Environmental Briefs

With President Obama in Alaska this week talking about the effects of climate change on the Arctic, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, it is a good time to try to catch up on the environmental and climate science news reported over the past month.

WeathermanBelow is just a sampling from the Washington Post’s “Energy and Environment” reporting, and Think Progress “Climate” reporting. There has been much more environment and climate science reporting over the past month.

You should ask yourself why the media in Arizona does not report environmental and climate science news, especially those bobble-head “meteorologists” on your local TV news who repeat the same damn weather report at least four times every half hour. If they really are “meteorologists,” shouldn’t they be using some of their time to educate and inform their viewers about the environment and climate science?

Perhaps the lack of quality science reporting by the media is why Americans, and Arizonans in particular, are so damn ignorant about the environment and climate science (you know who you are). It’s not like quality science reporting is not available. It is a conscience editorial decision to not report on the environment and climate science — unless it is to provide an echo chamber for Republican attacks on the EPA, or to promote their major advertiser, a utility company from the Carbon Monopoly.

Washington Post

Obama can rename Mount McKinley Denali — but he can’t stop its loss of ice

From wildfires to shrinking glaciers — 5 ways climate change is transforming Alaska.

WalrusesWalruses in the Arctic are running out of sea ice this year — again

Diminishing sea ice in the Chukchi sea could be pointing toward another massive walrus haul-out in Alaska, which is dangerous for the animals.

As sea ice retreats, 5,000-6,000 walruses confirmed on Alaskan shore

Experts said more walruses are milling offshore and the numbers are expected to grow.

With their sea ice habitat gone, hordes of walruses once again huddle along the Alaskan coast

Update: 5,000 to 6000 walruses are on the shore, according to an estimate from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Concerns mount over whale deaths in Gulf of Alaska

Thirty whales have been found dead since May, adding another item to the list of this summer’s strange happenings in the Gulf of Alaska.

Alaska’s quest to power remote villages — and how it could spread clean energy worldwide

Alaska, a vast landmass with harsh winters and remote native towns facing high energy costs, has become a unique innovator in renewable energy.

Judge backs controversial Alaskan gold mine in dispute with EPA

A federal judge seeks to compel testimony from retired EPA official, setting up new clash between agency and backers of huge gold mine planned for Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

The troubling reasons why NASA is so focused on studying sea level rise

NASA isn’t saying — yet — that sea level will be worse than expected this century, but it’s certainly rushing to study the possibility.

One of the world’s fastest melting glaciers may have just lost its biggest chunk of ice on record

Alarmingly, scientists can’t say whether it’s a new record or not.

polar-bear-on-ice-flowWhy NASA’s so worried that Greenland’s melting could speed up

The agency is flexing its muscles to study Greenland — the melting that is occurring on top of the ice sheet, and the retreat of its outlying, oceanfront glaciers.

Greenland’s stunning melting, in 24 unforgettable images

Recent research suggests that Greenland is losing 378 gigatons — or, 378 billion metric tons — of ice each year.

Scientists are still trying to figure out how fast we could lose West Antarctica

Whether West Antarctica is a slow or fast moving disaster makes all the difference.

The melting of Antarctica is bad news for humans. But it might make penguins pretty happy.

Scientists have discovered that Antarctic melting is actually very good for the marine food web.

From the Mississippi to the Ganges, river deltas are in major trouble

New research examines how rising seas and sinking land affect 48 major global river deltas, the home to 340 million people.

These countries will be hit hardest by water stress in the future

What live peer review looks like when the fate of the planet is at stake

Public peer review is under way for a controversial, alarming paper released last month by famed former NASA climate scientist James Hansen.

If global warming really did pause, the planet just pressed ‘play’ again

A new study counters recent work and reasserts that there really was a global warming slowdown or “pause.”

The U.S. is now at wildfire preparedness level 5 — the highest there is

Large fires are now burning in 11 states, including 12 in Oregon and 14 in California.

Wildfires have now burned a massive 8 million acres across the U.S. this year

Only six other years on record have seen so many acres burned — and all have occurred since the year 2000.

With a stunning 7 million acres burned so far, the U.S. wildfire situation is looking dire

Some 30,000 firefighters and supporting personnel are now battling across the United States, and that’s still not enough. Military personnel are being trained and support from outside the U.S. being added as five Western states each have at least 10 active fires.

A stunning five million acres have now burned in Alaskan wildfires this year

The staggering 2015 Alaska wildfire season is now number two in the record books.

The forests of the world are in serious trouble, scientists report

By threatening the world’s forests, humans ultimately harm themselves.

Earth is on track to lose an India-sized chunk of its tropical forests by mid-century

New research suggests that tropical forests may be disappearing even faster than we thought.

With proposed limits on methane, EPA takes aim at a powerful greenhouse gas

EPA unveils a plan to cut methane emissions from oil and gas wells, a major contributor to greenhouse-gas pollution.

The thing that people too often forget about Hurricane Katrina

It wasn’t the worst case scenario.

New study reveals the possibility of hurricanes ‘unlike anything you’ve seen in history’

Researchers refer to these possible storms as “gray swans,” riffing on the concept of a “black swan” event. Are we prepared?

The big fish story everyone is missing in the Western drought

It’s not just that the water is low.

Why sage grouse could become the next spotted owl

A survey found more males are dancing to woo females.

As pesticides wipe out Monarch butterflies in the U.S., illegal logging is doing the same in Mexico.

The Monarch massacre part 2. They’re losing their home in Mexico.

The U.S. wind energy boom couldn’t be coming at a better time

Electricity from wind is now cheaper than ever before, says the Energy Department.

Now Google can tell you whether it’s a good idea to put solar panels on your roof

Its new tool that estimates the amount of energy and savings solar power could generate for any given home.

Power companies may have found a new way to crack into the booming solar business

Another sign that utilities are getting into the community solar game, the solar sphere’s hottest growth market.

There’s a big change coming to how we power our homes — and it isn’t about solar or batteries

Meet “demand flexibility” — shifting when you use power to hours of the day when it costs less.

Oil is cheaper than it’s been in years. Why aren’t gas prices?

Analysts think gas will fall back to $2 a gallon — but not just yet.

What Wikipedia edits can tell us about the politicization of science

On Wikipedia, the science of acid rain is still contentious — even though the issue itself has largely vanished from public debate.

For Pope Francis’s D.C. visit, environmental rally of up to 200K planned

Several environmental groups are planning a large climate rally on the Mall during Pope Francis’s visit.

Think Progress

Let’s See What Happens When This Group Of Scientists Retests Studies That Contradict Climate Science

A new study tried to replicate the findings of 38 climate contrarian studies, and found recurring mistakes throughout the research.

Hottest Month On Record Portends Global Warming Speed Up

July 2015 was Earth’s hottest month “among all 1627 months in the record that began in January 1880.” 2014 was the hottest year on record. 2015 will easily top that. And 2016 could well beat 2015. The long-awaited speed up in global warming appears to starting now.

Hottest July On Record Keeps 2015 On Track To Crush 2014

2015 is likely to crush the previous record — 2014 — probably by a wide margin. We appear to be in the midst of the long-awaited jump in global temperatures.

Climate Change Linked To Devastating Texas Floods

A new study directly links human-caused global warming to the catastrophic May flooding in Texas and Oklahoma this spring.

How Much Of California’s Drought Was Caused By Climate Change? Scientists Now Have an Answer

Scientists have linked the extreme drought to climate change before, but this is the first study to determine how much of the drought can be blamed on climate change.

‘Godzilla El Niño’ Plus Carbon Pollution Equals Global Warming Speed-up

The short-term burst of warming in the tropical Pacific (from the monster El Niño) is now combining with the strong underlying long-term global warming trend. So 2015 will likely blow past the record for hottest year just set in 2014. And if history is any guide, 2016 may well top 2015.

President Obama Calls For Faster Action To Curb Arctic Warming And Climate Change

“The time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past,” Obama said. “Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They’re on their own shrinking island.”

World’s Glaciers Melting Faster Than Ever Before Recorded, Study Finds

Glacial melt, which contributes to sea level rise, is one of the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

Ex Machina: No Techno-Fix For Irreversible Ocean Collapse From Carbon Pollution

A new study finds there is no “deus ex machina” way to prevent a catastrophic collapse of ocean life for centuries if not millennia — if we don’t start slashing carbon pollution ASAP.

Big Bank Says It’s Going To Cost A Lot To Do Nothing On Global Warming

A new report from Citibank found that acting on climate change by investing in low-carbon energy would save the world $1.8 trillion through 2040, as compared to a business-as-usual scenario. In addition, not acting will cost an additional $44 trillion by 2060 from the “negative effects” of climate change.

A Broken Well Has Been Leaking Oil Into The Gulf Of Mexico For The Last 10 Years

An official statement released by Taylor Energy claims that the company has reached a settlement with environmental groups, though those groups contradict those claims.

Methane Is Leaking From Natural Gas Processing Plants At Much Higher Rates Than Reported

Nearly 2.5 million metric tons of methane escape from processing facilities each year.

How The EPA Plans To Cut Methane Emissions From Oil And Gas Wells

Methane is less common in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide but 86 times more potent in its ability to trap heat.

Here’s How The Government Plans To Cut Emissions From Landfills

The plan is an attempt to more tightly regulate a sector that accounts for nearly a fifth of total U.S. methane emissions.

Prominent Muslim Leaders To Issue Sweeping Call To Act on Climate

“Islam teaches us: ‘Man is simply a steward holding whatever is on Earth in trust.’”

Islamic Leaders Call For Phasing Out Global Fossil Fuels

“What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy? How will we face our Lord and Creator?”

Why Did 7 Big Oil Companies Submit Climate Pledges To The United Nations?

Seven large oil companies, including Southwestern Energy, Statoil, and Total, have committed to reducing emissions ahead of the U.N. Paris climate talks.

The Dry Weather That’s Hitting The Tar Sands Industry Is ‘A Preview of The Future,’Scientisits Say

Oil and gas extraction contributes to climate changes, which causes drought, which affects oil and gas production. To everything, turn, turn, turn?

Exporting Oil Overseas Would Come At A Huge Environmental Cost, Report Finds

A new report outlines exactly how exporting oil overseas would impact the country’s environment.

Judge Steps In At Last Minute To Block EPA, Heroically Saves America from Clean Water

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction Thursday, halting the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ regulation of some small streams, tributaries and wetlands.

Why The EPA’s Clean Drinking Water Rule Is So Controversial

Speaking generally, Americans really care about clean water. So it might be confusing that there’s been so much opposition to the EPA’s clean drinking water rule, known as the Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS.

7 Out Of 10 Americans Want Their States To Comply With the ERA’s Climate Plan

Most Americans want their state to come up with a plan to reduce carbon from power plants.

As Much As 90 Percent Of Seabirds Have Ingested Plastic, New Study Estimates

The vast majority of seabirds likely have plastic in their guts, according to a new study.

New Report Says Deforestation Trends Point To Increasing Losses, Recommends New Rules

By 2050, an area of forests the size of India is set to be wiped off the planet if humans continue on their current path of deforestation, according to a new report.

Hawaii’s Going 100 Percent Renewable, And It’s Not Using Natural Gas as a ‘Transition’

The company aiming to buy Hawaii’s utilities should probably pay attention to this.

The World’s First Floating Wind Farm

Despite lagging behind the rest of Europe in renewable energy, France is trying to be the first country to use floating wind farms on an industrial scale.

Obama Just Picked The Customer’s Side Against The Nevada Utility That’s Trying to Kill Rooftop Solar

The president’s keynote address at the Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas seemed to be pointed right at Nevada’s biggest utility, which is fighting hard to kill residential solar.

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