Although the past 12 years have seen the warmest 10 years on record, temperatures have remained fairly steady, even while CO2 emissions grew by nearly a third. Temperatures should have been increasing during this period, rather 1998 was tied with 2010 for hottest on record. Now a study suggests why (pdf): sulfur emissions from Asian coal plants (China mostly) are so high they mimic the effects of a volcano which can cause short term cooling by reflecting light back into space. Insidiously, the long-term warming caused by CO2 (coal) has been masked by short-term cooling of sulfur (coal).
The long-polluted New York rivers are getting cleaner, but can still be dangerous to swim in. There are efforts underway to clean up the Bronx River, but that will take years, if not decades. Until then, signs are posted, warning would-be swimmers, yet people still risk sickness to battle the heat. One current safe solution is the Floating Pool Lady, a barge that was remade into an 82-foot-long city parks department swimming pool. She first arrived in the Bronx in 2008, and she'll return to the Bronx in a week. There's a new Big Idea to bring swimmers back into the rivers: the +Pool, a floating swimming pool located within a river, designed with a series exterior walls to filter the river water and make it safe to swim in. While that's in the early design stages, you can take a chance and jump in a swimming hole.
"Ocean Life on the Brink of Mass Extinctions," warns a new comprehensive study from "a 2011 workshop of ocean experts staged by [International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)] and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at Oxford University." The most likely culprits in the unfolding, large-scale disaster? Pollution and climate change, say the experts. What else is new, you say? Well, the schedule's been changed up: "Marine life facing mass extinction 'within one human generation,'... says global panel of scientists." [more inside]
China’s capital is restricting car numbers and pumping money into trains. Is it headed for a less congested future – or already a city beyond help?
Coal cares! "Puff-Puff™ inhalers are available free to any family living within 200 miles of a coal plant, and each inhaler comes with a $10 coupon towards the cost of the asthma medication itself." [more inside]
Yale's 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals.
Essays on mining and its environmental and human health costs in the Fall 2010 Virginia Quarterly Review: Digging Out; Tin Fever; The Pit; Here Everything is Poison, The Solution: Bolivia's Lithium Dream; The Underground Giant: Life in the Hard Rock Mines of Quebec and Ontario; Jharia Burning; Mother of God, Child of Zeus. Editorial: The Price of the Paperless Revolution.
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 Warriors of Qiugang: A Chinese Village Fights Back, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). [more inside]
Every time this guy peels out, God kills a baby panda. So offensive it becomes kinda glorious. (slyt, SFW)
"The world’s oceans have been experiencing enormous blooms of jellyfish, apparently caused by overfishing, declining water quality, and rising sea temperatures. Now, scientists are trying to determine if these outbreaks could represent a “new normal” in which jellyfish increasingly supplant fish.. Total jelly domination would be like turning back the clock to the Precambrian world, more than 550 million years ago."
NASA has some new maps showing air pollution around the world. It shows PM2.5, that is, Particulate Matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size, small enough to get past normal bodily defenses and cause health problems. [more inside]
"Places like Picher are why Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980—better known as the Superfund bill." - Wired Magazine on the most toxic town in America, Picher, OK , and the people who still live there
With the climate bill dead and blame portioned, Ezra Klein asks what happens when congress fails? He concludes that "regulations to reduce carbon emissions are alive and well. The Environmental Protection Agency can attack carbon as a pollutant, and the Obama administration's announcement that efforts to hamstring the EPA will be vetoed suggests that they mean to do exactly that." [more inside]
"I don't see any future for whale species except extinction." A report (pdf) released Thursday by Ocean Alliance noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years. Concentrations of chromium found in some whales was several times higher than the level required to kill healthy cells in a Petri dish. Mercury in some whales was 16 times higher than a typical shark or swordfish, both known for their high mercury levels. Beyond whales, "You could make a fairly tight argument to say that it is the single greatest health threat that has ever faced the human species."
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]
It sounded terribly fun and terribly disgusting at the same time: kayaking the polluted river systems of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex.
Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, long nicknamed the "Lavender Lake" for its copious oil slicks, has gained a new title : Superfund Site. New Yorkers respond with really cool photography. While some developers bow out in light of the recent news, other area developers, hoping for a speedy cleanup of the industrial waste and, uh ... other things ... vow to continue their plans to revitalize the formerly-industrial corridor.
Overambitious eating: Tetrapod Zoology brings us a series of articles on overambitious gluttony by animals. seagull vs phone, small army, doll parts, a perentie trying for a spiky echidna, heron vs. lamprey, roadrunner vs. horned lizard, snake vs. centipede, and real lizard vs. plasic lizard. [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]
25 years on, the industrial disaster at Bhopal's Union Carbide insecticide plant is still poisoning, maiming and killing people [YT]. [more inside]
Lu Guang, a freelance photographer, took disturbing photos of the effects of pollution in China. [more inside]
The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. (warning: photos of dead birds)
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]
The Seattle P-I is known for its in depth, epic, investigative reports. As the print edition closes down this week here is a look at one report that made the PI great: The Health of the Puget Sound. [more inside]
Environmental disaster in Tennessee. On Monday, 5.4 million cubic yards (over 1 billion gallons; the Exxon Valdez oil spill was about 11 million gallons) of toxic coal ash sludge broke through an earthen retaining wall of a holding pond at TVA’s Kingston power plant, damaging 12 homes and covering over 400 acres up to six feet deep.
The City Concealed A video tour of New York's infamously toxic Newtown Creek, with historical illustrations. The creek is the site of a 17 million gallon underground oil-spill (50% larger than Exxon-Valdez) which remains to be cleaned up, resulting in a Supreme Court battle between residents and oil companies. (Previously on MeFi.)
Not that this is a surprise, but the planned congestion charging/public transport scheme in Manchester has been rejected. Perhaps those in favor of the charging should have spent less on their web sites; like the no-campaign people did. You know, with more primary colours and exclamation marks. Instead, they should have spent their money on shark costumes. [more inside]
Smoke and Mirrors: The Subversion of the EPA. "This four-part series details how the Bush administration weakened the EPA. It installed a pliant agency chief, Stephen L. Johnson. Under him, the EPA created pro-industry regulations later thrown out by the courts. It promoted a flawed voluntary program to fight climate change. It bypassed air pollution recommendations from its own scientists to satisfy the White House." [Via Reality Base]
Oil sands will pollute Great Lakes The environmental impacts of Alberta's oil sands will not be restricted to Western Canada, researchers say, but will extend thousands of kilometres away to the Great Lakes, threatening water and air quality around the world's largest body of fresh water. *****Report: How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes Basin***** (pdf) Policy makers around the lakes, in both Canada and the U.S., are largely unaware that the tar sands will lead to massive industrial development in their region, and consequently have no strategy to minimize the environmental impacts. [more inside]
Public television viewers from the seventies may remember being hectored and freaked out by anti-pollution animations. Three of the more catchy and memorable Willie Wimple cartoons (don't kill trees, don't litter, don't pollute the water, lyrics) that scared us away from a lifetime of casual littering were actually directed by Academy Award winning animator Abe Levitow -- also co-director of The Phantom Tollbooth (intro, time song) and director of Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (full movie, songs: we're despicable, all alone in the world) -- as one of his final projects.
sandbag.org.uk is a not-for-profit website that allows members to buy up surplus "permits to pollute" that form the currency of the European Union's emissions trading scheme (or EU ETSs). Members can then "retire" them so that they cannot continue to be traded between the industrial polluters - cement, steel and car manufacturers etc - forced by EU regulation to operate within the system. "I suppose it's a bit like burning money in front of someone so they can't spend it on something bad," says the founder, Bryony Worthington, to the Guardian. [more inside]
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]
According to TIME, there are at least 10 things good about high gas prices. Such as four-day work weeks, less pollution, and fewer traffic deaths.
Rehabilitating Carson: "Why do some people continue to hold Rachel Carson responsible for millions of malaria deaths?" [more inside]
The Olympic Boom is shaping a new Beijing. These fancy new venues and skyscrapers are being built largely by migrant workers facing a harsh reality. The non-stop construction has also threatened to make these "green games" brown. The city may be smoggy and mistreated migrant workery now, but don't you worry, a series of measures will be taken to curb the pollution for the events.
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]
The Hanford Site in SoutheastWashington (located on the Columbia River) is considered the dirtiest place on earth. 177 Underground storage tanks hold over 50 million gallons of radioactive and toxic waste. And they are leaking. [more inside]
A two-ton 21-mpg 8-passenger V8 Chevy Tahoe? America, meet your 2008 Green Car of the Year!
Superfund365 is an online data visualization application by Brooke Singer. Each day for the next year, Superfund365 will visit one of the EPA’s Superfund sites and collect data on contaminants, corporate responsibility, photos of the sites, and stats on local inhabitants. In the end, it will have 365 visualizations of some of the worst toxic sites in the U.S. [Via The Underwire.]
Not ones for subtlety, the Death of Environmentalism guys (previously) are at it again with a Manifesto for a New Environmentalism. Their Apollo Alliance is getting early support from both Clinton and Obama. But it's not the only "new environmentalism" out there. There's this New Environmentalism, while others would include both market-based approaches among the the idols of old environmentalism.
Live, From Outer Space: rural fires [1, 2], The Haze in China [1 ,2, 3] and its movement, aerosols, and the brothers carbon monoxide [a photochemical smog agent] and carbon dioxide.