ApocaDocs
Today is June 8, 2023.
On this day (06/8), 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


June 8, 2011, from Taipei Times

Banned chemical found in antibiotic

Guess the Augmentin was too augmented.
Major hospitals yesterday temporarily suspended use of the prescription antibiotic Augmentin, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, following reports that tests had confirmed the presence of a banned chemical. The news came after a TV news station recently sent samples of the antibiotic, which is produced and packaged in the UK, for laboratory testing, where it was discovered that the medicine tested positive for diisodecyl phthalate, or DIDP, at levels of between 14.8 parts per million (ppm) and 18.1ppm.


June 8, 2011, from Associated Press

EPA plans to ban some rodent poisons

That hissing sound you hear is celebrating rats.
The government is moving to ban the sale of some popular rat and mouse poisons such as D-Con and Hot Shot in an effort to protect children and pets. The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it is taking the step to reduce the thousands of accidental exposures of children that occur every year from rodent-control products.


June 8, 2011, from TIME

The Bacterium That Ate a Continent: What E. Coli Is Doing to the E.U.

It's sorta nice to know the U.S. isn't the only food fuck-up.
No one yet knows what vegetable or fruit is the ultimate source of the outbreak of a deadly form of E. coli in Europe. Nor do officials know at what point the contamination occurred: on the farm, as agricultural workers handled the produce, as a result of packaging, in the midst of transport or at some other point in the chain of supply? What is clear is that, even after the health hazards are contained, questions will have to be asked about how well the E.U.'s food-safety system works.

Climate
Chaos


June 8, 2014, from Daily Camera

CU-Boulder researchers track 'hedging' language in climate news

Uncertainty over certainty was created by faux uncertainty, certainly produced by energy companies certain about the need for uncertainty.
As scientists' level of confidence that human activities are contributing to significant changes in the Earth's climate increases, the amount of "hedging" language used by some prominent journalists in writing on that subject has also risen, a team of University of Colorado researchers has found. "The language itself is very important for how people perceive the information," said Adriana Bailey, a doctoral student at the CU's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and lead author on a newly published study. "And so what we wanted to look at is what kind of language choices are being made to discuss the scientific uncertainties that do exist ... or to construct new uncertainties that might be extrinsic to the science."... For example, the word "uncertainty" was counted in a New York Times article that read " ... substantial uncertainty still clouds projections of important impacts ... ." It was not counted in a sentence from the same newspaper that read " ... uncertainty was removed as to whether humans had anything to do with climate change. ..." They found that in 2001, the U.S. papers used 189 hedging words or expressions for every 10,000 words printed, while the Spanish papers used 107. In 2007, the number of hedging words and expressions used per 10,000 words was up to 267 in the U.S. and 136 in Spain. "I think I did find it surprising that there was more hedging language used over time," said Maxwell Boykoff, a CIRES fellow and assistant professor in environmental studies at CU and co-author on the study.


June 8, 2014, from University of Central Florida

Climate change: Termites, fungi play more important role in decomposition than temperature

Take me to your leader!
Climate change models could have a thing or two to learn from termites and fungi, according to a new study. For a long time scientists have believed that temperature is the dominant factor in determining the rate of wood decomposition worldwide. Decomposition matters because the speed at which woody material are broken down strongly influences the retention of carbon in forest ecosystems and can help to offset the loss of carbon to the atmosphere from other sources. That makes the decomposition rate a key factor in detecting potential changes to the climate... The team suggests that scientists need to embrace the variability found across data collected from many different sites instead of averaging it all together to create better models with more accurate predictions.


June 8, 2014, from University of Edinburgh

Saving trees in tropics could cut emissions by one-fifth, study shows

Treeific!
Reducing deforestation in the tropics would significantly cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere -- by as much as one-fifth -- research shows. In the first study of its kind, scientists have calculated the amount of carbon absorbed by the world's tropical forests and the amounts of greenhouse gas emissions created by loss of trees, as a result of human activity.


June 8, 2011, from Los Angeles Times

Former Interior secretary calls out Obama on the environment

Babbitt, Run
President Obama has failed to answer Republican attacks on environmental safeguards "forcefully and persuasively" and to articulate his own vision for conserving American wilderness and water, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt charged Tuesday. Babbitt, who served under President Clinton, said in an interview that he would lay out his concerns about the Republican environmental agenda and the Obama administration's response in a speech in Washington on Wednesday.


June 8, 2009, from ABC News

Jellyfish threaten to 'dominate' oceans

If we can figure out a way to create a peanutbutterfish our global food problems are over!
Giant jelly fish are taking over parts of the world's oceans due to overfishing and other human activities, say researchers... Jellyfish are normally kept in check by fish, which eat small jellyfish and compete for jellyfish food such as zooplankton... But, with overfishing, jellyfish numbers are increasing. Jellyfish feed on fish eggs and larvae, further impacting on fish numbers. To add insult to injury, nitrogen and phosphorous in run-off cause red phytoplankton blooms, which create low-oxygen dead zones where jellyfish survive, but fish can't.


June 8, 2009, from Toronto Globe and Mail

Apocalypse now

ApocaDocumentarians such as us have known all this for years.
Whether it's something in the air (such as greenhouse gases) or something in the economy (such as oil and food prices), the only field where there currently seems to be a boom is in gloom. But it's not just ranters wearing bathrobes on street corners: Some of the most respected thinkers about science and society are issuing alarming prognostications about humanity coming to an end, with a bang or with a whimper... The idea of End Times, or apocalypses, has been around as long as religion. Until recently, it has been a mainstay of Christian fundamentalism. But the notion that the world as we know it is about to end - this time with an environmental rather than a religious-inspired bang - lately has been making inroads in more mainstream and progressive-leaning circles, including activists, scientists and pundits.


June 8, 2009, from University of Calgary, via EurekAlert

Scientists should look at their own carbon footprint

Researching the cure is causing the disease?
Scientists studying the impact of climate change on the Arctic need to consider ways to reduce their own carbon footprints, says a researcher who regularly flies north to study the health of caribou.... "The importance of the research is not at question here. It is vital to our understanding of and adapting to climate change. But we need to think about better approaches," says Brook from the U of C's faculty of Veterinary Medicine. "This is an issue for all scientists, though polar researchers often travel particularly long distances using commercial air travel. We also rely extensively on small aircraft, icebreakers, and snowmobiles, all of which produce large amounts of carbon. We know that carbon release by human activity is a key contributor to climate change."... "The total footprint of all scientists is small, but it's important to critically evaluate how we can reduce our footprint from research activities. What are we doing in the best ways possible? Where can we improve? What do we need in order to improve? Let's start talking about this on a larger scale."

Resource
Depletion


June 8, 2009, from London Guardian

Pirate fishing causing eco disaster and killing communities, says report

Figuring out the acronym is half the battle!
Pirate fishing is out of control, depriving some the most world's most vulnerable communities of food and leading to ecological catastrophe, a three-year investigation has found. "Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is one of the most serious threats to the future of world fisheries. It is now occurring in virtually all fishing grounds from shallow coastal waters to deep oceans. It is believed to account for a significant proportion of the global catch and to be costing developing countries up to $15bn a year," says the report by the Environmental Justice Foundation. Unscrupulous Chinese, European and Latin American companies, using flags of convenience, are operating illegal gear, fishing in sea areas they are not allowed and are not reporting their catches, the investigators found. In addition, ships are laundering illegally caught fish by transferring them at sea to legal boats making it impossible to identify catches.


June 8, 2009, from BusinessGreen

Texas sets back solar by at least two years

What "procedural point" would justify stupidity?
The Texas legislature disappointed environmental groups this week as it failed to pass the bulk of legislation designed to promote solar energy in the state. The state killed a bill that would have provided $500m in rebates for solar panels. The rebates would have been raised with money from increased electricity bills. The bill, which had strong support from both political parties, failed on a procedural point. The legislature also failed to vote on a bill that would have mandated the development of 1,500MW of electricity from renewables by 2020.

Recovery


June 8, 2014, from Huffington Post

Will New Climate Regulations Destroy the Economy? (Hint: No.)

We can have our cake and eat it, too?
There is a long history of claims that new rules to protect the environment or human health will seriously harm the United States economy. These claims are political fodder, they are provocative, and they are always wrong. In fact, the evidence shows the opposite: environmental regulations consistently produce enormous net benefits to the economy and to human health. In 2008, for example, the United States' environmental technologies and services industry supported 1.7 million jobs. The industry at that time generated approximately $300 billion in revenues and exported goods and services worth $44 billion... Some polluting industries might suffer, but it is past time to unleash American ingenuity in the name of reducing the devastating threat of climate change.


June 8, 2009, from Technology Review

Roll-Up Solar Panels

Better efficiency than asphalt shingles, at least!
Xunlight, a startup in Toledo, Ohio, has developed a way to make large, flexible solar panels. It has developed a roll-to-roll manufacturing technique that forms thin-film amorphous silicon solar cells on thin sheets of stainless steel. Each solar module is about one meter wide and five and a half meters long. As opposed to conventional silicon solar panels, which are bulky and rigid, these lightweight, flexible sheets could easily be integrated into roofs and building facades or on vehicles. Such systems could be more attractive than conventional solar panels and be incorporated more easily into irregular roof designs. They could also be rolled up and carried in a backpack, says the company's cofounder and president, Xunming Deng. "You could take it with you and charge your laptop battery," he says.