Conservation & Environment

Rising CO2 levels are changing the food we eat for the worse

Posted by on Dec 28, 2017 @ 6:53 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Rising CO2 levels are changing the food we eat for the worse

Irakli Loladze was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton.

Zooplankton are microscopic animals that float in the world’s oceans and lakes, and for food they rely on algae, which are essentially tiny plants. Scientists found that they could make algae grow faster by shining more light onto them—increasing the food supply for the zooplankton, which should have flourished. But it didn’t work out that way. When the researchers shined more light on the algae, the algae grew faster, and the tiny animals had lots and lots to eat—but at a certain point they started struggling to survive. This was a paradox. More food should lead to more growth. How could more algae be a problem?

Loladze loved biology and couldn’t stop thinking about this. The biologists had an idea of what was going on: The increased light was making the algae grow faster, but they ended up containing fewer of the nutrients the zooplankton needed to thrive. By speeding up their growth, the researchers had essentially turned the algae into junk food. The zooplankton had plenty to eat, but their food was less nutritious, and so they were starving.

“What struck me is that its application is wider,” Loladze recalled in an interview. Could the same problem affect grass and cows? What about rice and people?

In the outside world, the problem isn’t that plants are suddenly getting more light: It’s that for years, they’ve been getting more carbon dioxide. Plants rely on both light and carbon dioxide to grow. If shining more light results in faster-growing, less nutritious algae—junk-food algae whose ratio of sugar to nutrients was out of whack—then it seemed logical to assume that ramping up carbon dioxide might do the same. And it could also be playing out in plants all over the planet. What might that mean for the plants that people eat?

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Conserved land along Blue Ridge Parkway to protect water quality, hiking

Posted by on Dec 26, 2017 @ 11:57 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Conserved land along Blue Ridge Parkway to protect water quality, hiking

The blue mountain views from Deer Lick Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway have never been sweeter. The scenic spot in northern McDowell County looking out over a sweeping mountain forest known as Wildacres will now look wild forever.

On Dec. 20, 2017, in a years-long collaboration, the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina, Conservation Trust for North Carolina and Wildacres Retreat completed conservation easements, or agreements, on 1,076 acres of the privately owned land adjoining the parkway and Pisgah National Forest.

The $1 million easements allow the mountaintop retreat to stay in operation, but with restrictions that keep the land and the views forever protected from development. They will also protect public hiking trails, water quality, and serve as a safe haven for species in the face of climate change.

“A common misconception about the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Pisgah National Forest is that just because it looks undeveloped right now, doesn’t mean it always will be,” said Mary Alice Holley, communications director with the nonprofit CTNC.

“This is why it’s important to support lands trusts. We’re actively working to preserve these lands, not only to protect the pristine views when you’re out driving or hiking, but to protect wildlife habitat and clean water resources, which is important for all of us in North Carolina,” Holley said.

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Unlucky lava? National parks still receive rock returns by mail

Posted by on Dec 26, 2017 @ 6:59 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Unlucky lava? National parks still receive rock returns by mail

  If you’re from Hawaii, you’ve probably heard the saying, “Don’t take lava rocks, you’ll get bad luck.”

Even most visitors know not to take lava rocks as souvenirs thanks to a popular episode of “The Brady Bunch” back in the 1980s.

But many people still take lava rocks home, and some are paying the price.

Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, said they still get rocks in the mail.

“We still get some,” said IHVB executive director Ross Birch. “It’s pretty infrequent any more as I think the folklore has trickled into our visitors, and they have an education a little deeper than they did five to 10 years ago.”

A recent social media post by Haleakala National Park on Maui urges people to not take lava rocks. It says the park received 1,275 rocks this year in the mail.

Some rocks return in an empty box, but “other ones for the most part come with very detailed specifics of what happened in their lives,” Birch said. “Illnesses coming into the family, or death in the family, or different things that have happened over a period of time, and the catalyst has always kind of been having that rock.”

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Jewels of Appalachia

Posted by on Dec 25, 2017 @ 11:44 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Jewels of Appalachia

The forests of western North Carolina have long been recognized for providing exceptional quality of life, offering world-class outdoor experiences and supporting vibrant local economies.

They are even acknowledged as the birthplace of America’s forest management: When George Vanderbilt sought refuge from city life in the late 1800s, he chose a picturesque valley in western North Carolina for his mountain home, the Biltmore Estate, where he hired a young Gifford Pinchot to manage his vast property.

But when the industrialist built the Biltmore, these forests looked very different then they do today. As early as the 1880s, logging companies had removed most of the valuable timber from New England and the Great Lakes region and were buying and logging forests in the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast, including the forests of western North Carolina. Eastern farmers who had exhausted their lands and had moved west also left behind land prone to fire and erosion. The abandoned farms and badly cut-over forests became known as “the lands that nobody wanted.”

Recognizing the important ecologic value of restoring forests on “the lands that nobody wanted,” Vanderbilt hired Pinchot to create America’s first forestry management plan for his 100,000-acre estate. It was here that Pinchot honed his skills, developing methods to maximize sustainable timber production while simultaneously protecting the natural waterways and other abundant natural resources.

So successful was Pinchot in managing the Biltmore Estate that he was recruited by the federal government to assist Teddy Roosevelt’s vision of a national forest service to manage vast tracts of wild forests throughout the country.

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UN poised to move ahead with landmark treaty to protect high seas

Posted by on Dec 24, 2017 @ 11:49 am in Conservation | 0 comments

UN poised to move ahead with landmark treaty to protect high seas

The world’s oceans are set for a long overdue boost in the coming days as the United Nations votes for the first time on a planned treaty to protect and regulate the high seas.

The waters outside national maritime boundaries – which cover half of the planet’s surface – are currently a free-for-all that has led to devastating overfishing and pollution.

But after more than five years of negotiations, UN members are poised to agree to draw up a new rulebook by 2020, which could establish conservation areas, catch quotas and scientific monitoring.

“This is the biggest opportunity to change the status quo we have ever had,” said Will McCallum, the head of oceans at Greenpeace. “It could change everything.”

The motion is supported by 140 nations, which is more than the two-thirds needed for passage. If the vote passes as expected, the UN will host four meetings over the next two years to draft the treaty. Ocean activists hope this will lift the subject to the same level as climate and land biodiversity and ultimately result in a legally binding set of regulations.

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100% Renewable Energy Worldwide Isn’t Just Possible—It’s Also More Cost-Effective

Posted by on Dec 24, 2017 @ 6:34 am in Conservation | 0 comments

100% Renewable Energy Worldwide Isn’t Just Possible—It’s Also More Cost-Effective

Transitioning the world to 100 percent renewable electricity isn’t just some environmentalist pipe dream—it’s “feasible at every hour throughout the year” and is more cost-effective than the current system, which largely relies on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, a new study claims.

The research, compiled by Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the Berlin-based nonprofit Energy Watch Group (EWG), was presented at the Global Renewable Energy Solutions Showcase, a stand-alone event coinciding with the COP 23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

The authors said that the existing renewable energy potential and technologies coupled with storage can generate enough energy to meet the global electricity demand by 2050.

The researchers estimated that the switch will bring the total levelized cost of electricity on a global average down to $61 per megawatt-hour (including curtailment, storage and some grid costs) compared $82 megawatt-hour in 2015.

“A full decarbonization of the electricity system by 2050 is possible for lower system cost than today based on available technology,” said Christian Breyer, the lead author of the study. “Energy transition is no longer a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but of political will,” added Breyer.

According to the study, solar power and battery storage are critical parts of the transition. Falling prices will also lead to widespread adoption of the technologies. The researchers predict that the globe’s electricity mix by 2050 will consist of solar photovoltaics (69 percent), wind energy (18 percent), hydropower (8 percent) and bioenergy (2 percent).

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New place to hike and rock climb: Wildcat Rock Trail opens in Hickory Nut Gorge

Posted by on Dec 22, 2017 @ 11:56 am in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

New place to hike and rock climb: Wildcat Rock Trail opens in Hickory Nut Gorge

Some might call him the mountain whisperer. John Myers is that special kind of person who can look up at a mountain, listen to a mountain and know instinctively what it needs – to remain protected, wild and free. Myers, a landowner, conservationist and rock climber, has lived in the Upper Hickory Nut Gorge for nearly 20 years with his wife, Jane Lawson.

He has had the steely focus, the patience and the friend-making capacity to take care of the mountains that are his home, and to make sure they are forever protected and available for the enjoyment of others who share his love of wild places.

At a ceremony Dec. 14, 2017 hosted by Conserving Carolina at Myers’ and Lawson’s Laughing Waters Retreat butting up against Bearwallow Mountain, about 130 people turned out to celebrate three significant conservation and recreation projects:

Completion of the 3-mile Wildcat Rock Trail that ascends Little Bearwallow Mountain and reaches Little Bearwallow Falls on the way to the scenic summit.

Completion of a Conserving Carolina conservation easement on land owned by Myers and Lawson that forever protects another 38 acres on Little Bearwallow Mountain.

Formal opening of a rock and ice climbing area at Little Bearwallow Falls and its dedication to Myers.

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Stargazers Rejoice: U.S. Gets Its First International Dark Sky Reserve

Posted by on Dec 22, 2017 @ 7:14 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Stargazers Rejoice: U.S. Gets Its First International Dark Sky Reserve

Pack your bags, astronomy lovers. Idaho is now home to the United States’ first International Dark Sky Reserve.

The International Dark Sky Association, an Arizona-based nonprofit that advocates against light pollution, designated an area covering more than 1,400 square miles as the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. The reserve includes the Sawtooth Range and other wilderness areas that offer brilliant views of the night sky.

An International Dark Sky Reserve is “a public or private land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment,” according to the association’s website.

Land in the Idaho reserve is mostly managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which supports the designation. The Forest Service has reduced light pollution from its facilities, but said mitigation by private interests would be voluntary.

The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve is the third-largest of 12 such reserves worldwide. Others include Aoraki Mackenzie in New Zealand and Exmoor National Park in England.

Idaho’s reserve was granted “gold tier” status, which means the area’s night sky conditions are so pristine that only a small amount of light pollution intrudes. Night sky views are so clear that interstellar dust clouds of the Milky Way galaxy are visible.

Cite…

 

The 26,000 tons of radioactive waste under Lake Powell

Posted by on Dec 21, 2017 @ 7:07 am in Conservation | 0 comments

The 26,000 tons of radioactive waste under Lake Powell

Beneath the murky green waters on the north end of Lake Powell, entombed within the tons of silt that have been carried down the Colorado River over the years, lies a 26,000-ton pile of un-remediated uranium mill tailings. It’s just one polonium-, bismuth-, thorium-, and radium-tainted reminder of the way the uranium industry, enabled by the federal government, ravaged the West and its people for decades.

In 1949, the Vanadium Corporation of America built a small mill at the confluence of White Canyon and the Colorado River to process uranium ore from the nearby Happy Jack Mine, located upstream in the White Canyon drainage (and just within the Obama-drawn Bears Ears National Monument boundaries). For the next four years, the mill went through about 20 tons of ore per day, crushing and grinding it up, then treating it with sulfuric acid, tributyl phosphate and other nastiness. One ton of ore yielded about five or six pounds of uranium, meaning that each day some 39,900 pounds of tailings were piled up outside the mill on the banks of the river.

In 1953 the mill was closed down, and the tailings left where they sat, uncovered, as was the practice of the day. Ten years later, water began backing up behind the newly built Glen Canyon Dam; federal officials decided just to let the reservoir’s waters inundate the tailings. There they remain today.

If you’re one of the millions of people downstream from Lake Powell who rely on Colorado River water and this worries you, consider this: Those 26,000 tons of tailings likely make up just a fraction of the radioactive material contained in the silt of Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

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It’s not only trees — wildfires imperil water too

Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 @ 11:46 am in Conservation | 0 comments

It’s not only trees — wildfires imperil water too

The Fourmile Canyon Fire, sparked by a backyard burn west of Boulder, Colorado, in 2010, caused $220 million in damage and destroyed 168 homes. It also scorched nearly a quarter of a watershed that supplies water to the nearby community of Pine Brook Hills. The problems didn’t end there: Long after the blaze was put out, intense rainstorms periodically washed sediment and other particles downstream, disrupting water treatment and forcing the local water district to stop pulling water from Fourmile Creek, leaving it reliant upon water already collected in its reservoir.

In forested watersheds — the source of 65 percent of the West’s water supply — trees, soil and leaf litter soak up precipitation like a sponge, then slowly release it to aquifers, streams and rivers. But wildfires can sear the soil, making it water-repellent, and incinerate stabilizing plant roots. “Then, when it rains, all that water gets transported right off the surface,” ferrying sediment, nutrients and debris downstream, says Jeff Writer, a hydrologist at the University of Colorado Boulder. Sometimes precipitation triggers deadly mudslides that destroy homes and bury highways. Sediment can also shroud streambeds and reservoirs, forcing managers to dredge or conduct other costly fixes.

Now, new research suggests that such water-quality problems might become more frequent across the West. Climate change is already causing a surge in wildfire activity. As a result, scientists expect to see a rise in erosion in most of the region’s watersheds in the coming decades. Sediment and ash running off burned hillsides into streams can clog reservoirs, smother fish and disrupt municipal water supplies.

In many places, however, water managers and other officials are already taking steps to prepare for both wildfire and its long-term aftereffects. For communities that rely on forested drainages for their water, “It is a key aspect of water supply and watershed protection to plan for a wildfire.”

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7 Years Before Russia Hacked the Election, Someone Did the Same Thing to Climate Scientists

Posted by on Dec 19, 2017 @ 12:14 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

7 Years Before Russia Hacked the Election, Someone Did the Same Thing to Climate Scientists

One Saturday morning in June, two days after the president had announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement, Michael Mann was tweeting about Donald Trump.

Mann, a Penn State professor who is one of the world’s most prominent climate scientists, was thinking about the daily barrage of revelations surrounding Russia’s efforts to help Trump win the previous year’s election. The hacked Democratic documents posted on WikiLeaks. The media craze over private emails that had been ripped out of context. Smear campaigns circulating on social media.

“#Russia #Wikileaks #HackedEmails #Sabotaged #ClimateAgreements,” tweeted Mann. “Why does this story sound so darned familiar?”

Seven years earlier, Trump was riffing on a very different set of hacked emails. The real estate mogul had called into Fox News after a blizzard to declare that climate change was a hoax. Trump claimed that “one of the leaders of global warming” had recently admitted in a private email that years of scientific research were nothing but “a con.”

Trump was referring to the 2009 Climategate scandal, in which emails from climate scientists were hacked and disseminated across the internet. Climate change deniers claimed the messages showed scientists engaging in misconduct and fabricating a warming pattern that didn’t really exist. Multiple investigations ultimately exonerated the researchers, but not before a media firestorm undercut public confidence in the science—just as world leaders were meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to attempt to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

In hindsight, the Climategate hack, clearly timed to disrupt the Copenhagen negotiations, looks like a precursor to the hack that helped shape the outcome of the 2016 election. That’s how John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman whose stolen emails were posted on WikiLeaks in the final weeks of the campaign, sees it. The parallels go beyond the hacks themselves. “I think it was the intentionality of influencing the public debate,” he says.

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Trump breaks with military leaders, removes climate change from list of national security threats

Posted by on Dec 19, 2017 @ 6:53 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Trump breaks with military leaders, removes climate change from list of national security threats

President Donald Trump’s new National Security Strategy removed all mentions of climate change as a national security threat, a decision in line with major steps taken by the administration over the past 11 months to downplay the perils of climate change. Two years ago, the Obama administration issued a strategy that identified climate change as “an urgent and growing threat to our national security.”

Trump’s decision to exclude climate change from current national security threats comes only a month after government scientists released the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which contained a dire warning on the impact of climate change, including an increase in wildfires due to heat waves and severe droughts. In a separate report on climate change adaptation the Government Accountability Office explained that the expected impacts associated with climate change pose operational risks to Department of Defense overseas installations.

“The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while expanding our economy. ­This achievement, which can serve as a model to other countries, flows from innovation, technology breakthroughs, and energy efficiency gains, not from onerous regulation,” the Trump administration wrote in the strategy.

While China emits the most carbon dioxide per year, the United States remains the largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita in the world from the burning of fossil fuels. And yet the Trump administration is in the process of gutting federal programs to fight climate change caused by the emitting of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

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North Cascades grizzly bear recovery work halted by Interior Department

Posted by on Dec 18, 2017 @ 6:46 am in Conservation | 0 comments

North Cascades grizzly bear recovery work halted by Interior Department

Work on grizzly bear recovery in the North Cascades Ecosystem has been halted even as the continental United States’ two largest grizzly populations near removal from Endangered Species Act protection.

North Cascades National Park Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich told the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee on Wednesday that her staff had been asked to stop work on its environmental impact statement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office.

The order also stalls discussions with Canadian wildlife managers who oversee a similar grizzly recovery process in British Columbia, she said.

“We were in the process of evaluating public comment,” Taylor-Goodrich said of the stop order. “We’re in year three of the process and all the public scoping has been done. The draft EIS went out for public review in spring and we’ve received about 127,000 comments.”

The North Cascades Ecosystem includes the national park and large swaths of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee national forests, totaling 9,800 square miles. It holds an estimated five to 10 grizzly bears, which the IGBC considers “the most at-risk grizzly bear population in the U.S. today.” The Canadian portion supports another six grizzlies.

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Arctic Temperatures Are Rising So Fast Computers Don’t Believe They’re Real

Posted by on Dec 16, 2017 @ 11:57 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Arctic Temperatures Are Rising So Fast Computers Don’t Believe They’re Real

320 miles north of the Arctic Circle, a weather station in America’s northernmost city of Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska, has been quietly collecting temperature data since the 1920s.

Early this month, while preparing a report on U.S. climate, experts at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) noticed something odd: They were missing data from Utqiaġvik for all of 2017, and some of 2016.

It turns out the temperatures recorded at Utqiaġvik over that time were warmer than had ever been seen before. So much so, in fact, that an automated computer system set up to police data and remove irregularities had flagged it as unreal and excluded it from the report.

Since 1979, the first year sea ice began being monitored by satellite, Utqiaġvik’s average temperatures from January through September have climbed 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit ― a change nearly twice as large as that seen in the lower 48 states. And in October, November and December, the temperatures have positively skyrocketed, with differences of 7.8, 6.9 and 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit respectively.

Those warmer temperatures mean the amount of Arctic sea ice in the area has drastically decreased, leading to yet more warming. And as that vicious cycle of warmer temperatures to less ice, to even warmer temperatures and even less ice, has repeated, the Utqiaġvik weather station did what it was supposed to do: It sent up a huge red flag that something must be broken.

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Here’s a $17 billion blueprint for how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid

Posted by on Dec 16, 2017 @ 7:11 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Here’s a $17 billion blueprint for how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid

Called “Build Back Better,” the plan focuses on providing immediate relief while also making the island’s energy infrastructure more resilient to future storms. That means fortifying the electric transmission system and bulking up defenses at power plants and substations.

The plan also envisions a Puerto Rico dotted with solar farms and wind turbines, linked by more than 150 microgrids. Of the 470,000 homes destroyed in Maria’s high winds, the report points out many could be built back with rooftop solar. New battery storage systems would allow hospitals, fire stations, water treatment plants, airports, and other critical facilities to keep the lights on without power from the grid.

Overall, $1.5 billion of the plan’s budget would go to these distributed renewable energy resources.

The plan was concocted by a bunch of industry and government groups working together, including the federal Department of Energy, Puerto Rico’s utility, several other state power authorities, and private utility companies. If enacted, it would take the next 10 years to complete.

With a $94 billion Puerto Rico relief plan in Congress right now, it’s actually possible that $17 billion of that could go to building a renewable, resilient energy system for the future.

Cite…

 

The Thorny Economics of Preventing Exotic Species Introductions

Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 @ 1:47 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

The Thorny Economics of Preventing Exotic Species Introductions

What if we lose tree species we know, love, and need? It has happened before.

“Look at what happened to the American chestnut,” says U.S. Forest Service research forester Thomas Holmes. “Look at what’s happening right now to hemlock, redbay, and ash trees.” All three species, as well as many more, are threatened by non-native insects or pathogens.

Non-native insects, pathogens, plants, and animals have been arriving for hundreds of years. Most fail to become established, but some thrive and rampage through their new homes. These non-native species cause immense ecological and economic damage.

“Currently, homeowners and municipalities shoulder most of the costs,” says Holmes.

Local governments treat, cut down, and replace ailing street trees. Municipalities spend an average of $1.7 billion each year cleaning up after wood-boring insects such as the emerald ash borer.

Homeowners face similar challenges, and when trees die, property values decline. Each year, tree death from non-native insects and pathogens costs homeowners an estimated $1.5 billion in lost property values.

About 70 percent of non-native insects and diseases in the U.S. hitchhiked on live plants. Untreated wood packing material can also carry an unintended cargo – exotic wood-boring insects.

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Major financial institutions rebuke the Trump agenda, announce big steps away from fossil fuels

Posted by on Dec 14, 2017 @ 7:09 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Major financial institutions rebuke the Trump agenda, announce big steps away from fossil fuels

Two major financial institutions — one public, one private — announced that they would be significantly paring down their investment in fossil fuel projects, signaling a shift in the way financial institutions assess the risks associated with fossil fuels and climate change.

During the One Planet Summit taking place in Paris, France this week, the World Bank announced that it would no longer finance upstream oil and gas — meaning any projects that involve oil and gas exploration or production — after 2019, making exceptions only for extreme cases. Because the World Bank already has a commitment in place restricting support for coal-fired power plants and thermal coal mining, the announcement essentially means that the World Bank will cease financing of nearly all fossil fuel projects after 2019.

In a separate announcement, also made at the One Planet Summit, insurance giant Axa — which is based in France but does business all over the world — said that it would no longer invest in or insure tar sands projects or U.S. pipelines. Axa also said that it would quadruple its efforts to divest from companies that make at least 30 percent of their profits from coal.

“Both announcements signal a broader shift to the global finance community that the era of fossil fuels is ending and that there’s significant risk associated with investing in oil and coal, both reputational and financial.”

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U.S. national parks are drastically reducing free days in 2018

Posted by on Dec 13, 2017 @ 12:02 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

U.S. national parks are drastically reducing free days in 2018

Visitors to the America’s national parks will have far fewer free admission days to choose from in 2018.

National parks in the U.S. will sharply drop the number of days they allow visitors to get in for free, a move that was criticized by opponents of the parks’ plan to raise entrance costs at other times of the year.

After waiving fees 16 days in 2016 and 10 days in 2017, the National Park Service announced that it will have four no-cost days next year. They will be Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15), the first day of National Park Week (April 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 22) and Veterans Day (Nov. 11.)

The move comes as the National Park Service is considering a steep increase in entrance fees at 17 of its most popular parks, mostly in the U.S. West, to address a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects. Visitors to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion and other national parks would be charged $70 per vehicle, up from the fee of $30 for a weekly pass. At others, the hike is nearly triple, from $25 to $70.

The Park Service didn’t explain why it was cutting back on free days. An Interior Department spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cite…

 

Make Sure You Are Drinking Clean Water

Posted by on Dec 12, 2017 @ 12:16 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Make Sure You Are Drinking Clean Water

Cases such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, demonstrate how tenuous our access to safe, clean drinking water can actually be—no matter where we live. In fact, thousands of potential contaminants can make their way into our drinking water, and the infrastructure across the U.S. can’t always keep up with water purification needs.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, because as everyone knows we need clean water to survive.

In order for us to stay healthy, it’s critical that our water is safe to drink. If we can’t always trust the safety of the water coming out of our taps, wells, or streams, then it’s up to us to make it secure. That starts with knowing which contaminants to look out for—and how to ensure you’re drinking safe water.

Contaminants can make their way into our drinking water in a number of ways. For example they can exist in the pipes that connect to our internal plumbing, so water gets contaminated on its way to our taps. They can also infiltrate our water sooner, in the form of industrial or agricultural run-off that gets into the water supply at the source and isn’t entirely removed during the treatment process. Finally in some cases, contaminants are naturally present in the environment prior to water even being collected.

My new friend Kara sends along the following infographic from Waterlogic to help us better understand contaminants and the steps we can take to protect ourselves both at home, and out on the trail.

 

 

A Trail Runner’s Paean to Bears Ears

Posted by on Dec 11, 2017 @ 11:44 am in Conservation | 0 comments

A Trail Runner’s Paean to Bears Ears

Ultrarunner Bryon Powell spends nine days exploring the monument under siege

The sun is still hidden below Owl Canyon’s south rim, and the cool October-night air lingers in the canyon bottom. I exit a hairpin bend and find myself facing a canyon wall.

Dead ahead of me is a bright speck in the midst of broad shadow, the telltale sign of a rock window. “Nevills Arch?” I think. “No. Couldn’t be. Not yet.”

Nowhere on my maps, nor in my guidebook, is there mention of a rock window here. From the looks of it, this window is likely “open” only for a short time each day, while the light angles just so.

Nine days into my run across Bear Ears National Monument, I’ve only grown fonder of these daily discoveries, these surprise gifts that sparkle across the monument as densely as stars in the high desert sky.

Two months earlier, I limped from spring into summer overworked and overstressed. I desperately needed to rekindle my spirit. It just so happened that I had a brand-spanking-new national monument to explore in San Juan County, Utah, where I live. Bears Ears. You may have heard of it.

You may also know that Bears Ears National Monument has been under attack by Utah’s politicians since last December, when then-president Barack Obama declared its 1.35 million acres—which comprise one of the most culturally and spiritually significant landscapes for five Native American nations in the Southwest—a national monument, as explicitly authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Soon after coming to power, however, President Donald Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke put Bears Ears and numerous other national monuments in their crosshairs.

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