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Tuesday, November 25 2014

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Global warming cynics unmoved by extreme weather

What will it take to convince skeptics of global warming that the phenomenon is real? Surely, many scientists believe, enough droughts, floods and heat waves will begin to change minds.

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Before and After Cattle Grazing (VIDEO)

This is a prime example of the over-grazed landscape that Western Watersheds Project seeks to protect through its many efforts.

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Another Albino Dolphin Captured in Taiji's Infamous Cove

Ten months after the world was captivated by a beautiful juvenile albino bottlenose dolphin who was captured from among a superpod of dolphins driven into the cove in Taiji, Japan, an albino Risso’s dolphin was driven into the cove and taken captive yesterday in Taiji (Nov. 23 Japan Time), Sea Shepherd’s volunteer Cove Guardians report. The albino Risso’s dolphin was part of the 15th pod of Risso’s captured this season. The Cove Guardians have named the newly captive albino dolphin “Shiro,” which means “white” in Japanese.

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Protecting forests alone would not halt land-use change emissions

Global forest conservation measures meant to mitigate climate change are likely to drive massive cropland expansion into shrublands or savannahs to satisfy the ever-growing hunger for arable land. The consequent changes in land use could cause substantial greenhouse gas emissions, a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change shows. In contrast to previous assumptions, conservation schemes that focus only on forests may thus fail to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from land-use change. If ecosystem protection policies aim at climate protection, they need to cover the whole range of land types, according to comprehensive computer simulations. To compensate for such restrictions on land use, intensification of agriculture to generate higher yields is important.

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Fall of ancient civilization offers climate warning

Two scholars have a new explanation for the collapse of one of the great Bronze Age civilizations. The Assyrian empire of the 7th century BC – based in Nineveh, in what is now northern Iraq – may have collapsed at least in part because of a population explosion and climate change in the form of sustained drought.

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Don't Drink the Water: Study Shows Well Contamination Across Southeastern Wisconsin, Finds Links With Coal Ash

A study released by Clean Wisconsin finds that more than one in five wells across Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties are contaminated with molybdenum at levels above the state health advisory level. Families and schools in the area are being forced to buy bottled water or install expensive purification systems to avoid the toxic metal, which is found in coal ash.

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Global appetite for resources pushing new species to the brink - IUCN Red List

Fishing, logging, mining, agriculture and other activities to satisfy our growing appetite for resources are threatening the survival of the Pacific Bluefin Tuna, Chinese Pufferfish, American Eel and Chinese Cobra, while the destruction of habitat has caused the extinction of a Malaysian mollusc and the world’s largest known earwig, and threatens the survival of many other species – according to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ released today at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in Sydney, Australia.

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Hundreds of important sites for nature threatened with destruction

More than 350 of the planet’s most important sites for nature are threatened with being lost forever according to a new report by BirdLife International.

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Plants -- no matter where they live -- have little wiggle room to survive drought, UCLA life scientists report

Plants all over the world are more sensitive to drought than many experts realized, according to a new study by scientists at UCLA and China's Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden. The research will improve predictions of which plant species will survive the increasingly intense droughts associated with global climate change.

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Fruits of the forest gone: Overhunting of large animals has catastrophic effects on trees

The elephant has long been an important spiritual, cultural and national symbol in Thailand. At the beginning of the 20th century, its numbers exceeded 100,000.

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Leading Scientists, 200 Groups and Companies Call for Monarch Protection

In the face of staggering declines of monarchs, more than 40 leading monarch scientists and ecologists and 200 organizations and businesses today urged Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to protect the butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. Today’s letters come in support of a formal petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking federal protection for monarchs. The petition was filed in August by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower.

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Biodiversity loss as serious as climate change

The tremendous value of diverse ecosystems is often invisible to the naked eye. The Research Council of Norway is encouraging research activities that draw closer connections between climate and biodiversity.

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China's old-growth forests vanishing despite government policies, Dartmouth research shows

China's anti-logging, conservation and ecotourism policies are accelerating the loss of old-growth forests in one of the world's most ecologically fragile places, according to studies led by a Dartmouth College scientist.

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Great news for migratory birds as two historic global agreements are reached to help save them

Two historic global agreements that will help save migratory bird species across the world were reached this weekend.

Yesterday [Sunday 9 November] the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) agreed a set of guidelines to tackle causes of poisoning and ratified a groundbreaking Action Plan to save more than 400 bird species.

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Global meat demand plows up Brazil's 'underground forest'

South and east of Brazil's famous Amazon, the air becomes dryer and the humid rainforest gives way to emerald green patches of irrigated pasture carved from scrubby woods and native grasslands.

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India set to defy warnings on coal’s climate impact

The man responsible for maintaining India’s power supply says he wants the country’s coal production to double within the next five years.

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When to Expect the “Coldest Day of the Year”

As winter approaches, much of the United States is beginning to brace for the cold, while some areas have already experienced their coldest day of the year. To give you a better idea of the coldest time of year for your area, NCDC has created a new “Coldest Day of the Year” map. This map is derived from the 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals—NCDC’s 30-year averages of climatological variables including the average low temperature for every day. From these values, scientists can identify which day of the year, on average, has the lowest minimum temperature, referred to here as the “coldest day.”

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Who Will Come to Your Bird Feeder in 2075?

The distribution of birds in the United States today will probably look very different in 60 years as a result of climate, land use and land cover changes.

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New Report IDs 350,000 Square Miles of Additional Habitat for Wolves in Lower 48

A first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity identifies 359,000 square miles of additional habitat for gray wolves in 19 of the lower 48 states that could significantly boost the nation’s 40-year wolf recovery efforts. The study indicates the gray wolf population could be doubled to around 10,000 by expanding recovery into areas researchers have identified as excellent habitat in the Northeast, West Coast and southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the Grand Canyon, an area where a radio-collared wolf was photographed in recent weeks.

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Local Citizens Group Granted Voice in Coal Ash Pollution Cases Against Duke Energy's Mayo and Hyco Lake Facilities

A North Carolina Superior Court has allowed the Roanoke River Basin Association, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, to participate as a full party in an enforcement action with respect to two Duke Energy coal ash sites near the Virginia border: Roxboro Steam Station in Person County on Hyco Lake and Mayo Steam Station on Mayo Lake near Roxboro. As a full party, RRBA will have the same rights as Duke Energy and DENR in the litigation.

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Nestling birds struggle in noisy environments

Unable to fly, nestling birds depend on their parents for both food and protection: vocal communication between parents and offspring helps young birds to determine when they should beg for food and when they should crouch in the nest to avoid a predator seeking an easy meal.

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Climate Change Impacts Countered By Stricter Fisheries Management

A new study has found that implementing stricter fisheries management overcame the expected detrimental effects of climate change disturbances in coral reef fisheries badly impacted by the 1997/98 El Niño, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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Global boom in hydropower poses a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity

An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, it could reduce the number of our last remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 percent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity. A new database has been developed to support decision making on sustainable modes of electricity production. It is presented today at the international congress Global Challenges: Achieving Sustainability hosted by the University of Copenhagen.

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Obama administration delays critical action to protect bees until at least 2016

Today, at the 14th annual North American Pollinator Protection Campaign International Conference, the White House announced a several month delay in the release of its pollinator report. The Presidential Memorandum, issued by President Obama in June 2014, required this report and charged the EPA with assessing the effects of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators within 180 days. But the EPA announced today that it would not release a regulatory decision on neonicotinoids before 2016.

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BOFFFFs (big, old, fat, fertile, female fish) sustain fisheries

Recreational fishermen prize large trophy fish. Commercial fishing gear targets big fish. After all, larger fish feed the egos of humans as well as their bellies.

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New tracers can identify frack fluids in the environment

Scientists have developed new geochemical tracers that can identify hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids that have been spilled or released into the environment.

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Loss of big predators could leave herbivores in a thorny situation

Global declines in carnivore populations could embolden plant eaters to increasingly dine on succulent vegetation, driving losses in plant and tree biodiversity, according to UBC research published today in Science.

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Ice loss sends Alaskan temperatures soaring

If you doubt that parts of the planet really are warming, talk to residents of Barrow, the Alaskan town that is the most northerly settlement in the US.

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Shark nets must go following another whale entanglement

A baby humpback whale caught today in shark nets on the Cooloola Coast is the eighth whale to be caught in Queensland’s nets this migration season.

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Mercury in the Nation’s Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that accumulates in fish to levels of concern for human health and the health of fish-eating wildlife. Mercury contamination of fish is the primary reason for issuing fish consumption advisories, which exist in every State in the Nation. Much of the mercury originates from combustion of coal and can travel long distances in the atmosphere before being deposited. This can result in mercury-contaminated fish in areas with no obvious source of mercury pollution.

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