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

12/22/2014
Climate adaptation costs to soar
Observer: The cost of adaptation to climate change is likely to go up by two to three times of the estimated $70 to $100 billion by 2050, a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report says. These estimates were based on the two degrees rise in global temperatures. Released at the crucial climate talks in the Peruvian capital of Lima on December 05, the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report suggests that there will be a significant funding gap after 2020 unless additional finance is availed. The...

12/22/2014
Lima, a new low for climate action
Hindu: A climate deal cannot be achieved by endless squabbling, but by accepting responsibility and acting decisively After nearly a fortnight of prolonged talks, some of it acrimonious, there was little that made anyone happy - except perhaps the developed world which was not called on to make any more clear-cut mitigation or financial commitments - in the Lima Call for Climate Action. Twenty-two years after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and five assessment reports...

12/22/2014
A Single Word in Peru Climate Negotiations Undermines the Entire Thing
Slate: Since 1992, the world's leaders have been meeting annually to talk about what to do about climate change. Despite these efforts, the planet is still on pace for a worst-case scenario--actually, it's tracking a bit above it. Thanks to exceptionally warm oceans, this year should be the hottest ever measured. The U.N. process has so far produced oodles of protocols and plans of action. Yet emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks the world over have continued on largely unabated. The result has...

12/22/2014
The truth about the Lima climate deal
Global Post: With a new draft of a United Nations climate treaty in hand, the world can breathe more easily as 2014 comes to a close. What a relief, right? Late last Saturday, after 13 exhausting days of haggling among nearly 200 governments here, the negotiations finally achieved their goal: a dense text known as the Lima Call for Climate Action. It provides the outline for an international treaty, to curb global greenhouse gas emissions, to be signed in Paris a year from now. With some experts saying...

12/22/2014
Paris climate talks may have to pay for Lima compromise
Economic Times: Is the outcome at Lima a recipe for a weak climate deal in Paris? Compromises on many key issues in the draft negotiating text that will serve as the basis for the next round of negotiations, beginning in February in Geneva, hint at such a possibility. Countries from both sides - developed and developing - accommodated each-other's concerns in the agreed text, but it still left many loopholes in the draft that may allow rich nations to maneuver their positions in the run up to Paris. The concerns...

12/22/2014
NASA CO2 map reveals impact of forest clearance
RTCC: Early data has come in from the first satellite dedicated to monitoring levels of carbon dioxide in the air -- with some surprising results. The patch of dense carbon dioxide above China was to be expected, as factories churn out emissions. But the biggest swathes of red -- signifying a high concentration of the greenhouse gas -- appeared over the southern hemisphere. "Preliminary analysis shows these signals are largely driven by the seasonal burning of savannas and forests," explained...

12/22/2014
NHL Takes on Climate Change, Beyond the Rinks
Triple Pundit: Last week the National Hockey League announced that it is stepping up its sustainability actions through a new partnership with the energy services company Constellation. The new deal makes Constellation the official preferred energy provider for the NHL with a focus on improving energy efficiency at ice rinks and other facilities throughout the organization. The agreement also calls for Constellation to provide enough carbon offsets to equal the entire carbon footprint of the NHL for the upcoming...

12/22/2014
Obama expresses scepticism over Keystone pipeline
Guardian: US President Barack Obama has delivered his most sceptical remarks yet on the future of the Keystone oil pipeline, claiming its controversial extension from Canada to Nebraska would do little to reduce American energy prices and generate only a limited number of US jobs, but could add to the infrastructure costs of climate change. Speaking during an end-of-year press conference just one day after Republicans promised fresh legislation designed to force the project’s approval, the president departed...

12/22/2014
More than one in 10 England wildlife sites lost since 2009
Guardian: More than one in 10 of England’s Local Wildlife Sites have been lost or damaged in the last five years, conservationists say. Monitoring of 6,590 of the country’s “quiet, unnoticed wild places in which nature thrives” such as ancient woodlands, hedgerows and churchyards revealed that 717 of them had been lost or damaged between 2009 and 2013. The Wildlife Trusts warn that the figures are just the tip of the iceberg, with many more of England’s 42,865 Local Wildlife Sites potentially under threat,...

12/22/2014
Where have all ebola fearmongers gone?
LA Times: Remember Ebola? Only two months ago, many Americans were gripped by fear of the uncontrollable spread of an apparently incurable disease that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected could strike 1.4 million people in West Africa before it came under control. It took only one case to touch off near-panic inside the United States: that of Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan after he was misdiagnosed by a Dallas hospital. In the weeks that followed Duncan’s death, state and local governments...

12/22/2014
Philippines have a welcome shift on climate change action
Boston Globe: In recent years, the Philippines has played an outsized role in United Nations climate talks. Its devastating typhoons make it a symbol of what developing countries face without the resources to protect cities from floodsas seas rise and storms intensify. But in the latest round of talks in Lima, Peru, the Philippines took a bold step forward that was more than just symbolic: the country declared it was time for developing nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions regardless of economic status. The...

12/22/2014
Palm Oil: Impact of climate change
Albany Times Union: You may have never heard of palm oil -- let alone thought about the role it played in your investment portfolio. But palm oil is fast becoming a ubiquitous ingredient, already present in half the goods we buy, from toothpaste to body wash, lipstick to detergent, cooking oil to ice cream and coffee to chocolate. Because it is free of trans fats, inexpensive and uses less acreage to grow than some alternatives, demand for palm oil has increased dramatically in the last decade and with it, so have...

12/22/2014
Lima climate deal leaves room for improvement
Washington Post: Ever since negotiators failed to agree on a climate accord in Copenhagen five years ago, diplomats have been trying for a big, international do-over. Talks in Lima, Peru, this month put this effort on track to conclude an agreement in Paris next year. The trade-off is that the accord will be insufficiently ambitious and difficult to enforce, in part because of the intransigence of developing countries. It cannot be the final word on the global response to climate change -- just an early step....

12/22/2014
Protecting a Home Where the Puffer Fish Roam in Biscayne National Park
New York Times: For 15 years, officials, environmentalists, fishermen and boaters have struggled to put together a plan to protect one of South Florida’s jewels — a national park, almost entirely underwater, where a part of the largest reef tract in the United States lures throngs of divers and anglers who fish its once-abundant grouper and snapper. Now, with a plan almost in place to tackle decades of deterioration that has left coral sick and fragile, sea grass stripped clean in places by boats, and the fish...

12/21/2014
Australia: Direct Action unlikely meet emissions target, says Climate Change Authority
Guardian: The government’s climate advisory body has delivered a stark assessment of the Coalition’s policies, stating it was unlikely that its Direct Action policy would meet Australia’s 5% emissions reduction target and calling for the renewable energy target (RET) to remain intact. The Climate Change Authority, which the Coalition unsuccessfully attempted to abolish, has conducted two statutory reviews for the government: one on the RET and one on the carbon farming initiative (CFI). The existing...

12/21/2014
Australia: Great Barrier Reef at risk from 'rushed' sediment dumping plan at Abbot Point
Guardian: A plan to dump dredged sediment onto a sensitive wetlands area beside the Great Barrier Reef near Abbot Point would lead to much more slurry being pumped into the waters of the reef than officially estimated, a report has warned. In its submission to the federal government, the environment group WWF cites expert advice that the project’s modelling underestimates by nearly 30% the amount of sediment and water that would be discharged into the ocean through a pipe from the wetlands ponds. A total...

12/21/2014
Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials
Voice of America: With Ebola having killed more than 2,000 people in Sierra Leone, and unsafe burials possibly being responsible for up to 70 percent of new infections, officials said they are resorting to increasingly desperate measures to clamp down on traditional burials in the country. Officials have even threatened to jail people - once it's clear they have not caught the disease - who prepare the corpses of their loved ones. "Burials and funerals are deeply, deeply ingrained in Sierra Leone,' said Austin...

12/21/2014
IMF policies blamed for weak Ebola response
Agence France-Presse: International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies left healthcare systems in the African countries worst affected by Ebola underfunded and lacking doctors, hampering a co-ordinated response to the outbreak, researchers said on Monday. Links between the IMF and the rapid spread of the disease were examined by researchers from Cambridge University's sociology department, with colleagues from Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They found IMF programmes held back the...

12/21/2014
Global warming blamed for Pacific coral bleaching
Agence France-Presse: The Marshall Islands is experiencing its worst-ever coral bleaching as global warming threatens reefs across the entire northern Pacific, scientists said Monday. Marine researchers said an El Nino weather pattern had been developing in recent months, raising ocean temperatures and stressing delicate coral reefs. "The worst coral bleaching event ever recorded for the Marshall Islands has been occurring since mid-September," Karl Fellenius, a Majuro-based marine scientist with the University...

12/21/2014
Amid climate change what's more important: Protecting money or people?
LA Times: At the latest round of international climate talks this month in Lima, Peru, melting glaciers in the Andes and recent droughts provided a fitting backdrop for the negotiators' recognition that it is too late to prevent climate change, no matter how fast we ultimately act to limit it. They now confront an issue that many had hoped to avoid: adaptation. Adapting to climate change will carry a high price tag. Sea walls are needed to protect coastal areas against floods, such as those in the New York...

12/21/2014
United Kingdom: Local wildlife sites not protected ruined by development, warns report
Independent: Wildlife-rich “secret spaces” are being ruined by farming, development and neglect, according to a new report, which finds that a tenth of these havens have been lost or damaged in the past five years. England’s Local Wildlife Sites (LWSs) encompass ancient woodlands, vibrant meadows, quiet churchyards and roadsides, providing habitat for everything from butterflies and bees, to orchids and hedgerows. But unlike Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), which enjoy special protection and are...

12/21/2014
Alaskan char adapt to climate change by following food
RedOrbit: While climate change has placed many different types of creatures in peril, others – including a species of Alaskan char known as Dolly Varden – have managed to adapt to warming conditions, claims new research published earlier this month in the journal Freshwater Biology. According to lead author Christopher J. Sergeant of the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring Program in southeastern Alaska and his colleagues, Dolly Varden have adjusted their migratory patterns in order to have...

12/21/2014
New climate change culprit: Beavers
USA Today: We were just trying to help. Turns out the efforts of humankind to save beavers from extinction over the past century have had an eco-unfriendly side effect: The animals, whose population has rebounded, are contributing to climate change, researchers say at EurekAlert. Beaver dams create shallow ponds, which can host growing levels of carbon as biological material accumulates on the floor. The result is methane, a greenhouse gas that doesn't dissolve in the ponds; instead, it travels into the...

12/21/2014
Losing Paradise: Climate change is changing Mount Rainier
Olympian: If the scientists are right, the end is near for a Northwest treasure — at least as we know it. Climate change is melting Mount Rainier’s glaciers at six times the historic rate. For years now, the melting has sent floods of water and rock pounding down the mountain, filling up rivers, killing old-growth forests and endangering historic national park buildings. The glacial outbursts also are tearing up the roads that provide access to the park’s wonders, testing the National Park Service...

12/21/2014
Sierra Leone Urges Safe Burials to Stem Ebola
Associated Press: The radio announcement is chilling and blunt: "If I die, I want the deaths to stop with me." Dr. Desmond Williams continues: "I want to give my family the permission to request a safe and dignified, medical burial for me." The announcement is part of a campaign to urge Sierra Leoneans to abandon traditional burial practices, such as relatives touching or washing the dead bodies, that are fueling the spread of Ebola in the West African country. Ebola has killed more than 2,000 people in Sierra...

12/21/2014
Park both protected and burdened
Olympian: If you’ve ever driven into Mount Rainier National Park through the Nisqually entrance, you might know the feeling. As you pass beneath the massive log arch and begin easing your car through tree-lined curves, there’s a sense of entering another reality. Susan Dolan says she always feels it. “Every time I drive through that entrance, I feel touched by the legacy,” said Dolan, who manages the Cultural Landscapes Program for the National Park Service from her office in Seattle. The feeling...

12/21/2014
Washington State's cap-and-trade plan for carbon emitters
Olympian: At the heart of Gov. Jay Inslee’s climate-action and state budget plans is a cap-and-trade system that would charge potentially 130 major polluters for their emission of greenhouse gases. The goal is to make heavy emitters, including fuel refineries and fuel suppliers, pay for their releases of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked by scientists to global warming. Inslee hasn’t set a price yet, but based on a similar California plan, the state could raise almost $1 billion a year with a price...

12/21/2014
Signals India ecological laws being diluted under current govt worrying
NDTV: Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh has said he is worried that ecological laws are being violated under the current government. "If we are going to dismantle the entire edifice of environmental laws and regulations, as this government seems to be doing, then what conviction and credibility will we carry internationally on climate change I don't know," Mr Ramesh told NDTV. Raising his concerns about the TSR Subramanium committee report, which was appointed by the government to have a...

12/21/2014
India says UN climate summit fails poor countries
LOE: Earlier this month, for the first time, all 190 nations meeting in Lima Peru pledged to present actionable plans to cut CO2 emissions by early next year. But many feel that the landmark accord wasn't strong enough. Host Steve Curwood discusses India's need for cash for clean development, its role in UN climate negotiations, and how to share global warming's burden fairly with Sunita Narain, Director General of India's Centre for Science and the Environment. Transcript CURWOOD: From the Jennifer...

12/21/2014
Climate models can’t read the story of Rainier
Bellingham Herald: Global climate models agree that temperatures will rise in the Pacific Northwest through the 21st century. But making specific and accurate predictions for an area as small and unusual as Mount Rainier National Park is beyond the scope of current climate knowledge and computing power. The park is essentially a square that measures about 20 miles on a side, with a mountain in the middle. Global climate models — mathematical representations expressed in computer code — are broad overviews that offer...

12/21/2014
Mount Rainier: Case study of a changing Earth
Bellingham Herald: At the foot of the Nisqually Glacier, the roar of rushing water and grinding rock is so loud you have to shout to be heard. Water bursts from an ice cave the size of an aircraft hangar, its arched roof dripping in the sun. Flurries of stones clatter down canyon walls. Paul Kennard, a National Park Service geomorphologist here with a team of researchers using laser scanners to locate the volume and sources of rock coming off the glacier, wears a helmet for protection against stones streaking...

12/21/2014
Climate changes, habitat loss cited as threats to 314 bird species
Trib: If bird watchers in Pennsylvania think they are seeing less of some species — the ruffed grouse, scarlet tanager, wood thrush and Baltimore oriole — they are right. Those birds could go the way of the once-prevalent Passenger Pigeon and are among hundreds at risk of disappearing, according to a report by the Audubon Society and another jointly prepared by the Fish & Wildlife Service and the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology. The projected declines, the studies each say, reflect climate changes...

12/21/2014
Managing Mount Rainier’s problems: The old ways no longer work
Bellingham Herald: Warned by geologists that the South Tahoma Glacier is aimed like a fire hose at the main entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, the National Park Service responded this summer with a traditional approach. Just past the log archway at the park’s Nisqually entrance, where outfall from the glacier crosses the main entrance road, contractors replaced a big culvert with a bigger one. The new culvert is enormous — tall enough inside for a regulation-height basketball hoop with room left over for dunks....

12/21/2014
Evangelical Christian Who Believes In Climate Change
National Public Radio: Weekend Edition staff have been picking their favorite interviews from 2014. Editor Natalie Winston talks with NPR's Rachel Martin about an interview with an evangelical Christian climate scientist.

12/21/2014
Ebola death toll now tops 7000, WHO says
Associated Press: The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continued his tour of Ebola-affected countries in West Africa on Saturday. The three countries hit hardest by Ebola have now recorded 7,373 deaths, up from 6,900 on Wednesday, according to WHO figures posted online late Friday. A total of 392 of the new deaths were in Sierra Leone, where...

12/21/2014
Answer on human-caused climate change is in
Sacramento Bee: As our planet warms, scientists and the general public are increasingly asking if human-caused climate change influences the extreme weather events we see all around us. Until recently, the answer was always “we don’t know yet.” Today, the answer is increasingly “yes.” Earth is in a remarkable transition from a world in which human influence on climate has been negligible to one in which our influence is increasingly dominant. One of the most active research areas in the climate sciences is the...

12/21/2014
Unleash Chinese solar panels to fight climate change
Boston Globe: The Obama administration has further undermined its carbon-reduction goals by putting up a needless barrier to imported renewables. On Tuesday, the administration toughened existing tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels, which increase their cost to American consumers by 27 to 78 percent. At a time when the administration is seeking to prod the US economy to move away from fossil fuel reliance, making renewables artificially more expensive is precisely the wrong move. After years of false starts,...

12/20/2014
Canadian and British reservists head to Sierra Leone join Ebola fight
Associated Press: Reservists and troops from Britain and Canada have left for Sierra Leone to help in the battle to contain the Ebola virus outbreak. British officials said Saturday that 16 reservists and 100 regular military personnel left on a morning flight from the Brize Norton military airbase. Officials say Canadian military personnel are on the same flight. They will take over a field hospital providing treatment to health care workers in Sierra Leone who have become infected with the often lethal...

12/20/2014
First U.S. Coal Ash Rule Disappoints Environmental Groups
Environment News Service: The first national regulations to provide for the safe disposal of the ash left after burning coal to produce electricity were announced Friday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. After years of delaying action on issuing a coal ash rule, the EPA was under a court order to issue new safeguards by December 19. On that date, the final rule for coal combustion waste was issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The National Resources Defense Council, NRDC, and other environmental...

12/20/2014
Stigma Of Sierra Leone's 'Ebola Orphans' Remains
Sky: Sierra Leone is now at the forefront of the fight against Ebola in West Africa, with more reported cases - almost 9,000 - than any other country, a rising number of deaths and many children left orphaned. But the impact of the disease goes far beyond the victims themselves. There are thousands of so-called "Ebola orphans", young children who have lost one or both parents to the disease and many have seen their close family wiped out by the virus too. In Sierra Leone there are estimated to...

12/20/2014
Birds can sense storms days in advance, say scientists
Mother Nature Network: Do some animals have a "sixth sense" that allows them to predict things like earthquakes or the weather? According to scientists who are studying the migration patterns of the golden-winged warbler, the answer is yes, at least in regards to the weather, reports the Guardian. After retrieving trackers that were fitted to a group of warblers, researchers noticed an odd pattern in the data. As the birds approached the southern United States on their way back from wintering in South America, they took...

12/20/2014
New York fracking ban is bad news shale gas producers
Rediff: A ban on fracking by the New York state is a small setback for India's largest private firm, Reliance Industries, which has invested $7 billion in US shale gas. On Thursday, the New York state banned fracking for health reasons. It said fracking, with horizontal drilling and chemical-laced water, could increase the risk of cancer, skin rashes, and upper respiratory tract problems. If the rest of the states in the US follow, it could put billions of dollars of investment at risk. Analysts...

12/20/2014
Non-OPEC Producers Called Cut Oil Output After Rout
Bloomberg: Crude tumbled into a bear market this year as oil extraction soared at shale formations in Texas and North Dakota as companies split rocks using high-pressure liquid, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reiterated pledges to keep pumping the same amount of crude, blaming non-OPEC producers for the glut of oil that’s driven prices to the lowest in five years. Suppliers from outside the Organization...

12/20/2014
UN chief, visiting Ebola region, urges respect for health rules
Reuters: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, starting a visit to Ebola-hit states in West Africa on Friday, urged their people to set aside traditional practices like washing the dead by hand so as to help end an epidemic that has killed nearly 7,000 people. Ban said he hoped to use his two-day tour of the region - his first since the outbreak was detected in March - to raise the profile of the fight against the disease and to thank the thousands of health workers who have participated. The virus, which...

12/20/2014
Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears
Associated Press: Health workers carrying thermometers and sanitizers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease. A total of 1.9 million voters are registered to participate in 15 Senate races throughout the country contested by 139 candidates. But Jerome Korkoya, chairman of the National Elections Commission, said Saturday afternoon that turnout had been low. "What...

12/20/2014
World's deepest fish discovered 5 miles under the ocean surface
Mother Nature Network: Five miles beneath the ocean, the pressure is over 800 times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level. Very few creatures can survive at this depth. In fact, no fish has ever been recorded swimming so deep under the sea -- that is, until now. A team of researchers led by the University of Hawaii recently filmed video of what is believed to be an unknown species of snailfish at a depth of 26,700 feet, which is the world record for the deepest swimming fish ever found, reports the Independent....

12/20/2014
United Kingdom: Prince Charles: reclaim the streets from cars
Telegraph: The Prince of Wales has made an impassioned plea for Britain's streets to be "reclaimed from the car'. Prince Charles urges architects to place pedestrians "at the centre of the design process' as part of a 10-point "master plan' he has devised for the developments of towns and cities. He also calls for many street signs to be removed. "Slow' and "Reduce Speed Now' signs, for example, should be taken down and replaced by features such as squares, bends and trees that "naturally' encourage motorists...

12/20/2014
The heartbreaking plight of thousands of Ebola orphans is being eased by the British public'
Mirror: The Archbishop of Canterbury is backing the Sunday Mirror Christmas campaign to raise money for desperate orphans of Ebola. Justin Welby heard about the efforts of our readers and charity Street Child while on a visit to Sierra Leone this week. He visited an orphanage near the capital and said: “Ebola just comes out of nowhere and you can’t identify it as an enemy as you can in a war. "I think what I saw today just reminded me of that. “You have these kids whose parents just get taken...

12/20/2014
UN Reports More Than 7000 Ebola Deaths Since March
National Public Radio: The number of people who have died from the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola has crossed the 7,000 mark, the World Health Organization reports, after it recorded another 392 deaths from its previous total of 6,900 earlier this week. The total number of infected, nearly all of them in West Africa, is at 19,031, up from 18,569 in the previous report. More than 99 percent of all infections and deaths have occurred in three countries - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The addition of the nearly 400...

12/20/2014
Liberian voter turnout low as Ebola overshadows senate election
Reuters: Turnout for Liberian parliamentary elections on Saturday appeared to be low as concerns about Ebola kept many voters at home. Polling stations were largely empty after voting began at 8 a.m. (0800 GMT) in the seafront capital Monrovia, with voters occasionally drifting in, despite precautions put in place by the National Elections Commission (NEC). Staff with temperature guns at polling stations checked voters for any signs of the hemorrhagic fever, which is spread via bodily fluids. Voters were...

12/20/2014
Ebola death toll close to 7400 says World Health Organisation
Guardian: The death toll from the worst ever outbreak of Ebola has reached nearly 7,400, with just over 19,000 people infected across west Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Sierra Leone reported 400 new fatalities this week, bringing the death toll there to 2,500. As of 18 December, it had the highest number of people infected by the virus – 8,800 cases, of which 6,900 were confirmed, according to the country’s health ministry. The WHO is attempting to curb an outbreak in the...

12/20/2014
No end to the EU's crazy fishing policy
Telegraph: There could be no more eloquent epitaph on the destruction of Britain's once-proud fishing industry than the recent revelation that 23 per cent of the entire fishing quota Brussels allows Britain now goes to a single giant Dutch trawler, the Cornelis Vrolijk, to land all its catches in Holland. Few people under 50 can recall a time when Britain had Europe's largest fishing fleet and 80 per cent of all its fishing waters. But back in the 1990s, this column was almost alone in reporting what...

12/20/2014
Japan: Fukushima and institutional invisibility of nuclear disaster
Ecologist: The nuclear industry and its supporters have contrived a variety of narratives to justify and explain away nuclear catastrophes, writes John Downer. None of them actually hold water, yet they serve their purpose - to command political and media heights, and reassure public sentiment on 'safety'. But if it's so safe, why the low limits on nuclear liabilities? In a truly competitive marketplace, unfettered by subsidies, no one would have built a nuclear reactor in the past, no one would build one...

12/20/2014
Ban pledges UN support in tour of Ebola-hit West Africa
Agence France-Presse: UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday pledged support for Ebola-ravaged countries seeking to end the world's worst outbreak of the virus and rebuild their health systems as he began a tour of the three hardest-hit nations. With the UN having faced criticism for an allegedly slow response to the virus, Ban started the tour in Liberia, the worst-hit country, after flying in from Ghana, where the UN Ebola mission is headquartered. He later travelled to Sierra Leone and was due to fly to Guinea, the other...

12/20/2014
Fracking ban reflects power of committed citizens
Poughkeepsie Journal: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead New Yorkers were treated to a front-row seat of Mead’s words in actions last week when, after years of fighting, fracking was banned here. And while the anti-fracking movement had grown large and loud, it began with a few individuals and groups who managed to forestall a headlong rush into an action that could have had irreversible consequences for...

12/20/2014
Virtual model of Arctic to monitor human impact and climate change
RT: Russian scientists are working on a high-tech virtual map of the Arctic in order to keep track of climate change developments and monitor human impact on the area, in what may help pave the way for safer mining of the region's oil and gas reserves. The project is being developed by the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in Novosibirsk. It will utilize a geographic information system analogous to GoogleMaps, called ITRIS, in order to simulate natural processes and monitor...

12/20/2014
Q&A: Heating Up Climate Change Debate
Wall Street Journal: Forest clearing can have just as catastrophic an impact on the world's climate as carbon pollution, according to a new study published in the peer-reviewed science journal Nature Climate Change. The study finds that deforestation increases global temperatures, causes a decline in average rainfall and a shift in its location, which impacts agriculture. That's something that President Joko Widodo should make note of, say environmentalists. The study, "Effects of Tropical Deforestation on Climate...

12/20/2014
Ebola death toll 3 African countries hits 7373: WHO
Reuters: The death toll from Ebola in the three worst-affected countries in West Africa has risen to 7,373 among 19,031 cases known to date there, the World Health Organization said on Saturday. The latest data, posted overnight on the WHO website, reflected nearly 500 new deaths from the worst ever outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since previous WHO figures were issued on Dec. 17. Sierra Leone accounts for the most cases, 8,759, against 7,819 for Liberia. But Sierra...

12/20/2014
Senior Sierra Leone doctor dies of Ebola
Associated Press: One of Sierra Leone's most senior physicians died Thursday from Ebola, the 11th doctor in the country to succumb to the disease, a health official said. In neighboring Guinea, a fire destroyed medicine crucial to fighting Ebola. The fire engulfed a warehouse at the Conakry airport and burned everything inside, said Dr. Moussa Konate, head of logistics for Guinea's Ebola response. He could not immediately say how much had been lost. The world's largest Ebola outbreak has drawn a massive international...

12/20/2014
Ebola crisis: Liberia holds postponed senate election
BBC: Voting is under way in Liberia in an election that was postponed in October because of the Ebola outbreak. Liberians are choosing representatives to the country's senate. Among the 139 candidates vying for 15 seats are former football star George Weah and Robert Sirleaf, the son of Liberia's president. Ebola has infected about 19,000 people in West Africa, killing more than 7,373 - with 3,346 deaths in Liberia, according to the latest UN figures. The senate elections were postponed in...

12/20/2014
Judge rules against anti-whaling activists in campaign stop Japan hunt
Guardian: Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica. The ninth US circuit court of appeals on Friday ordered a commissioner to determine how much Paul Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society he founded owe Japanese whalers for lawyer fees, damage to their ships and for violating the court order to stop their dangerous...

12/20/2014
WHO: Ebola Death Toll in Three African Countries Hits 7373
Voice of America: Health workers manned polling stations Saturday as Liberians voted in a Senate election that was delayed twice because of the West African Ebola epidemic. Liberian election officials mandated that all participants wash their hands and be tested for fever before entering buildings, and then maintain a 1-meter distance from one another. Critics had questioned whether it was safe to hold the election, with the potential for the Ebola virus to spread among people in line at polling stations. Voter...

12/20/2014
UN chief praises Ebola nurses, pledges support during visit
Reuters: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday praised healthcare workers fighting the Ebola virus as he paid his first visit to Liberia and Sierra Leone following an outbreak that has killed nearly 7,000 people. Ban paid tribute to local workers and the United Nations, but he singled out medics from the three countries at the heart of the epidemic who have fallen sick while treating patients. He visited an Ebola treatment centre outside Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, and listened as 28-year-old...

12/20/2014
Behind New York's fracking ban
US News and World Report: New York is set to become the second state in the nation to ban fracking. Hundreds of studies have linked the controversial oil and gas extraction process – and the chemicals leaked from fracking sites – to air and water contamination, as well as a host of health issues, from headaches and nosebleeds to asthma, neurological disorders and potential cancers. Energy companies and trade groups have vigorously criticized many of the studies. Yet Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in deciding to formalize the Empire...

12/20/2014
Obama hits Keystone again but declines to threaten veto
Politico: President Barack Obama poured cold water once again on the alleged economic benefits of the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Friday -- a theme he has sounded frequently in the past few months, increasing speculation that he will eventually kill the project. Obama said at his year-end news conference that the Alberta-to-Texas project would have "very little' effect on gasoline prices and do little to improve the economy. He acknowledged that building the pipeline would create a "couple thousand' temporary...

12/20/2014
Climate activists choosing to nibble at the corners
Herald Net: I have a theory as to why Americans don't worry all that much about global warming: High-profile purveyors of climate change don't push for reductions in greenhouse gases so much as focus on berating people who do not agree with their opinions. They call themselves champions of “the science” yet focus on ideology more than tangible results. Their language is downright evangelical. Recently, science guy Bill Nye joined other experts who objected to the media's use of the term “climate skeptic.”...

12/20/2014
National Hockey League shoots for zero carbon emissions – goal for other sports?
ClimateWire: The National Hockey League will significantly reduce its carbon footprint -- as well as the greenhouse gas emissions of its 30 franchise teams -- through improved energy conservation, detailed efficiency analyses and the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) under a newly signed agreement with Constellation Energy Group, the league announced yesterday. The deal, which officials say brings the NHL to the fore among major sports leagues for its climate mitigation activities, will rely...

12/20/2014
Alberta climate-change framework hits another delay
Edmonton Journal: The release of a long-delayed update on Alberta’s climate-change framework has been postponed again, this time until the new year, but Premier Jim Prentice says the province is working hard on a long-term strategy rather than a short-term fix. An overhauled climate-change strategy was set for release by the end of the month, but Prentice confirmed this week the work has progressed more slowly than expected. On Friday the province extended its $15-per tonne carbon levy on heavy greenhouse-gas emitters,...

12/20/2014
Keystone 'not even nominal benefit' US consumers, Obama says
Hill: President Obama on Friday said building the Keystone oil pipeline would “not even have a nominal benefit” to consumers, pushing back at claims it would lower gas prices further. Obama stressed that the issue at hand for Keystone is “not American oil, it is Canadian oil.” “That oil currently is being shipped out through rail or trucks and it would save Canadian oil companies, and the Canadian oil industry enormous amounts of money if they could simply pipe it all the way down to the Gulf,” Obama...

12/20/2014
The world can't afford more Limas
Al Jazeera: The United Nations Conference on Climate Change that ended on Dec. 14 in Lima, Peru, is a classic case of seeing a glass as half full or half empty. In the half-full view, Lima is a stepping stone to the kind of agreement the world needs to halt the devastating effects that scientists anticipate if global warming breaks the 2-degree-Celsius increase ceiling. In the half-empty view, Lima is a diversionary maneuver to hide the failure to even seek an enforceable agreement that is necessary if climate...

12/20/2014
Antarctic photo science archive unlocked
BBC: Aerial photos from the 1940s and 1950s are being used to probe the climate history of the Antarctic Peninsula. UK scientists are comparing the images with newly acquired data sets to assess the changes that have occurred in some of the region's 400-plus glaciers. The old and modern information has to be very carefully aligned if it is to show up any differences reliably. And that is a big challenge when snow and ice obscure ground features that might otherwise act as visual anchors. But...

12/20/2014
Warming world's rising seas wash away some of South Florida's glitz
Sydney Morning Herald: It's just past sunset and the strip at South Beach, Miami, is pumping. It is the biggest weekend of the year in America's glitziest city. The Art Basel is on, an annual fine art festival that has been overwhelmed by the world's thrillingly wealthy – and the Hollywood stars they like to play with – dropping a few million on trinkets. The sorts of media that follow these events are beside themselves. Somewhere in this town, New York Magazine was later to report, Leonardo DiCaprio left a nightclub...

12/20/2014
Greenland may lose ice more rapidly than previously thought
Environmental News Network: The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second-largest body of ice on Earth. It covers an area about five times the size of New York State and Kansas combined, and if it melts completely, oceans could rise by 20 feet. Coastal communities from Florida to Bangladesh would suffer extensive damage. Now, a new study is revealing just how little we understand this northern behemoth. Led by geophysicist Beata Csatho, UB associate professor of geology, the research provides what the authors think is the first...

12/20/2014
E.P.A. Issues New Rules on Disposal of Coal Ash
New York Times: The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced the first federal guidelines for disposing of coal ash, instructing power plants to implement safeguards against contaminating nearby water supplies. But the agency did not require many of the restrictions that had been urged by environmentalists and other advocates, who point to studies showing coal ash — the material that remains when coal is burned to produce electricity — contains a significant amount of carcinogens. “This rule is a pragmatic...

12/19/2014
U.S. judge restores protections to Great Lakes wolves
Reuters: A federal judge on Friday restored U.S. Endangered Species Act protections to gray wolves in the western Great Lakes in a decision hailed by wildlife advocates for halting wolf hunting and trapping planned in such states as Minnesota and Wisconsin. U.S. wildlife managers in 2012 lifted federal protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes, including Michigan, after determining that the animals had rebounded from near-extinction. The decision opened the way for state-regulated hunting seasons....

12/19/2014
Social media amplified fear imported Ebola case
Live Mint: Social media drove the fear of Ebola in countries like the US, which saw a few imported cases in October, as opposed to the West African countries where social media presence was lower but where the Ebola epidemic raged, says a study to be published on 27 December in medical journal The Lancet. On 30 September, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that Thomas Eric Duncan, a 45-year-old Liberian national visiting the US, had been diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, Texas. Duncan succumbed...

12/19/2014
Coal ash is not hazardous waste under U.S. agency rules
Reuters: In a disappointment to environmentalists, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued rules on Friday labeling coal ash, a byproduct of coal-based power production containing toxic materials such as arsenic and lead, as non-hazardous waste. The label means that states and environmental groups taking legal action, and not the EPA, will be the primary enforcers of the first-ever federal rules targeting coal ash, which will require the closure of some coal ash holding ponds leaking contaminants...

12/19/2014
Obama sounds like he’s about to reject Keystone pipeline
Grist: Speaking at his end-of-the-year press conference on Friday afternoon, President Obama sounded very much like he’s poised to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. He gave his sharpest assessment to date of its potential costs and benefits - lots of costs and few benefits. Climate hawks rejoiced, not only because of Obama’s implied opposition to Keystone, but because he finally confronted American ignorance of how the oil market works, and attempted to reorient our energy policy around reality. At...

12/19/2014
Judge rules keep gray wolves on endangered species list
Guardian: A federal judge on Friday threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list – a decision that will ban further wolf hunting and trapping in three states. The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The US Fish and Wildlife Service dropped federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states. US District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, DC, ruled...

12/19/2014
Ecuador halts environment deals with Germany over rainforest visit
Reuters: Ecuador halted environmental cooperation deals with Germany worth some 43 million euros to the Latin American country after German lawmakers tried to visit an Amazon rainforest recently opened for oil production, the foreign minister said on Friday. President Rafael Correa in 2007 asked wealthy countries to donate $3.6 billion to help protect the environmentally sensitive rainforest known as Yasuni in exchange for promises not to drill for the oil beneath it. In 2013, he scrapped the plan and authorized...

12/19/2014
New EPA Standards Label Toxic Coal Ash Non-Hazardous
National Public Radio: The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new national standards designating coal ash - a nearly ubiquitous byproduct of coal-fired power plants that contains arsenic and lead - as non-hazardous waste. NPR's Christopher Joyce reports that coal-fired power plants produce more than 130 million tons of the coal ash each year and they have long stored millions of tons of it in giant ponds. But many of those ponds have failed in recent years, allowing contaminated water to get into rivers and...

12/19/2014
125M ha degraded lands identified forest-friendly agricultural expansion
Mongabay: A team of researchers has identified 125 million hectares (309 million acres) of land suitable for agricultural expansion that won't come at the expense of tropical forests. The study, published in Conservation Letters, argues that shifting agricultural expansion away from forests to these "degraded lands" would avoid 13 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions that would be released were forests converted for plantations, pasture, and croplands. Those emissions are roughly equivalent to the amount...

12/19/2014
Obama: Keystone benefits for U.S. consumers, workers nominal
Reuters: U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast would only nominally benefit American consumers and workers in perhaps his strongest comments on the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline to date. "There is very little impact - nominal impact - on U.S. gas prices, what the average American consumer cares about," Obama told reporters during an end-of-year press conference. Obama picked apart some of the most...

12/19/2014
US should act as though climate change is certain
Oregonian: Has humanity's history of burning fossil fuels changed the atmosphere so much that it is causing the earth to warm? We can't be absolutely certain that the core conclusions drawn by the vast majority of the world's climate scientists are correct - that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is making the atmosphere a better insulator, thus increasing the earth's temperature, which, in turn, changes global climate. But neither can we know with absolute certainty that they are wrong. Nevertheless, there...

12/19/2014
Why the Lima Climate Talks Sucked for Women and Indigenous People
EcoWatch: As a credentialed observer inside the COP20 in Lima last week, I was bored to tears. Endless speeches. Panel discussions in dark rooms. Men in expensive suits. My colleague Nnimmo Bassey, a leading Nigerian environmental justice activist and winner of the Right Livelihood Award, blogged, “Negotiation arenas remain places for fiddling while Rome burns.” Observers watched the opening ceremony on a big screen from the back of the hall. All the speakers, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said...

12/19/2014
EU Traffic Noise Causes 10,000 Premature Deaths a Year
Environment News Service: More than 125 million Europeans could be exposed to levels of road traffic noise above legal guidelines, causing up to 10,000 premature deaths each year, finds a new assessment published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA). "Noise in Europe 2014," the EEA`s first noise assessment report, analyzes exposure to noise levels and the environmental and public health problems that result. The effects of noise are particularly widespread. For the one in four Europeans exposed to noise levels...

12/19/2014
Breathing Pollution During Pregnancy Raises Child's Risk of Autism
Nature World: It should come as no surprise that if an expecting mother breathes air of poor quality, her child might suffer for it. Lung development trouble, premature births, and other complications have all been associated with severe air pollution. However, a new study has now linked air pollution with autism as well. This is not the first time risk of autism development has been tied to maternal air pollution exposure. However, according to researcher Marc Weisskopf, the senior author of the new study,...

12/19/2014
Large Carnivores Gain Ground Populated Europe
Nature World: Large carnivores like the gray wolf, brown bear, lynx and wolverine are swiftly gaining ground in Europe, after the densely populated continent hunted and displaced them to near extinction a century ago, a new study says. "The total area with a permanent presence of at least one large carnivore species in Europe covers 1,529,800 square kilometers (roughly one-third of mainland Europe), and the area of occasional presence is expanding," the authors wrote in the journal Science. And international...

12/19/2014
'Nuisance Flooding' Will Affect Most of U.S. Coastline by 2050, Report Finds
Yale Environment 360: By 2050, most U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year due sea level rise, according to a new report the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The researchers looked at the frequency of so-called "nuisance flooding," which occurs when the water level reaches one to two feet above local high tide, and found that several cities along the East Coast are already seeing more than 30 days of nuisance flooding each year. Additional major cities...

12/19/2014
Puerto Rico's only native toad bounces back from edge of extinction
Mongabay: The Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) has had a miraculous journey. Once common on the islands of Puerto Rico and Virgin Gorda, its population declined by more than 80 percent over the past decade, leaving behind just some 200 individuals in the wild. These few individuals are now known only from a handful of locations in Puerto Rico. The toads were even thought to have gone extinct from 1931, until a small population was rediscovered in 1966. But researchers have turned their fate...

12/19/2014
Guinea capital bans New Year festivities because of Ebola
RFI: The governor of Guinea's capital Conakry has banned all festivities marking the end of 2014 due to the emergency following the Ebola epidemic in the country. Police and gendarmes will deployed around the capital to ensure that the ban is enforced. All public social activities slated to mark the end 2014 have been banned, a statement released on Thursday by Conakry governor Soriba Sorel Camara said. Public gathering places will remain closed throughout the holidays and police and gendarmes will...

12/19/2014
Running Ebola Clinic in Sierra Leone About Containment & Chlorine
Wired: Treating patients with the deadly Ebola virus takes doctors, drugs, and a whole lot of chlorine. The Ebola treatment units being deployed across Sierra Leone are built by teams of logisticians-"logs" in disaster aid parlance-who can drop into a bare field and construct a mini city in a matter of weeks. But these cities are full of some of the world`s sickest, most contagious patients. More From the Ebola Front Lines: For Ebola Patients in Sierra Leone, Survival Takes More Than Medicine In...

12/19/2014
Monumental Growth of Crude-by-Rail Ignites Communities to Fight Back
EcoWatch: Ed Ruszel’s workday is a soundtrack of whirling, banging, screeching—the percussion of wood being cut, sanded and finished. He’s the facility manager for the family business, Ruszel Woodworks. But one sound each day roars above the cacophony of the woodshop: the blast of the train horn as cars cough down the Union Pacific rail line that runs just a few feet from the front of his shop in an industrial park in Benicia, California. Most days the train cargo is beer, cars, steel, propane or petroleum...

12/19/2014
UK's biggest solar farm connects national grid
Guardian: The biggest solar farm in the UK, capable of powering 14,000 homes a year, has been connected to the national grid in Oxfordshire. The 46MW Landmead solar farm, in East Hanney near Abingdon, is built on low-grade farmland used for grazing sheep, which will remain along with new wildflowers to be planted as part of efforts to improve the site’s biodiversity. In October, Liz Truss, the environment secretary, attacked solar power projects built on farmland, saying they were hitting food production...

12/19/2014
LA River's flood role is 'paramount'
BBC: Any moves to modify the Los Angeles River, to return parts of it to a more natural setting or to capture water, need to be implemented with care. Scientists say the key job of the concrete channel, which has featured in countless films and pop videos, is to protect the city from damaging floods. And that role is likely to become more challenging if climate change brings heavier rains, they argue. Alternatives to the river's current brutalism will not be easy to find. "This is not a simple...

12/19/2014
Most of Alaska's Permafrost Could Melt This Century
LiveScience: The permafrost in some of Alaska's most iconic national parks could all but disappear this century, new research suggests. Right now, half of the ground in Denali National Park's is frozen year-round, but if global warming continues at the current pace, just 1 percent of this land could remain permafrost by the year 2100, according to new research presented here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Not only could vast swaths of the Alaskan tundra transform into swampy bogs,...

12/19/2014
Stephen Harper's climate-change comments only half the story, critics say
CBC: Stephen Harper touts merits of Alberta's carbon pricing system Full text of Peter Mansbridge's interview with Stephen Harper Stephen Harper says oil and gas regulations now would be 'crazy' Canada under pressure after U.S., China agree to curb greenhouse gases Leona Aglukkaq's UN climate speech doesn't mention oil and gas emissions Stephen Harper is often accused of being absent on environmental issues, but in a year-end interview with CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, the prime minister...

12/19/2014
Greenpeace to aid Nazca Lines inquiry
BBC: Greenpeace will co-operate with an investigation by a Peruvian court to determine responsibility for damage caused by activists at the Nazca Lines, the group's chief executive has said. Kumi Naidoo told reporters that the protest at the ancient site on 8 December had been conceived out of "positive intention" but that "there cannot be any defence for what happened". The Nazca Lines are huge figures scratched on the surface of the ground between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago, which are believed to have...

12/19/2014
How Long Can the US Oil Boom Last?
National Geographic: Now that oil prices have dropped to levels not seen since 2009, helped by a flood of oil flowing from hydraulic fracturing or fracking wells in North Dakota and Texas, it's time to ask the question: How long can the U.S. oil boom last? In the short term, the price drop threatens profits from fracking, which is more expensive than conventional drilling. Sure enough, permit applications to drill oil and gas wells in the U.S declined almost 40 percent in November. But in the long term, the U.S....

12/19/2014
Study shows the effect that growing beaver population is having on habitat & methane gas emissions
Environmental News Network: There are consequences of the successful efforts worldwide to save beavers from extinction. Along with the strong increase in their population over the past 100 years, these furry aquatic rodents have built many more ponds, establishing vital aquatic habitat. In doing so, however, they have created conditions for climate changing methane gas to be generated in this shallow standing water, and the gas is subsequently released into the atmosphere. In fact, 200 times more of this greenhouse gas is released...


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One in every 5 countries is expected to experience a severe shortage of water within 25 years.

 

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