursday. The base covers 26 hectars of the ground and 62.72 hectares of the sea in the coastal city of Qingdao, Shandong Province, and will serve as a ground support station for China's manned submersible vehicle "Jiaolong".... Scientists believe sea beds at a depth of 4,000 to 6,000 meters hold abundant deposits of rare metals and methane hydrate, a solidified form of natural gas bound into ice that can serve as a new energy source. ...


Use it or lose it, right?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from Globe and Mail:
Elevated levels of toxins found in Oil Sands' Athabasca River
A study set to be published on Monday has found elevated levels of mercury, lead and eleven other toxic elements in the oil sands' main fresh water source, the Athabasca River, refuting long-standing government and industry claims that water quality there hasn't been affected by oil sands development. The author of the study, University of Alberta biological scientist David Schindler, criticized the province and industry for an "absurd" system that obfuscates or fails to discover essential data about the river. "I think they [the findings] are significant enough that they should trigger some interest in a better monitoring program than we have," he said.... The study, to be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found the oil industry "releases" all 13 of the United States' Environmental Protection Agency's so-called priority pollutants, including mercury and lead, into the Athabasca at concentrations that are higher near industry during the summer. In winter, before a melt, only levels of mercury, nickel and thallium were elevated near industry Overall levels of seven elements - mercury, lead, cadmium, copper, nickel, silver and zinc - exceed those recommended by Alberta or Canada for the protection of aquatic life, it said, concluding the "oil sands industry substantially increases loadings" of toxins into the river. ...


Good thing that water goes away somewhere!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Aug 30, 2010
from University of Copenhagen, via EurekAlert:
Dramatic climate change is unpredictable
By analysing the ice cores that are drilled through the more than three kilometer thick ice sheet in Greenland, scientists can obtain information about the temperature and climate going back around 140,000 years. The most pronounced climate shifts besides the end of the ice age is a series of climate changes during the ice age where the temperature suddenly rose 10-15 degrees in less than 10 years. The climate change lasted perhaps 1000 years, then - bang - the temperature fell drastically and the climate changed again.... "We have made a theoretical modelling of two different scenarios that might trigger climate change. We wanted to investigate if it could be determined whether there was an external factor which caused the climate change or whether the shift was due to an accumulation of small, chaotic fluctuations", explains Peter Ditlevsen, a climate researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute. He explains that in one scenario the climate is like a seesaw that has tipped to one side. If sufficient weight is placed on the other side the seesaw will tip - the climate will change from one state to another. This could be, for example, an increase in the atmospheric content of CO2 triggering a shift in the climate.... [I]t was the chaos-dynamical fluctuations that were the triggering cause of the dramatic climate changes during the ice age. This means that they are very difficult to predict. ...


If I can't predict it, how can I control it?

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