March 2, 2012, from ScienceDaily
A Washington State University researcher has demonstrated that a variety of environmental toxicants can have negative effects on not just an exposed animal but the next three generations of its offspring.
The animal's DNA sequence remains unchanged, but the compounds change the way genes turn on and off -- the epigenetic effect studied at length by WSU molecular biologist Michael Skinner and expanded on in the current issue of the online journal PLoS ONE....
"We didn't expect them all to have transgenerational effects, but all of them did," Skinner told the technology website Gizmodo....
Researchers tested a pesticide mixture (permethrin and insect repellant DEET), a plastic mixture (bisphenol A and phthalates), dioxin (TCDD) and a hydrocarbon mixture (jet fuel, JP8)....
The researchers saw females reaching puberty earlier, increased rates in the decay and death of sperm cells and lower numbers of ovarian follicles that later become eggs.
March 2, 2011, from New York Times
Under federal law, hydrofracking enjoys a number of important regulatory exemptions or exclusions that are not applicable to most other heavy industries. While it is not exempt from all federal environmental statutes, some of the rules in these laws do not apply to the industry. For example, the waste produced by hydrofracking is not categorized as hazardous material under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (R.C.R.A.), the law governing hazardous waste. This series of e-mails, sent between September 2009 and February 2010, concern this point. Industry representatives ask state regulators whether their waste would still be exempt if they distilled it and sold the resulting salts for road application. State and federal regulators confirm that, no matter how it is handled, waste from the oil and gas industry cannot be classified as hazardous material.
Asked about this e-mail exchange, a spokesman for the E.P.A. said in an e-mail, "Yes, gas brine road salts are exempt under R.C.R.A., which was passed by Congress in the 1980s. Currently, wastewaters associated from exploration and production of natural gas are exempt from federal hazardous waste regulatory requirements under R.C.R.A. These wastewaters are regulated under state waste management programs. The federal exemption extends to salts derived from these wastewaters." Asked about the R.C.R.A. exemption, Jamie Legenos, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, declined to comment.
March 2, 2011, from The Independent
The dead dolphins began appearing in mid-January along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the United States. Although none of the carcasses appeared to show outward signs of oil contamination, all were being examined as possible casualties of the petrochemicals that fouled the sea water and sea bed after BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded last April....
nearly five billion barrels of crude oil before it was capped in July....
The remains of 77 animals - nearly all bottlenose dolphins - have been discovered on islands, in marshes and on beaches along 200 miles of coastline. This figure is more than 10 times the number normally found washed up around this time of year, which is calving season for some 2,000 to 5,000 dolphins in the region....
One of the more disturbing aspects of the deaths is that nearly half - 36 animals so far - have been newborn or stillborn dolphin calves. In January 2009 and 2010, there were no reports of stranded calves, and because this is the first calving season since the BP disaster, scientists are concerned that the spill may be a cause.
March 2, 2009, from Baltimore Sun
Parents have long known that the polluted, pollinated air outdoors can bring on asthma attacks in their children. Now it turns out that many asthmatic inner-city kids are under assault inside their homes - where cigarette smoke, dust mites, mold and even cooking smells can make them sicker than car exhaust or ragweed.
Researchers are finding a direct link between the air children breathe at home and the asthma attacks that are the source of hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits in the U.S. every year. The latest study, published last month by Johns Hopkins researchers, quantified the increase in asthma symptoms for every increase in air pollution particles inside Baltimore homes.
Such findings have begun a movement of health professionals who are going door to door to educate families about the potential dangers of indoor air and helping them clean up their homes. Their goal is to reduce childhood asthma by 50 percent by 2012.
March 2, 2009, from London Daily Star
The Government is said to be "very concerned" that as many as 10,000 lives will be lost as temperatures soar to 40C across the country.
Sun stroke, dehydration, air pollution and wildfires all contribute to a rise in deaths during sizzling summers.
The highest temperature measured in the UK was 38.5C, recorded in Kent on August 10, 2003. And it could become a regular occurrence in the near future.
March 2, 2015, from Guardian
According to a crisis report published on 9 February by the pressure group Aliança Pela Água (Water Alliance), whereas catastrophic situations like flooding often fosters solidarity, a lack of resources tends to do the opposite, leading to chaos and even violence. In Itu, a city 100km from São Paulo a desperate water shortage in late 2014 led to fighting in queues, theft of water, and the looting of emergency water trucks, which are now accompanied by armed civil guards. These events left many paulistanos wondering how the hardship might play out in their own pressurised and densely populated city.
March 2, 2011, from Guardian, from DesdemonaDespair
One of the world's most advanced rainforest restoration projects may be going up in smoke in southern China.
A short while ago, I received a frantic phone call from Bulang Mountain in Xishuangbanna, where scientists and conservationists are fleeing 30m-high flames that, they said, were consuming trees in seconds.
Witnesses said the blaze had reached the edge of the Seeds of Heaven biodiversity development centre, where an ecologically healthy forest had been painstakingly rebuilt over the past four years on the site of a former rubber plantation....
"It's horrific. This model, which is recognised internationally as one of the most advanced of its type in the world, is now going up in flames."
The project - which was launched about five years ago by the German biologist Josef Margraf, now deceased, and his wife Minguo - pioneers a "rainforest farming" technique that creates a rich habitat for multiple species, from which a modest income for people can be cultivated from orchids, tea, honey and other products....
The flames appear to have spread from the direction of a neighbouring cow farm. Local officials say the spark was deliberately lit to create a controlled firebreak. Others told the visiting group that the fire may have been part of an effort to clear land for the expansion of a cattle farm.
"This is no accident. You just don't do a controlled fire on a windy day like today," said Pavlos Georgiadis, a former student of Margraf, who died of a heart attack last year. "This is the peak of the dry season. We haven't had rain for two months."
March 2, 2009, from Guardian (UK)
China is planning to build 59 reservoirs to collect water from its shrinking glaciers as the cost of climate change hits home in the world's most populous country.
The far western province of Xinjiang, home to many of the planet's highest peaks and widest ice fields, will carry out the 10-year engineering project, which aims to catch and store glacier run-off that might otherwise trickle away into the desert.
Behind the measure is a concern that millions of people in the region will run out of water once the glaciers in the Tian, Kunlun and Altai mountains disappear.
Anxiety has risen along with temperatures that are rapidly diminishing the ice fields. The 3,800-metre Urumqi No1 glacier, the first to be measured in China, has lost more than 20 percent of its volume since 1962, according to the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (Careeri) in Lanzhou.
March 2, 2009, from The Canadian Press
HALIFAX, N.S. -- Dolphins, sharks and other large marine species around the world are going hungry as they seek out dwindling supplies of the small, overlooked species they feed on, according to a new study that says overfishing is draining their food sources.
In a report released Monday, scientists with the international conservation group Oceana said they found several species were emaciated, reproducing slowly and declining in numbers in part because their food sources are being fished out.
"This is the first time that we're seeing a worldwide trend that more and more large animals are going hungry," Margot Stiles, a marine biologist at Oceana and the author of the report, said from Washington, D.C.
"It's definitely starting to be a pattern."
March 2, 2014, from Yale360
Computers feasting on their own exhaust heat. Super-efficient solar panels snaring lost thermal energy and recycling it into electricity. Personal electronics powered by stray microwaves or vibration-capturing clothing. Cellphones charged with a user's footsteps. These and more innovations may be possible with free, green energy that is now going to waste.
Ubiquitous sources like radio waves, vibration and pressure created by moving objects, heat radiating from machines and even our bodies -- all
have the potential to produce usable electric power. Until
recently, ambient energy was largely squandered because of a lack of ways to efficiently exploit it. Now, advances in materials and engineering are providing tools to harvest this abundant resource and transform it into cheap, clean electricity.
"This power is simply available and it's not doing anything right now, so it's truly being wasted," said Steven Cummer, a Duke University electrical and computer engineering professor working on harvesting ambient electromagnetic radiation to power electronic devices. "And as people think of useful things to do with it, then you're doing those things with available power instead of requiring new power."
March 2, 2011, from Associated Press
A Commerce Department investigation has found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of federal climate researchers whose e-mails were leaked in the debate over global climate change.
The report Thursday from the department's inspector general is the latest to exonerate climate scientists whose communications with the Climate Research Unit at England's University of East Anglia were stolen and made public in 2009. The department reviewed all 1,073 leaked e-mails, but focused on 289 that involved National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists.
March 2, 2011, from BusinessGreen
A memo from chief executive Rupert Murdoch to employees outlined the financial benefits of the company's four-year initiative to reduce carbon emissions from its facilities and operations. He talked up News Corp's ongoing commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly, tying in the upside for shareholders.
"The company's global data center consolidation strategy alone will save approximately $20m per year and reduce data centre emissions by almost 15 per cent when completed later in 2011," said Murdoch in a statement.
The company also set out goals for 2015, which included reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent and investing in clean energy equal to 20 per cent of the firm's electricity usage. It is also reaching out to 100 of its largest suppliers to have them make a difference in their environmental impacts.
March 2, 2009, from CNN
... According to research sponsored by the U.S. Government, improving the efficiency of the national electricity grid by 5 percent would be the equivalent of eliminating the fuel use and carbon emissions of 53 million cars.
For years environmentalists have been talking up the idea of a "smart grid" -- an electricity distribution system that uses digital technology to eliminate waste and improve reliability -- as a way of achieving this.
Advocates of a "smart grid" also say that it would open up new markets for large and small scale alternative energy producers by decentralizing generation.
"It would give consumers the potential to have a much more complex relationship with their energy supplier," says John Loughhead, Executive Director of the United Kingdom Energy Research Center.
"Essentially, with a smart grid, traffic goes both ways. If you wanted to install some kind of micro-generation facility in your home, you could use it to sell to the grid and get money back."