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Related Scary Tags:
ecosystem interrelationships  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ climate impacts  ~ invasive species  ~ global warming  ~ jellyfish  ~ massive die-off  ~ holyshit  ~ health impacts  ~ ocean warming  ~ weather extremes  



Sun, Jan 24, 2016
from Desmog Canada:
"The Blob" Disrupts What We Think We Know About Climate Change, Oceans Scientist Says
When the abnormally warm patch of water first appeared in 2013, fascinated scientists watched disrupted weather patterns, from drought in California to almost snowless winters in Alaska and record cold winters in the northeast. The anomalously warm water, with temperatures three degrees Centigrade above normal, was nicknamed The Blob by U.S climatologist Nick Bond. It stretched over one million square kilometres of the Gulf of Alaska -- more than the surface area of B.C. and Alberta combined -- stretching down 100-metres into the ocean. And, over the next two years that patch of water radically affected marine life from herring to whales. Without the welling-up of cold, nutrient-rich water, there was a dearth of krill, zooplankton and copepods that feed herring, salmon and other species. "The fish out there are malnourished, the whole ecosystem is malnourished," said Richard Dewey, associate director for science with Ocean Networks Canada, speaking at Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney on Thursday.... It could be an indication of what climate change will look like, with large-scale shifts in weather patterns, said Dewey, pointing out that The Blob was not anticipated by climatologists because it did not fit into existing climate models. "Climate change may look like a whole new model we haven't seen before," Dewey said. ...


It might be time for Godzilla to smash industrial civilization.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Dec 30, 2014
from Reuters:
Monarch butterfly eyed for possible U.S. endangered species protection
Monarch butterflies may warrant U.S. Endangered Species Act protection because of farm-related habitat loss blamed for sharp declines in cross-country migrations of the orange-and-black insects, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Monday. Monarch populations are estimated to have fallen by as much as 90 percent during the past two decades because of destruction of milkweed plants they depend on to lay their eggs and nourish hatching larvae, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. ...


No crying over spilled milk(weed).

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Dec 2, 2014
from Cincinnati Enquirer:
Runners plunder snacks at Thanksgiving charity race in Cincinnati
... After running 10 kilometers, participants are greeted with energy bars, granola bars, yogurt, bagels, fruit and more. There's always enough to go around from first finisher to the last. In fact, there's often so much that the extras are packed up and donated to the Freestore Foodbank. Not this year.... Early finishers of the Thanksgiving Day Race on Thursday wanted more of the post-race snacks than their hands and arms could hold.... After the plundering of the post-race snack zone, many finishers fled as fast as they finished...."All that was left was liquid," Isphording said. "There wasn't any food left for the walkers." ...


Black Thursday

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 13, 2014
from National Geographic:
As Dwindling Monarch Butterflies Make Their Migration, Feds Try to Save Them
... The North American monarch population has declined by 90 percent over the past two decades. At its high in the winter of 1996-1997, there were a billion monarchs. Today, there are only about 35 million, according to a petition filed in August by scientists from several environmental organizations asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to classify the monarch as "threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The classification provides various protections including the authority for the agency to purchase habitat, and prohibitions on killing or injuring an animal or destroying its habitat without a permit, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. ...


I bet the Feds contract this out to Halliburton.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 18, 2014
from JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association:
Waistlines of U.S. adults continue to increase
The prevalence of abdominal obesity and average waist circumference increased among U.S. adults from 1999 to 2012, according to a study. Waist circumference is a simple measure of total and intra-abdominal body fat. Although the prevalence of abdominal obesity has increased in the United States through 2008, its trend in recent years has not been known.... The overall age-adjusted prevalence of abdominal obesity increased significantly in the U.S. from 46.4 percent in 1999-2000 to 54.2 percent in 2011-2012. ...


On the other hand, double chins have diminished by half!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 8, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Battle Over Protection Of Obscure Bird Could Decide Fate Of Senate This November
An obscure, chicken-sized bird best known for its mating dance could help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate in November. The federal government is considering listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species next year. Doing so could limit development, energy exploration, hunting and ranching on the 165 million acres of the bird's habitat across 11 Western states... Two Republican congressmen running for the U.S. Senate in Montana and Colorado, Steve Daines and Cory Gardner, are co-sponsoring legislation that would prevent the federal government from listing the bird for a decade as long as states try to protect it. ...


We're going to do our gosh-darned best to protect the planet!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Apr 29, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Mysterious Holes In Indiana Sand Dune Could Be 'New Geological Phenomenon'
Mysterious holes that were discovered at an Indiana sand dune last year -- and which nearly swallowed a child -- will keep a Lake Michigan park closed indefinitely. The National Park Service announced last week that Mt. Baldy in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, about an hour from Chicago, will be closed for the summer and beyond. The decision was made after two new holes in the dunes were found. "The continued development of these holes in the dune surface poses a serious risk to the public," Acting Superintendent Garry Traynham said in a statement. Scientists have been unable to determine how the holes, which seem to appear and disappear within a day, are formed in the 43-acre dune. ...


I've got a theory!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 10, 2014
from Newsweek:
Death on the Farm
...the suicide rate for male farmers has remained high: just under two times that of the general population. And this isn't just a problem in the U.S.; it's an international crisis. India has had more than 270,000 farmer suicides since 1995. In France, a farmer dies by suicide every two days. In China, farmers are killing themselves to protest the government's seizing of their land for urbanization. In Ireland, the number of suicides jumped following an unusually wet winter in 2012 that resulted in trouble growing hay for animal feed. In the U.K., the farmer suicide rate went up by 10 times during the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, when the government required farmers to slaughter their animals. And in Australia, the rate is at an all-time high following two years of drought... One factor disputed among agricultural and mental health professionals is the connection between pesticides and depression. ...


A global pharnomenon.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 2, 2014
from EcoWatch:
Melting starfish are 'keystone species' for their ecosystem
['Keystone species'] refers to particular organisms that keep the relationships between the ecosystem's other plants and animals functioning properly. Without them, ecosystems collapse--like an arch would without its center block. Well, as it so happens, when ecologist Robert T. Paine first coined the term back in 1969, he got the idea by messing around with a bunch of starfish. Paine crawled along the tidal plains of Washington's Tatoosh Island, pulling up all the ochre stars (Pisaster ochraceus) he could find and tossing them out into the ocean beyond his study area. He played this game of starfish Frisbee for three years, and discovered that without the seastars, his study area became so thick with mussels that little else could survive. Ochres mow down mussel beds like it's closing time at Old Country Buffet. What was once a rich community of 28 species of animals and algae along Tatoosh Island, Paine turned into a mussel monoculture. And today, more of this mussel dominance could be on its way, since ochres are one of the 15 starfish species currently turning into mush. ...


Not to worry -- today those mussels are losing the battle with ocean acidification.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 3, 2014
from University of Leicester:
Rat islands 'a laboratory of future evolution': Rats predicted to fill in Earth's emptying ecospace
... Dr Jan Zalasiewicz from the Department of Geology at the University of Leicester suggests that we better get used to having rats around -- and that their global influence is likely to grow in the future as larger mammals continue to become extinct... As rats fill the newly opened ecospace left in the wake of other extinct mammals, over time they, like many species of animal, experience evolutionary adaptation. Gigantism can occur in animals as they adapt to their environment and Dr Zalasiewicz believes that rats will prove to be no exception to this timeless rule. ...


We look forward not just to rats but to gigantic rats!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Feb 1, 2014
from The Independent:
Climate change: Rainforest absorption of CO2 becoming erratic
Tropical rainforests are becoming less able to cope with rising global temperatures according to a study that has looked back over the way they have responded to variations in temperature in the past half a century. For each 1C rise in temperature, tropical regions now release about 2 billion extra tonnes of carbon-containing gases - such as carbon dioxide and methane - into the atmosphere, compared to the same amount of tropical warming in the 1960s and 1970s, the study found. Rising levels of man-made carbon dioxide could stimulate the growth of tropical vegetation by providing them with extra "carbon fertiliser" but scientists believe this beneficial effect is probably being outweighed by the detrimental impact on forest growth caused by the extra heat and drought resulting from higher CO2 concentrations. ...


That's why we're cutting the rainforest down as fast as we can. We get carbon credits!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 5, 2014
from Yale360:
Atlantic Ocean Zooplankton Are Now Reproducing in Arctic Waters
For the first time, scientists have discovered species of Atlantic Ocean zooplankton reproducing in Arctic waters. German researchers say the discovery indicates a possible shift in the Arctic zooplankton community as the region warms, one that could be detrimental to Arctic birds, fish, and marine mammals.... The researchers found fertile females as well as individuals at all stages of development, showing that the Atlantic species is reproducing in the frigid waters. The one-centimeter amphipods are smaller than respective Arctic species, meaning that the spread of the Atlantic crustaceans northward could reduce the volume of food available to Arctic predators. ...


The Arctic ecosystem is just not stepping up to the new requirements.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 11, 2013
from London Guardian:
Russia to boost military presence in Arctic as Canada plots north pole claim
The political temperature in the Arctic rose on Tuesday when Vladimir Putin vowed to step up Russia's military presence in the region in response to a claim by Canada to the north pole. In typically trenchant style, the Russian president told his defence chiefs to concentrate on building up infrastructure and military units in the Arctic. He said the region was again key to Russia's national and strategic interests, following a retreat in the post-Soviet period. ...


I thought I owned the north pole!

ApocaDoc
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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
More fun than a barrel of jellyfish!
Sat, Nov 23, 2013
from Associated Press:
In first case of its kind, power company pleads guilty to killing eagles at wind farms
A major U.S. power company has pleaded guilty to killing eagles and other birds at two Wyoming wind farms as part of the first enforcement of environmental laws protecting birds against wind energy facilities. Under the settlement Friday, North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp. and its renewable energy arm agreed to pay $1 million. Much of the money will go toward conservation efforts. The company pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two wind farms outside Casper, Wyo., from 2009 to 2013. ...


Whatever happened to grand old tradition of blaming the victim?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 19, 2013
from AP, via WHTI:
Zooplankton decline reported in North Atlantic
The microscopic creatures that make up a critical link in the ocean food chain declined dramatically the first half of this year in the North Atlantic as ocean temperatures remained among the warmest on record, federal scientists say. Springtime plankton blooms off the coast of northern New England were well below average this year, leading to the lowest levels ever seen for the tiny organisms that are essential to maintaining balance in the ocean food chain, said Kevin Friedland, a marine scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The absence of the normal surge of plankton in the spring is a concern because that's when cod and haddock and many other species produce offspring, Friedland said.... "The first six months of 2013 can be characterized by new extremes in the physical and biological environment," Friedland said from his office in Rhode Island. The findings come after temperatures off the Northeast U.S. hit an all-time high in 2012. ...


I had no idea the zooplankton-bone was connected to the cod-bone.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 5, 2013
from London Guardian:
Polar bear attacks: scientists warn of fresh dangers in warming Arctic
A polar bear attack in Canada that left two people injured has brought new warnings from scientists of a dangerous rise in human-bear encounters in a warming Arctic. The friends had just walked out of the door in the pre-dawn hours after a party when the young polar bear crept up behind them, unheard and unseen. By the time, the bear was driven off by neighbours wielding a shovel, banging pots and pans, and firing multiple rounds from a shotgun, two people were badly mauled: the young woman who was the original target of the attack and an older male neighbour who tried to come to her rescue....It has also prompted new warnings from scientists of the rising risks of human-polar bear encounters because of climate change, with starving bears coming off the ice and onto land looking for food. ...


For hungry bears, people are just a drive thru window.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 16, 2013
from Accuweather:
How is Climate Change Jeopardizing the Sounds of Nature?
Climate change has brought once lively and loud habitats to utter silence as their inhabitants of birds, frogs and insects have either vanished or drastically changed their migration patterns. A relatively new study known as biophony, or the signature of collective sounds that occur in any given habitat at any given time, has provided scientific evidence to show that the sounds of nature have been altered by both global warming and human endeavors. ...


Poo-tee-weet?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 15, 2013
from Los Angeles Times:
Nutrient pollution threatens national park ecosystems, study says
National parks from the Sierra Nevada to the Great Smoky Mountains are increasingly being fertilized by unwanted nutrients drifting through the air from agricultural operations, putting some of the country's most treasured natural landscapes at risk of ecological damage, a new study has found. Thirty-eight of 45 national parks examined by scientists are receiving doses of nitrogen at or above a critical threshold that can harm sensitive ecosystems, such as lichens, hardwood forests or tallgrass prairie, scientists found... Scientists looked at nitrogen oxides and ammonia that are released by vehicles, power plants and farms and carried on air currents into national parks, including those in some of the most remote areas of the West. ...


Just so Yellowstone doesn't turn green.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Oct 3, 2013
from The Daily Climate:
Warming Lake Superior prompts a tribe to try a new fish
L'ANSE, Mich. -- Long dedicated to the trout that sustain its commercial fishing, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community started rearing fish that historically couldn't survive in much of frigid Lake Superior. "We started raising walleye at the hatchery in 2005," said Evelyn Ravindran, a natural resource specialist with the tribe. "We see them more and more." Commercial fishing has been a steady staple for the tribe over the past few decades. Walleye is a highly sought fish in the lower Great Lakes. And so the tribe, sensing a business opportunity, added that fish to its hatchery. ...


Mother is the necessity of invention.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 2, 2013
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Wave of jellyfish shuts down Swedish nuke reactor
It wasn't a tsunami but it had the same effect: A huge cluster of jellyfish forced one of the world's largest nuclear reactors to shut down -- a phenomenon that marine biologists say could become more common. Operators of the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden had to scramble reactor number three on Sunday after tons of jellyfish clogged the pipes that bring in cool water to the plant's turbines. By Tuesday, the pipes had been cleaned of the jellyfish and engineers were preparing to restart the reactor, which at 1,400 megawatts of output is the largest boiling-water reactor in the world, said Anders Osterberg, a spokesman for OKG, the plant operator. ...


If only they could clog coal fired plant smokestacks.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 1, 2013
from The Guardian:
Jellyfish clog pipes of Swedish nuclear reactor, forcing plant shutdown
A huge cluster of jellyfish forced the Oskarshamn plant, the site of one of the world's largest nuclear reactors, to shut down by clogging the pipes conducting cool water to the turbines. Operators of the plant on the Baltic coast in south-east Sweden had to scramble reactor No 3 on Sunday after tons of jellyfish were caught in the pipes.... The species that caused the Oskarshamn shutdown is known as the common moon jellyfish. "It's one of the species that can bloom in extreme areas that ... are over-fished or have bad conditions," said Moller. "The moon jelly likes these types of waters. They don't care if there are algae blooms, they don't care if the oxygen concentration is low. The fish leave ... and [the moon jelly] can really take over the ecosystem." ...


Moon jellies? Lunacy.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 30, 2013
from Huffington Post:
Eric Holthaus, Meteorologist, Tweets That He Will Never Fly Again
Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who has covered weather for the Wall Street Journal, tweeted that he will no longer fly on planes after a grim climate-change report left him in tears. Holthaus, who now writes for Quartz, was reacting to findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a well-respected body that includes 195 member countries, which released a report on Friday that found it is "extremely likely" that humans are causing warming trends seen in the last several decades. It also revised upwards its estimates of the increase in sea levels by the end of the 21st century. Holthaus took the news hard, and vowed to reduce his carbon footprint by giving up on air travel. ...


Someone may be laughing somewhere, but we cry and fly alone.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Sep 25, 2013
from CBC:
Monarch butterfly numbers drop to new lows
Monarch butterflies appear headed for a perhaps unprecedented population crash, according to scientists and monarch watchers who have been keeping tabs on the species in their main summer home in Eastern and Central North America. There had been hope that on their journey north from their overwintering zone in Mexico, the insects' numbers would build through the generations, but there's no indication that happened. Only a small number of monarchs did make it to Canada this summer to propagate the generation that has now begun its southern migration to Mexico, and early indications are that the past year's record lows will be followed by even lower numbers this fall.... "Based on what I saw this year, I'm very concerned they're not going to bounce back that well, and my fear is I'm going to see them extinct within my lifetime," Burkhard said.... Taylor says that "in the Midwest, we're seeing a tremendous loss of habitat due to the type of agriculture that been adopted here, Roundup-ready corn and soybeans, which has taken the milkweeds out of those row crops, and we're seeing overzealous management of roadside marshes, excessive use of herbicides here and there." ...


Guess that means fewer hurricanes this season!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 2, 2013
from Reuters:
Warming helps crop pests spread north, south: study
Crop-damaging pests are moving towards the poles at a rate of more than 25 km (16 miles) a decade, aided by global warming and human transport, posing a potential threat to world food security, a study showed on Sunday. The spread of beetles, moths, bacteria, worms, funghi and other pests in a warming world may be quicker than for many types of wild animals and plants, perhaps because people are accidentally moving them with harvests, it said. ...


Who exactly are the pests here?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Aug 22, 2013
from East Bay Express:
Waste: The Dark Side of the New Coffee Craze
...For the unfamiliar, single-cup coffee comes in individual portions, encased in plastic capsules or packets that you put in a special coffeemaker to brew one cup at a time. It's the polar opposite of the pour-over artisanal coffee that's so popular in much of the East Bay, but tens of millions of consumers have already switched to single-cup brewing nationwide, likely because it's ultra-convenient....the explosive growth of pod coffee overall includes an often-overlooked dark side: It creates a huge amount of waste. In fact, it's already producing hundreds of millions of pounds of unrecyclable trash for the nation's landfills each year. ...


Thank goodness I can eat my teabag.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 13, 2013
from Los Angeles Times:
Effects of climate change in California are 'significant and growing'
California is feeling the effects of climate change far and wide, as heat-trapping greenhouse gases reduce spring runoff from the Sierra Nevada, make the waters of Monterey Bay more acidic and shorten winter chill periods required to grow fruit and nuts in the Central Valley, a new report says. Though past studies have offered grim projections of a warming planet, the report released Thursday by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment took an inventory of three dozen shifts that are already happening. ...


This report is in direct contradiction with the findings of the Office of Environmental Cluelessness.

ApocaDoc
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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Mon, Jun 10, 2013
from New York Times:
After Drought, Rains Plaguing Midwest Farms
About this time last year, farmers were looking to the heavens, pleading for rain. Now, they are praying for the rain to stop. One of the worst droughts in this nation's history, a dry spell that persisted through the early part of this year, has ended with torrential rains this spring that have overwhelmed vast stretches of the country, including much of the farm belt. One result has been flooded acres that have drowned corn and soybean plants, stunted their growth or prevented them from being planted at all. ...


Dear God: just give me the weather I want!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 4, 2013
from London Guardian:
Jellyfish surge in Mediterranean threatens environment -- and tourists
Scientists across the Mediterranean say a surge in the number of jellyfish this year threatens not just the biodiversity of one of the world's most overfished seas but also the health of tens of thousands of summer tourists. "I flew along a 300km stretch of coastline on 21 April and saw millions of jellyfish," said Professor Stefano Piraino of Salento University in southern Italy. Piraino is the head of a Mediterranean-wide project to track the rise in the number of jellyfish as global warming and overfishing clear the way for them to prosper. "There are now beaches on the island of Lampedusa, which receives 300,000 tourists a year, where people can only swim for a week in the summer," said Piraino. ...


Offer tourists the opportunity to kill the jellyfish and ... problem solved!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 4, 2013
from Alternet:
Monsanto Mystery Wheat Appears in Oregon, No One Knows Why
How did genetically modified wheat produced by the agricultural corporation Monsanto end up in Oregon? That's the question many people want answered after the discovery of the wheat by a farmer in Oregon, according to a report in the New Scientist. Genetically modified wheat has not been cleared for commercial use anywhere in the world, though the Federal Drug Administration approved it as safe for human consumption in 2004. It was never put on the market in the U.S., though, since Monsanto dropped it after citing a lack of demand. The Associated Press reported that the wheat was also not developed because "wheat growers did not want to risk retaliation from their biggest export markets." ...


It's gone rogue!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 29, 2013
from BBC:
GM salmon can breed with wild fish and pass on genes
Scientists from Canada have found that transgenic Atlantic salmon can cross-breed with a closely related species - the brown trout. The fish, which have been engineered with extra genes to make them grow more quickly, pass on this trait to the hybrid offspring. The research is published the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.. However, the biotech company AquaBounty, which created the salmon, said any risks were negligible as the fish they were producing were all female, sterile and would be kept in tanks on land. The transgenic salmon are currently being assessed by the US authorities, and could be the first GM animals to be approved for human consumption. ...


Girl, I would not want to be trapped in that tank.

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Tue, Apr 9, 2013
from New Scientist:
Sea urchins evolving to cope with ocean acidification
As the oceans become more acidic, many marine animals will have a harder time extracting the calcium from seawater that they need to build their skeletons. Marine biologists fear an ecological catastrophe could be imminent unless animals evolve to take up calcium more efficiently.... In their lab, they reared larvae of the purple sea urchin in water of normal or elevated acidity, corresponding to atmospheric CO2 levels of 400 and 900 parts per million. To their surprise, they found that the more acidic water had no apparent negative effect on the development of the larval skeletons. Behind that apparent stability, though, was a lot of genetic change. When Pespeni used gene sequencing to study the developing larvae, she found that gene frequencies had shifted dramatically during that time. In particular, genes related to growth, lipid metabolism and the movement of ions into and out of cells showed significantly more changes in urchins reared under high-acidity conditions. All these types of genes help cells cope with increased acidity - a strong hint that the changes are the result of natural selection. ...


Howzabout we evolve them to digest microplastic, too!

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Mon, Apr 8, 2013
from Washington Post:
Crabs, supersized by carbon pollution, may upset Chesapeake's balance
It is the dawn of the super crab. Crabs are bulking up on carbon pollution that pours out of power plants, factories and vehicles and settles in the oceans, turning the tough crustaceans into even more fearsome predators. That presents a major problem for the Chesapeake Bay, where crabs eat oysters. In a life-isn't-fair twist, the same carbon that crabs absorb to grow bigger stymies the development of oysters. ...


Oy, this soooooo makes me crabby.

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Thu, Mar 21, 2013
from AP, via HuffingtonPost:
Asian Carp Spawning Areas Are More Varied Than Previously Thought: Study
Asian carp are reproducing in more places and under more varied conditions than experts had believed they could, yet another reason to worry about the greedy invader's potential to infest waterways and crowd out native species, scientists said Tuesday. Several varieties of carp imported from Asia have migrated steadily northward in the Mississippi River and its tributaries since escaping from Southern fish farms and sewage treatment ponds in the 1970s. They've been spotted in more than two dozen states. Bighead and silver carp gobble enormous volumes of plankton, a crucial link in the aquatic food chain, while silver carp sometimes collide with boaters by hurtling from the water when startled. ...


Carp diem!

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Tue, Mar 5, 2013
from Reuters:
Second sinkhole appears in Tampa area
A second sinkhole appeared in the Tampa area on Monday, just miles from one that opened beneath a home last week and swallowed a man from his bed, though the latest one appeared not to pose immediate danger, police said. The latest sinkhole opened between two homes and was about 12-feet round, 3 feet deep around the edge and about 5 feet deep in the center, said Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz. He said the latest sinkhole appears to be unrelated to the one that opened last Thursday under the home of 37-year-old Jeff Bush. ...


Mother Earth is fighting back.

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Fri, Feb 8, 2013
from Smithsonian Magazine:
Minnesota's Moose Are Missing, And No One Really Knows Why
More than half of Minnesota's moose population has disappeared in the past two years, says the Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources, a striking drop that only adds to a long trend of the species' decline in the region. According to the DNR, a survey conducted last month suggests that there are just 2,760 moose left in the state, a drop from the 4,230 estimated moose of 2012. And over the past seven years, Minnesota's moose population has shrunk nearly 70 percent. The natural resources department doesn't really know what is causing the population to plummet, says NBC News, but they've put a freeze on moose hunting until they can figure out what's going on. ...


It's obvious to me that Boris and Natasha are involved.

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Mon, Jan 21, 2013
from Boston Globe:
New illness, transmitted by same tick that carries Lyme, is discovered in Northeast
Researchers have discovered a new human disease in the Northeast transmitted by the same common deer tick that can infect people with Lyme disease. The bacterial illness causes flu-like symptoms, the researchers from Tufts, Yale, and other institutions reported Wednesday, but they also described the case of an 80-year-old woman who became confused and withdrawn, lost weight, and developed hearing difficulty and a wobbly gait. ...


That poor tick is workin' overtime

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Sat, Jan 12, 2013
from Inside Climate News:
New York Times Dismantles Its Environment Desk
The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. The positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor are being eliminated. No decision has been made about the fate of the Green Blog, which is edited from the environment desk. "It wasn't a decision we made lightly," said Dean Baquet, the paper's managing editor for news operations. "To both me and Jill [Abramson, executive editor], coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever. We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter."... Baquet said the change was prompted by the shifting interdisciplinary landscape of news reporting. When the desk was created in early 2009, the environmental beat was largely seen as "singular and isolated," he said. It was pre-fracking and pre-economic collapse. But today, environmental stories are "partly business, economic, national or local, among other subjects," Baquet said. "They are more complex. We need to have people working on the different desks that can cover different parts of the story." ...


All the news that fits the structure.

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Mon, Dec 31, 2012
from Washington Post:
Scientists try to save the frogs as time runs out
In moist, mossy rooms, rows of glass aquariums bathed in eerie light shelter the last of the last of the frogs. It is a secure facility, for here reside the sole survivors of their species, rescued from the wild before a modern plague swept through their forests and streams in a ferocious doomsday event that threatens the planet's amphibians with extinction. The lab smells like a junior-high locker room where the bleach is losing. Perhaps it is all the crickets, larvae, flies -- the food that is keeping the frogs alive. They are safe, at least for now, in what scientists are calling an "amphibian ark." ...The villain is a rather extraordinary fungus, an amphibian version of a case of athlete's foot from hell, with an impossible name, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which scientists call "Bd," a virulent, lethal fungus that has spread around the globe. ...


I don't suppose we could frack for frogs.

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Wed, Dec 26, 2012
from Los Angeles Times:
Wireless companies look to church towers for cell sites
To expand service, cellular phone companies are turning to a higher power. They're not increasing the wattage of their transmitters. They're looking for churches near residential areas willing to let them hide cell sites in steeples, belfries and crosses. ...


Okay, so now can the Apocalypse hurry up and come?

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Thu, Dec 20, 2012
from New York Times:
An Odometer Moment on a Warming Planet
For those who might be keeping score, we just passed the 333rd consecutive month of global temperatures above the 20th-century average. November 2012 was the fifth-warmest November since records began in 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its monthly climate report. The agency calculated that the 10 warmest Novembers on record have all occurred within the past 12 years. The last time global temperatures came in below the 20th-century average for the month of November was in 1976, and the last time any month came in below the average was February 1985. ...


This is fr333king me out.

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Mon, Dec 10, 2012
from New York Times:
Mighty Old Trees Are Perishing Fast, Study Warns
The death rate of many of the biggest and oldest trees around the world is increasing rapidly, scientists report in a new study in Friday's issue of the journal Science. They warned that research to understand and stem the loss of the trees is urgently needed... The research team found that big, old trees are dying at an alarmingly fast clip around the world at all latitudes -- Yosemite National Park in California, the African savanna, the Brazilian rain forest, Europe and the boreal forests around the world. ...


I think I shall never see an old poem as lovely as an old tree.

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Tue, Dec 4, 2012
from Associated Press:
Judge tosses Asian carp suit; states can amend it
A federal judge Monday threw out a lawsuit filed by five states that want barriers placed in Chicago-area waterways to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes, but said he would consider new arguments if the case were filed again ... U.S. District Judge John Tharp ... said he was "mindful of, and alarmed by, the potentially devastating ecological, environmental, and economic consequences that may result from the establishment of an Asian carp population in the Great Lakes." But he said the proper way for the states to win approval of separating the waterways is through Congress. ...


The Asian carp are about to file a filibuster on the Great Lakes.

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Thu, Sep 6, 2012
from LA Times:
Bottom trawling flattens seafloor
Fishing trawlers that scrape the seafloor with nets are altering the submarine landscape and may affect sensitive marine ecosystems, according to researchers. Likening the effect of bottom trawling to agriculture plowing or forest clear-cutting on land, marine scientists say the practice has flattened undersea slopes across the globe. In the process, the fishing equipment threatens the diversity of sea life by altering their habitat. ...


Mountaintop mining, deep-sea trawling... soon the Earth will be the smooth billiard ball that consumers demand!

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Sun, Aug 19, 2012
from Harvard, via EurekAlert:
Massachusetts butterflies move north as climate warms
... "Over the past 19 years, a warming climate has been reshaping Massachusetts butterfly communities." Subtropical and warm-climate species such as the giant swallowtail and zabulon skipper--many of which were rare or absent in Massachusetts as recently as the late 1980s--show the sharpest increases in abundance. At the same time, more than three quarters of northerly species--species with a range centered north of Boston--are now declining in Massachusetts, many of them rapidly. Most impacted are the species that overwinter as eggs or small larvae: these overwintering stages may be much more sensitive to drought or lack of snow cover. The study creates new questions for managing threatened species. "For most butterfly species, climate change seems to be a stronger change-agent than habitat loss. Protecting habitat remains a key management strategy, and that may help some butterfly species. However, for many others, habitat protection will not mitigate the impacts of warming," says Breed. ...


Those butterflies are flapping their wings farther north, so they'll blow cold air to where it's needed!

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Tue, Jul 10, 2012
from New York Times:
A Gold Rush in the Abyss
... A new understanding of marine geology has led to the discovery of hundreds of these unexpected ore bodies, known as massive sulfides because of their sulfurous nature. These finds are fueling a gold rush as nations, companies and entrepreneurs race to stake claims to the sulfide-rich areas, which dot the volcanic springs of the frigid seabed. The prospectors -- motivated by dwindling resources on land as well as record prices for gold and other metals -- are busy hauling up samples and assessing deposits valued at trillions of dollars. ...


Please, God: Let us never run out of places to ravage for our insatiable appetites. Amen

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Tue, Jun 5, 2012
from BBC Nature:
'Starving' crown-of-thorns starfish in mass stranding
Hundreds of crown-of-thorns starfish found on a beach in southern Japan in January stranded themselves because they were starving, say researchers. More than 800 were discovered on a 300m stretch of sand on Ishigaki island.... The reason for the starfish population boom is not clear, but the strange behaviour has shown marine scientists what can happen when these slow-moving creatures completely deplete their food source. ...


Born to suffer.

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Mon, Jun 4, 2012
from National Science Foundation:
Where Have All the Hummingbirds Gone?
The glacier lily as it's called, is a tall, willowy plant that graces mountain meadows throughout western North America. It flowers early in spring, when the first bumblebees and hummingbirds appear. Or did. The lily, a plant that grows best on subalpine slopes, is fast becoming a hothouse flower. In Earth's warming temperatures, its first blooms appear some 17 days earlier than they did in the 1970s, scientists David Inouye and Amy McKinney of the University of Maryland and colleagues have found. The problem, say the biologists, with the earlier timing of these first blooms is that the glacier lily is no longer synchronized with the arrival of broad-tailed hummingbirds, which depend on glacier lilies for nectar. By the time the hummingbirds fly in, many of the flowers have withered away, their nectar-laden blooms going with them. ...


That's like driving into a McDonald's and finding they've run out of Big Macs!

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Tue, Apr 24, 2012
from New Yorker:
Silent Hives
Over the last few weeks, several new studies have come out linking neonicotinoids to bee decline. As it happens, the studies are appearing just as "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson's seminal study of the effect of pesticides on wildlife, is about to turn fifty: the work was first published as a three-part series in The New Yorker, in June, 1962. It's hard to avoid the sense that we have all been here before, and that lessons were incompletely learned the first time around. In the first of the new studies, published online in the journal Science, British scientists raised bumblebees on a diet of pollen, some of which had been treated with a widely used neonicotinoid called imidacloprid. Those colonies that had received the treated pollen suffered significantly reduced growth rates and produced dramatically fewer new queens. In the second, also published in Science, French researchers equipped honeybees with tiny radio-frequency tags. They fed some of the bees sucrose treated with thiamethoxan, another commonly used neonicotinoid. Then they let the bees loose to go foraging. The bees that had been exposed to thiamethoxan were much less likely to return to their hives. "We were quite surprised by the magnitude of the effect," said one of the study's authors, Mickael Henry, of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Avignon. In a third study, to be published soon in the Bulletin of Insectology, seemingly healthy honey colonies were fed high-fructose corn syrup that had been treated with imidacloprid. Within six months, fifteen out of the sixteen hives that had been given the treated syrup were dead. In commercial beekeeping operations, bees are routinely fed corn syrup, and corn is routinely treated with neonicotinoids. ...


Nicotinoids haven't yet been proven to cause lung cancer. And don't forget about farmers' rights.

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Tue, Apr 17, 2012
from The Daily Climate:
Bugs in the ice sheets: Melting glaciers liberate ancient bacteria
Locked in frozen vaults on Antarctica and Greenland, a lost world of ancient creatures awaits another chance at life. Like a time-capsule from the distant past, the polar ice sheets offer a glimpse of tiny organisms that may have been trapped there longer than modern humans have walked the planet, biding their time until conditions change and set them free again. With that ice melting at an alarming rate, those conditions could soon be at hand. Masses of bacteria and other microbes -- some of which the world hasn't seen since the Middle Pleistocene, a previous period of major climate change about 750,000 years ago -- will make their way back into the environment. ...


Welcome back, old friends.

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Mon, Apr 9, 2012
from EurekAlert:
Rapid method of assembling new gene-editing tool could revolutionize genetic research
The method developed by Joung and his colleagues - called the FLASH (fast ligation-based automatable solid-phase high-throughput) system - assembles DNA fragments encoding a TALEN on a magnetic bead held in place by an external magnet, allowing automated construction by a liquid-handling robot of DNA that encodes as many as 96 TALENs in a single day at a cost of around $75 per TALEN. Joung's team also developed a manual version of FLASH that would allow labs without access to robotic equipment to construct up to 24 TALEN sequences a day. In their test of the system in human cells, the investigators found that FLASH-assembled TALENs were able to successfully induce breaks in 84 of 96 targeted genes known to be involved in cancer or in epigenetic regulation. "Finding that 85 to 90 percent of FLASH-assembled TALENs have very high genome-editing activity in human cells means that we can essentially target any DNA sequence of interest, a capability that greatly exceeds what has been possible with other nucleases," says Jeffry D. Sander, PhD, co-senior author of the FLASH report and a fellow in Joung's laboratory. "The ability to make a TALEN for any DNA sequence with a high probability of success changes the way we think about gene-altering technology because now the question isn't whether you can target your gene of interest but rather which genes do you want to target and alter." ...


OMGMO

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Thu, Apr 5, 2012
from BBC:
Jellyfish blooms creating oceans of slime
...Last year alone, nuclear power plants in Scotland, Japan, Israel and Florida, and also a desalination plant in Israel, were forced to shutdown because jellyfish were clogging the water inlets. The entire Irish salmon industry was wiped out in 2007 after a plague of billions of mauve stingers -- covering an area of 10 sq miles (26 sq km) and 35ft (11m) deep -- attacked the fish cages... Perhaps the most extraordinary blooms have been those occurring in waters off Japan. There, refrigerator-sized gelatinous monsters called Nomuras, weighing 485lb (220 kg) and measuring 6.5ft (2m) in diameter, have swarmed the Japan Sea annually since 2002, clogging fishing nets, overturning trawlers and devastating coastal livelihoods. ...


Our only hope is Godzilla.

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Wed, Apr 4, 2012
from ClimateWire:
Dying corals -- milestones along a meandering path to famine
...Already, there is evidence that as the ocean warms, many commercial fish stocks are moving poleward in search of cooler waters. Rising ocean temperatures have triggered coral bleaching events that have caused widespread damage to the world's reefs, which serve as a habitat for many species.... Researchers are also concerned about the effects that shifting ocean chemistry will have on marine ecosystems. As the world's carbon dioxide output has risen, oceans have absorbed more and more of the heat-trapping gas, leaving seawater 30 percent more acidic than it was before the Industrial Revolution began. Eventually, ocean acidification could scramble ocean ecosystems by making it harder for sea creatures like oysters, coral and plankton to grow the hard, chalky shells that protect them from predators. ...


No matter where those fish go we'll track em down!

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Sun, Apr 1, 2012
from AFP, via Yahoo:
Scientists warn of 'emergency on global scale'
In a "State of the Planet" declaration issued after a four-day conference, the scientists said Earth was now facing unprecedented challenges, from water stress, pollution and species loss to spiralling demands for food. They called on the June 20-22 followup to the 1992 Earth Summit to overhaul governance of the environment and sweep away a fixation with GDP as the sole barometer of wellbeing. "The continuing function of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilisation in recent centuries is at risk," said the statement issued at the "Planet Under Pressure" conference. "These threats risk intensifying economic, ecological and social crises, creating the potential for a humanitarian emergency on a global scale." ...


Astonishingly, Lindsay Lohan still hasn't slept with Justin Bieber.

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Wed, Mar 28, 2012
from The Sideshow:
Giant, 9-pound Gambian rats invading Florida Keys
When it comes to giant rat infestations, New York gets all the attention. But a breed of giant Gambian rats have been rapidly reproducing in the Florida Keys despite a decade-long effort to wipe them out. KeysNet reports the invasive African native species first began showing up between 1999-2001 after a local exotic animal breeder released eight of the rats into the wild. "We thought we had them whipped as of 2009," said Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We think they have not moved far but they clearly reproduced," he said. The rodents, officially known as the Gambian pouched rat, are the largest known breed of rats in the world. They can grow up to three feet in length and weigh as much as nine pounds. Wildlife officials fear that if the rodents make it to the Florida mainland, they could devastate local crops. ...


Some invasive species are more invasive than others.

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Tue, Feb 7, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Peak Everything
By 2030, the global middle class is expected to grow by two-thirds. That's 3 billion more shoppers. They'll all want access to goods, including water, wheat, coffee and oil. Is there enough for everybody? Can business satisfy demand and avoid hitting "peak everything?" ...


Only thing not peaking is denial.

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Mon, Jan 23, 2012
from University of Hawaii at Manoa via ScienceDaily:
Native Forest Birds in Hawaii in Unprecedented Trouble
Native birds at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge are in unprecedented trouble, according to a paper recently published in the journal PLoS ONE.... birds are now so food-deprived that they take up to twice as long replace their feathers, an annual process known as molt. The authors confirmed the hypothesis that Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) birds are effectively competing with most species of native birds. Their research found that both young and adult birds took longer to complete their molt. ...


Aloha, in this context, does mean good-bye.

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Wed, Jan 11, 2012
from New York Times:
A Fine for Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn't Exist
When the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law. But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist. ...


We'll laugh about this sort of thing ... in the post-Apocalypse.

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Fri, Jan 6, 2012
from Popular Science:
Monkey Embryo Mashup Results In First Primate Chimeras
Scientists have produced the world's first chimeric monkeys, developed from stem cells harvested from separate embryos. They contain genetic material from as many as six genomes. The infant rhesus monkeys are totally healthy and could hold great promise for future stem cell research in primates, researchers say. They also carry an interesting and controversial message for future stem cell research: Those cultured stem cell lines in labs throughout this country, such a crucial scientific tool and such a cultural flashpoint, may not be as potent as the ones inside embryos.... Chimeras are nothing new to science -- chimeric mice are created all the time to form knockout models with deleted gene sequences. Nobody would ever create a chimeric human, but chimeric mice and other animal models can be used to study diseases and regenerative medicine. ...


I'm so pleased that humans are sacrosanct.

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Fri, Jan 6, 2012
from Inter-Research:
Modelling the effects of fishing on the biomass of the world's oceans from 1950 to 2006
Using primary production, sea surface temperature, transfer efficiency, fisheries catch and TL of species, the model was applied on a half-degree spatial grid covering all oceans. Estimates of biomass by TLs were derived for marine ecosystems in an unexploited state, as well as for all decades since the 1950s. Trends in the decline of marine biomass from the unexploited state were analyzed with a special emphasis on predator species as they are highly vulnerable to overexploitation. This study highlights 3 main trends in the global effects of fishing: (1) predators are more affected than organisms at lower TLs; (2) declines in ecosystem biomass are stronger along coastlines than in the High Seas; and (3) the extent of fishing and its impacts have expanded from north temperate to equatorial and southern waters in the last 50 yr. More specifically, this modelling work shows that many oceans historically exploited by humans have seen a drastic decline in their predator biomass, with approximately half of the coastal areas of the North Atlantic and North Pacific showing a decline in predator biomass of more than 90 percent. ...


Without predator species, there's no need for fear!

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Tue, Jan 3, 2012
from Agence France-Press:
World-first hybrid shark found off Australia
Scientists said on Tuesday that they had discovered the world's first hybrid sharks in Australian waters, a potential sign the predators were adapting to cope with climate change. The mating of the local Australian black-tip shark with its global counterpart, the common black-tip, was an unprecedented discovery with implications for the entire shark world, said lead researcher Jess Morgan. "It's very surprising because no one's ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination," Morgan, from the University of Queensland, told AFP. ...


Plus, hybrids are so much more fuel efficient!

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Mon, Dec 26, 2011
from London Daily Telegraph:
Chocolate will become an expensive luxury item due to climate change
...The study of cocoa plantations in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, where more than half of the world's cocoa is grown, found that the amount of land suitable for production could halve due to temperature rise of just 2.3C by 2050. ...


Chocapocalypse!

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Wed, Dec 21, 2011
from ABC News:
2012 End-of-the-World Countdown Based on Mayan Calendar Starts Today
The countdown to the apocalypse is on. We're one year away from Dec. 21, 2012, the date that the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar allegedly marked as the end of an era that would reset the date to zero and signal the end of humanity. But will it?... Believers have taken the end-of-the world fears to the Internet with hundreds of thousands of websites and blogs. Yet others are capitalizing on the heightened interest. Films depicting the end of the world - including the 2009 movie, "2012" - are contributing to the mounting hype as well as to misinformation, experts say. ...


We are more than happy to add to the confusion.

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Thu, Dec 8, 2011
from Associated Press:
Research: Bedbugs can thrive despite inbreeding
Bedbugs aren't just sleeping with you. They're sleeping with each other. Researchers now say that the creepy bugs have a special genetic gift: withstanding incest. It turns out that unlike most creatures, bedbugs are able to inbreed with close relatives and still produce generally healthy offspring. That means that if just a few bedbugs survive in a building after treatment, they repopulate quickly. ...


The bed is a mighty aphrodisiac.

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Fri, Dec 2, 2011
from BBC:
Maya 'did not predict end of world in 2012'
The calendar used by the ancient Mayan civilisation does not predict the end of the world in December 2012 as some believe, according to experts. A new reading of a Mayan tablet mentioning the 2012 date suggests that it refers to the end of an era in the calendar, and not an apocalypse. The date was "a reflection of the day of creation", Mayan codes researcher Sven Gronemeyer told AP.... Only two out of 15,000 registered Mayan texts mention the date 2012, according to the Institute, and no Mayan text predicts the end of the world. "There is no prophecy for 2012. It is a marketing fallacy," Erik Velasquez, etchings specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told Reuters. ...


So there's no need to worry anymore!

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Mon, Nov 28, 2011
from New York Times:
Another Try for a Global Climate Effort
With intensifying climate disasters and global economic turmoil as the backdrop, delegates from 194 nations gather in Durban, South Africa, this week to try to advance, if only incrementally, the world's response to dangerous climate change. To those who have followed the negotiations of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change over their nearly 20-year history, the conflicts and controversies to be taken up in Durban are monotonously familiar -- the differing obligations of industrialized and developing nations, the question of who will pay to help poor nations adapt, the urgency of protecting tropical forests, the need to develop and deploy clean energy technology rapidly. ...


C'mon, folks, let's give it a shot. The planet's pretty important.

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Fri, Nov 25, 2011
from Princeton University via ScienceDaily:
Do Not Harm Invasive Species That Pollinate, Study Warns
In an irony of nature, invasive species can become essential to the very ecosystems threatened by their presence, according to a recent discovery that could change how scientists and governments approach the restoration of natural spaces...destructive, non-native animals that have been deservedly maligned by conservationists the world over can take on important biological roles -- such as flower pollination -- once held by the species the interlopers helped eliminate. As a result, campaigns to curb invasive animal populations should include efforts to understand the role of the invasive species in question... ...


Human beings dodge another bullet.

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Fri, Nov 25, 2011
from Associated Press:
Mexico acknowledges 2nd Mayan reference to 2012
Mexico's archaeology institute downplays theories that the ancient Mayas predicted some sort of apocalypse would occur in 2012, but on Thursday it acknowledged that a second reference to the date exists on a carved fragment found at a southern Mexico ruin site. Most experts had cited only one surviving reference to the date in Mayan glyphs, a stone tablet from the Tortuguero site in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco. But the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement that there is in fact another apparent reference to the date at the nearby Comalcalco ruin. The inscription is on the carved or molded face of a brick. ...


All in all... another brick in the wall.

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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from BBC:
Lack of outdoor play linked to short-sighted children
The time children spend outdoors could be linked to a reduced risk of being short-sighted, research suggests. An analysis of eight previous studies by University of Cambridge researchers found that for each additional hour spent outside per week, the risk of myopia reduced by 2 percent. Exposure to natural light and time spent looking at distant objects could be key factors, they said. ...


I take this metaphorically.

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Tue, Oct 18, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Climate change downsizing fauna, flora: study
Climate change is reducing the body size of many animal and plant species, including some which supply vital nutrition for more than a billion people already living near hunger's threshold, according to a study released Sunday. From micro-organisms to top predators, nearly 45 percent of species for which data was reviewed grew smaller over multiple generations due to climate change, researchers found. The impact of rapidly climbing temperatures and shifts in rainfall patterns on body size could have unpredictable and possible severe consequences, they warned. ...


It's a small world after all.

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Thu, Oct 13, 2011
from London Guardian:
US must stop promoting biofuels to tackle world hunger, says thinktank
America must stop promoting the production of biofuels if there is to be any real progress in addressing spiking global food prices and famine, such as seen in the Horn of Africa, an authoritative thinktank has warned. A new report, the Global Hunger Index, warned that US government support for corn ethanol was a major factor behind this year's food price spikes -- and was projected to fuel further volatility in food prices over the next decade. ...


This confirms my suspicion that thinking is a dangerous activity.

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Wed, Oct 5, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Giant Alien Snails Attack Miami, Though They're Not in Much of a Rush
Floridians have grown accustomed to invasions of exotic creatures, like the Burmese pythons slithering throughout the Everglades. But residents here are especially grossed out by the latest arrivals: giant African land snails that grow as long as eight inches, chew through plants, plaster and stucco, and sometimes carry a parasite that can infect humans with a nonlethal strain of meningitis. The gastropods are among the most dangerous in the world, agriculture officials say. They each have male and female reproductive organs and can lay 1,200 eggs a year, allowing them to proliferate rapidly. Thousands of them have infested at least five separate neighborhoods in the Miami area. ...


Cue REALLY slow theme from 'Jaws' as interpreted by Barry White.

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Thu, Sep 22, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
'Emerging Contaminants of Concern' Detected Throughout Narragansett Bay Watershed, U.S.
Rainer Lohmann, associate professor of chemical oceanography, and graduate student Victoria Sacks, with the help of 40 volunteers, tested for the presence of the chemicals in 27 locations. The compounds were found at every site.... The three compounds the researchers measured, which scientists refer to as "emerging contaminants of concern," are: triclosans, antibacterial agents found in many personal care products and which have been identified as posing risks to humans and the environment; alkylphenols, widely used as detergents and known to disrupt the reproductive system; and PBDEs, industrial products used as flame retardants on a wide variety of consumer products. PBDEs have been banned because they cause long-term adverse effects in humans and wildlife. PBDEs, methyltriclosan and triclosan were found in highest concentrations in the Blackstone River, Woonasquatucket River and in upper Narragansett Bay, while some detergents were detected at similar levels at nearly every site. ...


Let's just redefine these compounds as modern-day spices. Problem solved!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 20, 2011
from University of Florida via ScienceDaily:
Invasive Amphibians, Reptiles in Florida Outnumber World, Study Finds
Florida has the world's worst invasive amphibian and reptile problem, and a new 20-year study led by a University of Florida researcher verifies the pet trade as the No. 1 cause of the species' introductions... Florida law prohibits the release of non-native species without a state permit, but offenders cannot be prosecuted unless they are caught in the act. To date, no one in Florida has been prosecuted for the establishment of a non-indigenous animal. Researchers urge lawmakers to create enforceable policies before more species reproduce and become established. The study names 56 established species: 43 lizards, five snakes, four turtles, three frogs and a caiman, a close relative of the American alligator. ...


Where I come from we call these invasives Snowbirds.

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Thu, Sep 8, 2011
from BBC:
Giant crabs make Antarctic leap
King crabs have been found on the edge of Antarctica, probably as a result of warming in the region, scientists say. Writing in the journal Proceedings B, scientists report a large, reproductive population of crabs in the Palmer Deep, a basin cut in the continental shelf. They suggest the crabs were washed in during an upsurge of warmer water. The crabs are voracious crushers of sea floor animals and will probably change the ecosystem profoundly if and when they spread further, researchers warn. Related species have been found around islands off the Antarctic Peninsula and on the outer edge of the continental shelf. But here the crabs (Neolithodes yaldwyni) are living and reproducing in abundance right on the edge of the continent itself. ...


Let's send scads of giant jellyfish to do battle!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Aug 19, 2011
from Washington Post:
Plants and animals fleeing climate changes
Across the globe, plants and animals are creeping, crawling, slithering and winging to higher altitudes and latitudes as temperatures climb. Moreover, the greater the warming in any given region, the farther its plants and animals have migrated, according to the largest analysis to date of the rapidly shifting ranges of species in Europe, North America, Chile and Malaysia.... "This more or less puts to bed the issue of whether these shifts are related to climate change. There isn't any obvious alternative explanation for why species should be moving poleward in studies around the world."... On average, species migrated uphill 36 feet per decade and moved away from the equator -- to cooler, higher latitudes -- at 10 miles per decade. The rates are two to three times those estimated by the last major migration analysis, published in 2003.... As species shift ranges, they're coming into contact with other species in new patterns, Chen said, a phenomenon called reshuffling. But ecologists are just beginning to study how species reshuffling may affect ecosystems. ...


Wait a minute -- there's a card game? And we're "all in" already?

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Wed, Aug 17, 2011
from PNAS, via IdahoStatesman.com:
Idaho trout face climate trouble, study finds
"Fundamentally, skepticism is a good thing in science," said Wenger, a fisheries researcher with Trout Unlimited in Boise. Both Wenger and Isaak, a fisheries biologist at the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station in Boise, were a part of a team of 11 scientists who said trout habitat could drop by 50 percent over the next 70 years because of a warming world. The paper, published Monday in the peer-reviewed science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts native cutthroat habitat could decline by 58 percent. The two men, who have devoted their lives to scientific research, say they depend on the scientific method and peer review to judge the quality of the research that underscores their findings. The climate predictions are based on 10 of the 20 climate models developed independently worldwide that all show the world is getting warmer. "The climate models have been right for 30 years and they are getting better all the time," Isaak said. The data these men have collected in the watersheds of the West shows the same trends, they said. And warmer water isn't the only problem. The research also shows that warmer winters are causing more winter floods that wash away the gravel that holds brook and brown trout eggs. The changing spring and summer flows give rainbow trout an advantage over native cutthroat trout in the rivers they share, allowing the invaders to crowd out the natives. And the forecast for the future is more unnerving to these researchers and anglers than even they want to believe. The most dire climate models show temperatures in Idaho rising an average of 9 degrees in 70 years, Wenger said. "That would make Boise pretty unpleasant," he said. "None of us want to believe that." But Wenger is a scientist. He may hope the models that predict only a 4- to 5-degree rise over 70 years are more accurate, but he has to use the science that is available. "I have to set aside my feelings and use the best data," he said. ...


If, of course, you believe in so-called "evidence."

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Tue, Aug 9, 2011
from International Business Times:
Severe Solar Storms Could Disrupt Earth This Decade: NOAA
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency that focuses on the condition of the oceans and atmosphere, said a severe solar storm could cause global disruptions in GPS systems, power grids, satellite communications, and airline communications. With solar activity expected to peak around 2013, the Sun is entering a particularly active time and big flares like the recent one will likely be common during the next few years... some scientists believe that another such event is now overdue...This is a special problem in the United States and especially a severe threat in the eastern United States as Federal Government studies revealed that this extreme solar activity and emissions may result in complete blackouts for years in several areas of the nation. Moreover, there may also be disruption of power supply for years, or even decades, as geomagnetic currents attracted by the storm could debilitate the transformers. ...


I can't help but take all this climate chaos personally.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 27, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Activist who faked Utah energy lease bids sentenced to 2 years
A Utah man lionized by environmentalists for crashing a 2008 government auction of energy leases near two national parks was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $10,000 on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City ordered Tim DeChristopher taken into custody immediately. "I'm not saying there isn't a place for civil disobedience," Benson said. "But it can't be the order of the day." In a roughly 35-minute address to the court, DeChristopher, 29, said his actions were necessary to highlight the threat that climate change poses to the planet. "My intent both at the time of the auction and now was to expose, embarrass and hold accountable the oil and gas industry, to point that it cut into their $100-billion profits," he said. ...


Thankfully, the status quo of complicity with our planet's destruction has been preserved.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jul 24, 2011
from Chicago Tribune:
Heavy rainstorms are Chicago's latest weather nightmare
Those looking for some kind of a break from the heat of the last week got it overnight -- a rainstorm that dropped temperatures into the low 70s. But like the heat wave that preceded it, this rainstorm was anything but ordinary. According to ChicagoWeatherCenter.com, the total rainfall at O'Hare -- 6.91 inches as of about 6:50 a.m. -- is the largest single-day rainfall since records began in 1871. The highest previous daily total was 6.64 inches on Sept. 12, 2008. And more rain is on the way. ...


Come rain or come shine people are gonna complain!

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Sat, Jul 16, 2011
from Fast Company:
The Bacon Uprising
...The Chinese middle class is eating more and more meat, and Beijing wants to keep prices low. That means finding a way to feed all those pigs with grain imported from land cut from the Brazilian rainforest, leading to conflict within the BRICs... Since Deng Xiaoping, China's leaders have been obsessed with "food security" the same way America's are haunted by not having enough oil. And as Chinese diets become more meat centric, fears of the dangers in the fluctuation of pork prices led China to establish a top-secret "strategic pork reserve" in 2007, the only one of its kind. But maintaining all those pigs has led to a massive dependence on corn and soybean imports for animal feed, which in turn is leading China's agribusinesses to fan out abroad in a quest to control the means of production. China's attempts to control the means of production in other countries just rising out of developing world is causing tension with its natural allies, and could be just the first step in an ever-escalating series of resource-based conflicts. ...


One day, we can sort out all this mess together in Hog Heaven.

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Thu, Jul 14, 2011
from PBS, through Scientific American:
Loss of Top Predators Has More Far-Reaching Effects than Thought
Sea otters eat sea urchins and sea urchins eat kelp. When sea otters are present, the coastal kelp forests maintain a healthy balance. But when the fur trade wiped out the otters in the Aleutian Islands in the 1990s, sea urchins grew wildly, devouring kelp, and the kelp forest collapsed, along with everything that depended on it. Fish populations declined. Bald eagles, which feed on fish, altered their food habits. Dwindled kelp supplies sucked up less carbon dioxide, and atmospheric carbon dioxide increased. The animal that sits at the top of the food chain matters, and its loss has large, complex effects on the structure and function of its ecosystem, according to an article published on Thursday in the online issue of the journal, Science.... "We see it on land, we see it on water, we see it in high latitudes, we see it in low latitudes," said James Estes, a research scientist at the Institute for Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the paper's lead author. "We do not not see it anywhere." ...


I'm not not uncertain whether double negatives are not not less confusing than more.

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Tue, Jul 12, 2011
from The Upshot:
Big birth announcement: couple welcomes a 16-pound baby boy
This bundle of joy must be bringing an extra helping of happiness: a couple in Texas are the proud parents of 16-pound, 1-ounce, 2-foot-long JaMichael Brown. At 9:05 Friday morning, Janet Johnson and Michael Brown welcomed their son at Longview's Good Shepherd Medical Center. JaMichael, who was quickly nicknamed "the Moose," is the largest child ever born in the hospital — and possibly the state. So exactly how big is a 16-pound baby? Let's put it this way: The average newborn is about seven-and-a-half pounds. The Brown baby's weight is just about equivalent to that of a six-month-old. ...


Something tells me JaMichael will be quite the carbon emitter.

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Tue, Jul 12, 2011
from Deutsche Press-Agentur:
Mixed mating creates hybrid bears
Polar bears and brown bears are coming together again to survive the next major climate change, which is expected to have dire effects on their endangered populations, a study published Thursday said. Melting arctic ice, the result of global warming blamed on massive carbon emissions, could force polar bears into the natural home of the brown bear, setting the two species up for more genetic mixing, according to the study in the twice-monthly scientific journal Current Biology. "When they come into contact, there seems to be little barrier to them mating," said Beth Shapiro, researcher at The Pennsylvania State University. ...


Apparently, bears have no moral code.

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Fri, Jul 1, 2011
from MSNBC:
Report: Twenty-five years since global temperatures were below average
It's been more than 300 months since the average global average temperature was below average, scientists and the U.S. government said in the annual State of the Climate report released Tuesday. The experts tracked 41 climate indicators, four more than in the previous year, and "they all show a continued tendency," said Tom Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center. "The indicators show unequivocally that the world continues to warm." "There is a clear and unmistakable signal from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans," added Peter Thorne of the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites at North Carolina State University.... At the NOAA briefing, Karl added that the Greenland ice sheet lost more mass last year than any year in the last decade. Melting of the land-based ice sheets in places like Greenland, Antarctica and other regions has raised concerns about rising sea levels worldwide. "The arctic is changing faster that most of the rest of the world," added Walt Meier, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado. "This has long been expected." In addition, he said, the September Arctic sea ice extent was the third smallest in 30 years, older, thicker sea ice is disappearing, there is a shorter duration of snow cover, and the permafrost is melting. ...


Is that a new average reality hitting our head or are you just mad to see us?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jun 19, 2011
from Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
Are jellyfish a harbinger of dying seas?
Jellyfish, common in the seas for eons, suck so up so much food -- and give back so little -- that a dramatic population increase would gravely threaten the future of oceans worldwide, according to a new study. Jellyfish could send once-productive seas, including the Gulf of Mexico, back to a more primitive state, if theories pointing to striking increases in the gelatinous creatures prove true. They assault the base of the food chain, creating conditions where little can survive but jellyfish and bacteria, new scientific findings published this month reveal.... The findings are a cause for concern because reports of jellyfish blooms are increasing, leading many scientists to speculate that water pollution, global warming and overfishing may be tipping the scales toward conditions more favorable for jellyfish. ...


I hate it when Nature sends us a message.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jun 18, 2011
from Guardian:
Warning: extreme weather ahead
Drought zones have been declared across much of England and Wales, yet Scotland has just registered its wettest-ever May. The warmest British spring in 100 years followed one of the coldest UK winters in 300 years. June in London has been colder than March. February was warm enough to strip on Snowdon, but last Saturday it snowed there. Welcome to the climate rollercoaster, or what is being coined the "new normal" of weather. What was, until quite recently, predictable, temperate, mild and equable British weather, guaranteed to be warmish and wettish, ensuring green lawns in August, now sees the seasons reversed and temperature and rainfall records broken almost every year. When Kent receives as much rain (4mm) in May as Timbuktu, Manchester has more sunshine than Marbella, and soils in southern England are drier than those in Egypt, something is happening. Sober government scientists at the centre for hydrology and ecology are openly using words like "remarkable", "unprecedented" and "shocking" to describe the recent physical state of Britain this year, but the extremes we are experiencing in 2011 are nothing to the scale of what has been taking place elsewhere recently.... Last month, Oxfam reported that while the number of "geo-physical" disasters - such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions - has remained more or less constant, those caused by flooding and storms have increased from around 133 a year in 1980s to more than 350 a year now. ...


There's something about that 350 number that rings a bell.

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Wed, Jun 15, 2011
from London Daily Telegraph:
Cows are having fewer calves because of climate change
Warmer springs are encouraging cows to breed earlier in the year so their calves are born in the middle of winter, when they have less chance of survival The changes have been observed in a herd of cattle in Chillingham, Northumberland, which were first studied by Charles Darwin, the biologist. Dr Sarah Burthe, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, studied the change in breeding patterns over the last 60 years. She said: "Winter-born calves don't do very well and are more likely to die before they reach the age of one. This suggests that the cattle are responding to climate change but this is having a negative impact on them." ...


No worries; we can always clone 'em!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 14, 2011
from Associated Press:
Dead Sea threatened both by shrinking and flooding
The Dead Sea is dying, goes the conventional wisdom: The water level of the fabled salty lake is dropping nearly 4 feet a year. Less well known: Part of the lake is actually overflowing, threatening one of Israel's key tourism destinations. Israel is feverishly campaigning to have the Dead Sea -- the lowest point on earth and repository of precious minerals -- named one of the natural wonders of the world. At the same time, it's racing to stabilize what it calls "the world's largest natural spa" so hotels on its southern end aren't swamped and tourists can continue to soak in the lake's therapeutic waters. ...


I find this news story both upsetting and comforting.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 13, 2011
from PNAS, via EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Mercury rising in endangered Pacific seabirds
Using 120 years of feathers from natural history museums in the US, Harvard University researchers have been able to track increases in the neurotoxin methylmercury in the black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), an endangered seabird that forages extensively throughout the Pacific. The study shows that the observed increase in methylmercury levels, most likely from human-generated emissions, can be observed and tracked over broad time periods in organisms that live in the Pacific Ocean.... "Given both the high levels of methylmercury that we measured in our most recent samples and regional levels of emissions, mercury bioaccumulation and toxicity may undermine reproductive effort in this species and other long-lived, endangered seabirds."... "Methylmercury has no benefit to animal life and we are starting to find high levels in endangered and sensitive species across marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems, indicating that mercury pollution and its subsequent chemical reactions in the environment may be important factors in species population declines," says study co-author Michael Bank of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). ...


What do feathers have to do with my thermometer?

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Sun, Jun 12, 2011
from Guardian:
Explosion in jellyfish numbers may lead to ecological disaster, warn scientists
Global warming has long been blamed for the huge rise in the world's jellyfish population. But new research suggests that they, in turn, may be worsening the problem by producing more carbon than the oceans can cope with.... The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that while bacteria are capable of absorbing the constituent carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other chemicals given off by most fish when they die, they cannot do the same with jellyfish. The invertebrates, populating the seas in ever-increasing numbers, break down into biomass with especially high levels of carbon, which the bacteria cannot absorb well. Instead of using it to grow, the bacteria breathe it out as carbon dioxide. This means more of the gas is released into the atmosphere.... Condon's research also found that the spike in jellyfish numbers is also turning the marine food cycle on its head. The creatures devour huge quantities of plankton, thus depriving small fish of the food they need. "This restricts the transfer of energy up the food chain because jellyfish are not readily consumed by other predators," said Condon. ...


There's a Nobel for whoever figures out how to turn jellyfish into oil.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 9, 2011
from Associated Press:
EPA plans to ban some rodent poisons
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. ...


That hissing sound you hear is celebrating rats.

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Wed, Jun 8, 2011
from London Guardian:
Australian climate scientists receive death threats
A number of Australia's leading climate scientists have been moved into safer accommodation after receiving death threats, in a further escalation of the country's increasingly febrile carbon price debate. The revelation of the death threats follows a week of bitter exchanges between the government and the opposition in the wake of a pro-carbon price TV advert featuring actor Cate Blanchett. The Australia National University (ANU) in Canberra said that it has moved a number of its climate scientists to a secure facility after they received a large number of threatening emails and phone calls. ...


The planet has been receiving death threats from us all for some time.

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Thu, Jun 2, 2011
from Newsweek:
Are You Ready for More?
...Even those who deny the existence of global climate change are having trouble dismissing the evidence of the last year. In the U.S. alone, nearly 1,000 tornadoes have ripped across the heartland, killing more than 500 people and inflicting $9 billion in damage. The Midwest suffered the wettest April in 116 years, forcing the Mississippi to flood thousands of square miles, even as drought-plagued Texas suffered the driest month in a century. Worldwide, the litany of weather's extremes has reached biblical proportions. The 2010 heat wave in Russia killed an estimated 15,000 people. Floods in Australia and Pakistan killed 2,000 and left large swaths of each country under water. A months-long drought in China has devastated millions of acres of farmland. And the temperature keeps rising: 2010 was the hottest year on earth since weather records began. From these and other extreme-weather events, one lesson is sinking in with terrifying certainty. The stable climate of the last 12,000 years is gone. Which means you haven't seen anything yet. And we are not prepared. ...


Whither weather withers our wherewithal.

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Wed, Jun 1, 2011
from Purdue University via Science Daily:
Climate Change Allows Invasive Weed to Outcompete Local Species
Yellow starthistle already causes millions of dollars in damage to pastures in western states each year, and as climate changes, land managers can expect the problem with that weed and others to escalate. When exposed to increased carbon dioxide, precipitation, nitrogen and temperature -- all expected results of climate change -- yellow starthistle in some cases grew to six times its normal size while the other grassland species remained relatively unchanged... ...


And the yellow starthistle shall inherit the earth.

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Tue, May 31, 2011
from London Daily Telegraph:
Wind farms: Britain is 'running out of wind'
According to government figures, 13 of the past 16 months have been calmer than normal - while 2010 was the "stillest" year of the past decade. Meteorologists believe that changes to the Atlantic jet stream could alter the pattern of winds over the next 40 years and leave much of the nation's growing army of power-generating turbines becalmed. The Coalition has drawn up plans to open more wind farms in an effort to meet Britain's European Union target of providing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. More than 3,600 turbines are expected to be installed in offshore wind farms over the next nine years. But statistics suggest that the winds that sweep across the British Isles may be weakening. ...


Frankly my dear all we are is dust in the wind.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 25, 2011
from via ScienceDaily:
Mediterranean Sea Invaded by Hundreds of Alien Species
More than 900 new alien species have been encountered in the coastal environments of the eastern Mediterranean Sea in recent decades, including the poisonous pufferfish. The invasion of alien species has had the consequence that the whole food chain is changing, while there is a lack of knowledge on which to base relevant risk assessments, a four-year study conducted at the University of Gothenburg shows. ...


Just so everybody's still eating everyone else.

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Tue, May 17, 2011
from Agence France-Press:
Extreme makeover: are humans reshaping Earth?
If alien geologists were to visit our planet 10 million years from now, would they discern a distinct human fingerprint in Earth's accumulating layers of rock and sediment? Will homo sapiens, in other words, define a geological period in the way dinosaurs -- and their vanishing act -- helped mark the Jurassic and the Cretaceous? A growing number of scientists, some gathered at a one-day symposium this week at the British Geological Society in London, say "yes"... For the first time in Earth's 4.7 billion year history, a single species has not only radically changed Earth's morphology, chemistry and biology, it is now aware of having done so. ...


Pimp my planet!

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Wed, May 4, 2011
from Miller-McCune:
Environmental Footprints May Produce Backlash
Measuring a person's ecological footprint or carbon footprint is a popular tool among environmentalists. Many see it as a way to educate people about the damage they inflict on the environment on an everyday basis -- information that may prompt them to change their behavior. But newly published research suggests that for many people -- perhaps most -- the receipt of such data may produce the opposite result. In an experiment described in the journal Social Influence, "Only people who had invested their self-esteem in environmentalism -- a strong form of commitment -- reacted to negative environmental-footprint feedback by engaging in a pro-environment behavior," writes Santa Clara University psychologist Amara Brook. "Others were less likely to engage in a pro-environmental behavior after negative feedback." ...


Again I am reminded denial rules!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 4, 2011
from New York Times:
Army Corps Blows Up Missouri Levee
Ruben Bennett, his back bent and his fingers gnarled from a lifetime of labor, has lived all of his 88 years on an expanse of rich farmland here, just below where the Ohio River pours into the Mississippi. He survived his share of floods -- including the record-setting one that swept away his boyhood home -- but he has never run from one, until now....The Mississippi River, already at record levels here, keeps rising, fed by punishing rains. As the flood protection systems that safeguard countless communities groan under the pressure, federal officials executed a fiercely debated plan to destroy a part of the levee holding back the river in the area Mr. Bennett calls home for the greater good of the region. ...


Bye bye, Miss American Pie.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Apr 30, 2011
from USA Today:
Climate change could spawn more tornadoes
As with any major weather disaster these days -- from floods and hurricanes to wildfires and this week's tornado outbreak in the South -- people ask questions about its relation to the huge elephant that's lurking in the corner, global climate change. Two separate studies in 2007 reported that global warming could bring a dramatic increase in the frequency of weather conditions that feed severe thunderstorms and tornadoes by the end of the 21st century. One study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that locations could see as much as a 100 percent increase in the number of days that favor severe thunderstorms. ...


And by "elephant," are we referring to those blood-sucking, climate-denying Republicans??

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011
from Duke University via ScienceDaily:
Record Number of Whales, Krill Found in Antarctic Bays
Scientists have observed a "super-aggregation" of more than 300 humpback whales gorging on the largest swarm of Antarctic krill seen in more than 20 years in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula. The sightings, made in waters still largely ice-free deep into austral autumn, suggest the previously little-studied bays are important late-season foraging grounds for the endangered whales. But they also highlight how rapid climate change is affecting the region..."The lack of sea ice is good news for the whales in the short term, providing them with all-you-can-eat feasts as the krill migrate vertically toward the bay's surface each night. But it is bad news in the long term for both species, and for everything else in the Southern Ocean that depends on krill," says Ari S. Friedlaender, co-principal investigator on the project and a research scientist at Duke. ...


A krilling spree by humpback chumps.

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Mon, Apr 25, 2011
from University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute via ScienceDaily:
Brown Recluse Spider: Range Could Expand in N. America With Changing Climate
One of the most feared spiders in North America is the subject a new study that aims to predict its distribution and how that distribution may be affected by climate changes...The researchers concluded that the range may expand northward, potentially invading previously unaffected regions. Newly influenced areas may include parts of Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, South Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. ...


Now I am truly terrified by climate change!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 25, 2011
from London Observer:
Spring may lose song of cuckoos, nightingales and turtle doves
Some of Britain's most cherished spring visitors are disappearing in their thousands. Ornithologists say species such as the cuckoo, nightingale and turtle dove are undergoing catastrophic drops in numbers, although experts are puzzled about the exact reasons for these declines. The warning, from the RSPB, comes as the songs of the cuckoo, nightingale and wood warbler herald the return of spring...There is almost certainly a significant problem caused by climate change. Migrant birds arrive and breed and then have chicks at times which are no longer synchronised with the best periods when food, such as insects, is available. ...


That sound you hear is the rejoicing of worms.

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Wed, Apr 20, 2011
from BBC:
Mother's diet during pregnancy alters baby's DNA
A mother's diet during pregnancy can alter the DNA of her child and increase the risk of obesity, according to researchers. The study, to be published in the journal Diabetes, showed that eating low levels of carbohydrate changed bits of DNA. It then showed children with these changes were fatter. The British Heart Foundation called for better nutritional and lifestyle support for women. It is thought that a developing baby tries to predict the environment it will be born into, taking cues from its mother and adjusting its DNA. ...


That developing baby might be best off just staying in the womb.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 14, 2011
from Jakarta Globe:
Weather Blamed for Caterpillar Plague
Unpredictable weather coupled with a decline in natural predators is responsible for a recent plague of caterpillars in parts of the country. Though the phenomenon is centered largely in Probolinggo, East Java, smaller reported outbreaks in Central Java, West Java, Bali and, most recently, Jakarta have prompted fears of a widespread infestation... Since March, millions of hairy caterpillars have cropped up in at least five subdistricts in Probolinggo, invading fields and homes. They have also caused itchy rashes among residents. The caterpillars have also destroyed more than 8,800 mango trees -- the district's main agricultural produce. ...


Isn't "hairy caterpillars" one of the Seven Signs? Dear Lord...

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Apr 9, 2011
from Washington Post:
Plants' earlier bloom times hurting some creatures
Cristol Fleming has gone out hunting for the first wildflower blooms of spring for close to four decades. She knows where every tiny bluish clump of rare phacelia can be found, where every fragile yellow trout lily grows....So it was with some consternation that the local field botanist found two of her favorite early flowers -- sprigs of white and purple "harbinger of spring” no higher than an inch and graceful white twinleaf -- in full bloom in the chill of late March....Bloom hunters like Fleming, who for 40 years have been tramping through the woods, roaming along riverbanks and scrambling over rocky outcrops to document the first blooms of spring in the Washington area, worry that what they have been seeing is nothing less than the slow, inexorable shift of global warming. ...


Enough with the bloom-and-doom!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 28, 2011
from St. Petersburg Times:
Bill will adversely affect environment, but will it create jobs?
Builders of homes, offices, roads and other projects have been allowed to wipe out more wetlands in Florida than in any other state. But now, in the name of sparking job growth, state lawmakers want to make it even easier to develop wetlands and just write a check for the damage. The 63 pages of CS/HB 991, which passed its latest committee vote Wednesday 14-0, are packed with changes to the state's wetlands, water pollution and development permitting rules. The bill makes it easier to build roads through wetlands, easier for polluters to escape punishment, easier to open new phosphate mines and harder for regulators to yank a permit from someone who did things wrong. ...


No worries. All this raping of the earth will create plenty of jobs in the Post-Apocalypse.

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Mon, Mar 28, 2011
from Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres via ScienceDaily:
Freshwater Content of Upper Arctic Ocean Increased 20 Percent Since 1990s, Large-Scale Assessment Finds
The freshwater content of the upper Arctic Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the 1990s, according to a new large-scale assessment... The freshwater content in the layer of the Arctic Ocean near the surface controls whether heat from the ocean is emitted into the atmosphere or to ice. In addition, it has an impact on global ocean circulation...This freshwater lies as a light layer on top of the deeper salty and warm ocean layers and thus extensively cuts off heat flow to the ice and atmosphere. Changes in this layer are therefore major control parameters for the sensitive heat balance of the Arctic. ...


That's the problem with this planet. It's sooooo sensitive.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Mar 26, 2011
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Scientists find waves are getting bigger
Ocean wind speeds and wave heights around the world have increased significantly over the past quarter of a century, according to Australian research that has given scientists their first global glimpse of the world's rising winds and waves. Published in the journal Science today, the research - the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken - used satellite data collected from 1985 to 2008. It shows the extreme wave height off the coast of south-west Australia today is six metres on average, more than a metre higher than in 1985. ...


Surf's up! Size matters.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 16, 2011
from Montreal Gazette:
Could global warming be causing recent earthquakes?
Severe earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and now Japan have experts around the world asking whether the world's tectonic plates are becoming more active -- and what could be causing it. Some scientists theorize that the sudden melting of glaciers due to man-made climate change is lightening the load on the Earth's surface, allowing its mantle to rebound upwards and causing plates to become unstuck....The surface of the Earth is elastic. A heavy load such as a glacier will cause it to sink, pushing aside the liquid rock underneath. ...


Regardless, these earthquakes are good practice for the Apocalypse.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 2, 2011
from London Independent:
Turtles now world's most threatened vertebrates
Turtles and tortoises are now the most endangered group of vertebrate animals, with more than half of their 328 species threatened with extinction, according to a new report. Their populations are being depleted by unsustainable hunting, both for food and for use in traditional Chinese medicine, by large-scale collection for the pet trade, and by the widespread pollution and destruction of their habitats, according to the study Turtles In Trouble, produced by a coalition of turtle conservation groups. The result is that their plight has never been greater, and the world's 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles will become extinct in a few decades without concerted conservation efforts, the report says. ...


They have vertebrae? I didn't even realize they were amphibians!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 23, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Campaign to stop 'killer shrimp'
Fishermen are being warned to look out for a 'killer shrimp' amid fears the invasive species is spreading across Britain, endangering native fish stocks. The aggressive shrimp, that often kills its prey and leaves it uneaten, is originally from Eastern Europe but is now being found in lakes and rivers across the country. The spread is being blamed on a new craze for fishing on open water using inflatable tyres as the larvae attach to the bottom of the tubes and are transported to new waters. The Environment Agency are so concerned about the spread of the invasive species it is launching a campaign to warn the nation's 4 million fishermen to clean equipment between fishing trips. And a water company in the north west has even banned floating tyres. The shrimp, officially called Dikerogammarus villous, will attack insect larvae, baby fish and native shrimp, upsetting the food chain and threatening stocks of trout and salmon or coarse fish such as roach and rudd further up the food chain. ...


Apocaiku: The invasive thing / wills to kill because it can, / emptying the lake.

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Tue, Feb 22, 2011
from Albany Times Union:
An assault on the environment
The new House Republican majority likes to say that the American people spoke last year. If the GOP's spending bill is any indication, it seems the American people are clamoring for more mercury in their fish, oil on their coasts and pollution in their drinking water. Those would be just some of the environmental highlights of a House spending bill to keep the government running through Sept. 30. Or perhaps anti-environmental highlights would be more apt. Anti-health, too. ...


It's simply ... anti-life.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 21, 2011
from Washington Post:
Predator fish in oceans on alarming decline, experts say
Over the past 100 years, some two-thirds of the large predator fish in the ocean have been caught and consumed by humans, and in the decades ahead, the rest are likely to perish, too. In their place, small fish such as sardines and anchovies are flourishing in the absence of the tuna, grouper and cod that traditionally feed on them, creating an ecological imbalance that experts say will forever change the oceans. ...


The answer to the prey's prayers.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Feb 13, 2011
from Reuters:
Climate change keenly felt in Alaska's national parks
Thawing permafrost is triggering mudslides onto a key road traveled by busloads of sightseers. Tall bushes newly sprouted on the tundra are blocking panoramic views. And glaciers are receding from convenient viewing areas, while their rapid summer melt poses new flood risks. These are just a few of the ways that a rapidly warming climate is reshaping Denali, Kenai Fjords and other national parks comprising the crown jewels of Alaska's heritage as America's last frontier. These and some better-known impacts -- proliferation of invasive plants and fish, greater frequency and intensity of wildfires, and declines in wildlife populations that depend on sea ice and glaciers -- are outlined in a recent National Park Service report. ...


These kinds of new excitements should increase tourism!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 8, 2011
from Associated Press:
Study: Global obesity rates double since 1980
The world is becoming a heavier place, especially in the West. Obesity rates worldwide have doubled in the last three decades even as blood pressure and cholesterol levels have dropped, according to three new studies... In 1980, about 5 percent of men and 8 percent of women worldwide were obese. By 2008, the rates were nearly 10 percent for men and 14 percent for women. That means 205 million men and 297 million women weighed in as obese. Another 1.5 billion adults were overweight, according to the obesity study...Experts warned the increasing numbers of obese people could lead to a "global tsunami of cardiovascular disease." ...


Let's call it a global fatsunami.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 7, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Fears for tourists as Florida invaded by Portuguese Man-of-War
Almost 500 people were stung by the jellyfish-like creatures on beaches in Fort Lauderdale on Friday and Saturday, while another 320 were stung 45 miles up the coast in Palm Beach during the weekend. Officials said the US invasion, which numbered several thousand, had ridden in on steady 5-10mph south-easterly winds, which could continue for several more days. Lt. Jim McCrady, a 24-year veteran officer from Fort Lauderdale's Ocean Rescue department, said: "I've never seen this many, ever". Heather Irurzun, an ocean rescue supervisor in Delray Beach for the past 14 years, told the local press: "It's extreme. It is wall-to-wall man-of-war. I've never seen it this bad." Dozens of the creatures, which resemble purple and blue balloons with long tentacles, were washed up on beaches in the region. Their stings can cause swelling and shortness of breath. ...


Those Portuguese need to be sent a message.

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Thu, Jan 27, 2011
from Earth Institute:
Our Oceans: A Plastic Soup
In any case, plastic marine debris is now found on the surface of every ocean on Earth.... Some plastic and marine debris comes from fishing gear, offshore oil and gas platforms, and ships. But 80 percent of it comes from the land--litter that gets stuck in storm drains and is washed into rivers and out to sea, the legal and illegal dumping of garbage and appliances, and plastic resin pellets inadvertently spilled and unloaded by plastic manufacturers. Trash Travels, Ocean Conservancy's 2010 report, states that 60 percent of all marine debris in 2009 consisted of "disposable" items, with the most common being cigarettes, plastic bags, food containers, bottle caps and plastic bottles. And no matter where the litter originates, once it reaches the ocean, it becomes a planetary problem as garbage travels thousands of miles carried by the gyres.... The majority of the plastic found in the ocean are tiny pieces less than 1 cm. in size, with the mass of 1/10 of a paper clip. ...


I think I liked the story of stone soup a lot more.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 21, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Why Bedbugs Won't Die
The first comprehensive genetic study of bedbugs, the irritating pests that have enjoyed a world-wide resurgence in recent years, indicates they are quickly evolving to withstand the pesticides used to combat them. The new findings from entomologists at Ohio State University, reported Wednesday online in PLoS One, show that bedbugs may have boosted their natural defenses by generating higher levels of enzymes that can cleanse them of poisons. In New York City, bedbugs now are 250 times more resistant to the standard pesticide than bedbugs in Florida... Bedbugs today appear to have nerve cells better able to withstand the chemical effects, higher levels of enzymes that detoxify the lethal substances, and thicker shells that can block insecticides. ...


If only humans were so advanced.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 19, 2011
from BusinessGreen:
'Normal' weather set to change in US this year
The definition of 'normal weather' across the US is about to change, according to new figures from the agency that publishes climate data that also show it is getting steadily hotter. Each decade, the National Climate Data Centre, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, updates a set of weather data known as the 'normals'. This data averages temperature and precipitation over a thirty-year period to help businesses predict weather trends. For example, utilities use it to predict electricity sales, and it is also useful for the agricultural industry and other commercial sectors.... According to staff responsible for the project, losing the 1970s data will increase the average temperature. ...


The average of the mean of the median of the mode indicates a statistical probability of shifting baselines.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jan 14, 2011
from Yale360:
Massive Outbreak of Jellyfish Could Spell Trouble for Fisheries
Among the spineless creatures of the world, the Nomura's jellyfish is a monster to be reckoned with. It's the size of a refrigerator -- imagine a Frigidaire Gallery Premiere rather than a hotel minibar -- and can exceed 450 pounds. For decades the hulking medusa was rarely encountered in its stomping grounds, the Sea of Japan. Only three times during the entire 20th century did numbers of the Nomura's swell to such gigantic proportions that they seriously clogged fishing nets. Then something changed. Since 2002, the population has exploded -- in jelly parlance, bloomed -- six times. In 2005, a particularly bad year, the Sea of Japan brimmed with as many as 20 billion of the bobbing bags of blubber, bludgeoning fisheries with 30 billion yen in losses.... Now, researchers fear, conditions are becoming so bad that some ecosystems could be approaching a tipping point in which jellyfish supplant fish.... Fish and jellyfish "interact in complex ways," says Kylie Pitt, an ecologist at Griffith University in Australia. Overfishing can throw this complex relationship out of kilter. ...


Every "out of kilter" relationship is an economic opportunity. Somehow.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 13, 2011
from New York Times:
Stress, Pollution and Poverty: A Vicious Cycle?
The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $7 million in grants to researchers to study the cumulative health impact of pollutants like mercury and lead and social factors like stress and poor nutrition in several low-income communities, the agency said Tuesday... But a growing body of research suggests that cumulative exposure to multiple pollutants, and nonchemical factors like stress, poverty and poor diet, can amplify the negative effects of a single toxic substance. ...


I think we should pay more attention to rich people.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 5, 2011
from Associated Press:
Reinsurer says costs from natural disasters jumped in 2010, shows evidence of climate change
A leading reinsurer said Monday that extreme natural catastrophes in 2010, including severe earthquakes, floods and heat waves, led to the sixth-highest total of insurers' losses since 1980 and showed evidence of climate change. Munich Re AG said in its annual review that insured losses came in at $37 billion (euro27.69 billion) this year, up from $22 billion in 2009. It said total economic losses, including losses not covered by insurance, rose to $130 billion from last year's $50 billion. "The high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change," the company said in a statement. ...


Good God, man, even the insurance dudes get it!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 3, 2011
from Minneapolis Star Tribume:
Our new Minnesota normal: Warmer and wetter
The year 2011 will bring a change in the weather -- or at least what we think of as normal weather. New "normal" settings for temperatures, rainfall and snow for Minnesota -- indeed, for 10,000 U.S. locations -- will be published later this year by the National Climate Data Center, which calculates them once a decade, much like the census. For the Twin Cities and much of Minnesota, normal will probably mean warmer and wetter. The normal overall temperature for January for the Twin Cities could be 2.7 degrees warmer than the normal that's been in use for the past 10 years, based on previous calculations. That's a sizable jump in climate terms, but once people adjust to the new average, it's possible they might not be alarmed. ...


Especially if they are in denial.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 3, 2011
from National Geographic News:
"Mining" Groundwater in India Reaches New Lows
Nearly a third of India is suffering from chronic water shortages, and making up for it with "the world's largest groundwater mining operation," according to experts. A band of land stretching across northern India, at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains, is one of the most heavily populated and intensely irrigated regions in the world. The area is chronically short of water. But the region still has a limited supply of it in underground aquifers, according to water resources expert Shama Perveen of Columbia University. According to a new study by Perveen and her colleagues, Upmanu Lall and Naresh Devineni, some parts of India are using groundwater three times faster than it's being replenished. ...


Pretty soon, all that'll be left in those aquifers... is fur.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 2, 2011
from Associated Press:
More than 1,000 dead birds fall from sky in Ark.
Wildlife officials are trying to determine what caused more than 1,000 blackbirds to die and fall from the sky over an Arkansas town. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Saturday that it began receiving reports about the dead birds about 11:30 p.m. the previous night. The birds fell over a 1-mile area of Beebe, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area. Commission ornithologist Karen Rowe said the birds showed physical trauma, and she speculated that "the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail." The commission said that New Year's Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area could have startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress. ...


Or maybe... they were sacrificing themselves as an apocalyptic metaphor.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jan 1, 2011
from DesdemonaDespair:
50 Doomiest Graphs of 2010
The Graph of the Day feature comprises Desdemona's assault on the left hemisphere of the brain, in the quixotic quest against delusional hope. This post complements the media barrage on the right hemisphere, 50 Doomiest Photos of 2010. 2010 yielded a torrent of new scientific data that documents the accelerating destruction of the biosphere, and Desdemona managed to capture a few graphs from the flood. Here are the most doom-laden graphs of 2010, chosen by scope, length of observational period, and sleekness of presentation. Open up your left hemisphere and drink in the data. ...


Now put both hemispheres together, and get busy! 2011 must be a year of change.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Dec 31, 2010
from The Oil Drum:
Charts of the Year from The Oil Drum, 2010
A picture says a thousand words. In this post you will find only charts and graphs conveying important points from the world of energy 2010. Readers are invited to post their favorite charts from 2010 in the comments. Instructions are given at the end of this post. This is a charts only thread, no text at all (though posting links is OK), noncompliant posts will be deleted. An energy theme is preferred though other related themes such as economy, population, sustainability are acceptable. Climate charts that do not link directly to energy will be deleted. ...


I cut my energy use by 25 percent this year -- and it doesn't even show up!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 20, 2010
from Associated Press:
2010's world gone wild: Quakes, floods, blizzards
This was the year the Earth struck back. Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 -- the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined. "It just seemed like it was back-to-back and it came in waves," said Craig Fugate, who heads the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. It handled a record number of disasters in 2010. "The term `100-year event' really lost its meaning this year." And we have ourselves to blame most of the time, scientists and disaster experts say. Even though many catastrophes have the ring of random chance, the hand of man made this a particularly deadly, costly, extreme and weird year for everything from wild weather to earthquakes. ...


The hand of man is a mighty instrument of ineptitude.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 9, 2010
from Reuters:
Blue Tongue, Blight, Beetles Pester A Warmer World
Beetles killing trees in North America, blue tongue disease ravaging livestock in Europe, and borers destroying African coffee crops are examples of migrating invasive species not getting enough attention at global climate talks, scientists said on Wednesday. Invasive pests have plagued agriculture and nature for thousands of years as mankind's migrations brought them to places without natural enemies. But the price tag to battle them, now estimated at $1.4 trillion annually, may go up as rising temperatures and more storms and floods unleash species to new areas. "The problem of invasive species has been all but omitted from the U.N. talks here in Mexico," A.G. Kawamura, the secretary of California's Department of Food and Agriculture, told Reuters. He said scientists want to reintroduce the issue of invasive insects, germs and plants so at next year's talks in Durban, South Africa, pests will be a top subject. ...


A.G. Kawamura sounds like a big pest to me.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Nov 7, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
Grim outlook for grizzlies in Yellowstone region
With milder winters affecting their food and hibernation habits, they're forced into a meat-dependent diet -- putting them at odds with humans and livestock. They could end up as despised as wolves. It's been a bad year for grizzly bears, and, if forecasts prove correct, it's only going to get worse. The tally of grizzly deaths in the states bordering the greater Yellowstone region is fast approaching the worst on record. And that's before the numbers come in from the current hunting season, a time when accidental grizzly shootings are traditionally high. Here in Wyoming, more bears were killed this year than ever, including a bear shot by a hunter last week. A number of complex factors are believed to be working against grizzlies, including climate change. Milder winters have allowed bark beetles to decimate the white-bark pine, whose nuts are a critical food source for grizzlies. Meanwhile, there has been a slight seasonal shift for plants that grizzlies rely on when they prepare to hibernate and when they emerge in the spring, changing the creatures' denning habits. ...


I'm not sure any organisms -- other than invasive species -- are having much of a year.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Nov 6, 2010
from BBC:
River Lagan under attack from invading alien plants
The River Lagan, one of Northern Ireland's major waterways, has been attacked by a highly invasive aquatic plant. Floating pennywort has been discovered along its banks. So far over five tonnes of the weed has been removed. The plant is native to North America. It was first brought into Ireland as a plant for tropical aquariums and ponds, but it has since escaped into the wild at a limited number of locations in Northern Ireland. It is capable of growing at a rate of 20cm a day and once established it can quickly form thick floating mats across the water's surface.... Ecologists in Northern Ireland are watching alien species encroaching on a number of fronts. Slipper limpets, muntjac deer and Japanese ironweed all have the potential to devastate local habitats. And the so-called Sudden Oak Death disease, a fungus attacking Japanese larch trees, has been found in at least five woodlands in Northern Ireland. Ironically it almost certainly came in on non-native or alien plants imported for ornamental gardens. ...


Accidents happen. And then they grow roots.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Nov 1, 2010
from BBC:
Jellyfish 'may benefit from ecosystem instability'
A team of researchers have been trying to identify how jellyfish may benefit from marine ecosystems destabilised by climate change and overfishing. There is concern that a rise in jellyfish numbers could prevent depleted commercially important fish stocks recovering to historical levels. However, a study by European scientists says more data is needed to understand what is happening beneath the waves.... In recent years, there have been a number of examples of sudden blooms of jellyfish in European waters - including the Irish, Mediterranean and Black seas - which have killed fish and closed beaches. In 2007, an invasion of mauve stingers (Pelagia noctiluca) wiped out Northern Ireland's only salmon farm, killing more than 100,000 fish.... "It is quite a complicated set of possible linkages that need to be drawn, which we really only have a vague insight at the moment. "For the recent period where we have good data, it appears as if sea surface temperature is the most important variable. "This does not necessarily prove it of course, but it does appear to be benefiting jellyfish." ...


I guess "more study" is not only needed, but will be experienced.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Oct 17, 2010
from Ha'aretz:
New jellyfish seen as evidence of troubled local waters
While the sting of the new visitor is less painful than that of the type of jellyfish that local bathers know all too well, its sighting is another worrisome sign of ecological problems in the Mediterranean.... The presence of this and other invasive jellyfish species in the Mediterranean, including the familiar Rhopilema nomadica, concerns ecologists because they prey on the young of local fish species or consume the food those fish live on. Two weeks ago Galil attended an urgent conference in Istanbul by the Mediterranean regional fishery management organization. Among the recommendations adopted was to encourage the development of local fish that prey on Marivagia and to increase monitoring of ships from the Red Sea that may be hosting the species. However, failure to contain Rhopilema over the years does not bode well for dealing with the new species. ...


They don't even taste like chicken.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Oct 10, 2010
from Associated Press:
Great Lakes are invasive species playground
For thousands of years, the Great Lakes were protected by Niagara Falls on the east and a subcontinental divide on the west, but those barriers to the country's grandest freshwater system were obliterated over the past century so that oceanic freighters could float in and Chicago sewage could float out. Unwanted species have been invading with tick-tock regularity ever since. It is a problem that lacks the graphic horror of the gulf oil spill, but is more environmentally catastrophic in that it unleashes a pollution that does not decay or disperse -- it breeds. Native fish populations have crashed, freshwater beaches have suffocated under mounds of rotting algae, bird-killing botulism outbreaks have soared and the lakes' invasive species problems have spread down Chicago's canals, into the vast Mississippi basin and across the continent. ...


It's a playground where everyone and everything is a bully.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Sep 26, 2010
from Anthony Doerr, in The Morning News, via OnlyInItForTheGold:
Planet Zoo and the Cliff
During my sophomore year, 1992, 1,500 scientists, including more than half the living Nobel laureates, admonished in their Warning to Humanity: "A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated." So what have we done? Not much. From 1992 to 2007, global CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels rose 38 percent. Emissions in 2008 rose a full 2 percent despite a global economic slump. Honeybees are dying by the billions, amphibians by the millions, and shallow Caribbean reefs are mostly dead already. Our soil is disappearing faster than ever before, half of all mammals are in decline, and a recent climate change model predicts that the Arctic could have ice-free summers by 2013. Unchecked, carbon emissions from China alone will probably match the current global level by 2030.... Sure, it's socially acceptable nowadays to compost your coffee grounds and turn off your thermostat and grow strawberries on the porch, but it's still considered uncool to suggest that the American capitalist system is untenable.... Maybe even more astounding, they've found antibiotic-resistant E. coli in French Guiana, in the intestines of Wayampi Indians--people who have never taken antibiotics.... Eventually the ice caps will resolidify; new species will arise, the forests will teem once more. It's Homo sapiens we need to worry about. Some geologists have taken to calling the past 8,000 years or so the Anthropocene Period -- a time when we've burned coal, impounded rivers, and reconfigured ecosystems. And now, in our lifetimes, we're learning that perhaps this period is untenable, and like billions of species before us, we are not immune to extinction. ...


In zoos, primates fling their shit everywhere. We try telling them not to, but it doesn't do much good.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 16, 2010
from Guardian:
'We will have no water and that will be the end of the world for us'
He lives in a small village called Pampa Corral, at 4,020m (nearly 13,000ft) in the Cusco region, and he grows a staggering 215 varieties of potatoes - red ones, black ones, translucent ones, shapes and sizes you cannot imagine.... But the point is, folk like Julio and their extraordinary diversity of crops are critically endangered by the massive changes they observe taking place in the High Andes. When Julio was a boy, (he's now in his 50s) a glacier was just two minutes walk from his door. Now it is a nine-hour hike away. "The seasons used to be very clear, we knew when to plant. Now we have less water. We used to get the water from the glacier. Now we have twice as many mosquitoes. We have no light from the glacier I don't understand what is going on. We feel very disoriented," he said. "I think that I will have no water and that will be the end of the world for us." Peru is said to be the 56th richest country in the world, with 28 of the world's 35 climates and more than 70 percent of the tropical glaciers on earth. Most are in rapid retreat, leaving behind devastated farmers and communities short of water. ...


I guess Julio will just have to get a real job.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 14, 2010
from Alaska Dispatch, via DesdemonaDespair:
Tens of thousands of walrus on land haulout near Point Lay, Alaska
A few miles down the coastline, tens of thousands of walruses are jammed together in a tight beach-bound pod to catch a little R&R from their daily routine. This is not a small group -- we're talking in the neighborhood of 40 million collective pounds of massive marine mammal.... But government scientists suspect it has more to do with an increasing lack of sea ice. Walruses have been known to haul out onto land in large numbers in Russia, but never on the Alaska side of their migratory corridor in the tens of thousands, as is being witnessed this year. ...


"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax, Of cabbages, and kings, And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings."

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Associated Press:
Discovery Channel hostage-taker hated programming
A gunman police shot to death after he took hostages at Discovery Channel's headquarters said he hated the company's shows such as "Kate Plus 8" because they promote population growth and its environmental programming because it did little to save the planet. Three hostages -- two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard -- escaped unhurt after the four-hour standoff Wednesday in Silver Spring, just outside the nation's capital. After several hours negotiating with the gunman, tactical officers moved in when authorities monitoring him on building security cameras saw him pull out a handgun and point it at a hostage, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said. ...


Thank goodness they killed him before he got to Fox Studios!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Aug 26, 2010
from IRIN:
Record low water levels threaten millions in Cambodia
Late rains and record low water levels in Cambodia's two main fresh water systems will affect food security and the livelihoods of millions, government officials and NGOs warn. "We expect the impact to be very strong," said Nao Thuok, director of the Fisheries Administration, adding that low water levels along the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers were already limiting fish production and migration. Crucial spawning grounds in floodplains along the rivers remained dry. "The places where the fish usually lay their eggs do not have much water so the fish population will decrease a lot," he warned. Approximately six million Cambodians or 45 percent of the population depend on fishing in the Mekong and Tonle Sap basins, the government's Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute, reports. The annual "flood" season of daily rain usually starts in July but began a month late, local agricultural surveyors say.... Not only the fisheries sector is suffering, however. Rice farmer Meas Chan Thorn in western Pursat Province was only able to plant last week, a month behind schedule, because of the late rains, and predicted yields would be halved. ...


I'm sure this is just a "localized weather phenomenon."

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jul 31, 2010
from Charleston Post and Courier:
Jellyfish invasion
Hundreds of stings from these translucent blobs have been reported along the Charleston County coastline since last weekend. Some suspect a swarm of jellies rode in with strong onshore winds and roiling surf. Others wonder if a shift in the Gulf Stream or this week's blast of thunderstorms are to blame. Whatever the reason, they are here -- in force.... The beach parks normally see just a couple of reported stings a month, if any at all. Isle of Palms, however, had 162 reported stings last Sunday and an additional 186 jellyfish run-ins on Tuesday. The number of reported stings on Folly Beach jumped from 15 on Wednesday to 150 the following day, Bowie said. Several stings also were reported at Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, she said. Among the reports is at least one unconfirmed run-in with a dreaded Portuguese man-of-war, the unofficial king of sting. ...


Hey, Charleston's where the sun and fun is -- wouldn't you be there if you were a jellyfish?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jul 22, 2010
from Mongabay:
Thirty frog species, including 5 unknown to science, killed off by amphibian plague in Panama
With advanced genetic techniques, researchers have drawn a picture of just how devastating the currently extinction crisis for the world's amphibians has become in a new study published in the Proceedings of the Nation Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Studying frog populations using DNA barcoding in Panama's Omar Torrijos National Park located in El Cope researchers found that 25 known species and 5 unknown species have vanished since 1998. None have returned. Amphibians are threatened in many parts of the world by pollution, habitat loss, invasive species, over-exploitation, pesticides, and climate change, yet the big killer of the world's amphibians is disease: chytridiomycosis, a fungal disease, is wiping out frogs even in the world's most untouched habitats.... "It's sadly ironic that we are discovering new species nearly as fast as we are losing them," said Andrew Crawford, former postdoctoral fellow at STRI... According to the paper, since arriving the disease has wiped out over 40 percent of the park's total amphibian species, and one-third of the amphibians' evolutionary history. ...


I'd call that steady-state biodiversity!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jul 11, 2010
from Associated Press:
Scientists roll out mats to kill Lake Tahoe clams
Scuba-diving scientists are unrolling long rubber mats across the bottom of Lake Tahoe coves in an attempt to quell a clam invasion that could cloud the world-reknown cobalt waters. The half-acre mats are designed to smother dime-sized nonnative Asian clams that can reach populations of 5,000 per square yard. Geoffrey Schladow, director of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center run by the University of California, Davis, said the clams promote so much algae growth that they can turn some coves from blue to green. "They suck in the water and they filter out the algae. Their excretions are highly concentrated packages of nutrients," he said. ...


Unwelcome mats make clams sad.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jul 5, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Invasive "polluting plant" contributes to ozone levels
Kudzu - an invasive plant common in the southeastern United States - contributes to the production of ozone, and at its worst, may add as much as a week to the number of days when ozone levels exceed pollution limits in the region. Kudzu releases two key ingredients - nitric oxide and isoprene - that are important to making ozone, which is an air pollutant with known health effects. When researchers looked, kudzu-invaded areas had higher levels of nitric oxide compared to uninvaded areas... In areas of the country most vulnerable to changes in nitric oxide levels - Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee - the kudzu-related increase in ozone could add as many as seven additional high ozone episodes during the summer when ozone levels are highest. ...


Before long... we'll all be living in the kudzone!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jul 4, 2010
from The Smithsonian Magazine:
Jellyfish: The Next King of the Sea
All around the world, jellyfish are behaving badly--reproducing in astonishing numbers and congregating where they've supposedly never been seen before. Jellyfish have halted seafloor diamond mining off the coast of Namibia by gumming up sediment-removal systems. Jellies scarf so much food in the Caspian Sea they're contributing to the commercial extinction of beluga sturgeon--the source of fine caviar. In 2007, mauve stinger jellyfish stung and asphyxiated more than 100,000 farmed salmon off the coast of Ireland as aquaculturists on a boat watched in horror. The jelly swarm reportedly was 35 feet deep and covered ten square miles. Nightmarish accounts of "Jellyfish Gone Wild," as a 2008 National Science Foundation report called the phenomenon, stretch from the fjords of Norway to the resorts of Thailand...Nobody knows exactly what's behind it, but there's a queasy sense among scientists that jellyfish just might be avengers from the deep, repaying all the insults we've heaped on the world's oceans.... At 39 degrees Fahrenheit, the polyps generated, on average, about 20 teeny jellyfish. At 46 degrees, roughly 40. The polyps in 54-degree seawater birthed some 50 jellies each, and one made 69. A new record, Widmer says, awed. ...


Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water.

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Fri, Jun 11, 2010
from Bristol Bay Times:
Pollock show boost of bicarbonate in blood
No matter what you believe about climate change, ocean chemistry doesn't lie. Even toy store chemistry tests will show that the seas are becoming more acidic, and the off-kilter levels can have a scary impact on sea creatures: it dissolves them.... In tests on one-year old pollock at varying levels of pH, researchers at NOAA Fisheries Newport lab discovered that the fish seemed to compensate for increased [acidity] by boosting levels of bicarbonate in their blood.... "Even if they were absorbing it from sea water, that is energy they are spending on regulating pH that they are not spending on growth and reproduction and foraging," he added. "So either way there was likely an energetic cost to the fish."... The Whiskey Creek Hatchery in Oregon is a major producer of oyster spat for most of the West Coast. For the past two years, the hatchery has had almost complete loss of 10 billion oyster larvae due to acidic water flowing through the holding tanks, depending on the direction of the wind. ...


A new market! "Pollock, the pre-heartburn fish!"

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 10, 2010
from Epoch times:
Monsanto's Gift Not Needed in Haiti
Monsanto Company sent more than 60 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to help with relief efforts in Haiti in May, but the gift was not entirely welcomed. According to numerous media reports, 10,000 members of The Movement of Papay (MMP) lead by Chavannes Jean-Baptiste took to the streets to protest the planting of Monsanto's crops, which were accepted by the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture. Monsanto -- an American giant of agricultural produce -- has a reputation of producing large amounts of hazardous pollution and dispersing branded herbicides, like Roundup, around the world to make resource-poor countries dependent on Monsanto's supply of the chemical. Hybrid seeds donated by Monsanto will allow farmers to grow crops for only one year as the plants do not reproduce, thus making the farmers dependent on buying the same crops the following year. ...


Like The Pusher says, first one's free.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 10, 2010
from New York Times:
Going to War Against Grasshoppers
LUSK, Wyo. -- The duel began just after sunrise on Wednesday, at 150 miles per hour, 50 feet above the ground. Below: billions of voracious, recently hatched migratory grasshoppers, Melanoplus sanguinipes, shock troops of the worst insect infestation here in at least 25 years....Bug wars have long punctuated life in the nation's grassy midsection, but this year is an exclamation point. At least $25 million in hay, wheat and alfalfa alone in this corner of Wyoming is up for grabs, state officials say, to be eaten by insects, or saved. Huge areas of Montana and South Dakota are also at risk, especially from sanguinipes, the migrator, one of the most feared of 100 grasshopper species on the plains because of its startling mobility. In Wyoming alone, about 7,800 square miles -- an area the size of New Jersey -- is infested and scheduled for aerial treatment. ...


Thank goodness the chytrid fungus is preventing the follow-on "plague of frogs."

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Sat, Jun 5, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Some Iowa cicadas make unexpected appearance four years ahead of schedule
The 17-year cicadas found in central and southeast Iowa aren't supposed to come out until 2014, but a small percentage are emerging now, four years ahead of schedule. "These cicadas appeared in 1963, 1980, and 1997," said Donald Lewis, professor of entomology at Iowa State University. "They should not have appeared until 2014."... Lewis started getting reports of these early-risers two weeks ago. The insects are found in much of the state from Boone County south to the Missouri border and east to the Mississippi River. Periodical cicadas live underground for 17 years then transform to the adult stage to appear above ground for a brief period. They are known for their mass emergences of tens of thousands per tree. The adults mate, lay eggs and die. The 17-year cycle is by far the longest of any insect in Iowa.... "There's a whole lot of mystery to what the cicada is counting and what happened in (some) winters that made it count it twice," he said. "We do know we've got to enjoy it while we've got it.... "The alarming part is, what has changed so much in our lifetime that the cicadas would change a fundamental part of their lifecycle and make this mistake?" he asks. "Climate change is one possibility." ...


Perhaps time itself has gotten shorter.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 3, 2010
from Christian Science Monitor:
Gulf oil spill as a lesson on humans in nature
Some eco-disasters are so huge they force humans to rethink how to better coexist with nature on a delicate planet. The mass killing of birds by the pesticide DDT, for instance, helped trigger the 1960s environmental movement. Now the Gulf oil spill may be one of those moments for mass reflection. Millions of barrels of crude oil have entered the aquatic food chain since BP's rig collapsed April 20. The spill itself is bad enough, but every day people from Florida to Texas are being forced to make difficult choices that pit the interests of humans against those of wildlife. ...


All I see in that reflection is how big my butt looks in this hat.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 20, 2010
from IU News Room:
IU physicists, in DZero Collaboration, announce evidence of matter-antimatter imbalance
Physicists at Indiana University are joining fellow DZero Collaboration researchers from around the world in announcing evidence of a 1 percent deviation between the amounts of elementary matter and antimatter particles being produced from high-energy collisions at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. IU Department of Physics chair and DZero collaborator Rick Van Kooten, one of four professors and research scientists from IU Bloomington working on the experiment, called new evidence of a deviation of the Standard Model of particle physics "unexpected" and "a surprise." He described the 1 percent deviation as "huge, and definitely not seen in general particle collisions." "We are very excited about this discovery as it is truly unexpected," he said. "This observation that particles can not only quantum mechanically change into their own anti-particles and vice versa, but also that the two processes are not equally likely at this level, is a surprise." ...


Can we marshall this quantum-change force to turn ourselves into a bizarro-world of environmental health, fairness, and freedom?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 18, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Rat study shows stress worsens air pollution health effects
Two distinct exposures - one environmental and one social - can act on rats to significantly alter the immune system and increase respiratory problems where one of them alone would not, researchers report. The animal study found that higher exposures to traffic-related air pollution were associated with a rapid, shallow breathing pattern only among chronically stressed rats. This is the first toxicological study to examine how chronic stress modifies the effect of fine particle air pollution on respiratory function. The findings suggest that changes in the immune and inflammatory responses of stressed rats may play a role in making them more susceptible to effects of air pollution. The results are consistent with human studies that report stronger health effects of air pollution among those who experience higher levels of social stressors, such as exposure to violence. This work may shed insight on existing health disparities since lower income populations often experience higher levels of environmental exposures and social stressors. ...


Rats stress me out and so do the studies that use them!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, May 8, 2010
from ThinkProgress:
Gulf Coast Wildlife: 'All Bets Are Off'
As Nancy Rabalais, a scientist who heads the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, said, "The magnitude and the potential for ecological damage is probably more great than anything we've ever seen in the Gulf of Mexico."... ThinkProgress' Brad Johnson was blogging from the Gulf Coast and spoke with Gulf Coast marine scientists who all agreed that the "unfolding oil disaster could mean devastation beyond human comprehension" and "all bets are off."... "I can't imagine we're not going to have some mass casualties" among birds in the Gulf region, predicted Michael Parr of the American Bird Conservancy.... At least 38 endangered sea turtles "have washed up dead on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico,"... Comyns told Johnson that he found blue fin tuna larvae "right in the vicinity" of the oil rig's discharge. Even the dispersant BP is using -- Corexit 9500 -- has a "toxicity to early life stages of fish, crustaceans and mollusks" four times greater than petroleum.... Officials shut down additional fishing grounds, effectively putting out of work hundreds more in an industry that is the lifeblood of the region, as well as the Breton National Wildlife Sanctuary. Out in the gulf, birds dove into oily water, dolphins coughed and sharks swam in weird patterns, said marine specialists who have been out on the water tracking the disaster." ...


Thank you, BP, for using the lowest bidder and thereby saving each of us a trillionth of a cent.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 30, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
Oil disaster as metaphor
Some are calling it a "river of oil" now, instead of an oil spill. "Spill" makes it sound like the oil rig exploded, then "spilled" some oil, which is now creeping toward the coast. Instead, the broken rig is pouring 210,000 gallons of oil into the sea each day, and might continue, according to estimates, for two months or more. I could weep, I could scream, I could wax holy as I did not use petroleum products to get to work today. Except for all I know the asphalt I rode my bicycle on -- as well as parts of the bicycle itself (and my helmet), were made of petroleum. Or the keyboard I type on. But I don't want to go there. I want to see this event as larger, as a metaphor. Think of it this way. We humans are the initial explosion. ...




ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 21, 2010
from CBC:
Tuna mercury levels vary by species
Despite their findings about grocery store tuna, the researchers say their study shows that all species exceed or approach levels permissible by Canada, the EU, Japan, the U.S., and the World Health Organization. Mercury is a naturally occurring element and a serious health hazard. Chronic exposure can damage the brain, spinal cord, kidneys, liver and developing fetus. Exposure in the womb can lead to neuro-developmental problems in children. In general, mercury levels are significantly higher in lean fish because it has an affinity for muscle and not fatty tissue. That means higher levels in bluefin akami (sushi from lean, dark red tuna) and all bigeye tuna than in bluefin toro (sushi from fatty tuna) and yellowfin tuna akami. The researchers caution that there seem to be other factors involved. Although yellowfin tuna is very lean, it tends to have less mercury, likely because the fish are typically smaller than other tuna and are harvested at a younger age. In addition, yellowfin are tropical and don't need to eat as much as warm-blooded bigeye tuna and bluefin tuna to maintain their energy level. That could mean yellowfin tuna don't increase their level of toxins as quickly as other species. ...


When did heavy metals in our food become the new normal?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Apr 20, 2010
from Greenwire:
Iconic Status Can't Spare Grand Canyon From Myriad Threats
From the rim, the Grand Canyon, 15 miles wide at its most expansive and a mile deep, looks like one of the wildest, most timeless places on earth... But a closer look reveals a canyon ecosystem that has been deeply altered by human forces. And today, the park is facing an unprecedented convergence of threats, the long-term effects of which are largely unknown... But as more and more people have followed Roosevelt's advice -- about 4.5 million tourists visit the Grand Canyon each year, compared to about 44,000 in 1918, the year Congress elevated the monument to national park status -- pressures on the unique environment have increased in ways Roosevelt likely could not have foreseen. A major upstream dam now regulates the Colorado River's flow through the park and has rendered the river unnaturally clear and cool. And invasive species like salt cedar and trout are crowding out native species such as willow and the endangered humpback chub. ...


Tourists: the most invasive species of all.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 12, 2010
from Michigan Public Radio:
Invasive Species and PCBs
New University of Michigan research finds invasive species are accelerating PCBs up the food chain. Recent dredging of the Saginaw River was intended to remove PCB contaminated soil. U of M fishery biologist David Jude says tests indicate the dredging worked. But he says walleyes are showing signs of increased PCB contamination. Jude traces the problem to two invasive species, zebra mussels and round gobies. "Zebra mussels filter a liter of water a day. They are removing a large amount of the algae out of that water," says Jude, "and as a result of that they are picking up a lot higher concentration of PCBs. There are some really outrageous high concentrations of PCBs in zebra mussels in the Saginaw River." Jude says as other aquatic life eats the invasive mussels, the PCBs move up the food chain. ...


Can we just call it unintended bioremediation?

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Mar 20, 2010
from New Scientist:
Global warming changes natural event: first causal link
For the first time, a causal link has been established between climate change and the timing of a natural event - the emergence of the common brown butterfly. Although there have been strong correlations between global warming and changes in the timing of events such as animal migration and flowering, it has been hard to show a cause-and-effect link.... The researchers compared temperature changes in Melbourne - where the butterfly is common - with recorded observations of the first brown butterfly to be seen in the spring since the 1940s. With each decade, the butterflies emerged 1.6 days earlier and Melbourne heated by 0.14 C. Overall, the butterfly now emerges on average 10.4 days before it did in the 1940s, says Kearney. "And we know the rise in air temperature links to butterfly emergence in a cause-and-effect pattern." ...


I'm not prepared for a butterfly in a coal mine.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 3, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Giant squid invade California
Giant squid weighing up to 60 pounds (27 kilograms) have swum into waters off Newport Beach and are being caught by sport fishermen by the hundreds. The squid were noticed last week and fishermen started booking twilight fishing trips to catch them the huge creatures.... The Humboldt squid is also called the jumbo squid or jumbo flying squid and squirts ink to protect itself. They can grow up to 100 pounds in weight and six feet long and follow food sources.... But the giant squid is not unknown off the coast of America. In September a record-breaking 19ft-long squid, weighing 103 pounds, was caught off the Gulf of Mexico. ...


If they follow food sources... and this is unprecedented... then what's happening with their normal food sources?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 1, 2010
from AP, via DesdemonaDespair:
Brown pelican migration disrupted, birds starving
Brown pelicans have steadily been expanding north. They typically migrated from Oregon and Washington in October or November, but they lingered until late December last winter. No one is certain why there are still here in late January, but theories range from the weather to an abundance of bait fish in early winter that enticed them to stay. Strong winds and severe storms have limited the pelicans' ability to hunt and dive for food that has since been pushed by currents to deeper waters, Grafe said. "They don't have the energy," Grafe said. "They're so emaciated, so starving." So the pelicans try to survive on bread crumbs or anything else they can get from humans. Typically unapproachable, the birds are surrounding visitors who come to see the breeding plumage -- a look not seen in summer months. ...


Can't someone just buy 'em tickets to LA?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 12, 2010
from Sydney Morning Herald:
Baby boom for deadly 'cockroaches of the sea'
"We're definitely having an irukandji bloom right now, there's no question. We've had at least 15 irukandji stings this season so far, starting December," Dr Gershwin, the director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, said. "Whether they are actually on the increase in Australia, we don't know." "Overseas there is a lot of data that demonstrates that jellyfish are on the increase globally. Overseas ecosystems, one by one, are flipping to jellyfish dominated ecosystems. "But we don't have data in Australia, simply because no one has been researching the question. "We don't have actual quantitative sampling data. We're just not sure here." ... Chemical imbalances in the water from urban run-off, thermal water changes, pollution, over-fishing or the introduction of new aquatic species, which could drive other species to extinction, do not bother the jellyfish. ...


Something is rotten in Ozmark.

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Sun, Oct 4, 2009
from Oregon State University via ScienceDaily:
Loss Of Top Predators Causing Surge In Smaller Predators, Ecosystem Collapse
The catastrophic decline around the world of "apex" predators such as wolves, cougars, lions or sharks has led to a huge increase in smaller "mesopredators" that are causing major economic and ecological disruptions, a new study concludes. The findings, published October 1 in the journal Bioscience, found that in North America all of the largest terrestrial predators have been in decline during the past 200 years while the ranges of 60 percent of mesopredators have expanded. The problem is global, growing and severe, scientists say, with few solutions in sight....In case after case around the world, the researchers said, primary predators such as wolves, lions or sharks have been dramatically reduced if not eliminated, usually on purpose and sometimes by forces such as habitat disruption, hunting or fishing. Many times this has been viewed positively by humans, fearful of personal attack, loss of livestock or other concerns. But the new picture that's emerging is a range of problems, including ecosystem and economic disruption that may dwarf any problems presented by the original primary predators. ...


Life... is just one big game of Jenga.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Sep 12, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
'Unprecedented' level of Portuguese-Man-of-War seen around Britain
MCS said it was the third consecutive year that large numbers of the species have been recorded late in the year on the west coast of the UK. Large swarms of mauve stingers can have economic consequences, the MCS said, killing caged fish in fish farms and making the sea hazardous for bathing, affecting the tourism industry. Peter Richardson, MCS Biodiversity programme manager, said: "Between 2003 and 2006 the MCS jellyfish survey received less than 10 reports of Portuguese-Man-of-War, but in the summers of 2007 and 2008 they started stranding on beaches in the South West in greater numbers. This summer we have received over 60 reports involving hundreds of Portuguese-Man-of-War from Devon, Cornwall and Wales, many more than in previous years, with individuals this year being reported as far north as the Isle of Man." ...


These Portuguese Gangs-of-War are expanding their territory.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Sep 6, 2009
from New Scientist:
Pain-free animals could take suffering out of farming
"If we can't do away with factory farming, we should at least take steps to minimise the amount of suffering that is caused," says Adam Shriver, a philosopher at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. In a provocative paper published this month, Shriver contends that genetically engineered pain-free animals are the most acceptable alternative.... "I'm offering a solution where you could still eat meat but avoid animal suffering."... ...


I'm... speechless. And it's painful.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Aug 5, 2009
from via ScienceDaily:
Earth's Biogeochemical Cycles, Once In Concert, Falling Out Of Sync
What do the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone," global climate change, and acid rain have in common? They're all a result of human impacts to Earth's biology, chemistry and geology, and the natural cycles that involve all three. On August 4-5, 2009, scientists who study such cycles -- biogeochemists -- will convene at a special series of sessions at the Ecological Society of America (ESA)'s 94th annual meeting in Albuquerque, N.M.... Now, with global warming and other planet-wide impacts, biogeochemical cycles are being drastically altered. Like broken gears in machinery that was once finely-tuned, these cycles are falling out of sync. ...


Oy. Pass me the Koyaanisqatsi stomach medicine.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 21, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk, via DesdemonaDespair:
Giant jellyfish bloom hits Sea of Japan
"The arrival is inevitable," Professor Shinichi Ue, from Hiroshima University, told the Yomiuri newspaper. "A huge jellyfish typhoon will hit the country." The vicious creatures, which would not be out of place in a sci-fi adventure, poison fish, sting humans and have even been known to disabling nuclear power stations by blocking the seawater pumps used to cool the reactors. Nomura's jellyfish first arrived in Japanese waters in 2005 when fisherman out looking for anchovies, salmon and yellowtail began finding large numbers of the gelatinous creatures in their nets. The larger specimens would destroy the nets while the fish caught alongside them would be left slimy and inedible.... Scientists believe the influx could be caused by overfishing, pollution or rising ocean temperatures which have depleted the kinds of fish that normally prey on Nomura's jellyfish at the polyp stage, thereby keeping down numbers. Another theory suggests that seas heated by global warming are better suited for breeding, multiplying the creature's numbers. ...


What an ugly canary!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 15, 2009
from Associated Press:
Are fireflies leaving?
In parts of the world where firefly populations have been monitored for a long time, such as Japan, their numbers are down. And scientists think the same might be true in the United States. "You hear people saying, growing up I saw fireflies all the time, now I don't see them anymore," says Christopher Cratsley, a professor at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts who studies them. Are fireflies disappearing? Answering that question is part of the goal of Firefly Watch, based at the Museum of Science in Boston. In the first year of the program last year, more than 1,400 people provided their own observations from as far away from Boston as Texas, Kansas and even India. ...


Maybe they're still around, but lighting less -- to conserve energy!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, May 3, 2009
from New York Times:
As Bats Die, Closing Caves to Control a Fungus
The federal Forest Service is preparing to close thousands of caves and former mines in national forests in 33 states in an effort to control a fungus that has already killed an estimated 500,000 bats. A Forest Service biologist, Becky Ewing, said an emergency order was issued last week for caves in 20 states from Minnesota to Maine. A second order covering the Forest Services 13-state Southern region should be issued this month. The sites will be closed for up to a year, Ms. Ewing said.... Bats play a important role in keeping insects like mosquitoes under control. Bats eat from April to October, usually consuming their body weight in bugs each night. Ms. Ewing said the loss of 500,000 bats meant 2.4 million pounds of bugs not eaten in a year. ...


I'm afraid this is closing the bat-barn doors after the bat-cows have fled.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 29, 2009
from U.S. News and World Report:
The Truth Behind Global Jellyfish Swarms
Large swarms of jellyfish and other gelatinous animals -- sometimes covering hundreds of square miles of ocean -- have recently been reported in many of the world's prime vacation and fishing destinations.... Are human-caused environmental problems promoting population explosions of jellies? Various types of environmental problems may promote the formation of jelly swarms. These problems include pollution, the overharvesting of fish, the introduction of non-native jelly species into new habitats, the addition of artificial substrate (like fishing reefs, and various offshore platforms) in the ocean and climate change. ...


Let's not float to conclusions. There's not really proof that we're to blame.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 23, 2009
from American Chemical Society:
Off-Balance Ocean
Marine scientists who have measured the pH of the ocean's surface waters for decades see that it has been dropping. They say that the pH is currently about 8.1, down from about 8.2 in the 18th century. If CO2 emissions continue at current rates, they expect the pH to fall by approximately 0.3 more units in the next 50-100 years. And as the ocean becomes more acidic, scientists anticipate myriad changes to the ocean's chemistry.... For example, almost all reaction rates are pH dependent, so acidification may change processes in the ocean ranging from enzyme activity to the adsorption of metals onto particle surfaces in seawater... Many sea organisms without shells, such as anemones and jellyfish, may be especially susceptible to even the smallest changes in ocean pH because their internal pH tends to vary with that of the surrounding seawater. These organisms cannot actively regulate their internal pH as mammals do. ...


ApocHaiku:
we apologize
that our carbon bootprint now
tramples the ocean


ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 17, 2009
from Mother Jones:
What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us
Nowadays when species obey the commandment to "be fruitful and multiply, to fill the waters in the seas, to let the birds multiply on the Earth," all is decidedly not good. Proliferation on a biblical scale generally signals biological apocalypse, what scientists call invasionthe establishment and spread of introduced species in places they've never lived before. Species have always been on the move. But they've also been held in check by Earth's geographical barriers, like mountains and oceans. Today the rate of invasions has skyrocketed because of our barrier-hopping technologyjets, ships, trains, cars, which transport everything from mammals to microorganisms far beyond their natural ranges. The process is further accelerated by global climate change, that enormous human experiment unwittingly redistricting the natural world. The results devastate both planetary and human healthmost disease organisms, from influenza to malaria, are invaders over most of their range -- and few invasions can be stopped once they're successfully established. Biological invasions are now second only to habitat loss as a cause of extinction -- the leading cause of the extinction of birds and the second-leading cause of the extinction of fish. Twenty percent of vertebrate species facing extinction are doing so because of pressures from invasive predators or competitors. In a classic example, brown tree snakes arrived in Guam (snakeless but for a worm-sized insectivore) sometime after World War II and systematically ate 15 bird species into extinction while consuming enough small reptiles and mammals to redesign the food web. They also began traveling an expanding network of power lines, electrocuting themselves and causing about 200 power failures annually. In all, invasive species are estimated to cost $1.4 trillion each year. ...


For some reason I can't hear what they're trying to tell us. What? Must be nothing.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Dec 13, 2008
from NSF, via EurekAlert:
New online report on massive jellyfish swarms released
Massive swarms of stinging jellyfish and jellyfish-like animals are transforming many world-class fisheries and tourist destinations into veritable jellytoriums that are intermittently jammed with pulsating, gelatinous creatures. Areas that are currently particularly hard-hit by these squishy animals include Hawaii, the Gulf of Mexico, the east coast of the U.S., the Bering Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, Australia, the Black Sea and other European seas, the Sea of Japan, the North Sea and Namibia.... From large swarms of potentially deadly, peanut-sized jellyfish in Australia to swarms of hundreds of millions of refrigerator-sized jellyfish in the Sea of Japan, suspicion is growing that population explosions of jellyfish are being generated by human activities. ...


Refrigerator-sized jellyfish in the hundreds of millions? Is it possible they are now predator-free?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Oct 24, 2008
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Salt levels in the ocean reflect human-induced climate change
Global warming is changing levels of salt in the ocean leading to different weather patterns on land, meteorologists have found.... In the subtropical zone salt has increased to a level outside natural variability over the last 20 years, suggesting less rainfall and increased evaporation caused by human-induced climate change. However in the North Atlantic, where there are more changeable weather patterns, an increase in salt levels was put down to natural variation. ...


Add to that the salt from my tears.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 14, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Bleak warning that UK fish face extinction
A hidden catastrophe is unfolding off the coasts of Britain which could leave our seas filled with only algae and jellyfish, a leading conservation organisation warns today. The Marine Conservation Society says severe overfishing is the biggest environmental threat facing Britain and is having a profound effect on marine ecosystems. The warning comes in Silent Seas, a report released as the government prepares its marine bill for parliament.... Simon Brockington, head of conservation at the MCS, said: "There's a moral imperative: we simply shouldn't be living in such a way that drives species to extinction." ...


Not only other species, Simon: ourselves, too.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jul 27, 2008
from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:
Change in the land of frozen ground, fish and hardy trees
"Alaska is changing, and not just in the booming suburbs or shrinking villages, but in the trees on the hillsides, the fish in the oceans, and the climate itself -- the very things that make Alaska what it is. The spruce and birch of the boreal forest are struggling with warm summers, and shrubs are moving into the tundra. Grizzly bear, moose, and king salmon are showing up in places they haven't been seen before, and subtropical fish are taking fishermen's bait in the Gulf of Alaska." ...


Seward's Icebox has come unplugged.

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Wed, Jul 23, 2008
from TIME:
When Jellyfish Attack
Beaches from Marseille to Monaco have been plagued this summer by millions of the gelatinous invaders, whose burning stings have sent scores of holiday-makers fleeing the surf with yelps of pain since large numbers of jellyfish were first sighted along France's coast in June. And those menacing the shorelines are simply the outriders of giant shoals that marine biologists have identified hovering between Corsica and France's southern shores.... Overfishing and other destructive human activity have prompted the prolific multiplication of jellyfish by decimating their natural predators: tuna, sharks and turtles. ...


A new status symbol:
"Oh yes, I got these stings swimming off Monaco."

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 15, 2008
from Muskegon Chronicle:
Zebra, quagga mussels cross Continental Divide
The Great Lakes' mussel pain has gone nationwide. European zebra and quagga mussels imported to the lakes by ocean freighters in the mid-1980s have crossed the Continental Divide and spread to California. This comes as the population of quagga mussels has multiplied dramatically in the Great Lakes in recent years, disrupting the fish food chain, fueling algae blooms that soil beaches and botulism outbreaks that have killed more than 70,000 fish-eating birds. ...


Uh-oh. The mollusk Mafia are
musseling in on new territory.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jun 27, 2008
from University of Rhode Island, via EurekAlert:
Climate change causing significant shift in composition of coastal fish communities
A detailed analysis of data from nearly 50 years of weekly fish-trawl surveys in Narragansett Bay and adjacent Rhode Island Sound has revealed a long-term shift in species composition, which scientists attribute primarily to the effects of global warming. According to Jeremy Collie, professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography, the fish community has shifted progressively from vertebrate species (fish) to invertebrates (lobsters, crabs and squid) and from benthic or demersal species those that feed on the bottom to pelagic species that feed higher in the water column. "This is a pretty dramatic change"... said Collie. ...


Life's going to where the rent is cheap
(though it's a tough neighborhood).

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Fri, Jun 6, 2008
from Chronicle-Herald (Canada):
What's behind huge plankton growth?
They're looking for answers to explain last year's "phenomenal" growth of phytoplankton in coastal waters off Nova Scotia particularly in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Cabot Strait and Scotian Shelf. "It was incredible," Glen Harrison, head of the Ocean Research and Monitoring Section, part of BIOs Ecosystem Research Division, said of the annual biological spring bloom. "It stood out," he said after comparing satellite imagery and oceanographic data of previous blooms over the past 10 years. "When we really see something like that -- a big signal -- we know something has changed in the environment." ...


No answers yet -- but let's hope it's a self-correctional Gaia moment, rather than Gaian reflux.

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Wed, Jun 4, 2008
from Times Online (UK):
Wasps on the rise in Alaska as climate warms
Wasps used to be an uncommon sight in Fairbanks until two years ago. Then huge numbers of them swarmed on the city, ten times more than normal. The number of stings grew so bad that outdoor school events were cancelled, 178 patients were treated in hospital for stings and two people died. A study now reveals that wasp stings across northern Alaska have increased sevenfold over the past few years. ...


This kind of biodiversity is not what we want.

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Fri, Apr 18, 2008
from Reuters:
Freshening of deep Antarctic waters worries experts
"Scientists studying the icy depths of the sea around Antarctica have detected changes in salinity that could have profound effects on the world's climate and ocean currents... Voyage leader Steve Rintoul said his team found that salty, dense water that sinks near the edge of Antarctica to the bottom of the ocean about 5 km (3 miles) down was becoming fresher and more buoyant. So-called Antarctic bottom water helps power the great ocean conveyor belt, a system of currents spanning the Southern, Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans that shifts heat around the globe....If these currents were to slow or stop, the world's climate would eventually be thrown into chaos." ...


The great conveyor belt may soon be closed for repairs. Except no repair-person can fix that.

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Wed, Mar 26, 2008
from BBC (UK):
Plastic and the Midway albatross
The Midway Islands are home to some of the world's most valuable and endangered species and they all are at risk from choking, starving or drowning in the plastic drifting in the ocean. Nearly two million Laysan albatrosses live here and researchers have come to the staggering conclusion that every single one contains some quantity of plastic. About one-third of all albatross chicks die on Midway, many as the result of being mistakenly fed plastic by their parents. ...


The numbers of dead albatrosses hanging from humanity's necks
just keeps increasing.

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Sun, Mar 2, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Scientists warn of new plague of jellyfish in Spain
"The problem seen on the beaches is not the main concern for scientists," said Professor Gili, "For us the major worry is the global disequilibrium in the sea caused by over-fishing." As a result of over-fishing, the jellyfish do not have to face their usual predators and competitors, which usually regulate population growth. Numbers of large fish such as swordfish and red tuna, which eat jellyfish, have been drastically reduced by bad fishing practices, as have the smaller fish, such as sardines and whitebait, which compete for food with the stingers.... "Spectacular growth has been found in jellyfish populations in Japan, Namibia, Alaska, Venezuela, Peru, Australia ... this is an international ecological problem," Gili said. ...


Perhaps we have to figure out
how to make jellyfish gumbo.
Mmmm.

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