Archive for June 20th, 2015

Ghana destroys hundreds of homes in capital in bid to prevent floods

Reuters: Bulldozers razed hundreds of homes and businesses in the poor Sodom and Gomorrah neighborhood of Ghana's capital on Saturday so the authorities can start widening a lagoon to prevent a repeat of this month's deadly floods. Some residents said security forces sprayed them with tear gas after they threw stones to protect their livelihoods from the bulldozers. By evening, thousands were stranded in the rain amid rubble and household goods strewn for more than a mile. "What they have done is not...

Earth stands on brink of its sixth mass extinction and fault is ours

Guardian: Life on Earth is in trouble. That much we know. But how bad have things become – and how fast are events moving? How soon, indeed, before the Earth’s biological treasures are trashed, in what will be the sixth great mass extinction event? This is what Gerardo Caballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his colleagues have assessed, in a paper that came out on Friday. These are extraordinarily difficult questions. There are many millions of species, many elusive and rare, and inhabiting...

Residents Fight To Block Fracked Gas In New York’s Finger Lakes

National Public Radio: New York state's Seneca Lake is the heart of the Finger Lakes, a beautiful countryside of steep glacier-carved hills and long slivers of water with deep beds of salt. It's been mined on Seneca's shore for more than a century. The Texas company Crestwood Midstream owns the mine now, and stores natural gas in the emptied-out caverns. It has federal approval to increase the amount, and it's seeking New York's OK to store 88 million gallons of propane as well. That's definitely not OK for a growing...

Fracking poses ’significant’ risk to humans and should be temporarily banned across EU

Independent: A major new scientific study has concluded that the controversial gas extraction technique known as fracking poses a “significant” risk to human health and British wildlife, and that an EU-wide moratorium should be implemented until widespread regulatory reform is undertaken. The damning report by the CHEM Trust, the British charity that investigates the harm chemicals cause humans and wildlife, highlights serious shortcomings in the UK’s regulatory regime, which the report says will only get...

Climate Change Impacts Western Wildfires

CBS: As ocean temperatures warm, rain and snowstorms become more intense, but may also come less often, according to distinguished senior science Dr. Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Those are changes the people who fight wildfires across the nation have noticed. "The climate is changing. I mean if you look at the last 100 years the average temperature has increased, if you looked at the last 30 years the average temperature has increased," said Rod Moraga, a wildfire...

Rise In CO2 Could Restrict Growing Days for Crops

Climate News Network: The positive consequences of climate change may not be so positive. Although plants in the colder regions are expected to thrive as average global temperatures rise, even this benefit could be limited. Some tropical regions could lose up to 200 growing days a year, and more than two billion rural people could see their hopes wither on the vine or in the field. Even in temperate zones, there will be limits to extra growth. Plants quicken, blossom and ripen as a response to moisture, warmth and...

When Did the End Begin?

Science for Us: A while back, I got invited by an artist friend to her loft for a Sunday-afternoon discussion she was hosting on the Anthropocene. I RSVP’d “yes,” enthusiastically, even though I wasn’t precisely sure what the term meant. The definition I’d sort of assumed — the age in which mankind had managed to overwhelm the world — had come to me almost through osmosis, from having encountered the term in journals, magazines, song lyrics. It was like a song that had been playing on the radio so often that I could...

The shale industry could be swallowed by its own debt

Bloomberg: The debt that fueled the U.S. shale boom now threatens to be its undoing. Drillers are devoting more revenue than ever to interest payments. In one example, Continental Resources Inc., the company credited with making North Dakota’s Bakken Shale one of the biggest oil-producing regions in the world, spent almost as much as Exxon Mobil Corp., a company 20 times its size. The burden is becoming heavier after oil prices fell 43 percent in the past year. Interest payments are eating up more than...

Will Pope Francis Climate Encyclical Change the World?

LiveScience: Pope Francis has drawn the world's attention with a new encyclical that urges action on climate change. But will it have an impact? The papal letter, titled "Laudato si," or "On Care for Our Common Home," paints a bleak picture of Earth as sick and poisoned at almost every level. "The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," Pope Francis wrote in the document, which is typically sent to bishops of all Roman Catholic churches. [6 Unexpected Effects...

Earth entering sixth extinction phase

Independent: The planet is entering a new period of extinction with top scientists warning that species all over the world are “essentially the walking dead” – including our own. The report, authored by scientists at Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley universities, found that vertebrates were vanishing at a rate 114 times faster than normal. In the damning report, published in the Science Advances journal, researchers note that the last similar event was 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs disappeared, most...