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- Thu Dec 13, 2018 - An upheaval at the ends of the world
It was not so long ago---only 108 years, within a great-grandma's memory---that a person's eyes first beheld the South Pole. When Roald Amundsen made it to the bottom of the world in 1911, it marked a new chapter in the human story. Our curious, inventive, and adaptable species, born on the sunny savanna, had reached that last spot of remote desolation on our home planet.
Little did we know that less than a century later, the hustle and bustle of our society would alter that ancient landscape forever.
The pristine environments at both poles of the Earth are changing, perhaps irreversibly, according to a new pair of federal studies. On Monday, a new nasa report warned that ancient glaciers in Antarctica are \'waking up\' and beginning to dump ice into the sea, which could eventually raise sea levels.
The following day, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its new Arctic Report Card, which finds that the top of the world is also thawing, melting, and breaki
- Thu Dec 13, 2018 - Deep Water Seagrass Meadows Are Untapped Carbon Sinks
Seagrass meadows cover an area roughly the size of Switzerland in the deep waters of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Now, a new study shows the coastal ecosystems store significant amounts of carbon. The finding suggests deep water seagrass meadows could help mitigate climate change.
\'If we are to help regain control of our planet's thermostat and limit global warming, we must capitalize on the powerful ability of natural ecosystems to sequester and store carbon,\' Peter Macreadie, a marine scientist at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, who led the new research, said.
\'Seagrasses are brilliant in this regard because they lock up carbon in a water grave, thereby retiring carbon from the atmosphere,\' he added.
Seagrasses are flowering plants that grow in salt water, often along sloping coastlines. They have roots and stems, and as their name suggests, they look a bit like grass. Seagrasses can form dense meadows. Some seagrass meadows are so large the
- Thu Dec 13, 2018 - 'Death sentence': butterfly sanctuary to be bulldozed for Trump's border wall
On any given day at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, visitors can to see more than 60 varieties of butterflies. In the spring and fall, monarchs and other species can blanket the center's 100 acres of subtropical bushlands that extend from the visitor center to to the banks of the Rio Grande river, where their property, and US sovereignty, ends.
\'It's like something from Fantasia,\' said the center's director, Marianna Wright. \'When you walk you have to cover your mouth so you don't suck in a butterfly.\'
Today the most diverse butterfly sanctuary in the country, and other protected areas in the lower Rio Grande Valley along the US-Mexico border, are under threat. Last week, the US supreme court issued a ruling allowing the Trump administration to waive 28 federal laws, including the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act, and begin construction on 33 new miles of border wall in the heart of the valley -- and right through the butterfly center.
- Thu Dec 13, 2018 - The oil industry's covert campaign to rewrite American car emissions rules
When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them.
But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along: the nation's oil industry.
In Congress, on Facebook and in statehouses nationwide, Marathon Petroleum, the country's largest refiner, worked with powerful oil-industry groups and a conservative policy network financed by the billionaire industrialist Charles G. Koch to run a stealth campaign to roll back car emissions standards, a New York Times investigation has found.
The campaign's main argument for significantly easing fuel efficiency standards --- that the United States is so awash in oil it no longer needs to worry about energy conservation --- clashed with decades of federal energy and environmental policy.
\'With oil scarcity no longer a co
- Wed Dec 12, 2018 - Arctic reindeer numbers crash by half
The population of wild reindeer, or caribou, in the Arctic has crashed by more than half in the last two decades.
A new report on the impact of climate change in the Arctic revealed that numbers fell from almost 5 million to around 2.1 million animals.
The report was released at the American Geophysical Research Union meeting.
It revealed how weather patterns and vegetation changes are making the Arctic tundra a much less hospitable place for reindeer.
Reindeer and caribou are the same species, but the vast, wild herds in northern Canada and Alaska are referred to as caribou.
It is these herds that are faring the worst, according to scientists monitoring their numbers. Some herds have shrunk by more than 90% - \'such drastic declines that recovery isn't in sight\', this Arctic Report Card stated.
Why is a warmer Arctic worse for reindeer?
There are multiple reasons.
Prof Howard Epstein, an environmental scientist from the University of Virginia, who was one
- Wed Dec 12, 2018 - US accused of obstructing talks at UN climate change summit
The United States and other high carbon dioxide-emitting developed countries are deliberately frustrating the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, Vanuatu's foreign minister has said. His warning came as Pacific and Indian ocean states warned they faced annihilation if a global climate \'rule book\' could not brokered.
In a bruising speech before ministers and heads of state, Vanuatu's foreign minister, Ralph Regenvanu, singled out the US as he excoriated major CO2-emitting developed countries for deliberately hindering negotiations.
\'It pains me deeply to have watched the people of the United States and other developed countries across the globe suffering the devastating impacts of climate-induced tragedies, while their professional negotiators are here at COP24 putting red lines through any mention of loss and damage in the Paris guidelines and square brackets around any possibility for truthfully and accurately reporting progress against humanity's most existential threat,\' he
- Wed Dec 12, 2018 - Environmentalists alarmed over Trump's plan to reclassify nuclear waste
THE TRUMP administration is seeking to dispose of radioactive waste more cheaply and easily -- reportedly by reclassifying it at a lower threat level at certain locations around the country.
The Energy Department has apparently proposed lowering the status of certain radioactive waste produced at the country's nuclear weapons labs, stoking alarm among environmentalists, nuclear watchdogs and Democratic lawmakers.
The new rule would apply to nuclear waste at several sites around the country, including the sprawling Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington, which was established as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II and developed most of the plutonium for the nation's nuclear stockpile, as well as Idaho National Laboratory and the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina.
Critics of the proposal warn that reclassifying radioactive waste could end up allowing authorities to simply leave it in the ground or in underground tanks -- some of which have leaked -- rather
- Wed Dec 12, 2018 - Investors warn of severe financial crash if climate action isn't taken
A group of more than 400 investors managing $32 trillion in assets warned governments to take more aggressive steps to address climate change or risk a financial crash several times worse than the 2008 global recession, The Guardian reported.
In a letter released at the COP24 climate meeting in Poland, the investors called on nations to end fossil fuel subsidies, invest in low-carbon technologies, phase out coal-fired power plants, put a price on carbon emissions, and make drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
The global investment firm Schroders, a signatory of the new \'Global Investor Statement,\' estimates that if governments fail to take action and the world warms by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit), it could cause $23 trillion in global economic losses over the next 80 years --- three to four times the scale of the 2008 global financial crisis.
\'The long-term nature of the challenge has, in our view, met a zombie-like response by many,\' Chris Newton, executiv
- Tue Dec 11, 2018 - East Antarctica is losing ice faster than anyone thought
East Antarctica was supposed to be the stable side of the icy continent, whose western flank is losing ice fast1. But glaciologists are finding that the closer they look at East Antarctica, the more change they see.
Four small glaciers in a region known as Vincennes Bay are thinning at surprisingly fast rates, researchers reported on 10 December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington DC.
\'People think that East Antarctica is stable,\' says Helen Fricker, a glaciologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. \'But it's where we should be looking.\'
The glaciers are responding to warm ocean waters that now reach much closer to East Antarctica's icy edge than in years past --- and might continue to do so. \'It's a signal of what's to come,\' says Catherine Walker, a glaciologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the team analysing the glaciers.
The Vincennes Bay glaciers lie next to East Antarcti
- Tue Dec 11, 2018 - A murder over a Monsanto chemical
Monsanto's new herbicide was supposed to save U.S. farmers from financial ruin. Instead, it upended the agriculture industry, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a struggle for survival.
Mike Wallace sat in his pickup truck on a dusty back road near his farm outside Leachville, Arkansas, typing impatiently into his cell phone. \'I'm waiting on you,\' he wrote. \'You coming?\' It was hot for late October. The rows of soybeans, cotton, and corn, which just days ago had spread across much of the region, were largely gone, replaced by dry, flat dirt. The 2016 harvesting season was nearly over. A minute passed, and Wallace typed another message, sounding slightly triumphant. \'Looks like you don't have much to say now.
Wallace, 55, was a prominent figure in the Arkansas Delta farming community. His 5,000-acre farm was large, although the yield on that year's soybean crop hadn't been as successful as he had expected. Wallace believed he knew why his crops had failed, and it had nothing to