Arizona State University's Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative held a short story contest to write "climate fiction," judged by Kim Stanley Robinson and others; now the best stories have been collected in a free downloadable ebook that includes a forward by Robinson, and an interview with Paolo Bacigalupi. Read the rest
I've been writing "design fiction" for years (see, for example, Knights of the Rainbow Table), and when people ask me to explain it, I say something like, "An engineer might make a prototype to give you a sense of how something works; an architect will do a fly-through to give you a sense of its spatial properties; fiction writers produce design fiction to give you a sense of how a technology might feel." Read the rest
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."
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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.
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
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
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.
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
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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.
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.
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.