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


Special Report: Brazil backslides on protecting the Amazon

(Reuters) – Ivo Lubrinna has been wildcatting for gold in the jungle here for more than 30 years. It’s a notoriously messy business, as crews strip away topsoil in the forest and along riverbanks and use mercury and other pollutants to draw precious metal from mud.

For the past two years, Lubrinna has held a second job: environment secretary for this riverside city of 100,000 people, gateway to the oldest national park and half a dozen nature reserves in Brazil’s vast Amazon wilderness. As such, it’s his job to protect the area from the depredations of loggers, poachers, squatters – and gold miners.

 


Asian dust rife in North American skies

United Press International, 2012-08-02 U.S. scientists say satellite data show nearly half the dust suspended high in the atmosphere over North America comes from other continents, mostly from Asia.

The researchers said 70.5 million tons of foreign aerosols, consisting of naturally occurring dust as well as man-made pollution, arrive over North America every year.

Limited Coverage: Climate Change and the Insurance Industry

The insurance industry is famously, intentionally, even proudly, backward-looking: Its assessments of risk traditionally draw from data on prior losses over long periods of time.

In a world of extreme weather and non-linear trends, however, the times, and with them the actuarial tables, are changing in some quarters. International insurance firms and big reinsurers like Swiss Re and Munich Re are incorporating projections for more unpredictable and extreme weather.

Communicating Climate Change in a National Park

A Crater Lake park ranger’s first-hand learning curve on communicating with tourists offers valuable climate change do’s and don’ts, along with five valuable lessons learned.

The Charcoal Challenges: Fire and Climate Dynamics

Is reducing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere inconsistent with curbing wildfires? It’s among the conundrums and riddles explored at The Conversation and reposted here with permission.

Coral reef thriving in sediment-laden waters

Rapid rates of coral reef growth have been identified in sediment-laden marine environments, conditions previously believed to be detrimental to reef growth. A new study has established that Middle Reef — part of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef — has grown more rapidly than many other reefs in areas with lower levels of sediment stress. Led by the University of Exeter, the study by an international team of scientists is published August 1, 2012 in the journal Geology.

1 in 5 streams damaged by mine pollution in southern West Virginia

Water pollution from surface coal mining has degraded more than 22 percent of streams and rivers in southern West Virginia to the point they may now qualify as impaired under state criteria, according to a new study by scientists at Duke and Baylor. The study, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology, documents substantial losses in aquatic insect biodiversity and increases in salinity linked to sulfates and other pollutants in runoff from mines often located miles upstream.

Chronic 2000-04 drought, worst in 800 years, may be the ‘new normal’

The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century. Such climatic extremes have increased as a result of global warming, a group of 10 researchers reported July 29 in Nature Geoscience. And as bad as conditions were during the 2000-04 drought, they may eventually be seen as the good old days.

When the world burned less

In the years after Columbus’ voyage, burning of New World forests and fields diminished significantly — a phenomenon some have attributed to decimation of native populations by European diseases. But a new University of Utah-led study suggests global cooling resulted in fewer fires because both preceded Columbus in many regions worldwide. “The drop in fire [after about A.D. 1500] has been linked previously to the population collapse. We’re saying no, there is enough independent evidence that the drop in fire was caused by cooling climate,” says the study’s principal author, Mitchell Power, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Utah.

Cut emissions further or face risks of high air pollution, study shows

Most of the world’s population will be subject to degraded air quality in 2050 if human-made emissions continue as usual. In this ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, the average world citizen 40 years from now will experience similar air pollution to that of today’s average East Asian citizen. These conclusions are those of a study published August 1 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, an Open Access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). Air pollution is a major health risk that may worsen with increasing industrial activity. At present, urban outdoor air pollution causes 1.3 million estimated deaths per year worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation [1].

13-year Cascadia study complete – and Northwest earthquake risk looms large

A comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast confirms that the region has had numerous earthquakes over the past 10,000 years, and suggests that the southern Oregon coast may be most vulnerable based on recurrence frequency. Written by researchers at Oregon State University, and published online by the U.S. Geological Survey, the study concludes that there is a 40 percent chance of a major earthquake in the Coos Bay, Ore., region during the next 50 years. And that earthquake could approach the intensity of the Tohoku quake that devastated Japan in March of 2011.


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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