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Storm surge, high rainfall and rising sea levels provide a devastating 1,2,3 'compound flooding' punch to US coastal cities

Scientists at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science investigating the increasing risk of 'compound flooding' for major U.S. cities have found that flooding risk is greatest for cities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts when strong storm surge and high rainfall amounts occur together. While rising sea levels are the main driver for increasing flood risk, storm surges caused by weather patterns that favor high precipitation exacerbates flood potential.

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Cruelty to Endangered Orca Nets Lawsuit Against Miami Seaquarium

This morning, a coalition including the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), PETA, Orca Network, and Orca Network director Howard Garrett hit the Miami Seaquarium with a lawsuit contending that the facility’s imprisonment of suffering orca Lolita—currently held without the company of any others of her kind in a cramped tank with no protection from the harsh sun—constitutes a violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the protection of the ESA—which Lolita was granted following a successful petition from the coalition—her imprisonment and forced performances constitute an unlawful “take,” meaning that she is being harmed, harassed, or wounded.

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Climate change reduces coral reefs’ ability to protect coasts

Coral reefs, under pressure from climate change and direct human activity, may have a reduced ability to protect tropical islands against wave attack, erosion and salinization of drinking water resources, which help to sustain life on those islands. A new paper gives guidance to coastal managers to assess how climate change will affect a coral reef’s ability to mitigate coastal hazards.

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Shallow fracking raises questions for water, new Stanford research shows

The United States now produces about as much crude oil as Saudi Arabia does, and enough natural gas to export in large quantities. That's thanks to hydraulic fracturing, a mining practice that involves a rock-cracking pressurized mix of water, sand and chemicals.

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New source of lead in drinking water identified: Galvanized steel pipe coatings

When unsafe levels of lead are found in drinking water, the culprit has typically been lead pipes or lead-containing brass and bronze fittings, but in a new study researchers clearly show that lead present in the zinc coating of galvanized steel pipes can be a very significant long-term source of lead in water. Copper piping installed upstream of a galvanized steel pipe can worsen lead release from the steel's zinc coating, according to the study published in Environmental Engineering Science, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Environmental Engineering Science website until August 22, 2015.

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Global warming’s record-breaking trend continues

Forget talk of a slowdown in global warming. Scientists say the climate is heading smartly in the opposite direction, with 2014 proving to be a record-breaking year.

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Two Sea Shepherd Crewmembers Arrested In The Faroe Islands With Assistance Of Danish Navy

Two volunteer crewmembers from the Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon, have been arrested in the Faroe Islands.

Susan Larsen of the United States, driver of the small boat, Farley, and Tom Strerath of Germany, navigator of the same small boat, were arrested at approximately 0900 local time this morning.

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Ocean acidification may cause dramatic changes to phytoplankton

Oceans have absorbed up to 30 percent of human-made carbon dioxide around the world, storing dissolved carbon for hundreds of years. As the uptake of carbon dioxide has increased in the last century, so has the acidity of oceans worldwide. Since pre-industrial times, the pH of the oceans has dropped from an average of 8.2 to 8.1 today. Projections of climate change estimate that by the year 2100, this number will drop further, to around 7.8 -- significantly lower than any levels seen in open ocean marine communities today.

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Ecological Restoration to Battle Parasites

In 1986, rural communities along the Senegal River in West Africa welcomed a dam that brought jobs to sugar cane plantations. But those who lived and worked in and around the river and surrounding waterways soon became infected with a new disease that slowly robbed them of health, cognitive ability and, in the bigger picture, the ability to thrive as a community.

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ClimateTruth.org Launches to Fight Disinformation on Climate Change

Today, climate advocacy group Forecast the Facts announced a re-launch as ClimateTruth.org. The new name reflects the broader scope of work undertaken by the group since its initial launch in 2012.

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Polar bear metabolism less resilient to summer ice melt than expected

When polar bears' feeding opportunities are limited during the summer ice melt, the animals can reduce their energy expenditure a little, but not enough to make up for the associated food shortages, a new study shows.

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Hydraulic Fracturing Linked to Increases in Hospitalization Rates in the Marcellus Shale Region

Hospitalizations for heart conditions, neurological illness, and other conditions were higher among people who live near unconventional gas and oil drilling (hydraulic fracturing), according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University published this week in PLOS ONE. Over the past ten years in the United States, hydraulic fracturing has experienced a meteoric increase. Due to substantial increases in well drilling, potential for air and water pollution posing a health threat has been a concern for nearby residents.

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EPA, advocates: fracking wastewater too hazardous for sewage treatment plants

Toxic fracking wastewater shouldn’t be treated at facilities that can’t handle its hazards, Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), clean water and public health advocates, and more than 30,000 Americans said today, a day before the public comment period closes for a proposed federal rule to prohibit fracking waste shipments to sewage treatment plants.

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Protection Sought for Pangolins, World's Most Illegally Trafficked Mammals

A coalition of wildlife groups petitioned the U.S. government today to designate seven species of pangolins as “endangered” under the country’s Endangered Species Act and also asked for the protection of pangolins under the Act’s “similarity of appearance” provision.

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Global trends show seabird populations dropped 70 percent since 1950s

UBC research shows world's monitored seabird populations have dropped 70 per cent since the 1950s, a stark indication that marine ecosystems are not doing well.

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To avoid dangerous shark encounters, information trumps culling

The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) has a terrifying reputation. Shark attacks, though very rare, loom large in our imaginations, drawing intense media attention when they occur. Recent injuries in North Carolina are putting sharks in the limelight again. But going after sharks à la Jaws is not the best way to protect people in the water, said shark researchers.

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One of World’s Rarest Turtles Heading Back to the Wild

WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration announced today that 21 captive-raised southern river terrapins have been released back into their native habitat in southwest Cambodia. More than 150 villagers, government representatives, and religious leaders attended ceremonies for the release.

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Buzz the alarm: Climate change puts squeeze on bumblebees

Global warming is putting the squeeze on bumblebees. In the most comprehensive study ever conducted of the impacts of climate change on critical pollinators, scientists have discovered that global warming is rapidly shrinking the area where these bees are found in both North America and Europe.

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Study: Temperature a dominant influence on bird diversity loss in Mexico

A wide-ranging study of gains and losses of populations of bird species across Mexico in the 20th century shows shifts in temperature due to global climate change are the primary environmental influence on the distributions of bird species.

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Report: World's Most Endangered Porpoise Now Likely Down to Just 50

A scientific report released today finds that vaquita porpoises declined by more than 40 percent in a single year and consequently only around 50 individuals of the species likely remain on Earth. The vaquita is the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise, found only in Mexico’s northern Gulf of California.

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Failure to adopt recovery plan threatens survival of Pacific bluefin tuna

Inability to agree on a recovery plan for Pacific bluefin tuna at a meeting of the fisheries commission for the eastern Pacific Ocean presents a major risk to the seriously depleted species. The commission was also unable to reduce fishing capacity that currently exceeds the optimal scientifically recommended level by at least 50 per cent.

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Traffic-related air pollution risk is greater for minority and low-income populations

Low-income and minority populations disproportionately reside near roadways with high traffic volumes and consequently face increased exposure to traffic-related air pollutants (TRAP) and their associated health effects. New case studies demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating strategies to reduce TRAP exposure into the building design and site development for near-highway housing and school developments in the planning stages, as described in an article in Environmental Justice, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article will be available free on the Environmental Justice website until August 1, 2015.

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Analyses of carbon emissions may be misleading as they fail to include the impacts of policies such as trading schemes, emission caps or quotas

A new study published today in Nature Climate Change has found analyses of carbon emissions may be misleading as they failed to include the impacts of policies such as trading schemes, emission caps or quotas.

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The Mediterranean Sea classified as the sixth highest region for the accumulation of plastic debris on the planet

The amounts of plastic debris in the Mediterranean are comparable to those reported for the great accumulation areas located in the centres of the oceans.

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Man-made gas drilling, not an earthquake, responsible for continuing Indonesian mud volcano disaster

New research led by the University of Adelaide hopes to close the debate on whether a major mud volcano disaster in Indonesia was triggered by an earthquake or had man-made origins.

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Las Vegas Butterfly Gains 5,214 Acres of Protected Critical Habitat Under Endangered Species Act

Following an agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected 5,214 acres of critical habitat for the Mount Charleston blue butterfly in Clark County, Nev. Fewer than 100 of the tiny butterflies are known to survive. The Mount Charleston blue is found nowhere on Earth except for the Spring Mountains outside Las Vegas.

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Countering utility claims, report says solar panel owners provide net benefits

Homes and businesses with solar panels deliver more benefits than they receive through programs like net metering, a report said today, countering increasing complaints from utilities that solar homeowners don’t pay their fair share.

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Environmental, Farmer, and Consumer Groups Demand Higher Standards for Genetically Engineered (GE) Crop Regulations

Today, nearly 40 organizations and businesses, representing millions of consumer and farmer members across the country, submitted recommendations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)’s regarding the agency’s potential changes to biotechnology regulations under the Plant Protection Act (PPA). The groups argue that APHIS should 1) regulate genetically engineered crops based on the process, not product, 2) add broadly defined noxious weed provisions to its regulations, 3) utilize its authority to regulate to the fullest extent, and 4) regulate via binding federal regulations. In addition, to date nearly 150,000 people have submitted comments to APHIS in support of these recommendations.

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Texas Becomes 10th State to Ban Trade of Shark Fins

On Saturday, June 20, Texas became the 10th U.S. state to ban the trade of shark fins, when Gov. Greg Abbott signed H.B. 1579 into law, introduced by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-District 38). This law ensures that Texas will no longer participate in the global fin trade that is largely responsible for the decline of sharks around the world.

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Alaska Confirms 60 Percent Decline in Rare Wolf Population, Still Plans Trapping and Hunting Season

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is planning a 2015-2016 trapping and hunting season on rare Alexander Archipelago wolves in the Prince of Wales Island area, despite scientific data confirming a 60 percent decline in the wolf population in just one year. The population of wolves on the island could be as few as 50.

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