May 17, 2011, from Environmental Health News
Breathing traffic air pollution while commuting during rush hour affects airway function in drivers and bus riders but not bikers, report researchers in the journal Epidemiology. Even though the bikers inhaled more air - and more particulates - during their two-hour commutes, they didn't experience the airflow declines seen in the bus and car riders.
Researchers found the vehicle commuters who inhaled more particulates did worse on the breathing tests: they exhaled less volume of air with higher levels of nitrogen oxide. These measures indicate restricted and inflamed airways. The breathing effects were associated with the short-term exposure to particulate matter (PM10) and soot.
May 17, 2011, from Associated Press
Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state media called fields of "land mines."
About 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres of melon, China Central Television said in an investigative report.
Prices over the past year prompted many farmers to jump into the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, though it has been widely available for some time, CCTV said.
Chinese regulations don't forbid the drug, and it is allowed in the U.S. on kiwi fruit and grapes. But the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers.
May 17, 2009, from Newark Star-Ledger
...the amount of oil illegally dumped by oceangoing ships has a far greater impact on the environment than accidental spills. Some estimates... put shipboard waste-dumping at more than 88 million gallons a year -- some eight times the amount of crude oil spilled when the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound 20 years ago.
Sludge filtered out from the low-grade fuel burned by many ships is particularly bad for the environment. It is supposed to be incinerated or off-loaded in port... One study has estimated 300,000 seabirds are killed annually along Canada's Atlantic coast from the type of routine discharge of oily waste, federal officials said. A chemical "oil fingerprint" analysis conducted by the Coast Guard found the bilge waste from one ship charged with environmental crimes was consistent with oil found on nearby beaches.
May 17, 2009, from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As federal regulators hold fast to their claim that a chemical in baby bottles is safe, e-mails obtained by the Journal Sentinel show that they relied on chemical industry lobbyists to examine bisphenol A's risks, track legislation to ban it and even monitor press coverage.
In one instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's deputy director sought information from the BPA industry's chief lobbyist to discredit a Japanese study that found it caused miscarriages in workers who were exposed to it. This was before government scientists even had a chance to review the study.... The FDA relied on two studies - both paid for by chemical makers - to form the framework of its draft review declaring BPA to be safe.
May 17, 2015, from PhysOrg
Offshore the Svalbard archipelago, methane gas is seeping out of the seabed at the depths of several hundred meters. These cold seeps are a home to communities of microorganisms that survive in a chemosynthetic environment - where the fuel for life is not the sun, but the carbon rich greenhouse gas....
There is a large, and relatively poorly understood, community of methane-consuming bacteria in this environment. They gorge on the gas, control its concentration in the ocean, and stop it from reaching the ocean surface and released into the atmosphere....
"We were able to show that strength and variability of ocean currents control the prevalence of methanotrophic bacteria", says Lea Steinle from University of Basel and the lead author of the study, "therefore, large bacteria populations cannot develop in a strong current, which consequently leads to less methane consumption."
May 17, 2012, from Des Moines Register
Heavy rainfall is falling more often in the Midwest and severe flooding has doubled in the last half-century, according to a report by two environmental groups.
The study was released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. The research concludes storms that led to flooding that swamped Cedar Rapids in 2008 and that forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to blow up a Mississippi River levee to save Cairo, Ill., in 2011 are part of a growing climate trend.
Between 1961 and 2011, Iowa had a 32 percent increase in storms that brought 3 or more inches of rain in 24 hours, said the report, titled, "Doubled Trouble: More Midwestern Extreme Storms."¯
May 17, 2009, from Associated Press
The rampant growth of urban slums around the world and weather extremes linked to climate change have sharply increased the risks from "megadisasters" such as devastating floods and cyclones, a U.N. report said Sunday.
The study — which examines natural disaster trends and strategies to reduce potential catastrophes — also noted that millions of people in rural areas are at higher risk from disasters such as landslides where forests have been stripped away or crippling droughts blamed on shifting rainfall patterns.
Much of nearly 200-page report restates warnings from previous studies about unchecked urban growth and shortsighted rural planning. But it also seeks to sharpen the apparent link between climate change and the severity and frequency of major natural disasters including severe droughts and epic storms.
May 17, 2011, from Xinhua News Agency
A lingering drought in Central China's Hubei province has rendered 1,392 reservoirs virtually useless as only dead water remains in them, said the local water authority Monday.
Known as the "land of a thousand lakes" and a major producer of grain and cotton in the country, Hubei is suffering from a drought that has lasted for five months.
As of Sunday, water in four medium-sized and 1,388 small-sized reservoirs had dropped below the allowable discharge level for irrigation and other purposes...the drought had left about 315,000 people and 97,300 livestock in the province short of drinking water.
May 17, 2009, from National Geographic
It is the simplest, most natural of acts, akin to breathing and walking upright. We sit down at the dinner table, pick up a fork, and take a juicy bite, oblivious to the double helping of global ramifications on our plate. Our beef comes from Iowa, fed by Nebraska corn. Our grapes come from Chile, our bananas from Honduras, our olive oil from Sicily, our apple juice—not from Washington State but all the way from China. Modern society has relieved us of the burden of growing, harvesting, even preparing our daily bread, in exchange for the burden of simply paying for it. Only when prices rise do we take notice. And the consequences of our inattention are profound....High prices are the ultimate signal that demand is outstripping supply, that there is simply not enough food to go around. Such agflation hits the poorest billion people on the planet the hardest, since they typically spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food. Even though prices have fallen with the imploding world economy, they are still near record highs, and the underlying problems of low stockpiles, rising population, and flattening yield growth remain. Climate change -- with its hotter growing seasons and increasing water scarcity -- is projected to reduce future harvests in much of the world, raising the specter of what some scientists are now calling a perpetual food crisis.