The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Two scientific conferences have heard evidence that at least two Australian birds have learned to use fire, picking up smoldering sticks and dropping them in unburnt territory. The behavior has not been photographed, but numerous sightings have been reported, and is woven into the culture of local Indigenous communities.
Astonishingly, it is only a few decades since textbooks confidently proclaimed that humans were the only tool-making species. In 1960, Jane Goodall’s ground-breaking reports of tool use amongst chimpanzees overthrew this theory, and today tool use is studied from dolphins to parrots, with crows revealing a sophistication that outshines many humans.
Fire propagation, however, is considered a bright line marking humans apart from animals. Except that is, by the fourteen rangers interviewed by Bob Gosford, and many Australian Aboriginal people in north-central Australia, who say birds use it too.
Minnesota wildlife researchers say they are getting a better understanding of what’s killing the state’s moose and causing a major population decline.
After three years of monitoring live adult moose via satellite, retrieving them as soon after death as possible and carefully examining their remains, wildlife biologists can identify specific causes of death, reported Glenn DelGiudice, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources moose project leader.
The Supreme Court put on hold the linchpin of President Obama’s climate policy, barring the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday from carrying out the administration’s new Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants.
It was a surprising decision of staggering proportions, with repercussions that go far beyond the U.S. electrical grid, threatening the credibility of the Paris Agreement on climate change reached by the world’s nations in December.
Not all states are suspending work on the Clean Power Plan despite the Supreme Court’s bombshell decision on Tuesday to put a temporary hold on the tight new rules that are at the heart of the Obama administration’s climate policies.
Officials from more than a dozen states said they will continue the work they had already begun to comply with the plan. That includes meeting with stakeholders, modeling energy and emissions scenarios and writing early drafts of implementation schemes that would fulfill the plan’s requirement for states to steeply cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants over the next several decades to combat global warming.
One hundred and eleven days after a massive gas leak was first detected, the leaking well was temporarily plugged at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County.
Southern California Gas Co, which owns and operates the large, underground gas storage unit, announced on Thursday that a relief well it started digging in early December had pierced the leaking well near its base, more than a mile and a half beneath the surface. Pumping heavy drilling fluids into the well stopped the flow of gas.
Along with that news, however, came a filing by the company to the Securities and Exchange Commission that stated the company may have continued pumping gas into the leaking storage facility for two days after the leak was first discovered on October 23. Pumping additional gas into the underground reservoir increases its pressure, which in turn increases the leak rate.
Planes flying between Europe and North America will be spending more time in the air due to the effects of climate change, a new study has shown.
By accelerating the jet stream — a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic — climate change will speed up eastbound flights but slow down westbound flights, the study found. The findings could have implications for airlines, passengers, and airports.
When carbon dioxide is stored underground in a process known as geological sequestration, it can find multiple escape pathways due to chemical reactions between carbon dioxide, water, rocks and cement from abandoned wells, according to Penn State researchers. The researchers investigated the properties of porous rocks into which carbon dioxide is injected. These rocks, known as host rocks, function like containers for the carbon dioxide. The team looked at two abundant host rocks, limestone and sandstone, which have different chemical properties.
How is climate change being taught in American schools? Is it being taught at all? And how are teachers addressing climate change denial in their classrooms, schools, and school districts? Until today’s release of NCSE’s comprehensive nationwide survey, no one knew. The survey, conducted in concert with the respected nonpartisan Penn State University Survey Research Center, grilled over 1500 middle and high school science teachers. The results may floor you.
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Photo Credit: Bob Gosford (Crikey)