ApocaDocs
Today is May 27, 2022.
On this day (05/27), we posted 18 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 27, 2014, from Alaska Dispatch

Arctic sea ice littered with tiny bits of 'microplastic' pollution

At least it sounds kinda pretty.
Dartmouth scientist Rachel Obbard was looking at samples of Arctic sea ice for small organisms when something else caught her eye: Tiny, bright-colored bits and pieces and miniature string-like objects that did not seem to belong. Those small specks turned out to be a type of pollution known as microplastics. Their presence in sea ice collected from the central Arctic Ocean showed that some of the vast quantities of garbage and pollution floating in the world's seas has traveled to the northernmost waters.... sea ice holding the small bits of trash is thinning and likely to shed them back into the water, where they can be ingested by fish, birds and mammals...


May 27, 2013, from The Detroit News

Canadian firm's nuclear waste plan near Lake Huron stirs Michigan fears

Makes me want to hur(l) on it.
A Canadian company's plan to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron is alarming environmental groups and some Michigan lawmakers, who fear the project could eventually harm the Great Lakes. For years, Ontario Power Generation has pushed to construct a deep geologic repository -- a massive underground storage facility to handle low- to intermediate-level nuclear wastes -- on the grounds of its Bruce nuclear facility near Kincardine, Ont. The company wants to locate its storage facility 2,230 feet below the ground and three-quarters of a mile from the Lake Huron shore.


May 27, 2011, from Reuters

Big oil companies face growing concern on fracking

It's as if stockholders recognized a potential liability from pumping toxics willy-nilly into shattered subterranean layers. Can it be so?
Large blocks of investors in the two biggest U.S. oil companies on Wednesday demanded more disclosure about the environmental risks of extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing. Exxon Mobil Corp defended the practice at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, even as investors peppered Chief Executive Rex Tillerson with concerns and questions about it. A proposal requiring more disclosure by Exxon on the impact of "fracking" received about 30 percent of the votes by shareholders in the world's largest publicly traded oil company. At rival Chevron Corp, which became heavily involved in fracking through a recent acquisition, 41 percent of shareholders backed a similar resolution. "Breaking 40 percent on a first year resolution has only happened a few times in the last few decades, so it shows how seriously the company's shareholders are taking this issue," said Michael Passoff, who focuses on fracking at San Francisco-based corporate responsibility group As You Sow.... However, Passoff said even regulators acknowledge that the current regulation by states is inadequate.


May 27, 2011, from San Francisco Chronicle

FDA finds BPA in nearly every item tested

Spaghetti-oh-oh.
The FDA has been under significant pressure to regulate Bisphenol-A, a chemical component in plastics and resins that has been linked to health problems ranging from hyperactivity and early puberty to infertility and cancer. 90 percent of all Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While the effects of the stuff have been fairly abundantly demonstrated, the mode of exposure has not been rigorously charted. Some FDA scientists decided to take the matter up themselves, testing the most popularly consumed canned foods. (Most cans of food are lined with resins that contain BPA.) They found BPA in virtually all of the items they tested -- including green beans, chile, pasta and fruit. But the amount of BPA in the items varied widely. One can of peas contained BPA at 113 times the concentration of another. Pasta, pork and beans, chile and soups tended to contain BPA at levels between 10 - 80 parts per billion. Both different types of resin and different chemical properties of the food likely account for the variety.


May 27, 2011, from National Geographic

Prozac Killing E. coli in the Great Lakes

Best of all, the E. coli don't even mind.
Scientists in Erie, Pennsylvania, have found that minute concentrations of fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, are killing off microbial populations in the Great Lakes. Traces of antidepressants such as Prozac have been found in both drinking and recreational water supplies throughout the world, in quantities experts say are too dilute to affect humans but which have been found to damage the reproductive systems of mollusks and may even affect the brains of animals like fish.... Killing off bacteria might seem like a good thing. "Your immediate thought is, 'well, that's good, because they're not supposed to be there anyways," said Mercyhurst College microbiologist Steve Mauro, whose team found fluoxetine in low doses in water near Lake Erie's beaches. "But what about all the other bacteria that are supposed to be there and part of that ecosystem?"


May 27, 2009, from Cape Cod Times

Study links strandings to pollution

And here we thought they were just looking for hamburgers & fries!
Cape Cod is one of the top areas in the world for marine mammal strandings. The animals are sometimes loaded with parasites or are sick. But, despite a long history of pollution in our coastal waters, the toll pollution takes on sea creatures has been harder to establish. In a study, recently published in the journal Environmental Pollution, Eric Montie, a University of South Florida scientist who did most of his research while a doctoral student at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, found high levels of man-made chemicals in the brains and fluid surrounding the brains of marine mammals. Scientists have known for a while that dangerous compounds like the pesticide DDT, the insulating material PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) and the flame retardant PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) accumulate in the fatty tissue of mammals, particularly top-of-the-food-chain predators that eat chemical-laden prey....Montie tested for the presence of 170 chemicals in brain and cerebrospinal fluid he'd collected from the stranded animals. He found exceptionally high levels of both the widely used flame retardant PBDE and a form of PCB.


May 27, 2009, from London Times

Mobile phones to be banned in French primary schools to limit health risks

And I suppose they don't want the carrier pigeons to poop on the little buggers' heads, either.
Mobile telephones are to be banned from French primary schools, and operators must offer handsets that allow only text messages, under government measures to reduce the health risk to children. Companies will also be required to supply phones that work only with headsets, to limit the danger to the brain from electromagnetic radiation, Rosalyne Bachelot, the Health Minister, said. The measures, which emerged from a six-week review of mobile phone and wi-fi radiation, have been attacked as inadequate by campaigners who accuse the State of playing down dangers from phones and transmitter masts. The campaign groups, which walked out on the government consultation on Monday, wanted a ban on mobile use by children under 14 and drastic measures to limit the power and location of masts.


May 27, 2009, from SciDev.net

Change to Ecuador's GM laws 'could allow suicide seeds'

Ecuador's "rights of nature" seems in conflict with suicidal tendencies.
Moves by Ecuador's president to veto legislation covering genetically modified organisms could let controversial 'terminator' seeds into the country, campaigning groups claim. Ecuador bans the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops but for more than a decade it has allowed imports of transgenic materials -- particularly soybean and corn. There are no clear regulations about planting GM crops for research.... Terminator or 'suicide' seeds are modified so they can't reproduce in the second generation. The Convention on Biological Diversity has had a moratorium on them since 2000. Supporters say they stop farmers using seeds they haven't paid for and that their genes cannot spread to conventional crops, unlike other GM seeds. But critics say that terminator seeds will make poor farmers dependent on big companies for seeds.

Climate
Chaos


May 27, 2014, from London Guardian

Wanted: a breed of chicken that can survive crippling heatwaves

These chickens are pre-broiled.
American scientists are racing to develop chickens that can cope with scorching heat as part of a series of government-funded programmes looking to adapt to or mitigate the effects of extreme weather patterns on the food supply. A University of Delaware project is developing ways to introduce climate hardiness to the US domestic breed stock before summer heatwaves predicted under climate change models kill or spoil the meat of billions of birds.


May 27, 2014, from Associated Press

New safety requirements set for Keystone pipeline

Those are some unwieldy welds!
Safety regulators have quietly placed two extra conditions on construction of TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL oil pipeline after learning of potentially dangerous construction defects involving the southern leg of the Canada-to-Texas project. The defects -- high rates of bad welds, dented pipe and damaged pipeline coating -- have been fixed... Over 72 percent of welds required repairs during one week. In another week, TransCanada stopped welding work after 205 of 425 welds required repair.


May 27, 2014, from MSNBC

Pope: Destroying the Earth is a sin

mea maxima culpa
Pope Francis made the biblical case for mitigating the effects of climate change, speaking to a massive crowd in Rome. In his brief speech, Francis issued a dire warning about the effects of climate change. "Safeguard Creation," he said, according to Think Progress, "because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!" "Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude," Francis said. In the address, the Pope said destroying the Earth is a sin.


May 27, 2013, from Washington Post

Russia to pack up Arctic ice station after cracks develop in ice floe

Don'tcha just hate it when unexpected cracks appear in the fundament?
Russia is evacuating a drifting Arctic research station that was supposed to last until September, because the ice it is built on is starting to break up. The cracks are another indication of the rapid decline of the Arctic ice sheet -- especially so because the encampment is on the Canadian side of the Arctic Sea, where the ice is oldest and most durable.... In years past, drift stations have remained in operation for 12 months or longer, with the exception of 2010, when an early breakup also caused a premature evacuation. One station in the Soviet era, called North Pole-22, was launched Sept. 13, 1973, and stayed in service until April 8, 1982.


May 27, 2013, from The Daily Climate

Opinion: Stop the decay of our planet's life-support systems

As if middle age doesn't suck regardless.
...A statement released today and signed by more than 500 scientists from 44 countries who study the interactions of people with our planet is unequivocal: "Based on the best scientific information available, human quality of life will suffer substantial degradation by the year 2050 if we continue on our current path."... "By the time today's children reach middle age," the scientists warn, "it is extremely likely that Earth's life-support systems, critical for human prosperity and existence, will be irretrievably damaged by the magnitude, global extent, and combination of these human-caused environmental stressors, unless we take concrete, immediate actions to ensure a sustainable, high-quality future."


May 27, 2013, from United States Geological Survey

Two Volcanoes Erupting in Alaska: Scientists Are Monitoring and Providing Alerts On Pavlof and Cleveland Volcanoes

The earth is geoengineering itself!
Two of Alaska's most active volcanoes -- Pavlof and Cleveland -- are currently erupting. At the time of this post, their activity continues at low levels, but energetic explosions could occur without warning.... The United States has approximately 169 active volcanoes, and more than half of them could erupt explosively. When the violent energy of a volcano is unleashed, the results can be catastrophic. Lava flows, debris avalanches, and explosive blasts have devastated communities. Noxious volcanic gas emissions have caused widespread lung problems. Airborne ash clouds from explosive eruptions have caused millions of dollars damage, including causing engines to shut down in flight.

Resource
Depletion

Recovery


May 27, 2014, from kirotv 7

New bill hopes prize money will help find a solution to ocean acidification

Is this the beginning of trying to buy our way out of our consumer-culture crisis?
Rep. Derek Kilmer introduced the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, a bill that would offer prize money to researchers who find a solution to carbon dioxide dissolving into the ocean. "The way we're addressing this is trying to get more research attention on monitoring and addressing the situation of ocean acidification," said Rep. Derek Kilmer D-6th District. Kilmer says ocean acidification is a huge threat to the state's $250 million shellfish industry. He wants federal money to be leveraged into more minds working on a solution to saving the dying shellfish. "What we found is you can provide a $5 million research grant for a researcher to go solve a problem or you can provide a prize.


May 27, 2011, from Reuters

Australia's burping cows more climate friendly than thought

Well played! That headline is lots better than "Australian cow-burps a third less lethal"!
Australia's huge cattle herd in the north might be burping less planet-warming methane emissions than thought, a study released on Friday shows, suggesting the cows are more climate friendly. Cattle, sheep and other ruminant livestock produce large amounts of methane, which is about 20 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. One cow can produce about 1.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year. Half of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture and most of that is from sheep and cattle. Most of the cattle and sheep emissions are, contrary to popular belief, from burping. Scientists at Australia's state-backed research body the CSIRO say the amount of methane from cattle fed on tropical grasses in northern Australia could be nearly a third less than thought.


May 27, 2009, from Guardian (UK)

China puts its faith in solar power with huge renewable energy investment

Can they make photovoltaics as cheap as their crappy microwaves?
China is the world's leading ­manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) panels, which turn sunlight into electricity. But 95 percent of these are exported. While solar thermal power, in which sunlight heats water, is in widespread use, the central government and the five major utilities have deemed PV power too ­expensive, particularly compared with coal, which generates ­electricity for between an eighth and a tenth of the cost. But the global economic crisis and ­increasing concerns about climate change and energy security have prompted a change in attitudes. Since last year, a glut in supply of PV panels has pushed prices down by more than 30 percent, cutting ­profits of domestic manufacturers such as Suntech. To support them and widen the ­country's energy base, the plan is expected to include the biggest ever boost for solar power, along with extra spending and ­policy support for nuclear, wind and ­biomass power. By 2020, the government is committed to raising the share of ­renewable energy ­(excluding hydroelectric power) in the energy mix to 6 percent, from the current 1.5 percent.


May 27, 2009, from University of Warwick, via EurekAlert

Research suggests we are genetically programmed to care about climate change

I wish our genetics would hurry up then.
Dr Peter Sozou suggests that individuals may have an innate tendency to care about the long-term future of their communities, over timescales much longer than an individual's lifespan. This in turn may help to explain people's wish to take action over long-term environmental problems.... Dr Sozou said: 'This analysis shows that the social discount rate is generally lower than the private discount rate. An individual's valuation of a future benefit to herself is governed by the probability that she will still be alive in future. But she may value future benefits to her community over a timescale considerably longer than her own lifespan. 'Evolution is driven by competition. Caring about the future of your community makes evolutionary sense to the extent that future members of your community are likely to be your relatives.'