Conservation & Environment

The fight over the Arctic’s future is heating up

Posted by on Sep 26, 2016 @ 5:09 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

The White House Arctic Science Ministerial comes at a pivotal time for the region. While glacial ice hits record lows, the Arctic is more exposed than ever to the ravages of climate change. That’s because the receding ice has oil producers pushing harder than ever for permission to drill in the ecologically sensitive area.

The Arctic is often seen as ground zero for climate change. Disappearing glaciers, sea-level rise, melting permafrost, rapidly changing habitats: These are all climate change-related impacts being felt right now in the region. According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

But complicating the fight to save the Arctic is that the region houses a massive, largely untapped reservoir of oil. The irony here is that as the ice recedes, it is easier to drill in the Arctic. More drilling, in turn, leads to more fossil fuel use, which drives climate change.

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Earth Could Reach Critical Climate Threshold in a Decade, Scientists Warn

Posted by on Sep 25, 2016 @ 7:56 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The planet could pass the critical 1.5°C global temperature threshold in a decade—and is already two-thirds of the way to hit that warming limit, climate scientists warned at a conference this week.

Scientists said global greenhouse gas emissions are not likely to slow down quickly enough to avoid passing the 1.5°C target. The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C was agreed to in the landmark Paris agreement negotiated by 195 nations last year.

But the planet is continuing to experience unprecedented heat month after month, setting 2016 on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. In fact, the scientists said, Earth is currently on a trajectory to hit at least 2.7°C in global temperature rise.

A plant and soil scientist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said mass lifestyle change must be undertaken to combat rising temperatures, such as developing more sustainable diets, reducing food waste and red meat intake, and importing fewer greenhouse gas-heavy vegetables.

“There are lots of behavioral changes required, not just by the government … but by us,” he said. He also warned that controversial geoengineering techniques such as sunlight blocking could become the norm in some countries.

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Coalition on National Parks’ Future Seeks Native Involvement

Posted by on Sep 24, 2016 @ 6:49 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Coalition on National Parks’ Future Seeks Native Involvement

In this the year of the centennial of the National Park Service, a coalition has emerged with a vision for the future of our national parks and other public lands, a vision of greater diversity and inclusiveness. The “Next 100 Coalition” is comprised of more than 30 civil rights, environmental justice, and conservation organizations.

The coalition’s vision statement calls for an approach to our national public lands that reflects the ethnic and demographic diversity of the nation, including greater use of national parks by people of color, and more people of color in the work force of the Park Service and other federal land management agencies.

The coalition also calls for more attention to ethnic diversity in telling the stories about our parks and national monuments, and in adding new ones. As the vision statement says, “Protecting cultural and natural landscapes that tell America’s complex history will help us learn from our past, honor our ancestors and educate future generations.”

America’s complex history includes a great many stories about how places that are now national parks used to be inhabited by indigenous tribal nations. There are also many stories about how it came to be that now, when we do talk about such habitation, we use the past tense.

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‘ERIN BROCKOVICH’ Carcinogen in Tap Water of More Than 200 Million Americans

Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 @ 7:46 am in Conservation | 0 comments

In the film “Erin Brockovich,” the environmental crusader confronts the lawyer of a power company that polluted the tap water of Hinkley, Calif., with a carcinogenic chemical called chromium-6. When the lawyer picks up a glass of water, Brockovich says: “We had that water brought in ‘specially for you folks. Came from a well in Hinkley.”

The lawyer sets down the glass and says, “I think this meeting’s over.”

But almost 25 years after that real-life confrontation,[1] the conflict over chromium-6 is not over. A new EWG analysis of federal data from nationwide drinking water tests shows that the compound contaminates water supplies for more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states. Yet federal regulations are stalled by a chemical industry challenge that could mean no national regulation of a chemical state scientists in California and elsewhere say causes cancer when ingested at even extraordinarily low levels.

The standoff is the latest round in a tug-of-war between scientists and advocates who want regulations based strictly on the chemical’s health hazards and industry, political and economic interests who want more relaxed rules based on the cost and feasibility of cleanup. If the industry challenge prevails, it will also extend the Environmental Protection Agency’s record, since the 1996 landmark amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, of failing to use its authority to set a national tap water safety standard for any previously unregulated chemical.

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There’s one group of Americans that consistently cares about climate change

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 @ 11:37 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Poll after poll finds Hispanics and Latinos are more likely to acknowledge the climate is changing, worry about the threat, and support policy to slow the rise in temperature — even though they are less likely to identify as environmentalists. Why?

One possibility is that Latinos tend to lean left and vote Democrat. But even among Democrats, people of color are more likely to believe climate change should be a top priority for policymakers.

Among Americans of color, Hispanics and Latinos stand out: Several polls find they are more likely to support pro-climate policy than African Americans, even though they are less likely to identify as liberal or Democrat.

There a few guesses as to why this is the case. Foreign-born Latinos may care more because they have strong ties to countries that are threatened by climate change. Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico are acutely vulnerable to heat, drought, and coastal flooding. Severe heat is worsening pollution in Mexico City, making the air almost unbreathable.

Another variable is age. “With a median age of 27 years, Hispanics are significantly younger than whites (42), blacks (33) and the nation as a whole (37). Overall, younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to say the Earth is warming because of human activity.”

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Canada’s federal government takes a cue from British Columbia’s price on carbon

Posted by on Sep 20, 2016 @ 6:46 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna pledged to enact a nationwide carbon price on provinces that don’t do enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions on their own.

McKenna said that each province would be allowed to create their own pricing scheme — whether a tax like British Columbia, or a cap-and-trade system like Quebec — and would only be subject to the national scheme if they are not achieving sufficient reductions. Four provinces in Canada — British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and, Quebec — currently have some kind of carbon pricing scheme, and approximately 80 percent of Canadians live in an area where there is a price on carbon.

British Columbia’s carbon tax, which was implemented in 2008, has been successful in reducing emissions while having a “negligible” effect on the province’s economic activity. Moreover, the tax has become popular among residents and businesses — polling last year found that only 32 percent of voters oppose the tax, and businesses have actually called for the tax to be increased.

In Washington state, residents will have a chance to vote for their own version of a carbon tax this November, inspired by the success seen in British Columbia. And nationwide, a new poll shows that Americans might be willing to pay a carbon tax in order to reduce global warming.

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Cradle of Forestry Invites Nature Enthusiasts to Pink Beds Bioblitz

Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 @ 1:38 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

The Cradle of Forestry in America invites nature enthusiasts of all ages and knowledge levels to the first Pink Beds Bioblitz. Join naturalists and scientists Friday, September 23, 2016 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, September 24 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to discover the diversity of life in this special part of Pisgah National Forest. This free fun event in honor of National Public Lands Day meets in the Pink Beds Picnic area.

Bring your curiosity and observation skills to the Bioblitz. Binoculars, a magnifying glass, a notepad, and field guides will help you add to the knowledge of plants and animals along the Pink Beds Trail. You can observe and discover on your own or join a guided discovery walk.

Nighttime offers mist netting for bats and searching for moths and nocturnal insects. Saturday birding begins at 8:00 a.m., an “all species” walk begins at 9:00 a.m., and at 2:00 p.m. join an ecology walk. This is a full day of exploring and learning about the natural world from experts while adding to the knowledge of biodiversity in the Pink Beds area.

Mushroom, reptile, and amphibian hunts and fish shocking are just a few of the many activities offered from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Stations offering help with species identification and with how to safely and respectfully look for wildlife are among the educational booths. Check www.pinkbedsbioblitz.wordpress.com for a complete schedule of walks and activities.

The Pink Beds Bioblitz will use a citizen science tool called iNaturalist to aid in identification and data collection. You can download this app at home on a smartphone and join the “Pink Beds Bioblitz” project. If you choose to use this tool you can photograph a plant or animal with your GPS turned on and load your observation into the project. Help with this app will be available both Friday evening and Saturday.

Registration for the Pink Beds Bioblitz is not required. Please wear closed-toe shoes and pants for extra protection and prepare for the weather. Bring along water and lunch. Parking is available in the Pink Beds parking lot, or participants can park at the Cradle of Forestry interpretive center and walk to the picnic area. The Cradle is open daily from 9:00 to 5:00 and offers restrooms, a gift shop, exhibits and trails to enjoy.

The Pink Beds Picnic Area is located on U.S. Highway 276 in the Pisgah National Forest along the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway, on the right just north of the Cradle of Forestry entrance, about six miles north of Looking Glass Falls and four miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 412. For more information, call the Cradle of Forestry at 828-877-3130 or online at www.cradleofforestry.com.

 

Cleanup on Columbia River Waterfront Renaissance Trail

Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 @ 10:26 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Cleanup on Columbia River Waterfront Renaissance Trail

Volunteers cleaning up the Columbia River Waterfront Renaissance Trail filled 53 garbage bags in three hours and hauled away a tire, a motorcycle jacket and a Buddha statue.

About a dozen volunteers in rain jackets scoured the stretch of trail from Who Song and Larry’s restaurant to the condominium complex to the east, picking up beer cans, soda bottles, fishing line and various other trash littering the waterfront. They also cleaned up tarps and tents in abandoned camps and removed eight hypodermic needles, said Joe Morse, Centennial Volunteer Ambassador at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

“We still got a lot done, especially considering we didn’t have a ton of people and it was wet outside,” said Morse, who organized the cleanup. “The turnout was amazing considering the massive amount of rain we got.”

The cleanup event was a collaboration between the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and SOLVE Oregon, a statewide nonprofit that organizes more than 1,000 cleanup and restoration projects throughout the state. The organization also partners with local organizations throughout Southwest Washington. Vancouver Police Department was also involved in the effort, providing a sweep of the area to ensure it was safe for volunteers.

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Climate change is putting us in a very bad mood

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 @ 11:23 am in Conservation | 0 comments

“The heat made people crazy. They woke from their damp bed sheets and went in search of a glass of water, surprised to find that when their vision cleared, they were holding instead the gun they kept hidden in the bookcase.”

This passage, from Summer Island, a romance novel by Kristin Hannah, is how researchers introduce a potentially important new study they believe could alter peoples’ attitudes about the impact of unrelenting heat on violence, and why some parts of the world experience strikingly higher rates of violence than others.

It’s not what people think. The new research goes beyond existing ideas about how hot summer nights cause tempers to flare and prompt sporadic acts of violence. Their model explores long-term cultural changes resulting from persistently high temperatures and a lack of seasonal variability, among them a loss of self-control and future-oriented goals. This combination can lead to more aggression and violence, they say.

“People think about weather when they think about global warming, but don’t realize that climate change can increase aggression and violence,” says Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University and one of the study’s authors. “But climate change affects how we relate to other people.’’ Moreover, he predicts that unmitigated global warming could increase violence levels in the United States, something he believes deserves immediate attention.

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Free entry to national parks and forests on National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24, 2016)

Posted by on Sep 17, 2016 @ 7:39 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Free entry to national parks and forests on National Public Lands Day (Sept. 24, 2016)

How will you celebrate National Public Lands Day on Sept. 24? You can hug a tree, clean up a trail or share a spectacular moment in nature with family and friends — all without paying to enter national parklands.

The idea for the one-day event started 23 years ago when the National Environmental Education Foundation challenged Americans to come out and volunteer on its public lands. Federal parklands will be organizing cleanups, trail repairs and other volunteer activities.

Meanwhile visitors can skip the $20 to $30 entrance fee at the fee based national parks. (There are more than 400 units overseen by the National Park Service but only 124 charge fees.)

In addition, the U.S. Forest Service also observes National Public Lands Day with fee-free entry. You won’t have to buy or display an Adventure Pass at the national forests that charge fees.

Federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management also are waiving fees on Sept. 24.

One word of caution: The fee-free entry applies only to entrance fees to federal parklands. State Parks, for example, aren’t participating in Public Lands Day and will be charging entrance fees. This also will not cover backcountry camping permits and other fee-based activities.

 

Annual Mountain Life Festival At Great Smoky Mountains National Park This Weekend

Posted by on Sep 16, 2016 @ 11:33 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The history and culture held in the mountains and hollows is intriguing. You might want to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park this weekend for the annual Mountain Life Festival.

A fixture at the park’s Mountain Farm Museum for more than three decades, the festival brings you face-to-face with the traditional fall activities of those who lived in the Smokies before the park was established. Making apple butter. Blacksmithing. Mountain music. Chair caning. All that and more will be on display on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Other demonstrations will include cooking over an open hearth, how to make lye soap, and food preservation techniques. The centerpiece of the event is the sorghum syrup demonstration, which the national park has provided each fall for over 30 years, a park release says. “The syrup is made much the same way it was produced a hundred or more years ago, using a horse or mule-powered cane mill and a wood-fired cooker.”

And, park officials say, the festival coincides with the park’s music jam sessions held on the porch of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every first and third Saturday of the month.

The Mountain Farm Museum is located adjacent to Oconaluftee Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, two miles north of Cherokee, NC. For more information call the visitor center at (828) 497-1904.

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Interior Secretary Sally Jewell OK’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan

Posted by on Sep 15, 2016 @ 6:44 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell approved the first phase of a sweeping renewable energy and conservation plan for California’s deserts Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 that’s expected to shape large-scale wind and solar development for decades to come.

“Climate change is the pressing issue of the day, and this region is part of the solution,” Jewell said during a signing ceremony for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument visitor center in Palm Desert.

The plan covers 10 million acres of public lands in the deserts of seven California counties, including Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles. In the works for eight years, it strives to speed up approvals for solar, wind and geothermal projects while focusing energy development in areas where such projects would do the least amount of harm to wildlife habitat and other natural and cultural resources.

The plan gives new protection to some of the most sensitive and pristine wildlife habitats left in the nation.
Habitats include the Silurian Valley in San Bernardino County; Amargosa River Basin and Panamint Valley on each side of Death Valley National Park; and the Chuckwalla Bench, south of Interstate 10 in Riverside County.
The conservation plan also is expected to help California and the nation meet carbon-free goals set to combat climate charge.

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Outdoor families are happier families

Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 @ 11:29 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Researchers at the University of Illinois look at how nature restores social cues and makes people less irritable, improving how they relate to each other and establish important rituals.

When families spend time together outside, not only do they improve their individual attention and focus, but they also improve family relations, getting along better with each other. This intriguing concept has been investigated by researchers who recently published a study. The researchers’ theory is described by study co-author and doctoral candidate Dina Izenstark:

“When your attention is restored, you’re able to pick up on social cues more easily, you feel less irritable, and you have more self-control… We theorize that when your attention is restored, it transfers to your family relationships and allows you to get along better with your family members.”

Already there exists plenty of research to show that being out in nature benefits individuals, even for a short period of time, but there is relatively little research to show how these benefits affect other people in a group. Izenstark and her co-author Adam Ebata are interested in this outcome, particularly because children are almost always accompanied by family members when outdoors.

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The roads that made Americans fall in love with their national parks

Posted by on Sep 11, 2016 @ 8:27 am in Conservation | 0 comments

More than 5,500 miles of paved roads wind through the national park system. You probably haven’t given much thought to any of them, but Timothy Davis has. A Park Service historian, Davis has written “National Park Roads,” a fascinating and lavishly illustrated book about those paved ways.

They may well be the most important development in the history of the National Park Service, which turns 100 this year. Consider that in the early 20th century, the parks were remote and hard to reach. The automobile changed that, so much so that the National Park road trip became an important part of American childhood. The Park Service recorded 326,506 visitors in 1916, the year of its founding, and more than 292 million visitors in 2014.

The roads, of course, have always had their opponents. Edward Abbey, a park ranger and environmental advocate, hated them. “Let the people walk,” he exclaimed in his book “Desert Solitaire.” Critics complained about the hoards — their trash, their noise, their efforts to turn the wilderness into Disney World.

Davis takes a more accommodating view. “By allowing people to enjoy parks with reasonable ease,” he writes, “the combination of improved roads and widespread automobile ownership transformed the national park experience from an esoteric pleasure into a prominent component of the American experience, creating a powerful constituency for their protection.”

 

Ackerson Meadow Gifted to Yosemite National Park

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 @ 11:38 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Yosemite National Park added Ackerson Meadow, 400 acres of critical wetlands and meadow habitat on the park’s western boundary through a donation. The landmark addition was donated to the park through a cooperative effort between The Trust for Public Land, Yosemite Conservancy, and the National Park Service.

The Trust for Public Land purchased Ackerson Meadow from private owners for $2.3 million earlier this year and donated it to the National Park Service to be part of Yosemite National Park. Funds to buy the property came from several major contributors to The Trust for Public Land, including a bequest of $1.53 million and $520,000 by the nonprofit Yosemite Conservancy, with additional support from National Park Trust and American Rivers.

“The generous donation of Ackerson Meadow will preserve critical meadow habitat that is home to a number of state and federally listed protected species,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher. “It’s a stunning open meadow surrounded by forest habitat, which supports a wide variety of flora and fauna species and offers new meadow experiences for park visitors. This meadow is a remarkable gift to the American people, coming at a historic time as we celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service.”

“Donating the largest addition since 1949 to one of the world’s most famous parks is a great way to celebrate the 100th birthday of our National Park Service – and honor John Muir’s original vision for the park. We are delighted, and proud to make this gift to Yosemite, and the people of America” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land.

Yosemite’s meadows are vitally important habitats and Ackerson Meadow provides critical habitat for hundreds of plant and animal species. At just 3 percent of Yosemite National Park’s area, meadows may be home to one-third of all of the plant species found in the park. Most of San Francisco’s water is filtered by Yosemite’s meadows, including Ackerson Meadow.

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Would You Like To Be a Wilderness Ranger?

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 @ 7:43 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Would You Like To Be a Wilderness Ranger?

Every fall, on the first weekend in October, Wild South hosts training for a new group of volunteers interested in joining the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger team.

The USDA Forest Service in Alabama manages three federally designated wilderness areas, Sipsey, Cheaha, and Dugger Mountain, totaling 42,218 acres. For the past several years, Forest Service budgets have afforded very little staff time for agency presence in these areas. Meanwhile, visitor use has skyrocketed, especially in Cheaha and Sipsey, turning these federally designated wild places into crowded recreation areas rather than wilderness areas during certain times of the year.

For this reason, in 2011, Wild South entered into a partnership with the Forest Service and established a corps of trained and dedicated volunteer wilderness rangers for all three of Alabama’s wilderness areas. These volunteers provide all the services of a Forest Service wilderness ranger except for law enforcement.

Volunteer wilderness rangers are trained in wilderness law, local wilderness regulations, the wilderness ethic, Leave No Trace, CPR and First Aid, the Authority of the Resource, radio and GPS use, as well as crosscut saw and traditional tool training. All volunteer activities support USFS management goals and are covered under the USDA Volunteers in National Forests (VIF) program.

Learn more here…

 

Oil Pipeline On Native American Reservation In North Dakota Spills 1,000,000 Gallons of Fluid

Posted by on Sep 9, 2016 @ 11:23 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Oil Pipeline On Native American Reservation In North Dakota Spills 1,000,000 Gallons of Fluid

One million gallons of saltwater and an unknown quantity of crude oil have leaked from a North Dakota pipeline into a creek that feeds the Missouri River.

The spill was on Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation land approximately 15 miles north of Williston, North Dakota. The leak comes from a saltwater collection line owned by Summit Midstream Partners LP. The saltwater is a byproduct of the hydraulic fracturing process.

The Saltwater is usually filtered and re-injected back into the earth after the oil is extracted.

Williston is considered a center of the oil boom in the state of North Dakota.

Chairman Tex Hall said that the spill has been isolated and contained. A quantity of 1 million gallons of the liquid entered Bear Den Bay, which leads into Lake Sakakawea, a source of drinking water on the reservation.

This is precisely why Native Americans have been protesting #NoDAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline).

Cite…

 

The world has lost a tenth of all its wilderness in the past two decades

Posted by on Sep 9, 2016 @ 6:56 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Wilderness areas on Earth have experienced alarming losses in the past two decades, a new study suggests. By comparing global maps from the present day and the early 1990s, researchers have concluded that a 10th of all the world’s wilderness has been lost in just 20 years.

The study, published in the journal Current Biology, finds that just over 30 million square kilometers (or 11.5 million square miles) of wilderness remains on Earth, composing nearly a quarter of the planet’s terrestrial area. On the other hand, 3.3 million square kilometers have been lost since the early 1990s.

The losses were more pronounced in some areas than in others. South America lost nearly 30 percent of its wilderness area, and Africa lost about 14 percent. Overall, most of the remaining wilderness is concentrated in North America, North Asia, North Africa and Australia, the researchers note.

“Wilderness was defined as any area on Earth which didn’t have a human footprint,” explained James Watson, an associate professor at the University of Queensland, director of science and research at the Wildlife Conservation Society and the new study’s lead author.

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Reseachers start long-term hunt for huckleberry secrets

Posted by on Sep 8, 2016 @ 4:42 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

We know the least about the plant we love the most in the mountains.

When Tabitha Graves took up carnivore research for the U.S. Geological Survey base at Glacier National Park, one of the biggest puzzles needing attention was the role huckleberries play in the food chain. Although creatures from grasshoppers to grizzlies like the purple fruit, we know little about what the berries themselves like.

“The more I’ve gotten into this, the more I’ve realized how important they are,” Graves said. “All kinds of birds eat them, as do small mammals. We’ve found coyote scats with berries in them. We’ve seen wasps eating them. And of course, humans eat a lot of them.”

Then there are the snowshoe hares and deer and moose that munch on huckleberry leaves, at least six species of bee that collect huckleberry pollen, and who knows what kinds of mycorrhizal fungi that grow together with the roots. Did we mention bears eat them, too?

All that might explain why huckleberries have resisted all attempts at domestication. The inability to grow huckleberry bushes in a greenhouse or garden has frustrated researchers for decades. It’s also left big parts of the plant’s life cycle unknown.

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The dystopian lake filled by the world’s tech lust

Posted by on Sep 8, 2016 @ 7:01 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech.

The city-sized Baogang Steel and Rare Earth complex dominates the horizon, its endless cooling towers and chimneys reaching up into grey, washed-out sky. Stretching into the distance lies an artificial lake filled with a black, barely-liquid, toxic sludge.

Dozens of pipes line the shore, churning out a torrent of thick, black, chemical waste from the refineries that surround the lake. The smell of sulphur and the roar of the pipes invades the senses. It feels like hell on Earth.

Welcome to Baotou, the largest industrial city in Inner Mongolia. You may not have heard of Baotou, but the mines and factories here help to keep our modern lives ticking. It is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of “rare earth” minerals.

These elements can be found in everything from magnets in wind turbines and electric car motors, to the electronic guts of smartphones and flatscreen TVs. In 2009 China produced 95% of the world’s supply of these elements, and it’s estimated that the Bayan Obo mines just north of Baotou contain 70% of the world’s reserves.

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