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

Warming climate and winter ticks decimating moose populations

Studies show that up to 100,000 ticks can be found on a single moose — enough for the animal to scratch off areas of fur and send it to a slow, unpleasant death by a thousand bites and exposure to the elements. The parasites leap onto moose in the autumn, burrow into their thick coats until they find skin and stay attached all winter, engorging themselves on blood.

When they fall off the moose in the spring, they die if they fall onto heavy April snowpack, but if the winters are short and the ticks fall on warm, bare ground, the females lay eggs and repeat the cycle. And that is where climate change comes in. As Maine’s winters have gotten warmer and shorter, snowpack melts earlier, and tick populations boom, becoming a much deadlier threat to moose.

EPA says no ‘widespread’ pollution of drinking water from fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, does not lead to widespread or systematic contamination of drinking water resources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday, although the agency acknowledged that its conclusion could have been affected by a lack of available data.

The EPA identified key areas of vulnerability in the fracking process for its draft report on the practice’s potential effects on drinking water resources. But it said that, based on available data, fracking did not lead to systematic contamination.

EPA poised to rule on health danger of aircraft fumes, possible regulation

The White House is expected to announce as early as Friday whether it believes aircraft fumes endanger public health, a decision that could lead to the federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from the aviation sector.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to issue its “endangerment finding,” despite pressure from green activists who first sued the agency to start the rulemaking process in 2010. A federal court in 2011 said the EPA must address aircraft emissions under the U.S. Clean Air Act.

The EPA had initially promised the finding would be ready in 2014, but has yet to rule on the matter.

‘Disaster after disaster’ hits Marshall Islands as climate change kicks in

The atolls of the Marshall Islands are narrow and practically level with the sea, leaving their 68,000 residents nowhere to move to as a rising sea and increasingly frequent floods threatens to swamp the country. Unlike in many parts of the world where climate change often seems a distant threat, for the Marshallese it is already a daily reality.

See Also: Flood-battered islands push climate treaty negotiators to speed efforts
See Also: Pacific islands hope to persuade world to move on climate change

Report: Climate change may trigger ‘abrupt’ worldwide consequences

The AAAS warned of “massively disruptive consequences to societies and ecosystems,” adding that scientists do not know exactly what degree of warming would lead to such changes. Even a relatively small change in one element of the climate can lead to abrupt changes in the system as a whole, according to the report.

These changes can occur over periods as short as decades, or even years, the scientists warned. Some of the planetary systems that could trigger those abrupt changes, if pushed beyond their limits, include large-scale ice sheet melting, collapse of the Gulf Stream, destruction of the Amazon rain forest and coral reef die-off.

Scientists can’t predict what temperature will cause that red line to be crossed, the report added. Once the climate has been pushed across that line, “even if we do not add any additional CO2 to the atmosphere, potentially unstoppable processes are set in motion.”

Prominent scientist suing climate change deniers for libel

A prominent climatologist at the center of a libel battle with deniers of man-made global warming said Sunday that he was being targeted as part of a “well-funded” campaign to silence and discredit the “entire environmental movement.”

Speaking to Al Jazeera America just days after a court ruled that his defamation lawsuit against the libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and conservative news magazine National Review could proceed, Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, accused his detractors of resorting to old allegations that had been disproved time and time again.

On Thursday, a judge for the D.C. Superior Court ruled in favor of the scientist, denying a motion to dismiss the libel suit.


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