July 4, 2015, from The Guardian
Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb....
Below the 18-inch concrete cap rests the United States' cold war legacy to this remote corner of the Pacific Ocean: 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive debris left behind after 12 years of nuclear tests.
Brackish water pools around the edge of the dome, where sections of concrete have started to crack away. Underground, radioactive waste has already started to leach out of the crater: according to a 2013 report by the US Department of Energy, soil around the dome is already more contaminated than its contents....
"Runit Dome represents a tragic confluence of nuclear testing and climate change," said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, who visited the dome in 2010.
"It resulted from US nuclear testing and the leaving behind of large quantities of plutonium," he said. "Now it has been gradually submerged as result of sea level rise from greenhouse gas emissions by industrial countries led by the United States."
July 4, 2014, from Phys.org
The new study, published in Environment Microbiology Reports, shows for the first time that even if ocean acidification reaches the levels predicted for the year 2100, the bacterial community will remain unaffected....
He suspects that the resistance of marine bacteria to ocean acidification means they will be able to evolve an even higher level of resilience before 2100, as they get used to higher acid levels.
'Hitting them with a big stick we see a huge capacity for resistance, but over the long term they have an enormous evolutionary capacity, he says. 'Over the next 100 years there will be millions of generations of bacteria, so if we still have a steadily increasing amount of carbon dioxide, as is predicted, being absorbed into oceans the bacterial communities will adapt.'
July 4, 2011, from Mother Jones
But another culprit may be contributing, too: exposure to certain pesticides and other toxic chemicals. A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Diabetes Care found a strong link between diabetes onset and blood levels of a group of harsh industrial chemicals charmingly known as "persistent organic pollutants" (POPs), most of which have been banned in the United States for years but still end up in our food (hence the "persistent" bit--they degrade very slowly).
The ones with the largest effect were PCBs, a class of highly toxic chemicals widely used as industrial coolants before being banished in 1979. Interestingly, the main US maker of PCBs, Monsanto, apparently knew about and tried to cover up their health-ruining effects long before the ban went into place. Organochlorine pesticides, another once-ubiquitous, now largely banned chemical group, also showed a significant influence on diabetes rates....
How are these awful chemicals sticking around and still causing trouble decades after being banned? POPs accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals--and transfer to the animals that eat them, including humans who eat meat and fish. In industrial animal farming, livestock are often given feed that includes animal fat, which helps POPs hang around in the food chain. "We feed the cow fat to the pigs and the chickens, and we feed the pig and chicken fat to the cows"....
Farmed salmon, too, carry significant levels of these dodgy chemicals, especially PCBs.
July 4, 2012, from Reuters
Lawmakers in North Carolina, which has a long Atlantic Ocean coastline and vast areas of low-lying land, voted on Tuesday to ignore studies predicting a rapid rise in sea level due to climate change and postpone planning for the consequences.
Opponents of the measure said it was a case of legislators "putting our heads in the sand" to avoid acknowledging the possible effects of global warming.
Backed by real estate developers, the Republican-led General Assembly passed a law requiring that projected rates of sea level rise be calculated on historical trends and not include accelerated rates of increase.
July 4, 2011, from University of Arizona, via EurekAlert
Warming of the ocean's subsurface layers will melt underwater portions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets faster than previously thought, according to new University of Arizona-led research. Such melting would increase the sea level more than already projected.
The research, based on 19 state-of-the-art climate models, proposes a new mechanism by which global warming will accelerate the melting of the great ice sheets during this century and the next.
The subsurface ocean layers surrounding the polar ice sheets will warm substantially as global warming progresses, the scientists found. In addition to being exposed to warming air, underwater portions of the polar ice sheets and glaciers will be bathed in warming seawater....
"Ocean warming is very important compared to atmospheric warming because water has a much larger heat capacity than air," Yin said. "If you put an ice cube in a warm room, it will melt in several hours. But if you put an ice cube in a cup of warm water, it will disappear in just minutes."...
Co-author Jonathan T. Overpeck said, "This does mean that both Greenland and Antarctica are probably going melt faster than the scientific community previously thought."
July 4, 2015, from Science, via ScienceDaily
Our oceans need an immediate and substantial reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. If that doesn't happen, we could see far-reaching and largely irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems, which would especially be felt in developing countries. That's the conclusion of a new review study published today in the journal Science. In the study, the research team from the Ocean 2015 initiative assesses the latest findings on the risks that climate change poses for our oceans, and demonstrates how fundamentally marine ecosystems are likely to change if human beings continue to produce just as much greenhouse gases as before....
"To date, the oceans have essentially been the planet's refrigerator and carbon dioxide storage locker. For instance, since the 1970s they've absorbed roughly 93 percent of the additional heat produced by the greenhouse effect, greatly helping to slow the warming of our planet," explains Prof Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-author of the new Ocean 2015 study....
July 4, 2015, from Desdemona
... Add these numbers, and there are at least 14.5 million hectares per year of wildlands being converted to human uses, probably mostly for agriculture....
Humans are destroying soil at a rate of 12 million hectares per year, and we’re making up for it by destroying forest and wetlands at a comparable rate. But is all of this destruction of the natural world enabling us to keep up with the ever-growing human population?
July 4, 2012, from Texas Tribune
The historic Texas drought caused the Ogallala Aquifer to experience its largest decline in 25 years across a large swath of the Texas Panhandle, new numbers from a water district show....
Further north in the Panhandle, along the state's border with Oklahoma, a second water district also registered large declines in the Ogallala. Steve Walthour, the general manager of the eight-county North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, calculated on Monday that the average drop in the Ogallala reached 2.9 feet last year....
As for this year, farmers say that spring rains have helped, but most of the Panhandle remains in moderate drought, or worse. Fondren is holding out hope for showers soon. "We're going to go back to pumping pretty hard again if we don't get some rain," he said.
July 4, 2009, from CBC (Canada)
An Ottawa resident who has been lobbying to put a wind turbine in his backyard in the city's Westboro neighbourhood has been told that his project is grinding to a halt.
Graham Findlay had applied for a variance to install what's known as an "energy ball" on his property near Island Park Drive.
Findlay is a commercial wind arm developer with Ottawa-based 3G Energy Corporation and has said that he wants to mount that "energy ball" on a pole in his backyard to make it 10 metres high so he can produce his own energy at home.
In October, the city refused to approve his application to mount the turbine in his backyard, so he appealed through the Ontario Municipal Board.
His neighbours, however, testified at the OMB hearings that they felt the turbine would be invasive and could be dangerous if the tall pole with a turbine on top fell over.
Even though the turbine has been designed specifically for residential areas, the OMB said in its June ruling that it supported Findlay's neighbour's concerns.
July 4, 2009, from Examiner.com
It took a lawsuit, but the EPA today announced the first step toward regulating a chemical that can cause male fish to develop female sex characteristics. The chemical, nonylphenol ethloxylate (NPE), is used in cleaning products and detergents.
Studies show that NPEs can change the biology of male fish so they grow female eggs at very low levels, said Albert Ettinger of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, in a statement. "The EPA ignored these studies because there was insufficient evidence of the impact on fish reproduction."... Other well-known sources of estrogen and estrogen-mimicking compounds, also called "endocrine disruptors," are birth control pills, hormone replacements and hormones from livestock operations discharged from wastewater treatment plants.... U.S. Geological Survey researchers first found "intersex" fish locally in 2003 in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Since then, the number of these fish has increased year after year, and they are found most often near agricultural or high population areas.
In April, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the USGS released a study that showed at least 82 percent of male smallmouth bass and 23 percent of the largemouth bass in the Potomac watershed have immature female germ cells in their reproductive organs.