These maps of water use show why the Western US is in trouble

Vox: The American West has been wrestling with drought for the past 15 years. California is now facing its worst dry spell in at least a century. So, not surprisingly, the question of how best to manage America's scarce freshwater supplies is coming up more frequently. To that end, the Hamilton Project recently published a helpful primer, "Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States." The whole thing's worth reading, but four maps and charts in particular stuck out. For starters, some of the...

Lake Erie Toxic Algae, Blame Climate Change And Invasive Mussels

ThinkProgress: Lake Erie is increasingly plagued by toxic algae blooms each summer, and a new study suggests how climate change and mussels, of all things, may be to blame. On Thursday, the Columbus Dispatch reported on the new research and computer modeling, which show neither rising water temperatures nor runoff from fertilizers and sewage - the traditional causes cited - fully account for the blooms. According to the paper, published in Water Resources Research, climate change may be providing cyanobacteria...

Plastic Particles Harm Freshwater Organisms Too

Nature World: Scientists have become increasingly worried that plastic pollution threatens marine life in the world's oceans, and now new research shows that they have reason to fear it can harm freshwater organisms, too. "The main sources of plastic are on land, so it is important to also look at the effects of plastic on land," Professor Bart Koelmans, leader of the Wageningen University and the IMARES research group behind the study, said in a statement. Previous studies have shown that microplastics...

Sorry, California — winter isn’t going to fix your drought

Climate Desk: California`s crippling drought is not expected to improve over the winter, according to new forecast data released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nearly 60 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought -- the worst category -- NOAA reported. The map below shows that the northern California coast could see some improvement. But in the Central Valley, a critical source of fruits, nuts, and vegetables for the whole country, conditions won`t be getting...

Australia: Climate change forcing rethink on fire risk, RFS chief Shane Fitzsimmons says

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Climate change is having an impact on every level of fire management, the New South Wales rural fire chief has said on the first anniversary of the Blue Mountains bushfires. The NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said with more days of high fire danger, there is now a shrinking window of opportunity to carry out back-burning and other hazard reduction. "If our window of opportunity continues to shrink, in order to get those really important pre-season activities underway...

New disease ‘killing amphibians’

BBC: A deadly new disease has emerged that is wiping out amphibians, scientists report. A number of viruses have been found in northern Spain that are killing frog, toad and newt species. Infected animals can suffer from ulcers on their skin and die from internal bleeding. Researchers fear the strains, which belong to the Ranavirus group, have already spread to other countries. The study is published in the journal Current Biology. Lead author Dr Stephen Price, from University College London,...

Peru glaciers shrink 40% in 44 years: government

Agence France-Presse: Peru's glaciers have shrunk by more than 40 percent since 1970 because of climate change, giving birth to nearly 1,000 new lagoons, national water authority ANA said Thursday. Peru, which is hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP 20, in December, used satellite images to carry out the glacier inventory ahead of the high-level meeting. The worst-affected glacier was 5,200-meter-high (17,000-foot) tourist gem Pastoruri in the Andes mountains, which lost 52 percent of its...

Australia aims to end extinction of native wildlife by 2020

Agence France-Presse: Australia's Environment Minister Greg Hunt has pledged to end the extinction of native mammal species by 2020, with a focus on culprits such as feral cats. Hunt said Australia had the worst rate of mammal loss in the world and the nation's "greatest failure" in environmental policy was protecting threatened species. "Our flora and fauna are part of what makes us Australian," he said in a speech late Wednesday. "I don't want the extinction of species such as the numbat, the quokka, the bilby,...

This proposed pipeline would be even bigger than Keystone XL

Grist: Meet Energy East: It will be 2,858-miles long, putting it right up there with some of the longest pipelines in the world. It would pump about a third more crude than Keystone XL was intended to. It`ll be bigger than the Druzhba pipeline, which carries oil 2,500 miles from Southeast Russia to the rest of Europe. "Bigger" is the point. There`s no sense in extracting crude from Canada`s tar sands if you can`t sell it in extreme bulk, and a big part of selling it is figuring out how to get it to people....

Global natural gas boom alone won’t slow climate change

ScienceDaily: A new analysis of global energy use, economics and the climate shows that without new climate policies, expanding the current bounty of inexpensive natural gas alone would not slow the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the long term, according to a study appearing today in Nature. Because natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal, many people hoped the recent natural gas boom could help slow climate change -- and according to government analyses, natural gas did...