The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Before the armadillos came, there were no large burrows on Georgia’s Little St. Simons Island. But the armored creatures invaded the island around 1980, and now its forest and dunes are honeycombed with holes.
Zachary Butler, a graduate student at the University of Georgia in Athens, has found that armadillo burrows on the island are providing shelter and feeding grounds for a plethora of native wildlife. The findings suggest that in other parts of the Southeast, invasive armadillos might be helping to fill the ecological role left by a struggling native species, the gopher tortoise.
“It might not be a replacement or catchall, but it could definitely have benefits for the natives there that were relying on the gopher tortoise burrows,” said Butler.
Faced with Hurricane Florence’s powerful winds and record rainfall, North Carolina’s solar farms held up with only minimal damage while other parts of the electricity system failed, an outcome that solar advocates hope will help to steer the broader energy debate.
North Carolina has more solar power than any state other than California, much of it built in the two years since Hurricane Matthew hit the region. Before last week, the state hadn’t seen how its growing solar developments—providing about 4.6 percent of the state’s electricity—would fare in the face of a hurricane.
Florence provided a test of how the systems stand up to severe weather as renewable energy use increases, particularly solar, which is growing faster in the Southeast than any other other region.
Runoff from farms and feedlots has badly polluted Iowa’s waterways, more than half of which do not meet federal quality standards. Now, an unlikely coalition is calling for stricter controls to clean up the drinking water sources for millions of the state’s residents.
Climate change is making people hungry – with nearly 100 million people across the world needing humanitarian food aid because of climate shocks last year – and a growing number of people are malnourished across the Pacific, a new United Nations report says.
Last week, the Pacific Islands Forum stated formally that climate change represented the “single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific” – a declaration Australia ultimately signed but had spent much of the forum attempting to undermine.
A wooden cod fish hangs in the Massachusetts State House as a reminder of the Atlantic cod’s importance to the state’s history. But as oceans warm, this fish is moving out of U.S waters.
Malin Pinsky of Rutgers University says most marine life tolerates only a narrow range of temperatures.
Pinsky: “So even when the temperature warms up just a little bit, it has a large influence on their physiology, their heart rate, their metabolism, and even their ability to survive and reproduce.”
Miami-Dade is built on the Biscayne Aquifer, 4,000 square miles of unusually shallow and porous limestone whose tiny air pockets are filled with rainwater and rivers running from the swamp to the ocean. The aquifer and the infrastructure that draws from it, cleans its water, and keeps it from overrunning the city combine to form a giant but fragile machine. Without this abundant source of fresh water, made cheap by its proximity to the surface, this hot, remote city could become uninhabitable.
Climate change is slowly pulling that machine apart. Barring a stupendous reversal in greenhouse gas emissions, the rising Atlantic will cover much of Miami by the end of this century. The economic effects will be devastating: Zillow Inc. estimates that six feet of sea-level rise would put a quarter of Miami’s homes underwater, rendering $200 billion of real estate worthless. But global warming poses a more immediate danger: The permeability that makes the aquifer so easily accessible also makes it vulnerable.
Caribbean states and territories have rounded on the Trump administration for dismantling the US’s response to climate change, warning that greenhouse gas emissions must be sharply cut to avoid hurricanes and sea level rise threatening the future of their island idylls.
The onset of this year’s hurricane season has seen leaders in the region tell the Guardian that Donald Trump needs to grasp the existential threat they face. Rising temperatures and increased precipitation caused by climate change is strengthening hurricanes, researchers have found, even as the overall number of storms remains steady.
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