UN Climate Report: We Must Focus On 'Decarbonization', and It Won't Wreck the Economy - "The basic message is simple: We share a planet. Let's start acting like it." [more inside]
Scientific American reports: "An isolated population of Arctic foxes that dines only on marine animals seems to be slowly succumbing to mercury poisoning." Though a definitive causal link is difficult to establish, an isolated population of arctic foxes on Russia's Mednyi Island is believed to be collapsing due to mercury contamination as a result of its seafood-heavy diet. Where does all that mercury in the environment come from anyway? Why, it's another biproduct of burning fossil fuels, of course, and predictably, rates of mercury pollution are only expected to increase. In some places in the US, even rainwater is showing high levels of contamination. [more inside]
Pennsylvania has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients. This American Life on fracking in Pennsylvania. Fracking: Anatomy of a Free Market Failure. Previously in Pennsylvania. [more inside]
END:CIV [full 75 minute movie] "If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?" [more inside]
Waterlife — No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems one thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something's not quite right with the water. An interactive documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada. [more inside]
The Plastics at SEA: North Atlantic Expedition is currently studying an area in the Atlantic Ocean similar to the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch". [via] [more inside]
Ahead of the global climate talks, nine photographers from the photo agency NOOR photographed climate stories from around the world. Their goal: to document some of the causes and consequences, from deforestation to changing sea levels, as well as the people whose lives and jobs are part of that carbon culture. Warming threatens lifestyle of Russian herders | Refugees flee drought, war in East Africa | Greenland’s shrinking ice hurts natives [more inside]
NASA recently released a series of photographs documenting the loss of the Aral Sea over the past ten years. The Aral Sea could be the poster child for human damage to the ecosystem. In a mere four decades, it has gone from a surface area of 68000 km^2 to less that a quarter of that, with a 10x drop in water volume. As its Wikipedia article points out, this is the equivalent of completely draining two of the five Great Lakes. [more inside]
Altered Oceans: A Primeval Tide of Toxins The fireweed began each spring as tufts of hairy growth and spread across the seafloor fast enough to cover a football field in an hour. When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos.
Ecological impact of Space Shuttle launch exhaust. Aluminum oxide powder, hydrogen chloride, and of course, water vapor, which can form noctilucent clouds. The environmental impact is supposedly minimal.
Mercury Connections: The extent and effects of mercury pollution in northeastern North America. a summary of the major findings reported in a series of 21 papers. Evers, David C. 2005. BioDiversity Research Institute. Gorham, Maine. 28 pages. Mercury Connections is a summary of the major findings reported in a series of 21 papers. These papers are published in: Biogeographical patterns of environmental mercury in northeastern North America. 2005. Ecotoxicology. Volume 14, numbers 1 and 2.
Microscopic fragments of plastic are a "major pollutant", floating in the ocean, settling on seabeds, and washing up onshore - with unknown consequences for marine ecosystems, according to a new study. "We've found this microscopic plastic material at all of the sites we've examined," [lead researcher] Dr Richard C Thompson [of University of Plymouth, UK] said. "Interestingly, the abundance is reasonably consistent. So, it suggests to us that the problem is really quite ubiquitous."
The State of the Nation's Ecosystems - According to a report commissioned five years ago by President Clinton and finally completed and released, the United States may have no streams left that are free from chemical contamination, and about one-fifth of animal species and one-sixth of plant types are at risk of extinction.
Toxic sludge is good for fish! Who says so? The EPA. It makes them flee the polluted area and escape fishermen. That is the basis for the permit issued to the Army Corps of Engineers to dump 200,000 tonnes of sludge in the Potomac. Link from WSJ's Best of the Web.