ApocaDocs
Today is August 14, 2022.
On this day (08/14), we posted 15 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


August 14, 2013, from ScienceAlert

Ocean acidity continues to increase

If he's surprised, we should be a little suspicious of his conclusions, since "faster than expected" is the new normal.
A unique comparison of coastal water monitoring near Australia's Davis Station in East Antarctica has shown significant changes in ocean chemistry over the past 16 years. The study, published in The Journal of Marine Chemistry, shows a marked and somewhat unexpected increase in the acidity of the seawater in the region.... 'The surprise was that the change in acidity was so large, indicating that natural and human induced changes have combined to amplify ocean acidity in this region,' said Mr Roden.


August 14, 2013, from Reuters

Insight: After disaster, the deadliest part of Japan's nuclear clean-up

Oh Fukushima ... will the horrors ever end?
The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale. Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area. Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.


August 14, 2012, from CNN

Mutant butterflies a result of Fukushima nuclear disaster, researchers say

This report makes it seem like speedier evolution was a bad thing.
In the first sign that the Fukushima nuclear disaster may be changing life around it, scientists say they've found mutant butterflies. Some of the butterflies had abnormalities in their legs, antennae, and abdomens, and dents in their eyes, according to the study published in Scientific Reports, an online journal from the team behind Nature. Researchers also found that some affected butterflies had broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, color pattern changes, and spots disappearing or increasing on the butterflies.... The scientists wanted to find out how things stood after a longer amount of time and again collected more than 200 butterflies last September. Twenty-eight percent of the butterflies showed abnormalities, but the rate of mutated offspring jumped to 52 percent, according to researchers.


August 14, 2009, from Reuters

California meat company recalls hamburger patties

Recalled yes, but not too fondly remembered.
California meat company Sterling Pacific Meat Co has recalled about 3,500 pounds of hamburger patties that may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, the U.S. Agriculture Department said. The patties were made on May 18 and distributed to wholesale food service companies, who sold the meat to restaurants in California and Arizona, according to USDA. The problem was discovered by the agency during a review of the meat plant's records, and USDA said it has not received any reports that the hamburger made people ill.


August 14, 2009, from University of Alaska Fairbanks via EurekAlert

New findings show increased ocean acidification in Alaska waters

pHrankly, I find these pHindings pHenomenally pHrightening.
The same things that make Alaska's marine waters among the most productive in the world may also make them the most vulnerable to ocean acidification. According to new findings by a University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist, Alaska's oceans are becoming increasingly acidic, which could damage Alaska's king crab and salmon fisheries.... When he tested the samples' acidity in his lab, the results were higher than expected. They show that ocean acidification is likely more severe and is happening more rapidly in Alaska than in tropical waters. The results also matched his recent findings in the Chukchi and Bering Seas.... Ocean acidification makes it more difficult to build shells, and in some cases the water can become acidic enough to break down existing shells. Mathis' recent research in the Gulf of Alaska uncovered multiple sites where the concentrations of shell-building minerals were so low that shellfish and other organisms in the region would be unable to build strong shells. "It seems like everywhere we look in Alaska's coastal oceans, we see signs of increased ocean acidification," said Mathis.

Climate
Chaos


August 14, 2013, from Minneapolis Star Tribune

Large coal power plants getting life extensions

Ol' man coal plant ... He don't say nuthin' ... He jes' keeps rollin' along
The nation's big coal-burning power plants are not ready to become dinosaurs. Utilities are making substantial investments to keep their largest coal generating stations operating for decades -- and emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually. Upgrades planned or underway at more than 100 Midwestern coal power plants will reduce emissions of mercury or other air pollutants. But they won't affect greenhouse gas emissions that the Obama administration says it will regulate in 2015 to address climate change.


August 14, 2012, from University of Florida

Florida State Record 87 Eggs in Largest Python from Everglades

Methinks this python has already been mounted far too many times!
University of Florida researchers curating a 17-foot-7-inch Burmese python, the largest found in Florida, discovered 87 eggs in the snake, also a state record. Scientists at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus examined the internal anatomy of the 164.5-pound snake on August 10. The animal was brought to the Florida Museum from Everglades National Park as part of a long-term project with the U.S. Department of the Interior to research methods for managing the state's invasive Burmese python problem. Following scientific investigation, the snake will be mounted for exhibition at the museum for about five years, and then returned for exhibition at Everglades National Park.


August 14, 2009, from University of Leeds, via EurekAlert

Antarctic glacier thinning at alarming rate

"Great concern" is only one of the things I'm feeling!
The thinning of a gigantic glacier in Antarctica is accelerating, scientists warned today. The Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica, which is around twice the size of Scotland, is losing ice four times as fast as it was a decade ago. The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, also reveals that ice thinning is now occurring much further inland. At this rate scientists estimate that the main section of the glacier will have disappeared in just 100 years, six times sooner than was previously thought.... "Because the Pine Island Glacier contains enough ice to almost double the IPCC's best estimate of 21st century sea level rise, the manner in which the glacier will respond to the accelerated thinning is a matter of great concern," says Professor Shepherd.

Resource
Depletion


August 14, 2013, from Associated Press

Scott says state will sue Georgia over water

There will be blood (in the water).
Gov. Rick Scott, saying it's time to fight for the economic future of the Apalachicola Bay region, announced Tuesday that Florida will file a lawsuit against Georgia over its consumption of freshwater in a river system that serves three Southeastern states. The decision by Florida's governor to proceed with a lawsuit directly against Georgia is an escalation in a legal dispute lasting more than two decades. Scott charged that Georgia has been unwilling to come up with a reasonable approach to sharing water that flows downstream from Georgia into Alabama and Florida.


August 14, 2009, from National Oceanographic Centre, via EurekAlert

Nitrogen fixation and phytoplankton blooms in the southwest Indian Ocean

Diatoms to the rescue?
Nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen into nitrogen compounds that organisms can then use as food. This process is thought to be important in areas of the ocean where nitrogen-based nutrients are otherwise in short supply, and the researchers confirm that this is indeed the case in the region south of Madagascar. But there were some surprises. Previously, it has been thought that the large-scale autumn bloom that develops in this region is driven by nitrogen-fixing blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, called Trichodesmium, colonies of which the researchers found to be abundant. However, the 2005 bloom was dominated by a diatom -- a type of phytoplankton -- the cells of which play host to another nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium called Richella intracellularis, with [the blue-green algae] Trichodesmium apparently playing second fiddle.... Diatoms have relatively large cells, and when they die they sink down the water column, carrying with them carbon that is ultimately derived from carbon dioxide drawn from the atmosphere though the process of photosynthesis.

Recovery


August 14, 2012, from Environmental Health News

No more butts: biodegradable filters a step to boot litter problem

Now... if only it would rain.
Cigarette filters made to degrade quickly may offer a unique solution to the persistent problem of cigarette butts that litter beaches, parks and waterways. The design relies on small tablets of food-grade chemicals inside the filters that burst when they get wet, releasing acid that spurs the filter to break down in months instead of years. The results are an important step toward solving a global problem that impacts people and wildlife. The researchers used principles of green chemistry including designing for degradation, minimizing waste and choosing safer chemicals to ensure that their research would improve the existing technology.


August 14, 2012, from Guardian

Rate of Arctic summer sea ice loss is 50 percent higher than predicted

If that were 900 cubic miles, well, we'd be talking real meltdown.
Sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing at a far greater rate than previously expected, according to data from the first purpose-built satellite launched to study the thickness of the Earth's polar caps. Preliminary results from the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 probe indicate that 900 cubic kilometres of summer sea ice has disappeared from the Arctic ocean over the past year. This rate of loss is 50 percent higher than most scenarios outlined by polar scientists and suggests that global warming, triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions, is beginning to have a major impact on the region. In a few years the Arctic ocean could be free of ice in summer, triggering a rush to exploit its fish stocks, oil, minerals and sea routes.


August 14, 2009, from Treehugger.com

US Has Gotten More New Energy from Efficiency Improvements Than All Supply Side Expansion Combined: Obama Science Advisor

Surely a more efficient title could have been used for this story.
John Holdren: "[T]he cleanest, fastest, cheapest, safest, surest energy supply option continues to be increasing the efficiency of energy end use -- more efficient cars, more efficient buildings, more efficient industrial processes, more efficient airplanes. We have gotten more new energy out of energy efficiency improvements in the last 35 years than we've gotten out of all supply side expansion put together in the United States. That's even without trying all that hard. For most of that period, we haven't had anything that you could call a really coherent set of energy policies supporting increasing energy efficiency."