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- Mon Jun 18, 2018 - Orca death brings southern resident whale population to lowest level in 34 years
An orca whale is missing and presumed dead, bringing the local killer whale population to its lowest point in three decades.
The Center for Whale Research said Saturday an adult male known as L92 has not been seen since November 2017 and was \'conspicuously absent\' from recent coastal sightings of other whales.
The whale, nicknamed Crewser, was 23 years old.
The animal was a member of the L pod --- the largest of three groups, along with the J and K pods, that make up the southern resident group of killer whales, which typically travel between the inland waters of Washington state and southwestern British Columbia for most of the year. It was the second-to-last member of the L26 matriline --- the only surviving whale is now its aunt, known as L90.
The loss brings the total southern resident population of orcas down to 75, the lowest since 1984. The population has fluctuated in recent decades, reaching a peak of 98 whales in 1995. Just two years ago, there were 83 orcas here.
- Mon Jun 18, 2018 - The Mysterious Demise of Africa's Oldest Trees
Baobabs are some of the most distinct and revered trees in Africa, living for hundreds, often thousands, of years and containing up to 500 cubic meters of wood. But scientists have discovered that an alarming number of these trees are dying --- and they don't know exactly why.
According to a new study published this week in the journal Nature Plant, nine out of Africa's 13 oldest baobabs, and five of the six largest, have died over the past 12 years. Although the researchers don't have a definitive reason for the deaths, they suspect a changing climate is playing a role, particularly Africa's hotter, drier conditions in recent decades.
Baobabs are comprised of multiple stems and trunks that fuse together to form a single, ring-like plant. This structure often leaves a hollow center, one of which was so large that residents in South Africa's Limpopo province built a pub inside of it. Adrian Patrut of Romania's Babes-Bolyai University and his colleagues set out in 2005 to study how
- Mon Jun 18, 2018 - New Study Finds 40,000 Georgia Homes Worth $13 Billion will be at Risk from Tidal Flooding
Accelerating sea level rise, primarily driven by climate change, is projected to worsen tidal flooding in the U.S., putting as many as 311,000 coastal homes in the lower 48 states with a collective market value of about $117.5 billion in today's dollars at risk of chronic flooding within the next 30 years---the lifespan of a typical mortgage---according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released today. Roughly 14,000 coastal commercial properties assessed at a value of nearly $18.5 billion also are at risk during that timeframe. By the end of the century, 2.4 million homes and 107,000 commercial properties currently worth more than $1 trillion altogether could be at risk, with Georgia's coastal real estate significantly exposed.
The analysis combines property data from the online real estate company Zillow with a peer-reviewed methodology developed by UCS for assessing areas at risk of frequent flooding. Using three sea level rise scenarios developed by the
- Mon Jun 18, 2018 - Even Scott Pruitt's Friends Have Given Up on Him
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt may still be clinging to his job despite his ever-expanding list of controversies, but his inner circle of allies is shrinking fast.
Since April, seven key EPA staffers have resigned, four of whom had once worked for him or were longtime friends he brought to the EPA from Oklahoma. And while not directly affiliated with the EPA, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has been a key ally of Pruitt's, recently revealed some cracks in his support. On Wednesday, when Fox News personality Laura Ingraham observed that Pruitt was \'hurting the president\' and it was time for him to go, Inhofe replied, \'I've seen these things. They upset me as much as they upset you, and I think something needs to happen to change that.\' He suggested that one solution \'would be for him to leave that job,\' and that the deputy EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler \'might be a good swap.\'
Inhofe's connection to Pruitt runs deep. His former chief of staff, Ryan Jackson
- Thu Jun 14, 2018 - Sen. Warren blasts FEMA for doing nothing about Puerto Rico's hurricane death count
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and two dozen Democrats blasted the Trump administration Tuesday for not doing anything to verify the true hurricane death toll in Puerto Rico, which researchers now believe could be more than 70 times higher than the official count.
President Trump and his Cabinet have remained silent in the face of growing evidence that Puerto Rico is undercounting the deaths of US citizens who died in connection to Hurricane Maria. The local government's official death toll remains 64.
\'We are extremely concerned by the ongoing inability to obtain an updated, accurate death toll from Hurricane Maria, and the Trump Administration's failure to provide any assistance or demand accountability in that process,\' Warren wrote in a letter she sent Tuesday to Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Alex Azar, secretary of health and human services (HHS).
In the letter, which was shared with Vox, Democrats pointed to new resear
- Thu Jun 14, 2018 - Gulf of Mexico 2018 dead zone forecast
In a statement released June 7, 2018, NOAA said scientific models suggest that this summer's Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone or \'dead zone\' will be approximately 5,780 square miles (14,760 square km), about the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut. That's similar to the 33-year average of 5,460 square miles (14,140 square km), and smaller than 2017's Gulf dead zone -- which at 8,776 square miles (22,730 square km) was the largest measured since mapping began in 1985.
Hypoxic zones -- aka \'dead zones\' -- are areas in the ocean of such low oxygen concentration that animal life suffocates and dies. A dead zone forms in the Gulf of Mexico every summer. Nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, fertilize the Gulf's surface waters to create excessive amounts of algae. When the algae decomposes in the deepest parts of the ocean, it leads to oxygen distress and can kill organisms even in the Gulf of Mexico's richest waters. These low oxygen condition
- Thu Jun 14, 2018 - Antarctic ice loss triples in decade sparking fears of serious trouble
Antarctica's ice sheet is melting at a rapidly increasing rate, now pouring more than 200 billion tonnes of ice into the ocean annually and raising sea levels half a millimetre every year, a team of 80 scientists has reported.
The rate of melting has tripled in the past decade, the study concluded. If the acceleration continues, some of scientists' worst fears about rising oceans could be realised, leaving low-lying cities and communities with less time to prepare than they had hoped.
The result also reinforces that nations have a short window - perhaps no more than a decade - to cut greenhouse gas emissions if they hope to avert some of the worst consequences of climate change.
Antarctica, the planet's largest ice sheet, lost 219 billion tonnes of ice annually from 2012 to 2017 - approximately triple the 73 billion tonne melt rate of a decade ago, the scientists concluded. From 1992 to 1997, Antarctica lost 49 billion tonnes of ice annually.
The study is the product of a l
- Thu Jun 14, 2018 - Trump's EPA to Roll Back Regulation to Prevent Methane Leaks
Last week, the staff of the environmental nonprofit Earthworks were on a retreat in West Texas when Sharon Wilson, a Dallas-based organizer for the group, decided to take them into the Wild, Wild West of the Permian Basin. A certified thermographer, Wilson has traveled endlessly across Texas documenting the environmental and public health consequences of living near oil and gas operations. As a landowner in Wise County, which overlies the gas-rich Barnett Shale, she had a front-row seat to the rise of fracking. With about 20 staffers packed in three vehicles, Wilson drove down Highway 17 out of Balmorhea from site to site, aiming her thermal-imaging camera at the methane escaping from stacks and leaky tanks at storage and processing facilities. In some cases, the leaks looked like a dripping faucet. In other cases, methane was gushing like a fire hose.
\'It's just crazy what I'm seeing,\' Wilson said. \'It's the worst emissions I've seen anywhere.\'
The problem is likely set to get w
- Wed Jun 13, 2018 - Tom Steyer -- Can he grow grass roots campaign to impeach Trump?
In a bottoms-up campaign to impeach President Trump, billionaire California climate-change advocate Tom Steyer has hit the road on a 30-city tour and collected 5.4 million names of those embracing or interested in the cause.
The campaign hit Washington on Tuesday, with Steyer booked into Town Hall-Seattle, where appreciative liberals often nod heads in unison as they agree with speakers. Steyer might consider taking Dramamine before taking the stage.
The campaign that Steyer is nourishing -- and in which he has invested $40 million -- is very, very different from the top-down Nixon impeachment of 1973-74.
At that time, here and elsewhere, support for resignation and removal grew among prominent Republicans (e.g. Attorney General Slade Gorton) and more conservative Democrats (e.g. crusty U.S. Rep. Julia Butler Hansen).
Nowadays, Steyer said, \'I think (congressional) Republicans know how dangerous Trump is, constantly breaking the law, but they don't want to risk a primary.\'
- Wed Jun 13, 2018 - Will the Bayer-Monsanto Merger Further Harm Bees?
Every winter, Minnesota beekeeper Steve Ellis visits California with his hives to pollinate almond trees. But starting about a decade ago, he began to see a sharp uptick in annual hive losses, both among his bees and those of most beekeepers he knew.
\'We went from an average annual loss of 10 to 15 percent to 40, 50, 60, and 70 percent each year,\' he said. To rebuild his colonies each spring before returning home, Ellis had to start buying replacement bees from breeders --- now a costly but normal part of maintaining a population. Ellis said he has no doubt that bees are being gravely harmed by insecticides accumulating in our environment.
\'What changed in 2006 is the United States started allowing massive amounts of systemic insecticides to be used on crops,\' Ellis said. \'From a pollinator's perspective, they're a nightmare.\'
When applied to a plant or even to the soil at its roots, systemic insecticides are absorbed into the plant's tissues, and can become toxic to insects t