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Fish and Wildlife Service Urged to Speed Protection for Bat

Two dozen conservation and animal-welfare groups sent a letter today urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete its plan to protect the northern long-eared bat, a species found primarily in the eastern and midwestern United States. Opposition to the bat's protection under the Endangered Species Act — from timber, mining and energy industries as well as several state natural-resource agency officials — prompted the Fish and Wildlife Service to postpone a final decision on protecting the bat until spring 2015.

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Heavy metal songs: Contaminated songbirds sing the wrong tunes
Full story: EHN

Winged Warnings: Built for survival, birds in trouble from pole to pole
Full story: EHN

NOAA’s Marine Debris Program reports on the national issue of derelict fishing traps

Thousands of fishing traps are lost or abandoned each year in U.S. waters and become what are known as derelict traps, which continue to catch fish, crabs, and other species such as turtles. These traps result in losses to habitat, fisheries, and the watermen who depend on the resources -- losses that are largely preventable, according to a newly published NOAA study.

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World's Largest Plastic Bottle Structure Draws Attention to Global Plastic Pollution Crisis

After a flood created a dam where one could cross the Nera River by stepping on plastic bottles at the point of Danube where it enters Romania, the cu.podu project was born, explained Radu Rusu of EcoStuff. The goal of the project is to do something big enough to draw attention to the enormous quantities of litter dumped every day in the rivers and oceans around the world, like other organizations are doing including 5 Gyres Institute, which just finished a three-week sail from Bermuda to Iceland and found microplastic particles in every surface sample collected during the trip.

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BirdLife and Lynx publish first ever illustrated world bird checklist

Lynx Edicíons and BirdLife International have published the first ever Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. The checklist classification uses new criteria and recognises 462 new species which were previously treated as 'races' of other forms. The new total of 4,549 non-passerines implies that previous classifications have undersold avian diversity at the species level by as much as 10%.

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Seafood substitutions can expose consumers to unexpectedly high mercury

New measurements from fish purchased at retail seafood counters in 10 different states show the extent to which mislabeling can expose consumers to unexpectedly high levels of mercury, a harmful pollutant.

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Global warming is moistening the atmosphere

We have long suspected that greenhouse gases which cause the Earth to warm would lead to a wetter atmosphere. The latest research published by Eul-Seok Chung, Brian Soden, and colleagues provides new insight into what was thought to be an old problem. In doing so, they experimentally verified what climate models have been predicting. The models got it right… again.

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Human Contribution to Glacier Mass Loss on the Increase

By combining climate and glacier models, scientists headed by Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck have found unambiguous evidence for anthropogenic glacier mass loss in recent decades. In a paper published in Science, the researchers report that about one quarter of the global glacier mass loss during the period of 1851 to 2010 is attributable to anthropogenic causes. The fraction of human contribution increased steadily and accelerated to almost two thirds between 1991 and 2010.

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How Much Is Nature Worth

Ecosystem services – clean water, clean air, temperature regulation, food production, etc. – are the myriad ways in which people benefit from nature. Environmental economics is a growing field that, in part, tries to put a price tag on how much nature benefits people. The hope is that policy-makers and businesses will be more likely to preserve nature if they understand its importance.

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Investment in Climate Change Adaptation can Help Promote the Livelihoods of 65% of Africans, finds new report

Investment in climate change adaptation can help ensure that the impacts of climate change - including a projected 20 – 50 per cent decline in water availability – do not reverse decades of development progress in Africa, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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Study: All penguin species at continuing risk from habitat degradation

A major study of all penguin species suggests the birds are at continuing risk from habitat degradation. Writing in the journal, Conservation Biology, a group of internationally renowned scientists recommends the adoption of measures to mitigate against a range of effects including; food scarcity (where fisheries compete for the same resources), being caught in fishing nets, oil pollution and climate change. This could include the establishment of marine protected areas, although the authors acknowledge this might not always be practical. A number of other ecologically based management methods could also be implemented.

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Proposed Rosemont Mine Threatens Rare Jaguar, Ocelot and Tucson's Water Supply

The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter today urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to again take an in-depth look at how the proposed Rosemont copper mine in southern Arizona will affect endangered species, including jaguars, ocelots and rare fish. Agency scientists, in earlier drafts of their "biological opinion" of the project, concluded the mine would not be compatible with endangered animals in the area, including the only jaguar known to be living in the United States. That conclusion was later reversed by a supervisor. The Service, though, announced earlier this year it would revisit that opinion in the face of new information.

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Hawaii Farmers, Environmental Groups Defend Moratorium of GMO Crops

A coalition of local farmers and environmental groups last week filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit to defend a Hawai'i County ordinance that imposes a moratorium on the expansion of genetically engineered (GE) crops on the Big Island. On Aug. 1, Center for Food Safety (CFS), and three Hawai'i Island farmers asked the court permission to join as defendants in a biotech industry lawsuit challenging the County of Hawai'i's Ordinance 13-121. The ordinance regulates GE organisms to prevent their environmental and economic harms, such as contamination of organic and conventional crops and wild plants and associated pesticide use. The coalition is jointly represented by counsel from CFS and Earthjustice.

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IDA Designates Sedona, Arizona, the World's Eighth International Dark Sky Community

The red rock scenery of Sedona has long been an iconic setting for Hollywood films about the Old West and a popular magnet for artists and tourists alike. Sedona is committed to preserving its small- town charm, and thanks to the sustained efforts of concerned residents, its dark night skies. In recognition of Sedona's efforts protecting this important natural resource, the International Dark-Sky Association has designated the city of Sedona the world's eighth International Dark Sky Community.

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Scientists name new species of cetacean: The Australian humpback dolphin

Scientists examining a taxonomically confused group of marine mammals have officially named a species new to science: the Australian humpback dolphin, Sousa sahulensis, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society and Clymene Enterprises.

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Pakistan ill prepared for climate crises

Scientists and opposition politicians in Pakistan have strongly criticised the government for what they say is its neglectful attitude towards coping with the challenges posed by climate change.

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Water scarcity may be the most underrated resource issue the world is facing today

Seventy percent of world water use is for irrigation.

Each day we drink nearly 4 liters of water, but it takes some 2,000 liters of water—500 times as much—to produce the food we consume.

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NOAA: Alaska fisheries and communities at risk from ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is driving changes in waters vital to Alaska's valuable commercial fisheries and subsistence way of life, according to new NOAA-led research that will be published online in Progress in Oceanography.

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Industrial lead pollution beat explorers to the South Pole by 22 years and persists today

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole in December of 1911. More than 100 years later, an international team of scientists led by Joe McConnell of Nevada's Desert Research Institute (DRI) have proven that air pollution from industrial activities arrived long before.

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Climate Change Could Alter Range of Caribou and May Impact Hunters’ Access

Due to climate change, some communities in rural Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada may face a future with fewer caribou according to new research published by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the recent issue of PLoS ONE. Scientists examined the future effects of fires on winter habitats of caribou herds and determined that wildfires will reduce the amount of winter habitat for caribou, thus caribou may need to shift their wintering grounds

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Legal Petition to EPA: Protect People, Wildlife From Dangerous Chemicals in PVC Plastic

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a legal petition today urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect people, wildlife and the environment from toxic and carcinogenic chemicals found in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the same material once common in household plumbing. If successful, the petition will require that PVC be classified as hazardous waste, resulting in better regulations for disposal and, ultimately, a reduction in the amount of plastic trash and toxic chemicals additives contaminating communities across the country and polluting oceans worldwide.

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Study gives new perspective on agricultural plastic, debris burning, and air quality

To reduce fire hazard in the United States, wildland managers often utilize the silvicultural practice of mechanically cutting woody shrubs and suppressed trees (ladder fuels). These cuttings and other post-logging debris are then burned during periods of low fire danger in order to dispose of the material. To improve the burning and minimize hazardous air pollutants, managers often cover all or part of the debris pile with low-density polyethylene plastic, commonly referred to as agricultural plastic, in order to keep water out. A recent study published in the Journal of the Air and Water Association shows that inclusion of agricultural plastic in debris piles has no effect on smoke emissions.

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Genetic study shows major impact of climate change on Antarctic fur seals

Genetic analysis of Antarctic fur seals, alongside decades of in-depth monitoring, has provided unique insights into the effect of climate change on a population of top-predators. Published in Nature this week, the findings show that the seals have significantly altered in accordance with changes in food availability that are associated with climate conditions. Despite a shift in the population towards 'fitter' individuals, this fitness is not passing down through generations, leaving the population in decline.

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The geography of the global electronic waste ('e-waste') burden

As local and national governments struggle to deal with ever-growing piles of electronic waste (or "e-waste"), scientists are now refining the picture of just how much there is and where it really ends up. Published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, their study found that nearly a quarter of e-waste that developed countries discard floods into just seven developing countries — with major potential health risks for the people who live there.

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Amazon oil spill has killed tons of fish, sickened native people

On the last day of June, Roger Mangía Vega watched an oil slick and a mass of dead fish float past this tiny Kukama Indian community and into the Marañón River, a major tributary of the Amazon.

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Germany and UK top "Dirty 30" pollution league

It's not the sort of league table that anyone is proud of leading, but a new report on the European Union's power sector lists the EU's 30 most polluting energy plants – all powered by coal.

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Microplastics worse for crabs and other marine life than previously thought, study shows

The tiny plastic particles polluting our seas are not only orally ingested by marine creatures, but also enter their systems through their gills, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter.

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Sea level rise in western tropical Pacific will continue to rise as humans alter the climate

A new study led by Old Dominion University and the University of Colorado Boulder indicates sea levels likely will continue to rise in the tropical Pacific Ocean off the coasts of the Philippines and northeastern Australia as humans continue to alter the climate.

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Study led by indigenous people uncovers grizzly bear 'highway'

A novel, First Nations-led research collaboration has revealed a previously undocumented grizzly bear aggregation in coastal British ColumbiA, one of the most southerly aggregations of salmon-feeding grizzlies in North America. Using non-invasive DNA analysis, the authors describe a grizzly bear "highway," identifying nearly 60 individual bears, many who travelled hundreds of miles from surrounding areas to feed on autumn-spawning salmon in the Koeye River. The research was guided by the customary law and cultural practices of the Heiltsuk First Nation and recently published in the journal Ecology and Society.

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