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Our Earth – Eco News Roundup: April 29, 2012

April 29, 2012

Our Earth

Our Earth – Eco News Roundup: April 29, 2012

The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.


How A ‘Western Problem’ Led To New Drilling Rules

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new air pollution rules for the oil and gas industry may seem like odd timing, as President Obama has been trying to deflect Republican criticism that he overregulates energy industries. But the rules weren’t the Obama administration’s idea.

‘Warming hole’ delayed climate change over eastern United States

Climate scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have discovered that particulate pollution in the late 20th century created a “warming hole” over the eastern United States — that is, a cold patch where the effects of global warming were temporarily obscured. While greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane warm Earth’s surface, tiny particles in the air can have the reverse effect on regional scales.

First evaluation of the Clean Water Act’s effects on coastal waters reveals major successes

Levels of copper, cadmium, lead and other metals in Southern California’s coastal waters have plummeted over the past four decades, according to new research from University of Southern California. Samples taken off the coast reveal that the waters have seen a 100-fold decrease in lead and a 400-fold decrease in copper and cadmium. Concentrations of metals in the surface waters off Los Angeles are now comparable to levels found in surface waters along a remote stretch of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

Northern Canada feels the heat – Climate change impact on permafrost zones

Permafrost zones extend over 50% of Canada’s land area. Warming or thawing of permafrost due to climate change could significantly impact existing infrastructure and future development in Canada’s north. Researchers Jennifer Throop and Antoni Lewkowicz at the University of Ottawa, along with Sharon Smith with the Geological Survey of Canada, have published a new study, part of an upcoming special issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences (CJES), that provides one of the first summaries of climate and ground temperature relations across northern Canada.

Do urban ‘heat islands’ hint at trees of future?

City streets can be mean, but somewhere near Brooklyn, a tree grows far better than its country cousins, due to chronically elevated city heat levels, says a new study. The study, just published in the journal Tree Physiology, shows that common native red oak seedlings grow as much as eight times faster in New York’s Central Park than in more rural, cooler settings in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains.

Wind pushes plastics deeper into oceans, driving trash estimates up

While working on a research sailboat gliding over glassy seas in the Pacific Ocean, oceanographer Giora Proskurowski noticed something new: The water was littered with confetti-size pieces of plastic debris, until the moment the wind picked up and most of the particles disappeared. After taking samples of water at a depth of 16 feet (5 meters), Proskurowski, a researcher at the University of Washington, discovered that wind was pushing the lightweight plastic particles below the surface.

Accelerating climate change exerts strong pressure on Europe’s mountain flora

A pan-European study published in Science shows that mountain plants across the continent are moving to higher altitudes. This often results in raised species numbers on mountain tops, when colonizers from lower down start to dwell on the summits. This study, however, also shows that upward shifts can lead to a reduction in species richness. The paper is based on detailed surveys of 66 mountain summits distributed between the north of Europe and the southern Mediterranean Sea.

Almost Seven Million Birds Perish at Communication Towers in North America Each Year

ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2012) — Every year nearly 7 million birds die as they migrate from the United States and Canada to Central and South America, according to a new USC study published on April 25 in the journal PLoS ONE.

Scientists Provide First Large-Scale Estimate of Reef Shark Losses in the Pacific Ocean

ScienceDaily (Apr. 27, 2012) — Many shark populations have plummeted in the past three decades as a result of excessive harvesting — for their fins, as an incidental catch of fisheries targeting other species, and in recreational fisheries. This is particularly true for oceanic species. However, until now, a lack of data prevented scientists from properly quantifying the status of Pacific reef sharks at a large geographic scale.


Here are some other links you may find worthwhile:
Climate Change News Digest
Climate Progress from Center for American Progress
Rocky Mountain Institute “an independent, entrepreneurial nonprofit think-and-do tank™ that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources.”


At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.

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