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

Trump administration backs away from fight over California’s power to set rules for cars and trucks

The Trump administration is backing off its threat to revoke California’s unique authority to set its own tough pollution standards for cars and trucks — rules that have become a crucial tool for states to combat climate change without help from Washington.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt assured lawmakers on Thursday that his agency is not currently looking to take away the power that California has used for decades to reduce emissions that cause smog and heat up the planet.

Earlier this year, Pruitt had suggested that the Trump administration might try to weaken or revoke California’s authority, which would have put Washington on a collision course with the state over a crucial environmental issue.

Scientists stunned by Antarctic rainfall and a melt area bigger than Texas

Scientists have documented a recent, massive melt event on the surface of highly vulnerable West Antarctica that, they fear, could be a harbinger of future events as the planet continues to warm.

In the Antarctic summer of 2016, the surface of the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest floating ice platform on Earth, developed a sheet of meltwater that lasted for as long as 15 days in some places. The total area affected by melt was 300,000 square miles, or larger than the state of Texas, the scientists report.

That’s bad news because surface melting could work hand in hand with an already documented trend of ocean-driven melting to compromise West Antarctica, which contains over 10 feet of potential sea level rise.

Marine expert warns of climate emergency as fish abandon tropical waters

As climate change pushes marine species towards cooler waters, and the fishing industry expands around the globe, the tropics are emptying out, a leading fisheries expert has warned.

The federal government is expected to release its new management plan for marine reserves in coming weeks, after a 2016 review recommended winding back protections. However Dr Daniel Pauly has called for the creation of more, saying they are the only realistic form of mitigation to the current crisis.

Pauly, principal investigator at the Sea Around Us research organisation, said it was unknown whether the “explosion” of fishing industries or global warming was having the biggest impact on fish stocks, but both needed to be addressed.

“The depth, the distance from the coast, all of these were factors which protected fish. Now we go everywhere … now nothing protects the fish,” he said during an observation tour of Darwin’s tropical harbour.

Trump Administration Tosses Rule to Protect Endangered Whales and Sea Turtles

SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration on Monday threw out a new rule intended to limit the numbers of endangered whales and sea turtles getting caught in fishing nets off the West Coast, saying existing protections were already working.

Economically, the new rule would have had “a much more substantial impact on the fleet than we originally realized,” said Michael Milstein, a spokesman with the federal fisheries service, which killed the rule.

The rule would have applied to fewer than 20 fishing vessels that use mile-long fishing nets to catch swordfish off California and Oregon. The change would have shut down the drift gillnet fishing for swordfish for up to two seasons if too many of nine groups of whales, sea turtles or dolphins were getting caught in the nets.

Once Again, Climate Change Cited as Trigger for Conflict

The national security establishment needs to prepare for a series of global crises sparked by climate change, a group of experts wrote in a report released today.

The analysis by the Center for Climate and Security identifies 12 “epicenters” where climate change could stress global security, possibly igniting conflicts around the world.

American diplomats and military planners have already started grappling with some of these problems—but the links between them do not get enough attention, the experts said. And it is an open question whether the Trump administration confronts those challenges or tries to ignore them.

Many of the risk epicenters stem from resource shortages and dislocated populations, but the experts also consider an increased likelihood of nuclear war, more pandemics and tensions in the Arctic.

A climate chain reaction: Major Greenland melting could devastate crops in Africa

As melting Greenland glaciers continue to pour ice into the Arctic Ocean, we have more than the rising seas to worry about, scientists say. A new study suggests that if it gets large enough, the influx of freshwater from the melting ice sheet could disrupt the flow of a major ocean current system, which in turn could dry out Africa’s Sahel, a narrow region of land stretching from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east.

The consequence could be devastating agricultural losses as the area’s climate shifts. And in the most severe scenarios, tens of millions of people could be forced to migrate from the area.

Rare Native American trail trees carry mysterious messages from the past

Jim Bissell was driving down a quiet residential street in Sanborn when a dramatic shape in a small grove of trees caught his eye.

There, nestled among a copse of basswood and shagbark hickory, was a white oak with two 90-degree bends in its trunk, turning it horizontal, then vertical again.

Unlike the residents of the house in whose yard the tree stands and the neighbors who saw the tree every day for decades, Bissell, of the Tuscarora Reservation, knew what he was looking at.

The tree – known as a trail tree – is a rare and respected ancient messenger. It is one of a handful of trail trees known to exist on or near the Tuscarora Reservation. The trees were modified by Native Americans centuries ago to point the way to landmarks or destinations.

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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