Sun, Nov 14, 2010 from McClatchy Newspapers: Ocean waves getting bigger, and stronger ...Ocean waves are becoming bigger and more powerful, and climate change could be the cause... Using buoy data and models based on wind patterns, scientists say that the waves off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and along the Atlantic seaboard from West Palm Beach, Fla., to Cape Hatteras, N.C., are steadily increasing in size... Since the mid-1970s, buoy data show the height of the biggest waves off the Northwest coast has increased an average of about four inches a year, or about 10 feet total... ...
Sun, Nov 14, 2010 from New York Times: As Glaciers Melt, Scientists Seek New Data on Rising Seas ...As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 -- an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over.
And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia... A large majority of climate scientists argue that heat-trapping gases are almost certainly playing a role in what is happening to the world's land ice. They add that the lack of policies to limit emissions is raising the risk that the ice will go into an irreversible decline before this century is out, a development that would eventually make a three-foot rise in the sea look trivial. ...
This will be remembered, my friends, as the Age of Fiddling Around.
Sun, Nov 14, 2010 from The Tampa Tribune: Investigation shows elevated levels of lead in grocery bags Publix officials will revamp their lineup of re-usable grocery bags sold in their stores after a Tampa Tribune investigation found elevated levels of lead in material of some bags.
Tribune tests showed certain bags from Winn-Dixie and Publix stores had levels of lead that concerned health officials. And some bags had enough lead that they could be considered hazardous waste if residents put them in their household trash.
This follows a similar issue that led the Northern grocer Wegmans to voluntarily exchange thousands of their bags.
Publix officials stress that their bags comply with current federal laws regarding lead content. But given the Tribune findings, and lower thresholds due next year, Publix is asking bag suppliers to find ways to make bags with less lead...over time lab experts note the bags wear down and paint can flake off, and eventually re-usable bags would accumulate in landfills, presenting another ecological issue.. ...
Worst of all the lead makes the bags a lot heavier!
Sat, Nov 13, 2010 from London Guardian: McDonald's and PepsiCo to help write UK health policy The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald's and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg's, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease, the Guardian has learned.
In an overhaul of public health, said by campaign groups to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry, health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five "responsibility deal" networks with business, co-chaired by ministers, to come up with policies. Some of these are expected to be used in the public health white paper due in the next month. ...
I thought this sort of thing only happened in the good ol' USA.
Sat, Nov 13, 2010 from New York Times: Drought in the Amazon, Up Close and Personal In the field we worried about why it was raining so little. Back in Iquitos, Peru, we discovered that our field work had coincided with the worst drought ever recorded in the Amazon basin. Reading the previous two-and-a-half weeks of e-mail, it was possible to track the drought's progress through the newsletters I receive every few days from a Brazilian research institute.
First there was a note saying that the river level gauge at Manaus was at the twelfth lowest stage in recorded history. A few days later, a note said it was at the second lowest stage in history, and then, on Oct. 26, a note confirmed that the river had dropped to the lowest recorded level since measuring began 108 years ago.... The low readings at Manaus did not make front-page news back home, but maybe they deserved to: Two of the three worst Amazon droughts in history have now occurred within the last five years, the sort of coincidence that also turns up in conversations these days about icebergs and hurricanes and Siberian heat waves.
But the drought was definitely news in Iquitos, where people were deeply upset by the lack of rain. It was unsettling, too, for our little band of biologists to be writing about the drought on laptops powered by Iquitos's gas-fired power plant, located in a part of Peru where roughly half of the landscape is currently inside oil and gas concessions. ...
Iiii wanna know / if we never see the rain / will we smile / on a sunny day
Sat, Nov 13, 2010 from CBC: Arctic waters vulnerable to oil spill: 'so hard to clean up' offshore development should stop An oil spill in the Arctic Ocean would be so hard to clean up that offshore development there should be put on hold, a U.S. environmental group said Friday.
Because of the difficulties, "all proposed oil and gas leasing, exploration and development in the U.S. Arctic should be delayed" until energy companies can ensure they can respond to spills, said Marilyn Heiman, the director of the Pew Charitable Trust's U.S. Arctic program....
The Gulf spill would have been even worse in the Arctic, said Trevor Taylor of Oceans North Canada, a Pew-led conservation campaign.
Comparing the response of BP in the Gulf and the capacity that's available in the Arctic, "it is extremely scary," he said.
The report says it would be hard to deploy boats and skimmers to remove the oil, and containment booms could be torn in the tough Arctic weather.
But once those Arctic waters are tropical, go for it.
Fri, Nov 12, 2010 from AFP, via Yahoo News: Beijing to melt snow to address water shortage Beijing will collect and melt snow this winter in a bid to quench the water shortage that has plagued the Chinese capital for years, state media reported Friday.
Two vehicles with high-powered heaters capable of processing around 100 cubic metres (3,500 cubic feet) of snow and ice an hour will be sent to locations around Tiananmen Square, the Global Times said.
Clean snow will also be dumped into dammed sections in three rivers that drift through the city to be used for road cleaning, irrigation and to supplement the rivers' water levels, it said.
Additional snow-melting areas have been assigned citywide, it added.... Water consumption in Beijing, with a population of nearly 20 million and growing, rose to 3.55 billion cubic metres last year, compared with its water supply of 2.18 billion cubic metres, the Global Times said. ...
Apocaiku: Beijing's borrowing / from the cold bank of winter / to pay water debt.
Fri, Nov 12, 2010 from Our Amazing Planet: Study: Common Flame Retardant Polluting Globally A widely used flame retardant taints the air and water between Greenland and Antarctica, a new study reveals. The chemical, Dechlorane Plus, joins a list of chemicals that are detected far from the factories where they were originally created. Scientists are unsure how Dechlorane Plus travelled so far, or even how dangerous it is in these environments. But now that they've found it, the next step is to figure out what it will do to marine ecosystems.
"The facts on how bad [Dechlorane Plus] is to the environment has really yet to be worked out," said Ed Sverko of Environment Canada. Sverko also studies Dechlorane Plus, but was not involved with the study. ...
Something tells me Dechlorane Plus will be a minus.
Fri, Nov 12, 2010 from Environmental Health News: Antimicrobials murderous in nature When released into waterways from wastewater treatment plants, the antimicrobial triclosan continues to do what it was designed to do -- kill bacteria -- and starts doing what it was not designed to do -- interfere with photosynthesis in algae.
The results from a study in Spain suggest that triclosan carries a high environmental risk and warrants concern about its presence in waterways. The findings agree with prior studies that find the antimicrobial is toxic to bacteria at levels measured in water.
However, this is one of just a few published studies to report that triclosan can reduce photosynthesis in a type of algae known as diatoms. Through photosynthesis, diatoms produce oxygen and food that other aquatic organisms rely upon. It is estimated that 80 percent of the oxygen in our atmosphere comes from diatoms, making these microscopic organisms essential for life on earth.
Triclosan is an anti-microbial chemical widely used in personal care products, like toothpaste and anti-bacterial hand soap. It is added to cleaning products and is applied to many items, including clothing, toys, shower curtains and kitchenware. ...
Fri, Nov 12, 2010 from Baltimore Sun: Intersex fish found in Delmarva lakes Scientists have found more intersex fish in Maryland, this time on the Eastern Shore, and their research suggests one possible source of the gender-bending condition could be the poultry manure that is widely used there to fertilize croplands.
Six lakes and ponds on the Delmarva Peninsula sampled over the past two years have yielded male largemouth bass carrying eggs, according to University of Maryland scientists. Those are the first intersex fish reported there, though researchers found the condition several years ago in smallmouth bass in the Potomac and its tributaries, and recently found it in smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna.
Intersex fish are a concern, scientists say, because they could be indicators of contaminants in the water, affecting their growth and reproduction. ...
But intersex fish taste ... I dunno, so much more complex.
Thu, Nov 11, 2010 from Huffington Post: GM Mutant Mosquitoes Fight Dengue Fever In Cayman Islands, But Experiment Could Wreak Havoc On Environment, Critics Say Scientists have released genetically modified mosquitoes in an experiment to fight dengue fever in the Cayman Islands, British experts said Thursday.
It is the first time genetically altered mosquitoes have been set loose in the wild, after years of laboratory experiments and hypothetical calculations. But while scientists believe the trial could lead to a breakthrough in stopping the disease, critics argue the mutant mosquitoes might wreak havoc on the environment.
"This test in the Cayman Islands could be a big step forward," said Andrew Read, a professor of biology and entomology at Pennsylvania State University, who was not involved in the project. "Anything that could selectively remove insects transmitting really nasty diseases would be very helpful," he said.... Researchers at Oxitec Limited, an Oxford-based company, created sterile male mosquitoes by manipulating the insects' DNA. Scientists in the Cayman Islands released 3 million mutant male mosquitoes to mate with wild female mosquitoes of the same species. That meant they wouldn't be able to produce any offspring, which would lower the population. Only female mosquitoes bite humans and spread diseases.... He said mosquito larvae might be food for other species, which could starve if the larvae disappear. Or taking out adult mosquito predators might open up a slot for other insect species to slide in, potentially introducing new diseases.
Humans have a patchy track record of interfering with natural ecosystems, Riley said. In the past, such interventions have led to the overpopulation of species including rabbits and deer. "Nature often does just fine controlling its problems until we come along and blunder into it." ...
Lucky for us, we have a hammer, and that looks like a nail!
Thu, Nov 11, 2010 from London Guardian: Arctic oil spill clean-up plans are 'thoroughly inadequate', industry warned The next big offshore oil disaster could take place in the remote Arctic seas where hurricane-force winds, 30ft seas, sub-zero temperatures and winter darkness would overwhelm any clean-up attempts, a new report warns.
With the ban on offshore drilling lifted in the Gulf of Mexico, big oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell are pressing hard for the Obama administration to grant final approval to Arctic drilling. Shell has invested more than $2bn to drill off Alaska's north coast, and is campaigning to begin next summer.
But the report, Oil spill prevention and response in the US Arctic Ocean, by the Pew Environment Group, warns that oil companies are not ready to deal with a spill, despite the lessons of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. ...
Thu, Nov 11, 2010 from London Daily Mail: 'The planet won't be destroyed by global warming because God promised Noah,' says politician bidding to chair U.S. energy committee A Republican congressman hoping to chair the powerful House Energy Committee refers to the Bible and God on the issue of global warming.
Representative John Shimkus insists we shouldn't concerned about the planet being destroyed because God promised Noah it wouldn't happen again after the great flood.
Speaking before a House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing in March, 2009, Shimkus quoted Chapter 8, Verse 22 of the Book of Genesis.
He said: 'As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.' The Illinois Republican continued: 'I believe that is the infallible word of God, and that's the way it is going to be for his creation.
'The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood. ...
Dear God: Could you please make sure this guy is in charge of nothing?
Thu, Nov 11, 2010 from Yale360: China Turns to Biogas to Ease Impact of Factory Farms His farm is also different than the American pig farms you usually detect with your nose before you see any animals: it smells only faintly of waste. He says that's because it's an ecological CAFO, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron. "The whole system is pollution-free, zero-emission, and energy saving," says Ye. "The key is the biogas digester." Biogas digestion takes the nuisances of most large animal farms -- solid, liquid, and gaseous wastes -- and turns them into resources that farmers can use and even sell. Raw pig waste is usually a liability for farmers: It's full of pathogens and compounds like ammonia that can ruin crops and soil if applied directly. It also is prone to running off into waterways and leaching into groundwater.... The South China Sea today is largely a dead zone with frequent red tides and little remaining life because of run-off from upstream agriculture.... Ye thinks his biogas digester may be part of the solution. It cost about $600,000, but Ye only paid for half while the central, provincial, and local governments picked up the rest with subsidies.... To avert future environmental disasters like leaks or spills of wastewater from large farms and to capture methane, the government has decreed that all farms with more than 1,000 cows, 10,000 pigs or 100,000 chickens must install biogas digesters. In Zhejiang province, one of China's richest and most environmentally progressive, the local government recently decided that all farms with more than 50 pigs must have biogas digesters.
Y'know, in this country we'd call that socialism. We like our freedom to do whatever the hell we want to others.
Wed, Nov 10, 2010 from The Onion: Report: Global Warming Issue From 2 Or 3 Years Ago May Still Be Problem According to a report released this week by the Center for Global Development, climate change, the popular mid-2000s issue that raised awareness of the fact that the earth's continuous rise in temperature will have catastrophic ecological effects, has apparently not been resolved, and may still be a problem.... "Global warming, if you remember correctly, was the single greatest problem of our lifetime back in 2007 and the early part of 2008," CGD president Nancy Birdsall said. "But then the debates over Social Security reform and the World Trade Center mosque came up, and the government had to shift its focus away from the dramatic rise in sea levels, the rapid spread of deadly infectious diseases, and the imminent destruction of our entire planet." Continued Birdsall, "Because the problem of global warming and massive environmental devastation appears to be lingering, however, the time may be right for the federal government to consider dealing with it again in some way." ...
Leave it to The Onion to remind us. Damn you, satirists!
Wed, Nov 10, 2010 from EnvironmentalResearchWeb: NOAA-funded tagging of narwhals finds continued warming of southern Baffin Bay Temperatures in the study were collected by narwhals, medium-sized toothed Arctic whales, during NOAA-sponsored missions in 2006 and 2007. The animals were tagged with sensors that recorded ocean depths and temperatures during feeding dives from the surface pack ice to the seafloor, going as deep as 1,773 meters, or more than a mile.... As a result [of difficulty and cost], for the past decade, researchers used climatology data consisting of long-term historical average observations rather than direct ocean temperature measurements for winter temperatures in the area.... The published study reported that highest winter ocean temperature measurements in 2006 and 2007 from both narwhals and additional sensors deployed using helicopters ranged between 4 and 4.6 degrees Celsius (39.2 and 40.3 degrees Fahrenheit). The study also found that temperatures were on average nearly a degree Celsius warmer than climatology data. Whale-collected temperatures also demonstrated the thickness of the winter surface isothermal layer, a layer of constant temperature, to be 50 to 80 meters less than that reported in the climatology data. ...
I can't believe the narwhals will even work with us.
Wed, Nov 10, 2010 from Scientific American: A warming Earth could mean stronger toxins Global warming may be making pesticide residues, heavy metals and household chemicals more dangerous to fish, wildlife and, ultimately, humans, scientists warn.
At the North American branch of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry's 31st annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, on 8 November, environmental chemists warned that complex interactions between chemistry and climate change might be making chemicals more toxic and the environment more susceptible to damage.... climate change will cause differences in the movement, quality and distribution of water that could affect stream acidity all over the world. This would alter the toxicity of chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, which make their way into these streams when they are excreted into waster water and flushed down the toilet.
Drugs are designed so that small changes in acidity alter their bioavailability, helping to route them to the bodily tissues where they are needed. But when they reach the environment, says Valenti, "it's the same thing. I've seen upwards of 10- to 20-fold differences in toxicity at pH 9 compared with pH 6".... Goss studied Daphnia magna, a tiny freshwater crustacean used in many aquatic toxicity studies. "We saw greater sensitivity to lead at higher temperatures," she said. ...
That would be true only if you believe in toxicity.
Wed, Nov 10, 2010 from PhysOrg: Republicans could scale back US science budgets Budgets for scientific research in the United States could be scaled back with the return of a Republican-majority in Congress as conservatives aim to slash spending to reduce the ballooning deficit.... "There is a risk that we may have a significant reduction in the science budget," said Patrick Clemins, director of the research and development policy program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Even before Republicans made sweeping gains in the House of Representatives in last week's mid-term elections, Republicans and Democrats agreed to scale back federal spending in order to try and get the deficit, which amounts to almost 14 trillion dollars in national debt, under control.... According to an analysis by Clemins which shows what could occur if Republicans are able to make across-the-board cuts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could see its budget slashed by 34 percent or 324 million dollars.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) could lose nine percent of its budget or 2.9 billion dollars, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) could see a 19 percent cut, or one billion dollars gone from its coffers. ...
Wed, Nov 10, 2010 from Al Jazeera: BP blamed for symptoms of toxic overload in Gulf denizens Increasing numbers of people across the Gulf Coast are suffering from symptoms that doctors and toxicologists are linking to chemicals from the BP oil disaster that began last summer when the blowout of the Macondo well gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.
BP responded by using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersant to sink the oil.... Just speaking of air exposure, and there are scientific papers on this, if you release one molecule of toluene, at three metres above the ground, into a six kilometre wind, that molecule, uninterrupted, will travel 34 kilometres."
Charter plane pilots who have conducted Gulf over-flights have reported having to wipe an oily, orange film from their plane afterwards. Following this, the skin on their hands peeled off. "The oil and dispersants are in the air and in the rain and are making people sick," Ott said. "These Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are there, and at dangerous levels."
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system (CNS) depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. The chemicals are also teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic. ...
OMG, the invisible hand of the marketplace stands revealed!!
Tue, Nov 9, 2010 from University of Toronto: Dangerous chemicals in food wrappers likely migrating to humans U of T scientists have found that chemicals used to line junk food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are migrating into food and being ingested by people where they are contributing to chemical contamination observed in blood.
Perfluorinated carboxylic acids or PFCAs are the breakdown products of chemicals used to make non-stick and water- and stain-repellant products ranging from kitchen pans to clothing to food packaging. PFCAs, the best known of which is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are found in humans all around the world.
"We suspected that a major source of human PFCA exposure may be the consumption and metabolism of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters or PAPs," said Jessica D'eon, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. "PAPs are applied as greaseproofing agents to paper food contact packaging such as fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags."... "In this study we clearly demonstrate that the current use of PAPs in food contact applications does result in human exposure to PFCAs, including PFOA. We cannot tell whether PAPs are the sole source of human PFOA exposure or even the most important, but we can say unequivocally that PAPs are a source and the evidence from this study suggests this could be significant." ...
Tue, Nov 9, 2010 from Huffington Post: Beak Deformities On The Rise: Causes Unknown For Birds' Avian Keratin Disorder Scientists have observed the highest rate of beak abnormalities ever recorded in wild bird populations in Alaska and the Northwest, a study by two federal scientists said.
The U.S. Geological Survey study on beak deformities in northwestern crows in Alaska, Washington and British Columbia follows a trend found earlier in Alaska's black-capped chickadees.
"The prevalence of these strange deformities is more than 10 times what is normally expected in a wild bird population," said research biologist Colleen Handel.... The cause of the deformity - called "avian keratin disorder" - hasn't been determined, Handel said. An estimated 17 percent of adult northwestern crows are affected by the disorder in coastal Alaska.... The abnormality sometimes is accompanied by elongated claws, abnormal skin or variations in feather color.
Van Hemert said the disorder first was noticed in significant numbers around 1999. It has increased dramatically over the past decade, affecting 6.5 percent of adult black-capped chickadees in Alaska annually.
Biologists have documented more than 2,100 affected individuals and increasing numbers of other species, such as nuthatches and woodpeckers, have been spotted with beak deformities.... In the past, large clusters of beak deformities have been associated with environmental pollutants such as organochlorines in the Great Lakes region and selenium from agricultural runoff in California.... The increasing occurrence of deformities in multiple bird species with broad geographic distribution suggests that avian keratin disorder is spreading, they said. ...
Scientists: we need a catchier name than avian keratin disorder for this meme to go viral.
Tue, Nov 9, 2010 from London Daily Telegraph: Crops that reflect sunlight could offset global warming, scientists claim Planting ''climate friendly'' crops that reflect sunlight could help offset the effects of global warming, a study suggests. The crops, spread across large fertile regions of North America and Europe, would send a small percentage of the sun's light and heat back into space.
Different strains of crops such as wheat have significantly different levels of reflectivity, or albedo, say scientists. Selecting those that reflect the most could make summers in Europe more than 1 per cent cooler, they claim. ...
Sure, let's plant fields of albedobeans.... or amber waves of tin foil!
Tue, Nov 9, 2010 from CBC News: Bisphenol A linked to sterility in roundworms The controversial chemical bisphenol A can render roundworms sterile, kill their embryos, and damage their chromosomes, according to a new lab study.
The findings are sure to re-ignite debate over the health safety of the chemical commonly known as BPA, which is widely used in such consumer products as hard plastic toys, bottles and food container linings.
Geneticists at the Harvard Medical School found that in roundworms exposed to BPA, some DNA repair processes were impaired in the very cells that are essential for the formation of sperm and eggs.
Exposure to the chemical also damaged chromosomal integrity and led to cell death, the authors found. While chromosomes in the control group of roundworms appeared normal, the chromosomes in the group exposed to BPA were frayed and fragmented. That led to embryo death and less fertile worms. ...
Don't you dare stick a roundworm into my square worldview.
Tue, Nov 9, 2010 from Mother Jones: The GOP's Coming Climate Witch Hunt Last Tuesday, as Americans across the country headed to the polls, a group of climate scientists gathered in Denver to discuss strategies for fighting back against right-wing attacks on global warming science. Their timing couldn't have been better. With the ascent of the Republicans, climate science -- and scientists -- will be a major target for the new House majority... Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the incoming head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has pledged to hold hearings on the "Politicization of Science," which will consist of a rehashing of the so-called ClimateGate "scandal." He's also called for greater oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency's coming regulations of greenhouse gases. With Issa in charge, the oversight committee will devote a good deal of time to hauling government and university climate scientists before Congress. ...
Tue, Nov 9, 2010 from Associated Press: PNC To Halt Mountaintop Mining Financing PNC Bank has announced it will stop financing projects that extract coal using a controversial form of surface mining known as mountaintop removal.
The Pittsburgh-based company is the latest of a group of major commercial lenders that have backed away from underwriting mountaintop removal projects after pressure from environmental activists.
PNC said in a statement it will not fund individual projects or "provide credit to coal producers whose primary extraction method is" mountaintop removal.
The surface mining practice has for years attracted the ire of activists and Appalachian residents, who say it contributes to environmental degradation and water pollution. In June, a group of 50 activists gathered at a downtown PNC bank branch in Lexington to protest the bank's alleged lending to mountaintop removal projects. ...
Especially given election results, PNC's decision is delightfully Politically Not Correct.
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.
Mon, Nov 8, 2010 from Toronto Star: Climate change prosperity or disparity? What do you do when your entire homeland is slipping into the sea?
This is the earth-shattering reality facing the Polynesian nation of Tuvalu, rapidly being reclaimed by the Pacific owing to rising sea levels.
For the families of this small, slivered island nation, climate change is not something to prepare for in the distant future; it is a reality leading to the melting of polar ice caps and currently stripping them of their homes, their livelihoods and their ancestry.
The plight of the Tuvalu islanders is just one heart-rending example of "environmental refugees" -- persons displaced, often permanently, from their homes owing to extreme weather events, such as floods, desertification and rising sea levels. ...
Mon, Nov 8, 2010 from Huffington Post: Bluefin Tuna Black Market: How A Runaway Fishing Industry Looted The Seas The rapid demise of Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna, the source of prized sushi around the world, is due to a $4 billion black market and a decade of rampant fraud and lack of official oversight, according to Looting the Seas, a new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
As regulators gather in Paris this month to decide the fate of the threatened bluefin, ICIJ's investigation reveals that behind plummeting stocks of the fish is a supply chain riddled with criminal misconduct and negligence, from fishing fleets to sea ranches to distributors.
Each year, thousands of tons of fish have been illegally caught and traded, the seven-month investigation found. At its peak - between 1998 and 2007- this black market included more than one out of every three bluefin caught, conservatively valued at $400 million per year.
"Everyone cheated," said Roger Del Ponte, a French fishing captain. "There were rules, but we didn't follow them."... The widely hunted bluefin has also become a bellwether, the latest threatened species in a feeding frenzy that has seen the disappearance of as much as 90 percent of the ocean's large fish. ...
Rules? We're talkin' the rules of the marketplace!
Mon, Nov 8, 2010 from Environmental Health Perspectives: Chemicals in cosmetics, moisturizers linked to DNA damage in human sperm. One type of paraben preservative -- butyl paraben (BP) -- was linked to DNA damage in men's sperm, according to a study that compared the levels of this compound to several reproductive measures in men. DNA damage in sperm cells can have negative effects on men's reproductive potential.
The findings indicate that the higher the BP levels, the more DNA damage the sperm had. The relationship was even stronger when BP and bisphenol-A (BPA) levels were considered together.
This is the first study to look at the relationship between paraben levels in men and sperm health. A prior study found that the late stages of sperm production were affected in mice fed BP. The results warrant further investigation into effects of parabens on men's sperm health as well as their effects on female reproductive systems and pregnancy and birth measures, given that women typically have higher levels of parabens than men.
Parabens are a group of antimicrobial chemicals often used to preserve cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and sometimes food. They are added to numerous personal care products -- including make-up, shaving gels, lotions and creams -- and some food and drinks. ...
That my shaving gel may make me less manly just flies in the face reason!
Mon, Nov 8, 2010 from LA Times: Climate scientists plan campaign against global warming skeptics Faced with rising political attacks, hundreds of climate scientists are joining a broad campaign to push back against congressional conservatives who have threatened prominent researchers with investigations and vowed to kill regulations to rein in man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
The still-evolving efforts reveal a shift among climate scientists, many of whom have traditionally stayed out of politics and avoided the news media. Many now say they are willing to go toe-to-toe with their critics, some of whom gained new power after the Republicans won control of the House in Tuesday's election.
On Monday, the American Geophysical Union, the country's largest association of climate scientists, plans to announce that 700 climate scientists have agreed to speak out as experts on questions about global warming and the role of man-made air pollution.... "The notion that truth will prevail is not working. The truth has been out there for the past two decades, and nothing has changed." ...
Oh, right -- that "data" thing scientists rattle on about.
Mon, Nov 8, 2010 from New Scientist: Whale mass strandings linked to hearing loss In "one of the biggest mass deaths of cetaceans in Irish history" at least 33 whales have beached themselves on the north-west coast of County Donegal.... The whales' deaths come just after the latest research into cetacean strandings, which suggests that stranded whales and dolphins often suffer from hearing loss. The finding is the latest salvo in the long-running controversy over whether undersea noise pollution is harming whales.
David Mann of the University of South Florida and colleagues looked at eight species of cetacean, all of which had either stranded themselves or become entangled in fishing gear.
4 out of 7 of the bottlenose dolphins they looked at, and 5 out of 14 rough-toothed dolphins, had either severe or profound hearing loss, as did one short-finned pilot whale.... "We do not know the noise exposure history of any of these [animals]. Based on the locations of stranding, it is possible that some of them have been exposed to chronic noise from boating and shipping, while for others this is unlikely."... Earlier this year, north Atlantic right whales were found to be calling more loudly to each other, apparently to compensate for the constant noise. ...
Mon, Nov 8, 2010 from Scientific American: Biofuel worse for climate than fossil fuel: study European plans to promote biofuels will drive farmers to convert 69,000 square km of wild land into fields and plantations, depriving the poor of food and accelerating climate change, a report warned on Monday.
The impact equates to an area the size of the Republic of Ireland.
As a result, the extra biofuels that Europe will use over the next decade will generate between 81 and 167 percent more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, says the report.
Nine environmental groups reached the conclusion after analysing official data on the European Union's goal of getting 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020. ...