September 27, 2012, from PhysOrg
The world's coral reefs have become a zombie ecosystem, neither dead nor truly alive, and are on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation according to an academic from The Australian National University.
Professor Roger Bradbury, an ecologist from the Crawford School of Public Policy in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, said overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion. "The scientific evidence for this is compelling and unequivocal, but there seems to be a collective reluctance to accept the logical conclusion--that there is no hope of saving the global coral reef ecosystem," he said. "There is no real prospect of changing the trajectory of coral reef destruction in less than 20 to 50 years. In short, these forces are unstoppable and irreversible. "By persisting in the false belief that coral reefs have a future, we grossly misallocate the funds needed to cope with the fallout from their collapse. Money isn't spent to study what to do after the reefs are gone."
September 27, 2011, from Washington Post
A senator who opposes federal regulation on philosophical grounds is single-handedly blocking legislation that would strengthen safety rules for oil and gas pipelines, a bill that even the pipeline industry and companies in his own state support.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul's opposition to the bill hasn't wavered even after a gas pipeline rupture last week shook people awake in three counties in his home state of Kentucky. Paul, a tea party ally who shares with his father, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a desire to shrink the role of the federal government, won't discuss his role in stymieing the bill. But industry lobbyists, safety advocates and Senate aides said he is the only senator who is refusing to agree to procedures that would permit swift passage of the measure.
September 27, 2011, from Los Angeles Times
You've decided to help your health and the environment by riding your bike to work. Good for you! Sorry to have to deliver the bad news: you may be inhaling more soot.
The amount might be more than twice as much as urban pedestrians, says a pilot study presented Sunday at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress. The study involved five cyclists who regularly biked to work and five pedestrians from London. They ranged in age from 18 to 40 and were healthy nonsmokers.
Researchers analyzed airway microphage cells from the participants' sputum samples. Airway microphage cells guard the body against foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria. The cyclists were found to have 2.3 times the amount of black carbon in their lungs compared with the pedestrians.
September 27, 2009, from Science News
Heavier rainstorms lie in our future. That's the clear conclusion of a new MIT and Caltech study on the impact that global climate change will have on precipitation patterns.... Overall, previous studies have shown that average annual precipitation will increase in both the deep tropics and in temperate zones, but will decrease in the subtropics. However, it's important to know how the frequency and magnitude of extreme precipitation events will be affected, as these heavy downpours can lead to increased flooding and soil erosion.... Model simulations used in the study suggest that precipitation in extreme events will go up by about 6 percent for every one degree Celsius increase in temperature. Separate projections published earlier this year by MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change indicate that without rapid and massive policy changes, there is a median probability of global surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100, with a 90 percent probability range of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees.
September 27, 2015, from Inside Climate News
"We show that the current and projected surface water allocations from the Athabasca River for the exploitation of the Alberta oil sands are based on an untenable assumption of the representativeness of the short instrumental record."...
Tar sands projects are already threatened by a slump in oil prices, as well as pending global action to address climate change. Tar sands drilling is a prominent target of environmental groups and climate activists because the oil emits an estimated three to four times more carbon dioxide when burned than conventional crude. Its water use only adds to the environmental costs.
September 27, 2009, from New Scientist
THERE is a pervading myth that efforts to fight climate change and other environmental perils will be to no avail unless we "do something" about population growth. Even seasoned analysts talk about the threat of "exponential" population growth. But there is no exponential growth. In most of the world fertility rates are falling fast, and the countries where population growth continues are those that contribute least to our planetary predicament.... Yet the arguments still don't fit the reality. The population "bomb" is fast being defused. Women across the poor world are having dramatically fewer babies than their mothers did -- mostly out of choice, not compulsion. Half a century ago, the worldwide average for the number of children a woman had was between five and six. Now she has 2.6. In the face of such a fall it is hard to see what more "doing something" about global population might achieve.... Even if the world population does stabilise soon and starts to glide downwards, that won't solve the world's environmental problems. The real issue is not overpopulation but overconsumption -- mostly in rich countries that have long since given up adding substantial numbers to their population.