China's Olympic beaches, choked by a plague of green algae. Sez David Suzuki: This is not an unusual occurrence, but it is a symptom of an underlying problem with potential repercussions far more serious than hampering Olympic events. [more inside]
Cross another item off of President Bush's to-do list before he leaves the White House: hobbling the Endangered Species Act and allowing federal agencies to gauge the environmental impact of their projects for themselves. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said the changes were needed to ensure that the ESA would not be used as a "back door" to regulate greenhouse gases.
80 percent of Americans say global warming is real and poses a threat to humanity. Which is good because if the global temperature raises by 4 degrees we're all dead. However only 44 percent would be willing to face any financial hardship in the name of a solution.
Rich people's rooftops in NYC offers a fun birds-eye view into a few sky-high secret decks and gardens. Roofs are the new frontier for innovative urban architects, but they aren't exclusive to the wealthy. All kinds of people and organizations are starting rooftop gardens. See the impressive results that two Chicago denizens had growing heirloom vegetables on their roofs (2). [more inside]
In 1991, the New York Times reported on the development of a new salt-water crop called salicornia that produced seeds rich in high-quality protein and oil. While it was acknowledged as having great potential for becoming a valuable crop in subtropical areas, the LA Times talks about a farmer who thinks the crop could help solve world hunger, provide abundant clean fuel for vehicles and slow global warming. This particular farmer has been touting salicornia for quite some time now, and he seems to have been successful in small-scale operations he's been allowed to lead.
Tropical fish in New York? The Gulf Stream sweeps immature tropical fish up north, and aquariums scoop them up off Long Island. "Catching the fish up north is cheaper and less disruptive to ocean ecosystems than trapping them in the tropics. And the collections are rescue missions of a sort, because these Gulf Stream travelers are unlikely to survive the winter." (New York Times) [more inside]
Can you identify these common plants and animals? A study shows that increasingly, 9- to 11-year-old children can't. Quoth David Attenborough: "The wild world is becoming so remote to children that they miss out, and an interest in the natural world doesn't grow as it should. Nobody is going protect the natural world unless they understand it."
Andy Grove on Our Electric Future - "Energy independence [viz.] is the wrong goal. Here is a plan Americans can stick to." Perhaps some infrastructure spending1,2 is in order? [etc., &c., cf.] [more inside]
Want to know what actions can have the biggest impact on your carbon emissions? Bloom helps you choose actions tailored to your home and lifestyle, then lets you compare them by how much CO2 they save and how cheap they are. With background guides for recycling, organic foods, energy ratings, and emissions. From the BBC.
The ocean gives us life. It gives us oxygen, the rain, food, excitement, wonder, and mystery. The ocean buffers the weather and helps regulate global temperature. It manages vast amounts of our pollutants, contains all kinds of amazing creatures, and supports all life on our planet. But, the ocean is just now beginning to be understood and with that understanding comes the increasing realization that the ocean is in trouble. Marine conservation efforts are outnumbered by the problems. MarineBio is here to call attention to those issues and to provide information to inspire the actions necessary to address them.
Dystopian storytelling is pillar of Western narrative tradition, but this decade has seen a significant shift in the way our apocalypse is told. Orthodox tales of government tyranny are giving way to visions of humans running helpless in the wake of environmental meltdown. From the plausible to the fantastic, most of this fiction remains hauntingly real while the non-fiction can get downright scary. In 2008, the 20th anniversary of climatologist James Hansen's landmark speech before Congress, popular art is beginning to reflect an increasingly bleak public sentiment on the future, playing out some of our worst nightmares. It may be that these writers and directors are wishing for the end of the world, but even so, they are certainly giving voice to the creeping feeling that indeed, we might not make it.
One World Journeys produces exciting and educational photo-documentary expeditions that connect online viewers to unique wilderness areas around the world. Travel to the remote mountain forests of the former Soviet Georgia, track jaguars in Mexico, dive on pristine coral reefs, swim with wild salmon and wildlife of British Columbia and step into the heat of the Sonoran Desert.
In Lester R. Brown's new book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (2008, full-text)) - an update to Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (2006, full-text) - he calls for a war-time mobilization (ch.13) to save global civilization (already showing Early Signs of Decline (ch.6)) from Deteriorating Oil and Food Security (ch.2), Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas (ch.3), Emerging Water Shortages (ch.4), and Natural Systems Under Stress (ch.5)
Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project ― the grizzly bear has had a threatened status for more than 30 years now. Several zones have been established in the northwestern U.S. and Canada to monitor recovery. Kate Kendall of the USGS led a project to investigate recovery through DNA monitoring of the bears. Since the funds dried up, Kate and her team have used remote cameras to capture some interesting footage of bears and other wildlife.
New Kiribati "...will future climate change refugees become a new caste of service sector workers inhabiting a sort of Floating Hotel & Duty Free Mall ... ?" Small island states are on the front line.
Today marks the official 8-language launch of 350.org and the start of global action against climate change. But what does this 350 number even mean? As author Bill McKibben and a chorus of scientific voices suggest, it means everything to the planet. If we want an earth at all, we'll need an Earth at 350.
Yale Environment 360 is an online environment magazine from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. It has a lot of great material, like "Biodiversity in the Balance" by Carl Zimmer and "Carbon’s Burden on the World’s Oceans" by Carl Safina and Marah J. Hardt. [Via Zimmer's blog The Loom]
Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green. Last month, Wired published what it called "10 green heresies" which makes the case for urban living, intensive forest management and, er, air conditioning, among other things.
Before and after sattellite photos (along with much more information) of the effects of climate change over the past 30 years are available through UNEP's (the United Nations Environment Programme) Atlas of Our Changing Environment (Via)
What Is A Species? "To this day, scientists struggle with that question. A better definition can influence which animals make the endangered list."
Rehabilitating Carson: "Why do some people continue to hold Rachel Carson responsible for millions of malaria deaths?" [more inside]
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program has just released "Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.3: The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States." It makes for pretty interesting reading. [more inside]
To Whom It May Concern: If you are reading this then I can only assume that you have removed the pond under which this note is buried... [more inside]
Meet Joules the climate change-sceptic robot. Joules is employed to teach 8-14 year-old school children in the UK about energy use. Joules says: "oil and gas could be in short supply in about 50 years time. The earth is believed to be getting warmer and sea levels apper to be rising. Energy Chest is funded in part by the world's biggest oil company: ExxonMobil. [more inside]
Does riding a bike really help the environment? Mr. Green at the Sierra Club says don't over think it, but a couple of folks trying to measure the energy cycling uses aren't quite sure. There are plenty of excuses for not to riding your bike, but is there a rationale? If you want a go at calculating this yourself, here's a handy guide to the variables. [more inside]
Do You Want To Know RIGHT NOW How You Can Drive Around Using WATER as FUEL and Laugh At Rising Gas Costs, While Reducing Emissions and Preventing Global Warming?
Federal and state government officials and border activists say the garbage dumped in the Sonoran Desert by illegal immigrants and their smugglers is staggering. The cleanup is costing taxpayers millions. The Southern Arizona Project(pdf) is a multi-year program setup by the Bureau of Land Management to mitigate the impacts to the ecology by illegal immigration and smuggling. In 2006 alone, more than 1.18 million pounds of trash was collected along the southern Arizona border.
Ducks die a crude death. Alberta's oilsands (previously) (map) have a new emblem -- hundreds of ducks coated and killed in oily toxic sludge. About 500 birds landed and died in an oil sands pond. The pond full of toxic sludge sits along a major flight path for migrating waterfowl. [more inside]
Are golf courses bad or good for the environment? Chances are the answer you give depends on whether you are actively involved with the game. Representing anti-golf we have the Organic Consumers Association, the Journal of Pesticide Reform (pdf), and the Global Anti-Golf Movement. Speaking on behalf of golf course management the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (pdf) and the United States Golf Association. A group of leading golf and environmental organizations have jointly developed Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States.
Talk about plastic accumulating in the North Pacific gyre has popped up on and off for quite a while now. Vice is running a series on the state of the gyre, as part of their "Toxic Series". Given the fact that most plastics are not biodegradable, we need to start looking more carefully at how much damage we are doing to ourselves through our use of plastic, and what we can do about it. [more inside]
Pond scum saves the planet? In the beginning, there were algae, but there was no oil. Then, from algae came oil. Now, the algae are still there, but oil is fast depleting. In future, there will be no oil, but there will still be algae. ^ Power your ride with pond scum. In some iterations you don't even need light. (we have talked about this before and the fact that CO2 powers the algae production is not insignificant) More details here.
The antidote to LOLbushsuxx0rs. Over the course of the past week, Slate ran a ten (10!)-piece series, "Fixin' It", in which various writers postulated how the course of various aspects of the United States' military, culture, and policies could be redirected for the better. Although the articles are not entirely devoid of Bush criticism, there's mostly a fairly rare focus on the positive actions to be taken from here onward by the next President (whether it be McCain or Obama or Clinton).
Greening the Ghetto. A TED talk (also on YouTube) on environmental justice and urban renewal by Majora Carter, the founder of Sustainable South Bronx organization. She spoke recently at the Aspen Environment Forum. [more inside]
New maps show US fossil fuel emissions aren't where we thought they were. The Vulcan Project collects more accurate data at a higher resolution than previous studies. Explanatory video. via [more inside]
Spread of Prosperity Brings Supply Woes: Slaking China's Thirst Malthusian catastrophe does appear to be at hand, as foreseen by the Club of Rome in 1972 publication of "The Limits of Growth"
Ferocious-looking mystery creature in Tahoe National Forest confirmed to be a California wolverine, thought to be extinct since 1922. A motion-detecting camera snapped a compelling photo behind the beast last month, and the California Department of Fish and Game just confirmed the discovery with a clear profile shot. Notably, both photos appear to show the same animal.
Enjoy life while you can. Because we're doomed. Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable. James Lovelock is still at it. (Previously.)
Biofuels worsen global warming, according to two studies published in Science last week. Current US biofuel policies would double carbon emissions over the gasoline alternative. More details: ScienceExpress fulltext pdf of study #1, powerpoint summary of study #1, abstract of study #2, summary of both, policy recommendations pdf (via: 1, 2). [more inside]
Villagers in the mountains of northern India and Pakistan have been growing their own glaciers for centuries. They're small domesticated glaciers, cultivated by hand, and they provide a reliable source of water for agriculture. Legend has it that they made glaciers to block mountain passes and keep the Mongol Hordes out! More detail in New Scientist - subscription required, but you can probably see this instruction sheet.
Shifting Sands. A great series from the Globe and Mail on the Alberta Tar Sands: An Empire Made of Goo, Black gold, Texas tea, The hollowing out of small Atlantic towns, Where rich and poor Albertas collide, Norway the gold standard for managing oil wealth, The climatic costs of rapid growth.
"It's like having a gun held on you with the hammer back and not knowing when the man's gonna pull the trigger," is the dramatic introduction to Appalachian Voices' coverage on mountaintop removal. The on-line journal is an environmental advocate for the Appalachian mountains, covering topics from air pollution to forest restoration, but also subjects like box turtles, coyotes, poison ivy and timber thieves. They also have a blog.
Each year the world makes about 5 trillion plastic bags(art exhibit) using about 20 billion barrels of oil, each bag able to last thousands of years. In 2007 cities began legislating against plastic bags from outright bans to mandatory surcharges, starting in San Francisco, then Hong Kong, Melbourne and now some countries in Africa, Israel and even the entire country of China are taking similar strides to cut down on the worlds bag obsession. Who's next in 2008?