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Widespread water and soil contamination in North Dakota linked to fracking spills

Accidental wastewater spills from unconventional oil production in North Dakota have caused widespread water and soil contamination, a new Duke University study finds.

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Coal-Tar Based Sealcoats on Driveways, Parking Lots Far More Toxic Than Suspected

The pavement sealcoat products used widely around the nation on thousands of asphalt driveways and parking lots are significantly more toxic and mutagenic than previously suspected, according to a new paper published this week by researchers from Oregon State University.

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Court Settlement Provides Hope for Mexican Gray Wolves

A coalition of wolf conservation groups, environmental organizations and a retired federal wolf biologist today announced a court settlement requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) to prepare a long-delayed recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves by November 2017.

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Large wildlife important for carbon storage in tropical forests

Many tropical forest trees depend on large fruit-eating animals such as elephants, tapirs, monkeys and hornbills for dispersing their sizeable seeds. Declines of these large mammals and birds due to hunting and forest disturbance, and consequent declines of tree species that they disperse, constitute a global conservation problem. Now, an international consortium of researchers predicts that such losses can cause substantial changes in the potential for tropical forests across the globe to store carbon, and thereby alter their ability to regulate our world's climate.

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Study: Even a little air pollution may have long-term health effects on developing fetus

Even small amounts of air pollution appear to raise the risk of a condition in pregnant women linked to premature births and lifelong neurological and respiratory disorders in their children, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.

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Widespread loss of ocean oxygen to become noticeable in 2030s

A drop in the amount of oxygen dissolved in the oceans due to climate change is already discernible in some parts of the world and should be evident across large parts of the ocean between 2030 and 2040, according to a new study.

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Rainforest study shows biodiversity loss worse than anticipated

The loss of plant and animal species around the world due to human activities could have been significantly underestimated due to a commonly used scientific method, according to a new study.

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Current measurement methods may be vastly underestimating the amount of plastic in the oceans

Plastics are all around us. They are found in containers and packing materials, children’s toys, medical devices and electronics.

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Grassroots tactics could improve global environmental policies

Much of the world may cringe as lemurs are hunted and killed or when entire forests are burnt and harvested for charcoal. However, if local residents don't perceive the actions as crimes or they believe there's a low risk of getting caught, then poaching and deforestation will continue.

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Goldman Environmental Prize Honors Six Heroes of the Environment

The Goldman Environmental Foundation today announced the six recipients of the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award for grassroots environmental activists. Awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions, the Goldman Prize recognizes fearless grassroots activists for significant achievements in protecting the environment and their communities.

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El Niño’s Warm Water Devastates Coral Reefs in Pacific Ocean

A team of marine scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Victoria have returned from nearly a month of scuba diving on coral reefs in the middle of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. What they saw will haunt them for a long time.

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Combined effects of copper, climate change can be deadly for amphibians, research finds

Researchers at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory warn that the extinction to two amphibian species--the southern toad and the southern leopard frog--may be hastened by the combined effects of climate change and copper-contaminated wetlands.

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Will we soon see another wave of bird extinctions in the Americas?

In the shady recesses of unassuming forest patches in eastern Brazil, bird species are taking their final bows on the global evolutionary stage, and winking out.

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USGS: Ecosystem Restoration Projects Generate Jobs and Business Activity in Local, Regional, and National Economies

From restoring the sagebrush sea to rejuvenating watersheds and landscapes after fires, ecosystem restoration can bear substantial economic fruit for local, state and national economies, according to a USGS study published today.

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Number of National Parks Ending Bottled Water Sales Has Plateaued as Industry Pushes Back

National parks that have banned sales of plastic water bottles have seen significant cost savings and reductions in their waste streams but only 5% of parks have ended these sales – a number which has remained flat since 2014, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In addition, a number of major parks which have studied the option are still holding back despite sizeable potential fiscal and environmental benefits. Disposable plastic water bottles represent the biggest source of trash in parks. Ending bottle sales is a “green” practice the National Park Service (NPS) authorized in 2011, after surmounting opposition from Coca-Cola, maker of the top-selling brand of bottled water.

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Judge Rules Feds Improperly Refused to Protect Wolverines

Today, the federal district court for Montana rejected a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to deny protections for wolverines in the contiguous U.S. The court ruled the Service improperly ignored science and violated the Endangered Species Act. A broad coalition of conservation organizations challenged the Service’s refusal to protect imperiled wolverines by listing them under the ESA.

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SeaWorld Joins The HSUS in Calling on Japan to End Commercial Whaling

In a letter to President Obama dated March 31, 2016, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and The Humane Society of the United States called for an end to Japan’s commercial whaling and urged the U.S. federal government to take additional steps to address this critical issue.

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Sea level may rise almost 50 feet by 2500 due to Antarctic ice sheet melting if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated

An ice sheet model that includes previously underappreciated processes indicates that sea level may rise almost 50 feet by 2500 due to Antarctic ice sheet melting if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, according to researchers from Penn State and University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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Report finds toxic BPA common in food cans

A new report released today by six nonprofit organizations that tested nearly 200 food can linings for the toxic chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA) found that two out of three cans tested have the chemical in the lining. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that negatively impacts our hormonal systems. Evidence suggests it may contribute to a host of harmful health effects including breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and attention deficit disorder. Other studies have demonstrated the capacity of BPA to migrate into food and then into people, raising concerns about exposures to low, but biologically relevant levels of BPA.

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Climate change: Greenland melting tied to shrinking Arctic sea ice

Vanishing Arctic sea ice. Dogged weather systems over Greenland. Far-flung surface ice melting on the massive island.

These dramatic trends and global sea-level rise are linked, according to a study coauthored by Jennifer Francis, a research professor in Rutgers University's Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences.

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10 of the Worst-sited Wind Energy Projects for Birds Identified

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) today released a list of 10 of the worst-sited existing and proposed commercial wind energy projects from the perspective of bird conservation. As the hunger for alternative energy grows, thousands of new wind energy projects are being planned and built—often without regard for the serious risks they pose to birds and other wildlife. (View list as a report on our blog or as a PDF.)

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News Analysis: Ignoring Best Practices, Four BC/Alaska Transboundary Mines Risk Repeating Mount Polley Disaster

In the midst of deliberations over the British Columbia Mining Code, an international coalition today released Post-Mount Polley: Tailings Dam Safety in British Columbia, a new analysis revealing that four major BC mine projects in the Alaska/British Columbia transboundary region fail to implement the recommendations of the Mount Polley expert panel, risking similar mine waste containment disasters. The Mount Polley mine disaster, considered the worst mine disaster in Canadian history, occurred in August 2014, releasing over 25 million cubic metres of mine waste into the Fraser River watershed.

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Half the World to Face Severe Water Stress by 2030 unless Water Use is “Decoupled” from Economic Growth, Says IRP

Without altering current levels of water consumption and pollution, almost half of the world's population will suffer severe water stress by 2030, damaging the well-being of millions of people, according to a new report from the International Resource Panel (IRP).

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Global warming pushes wines into uncharted terroir

Many factors go into making good wine: grape variety, harvesting practices, a vineyard's slope and aspect, soil, climate and so on--that unique combination that adds up to a wine's terroir. Year-to-year weather also matters greatly. In much of France and Switzerland, the best years are traditionally those with abundant spring rains followed by an exceptionally hot summer and late-season drought. This drives vines to put forth robust, fast-maturing fruit, and brings an early harvest. Now, a study out this week in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that warming climate has largely removed the drought factor from the centuries-old early-harvest equation. It is only the latest symptom that global warming is affecting biological systems and agriculture.

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Protecting 30 percent of the ocean benefits conservation, fishermen and other stakeholders

Protecting large stretches of the ocean from human influence may well be good for conservation. But a new study by University of York scientists Professor Callum Roberts and Dr Bethan O'Leary suggests that setting aside at least 30 percent of it would also benefit fishermen and other stakeholders.

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Eastern Monarch Butterflies at Risk of Extinction Unless Numbers Increase

Long-term declines in the overwintering Eastern population of North American monarch butterflies are significantly increasing their likelihood of becoming extinct over the next two decades, according to Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and U.S. Geological Survey research published today.

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Humane Society Praises SeaWorld for Committing to End Breeding of Orcas

In a dramatic shift that signals an eventual end to the practice of keeping captive orcas for public exhibition,SeaWorld announced it would cease all of its orca breeding programs for the company’s nearly 30 whales. This action will make the current group the last generation of SeaWorld’s orcas. The Humane Society of the United States, which worked with SeaWorld on these new policies, praised its reforms as a major step forward toward a humane economy in which corporations respond and adapt to public concerns over animal welfare.

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African Elephants Move One Step Closer to Endangered Listing under US Law

In a positive response to a scientific petition submitted last year by animal protection groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said increased Endangered Species Act protections may be warranted for the African elephant. Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare submitted the original petition on Feb. 11, 2015.

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Prenatal exposure to air pollution linked to impulsivity, emotional problems in children

Exposure to common air pollutants during pregnancy may predispose children to problems regulating their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors later on, according to a new study led by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health within Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and New York State Psychiatric Institute. The new study is the first of its kind to examine the effects of early life exposure to a common air pollutant known as PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) on self-regulating behaviors and social competency that incorporates multiple assessment points across childhood. Children with poor self-regulation skills have difficulty managing disruptive thoughts, emotions, and impulses; poor social competency limits their ability to get along with others. The findings appear in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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