February 26, 2009

California Sea Lions' Epileptic Seizures Caused by DDT and Domoic Acid

california_sea_lion.jpg California sea lions living in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and National Park are experiencing epileptic seizures. Scientists believe the cause of the sea lions' seizures is the interaction between DDT and domoic acid, a neurotoxin produced by harmful algal blooms. According to the Environment News Service:
The researchers observed that sea lion exposure to domoic acid during fetal development can lead to brain seizures when the young are two to four years old. Exposure to residual environmental DDT appears to contribute to increased seizures, the study shows. A pesticide that was banned in the 1970s, DDT still persists at high but declining levels off the southern California coast. Driven by climate changes and coastal pollution, algal blooms have been increasing in the sea lions' habitat over the past decade, resulting in more cases of acute poisoning.
Scientists are also studying how harmful algae blooms and residual chemicals will affect humans.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

February 18, 2009

Ebay Asked to Stop Selling Guided Trophy Hunts

Dave Johson 10ft Spring Brown Bear 2008.jpg Canadian and U.S. wildlife advocates have asked Ebay to stop auctioning off guided trophy hunts for bears, wolves, cougars and other top predators. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Big Wildlife and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance are concerned about the survival of trophy hunt species. Chris Genovali, executive director of the British Columbia based Raincoast Conservation Foundation asked:
Have the lives of Canada's grizzly bears, wolves and other large carnivores become so cheapened by the purveyors of trophy hunting that selling an opportunity to kill one is now as commonplace as trying to unload a kitchen appliance or baseball cards on eBay?
Ebay's response:
We are always open to working with NGOs with expertise in these areas and have done so in the past to fine tune our policies regarding issues such as the sale of ivory and the sale of "canned hunts," or those that guarantee the killing of a specific animal.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

February 12, 2009

New Satellites to Monitor Carbon Emissions From Outer Space

satellite.jpgLast month, the Japanese space agency JAXA launched Ibuki, a satellite dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide and methane. NASA will launch Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) this month for a similar purpose. According to the Economist:
These new satellites will work as carbon accountants, by keeping a close eye on how the Earth breathes and returning regular audits--which are awaited with trepidation. Ibuki, which means "breath" in Japanese, orbits the Earth approximately every 100 minutes at an average altitude of 667km. It will gather data from 56,000 points around the globe with two detectors.
Currently, there are only 260 places on Earth where such data is collected to study global warming. I just wonder why it has taken so long for satellites to dedicated for this purpose, when James Hansen warned us over twenty years ago about climate change.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

February 10, 2009

Climate Change Could End California Agriculture

CAagriculture.jpg Unless you are a devoted locavore and don't live in California, chances are a lot of the food you eat is grown in the Golden State. That all may change. Obama's Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced last week that the threat from climate change is serious, "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." Global warming could cause 90% of the Sierra snowpack to disappear causing dire water shortages for the nation's largest agricultural producer.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

February 5, 2009

Global Warming Creating Louder, Polluted Oceans

ocean-water.jpg Carbon dioxide, responsible for global warming, is also being absorbed by our seas creating noisier oceans. This greenhouse gas reacts with the ocean altering its PH, thus creating more acidic water. As sound travels in the ocean some of the sound wave's energy is absorbed as it interacts with salt and other molecules that determine how far it travels.  Keith Hester, a researcher with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, predicts sounds will travel 70 percent farther in 2050 as a result of increased carbon dioxide acidifying our oceans.  A louder ocean will negatively affect marine animals, like whales and dolphins, that rely on sonar to navigate, communicate, and find food.   85 percent of all carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere ends up in our oceans.
Via: Santa Cruz Sentinel
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

February 4, 2009

The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can do to Make a Big Difference

thegreenyear.jpg The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference uses the calendar year to organize simple activities anyone can do to help stop climate change. The bite size tips are assigned to each day of the year, so one is never at a loss as to what one can do that day for the earth. The book also features:
•The "why" behind each activity--what makes it good for the environment and the reader? •A quick "how-to" for any activity that requires it •Room for readers to write in their own creative Alternatives •Helpful illustrations
Ideas range from in May visiting a garden center to research drought-tolerant plants to in August switching to eco-friendly dental floss. With Valentine's Day approaching, The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference offers the following advice:
Surprise your Valentine with a candlelight dinner. Turning out the lights isn't just romantic, it saves energy. To make the evening more eco-friendly, opt for soy candles over candles made from paraffin. Soy candles are made from natural ingredients, last longer than paraffin candles, and reduce the amount of soot released into the air by 90 percent.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

January 21, 2009

Killer Whales Being Poisoned by Eating PCB Tainted Salmon

killer-whale.jpg A new study of orca whales living off the coast of British Columbia has revealed their dwindling populations are being negatively affected by eating salmon that is tainted with PCBs. Although PCB use has been largely banned in the United States since 1977, this persistent organic pollutant is still present in our environment. Salmon are the staple of killer whale's diet, and even though the amount of PCBs in chinook salmon is relatively low, even small amounts pose a significant risk to the whales.

In fact, the whales have become the most contaminated marine mammals in the world.

Peter Ross, supervising researcher on the study published in the current issue of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, explains:
Killer whales are long-lived, top-of-the-food-chain animals. They have small, isolated populations. They have very large habitat needs. If we're trying to protect 84 animals in an area where we've got 8.5 million people, we've got a bit of work to do.
One out of every 2000 Pacific orca whales have dangerous levels of pollutants that damage their immune systems, affect reproduction, and lead to developmental abnormalities.
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

December 11, 2008

Endangered Species Alert: Tasmanian Devil May be Extinct in 20 Years

tasmaniandevil.jpg Tasmanian devils are suffering from an infectious cancer called devil facial tumor disease that may cause their extinction in 10 to 20 years. According to Jeremy Austin, an Australian zoologist:
We have lost over half our devils in the past 10 years, with an estimated population of 20,000 to 50,000 mature devils left. Extinction within the next 20 years is a real possibility unless we find a vaccine, eradicate the disease and establish captive colonies.
Tasmanian devils became extinct on the Australian mainland 400 years ago, and Tasmania tigers did not survive European colonization.

Tasmanian devils are coping with the infectious cancer by having sex at earlier ages. The fatal cancer strikes the devils at the age of two, which is their breeding age. The cancer is spread during fighting over food and mating. 

Via:  Center for Biological Diversity

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Is Poverty Good for the Environment?

blog action day.jpgToday is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is poverty. The subject of poverty begs the question: Is poverty good for the environment? Certainly people living with less means have a smaller carbon footprint. They aren't jet-setting across the world in airplanes, driving Hummers, or buying expensive clothes they do not need.

I know several families that live below the official US poverty level by choice, and I have been there myself. They grow and store their own food, shop thrift stores for their clothes, and earn little money but are very self-sufficient. Of course, these content people are not the target of Blog Action Day. Their basic needs are met, they are not being taken advantage of by corporations, and they live in a healthy environment.

No one should live in hunger or without needed health care, but I also don't think the goal should be to raise all world citizens to the natural resource abusing level of middle and upper class Americans. Workers should be paid living wages so that they never have to wonder where their next meal is coming from, or if they will be evicted because they can't pay the rent.

Of course, the environment and poverty go hand in hand, as many people of low socio-economic status live in environmentally degraded, toxic, and polluted neighborhoods. Furthermore, environmentalism has been accused of being an elitist movement, as impoverished families cannot afford organic food or fashion. Poverty is a complex issue, and the environment should be considered in every discussion and resolution on the subject.

Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

October 9, 2008

Court Overules Federal Removal of Great Lakes Wolf From Endangered Species List

wolf1.jpg In response to lawsuits filed by environmental groups, a federal court overruled the Bush administration's 2007 removal of the Gray Wolf from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes region. Under protection of the endangered species act, the Great Lakes wolf population has risen to 4000. This ruling has stopped the slaughter of wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Via: Center for Biological Diversity
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

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