December 4, 2013, from London Guardian
Tiny bits of plastic rubbish ingested by marine worms is significantly harming their health and will have wider impact on ocean ecosystems, scientists have found.
Microplastic particles, measuring less than 5mm in size, have been accumulating in the oceans since the 1960s and are now the most abundant form of solid-waste pollution on Earth...
Using the lugworm as an indicator species, the first study, from the University of Exeter, found that worms feeding in highly contaminated ocean sediment ate less and had lower energy levels. The second study, from Plymouth University, has established for the first time that ingesting microplastics can transfer pollutants and additives to worms, reducing health and biodiversity.
December 4, 2012, from E&E Publishing
Scientists are saying with increased certainty that two damaging earthquakes in 2011 -- one in Colorado, the other in Oklahoma -- were triggered by oil and gas production activities.
Studies by seismologists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Oklahoma and Columbia University have found the quakes were caused by the deep underground injection of drilling waste.
December 4, 2012, from InsideClimate News
For years, the controversy over natural gas drilling has focused on the water and air quality problems linked to hydraulic fracturing, the process where chemicals are blasted deep underground to release tightly bound natural gas deposits.
But a new study reports that a set of chemicals called non-methane hydrocarbons, or NMHCs, is found in the air near drilling sites even when fracking isn't in progress.
According to a peer-reviewed study in the journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, more than 50 NMHCs were found near gas wells in rural Colorado, including 35 that affect the brain and nervous system. Some were detected at levels high enough to potentially harm children who are exposed to them before birth.
December 4, 2009, from Der Spiegel
People in the West throw away millions of old computers every year. Hundreds of thousands of them end up in Africa, where children try to eke out a living by selling the scrap. But the toxic elements in the waste are slowly poisoning them.... Acrid, black smoke drifts over the huts of the slum. The river, too, is black and thick like used oil, as it carries empty computer cases toward the ocean. Fires are blazing on the bank across the way, fueled by foam and slivers of plastic. Their flames consume the plastic material from cables, plugs and motherboards, leaving behind only metal.
There's a wind today, blowing the smoke from these infernal fires low across the ground. Breathing in too deeply is painful to the lungs, and the people tending the fires are sometimes nothing more than vague, foggy silhouettes.... Fourteen years old but small for his age, Bismarck scours the ground for anything the older boys might have left behind after burning a batch of computers. It might be bits of copper cable, the motor from a hard drive, or leftover pieces of aluminum. The magnets in his speaker also pick up screws or steel plugs.
Bismarck drops everything he finds into his bag. Once the bag is half full, he can sell the metal and buy some rice, maybe a tomato too, or even a chicken drumstick grilled over a refurbished car wheel rim. But today, the boy says, he still hasn't found enough, and he disappears again into the smoke.
December 4, 2013, from Climate News Network
Governments have set the wrong target to limit climate change. The goal at present -- to limit global warming to a maximum of two degree Celsius higher than the average for most of human history -- "would have consequences that can be described as disastrous," say 18 scientists in a review paper in the journal PLOS One. With a two degree Celsius increase, "sea level rise of several meters could be expected," they say. "Increased climate extremes, already apparent at 0.8 degrees Celsuis warming, would be more severe. Coral reefs and associated species, already stressed with current conditions, would be decimated by increased acidification, temperature and sea level rise.... Warming of one degree Celsius relative to 1880 -- 1920 keeps global temperature close to the Holocene range, but warming of two degree Celsius, could cause "major dislocations for civilization."
December 4, 2009, from Times Online (UK)
We are expecting a lot from the climate change conference in Copenhagen: emissions targets, a new concord between developed and developing worlds, a plan to save the world. And we can probably expect hot air, diplomatic failures and stirring speeches too. What we don't expect is any gags. Not even a sneaky one about polar bears.
Polar bears are off limits, where paedophiles are not. We are a nation that prides itself on its black humour yet there is a limit, it seems, and it is green. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere must have leached all the humour from the Earth. If we could take the mickey out of German bombs, surely we can manage melting ice caps?
The climate change movement is so worthy, so unleavened by wit or irreverence that it is disappearing up its own righteousness. And this creates a huge problem.
Climate change is a bit dull. A bit of a turn-off. Important? Yes. The biggest challenge mankind has faced? Possibly. But exciting? Admit it. How many times have your eyes glazed past the latest slice of gloom and doom, in search of something a bit more fruity? Tiger Woods' apparent taste in plastic waitresses with weirdly plump lips; or bankers' bonuses.
December 4, 2009, from Center for Public Integrity
...Since [Stephen] Harper became prime minister in 2006, his message has consistently been that action on global warming cannot stand in the way of Canada's economic growth, that the terms of the Kyoto agreement are economically irresponsible, and that Canada could act in concert with the United States. He has maintained that position despite a recent report, sponsored by one of Canada's largest banks, which concluded that meeting Canada's Kyoto commitments would not significantly harm the economy. Shaped by oil-rich Alberta, Harper's position represents a stunning about-face in Canada's policy on climate change. It is a shift environmentalists and other critics attribute to the legions of lobbyists who represent the big industrial greenhouse gas emitters that for years have struggled to weaken Canadian climate change legislation.
December 4, 2009, from London Times
...Despite mournful polar bears and charts showing carbon emissions soaring, most people find it hard to believe that global warming will affect them personally. Recent polls by the Pew Research Centre in Washington, DC, found that 75-80 per cent of participants regarded climate change as an important issue. But respondents ranked it last on a list of priorities....Part of the fault lies with our inner caveman. Evolution has programmed humans to pay most attention to issues that will have an immediate impact. Our ancestors fretted about club-swinging neighbours and the predator at the watering hole. Any carbon emissions from the cave didn’t make the grade then and still don’t today....By the time we wake up to the threat posed by climate change, it could well be too late. And if we’re not going to make rational decisions about the future, others may have to help us to do so.