Archive for June 19th, 2015

Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change an awe-inspiring document

Globe and Mail: First, you have to consider the profound weirdness of the situation we find ourselves in. Here is an institution founded on the mystical precepts of virgin birth and transubstantiation, trying to prove to disbelievers the very science that has been staring us in the eye for decades. The Catholic Church, which still clings to miracles and exorcism and continues to turn mortals into saints, also acknowledges that climate change is man-made, empirically proven, and is devastating to the world - concepts...

Firefighters battle massive blazes from Alaska to drought-hit California

Reuters: Firefighters were working on Friday to contain several massive wildfires raging from Alaska to drought-hit California that have forced hundreds of people to evacuate from their homes and damaged dozens of structures. The so-called Lake Fire in a mountainous national forest outside Los Angeles had swelled to 11,000 acres (4,500 hectares) on Friday from 7,500 acres (3,000 hectares) the day before as it scorched old-growth timber on steep slopes and threatened some 150 structures, the San Bernardino...

California water district challenges cutbacks in water for farms

Reuters: Sharon Bernstein

Research roadmap traces the path to ’smart’ fire fighting

ScienceDaily: When responding to the more than 1.2 million blazes reported annually, the nation's firefighters usually start with a dangerous disadvantage: They often lack critical information -- even something as basic as a floor plan -- that could be vitally important in mounting the most effective and safest attack. That information gap could be erased with today's communication, computing, sensor and networking technologies according to a new Research Roadmap for Smart Fire Fighting. Prepared by the National...

Lake fire in California burns over 11,000 acres

ScienceDaily: The Lake Fire located in San Bernardino National Forest was reported just before 4:00 p.m. on June 17. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. It is approximately 11,000 acres in size and burning in timber. It is currently 10 percent contained. There are approximately 150 structures threatened, however no structures are believed to be damaged or destroyed at this time. Big Bear High School faculty and students had to relocate their graduation ceremony due to the fire's proximity. Making...

Sixth mass extinction is here: Humanity’s existence threatened

ScienceDaily: There is no longer any doubt: We are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity's existence. That is the bad news at the center of a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Ehrlich and his co-authors call for fast action to conserve threatened species, populations and habitat, but warn that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. "[The study]...

Dust from abandoned Cliffs’ mine casts pall over eastern Canadian town

Reuters: Heavy dust clouds blowing from Cliffs Natural Resources' abandoned Wabush iron ore mine into a small township in the eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is putting a focus on the liability of miners that seek creditor protection and walk away from assets. Iron ore and coal miner Cliffs Natural Resources Inc announced in February 2014 it was shutting down its Wabush mine. This year it sought creditor protection for its Canadian assets. The fate of the deserted mine is in limbo...

Pope calls for action on climate change, biodiversity loss

Mongabay: In a letter being widely heralded by environmentalists, yesterday Pope Francis called on world leaders to address threats to the planet, including climate change and species extinction. Notably, the leader of the Catholic Church singled out "human activity" as the main driver of these threats. Calling climate change an urgent challenge and a danger that will disproportionately affect the world's poorest people, Pope Francis spoke of a need for a fundamental rethink of how we produce energy and...

Looking to beat back encroaching desert, Chile preserves forests

Reuters: As part of efforts to counteract desertification and erosion brought about by climate change, Chile will invest $250 million to plant vast tracks of native forest, the national forestry agency said on Friday. Home to the Atacama desert, the world's driest, Chile will plant trees on 100,000 hectares. The forestry agency Conaf will also incorporate a similar amount of forest in the 13 million hectares it already manages as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. "Some $1.5...

Humans creating sixth great extinction animal species, say scientists

Guardian: The modern world is experiencing a “sixth great extinction” of animal species even when the lowest estimates of extinction rates are considered, scientists have warned. The rate of extinction for species in the 20th century was up to 100 times higher than it would have been without man’s impact, they said. Many conservationists have been warning for years that a mass extinction event akin to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs is occurring as humans degrade and destroy habitats. But the...