ApocaDocs
Today is May 22, 2024.
On this day (05/22), we posted 22 stories, over the years 2009-2016.


Converging Emergencies: From 2009 to 2016, 'Doc Jim and 'Doc Michael spent 30 to 90 minutes nearly every day, researching, reading, and joking about more than 8,000 news stories about Climate Chaos, Biology Breach, Resource Depletion, and Recovery. (We also captured stories about Species Collapse and Infectious Disease, but in this "greatest hits of the day" instantiation, we're skipping the last two.)
      We shared those stories and japes daily, at apocadocs.com (see our final homepage, upon the election of Trump).
      The site was our way to learn about what humans were doing to our ecosystem, as well our way to try to help wake up the world.
      You could call this new format the "we knew it all back then, but nobody wanted to know we knew it" version. Enjoy these stories and quips from a more hopeful time, when the two ApocaDocs imagined that humanity would come to its senses in time -- so it was just fine to make fun of the upcoming collapse.

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Biology
Breach


May 22, 2014, from Associated Press

Probe finds scant oversight of chemical plants

Welcome to the United States of Ammonium(nitrate)
The government has no way of fully knowing which U.S. chemical facilities stock ammonium nitrate, the substance that exploded last year at a Texas fertilizer plant and killed 14 people, congressional investigators say. Outdated federal policies, poor information sharing with states and a raft of industry exemptions point to scant federal oversight, says a new report obtained by The Associated Press. The report found regulatory gaps in environmental and worker protections and urged broad changes to U.S. safety rules.


May 22, 2014, from Huffington Post

Minnesota Becomes First State To Ban Antibacterial Chemical Triclosan From Soaps

I'm gonna wash that germ right out of my soap!
It's widely used nationwide as a germ-killing ingredient in soaps, deodorants and even toothpaste, but it's being banned in Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday signed a bill to make Minnesota the first state to prohibit the use of triclosan in most retail consumer hygiene products. The Minnesota House and Senate passed it earlier last week because of health and environmental concerns about the chemical.


May 22, 2014, from Huffington Post

53 Million Gallons Of Nuclear Waste May Soon Be Stored Right Next To The Great Lakes

Our relationship with Canada is getting ... rather awkward.
A proposed Canadian nuclear waste site near the shores of Lake Huron is facing mounting criticism from Michigan lawmakers who say it's dangerous and called on the federal government to intervene.... "Building a nuclear waste dump less than a mile from one of the largest freshwater sources in the world is a reckless act that should be universally opposed," Michigan Rep. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway Township) said in a statement Monday.


May 22, 2012, from CNN

Research ship finds the world's oceans are 'plasticized'

Planet Garbage Patch!
A marine expedition of environmentalists has confirmed the bad news it feared -- the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" extends even further than previously known. Organized by two non-profit groups -- the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the 5 Gyres Institute -- the expedition is sailing from the Marshall Islands to Japan through a "synthetic soup" of plastic in the North Pacific Ocean on a 72-feet yacht called the Sea Dragon, provided by Pangaea Exploration.


May 22, 2012, from UPI

High mercury levels found in wild dolphins

And the conclusion is... Capture and cage all dolphins!
A study has found higher levels of toxic mercury in dolphins downwind of power plants than in captive dolphins, U.S. researchers say. Scientists from The Johns Hopkins University and The National Aquarium said they compared levels of the chemical in captive dolphins fed a controlled diet with dolphins found in the wild that dine on marine life that may carry more of the toxic metal. Levels of mercury were lower in the captive animals compared to wild dolphins tested off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida, a state that is in the path of mercury-laden fumes from power plants, they reported Monday.


May 22, 2012, from Bloomberg News

WWII Chemical Exposure Spurs Obesity, Autism, Researcher Says

The Greatest (Toxic) Generation
The World War II generation may have passed down to their grandchildren the effects of chemical exposure in the 1940s, possibly explaining current rates of obesity, autism and mental illness, according to one researcher. David Crews, professor of psychology and zoology at the University of Texas at Austin, theorized that the rise in these diseases may be linked to environmental effects passed on through generations. His research showed that descendants of rats exposed to a crop fungicide were less sociable, more obese and more anxious than offspring of the unexposed.

Climate
Chaos


May 22, 2014, from Universite de Montreal

More male bugs in a warmer world? Temperature influences gender of offspring in bugs

Bad news for ladybugs.
Whether an insect will have a male or female offspring depends on the weather, according to a new study. As in bees, wasps, and ants, the gender determination of Trichogramma parasitoids is called "haplodiploid," that is, fertilized eggs produce female offspring, while unfertilized eggs produce male offspring. The study found that when it was hot, females deliberately produced more males than at medium temperature -- at 34C, the number of males produced increased by 80 percent.


May 22, 2014, from European Association of Geochemistry

Iron from melting ice sheets may help buffer global warming

Does that mean I can stop repressing this fart?
A newly-discovered source of oceanic bioavailable iron could have a major impact our understanding of marine food chains and global warming. A UK team has discovered that summer meltwaters from ice sheets are rich in iron, which will have important implications on phytoplankton growth. The findings are reported in the journal Nature Communications on 21st May, 2014. It is well known that bioavailable iron boosts phytoplankton growth in many of Earth's oceans. In turn phytoplankton capture carbon -- thus buffering the effects of global warming. The plankton also feed into the bottom of the oceanic food chain, thus providing a food source for marine animals.


May 22, 2014, from Los Angeles Times

U.S. officials cut estimate of recoverable Monterey Shale oil by 96 percent

A minor miscalculation.
Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96 percent the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California's vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national "black gold mine" of petroleum. Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. The new estimate, expected to be released publicly next month, is a blow to the nation's oil future and to projections that an oil boom would bring as many as 2.8 million new jobs to California and boost tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually.


May 22, 2013, from London Guardian

Climate disasters displace millions of people worldwide

Welcome to the new normalypse.
More than 32 million people fled their homes last year because of disasters such as floods, storms and earthquakes -- 98 percent of displacement related to climate change. Asia and west and central Africa bore the brunt. Some 1.3 million people were displaced in rich countries, with the US particularly affected. Floods in India and Nigeria accounted for 41 percent of displacement, according to the International Displacement Monitoring Centre and Norwegian Refugee Council...


May 22, 2013, from The Atlantic

The (Slow, Tentative) Greening of the GOP

GOP: Green Over Profit!
...House Republicans launched the year with a bill that demanded President Obama present a plan to wipe out the federal deficit, one that slashed pay for federal workers, and one that sought to increase renewable energy.... During the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney made a point of attacking Obama's embrace of wind energy, pledging that if elected he'd end a long-standing production tax credit for wind power. But the strident opposition of all things renewable didn't go down well in swing districts -- .


May 22, 2013, from Columbus Dispatch

Consumers could pay to clean up old natural-gas plants

The customer is always screwed.
Natural-gas utilities want to change the law to make clear that consumers rather than shareholders can be charged cleanup costs for about 90 abandoned natural-gas plants in the state, according to an amendment that might get tucked into the state budget. Some of the gas plants date to the 1800s, when communities used coal and other fuels to manufacture natural gas for use in lighting. The plants have all shut down, leaving polluted sites that have largely been absorbed by the state's major utilities.


May 22, 2012, from InsideClimate News

Gas Industry Aims to Block 2030 Zero-Carbon Building Goal

By all means, let's put at the top of our priority list preserving the image of natural gas!
The natural gas industry and some allies are working behind the scenes in Washington to block a green building rule that was expected to be a national model for carbon-neutral construction. The rule, called Fossil Fuel-Generated Energy Consumption Reduction, would zero out fossil-fuel use -- coal, fuel oil and natural gas -- in all new and renovated federal buildings by 2030. The natural gas industry says the policy would harm its image as a more environmentally friendly fuel than coal.


May 22, 2009, from BBC

US CO2 goals 'to be compromised'

I just hate it when scientific reality is hamstrung by political reality.
US Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the US will not be able to cut greenhouse emissions as much as it should due to domestic political opposition. Prof Chu told BBC News he feared the world might be heading towards a tipping point on climate change. This meant the US had to cut emissions urgently -- even if compromises were needed to get new laws approved. Environmentalists said Prof Chu, a Nobel physicist, should be guided by science not politics.... "As someone very concerned about climate I want to be as aggressive as possible but I also want to get started. And if we say we want something much more aggressive on the early timescales that would draw considerable opposition and that would delay the process for several years.

Resource
Depletion


May 22, 2013, from Texas Tribune

Ogallala Aquifer in Texas Panhandle Suffers Big Drop

Somebody had some way of describing this "used up half of a resource" thing, somehow or another. Was it "Speak" resource? "Beak" resource? Gimme a minute, it'll come to me...
... The Ogallala wells measured by the district experienced an average drop of 1.87 feet from 2012 to 2013. That makes it one of the five or 10 worst drops in the district's more than 60-year history, said Bill Mullican, a hydrogeologist with the district. "There are some pretty remarkable declines," Mullican said. One well in the western part of the water district, he said, dropped 19 feet over the year. The vast majority of Texas is enduring a drought, but the Panhandle has been especially hard hit, causing farmers to pump more water to make up for the lack of rain. That depletes the amount of water stored in the aquifer over the long term, which means future generations will find less water to pump to grow crops.... "The general trend has been [that] the depletion in the High Plains Aquifer is more severe the further south you go," said Leonard Konikow, a USGS hydrologist and the study's author.... As to how much water is left, Konikow was not optimistic. In some hard-hit Texas portions of the Ogallala, "it appears that about half the aquifer's saturated thickness has dried up," he said.


May 22, 2009, from BBC

Yosemite's giant trees disappearing

I don't like hearing ol' Sam's voice saying "the bigger they are..."
The oldest and largest trees within California's world famous Yosemite National Park are disappearing. Climate change appears to be a major cause of the loss. The revelation comes from an analysis of data collected over 60 years by forest ecologists. They say one worrying aspect of the decline is that it is happening within one of most protected forests within the US, suggesting that even more large trees may be dying off elsewhere.... Including 21 species of tree recorded by both surveys, the density of large diameter trees fell from 45 trees per square hectare to 34 trees, a decline of 24 percent in just over 60 years. White Firs (Abies concolor), Lodgepole Pines (Pinus contorta) and Jeffrey Pines (Pinus jeffreyi) were affected the most. Smaller size trees were unaffected.

Recovery


May 22, 2015, from Discovery.com

Common Bacterium Helps Bats With White-nose Syndrome

Now, let's see if we can develop some VOCs that cause increased bat fertility!
... This time, the researchers grew the bacterium on cobalt, which produced so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that stop the fungus, Psuedogymnoascus destructans, from growing. "The amazing part about this is that these compounds diffuse through the air and act at very low concentrations, so the bats are treated by exposing them to air containing the VOCs (the compounds do not need to be 'directly' applied to the bats)," according to a USFS press release. "Many of the bats in those trials experienced increased health and survival," it said. However, more than one chemical is created from the reaction, so the scientists' next step is to isolate which chemical is the one that stops the fungus from growing.


May 22, 2012, from Yale University

Americans Support National Clean-Energy Standard

America... the Land of Sacrifice!
The average U.S. citizen is willing to pay 13 percent more for electricity in support of a national clean-energy standard (NCES), according to Yale and Harvard researchers in Nature Climate Change. Americans, on average, are willing to pay $162 per year in higher electricity bills to support a national standard requiring that 80 percent of the energy be "clean," or not derived from fossil fuels. Support was lower for a national standard among nonwhites, older individuals and Republicans.


May 22, 2012, from London Guardian

Peter Gleick cleared of forging documents in Heartland expose

Peter bagged the wolf, after all!
A review has cleared the scientist Peter Gleick of forging any documents in his expose of the rightwing Heartland Institute's strategy and finances, the Guardian has learned. Gleick's sting on Heartland brought unwelcome scrutiny to the organisation's efforts to block action on climate change, and prompted a walk-out of corporate donors that has created uncertainty about its financial future. Gleick, founder of the Pacific Institute and a well-regarded water expert, admitted and apologised for using deception to obtain internal Heartland documents last February.