Author Archive

Map: Here’s where the world is running out of groundwater

Vox: Some of the world's most important farming regions rely on freshwater from large underground aquifers that have filled up slowly over thousands of years. Think of the Central Valley aquifer system in California. Or the Indus basin in Pakistan and India. This groundwater is particularly valuable when rain is scarce or during droughts. But that groundwater may not last forever. Data from NASA's Grace satellites suggests that 13 of the world's 37 biggest aquifers are being seriously depleted by irrigation...

Indonesia fires are the biggest eco-disaster in world right now

Vox: One of the worst eco-disasters on the planet is currently unfolding in Indonesia. Over the past two months, thousands of forest and peatland fires have been raging out of control, choking the entire region in a thick, toxic haze. The enormous smoke columns can be seen from space. NASA snapped this satellite pic of peat fires in Borneo on October 19: The fires themselves have been a public-health nightmare, forcing multiple evacuations, killing at least 19, and triggering respiratory illnesses...

Scott Walker wants devolve pollution control to the states. Bad idea.

Vox: These days, it's no surprise to learn that anyone who's anyone in Republican politics opposes efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doesn't even like recycling, so of course he opposed both President Obama's Clean Power Plant rule and his larger climate agenda. But tweeting about Obama's latest moves Monday night, Walker went well beyond opposition to Obama's specific actions and called for an extremely radical remedy -- eliminating the federal role in pollution...

Is there a cancer cluster around the Alberta Tar Sands

Vox: In 2006, Canadian doctor John O’Connor made a startling realization. Specialists had diagnosed three of his patients in the northern Alberta village of Fort Chipewyan with cholangiocarcinoma -- a deadly cancer of the bile duct. The same cancer had killed his own father years earlier in Ireland. Only about one in 100,000 Canadians contracts this type of cancer, so the likelihood of three cases in a town of about 950 was minuscule. O’Connor suspected pollution from Alberta’s tar sands, 100 miles...

2014 was the hottest year on record, Japanese scientists say

Vox: 2014 was Earth's hottest year since records began in 1891, according to new data from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA): The global average temperature in 2014 was about 0.63°C (or 1.1°F) hotter than the average during the twentieth century, JMA found. Its data is based on both satellite and ground readings. The second hottest year in JMA's records was 1998 -- a big El Niño year -- followed by 2013, 2010, and 2005. All ten hottest years have come since 1998. Climate scientists expect...

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...

Desert residents fear fracking dangers might outweigh the benefits

Vox: Arnold Escobar leaves his apartment under the hot sun of Odessa, Texas, a desert region abundant in oil nicknamed the Texas Petroplex, drives past oil derricks and pumpjacks, to a remote well site where heavy machinery whirs loudly. He slowly walks along the plant to get to the two-ton blender he operates and starts his work day, a long shift that can last 48 hours--not worried about any dangers. “I feel like my job is an important one,” said Escobar, 24. Escobar is a Senior Equipment Operator...