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December 05 2011


Enviro News Wrap: Fracking and Natural Gas; Taxing Chinese Solar Panels; Watering Down Environmental Laws, and more…

The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:





November 23 2011


Appeals Court Keeps Yellowstone Grizzlies on Threatened List

Conservationists and their opponents have been watching the Yellowstone grizzly bear case in Montana, because it has many similarities to an earlier court battle to prevent the removing of the wolf from the endangered species list.
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October 11 2011


Effects of Global Warming Posing Threats from the Arctic to Australia

Arctic sea ice - 2011It seems climate change deniers will try every trick in the book and go to almost any lengths to spread their message and gain supporters. You can’t deny what people and all forms of life around the world are experiencing, however, or the growing mountain of evidence supporting climate change theory being amassed by good, honest climate science.

The following are excerpts from noteworthy climate science and climate-related developments around the world in the past week.

* Rising average temperatures are threatening Australia’s water supply. A report commissioned by Australia’s Federal Dept. of Climate Change predicts that average temperatures will rise 0.6 and 2.9 degrees Celsius by 2050, and that overall precipitation will drop by as much as 24% by 2050.

Runoff from snow melt and precipitation in the “Australian Alps,” which stretch from Victoria to New South Wales, produces an estimated average 9600 gigatons of water a year. Reduced to dollars and cents terms, that’s as much as US$9.8 billion annually. The mountain runoff also supplies nearly 30% of the Murray-Darling River system, which in turn is the source of water for Australia’s primary agricultural lands and farms. Alps’ water helps support some 2.1 million of Australia’s total 21.9 million population.

* Younger, thinner sea ice once again dominated the Arctic in September, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Young, thin ice is much more prone to melt than older, thicker ice. The decreasing ice cover is also a positive global warming feedback cycle as it reduces the amount of sunlight reflected back into the atmosphere, termed the albedo effect.

The amount of sea ice four years old or older has been declining steadily, while sea ice one to two-years old has been increasing in the Arctic basin. Four year-old or older ice made up 45% of total Arctic sea ice in 1984. That compares to around 9% as of this September.

* Danger zones are emerging across the Himalayas as rising temperatures cause glaciers to melt. The melting Imja glacier in the Nepalese Himalayas “is a high-altitude disaster in the making – one of dozens of danger zones emerging across the Himalayas,” according to a report from The Guardian. Mountain regions from the Andes to the Himalayas are warming and melting faster than average. The melting Himalayan glaciers undoubtedly pose numerous and varied short- and long-term threats across one the world’s most heavily populated regions, which includes the entire Indian subcontinent.

* Samoa’s electric power company has asked all residents to cut their water consumption as drought has brought the island nation’s water reservoirs to lows and has caused rivers and creeks to completely dry up.

“At the moment we are mainly encouraging communities to minimize all the adverse impacts into the water shed areas because that’s not helping the situation at the moment, especially for surface water,” Suluimalo Penaia, assistance chief executive of the Water Resource Division, was quoted as saying in a news report. “There’s not much we can do. All we are doing at the moment is just monitoring the impacts, which one is actually flowing at the moment for the surface water and which are the main streams that are totally dried up at the moment.”

* More often heard than seen, American pikas living in the US Rocky Mountains are moving up to higher elevations as a result of the changing, warming climate. The American pika is second species that conservationists have petitioned for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) because of climate change-associated threats. The polar bear was the first.

Low-elevation pika populations around the region are at high risk from climate change. In Yosemite National Park, they have migrated more than 500 feet up-slope over the last 100 years. That’s coincided with a temperature increase of 5.4 °F in Yosemite, according to a Talking Science report.

Between 1999 and 2008, pikas in the Great Basin on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada have undergone an almost five-fold increase in extinction rate and an 11-fold increase in the rate of up-slope retreat.

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July 10 2011


Ancestry of Polar Bears Traced to Ireland

ScienceDaily (July 8, 2011) — An international team of scientists has discovered that the female ancestor of all living polar bears was a brown bear that lived in the vicinity of present-day Britain and Ireland just prior to the peak of the last ice age — 20,000 to 50,000 years ago. Beth Shapiro, the Shaffer Associate [...]

July 07 2011


Wolves Lose Federal Protection in Wyoming

The interior secretary cuts a deal with the state's governor requiring Wyoming to maintain just 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside Yellowstone Park.

June 16 2011


Farm Jobs Lost? Blame Environmentalists! (Or Not.)

The Pacific Institute reports that the farmers of California's Central Valley did far better than advertised during the three-year drought of 2007 through 2009.

June 13 2011


Unique Wild Flower Protection Restored

EarthJustice.org Judge rules that U.S. Fish and Wildlife acted “capriciously” in claiming threats were no longer present June 10, 2011 Denver, CO  — Yesterday, U.S. District Court judge Walker D. Miller sided with conservation groups and ordered the U.S. Interior Department to reconsider a decision denying Endangered Species Act protection to a wildflower found only in [...]

June 01 2011


April 25 2011


A Debate Over Endangered Species

To fend off lawsuits over delayed designations, a federal agency is asking Congress to cap the amount of money that it can spend to process petitions.

March 01 2011


Protecting the Lion From U.S. Predators

Noting that the United States is the leading importer of lions and lion parts, a coalition of groups seeks a federal listing on the endangered species list.

February 14 2011


Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Whales From Gulf of Mexico Oil Exploration

EarthJustice.org     DOI flouting marine mammal laws in rush to permit oil and gas surveys February 10, 2011 San Francisco, CA —  The Center for Biological Diversity, Gulf Restoration Network, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club filed a formal notice of intent to sue Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Wednesday for ignoring marine mammal protection [...]

February 09 2011


Take a Number, Mr. Walrus

The walrus will be designated a "candidate" species for listing under the Endangered Species Act, but it will be near the end of the list, the government says.

January 31 2011


December 01 2010


Fishing, Health and Conservation Groups Act to Protect Salmon from Pesticide Peril

Earthjustice.org EPA’s eight years of failure draws legal action November 29, 2010 Seattle, WA — Conservation and fishing groups today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle challenging the continued failure of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect West Coast salmon and steelhead from toxic pesticides. The suit seeks to force EPA [...]

November 25 2010


The Sea Otter's Fate in California

A legal settlement advances an effort to declare an experiment in limiting the southern sea otter's movements a failure. The goal now is to let the otters decide for themselves where they should live.

October 21 2010


Ruling Favors the Pint-Size Pika

A judge orders California Fish and Game Commission to reconsider a decision to deny state endangered species protection to the pika, whose numbers are declining as temperatures risein the mountains.

October 20 2010


Climate change destroying pika habitat

For the Second Time, Court Tells California to Reconsider Protecting Pika EarthJustice.org October 19, 2010 San Francisco, CA — A state judge ruled today that the California Fish and Game Commission must reconsider whether the American pika may warrant protection under the California Endangered Species Act due to climate change. Today’s ruling by San Francisco [...]

June 16 2010


June 04 2010


The Human Equation in Water-Related Disputes

A federal judge, in two rulings regarding pumping Sacramento River delta water to California's central valley, insists that environmental analyses are invalid unless they take humans into account.
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