• UN warns of potential food crisis

    A UN Food and Agriculture Organization official warned that countries are not doing enough to increase food production to meet rising demand and that the world could be headed for a global food crisis; global food production must rise by 70 percent in order to meet the estimated demand for food; food prices have already soared in recent months and in 2010 food prices increased by 25 percent; rising prices sparked food riots in Egypt and Tunisia, which contributed to the overthrow of their governments; large disasters and droughts have significantly reduced crop yields across the world; as supply has fallen, demand has spiked due to population growth and increased use of food to manufacture biofuels

  • After EPA fine, mining company building $200 million water treatment plant

    America’s largest underground coal mining company, Consol Energy, is constructing a $200 million water treatment plant in West Virginia, after being fined $5.5 million by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); in 2009 discharge from Consol’s mining operation caused a toxic golden algae bloom that killed aquatic life along thirty miles of Dunkard Creek; the advanced waste water treatment plant will be the largest facility in Appalachia; the plant will be capable of treating 3,500 gallons of water per minute and will remove more than forty-three tons of dissolved solids, including eleven million pounds of chloride

  • Drought-prone pasts may foretell New York's and Atlanta's futures

    By fall 2007, during the second year of a three-year drought, Atlanta had roughly three months’ supply of water remaining while Athens, Georgia was down to approximately fifty days; another drought dramatically lowered New York City reservoirs to 33 percent of capacity in 1981; droughts in those cities and their surrounding regions were typically longer and more frequent centuries ago than they were for most of the twentieth century; a return to historic climate patterns would bring more frequent and prolonged droughts

  • Oil industry creates center for off-shore safety

    Following several accidents on off-shore oil rigs, the U.S. oil and gas industry will launch a center dedicated to investigating safety issues related to off-shore drilling; the center will be operated by the American Petroleum Institute (API) but will be walled off from the trade group’s lobbying work

  • Past "hyperthermals" offer clues about anticipated climate changes

    Bursts of intense global warming that have lasted tens of thousands of years have taken place more frequently throughout history than previously believed; most of the events raised average global temperatures between 2° and 3° Celsius (3.6 and 5.4° F), an amount comparable to current conservative estimates of how much temperatures are expected to rise in coming decades as a consequence of anthropogenic global warming; most hyperthermals lasted about 40,000 years before temperatures returned to normal

  • Sensors detecting nuclear tests detect tsunamis, too

    The Comprehensive Nuclear test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is supported by arrays of sensors at sixty sites across the world that listen for the low boom of atmospheric blasts. They are tuned to infrasound — frequencies under 20 hertz (cycles per second), the lowest humans can hear; these sensors are meant to pick up illicit nuclear tests, but they can also pick up tsunami-producing tremors — and provide timely warning to those likely to be affected

  • NOAA scientists cleared of wrongdoing in email scandal

    A recent investigation by the Commerce Department’s Inspector General has cleared the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of any wrong doing in a recent scandal over an email exchange with British academics; in 2009 more than 1,000 emails between NOAA scientists and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom were stolen; the emails suggested that scientists had manipulated results and thrown out faulty data; the recent report exonerates the scientists of any wrongdoing, and several British reviews have already cleared the name of British scientists

  • Mitigation policy could halve climate-related impacts on water scarcity

    Even without the effects of climate change, as much as 40 percent of the world’s population will be living under water scarce conditions by 2020; climate change is expected to influence future water scarcity through regional changes in precipitation and evaporation; most climate models suggest rainfall is likely to decrease in the subtropics and increase in mid-latitudes and some parts of the tropics; in the latter, mitigation efforts could actually reduce the amount of extra water potentially available

  • Canada's water could be answer for anticipated global water shortages

    Global demand for water is projected to exceed supplies by 40 percent in 2030, and Canada may be the answer to minimizing water shortages; it is estimated that in the next twenty years, one third of the world will only have half the water it needs to cover daily needs; to prevent these shortages, researchers are scrambling to develop technologies and practices to reduce water consumption, discover new re-processing techniques, and improve infrastructure; Canada’s water experts are well-suited to assist in this effort as they have gained valuable experience from managing 9 percent of the world’s fresh water supplies

  • Earth's sixth mass extinction may have already arrived

    With the steep decline in populations of many animal species, from frogs and fish to tigers, some scientists have warned that Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction like those that occurred only five times before during the past 540 million years; each of these Big Five saw three-quarters or more of all animal species go extinct

  • Toxic metals from Superfund site endangers wetlands in Ventura County

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that an old metal recycling plant in Oxnard, California, now a federal Superfund site, was leaking lead, zinc, and other dangerous chemicals into nearby wetlands; when the plant closed, it left nearly 700,000 cubic yards of unattended waste laden with heavy metals and small amounts of radioactive thorium; high costs have hindered cleanup efforts and local residents have become frustrated with the drawn out efforts; the wetlands that are endangered by the old metal recycling plant are located in Ormand Beach and are home to several rare and endangered species

  • Radioactive waste contaminates drinking water, EPA does nothing

    Recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents show that Pennsylvania’s drinking water has been contaminated with radioactive waste from natural gas drilling; energy companies have been extracting natural gas with a new drilling technique called “hydrofracking”; this process results in millions of gallons of wastewater that is contaminated with dangerous chemicals like highly corrosive salts, carcinogens, and radioactive elements; EPA documents reveal the process has been contaminating drinking water supplies across the country with radioactive waste; in Pennsylvania more than 1.3 billion gallons of radioactive wastewater was trucked to plants that could not process out the toxins before it released the water into drinking supplies

  • Ancient catastrophic drought a warning about current warming trends

    Extreme megadrought in Afro-Asian region likely had consequences for Paleolithic cultures; the records show that one of the most widespread and intense droughts of the last 50,000 years or more struck Africa and Southern Asia 17,000 to 16,000 years ago; the “H1 megadrought” was one of the most severe climate trials ever faced by anatomically modern humans; Africa’s Lake Victoria, now the world’s largest tropical lake, dried out, as did Lake Tana in Ethiopia, and Lake Van in Turkey; the Nile, Congo, and other major rivers shriveled

  • Common clam to help clean oil-filled waters

    Clams are bottom-dwelling filter feeders, obtaining nutrients by filtering the water around them; researchers at Southeastern Louisiana University are studying the lowly Rangia clam to determine whether the organism can contribute to helping clean oil-polluted waters

  • A warming world would add billions to shipping costs

    As anyone with a boat knows, many sorts of marine life can attach themselves to a hull below the waterline; on a large ship, the weight of such hitchhikers — everything from algae to barnacles to small colonies of coral — can weigh as much as ten tons; the U.S. shipping industry spends more than $36 billion each year in added fuel costs to overcome the drag induced by clinging marine life or for anti-fouling paint that prevents that life from hitching a ride in the first place; global warming will see the problem of hull-clinging creatures worsen substantially