The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
A survey released this week by the Bee Informed Partnership, a collaborative organization of honeybee researchers around the country, revealed that beekeepers in the United States lost 44 percent of their colonies in the past year — the second highest annual loss reported in the past 10 years. Colony “losses” refer to colonies whose bees died from any number of possible reasons, such as disease. They do not necessarily refer to hives stricken by colony collapse disorder, which is a well-publicized but very specific phenomenon that occurs when a colony’s worker bees suddenly and mysteriously abandon the nest.
Notably, the survey indicated that bee losses during the summer were just as high as bee losses during the winter — an alarming finding, considering summer is the time of year when bees should be at their healthiest.
Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, recently made this mesmerizing (and now-viral) GIF showing world temperatures spiraling upward over time between 1850 and 2016:
Hawkins also created some great graphics deconstructing the spiral. Here’s one showing each year as a line — which, again, makes clear how staggeringly, anomalously warm 2015 and 2016 have been:
A Shell oil facility has leaked nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, according to federal authorities. The spill has left a two-mile by thirteen-mile sheen in the Gulf, approximately 165 miles southwest of New Orleans. A helicopter first noticed the spill near Shell’s Brutus platform on Thursday morning, according to Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon.
“There are no drilling activities at Brutus, and this is not a well control incident,” Windon told the Associated Press. Instead, authorities believe the leak came from a release of oil from subsea infrastructure, from a line connecting four wells. According to the Wall Street Journal, Shell had dispatched boats Friday to begin cleaning up the spill.
The Obama administration on Thursday announced a set of much-anticipated — and first ever — steps to regulate oil and gas industry emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas second only to carbon dioxide in its role in the climate debate.
The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a new rule that will target emissions from new or modified oil and gas wells — and prevent 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by the year 2025, the agency said.
President Obama and the leaders of five Nordic nations agreed Friday to apply strict environmental standards and climate goals to commercial activities in the Arctic, a pledge that could have major implications for everything from future energy exploration to fishing and shipping in the region.
The communique the group will issue comes a month and a half after the United States and Canada agreed to impose a similar litmus test on future Arctic activities, meaning that Russia now stands as the sole nation that has not agreed to integrate these standards as a matter of routine policy.
Red knots migrate between their breeding grounds in the Arctic and their wintering grounds in West Africa. Chicks currently born under rapidly warming conditions attain smaller sizes before migration starts, because they miss the insect peak. If they reach their wintering grounds in the tropics, they are faced with a second disadvantage: their shorter bills cannot reach their favourite shellfish food. This results in an evolutionary force towards smaller-sized birds with large bills.
A new study provides insight into how the current El Niño, one of the strongest on record, formed in the Pacific Ocean. The new research finds easterly winds in the tropical Pacific Ocean stalled a potential El Niño in 2014 and left a swath of warm water in the central Pacific. The presence of that warm water stacked the deck for a monster El Niño to occur in 2015, according to the study’s authors.
An illegal trade in marine turtles is continuing despite legislation and conservation awareness campaigns, a pioneering study has shown. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Exeter in the Cape Verde islands, 500 km off the West Coast of Africa, and one of the world’s leading nesting sites for the protected loggerhead species, found that the biological impact of the trade has been previously underestimated and that turtles are still being harvested and consumed.
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