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

EPA steps in as Puerto Ricans grow desperate for clean drinking water

The Environmental Protection Agency has hired contractors to repair fencing around a federally designated, hazardous waste site and “local security is stationed at the wells to prevent access,” the agency said, after reports surfaced that residents — desperate for drinking water — were taking water from a toxic well.

Puerto Rico’s water utility, Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, had been distributing water from a well at the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site, which was added in 2016 to the federal Superfund program for hazardous waste cleanup. The utility was reportedly unaware that the site was contaminated until CNN contacted it with Superfund maps. Superfund sites are highly contaminated toxic sites targeted by the federal government for cleanup because of risks to human health and the environment.

The most effective clean energy policy gets the least love

Back in the 1990s and 2000s, when Democrats had more power in state governments, 29 states (and DC) passed some form of renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a policy that requires a state’s utilities to get a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources by a certain year.

Though they aren’t as sexy as perpetually-discussed-but-rarely-passed carbon taxes, and they are flawed and insufficient in a number of ways, RPSs have been the quiet workhorses of renewable energy deployment in the US. According to one Lawrence Berkeley Lab report, fully 62 percent of the growth in US non-hydro renewables since 2000 has been undertaken to satisfy RPS requirements.

Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists.
Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.

Regreening the planet could cut as much carbon as halting oil use – report

Planting forests and other activities that harness the power of nature could play a major role in limiting global warming under the 2015 Paris agreement, an international study showed on Monday.

Natural climate solutions, also including protection of carbon-storing peatlands and better management of soils and grasslands, could account for 37% of all actions needed by 2030 under the 195-nation Paris plan, it said.
Combined, the suggested “regreening of the planet” would be equivalent to halting all burning of oil worldwide, it said.

In A Colony of Nearly 40,000 Breeding Penguins, Only Two Chicks Survived This Year

Thousands of Adélie penguin chicks have starved to death in Antarctica. Climate change has led to particularly thick sea ice, so parent penguins have had to travel further to find food – leaving their hungry chicks behind.
French scientists, supported by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), studied a colony on Petrels Island, Antarctica, with 18,000 breeding pairs. The region is commonly referred to as Terre Adélie (“Adélie Land”) due to the vast numbers of penguins that live there.
This year, out of all the chicks born in the colony, only two survived. The researchers discovered thousands of unhatched eggs and dead chicks scattered in the snow.

Earth May Be Close to ‘Threshold of Catastrophe’

The amount of carbon dioxide that humans will have released into the atmosphere by 2100 may be enough to trigger a sixth mass extinction, a new study suggests.

The huge spike in CO2 levels over the past century may put the world dangerously close to a “threshold of catastrophe,” after which environmental instability and mass die-offs become inevitable, the new mathematical analysis finds.

Even if a mass extinction is in the cards, however, it likely wouldn’t be evident immediately. Rather, the process could take 10,000 years to play out, said study co-author Daniel Rothman, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Official fish trade hugely underestimates global catches

Conservation of dwindling fish stocks is being severely hampered by poor controls on global trade, according to research published today (Monday, October 9, 2017) in Scientific Reports.

The study carried out by the Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre at the University of Salford looked at global production and trade statistics of the popular ‘snapper’ fishes and uncovered wide inconsistencies in records meant that the officially reported snapper trade may be underestimated by more than 70%.

Major discrepancies were found between imports reported by the USA, the world’s largest consumer of snapper, and exports declared by its chief suppliers – Mexico, Panama and Brazil.

Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed

It’s often said that of all the published scientific research on climate change, 97% of the papers conclude that global warming is real, problematic for the planet, and has been exacerbated by human activity.

But what about those 3% of papers that reach contrary conclusions? Some skeptics have suggested that the authors of studies indicating that climate change is not real, not harmful, or not man-made are bravely standing up for the truth, like maverick thinkers of the past. (Galileo is often invoked, though his fellow scientists mostly agreed with his conclusions—it was church leaders who tried to suppress them.)

Not so, according to a review published in the journal of Theoretical and Applied Climatology. The researchers tried to replicate the results of those 3% of papers—a common way to test scientific studies—and found biased, faulty results.

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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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