News

EBR Decision
Dr. Tom Puk, a Professor from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay was the person who made the application which resulted in the land-mark 2005 decision to have the Ministry of Education subject to the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR). This decision is important because it requires the Minister of Education to establish and make public a Statement of Environmental Values (SEV). In addition it means that the public can voice any concerns they have about the SEV via a public forum on the internet. Until this time the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance were two of the major Ministries that were not accountable to the EBR (there are still eleven Ministries not subject to the EBR). Acts, regulations or instruments that Ministries put forward that might affect environment must be posted on the Registry before these laws are legislated. Like most of the other Ministries, under the current ruling the Ministry of Education is still not subject to the review process. Unfortunately the Ontario Government has never followed-up on their commitment and the decision to prescribe the Ministry of Education to the EBR has never been acted upon. We would ask that people write in and demand that the Ministry of Education be subject to Notice and Comment and Review ASAP. Even better, citizens should contact their MPP's, the Premier, Minister of Environment, and Minister of Education now. For additional information on how the EBR can impact Ecological Education please contact us at inquiries@ecologicaleducation.ca.



The following Earth News items provided by:

EcoEarth.Info - The Environmental Sustainability Portal

02/02/2016
US Forest Service releases findings on the effects of drought for forests, rangelands
ScienceDaily: The U.S. Forest Service has released a new report, Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis, that provides a national assessment of peer-reviewed scientific research on the impacts of drought on U.S. forests and rangelands. This report will help the Forest Service better manage forests and grasslands impacted by climate change. "Our forests and rangelands are national treasures, and because they are threatened, we are threatened," said...

02/02/2016
British opposition to fracking still outstrips support, survey finds
Guardian: Opposition to fracking continues to outstrip support - particularly among those who know about the controversial process, a survey for the government shows. More than half (53%) of those who said they knew a lot about fracking were against it, compared to a third (33%) who said they were in favour of it, the latest poll tracking attitudes to energy policies has revealed. Among those who thought they knew a little about it, opposition outstripped support by 40% to 26%, the survey for the Department...

02/02/2016
Ships' noise is serious problem for killer whales and dolphins, report finds
Guardian: Noise emanating from passing ships may disturb animals such as killer whales and dolphins far more than previously thought, with new research showing that the animals’ communication and ability to find prey could be hampered by the underwater din. The low rumble of passing ships has long been connected to the disturbance of large whales. But US researchers have documented persistent noise also occurring at medium and higher frequencies, including at 20,000Hz where killer whales, also known as...

02/02/2016
Without a solution to the poaching crisis, the death of conservationists will continue
Guardian: The death of Roger Gower, shot through his helicopter by AK47 while protecting Tanzania’s game reserves from poachers, is the culmination of a worrying trend in the east African nation that has seen its wildlife populations plummet in recent years. In 2014 a helicopter donated to the Tanzanian government to help the anti-poaching operations crashed, killing four. In December last year, Tanzania National Parks’ head of anti-poaching Emily Kisamo was murdered. Four have been charged, but there are...

02/02/2016
Leonardo DiCaprio to produce YA post-apocalyptic eco-disaster movie
Guardian: Kayla Olson’s as yet unpublished novel describes a post-apocalyptic 2049, in which climate change, coastal flooding and overpopulation have brought human civilisation to its knees. As mankind struggles for survival, a radical cabal known as the Wolfpack overthrows the authorities and takes power. Set against the autocratic rulers is a young girl named Eden, who escapes from a Wolfpack labour camp and sets out on a journey of discovery which could furnish her with the tools to bring down the oppressors...

02/02/2016
Leonardo DiCaprio producing climate change-themed young adult novel adaptation
Film News: Leonardo DiCaprio is marrying his love of the environment and movies by producing an adaptation of climate change-themed novel The Sandcastle Empire. The Revenant star and his Appian Way partner, Jennifer Davisson, will produce the project, which is based on author Kayla Olson's book of the same name. The novel is set in the year 2049 when the Earth is "at a breaking point due to climate change, coastal flooding and overpopulation", and a "radical faction known as the Wolfpack overthrows the...

02/02/2016
Plumbers Converge On Flint To Help Get Lead Out Its Drinking Water
National Public Radio: Some good news for Flint, Mich., where the water was contaminated with lead. Dozens of union plumbers volunteered to install water filters and replace faucets for some of the city's poorest residents.

02/02/2016
United Kingdom: Global warming will unleash increasingly devastating floods in coming years, scientists warn
Independent: Climate change made the severe storms which flooded the Somerset Levels in 2014 much more likely, according to new research that suggests global warming will unleash increasingly devastating floods in coming years. The report finds that man-made greenhouse gas emissions have increased the chance of extreme flooding by 43 per cent, as the warming climate holds larger quantities of moisture, which leads to heavier rainfall. “What was once a 1 in 100-year event in a world without climate change is...

02/02/2016
David Suzuki On the Pope and Not Being an Optimist
Rolling Stone: Few scientists are more widely beloved by the public than the amiable David Suzuki. His background is in genetics (he was a professor at the University of British Columbia until his 2001 retirement), but the 79-year-old Canadian biologist, broadcaster and environmentalist has spent the past five decades explaining the wonders of nature – and, increasingly, the threats to our survival from climate change – to a popular audience on radio, television, and through his best-selling books; the most recent...

02/02/2016
Do poor environmental practices affect palm oil firms’ bottom lines
Mongabay: The question of materiality — whether an issue affects a company’s finances to a meaningful extent — is key to understanding the drivers behind palm oil finance. Evidence shows that the majority of investors have incentives to evaluate and make investment decisions based on short-term gain. On the other hand, investors do not usually account for losses in value resulting from palm oil companies’ unsustainable practices, because these are both harder to quantify and likely to occur in the longer term....

02/02/2016
Australia: NSW Farmer member quits executive in dispute over land clearing
Guardian: A dispute inside a New South Wales farming lobby group over permission to clear native vegetation has led to one of its most prominent voices resigning, after personal threats he alleges were made against him. Joshua Gilbert, who was formerly the chair of the NSW Farmers young farmers committee and was also on the NSW Farmers executive, resigned last week citing “philosophical differences” over the group’s policy on land clearing. He said he received threats from a member of NSW Farmers saying...

02/02/2016
Queensland gives Adani environmental permit Carmichael coalmine
Guardian: Adani has secured an environmental permit from the Queensland government to build Australia’s largest coal mine. The Indian conglomerate was issued an environmental authority for its Carmichael mine, west of Bowen in north Queensland, by the department of environment and heritage on Tuesday. It is one less hurdle for Adani’s highly contested plans, after its Australian chief complained last week that delays in government approvals were “incentivising” green activists to plot further legal challenges...

02/02/2016
Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest permanently off-limits to industrial logging
Mongabay: An agreement announced today will protect the vast majority of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest old-growth temperate rainforests left in the world. A deal has been struck between First Nations governments, the provincial government of British Columbia, and the forestry industry that fulfills commitments first made a decade ago as part of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements. In the mid-1990s, amidst growing industrial logging operations in rainforests around the world, First Nations...

02/02/2016
Land plant became key marine species
ScienceDaily: The genome of eelgrass (Zostera marina) has now been unveiled. It turns out that the plant, once land-living but now only found in the marine environment, has lost the genes required to survive out of the water. Scientists from the University of Gothenburg participated in the research study, the results of which are published in the scientific journal Nature. Eelgrass belongs to a group of flowering plants that have adapted to a life in water. As such, it is a suitable candidate for studies of adaptation...

02/02/2016
Germany leads Europe in offshore wind energy growth
Guardian: Germany has overtaken the UK in the rate at which it is installing wind turbines at sea, industry figures show. Globally, wind installations grew by 25% in 2014, reaching a landmark 62,000 MW of capacity, according to a separate report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). More than 3,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power was connected to the European grid last year – twice as much as in 2014 - with the vast majority coming from Germany. While Britain connected 556MW of offshore energy...

02/01/2016
Imperiled Amazon freshwater ecosystems urgently need basin-wide study, management
Mongabay: The Amazon’s freshwater ecosystems are at risk because current policy and existing protected areas fail to protect the connectivity of the water cycle, scientists warn. The new study, published in Global Change Biology, examines the factors degrading the Amazon basin’s hydrological connectivity: the movement of water — and with it the life-giving matter, nutrients and organisms it carries — between the vast system’s headwaters and the Atlantic Ocean, between the rivers and the forest, and the earth...

02/01/2016
Black rats rainforest invasion 'speeded by deforestation'
BBC: Cutting down trees in rainforests facilitates the spread of invasive black rats, a study suggests. The rodents normally avoid mature forests with large trees as they provide little in the way of cover. But researchers, writing in Biotropica, say that logging makes rainforests more attractive for rats as fallen wood contains more insects which they eat. Scientists are concerned that the invading black rats will be bad news for native mammals. Sometimes called the ship rat, these rodents...

02/01/2016
A small team in Tanzania using nothing but lights to save lions and leopards
Mongabay: Philipo Ormorijei is a local guide who lives in the Maasai village of Nainokanoka, in the Ngorongoro highlands of Tanzania, just outside Serengeti National Park. His village had a problem with a leopard eating their calves and goats, and was about to call in the Morani (warriors) to hunt and kill the predator. Peggi Vaughn, an American who has visited Tanzania numerous times and been friends with Ormorijei for years, remembers the exact date — October 30, 2014 — that she first heard about Nainokanoka’s...

02/01/2016
Top Vatican official: climate change action is a “moral imperative”
Mongabay: Mhortly after Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation in February 2013, Vatican insiders started making predictions. The next pope, many said, would be starkly different. He would hail from a continent where Catholicism was spreading the fastest. He would be African. He would be the Ghanaian Archbishop of the Cape Coast. He would be Peter Turkson. The choice, we know now, was dramatic. The cardinals in the Sistine Chapel departed Europe for the first time and selected a Latin American — Pope Francis...

02/01/2016
Flint water crisis could squeeze Michigan's finances: S&P
Reuters: Costs related to the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan, could pressure the state's finances and derail recent efforts to build budget reserves, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Monday. "At the state level, political costs for Michigan have been greater than financial costs at this point. However, we could see financial pressures on the state deepen as answers to the financing of infrastructure replacement and social services, coupled with potential legal settlements, unfold,"...

02/01/2016
Climate change the chief culprit for stormy winter weather
Irish Times: If the weather this winter seems stormier than usual, that is because it is. It is every bit as bad as the storm-ridden winter of 2013-14, according to climate data from Met Éireann. And climate change can now be blamed for the stormy conditions we have had to endure, at least during 2013-14. New research out of Oxford shows the extreme rainfalls that flooded the UK during that winter were associated with global warming. Storm Henry, which cleared our shores this morning, counts as the eighth...

02/01/2016
Pope meets with Leo DiCaprio, fellow green activist
Pop Herald: Leonardo DiCaprio greets Pope Francis during a private meeting on Thursday (January 28) in Vatican City. Di Caprio wanted to discuss a subject both the Pope and himself "have very much at heart" which is the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change. Leo showed him a reproduction of Bosch's triptych art piece, "Garden of Earthly Delights", which hung over the movie star's crib as a young boy. The work's first panel depicts Adam and Eve, then a landscape, then a vision...

02/01/2016
Tasmania bushfires leave World Heritage Area devastated in pictures
Guardian: Pictures from Tasmania’s central plateau, shot by wilderness photographer Dan Broun, show the extraordinary damage wrought by more than a week of bushfires following lightning strikes in Australia’s southernmost state on 13 January. The world heritage area was home to a range of unique alpine flora including pencil pines, king billy pines and cushion plants, some more than 1,000 years old. Now more than 10,000ha of land has been incinerated, and ecologist say that, unlike eucalyptus trees, the ancient...

02/01/2016
Flint Begins The Long Process Of Fixing Its Water Problem
National Public Radio: In Flint, Mich., families are using bottled water to do everything - from cooking to bathing. The tap water is still unsafe to drink after government officials allowed corroded lead pipes to poison the water. People in Flint have lots of questions for those officials. Perhaps the biggest is the one Hattie Collins has. "When are you gonna fix it? And I mean fix it right," she says. On a recent day, Collins is distributing bottled water at Triumph Church in Flint. A massive 18-wheeler is...

02/01/2016
Great Bear: Canada Announces Huge Coastal Rainforest Protection
Nature World: A huge tract of undisturbed coastal rainforest in Canada's British Columbia, the Great Bear Rainforest, will be largely preserved after 10 years of tight negotiations between B.C., First Nations and industry representatives. The decision was announced on Monday by Canada's Premier Christy Clark. The rainforest stretches from the province's Discovery Islands (east of Vancouver Island) to southeast Alaska. Of that wilderness, 85 percent, or 7.6 million acres, will be permanently protected from commercial...

02/01/2016
Five Ways China Wildlife Protection Law Will Harm Wildlife
National Geographic: The Chinese government released a new draft of its wildlife conservation law, and it does shockingly little to actually promote conservation. While China's President Xi Jinping has been speaking out about the country's commitment to combating wildlife trade, bureaucrats at the State Forestry Administration seem to be doing the opposite. They're responsible for occasional, routine updates to China's outdated Wildlife Protection Law. While the current version of the law, in force since 1989,...

02/01/2016
British Helicopter Pilot Shot and Killed by Poachers
National Geographic: When gunshots rang out in the Maswa Game Reserve, a protected area bordering Tanzania's famous Serengeti National Park, on Thursday, January 28, a ground patrol unit from the Friedkin Conservation Fund was called to investigate. The team trekked through thick bush until the next morning, when they radioed for air support to help locate the suspected poachers. Friedkin helicopter pilot Roger Gower, 37, and safari guide Nick Bester took off, and while flying over the reserve, they saw a fresh elephant...

02/01/2016
Elephant poachers kill British helicopter pilot, 5 suspects arrested
Mongabay: On January 29, elephant poachers shot and killed Roger Gower, a British helicopter pilot, in Tanzania. Gower, 37, and Nicky Bester, a safari guide, were flying over Maswa game reserve located near Serengeti National Park following reports of three elephants that had been killed by poachers in the area. A poacher reportedly broke cover when Gower flew close to one of the dead elephants, and fired upon the helicopter from the ground with an automatic rifle. The bullet hit Gower in his leg and shoulder,...

02/01/2016
Fears grow amid Brazil's Zika crisis
BBC: An alarming mixture of confusion and fear is blighting the pregnancies of thousands of women across this teeming tropical city in the northeast of Brazil, and wherever else the Zika virus has infected people. Every day the emergency clinic at one of Recife's largest hospitals sees queues of nervous women so long that they reach into the car park, and the medical staff, already stretched, are now overwhelmed. The enemy is uncertainty because the symptoms of Zika infection are worryingly vague:...

02/01/2016
When Will Australia's GHG Emissions Peak?
Age: Australia's national greenhouse gas emissions are set to keep rising well beyond 2020 on current trends, with the projected growth rate one of the worst in the developed world, a new analysis has found. An assessment of recent government emissions data, carried out by the carbon consultancy firm RepuTex, says that in the 2014-15 financial year Australia's carbon pollution rose for the first time in almost a decade when compared to the previous year. From there they say separate government forecasts,...

02/01/2016
'Revenant' showed Leonardo DiCaprio climate change effects
Daily News: Canada and South America’s breathtaking backdrops in “The Revenant” gave its award-winning star, Leonardo DiCaprio, a “terrifying” up close and personal look at climate change. Record-breaking temperatures linked to climate change are the new normal for residents forced to endure their changing environment, the actor learned while filming the movie in locations that included Mexico, Argentina, British Columbia and Alberta. “We shot at high altitudes in Calgary, and weather conditions were...

02/01/2016
Why the federal government stopped fracking off California's coast
Christian Science Monitor: The federal government must stop approving all offshore oil fracking in California’s Santa Barbara Channel, according to a legal settlement filed Friday in US District Court in Los Angeles. A lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity against the US Department of the Interior challenges the department’s practice of “rubber-stamping fracking off California’s coast without engaging the public or analyzing fracking’s threats to ocean ecosystems, coastal communities and marine life…” the...

02/01/2016
Kenya: Climate change is drying up one of the world’s largest lakes
Mashable: The two men have been working their way through the nets for more than 30 minutes before they catch a fish. Ekaale Ewoi pauses in the bow of the boat, silhouetted against the pink morning sky. He glances back at Ekai Longolan, who gently disentangles the small prize. It thuds to the floor of the boat at my feet and thrashes around. Without a word they resume their rhythmic motion, going hand over hand for thirty minutes more, until they reach the bobbing jerry can that means they’ve come to the...

02/01/2016
Australia starves green fund, denting climate credibility
Climate Home: Australia is choking off support for its main climate policy, casting doubt on Canberra`s green commitment. There are no plans to extend the A$2.55 billion (US$1.8bn) Emissions Reduction Fund after it runs out, expected to happen later this year. Finance minister Mathias Cormann told the Australian newspaper future budgets could support the scheme -- which offers incentives for businesses to invest in energy efficiency. The government will review its green arsenal in 2017, potentially introducing...

02/01/2016
Can We Stop Mosquitoes From Infecting the World?
National Geographic: Somewhere beneath the mounds of snow covering Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Hill district, just steps from the Library of Congress, a cluster of tropical mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika and other viruses is holed up, waiting for spring. Washington, D.C. is well beyond the comfort zone for these mosquitoes-this species can't survive winters north of Alabama and South Carolina. But this colony has somehow hung on for four years, genetic evidence shows, making it the northernmost permanent outpost...

02/01/2016
Scientists get 'gene editing' go-ahead
BBC: UK scientists have been given the go-ahead by the fertility regulator to genetically modify human embryos. It is the first time a country has considered the DNA-altering technique in embryos and approved it. The research will take place at the Francis Crick Institute in London and aims to provide a deeper understanding of the earliest moments of human life. It will be illegal for the scientists to implant the modified embryos into a woman. But the field is attracting controversy over...

01/31/2016
Internet network theory used to decipher the first epigenetic communication network
ScienceDaily: One of the big questions for which there is still no clear answer in biology is how, based on the four universal letters that make up DNA, it is possible to generate such different organisms as a fly or a human, or the different organs and tissues they comprise. In recent years, researchers have discovered that the system is much more complicated than was originally thought. The letters are important, but histones and nucleotide chemical modifications can make up genetic instructions to reinterpret...

01/31/2016
With climate, fertilizing oceans could be zero-sum game
ScienceDaily: Scientists plumbing the depths of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean have found ancient sediments suggesting that one proposed way to mitigate climate warming--fertilizing the oceans with iron to produce more carbon-eating algae--may not necessarily work as envisioned. Plants need trace amounts of iron to perform photosynthesis, but certain parts of the oceans lack it, and thus algae are scarce. Recent shipboard experiments have shown that when researchers dump iron particles into such areas,...

01/31/2016
In India, government aid helps carmakers go green and cheap to fight smog crisis
Reuters: Carmakers are gearing up to launch affordable hybrid and electric cars for India in the next few years, executives said, lured by government incentives for fuel-efficient vehicles as the country accelerates efforts to cut worsening air pollution. As the industry descends on smog-bound New Delhi for India's biggest car show, starting Wednesday, foreign firms like Toyota Motor Corp will join domestic players like Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra in displaying green cars designed to reel in potential...

01/31/2016
Future for charismatic pika not as daunting as once feared
ScienceDaily: The American pika is thought by many biologists to be a prime candidate for extirpation as the planet continues to warm, done in by temperatures too severe for this small mammal native to cold climates. But a new study, published this week in the journal Global Change Biology, paints a different, more complex future for this rock-dwelling little lagomorph -- the same order that includes rabbits and hares. Pikas may survive, even thrive, in some areas, the researchers say, while facing extirpation...

01/31/2016
Ethiopia seeks donor support to meet drought needs
Reuters: Ethiopia urged international donors on Sunday to offer aid promptly for relief operations to support 10.2 million people critically short of food, and said it was committed to allocating as much of its own funds as necessary. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen was speaking beside U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a tour of an area where one of the worst droughts in decades has left children malnourished, killed livestock and damaged livelihoods. The relief operation by the government,...

01/31/2016
New Satellite Collects Sea Level Data to Monitor Climate Change
Voice of America: Scientists from the U.S. and Europe have a new eye in the sky monitoring the world's oceans.The Jason-3 satellite, launched on January 17, is the latest satellite to monitor rising sea levels. Scientists say data collected by satellites over the last two decades shows sea levels rising at an accelerating rate, which they say is an indicator of climate change. Josh Willis, Lead Project Scientist for the Jason-3 mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said rising sea levels were one of the factors...

01/31/2016
United Kingdom: Spending watchdog to examine scrapping £1bn carbon capture plan
Guardian: The National Audit Office is to investigate George Osborne’s decision to scrap a £1bn prototype carbon capture scheme which cost the taxpayer at least £60m, a letter seen by the Guardian shows. The spending watchdog said it would be looking into the expenses incurred in running, and then prematurely halting, a CCS auction. It will also examine how the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) plans to secure the country’s future energy needs. “In the coming weeks we will begin work looking...

01/31/2016
Human impacts on climate caused record warm years
Environmental News Network: Recent record warm years are with extremely high likelihood caused by human-made climate change. Without greenhouse-gas emissions from burning coal and oil, the odds are vanishingly small that 13 out of the 15 warmest years ever measured would all have happened in the current, still young century. These odds are between 1 in 5000 and 1 in 170.000, a new study by an international team of scientists now shows. Including the data for 2015, which came in after the study was completed, makes the odds...

01/31/2016
Ted Cruz keeps saying satellites don’t show global warming. Here’s the problem
Washington Post: Last week, when NASA and NOAA jointly announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record by a sizable margin, the news may have seemed purely factual in nature. Yet it’s also politically resonant. Not only are this year’s crop of Democratic candidates much more gung-ho on climate change than their Republican rivals, but one leading Republican candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has repeatedly argued that based on data from satellites, there has been “no significant warming whatsoever for the last...

01/31/2016
The dark side of clean energy in Mexico
Truthout: A palm hat worn down by time covers the face of Celestino Bortolo Teran, a 60-year-old Indigenous Zapotec man. He walks behind his ox team as they open furrows in the earth. A 17-year-old youth trails behind, sowing white, red and black corn, engaging in a ritual of ancient knowledge shared between local people and the earth. Neither of the two notices the sound of our car as we arrive "because of the wind turbines," Teran says. Just 50 meters away, a wind farm has been installed by the Spanish...

01/31/2016
How do we define climate pollution's cost to society?
High Country News: In a 2007 ruling on a dispute concerning fuel economy standards for cars, a judge sent a clear message to federal agencies. They could no longer continue business as usual and fail to account for climate change when assessing the costs and benefits of regulations. “The value of carbon emissions reduction is certainly not zero,” Judge Betty B. Fletcher wrote in her opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. And by treating it as such, her opinion declared, the government was acting...

01/31/2016
Tanzania searches for elephant poacher killers of British pilot
Reuters: Authorities in Tanzania have launched a search after poachers shot down a helicopter and its British pilot during an operation to track down elephant killers, officials have said. British pilot Roger Gower was tracking poachers on Friday in the Maswa game reserve when he died after his helicopter crashed after being hit by an AK-47 rifle fired from the ground, Tanzania’s tourism and natural resources minister, Jumanne Maghembe, said. The mission had been a collaboration between the Friedkin...

01/31/2016
Tell the truth, ExxonMobil: a low-carbon future is affordable – and necessary
Guardian: Over the past year the price of oil has collapsed and taken ExxonMobil’s share price with it. As the oil giant prepares to release its latest set of results this week, the company continues to show little genuine interest in preparing for a less carbon-intensive future. Even as world leaders gathered in Paris for the recent climate summit, where hundreds of nations and corporations stepped forward to underscore their commitment to action, ExxonMobil followed an odd course that has been lost in...

01/31/2016
Climate change beliefs must not be allowed to trump science
LancasterOnline: “A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree, and he turns away. Show him facts or figures, and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic, and he fails to see your point.” So said Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger in the 1950s. Pre-existing beliefs can slant our thinking and taint what we believe to be our most impartial and logical conclusions. This is called “motivational reasoning.” It helps to explain why we find folks so opposed over matters in...

01/31/2016
Climate change book offers content to interest kids
Roanoke Times: Climate Change: A Hot Topic! By Dan Green. Created by Simon Basher. Kingfisher, 2014. Reviewed by Carolyn J. Kroehler. She lives in Blacksburg and is interested in how science is communicated to non-science audiences. I've heard good things about Basher Science books for kids, so I was curious when I saw a Basher book titled "Climate Change: A Hot Topic!" Climate change for kids? I wanted to see how it was handled. "Making science come alive in amazing and colorful ways!" trumpets a promotional...

01/31/2016
Earth breaks it’s own world temperature record, again
Green Prophet: A new report from the Climate Council of Australia revealed that last year`s global average temperature was the highest since global records began in 1880, with 2015 experiencing its hottest year on record -- again -- besting the 2014 stats by a jaw-dropping 0.16°C. To paraphrase Paris Hilton, that`s hot. The temperature was 0.90°C* above the 20th century average, which factors in a strong warming trend from 1970 through the end of the century. Last year`s record warmth is part of a long-term...

01/31/2016
Africa Called to Implement Climate Change Agreement
allAfrica: The Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has called on all African states to move swiftly, so that the agreement on climate change can come into effect to unlock the wealth of nations and save the planet. Speaking at the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dlamini-Zuma noted that in the climate change negotiations last year, Africa showed that it was not indifferent to its responsibility...

01/31/2016
Scientists find some clues to climate change in plants
Bend Bulletin: The National Parks Service is partnering with citizen scientists to track when plant species flower, leaf out or set seed. The way plants grow gives clues to changes in the environment and the impact of climate change. “Plants, as we know, have the most sensitive biological responses to climate change,” said Nancy Fernandez, a climate change intern with Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. “They are sensitive to temperature change and precipitation.” Fernandez discussed plant responses to...

01/31/2016
What is holding back the growth of solar power?
Guardian: Sixty years ago, the price of solar panels was astronomical. At a cost of $1,910 (£1,350) per watt in today’s money, the only practical use for them was in space on the US Vanguard 1 satellite, which launched in 1958. But slowly and then precipitously the price of building a solar cell came down. Today it is less than $0.80 (£0.55) per watt. The subsequent proliferation of panels (especially in Europe, China, US and India) has tracked along the dizzying curve that eventually lead to the market...

01/31/2016
On climate change, difference between parties is stark
Concord Monitor: Even in a campaign season where opinions diverge wildly, it’s hard to think of a topic with a broader range of candidate reactions than climate change. Democrats think it’s a big problem, perhaps the biggest problem facing the country, and requires a big government response, while Republicans tend to think either it’s not enough of a problem to worry about or it isn’t a problem at all, perhaps even a massive hoax. And while the scientific community is very concerned about changes coming our...

01/30/2016
Like losing the thylacine: Fire burns Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area
Whyalla News: Ancient alpine ecosystems unique to Tasmania's remote world heritage wilderness, including trees that lived for more than a millennium, have been killed by fires that scientists say are linked to climate change. The first images of the damage on the state's central plateau have triggered calls for governments to do more to protect internationally recognised landscapes as part of their fire response. Taken on Saturday near Lake Mackenzie at an altitude of about 1200 metres, the photographs show...

01/30/2016
Clinton: GOP disbelieves climate change because Koch brothers tell them to
Hill: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said late Saturday that most Republicans are skeptical of climate change because billionaire donors David and Charles Koch tell them to be. “Most of them are not that ill-informed,” she said during a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "They just have to do what the Koch brothers tell them. They say, ‘don’t believe your lying eyes -- listen to us.’ ” Clinton warned America’s economy would slip behind other nations if lawmakers keep debating...

01/30/2016
Madagascar scientists unsure best guard frogs from fungus
Mongabay: Madagascar is rich in amphibian species. It boasts 500 species of frog, almost all endemic, with more likely undiscovered. That diversity could be in immediate jeopardy due to the chytrid fungus — then again, maybe not. Two new, but possibly conflicting, studies, one saying that the fungus is in country and spreading, the other saying it has not yet taken a firm hold, are leaving policymakers with more questions than answers about how to use limited funds to most effectively combat the problem....

01/30/2016
Cyclone passes over Australia’s northwest mining ports
Reuters: A tropical cyclone that crossed Australia's northwest coast early on Sunday weakened, although several small inland communities were on red alert and the risk of heavy swells, flooding and storm surges remained. Category 2 cyclone Stan made landfall some 120 km (75 miles) north east of the world’s largest iron ore export hub, Port Hedland, in the early hours of Sunday morning, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said. The cyclone is just one of the severe weather events Australia experienced...

01/30/2016
Geophysicist questions stability of Antarctic ice sheet
ScienceDaily: A professor in Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences is joining the growing debate over the fate of the world's largest ice sheet, whose sudden melting is sending shockwaves throughout the geophysics community. Robert Moucha, assistant professor of Earth sciences, is the co-author of a recent paper in Geology (Geological Society of America, 2015), examining the impact of the deep Earth on ice-sheet stability. Particular emphasis is on the retreat, or melting, of the East Antarctic Ice...

01/30/2016
Mid-Atlantic states present ocean data products
ScienceDaily: The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO), a five state partnership of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, released an ambitious and wide-ranging set of information on the vast natural resources and economically-important uses of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean, which contribute to the health and vibrancy of the region's coastal communities. The analytical data included in this release are a significant step forward in improving the scientific basis for regional ocean decision-making....

01/30/2016
Study shows humans love for eating eggs caused extinction of ancient giant bird megafauna
Hoops: A study which has been published in the science journal Nature Communications has tried to find a link between human activity and the extinction of the Australia’s gigantic megafauna. Australia’s gigantic megafauna include some species which have a body weight more than 45 kilograms. Their extinction has been a very litigious issue and often research has been overridden by politics and ideology over scientific evidence. A large portion of the Australian megafauna has gone extinct, and a group of...

01/30/2016
How Climate Change Could Spread Diseases Like Zika
Time: For thousands of years, humans have taken every precaution to avoid mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, from Malaria to Zika. But while techniques for fighting the insects have improved dramatically over time, scientists say long-term climate change could soon make protecting humans from mosquitoes much more difficult. The link between climate change and mosquito-borne illness centers around how rising temperatures may expand the area in which mosquitoes can thrive. Most such illnesses can...

01/30/2016
DiCaprio: 'It’s a sin to destroy our planet'
USA Today: Leonardo DiCaprio's meeting with Pope Francis this week might have been even bigger news than winning the coveted best actor award for The Revenant at the SAG Awards. Backstage at the SAG Awards Saturday night, DiCaprio talked about his private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss climate change, calling it an "honor." "(Pope Francis) has been inspiring and revolutionary to come out and be outspoken on the issue of climate change and endorse the scientific community," said DiCaprio....

01/30/2016
Enzymes with potential to increase wheat yields
ScienceDaily: Wheat yields could be significantly increased thanks to varieties with a superior form of a common enzyme, according to new research. Plant scientists at Lancaster University, Rothamsted Research, and The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have been investigating a naturally occurring plant enzyme known as Rubisco to explore its ability to boost photosynthesis and increase crop yields. In a new paper published this month, the team measured photosynthesis in 25 genotypes of...

01/30/2016
Cloud Blanket Warms Up Melting Icecap
Climate News Network: Researchers have identified another piece in the climate machinery that is accelerating the melting of the Greenland ice cap. The icy hills are responding to the influence of a higher command system: the clouds. An international research team led by scientists from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium report in Nature Communications journal that cloud cover above the northern hemisphere’s largest single volume of permanent ice is raising temperatures by between 2 degrees and 3 degrees...

01/30/2016
Improved harvest small farms thanks to naturally cloned crops
ScienceDaily: In today's agriculture, hybrid plants are crucial for the sufficient production of food, feed, fuel and fiber. These crosses between two different varieties are deemed particularly hardy and far more productive than their thoroughbred parent generations. Thanks to hybrid plants, the harvests from types of cereal crop, such as corn, can be more than doubled. However, the positive properties are already lost in the next generation, which is why hybrid seeds need to be reproduced annually. These crosses...

01/30/2016
Elon Musk vs. Warren Buffett: The Billionaire Battle Over the Future of Solar Power
EcoWatch: The future of solar power has become a "battle of billionaires," Bloomberg Business reports. It`s a battle that has pitted Elon Musk's SolarCity against Nevada public utility NV Energy, part of Warren Buffett`s business empire. SolarCity, co-founded by Musk a decade ago, has become America`s largest manufacturer and leaser of solar panels, operating in nearly two dozen states and generating about $350 million in annual revenue. SolarCity has done particularly well in Nevada since entering the...

01/30/2016
Will Denmark Become the World’s First 100% Organic Country?
EcoWatch: Danish consumers are the most pro-organic consumers in the world, according to Organic Denmark, an association of companies, organic farmers and consumers. Nearly 8 percent of all food sold in Denmark is organic, the highest percentage in Europe. And Danish organic export has risen by more than 200 percent since 2007. The Danish government is working on drastically increasing the nation`s supply of organic food. Last year, The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries released an ambitious plan...

01/30/2016
California Narrowly Upholds Key Policy For Solar Growth
Reuters: California delivered a narrow victory to the solar industry this week by maintaining a policy that has underpinned rooftop solar's dramatic growth while introducing fees that were smaller than utilities requested. After two years of rancorous debate, California's Public Utilities Commission upheld net metering by a vote of 3-to-2, allowing homeowners with solar panels to keep selling the excess power they generate back to their utility at the full retail rate. Homeowners with solar panels cheer...

01/30/2016
Oklahoma aims to find ways to reduce induced earthquakes
United Press International: Mary Fallin, governor of emerging shale state Oklahoma, said she set aside more than $1 million in emergency funds to support earthquake research. Fallin approved $1.38 million in one-time costs to support earthquake research to be directed by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the Oklahoma Geological Survey. "I'm committed to funding seismic research, bringing on line advanced technology and more staff to fully support our regulators at they take meaningful action on earthquakes," she...

01/30/2016
Jeb Bush pins hopes on 'someone in a garage' to tackle climate change
Guardian: Florida’s leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, have both criticized federal action to combat climate change, with Rubio warning it would “destroy” the US economy and Bush predicting “someone in a garage somewhere” will solve the problem instead. Responding to a rare question about climate change in Thursday’s Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa, Rubio denied that he ever supported a “cap and trade” system to lower emissions, despite his having...

01/30/2016
A coastal showdown that no one can win
Sacramento Bee: Few fights are uglier than the ones over beauty. And what’s going on at the California Coastal Commission is one of the uglier fights in a while. Charged with protecting and managing California’s 1,100 or so miles of spectacular coastline, the 12-member commission – perhaps the most powerful land-use body in the nation – has scheduled a Feb. 10 public hearing on whether to dismiss its executive director, Charles Lester. The confrontation has been cast alternately as a personnel matter and a...

01/30/2016
Don't block local limits fracking
Orlando Sentinel: Earlier this month House Speaker Steve Crisafulli made an appeal on our opinion page for one of his legislative priorities, a bill to rewrite water policy in Florida. "Florida's most valuable natural resource is our water," Crisafulli, a Merritt Island Republican, wrote in a guest column. "From it flows life for our people, our food supply, our environmental resources and our economic prosperity. Policy choices we make today will greatly impact the future of our state." Legislators in both...

01/30/2016
The staggering economic cost of air pollution
Washington Post: Air pollution caused by energy production in the U.S. caused at least $131 billion in damages in the year 2011 alone, a new analysis concludes -- but while the number sounds grim, it's also a sign of improvement. In 2002, the damages totaled as high as $175 billion, and the decline in the past decade highlights the success of more stringent emissions regulations on the energy sector while also pointing out the need to continue cracking down. "The bulk of the cost of emissions is the result of health...

01/30/2016
South Florida mayors have reason goad candidates on climate
Palm Beach Post: Climate change in South Florida isn’t theoretical. It isn’t some problem for some undefinable future that our kids will have to deal with. It’s a pain in the neck right now. Ask the people of Miami Beach, where they’re elevating streets to cope with the unstoppable rise of sea water. The people of Hallandale Beach, where most drinking wells are closed because the water is too salty. Yet the two candidates for president from South Florida cannot bring themselves to acknowledge what’s happening....

01/30/2016
Few boom cycles are left for the oil industry
Houston Chronicle: Ask almost anyone in the oil business, and they will say a bust is always followed by another boom. But what if the industry has only one big cycle left? A world that does not rely on oil for transportation was considered science fiction, something only possible if we found the mythical dilithium crystals that power Star Trek's Enterprise. But an amalgamation of new technologies could dramatically reduce demand for oil, which means a large number of Houston energy companies will eventually need...

01/30/2016
From fad to fixture: how investors are waking up to climate risk
ClimateWire: From fossil-free investment products to assessing the risks of weather disasters, Wall Street is slowly but steadily embracing climate change. Photo courtesy of Flickr. U.S. EPA's accusation last fall that Volkswagen AG had cheated on emissions tests sparked a fire sale in global markets. Sellers pushed the company's stock down 30 percent in just four days. After New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (R) announced that coal company Peabody Energy Corp. had for years deceived investors...

01/30/2016
Our oil addiction, by the numbers
Daily Climate: In 2006, then-President George Bush told the nation "we have a serious problem ... America is addicted to oil." Here's what's happened since: Average U.S. price for a gallon of gasoline, January 2006: $2.33 Average price in January 2016: $1.91 Benchmark price, barrel of W. Texas Intermediate Crude, Jan. 2006: $65.48 As of Jan. 25, 2016: $30.34 Percentage of U.S. oil that is imported, 2006: 60 Percentage imported, 2014: 27 Fuel efficiency, miles per gallon, U.S. vehicles,...

01/30/2016
India coal plant developer switches to solar for site in Punjab
Bloomberg: A prominent developer of coal-fired power plants in India is seeking to switch to solar for an 800-acre (324-hectare) site in Punjab it had earmarked for another thermal plant, saying the economics of photovoltaics are more attractive. RattanIndia Power Ltd. which has 1.6 gigawatts of thermal capacity in central India, asked government permission to install solar panels at the site in Punjab instead of the coal plant it was planning, said Rajiv Rattan, chairman of RattanIndia Group. “In the...

01/30/2016
Oilsands’ share of GHG emissions to double by 2030
Ottawa Citizen: Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says “more needs to be done” to curb greenhouse gas emissions, as new data show Canada is drifting further away from its climate targets while the oilsands’ share of national greenhouse emissions is projected to double by 2030. Briefing materials prepared for McKenna, and obtained by the Citizen, show that oilsands emissions are expected to account for more than half the increase in total Canadian GHGs between 2010 and 2030. Greenhouse gas emissions from...

01/30/2016
How Scientists Are Working Eradicate Zika Mosquitoes
National Public Radio: Can the spread of the Zika virus be curtailed by eliminating mosquitoes that carry it? Professor Anthony James of UC Irvine discusses the consequences of pesticides to our health and on the ecosystem.

01/30/2016
Bill would help state meet greenhouse gas emissions goals
Associated Press: A bill approved by the Massachusetts Senate would set new targets to help the state meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals. The new targets would help the state meet its existing 2050 statewide greenhouse gas emissions goals set by the Global Warming Solutions Act. The bill sets an emissions limit of between 35 and 45 percent below the 1990 emissions level by 2030. The bill then sets another emissions limit of between 55 and 65 percent below the 1990 emissions level by 2040. The bill would also...

01/30/2016
Stranded whales provide new clues threats to sea creatures’ survival
Guardian: A body washes up on a beach in eastern England. Then another. And another. Soon, people living in two coastal communities have five deaths on their hands. Things take a further macabre twist when it emerges that more than a dozen bodies are littering the shores of Holland and Germany. What could possibly link the deaths? A CSI team, dispatched to hunt for clues, faces a race against time. Scavengers and saltwater will devour the carcasses and destroy potentially vital evidence. No, it’s not...

01/30/2016
Climate change could devastate Africa. It's already hurting this Kenyan town
Washington Post: The lake that Philip Tioko relies on for survival is a fine turquoise strip that seems to recede further into the distance each day. His fishing village once hugged the shore, but now it is 800 feet away, and everything -- food, water and employment -- is drying up. Tioko, 46, remembers when fish were abundant in Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake, and there was enough rain for his livestock. “I used to have so many animals. The lake used to be full -- life was good,” he said. But...

01/30/2016
Republicans might as well deny climate change if they don't plan to address it
Guardian: Let’s call it the non-denial denial. Some Republican presidential candidates are beginning to peer out from behind the wall of climate denial that has defined the party as long as Barack Obama has been in the White House. Finally, it seems, the most open expressions of climate denial – such as dismissing long-established scientific fact – may be seen as a bit retrograde, and possibly embarrassing, even by some who are looking for votes from an increasingly rightwing Republican party. In response...

01/30/2016
We print money to bail out banks. Why can’t we do it to solve climate change?
Guardian: The international community has agreed on an ambitious agenda to curb climate change. Some 195 countries have decided to try and cut greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will limit the rise in average global temperatures to well below 2C. The question we now face is: how are we going to finance the changes needed to reach this goal? Quantitative easing – creating new money – might just be the answer. How to finance 1.5C To reach zero emissions by 2050 (and for a likely chance to stay below...

01/30/2016
European Union to finance development projects in Eritrea to curb illegal migration
Diplomat: According to the reports from Asmara , the Eritrean Minister for National Development, Giorgis Teklemichael, and EU Head of Delegation, Christian Manahl, signed on Friday in Asmara the National Indicative Program (NIP) under the 11th European Development Fund This framework program of EUR200 million, which defines Eritrea-EU development cooperation for the next five years, focuses on renewable energy and governance. It was approved by EU Member States in the EDF committee in November 2015. The...

01/30/2016
Sanders a favorite at climate change rally
Des Moines Register: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders prevailed as the favorite presidential candidate during a "Climate Emergency Caucus" event in Des Moines on Friday. More than 100 people simulated a caucus after hearing climate change advocates from across the country speak at the event sponsored by national advocacy group The Climate Mobilization, which promotes a "World War II-scale mobilization" for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The group had a lineup of speakers before the mock caucus, including former...

01/29/2016
In Canada, Justin Trudeau takes pipelines in a new direction
LA Times: It's getting harder to build an oil pipeline in Canada. In 2013, when TransCanada Corp. proposed a cross-country pipeline that would be among the longest in the world, the Conservative Party was in power and the project's approval seemed a given. But the new Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now requiring pipeline projects to pass a more stringent environmental review, including a climate test to determine how it would affect greenhouse gas emissions. That change represents...

01/29/2016
What to know right now about Zika virus
Mother Nature Network: Zika virus was an obscure illness until recently, especially in the Americas. But now it's "spreading explosively" through the New World, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned this week at an emergency meeting about the outbreak. Zika could infect up to 4 million people before the end of 2016, according to WHO director-general Margaret Chan, who says the virus has gone "from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions." Although Zika has been known to science for seven decades, it's only...

01/29/2016
Environmental group says reaches accord to stop offshore fracking in California
Reuters: A conservation group said the federal government must stop approving offshore fracking from oil platforms in California's Santa Barbara Channel under the settlement of a lawsuit it filed. The group, the Center for Biological Diversity, in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, had challenged what it said was the U.S. Department of the Interior's practice of rubber-stamping fracking off California's coast without engaging the public or analyzing fracking's threats to ocean ecosystems,...

01/29/2016
Cyclone churns toward Australia’s northwest iron ore ports
Reuters: A tropical cyclone gathered strength as it headed for the northwest coast of Western Australia on Saturday, forcing ports to close and mining companies to evacuate. Cyclone Stan, the first of a season which runs from November to April, was estimated to be 195 km (120 miles) north of Port Hedland and moving southeast, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said. It is forecast to intensify and cross the coast northeast of Port Hedland, the world’s largest iron ore export hub, late on Saturday. “Very...

01/29/2016
Huge, hurricane-resistant wind turbines could be coming to an ocean near you
Grist: When it comes to big wind power projects, we’re starting to throw caution to - well, the wind. Sandia National Laboratories - with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy - is setting out to create towering offshore wind turbines with blades 650 feet long. That`s two and a half times the length of any that exist today, according to Sandia`s announcement. For a sense of scale, 650 feet is roughly the length of two American football fields, seven blue whales, or $3,250 in $5 Footlongs. Thankfully,...

01/29/2016
Billionaire Conservationist's Yacht Damages Coral Reef
National Geographic: Billionaire Paul Allen has given millions of dollars to conservation causes over the years, including ones that support ocean exploration and preservation. But earlier this month, his 300-foot yacht Tatoosh allegedly caused significant damage to a protected coral reef in the Cayman Islands. The anchor and chain of the vessel allegedly damaged 14,000 square feet of reef on January 14, according to Cayman Islands' Department of Environment. The incident occurred in a protected area of Grand Cayman...

01/29/2016
Myanmar emerging as major hub for smuggling pangolins to China
Mongabay: Illegal pangolin trade in Myanmar is flourishing, according to a recent study published in Global Ecology and Conservation. Myanmar serves both as a source of pangolins, and as a major transit hub for smuggled pangolins, their meat and scales to meet China’s demands, researchers have found. Pangolins are one of the most hunted mammals in the world. In the past decade, more than one million pangolins have been traded, according to the U.S. FWS. All four Asian species of pangolins are on the verge...

01/29/2016
Copenhagen Set to Divest Funds Out of Coal, Oil and Gas Holdings
EcoWatch: The city of Copenhagen is set to become the latest recruit to the unstoppable divestment movement, with its plan to sell off the coal, oil and gas assets of its 6.9 billion Krone (EUR1.29 bn) investment fund. The Danish capital will join a movement worth more than $3.4 trillion worldwide, following Norway’s capital Oslo and non-European cities such as Newcastle, Australia, as well as more than 500 institutions, universities, banks, companies and thousands of people, who have already pulled their...

01/29/2016
What Are the Odds? Temperature Records Keep Falling
LiveScience: With the official numbers now in 2015 is, by a substantial margin, the new record-holder, the warmest year in recorded history for both the globe and the Northern Hemisphere. The title was sadly short-lived for previous record-holder 2014. And 2016 could be yet warmer if the current global warmth persists through the year. One might wonder: Just how likely is it to see such streaks of record-breaking temperatures if not for human-caused warming of the planet? Playing the odds? A year ago, several...

01/29/2016
European Summers Hottest Since Roman Empire, According to Tree Ring Analysis
Yale Environment 360: For the past three decades, Europe has been experiencing its warmest summers since the days of the Roman Empire, according to a study published in the Environmental Research Letters Journal. The study, compiled by 40 academics, concluded that average summer temperatures have been 1.3 degrees Celsius hotter than they were 2,000 years ago. Heat waves also occur more often and last longer. The temperature figures were calculated by analyzing the tree ring analysis of three pine species found in Austria,...


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