Quarter of bumble bee species may soon be endangered in US

REUTERS

Reuters reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes listing the rusty patched bumble bee among America's endangered species.

Though just one of many species of bumble bee, Bombus affinis's sharp decline is a worry to conservationists. About a quarter of bumble bee species face "a risk of extinction."

The agency attributes the decline to a number of factors, including disease, pesticides, climate change and habitat loss.

Bumble bees, as distinguished from domesticated honey bees, are essential pollinators of wildflowers and about a third of U.S. crops, from blueberries to tomatoes, said Sarina Jepsen of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which petitioned the government for protection of the insect.

Bumble bees’ annual economic value to farms is estimated at $3.5 billion, according to experts.

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LA water hog exposed as "Wet Prince of Bel-Air"

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Who is the top residential water hog of Los Angeles? The Center for Investigative Reporting has narrowed it down to 7 Bel-Air mansions, with billionaire Jerry Perenchio's estate the prime suspect for using almost 12 million gallons of water a year. Read the rest

This couple's business uses more water than all homes in Los Angeles combined

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Mother Jones profiles Lynda and Stewart Resnick, central California megafarmers who grow water-intensive tree nuts, mostly almonds and pistachios. During a 1980s drought, they bought distressed groves, now part of a farming conglomerate grossing $4.8 billion annually, according to the article. Read the rest

LA halts subsidies for plastic lawns

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The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has changed its rebate program that subsidized homeowners who ripped up their wasteful turf lawns and put in plastic grass or gravel. Read the rest

#NoDAPL: U.S. orders halt in North Dakota pipeline construction on Native land

Protesters demonstrate against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. September 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

The United States government today ordered a temporary halt to construction of a stretch of North Dakota oil pipeline that has been the focus of a sustained and growing occupation protest by Native Americans and environmental activists.

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Gallery of hermit crabs with garbage shells

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The hermit crab housing shortage of empty shells is forcing some crabs to use marine waste, as documented by Okinawa-based photographer Shawn M. Miller. Read the rest

Amazing video demonstrates levels of light pollution

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Lost in Light is Sriram Murali's simple yet beautifully-crafted demonstration of levels of light pollution from worst to best, and how much gets lost in the night sky.

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2015 was deadliest year on record for environmental activists

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UK-based NGO Global Witness reports that at least 185 environmental activists were murdered last year around the globe, and two-thirds of those were in Latin America. According to the report: Read the rest

Mumbai Beach clean-up highlights marine waste epidemic

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The shocking amount of marine waste washed up on Mumbai's Versova Beach led UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh to publicize a long-term cleanup project. Mountains of garbage, mostly plastic, have been hauled away by thousands of volunteers. Read the rest

Why did Iran's Lake Urmia just change from bright green to blood red?

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Between April and July, Iran's salty Lake Urmia changed from a bright green color to a blood red. NASA's Aqua satellite captured the image above and reported on the science behind the strange transformation. According to NASA, the periodic color change is caused by micro algae producing carotenoids that help with photosynthesis and act as antioxidants and Halobacteriaceae, a bacteria in very salty water that releases "a red pigment called bacteriorhodopsin that absorbs light and converts it into energy for the bacteria." From NASA:

The color changes have become common in the spring and early summer due to seasonal precipitation and climate patterns. Spring is the wettest season in northwestern Iran, with rainfall usually peaking in April. Snow on nearby mountains within the watershed also melts in the spring. The combination of rain and snowmelt sends a surge of fresh water into Lake Urmia in April and May. By July, the influx of fresh water has tapered off and lake levels begin to drop.

The fresh water in the spring drives salinity levels down, but the lake generally becomes saltier as summer heat and dryness take hold. That’s when the microorganisms show their colors, too. Careful sampling of the water would be required to determine which organisms transformed the lake in 2016, but scientists say there are likely two main groups of organisms involved: a family of algae called Dunaliella and an archaic family of bacteria known as Halobacteriaceae.

While Lake Urmia has shifted from green to red and back several times in recent years, trends suggest that a red Urmia could become increasingly common.

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Mysterious green slimy foam emerges from Utah sewer

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Salt Lake City area health officials are investigating a very strange green foam that's emerging from a sewer grate in Bluffdale, Utah. Residents are freaked out because the nearby Utah Lake waterway was recently shut down due to a large toxic algae bloom.

Resident Tara Dahl said she watched the foam "kind of bubbling a little bit, and then you got closer and you could see it start rising,"

According to the Salt Lake County Health Department though, this particular nasty green material is more likely the result of chemicals used for moss removal in Welby Canal. That said, Welby Canal connects to the Jordan River which links directly to, you guessed it, Utah Lake where the toxic algae is blooming.

Salt Lake County is running more tests.

(Fox 13 Salt Lake City) Read the rest

Video of one year on Earth, from one million miles away

One million miles from Earth, hanging in space between Earth's gravitational pull and the sun's, is the DSCOVR satellite and NASA's incredible EPIC camera. Every two hours, EPIC takes a photo of Earth "to monitor ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth." The above video combines one year of those images.

From the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA.

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CO2 in Antarctica reaches 400 PPM for first time in 4 million years

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Earth's most remote continent finally caught up with its more populated counterparts. “Carbon dioxide has been steadily rising since the start of the Industrial Revolution, setting a new high year after year,” writes Brian Kahn at Climate Central. “There’s a notable new entry to the record books. The last station on Earth without a 400 parts per million (ppm) reading has reached it.”

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A First: from space, NASA spots a single methane leak from Earth's atmosphere

NASA

“For the first time, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a single, specific leaking facility on Earth's surface,” NASA announced Tuesday.

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Right to repair is under assault in New York, and you can save it!

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New York is one of four states considering legislation that would guarantee your right to get your stuff fixed by independent repair centers, curbing manufacturers' attempts to limit access to technical documentation and parts, meaning you pay less to keep your stuff working, and that means that your gadgets don't become immortal, toxic e-waste. Read the rest

How an engineer/public health whistleblower led the citizen scientists who busted Flint's water crisis

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When Marc Edwards was a young Virginia tech engineer, he landed a job with Cadmus Group, an EPA subcontractor who'd been hired to investigate problems with the DC water-supply, but when he discovered a lead contamination crisis and refused to stop talking about it, he was fired. Read the rest

Texas oil firm indicted in massive 2015 oil spill off coast of Santa Barbara, CA

A brown pelican being cleaned of oil by a bird rescue volunteer on May 22, 2015, after thousands of gallons of oil leaked on to San Refugio State Beach and into the Pacific. REUTERS

In California today, a grand jury indicted the Plains All-American Pipeline and one of the oil company's employees on criminal charges over the massive 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara County.

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