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

How The Smokey Bear Effect Led To Raging Wildfires

The history of fire in the American Southwest is buried in a catacomb of rooms under the bleachers of the football stadium at the University of Arizona.

Here rules professor Thomas Swetnam, tree ring expert. You want to read a tree ring? You go to Tom. He’s a big, burly guy with a beard and a true love for trees.

Where’s the Water?

August 1st, 2012 by

The U.S. Forest Service estimates that the world’s forests sequester 2-2.8 billion metric tons of carbon annually. A new study published in Nature Geoscience indicates that evergreen forests ranging from northern Mexico to Canada took up a lot less carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during a 2000-2004 drought period, dropping 30-293 million metric tons below normal levels. And, according to the study, this might just be the beginning: Forests in the western U.S. could be facing a 100-year drought.

What Was Behind Mysterious Collapse of the Mayan Empire?

The city states of the ancient Mayan empire flourished in southern Mexico and northern Central America for about six centuries. Then, around A.D. 900 Mayan civilization disintegrated.

Two new studies examine the reasons for the collapse of the Mayan culture, finding the Mayans themselves contributed to the downfall of the empire.

Scientists have found that drought played a key role, but the Mayans appear to have exacerbated the problem by cutting down the jungle canopy to make way for cities and crops, according to researchers who used climate-model simulations to see how much deforestation aggravated the drought.

Divided U.S. Appeals Court Rejects EPA Air Protections For 240 Million Americans

WASHINGTON (August 21, 2012) – As many as 240 million Americans will lose new protections against dangerous smog and soot pollution after a sharply divided federal appeals court today struck down Environmental Protection Agency safeguards designed to reduce power plant air pollution that crosses state lines. A powerful dissent thoroughly criticizes the two-judge majority ruling

NRDC, EWG Sue to Protect Millions of Californians from Contaminated Drinking Water

SAN FRANCISCO (August 14, 2012) –The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group today sued the California Department of Public Health for failing to protect millions of Californians from hexavalent chromium, the cancer-causing chemical made infamous in the movie “Erin Brockovich” for contaminating drinking water and sickening residents in the town of Hinkley, California. The agency was supposed to establish a safe drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium eight years ago, but has failed in its duty to safeguard citizens from the toxin.

Sky-high methane mystery closer to being solved, UCI researchers say

Increased capture of natural gas from oil fields probably accounts for up to 70 percent of the dramatic leveling off seen in atmospheric methane at the end of the 20th century, according to new UC Irvine research being published on Aug. 23, in the journal Nature. “We can now say with confidence that, based on our data, the trend is largely a result of changes in fossil fuel use,” said chemistry professor Donald Blake, senior author on the paper.

Sea life ‘facing major shock’

Life in the world’s oceans faces far greater change and risk of large-scale extinctions than at any previous time in human history, a team of the world’s leading marine scientists has warned. The researchers from Australia, the US, Canada, Germany, Panama, Norway and the UK have compared events which drove massive extinctions of sea life in the past with what is observed to be taking place in the seas and oceans globally today.

Good news from the bad drought: Gulf ‘Dead Zone’ smallest in years, says Texas A&M expert

The worst drought to hit the United States in at least 50 years does have one benefit: it has created the smallest “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico in years, says a Texas A&M University researcher who has just returned from gulf waters. Oceanography professor Steve DiMarco, one of the world’s leading authorities on the dead zone, says he and other Texas A&M researchers and graduate students analyzed the Gulf Aug. 15-21 and covered more than 1,200 miles of cruise track, from Texas to Louisiana. The team found no hypoxia off the Texas coast while only finding hypoxia near the Mississippi River delta on the Louisiana coast.

No-till could help maintain crop yields despite climate change

Reducing tillage for some Central Great Plains crops could help conserve water and reduce losses caused by climate change, according to studies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Past tropical climate change linked to ocean circulation, says Texas A&M team

A new record of past temperature change in the tropical Atlantic Ocean’s subsurface provides clues as to why Earth’s climate is so sensitive to ocean circulation patterns, according to climate scientists at Texas A&M University. Geological oceanographer Matthew Schmidt and two of his graduate students teamed up with Ping Chang, a physical oceanographer and climate modeler, to help uncover an important climate connection between the tropics and the high latitude North Atlantic. Their new findings are in the current issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

Experiment would test cloud geoengineering as way to slow warming

Even though it sounds like science fiction, researchers are taking a second look at a controversial idea that uses futuristic ships to shoot salt water high into the sky over the oceans, creating clouds that reflect sunlight and thus counter global warming. University of Washington atmospheric physicist Rob Wood describes a possible way to run an experiment to test the concept on a small scale in a comprehensive paper published this month in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.


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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