EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an updated video that was originally published March 9, 2017.
Articles on this Page
- 10/27/17--11:39: _Tony Robbins uses s...
- 10/30/17--10:27: _Octopuses are slith...
- 10/31/17--08:55: _The EPA may ban som...
- 10/31/17--09:31: _An Israeli food sta...
- 10/31/17--09:32: _The oceans are comi...
- 11/02/17--08:46: _5 idiot-proof house...
- 11/02/17--12:36: _An 87-year-old scie...
- 11/03/17--12:41: _The Trump administr...
- 11/05/17--07:09: _People are moving b...
- 11/06/17--16:30: _The rise of water d...
- 11/07/17--07:15: _The US is now the o...
- 11/08/17--06:10: _Much of the US coul...
- 11/08/17--11:19: _One of the EPA's ne...
- 11/08/17--15:12: _Hot rock under Anta...
- 11/09/17--05:57: _A heartbreaking pho...
- 11/09/17--14:06: _A prize-winning ima...
- 11/10/17--07:36: _Office air sometime...
- 11/10/17--10:52: _The asteroid that w...
- 11/10/17--20:42: _These photos of pol...
- 11/13/17--08:13: _Stunning new photos...
- Curled Octopuses are washing up on the beaches in Wales.
- A local tour group spotted them out late Friday night, and guides said they'd never seen anything like this before.
- Octopuses can survive outside the water for about 20-30 minutes, and some aren't making it back into the water in time.
- 10/31/17--08:55: The EPA may ban some scientists from its independent advisory boards
- Scientists who won EPA research grants under previous presidential administrations may soon be barred from serving on the agency's independent advisory panels.
- The move could make it easier to install industry-friendly advisors on the panels and weaken pollution and climate regulations.
- EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, openly rejects mainstream climate science and data that shows human activity is a primary driver of global warming.
- By the end of the century, experts predict that we could see between two and eight feet of sea level rise.
- Some cities, like Miami and New York, are already dealing with flooding at high tides and many cities are experiencing worse storm surges.
- Cities are doing a lot to try to prepare, but a new book on sea level rise makes the argument that the seas will still transform our cities.
- 11/02/17--08:46: 5 idiot-proof houseplants that can live for weeks without water
- Scientists in China have developed more than 200 new strains of high-yield, saltwater-tolerant rice.
- The research team hopes the crops will eventually be grown in boggy swamps and coastal areas, and feed as many as 200 million people.
Recent tests were conducted in diluted salt water that has roughly 10% of the level of salt naturally found in sea water.
- The Trump Administration just released a report that says there's strong evidence for 'continuing, rapid, human-caused warming of the global atmosphere and ocean.'
- The scientific report is required by law, and must be submitted to Congress once every four years.
- The findings conflict with the climate change-denying language President Trump and many of his advisors have used, but the results align with what scientists have been documenting for years.
- This is the warmest period in the history of modern civilization. The report says "averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years."
- Human-fueled climate change is responsible for this warming."There is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence," the report says.
- Extreme weather events are on the rise. The report cites heavy rainfall, heatwaves, wildfires, sea-level rise and reduced snowpack as examples of this trend — all of which experts expect will continue and worsen. "Assuming no change to current water resources management, chronic, long-duration hydrological drought is increasingly possible before the end of this century," the authors write.
- Sea levels are expected to rise "by at least several inches" in the next 15 years, and up to 4 feet higher than they are now by 2100.
- It's hot, and only getting hotter. The report says that without further action to reduce carbon emissions, average annual global temperatures could be nine degrees Farenheit hotter than they were in pre-industrial times by the end of the century.
- There's an even bigger risk of surprise, irreversible climate events. The more the Earth warms, the greater the risk of what the report calls "extreme climate events" which can happen in single "tipping point events" and also in "compound events" (such as heat, drought, wildfires and flooding.) These could result in abrupt, irreversible changes to the world climate as we know it.
- 11/05/17--07:09: People are moving back to Fukushima and hunting radioactive boars
- Historically, fights over water in California were about dams.
- Now the battle is shifting to data that measure water usage in detail.
- Syria, the world's last holdout, just announced it would join the Paris agreement.
- The agreement set a goal to keep the average global temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius.
- The US is now alone in rejecting the historic climate accord.
- Federal forecasters are predicting an impact from La Niña on winter temperatures and precipitation.
- The Great Lakes and portions of the Rockies could get slammed with higher-than-usual snow totals.
- The South and the Northeast are expected to get a warmer-than-usual winter, with the Gulf Coast remaining dry.
- The Environmental Protection Agency's Scientific Advisory Board makes sure the science the agency uses for key policy decisions is sound.
- Administrator Scott Pruitt banned some scientists from serving on the panel last week, saying researchers who've won EPA grants in the past can't remain independent enough to serve on the board.
- One of his new replacement picks, smog researcher Robert Phalen, thinks modern air is "too clean" for people.
- Antarctica is warming faster than most places on Earth, causing surface melt.
- Melt water below the continent's thick ice sheets lubricates their movement toward the ocean.
- A new study backs up the idea that a hot plume of rock in the mantle is sitting below West Antarctica.
- This plume may contribute to higher-than-normal ice losses in West Antarctica.
- A photo of the last male northern white rhino in the world has gone viral on Twitter.
- The photo depicts Sudan lying on the ground, alongside the caption: "Want to know what extinction looks like?"
- Sudan is the last male of his species left in the world. He is unable to mate with the two remaining females of his kind.
- The winners of the prestigious Sanctuary Asia magazine photo contest award have been announced.
- Many of the images portray the complicated and often dark relationship between humans and nature.
- This year's overall winner is particularly disturbing: It shows a mob pelting a mother elephant and her calf with flaming balls of tar.
- About 66 million years ago, a 9-kilometer-wide asteroid slammed into Earth, creating the Chicxulub crater and triggering the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.
- Skies filled with soot and gas, firestorms covered the planet, and global temperatures plummeted, killing 75% of life on Earth, including the dinosaurs.
- But a new study found that the asteroid was that devastating only because of where it struck.
When Tony Robbins whacks golf balls into the Pacific off the porch of his Fiji home, he's not just living the peak luxury lifestyle, he's feeding some of the local fish.
Business Insider recently traveled to Robbins' Fiji resort Namale, where the world-famous life coach was hosting the winners of Shopify's Build a Bigger Business competition. He gave us a tour of his private residence and showed us his stock of fish food golf balls.
Barcelona-based entrepreneur Albert Buscató invented the "EcoBioBall" in 2008 and began selling them through his company Albus Golf in 2010. He sells boxes of the balls on his website (100 of them will run you $116), and major clients include cruise lines and resorts like the Four Seasons.
Buscató had the EcoBioBall independently tested to meet the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines for biodegradability and non-toxicity. Fish can get at the ball's fish food core after a day and a half, and even if no fish swam by to snack, the ball fully dissolves within 28 days in all water temperatures. Following is a transcript of the video.
Tony Robbins: This is another hangout area that we really love. I opened this up because I have "fish balls." I have these golf balls that are full of fish food, and so we use these as holes here and we come out and knock balls here. These fish food ones — you knock these out and then they dissolve in the ocean and provide the food. So, they're ecologically sound, but also the fish love it. It's kinda cool.
Graham Flanagan: So, that's full of fish food?
Robbins: That's full of fish food, so it's kind of fun.
Billy Beck III: Take a bite of it! [LAUGHTER]
[They're called EcoBioBalls. A Barcelona-based company started making them in 2010. The ball's core is made of 100 percent natural fish food. The balls start to dissolve after 24 hours. Fish begin eating the food after 36 hours. The balls fully dissolve after 28 days. The balls passed independent tests for biodegradability and non-toxicity. A box of 100 balls costs $116. The balls don't fly quite as far as normal golf balls, but that's a small price to pay when you're feeding fish!]
Octopuses in Wales are slithering out of the water for some evening shenanigans.
The gooey, bulbous creatures, which are about the size of a human hand, were spotted crawling ashore over the weekend. Estimates suggest between 20 and 25 of them were seen out of the water on Friday night.
In a video posted on Facebook Saturday, the team at SeaMor Wildlife Tours in the town of New Quay, Wales announced their late-night sighting:
"Never seen anything like it before," Brett Stones, owner of the SeaMor tour company, told Business Insider.
This 'Curled Octopus,' also called a Horned Octopus, is native to oceans from Norway down to the Mediterranean, and is fairly common in the British Isles. Adults weigh between 1 and 2.5 pounds and can live up to five years.
Like fish, octopuses need water to survive, and take in oxygen through their gills. But marine biologist Ken Halanych told Vanity Fair that octopuses can survive for around 20-30 minutes outside the water.
It's not unheard of for octopuses to come out of the sea — cephalopods experts say the nocturnal, eight-legged creatures have been known to roam the shores at night in search of food.
"Many octopus species emerge to hunt in the pools of water left behind by the receding tide" octopus expert Julian Finn told Scientific American in 2011, when another octopus was spotted coming ashore in California. However, nobody knows why these octopuses have emerged in Wales.
Sadly, it seems not all the octopuses leaving the waters of St George's Channel are making it back. On their Facebook page, SeaMor Wildlife Tours wrote on Saturday that they spotted "quite a few dead ones on the beach this morning."
The US Environmental Protection Agency will announce on Tuesday it will bar certain scientists from serving on its independent advisory boards, according to people familiar with the plan, a move critics say could open the way to more industry-friendly advisors on the panels.
The EPA will bar scientists who have won agency-awarded grants in the past, billing the step as a way to preserve the independence of the boards, which provide the scientific input for agency decisions around pollution and climate change regulation.
An EPA spokesman declined to comment.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signaled the move during a speech last week at the conservative Heritage Foundation, when he questioned the independence of scientists who have won past EPA research grants, and promised to "fix" the situation.
During his election campaign last year, Republican President Donald Trump promised to roll back environmental regulations from Democratic President Barack Obama's administration, including those limiting carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming, to make government more friendly to the drilling, mining, and manufacturing businesses.
The advisory boards were created by Congress to serve as a check on EPA policies and research. They include the EPA Scientific Advisory Board, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, and the Board of Scientific Counselors.
Last year, the SAB questioned an EPA report that concluded that hydraulic fracturing — an oil- and gas-drilling technology that frees petroleum from underground shale formations — had no "widespread impacts" on drinking water despite evidence of problems in several states.
In June, Pruitt decided not to renew the terms of nine members of a separate body, the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors. One of those members, Michigan State University professor of community sustainability Robert Richardson, told Reuters the move came as a surprise because the work they were doing was "apolitical."
The EPA is also expected to announce three new members of the Clean Air advisory committee on Tuesday.
Pruitt is an outspoken doubter of mainstream climate science, a consensus of scientists that carbon dioxide from human use of fossil fuels is a primary driver of global warming, triggering more frequent volatile storms, sea level rise, and droughts.
Pruitt has said he wants to set up a televised debate about the science of climate change between scientists who believe it is driven by humans and those that do not.
Editing by Frances Kerry
"It tastes nutty," the middle-aged Israeli entrepreneur said as he munched away at fruit fly larvae before processing the rice-size yellowish creatures into protein powder.
Eran Gronich, founder and CEO of FlyingSpArk, says his privately-owned food tech startup has developed insect powder and oil extract as an alternative protein source that can potentially be a substitute for meat, poultry and fish.
"In insect protein, you have all the good stuff without the bad stuff," Gronich said from his office in the Israeli port city of Ashdod, where fruit and vegetables were being chopped to feed to larvae which then reproduce before being made into powder and oil samples.
With market demand growing for edible insects, the developers say fruit fly larvae have an edge over other edible insects in the market, such as grasshoppers, crickets or meal worms, because they have no legs, wings, antennas or eyes.
The fruit flies also have a short lifespan of six days, compared with four weeks for other insects. They are easy to cultivate, cheap and highly sustainable, and there is no greenhouse gas pollution.
Moreover, Yoram Yerushalmi, FlyingSpArk's co-founder and chief technology officer, says the nutritional values of the larvae can be influenced by their diet.
"Those guys can eat a variety of fruits and sugary vegetables, like carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and stuff, so we think and know that the nutritional values of the larvae themselves that we process into the powder actually are being influenced by what they eat," said Yerushalmi.
After the thick off-white larvae paste is processed, 70 percent is turned into powder sold at about $15,000 USD a tonne. With its long shelf life, it can then be used for food products such as bread and pasta, or even meatballs.
The remaining liquid, sold for $70-$80 USD per kilograms, is turned into a crystal clear oil that can be used for dietary supplements and even cosmetics, according to its developers.
The company's products have already received recognition from industry giants IKEA that is seeking to add the protein boost powder to their food products, Grunich said.
Swedish furniture and home accessories giant IKEA has selected Flying SpArk as one of ten firms to join its new start-up accelerator 'Ikea Boot camp', chosen from a field of 1,200.
In Israel, even though insects are deemed non-kosher for consumption, chef Yair Feinberg who owns a culinary innovations studio in Tel Aviv, has taken up the challenge to create more traditional food dishes out of the larvae powder.
Feinberg and his fellow chefs said they had found just the right ingredients to turn the powder into delicious Swedish inspired meatballs, termed "flyballs".
"I don't think it will replace meat but I think it can actually...be part of the human diet in the future years," Feinberg said.
Overcoming what the developers call the "yuck factor" is the main challenge facing the company as it attempts to penetrate the food industry in the western world and move beyond developing countries accustomed to edible insects.
The global market for edible insects was $33 million (USD) in 2015, according to Global Market Insights, and is expected to grow 40 percent by 2023.
Grunich and Yerushalmi hope eventually to grow larvae in any climate zone - even in space - and produce protein powders locally to help solve a worsening global food crisis.
Produced by Leon Siciliano
We build cities on the water.
Miami, New York, Tokyo, Mumbai, Lagos, Los Angeles — look anywhere in the world and humanity has decided that the places we want to congregate look out to sea. Close to 40% of the US population lives in coastal counties. Many of the most expensive and desirable locations in coastal cities are the ones with the best access to the ocean.
But these oceanside places are becoming more and more vulnerable to rising seas, as journalist Jeff Goodell details in his new book, "The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World."
Goodell's book is a journey to the cities and towns around the globe that are trying to figure out how to adapt to sea levels that are continuing to rise. He travels to small Alaskan villages, to the megacity of Lagos on the coast of West Africa, and returns throughout the book to Miami, one of the urban areas that best demonstrates the many challenges of trying to keep the ocean at bay.
"Miami as we know it today, there's virtually no scenario under which you can imagine it existing at the end of the century," Goodell told Business Insider. As a large low lying city built close to a storm-prone coast on top of land that makes coping with sea level rise particularly complicated, Miami has serious sea level rise issues to deal with.
It's not that the city itself — or Miami Beach, technically another nearby city — will totally disappear or that all of the millions of people in the region will relocate. Transformation, adaptation, and engineering will help some people stay.
But there are a lot of people who will need to move as the risk of remaining in place grows, according to Goodell. That might be because of financial risk as banks become less willing to supply mortgages for houses in flood-prone regions; it may be because of physical risks as more intense storms bring dangerous surges on top of already higher waters.
That is likely the case — depending on how effective mitigation efforts can be — for communities all over the world, from parts of New York City that are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy to entire nations on Pacific islands.
The problem with rising waters
Every place faces unique challenges when it comes to sea level rise. For geological reasons, water level is rising faster in some place — like South Florida — than others.
Because of the type of land they're built on, cities like New Orleans, Louisiana and Norfolk, Virginia are losing elevation as the water rises because of a process known as coastal subsidence. Miami and South Florida don't have that problem, as much of the ground underneath them is made of limestone.
But that creates a new issue. Limestone is porous, which means that water rises up from below, meaning it's impossible to build walls to keep rising seas out as has been done in the Netherlands.
Still, there are some common factors that pop up in all cities where sea level rise is an issue, many of which might surprise someone who hasn't immersed themselves in the facts about what this means for cities.
For one thing, the flood waters that you can already see in cities like Miami on sunny days with particularly high tides are not "clean sea water." Water comes up through sewers and drains and brings nasty stuff with it.
"In urban areas, the floods that pour into the city are not going to be luminous blue waters you'll want to frolic in on your Jet Ski," Goodell wrote in the book. "They are going to be dark, smelly, and contaminated by organic and inorganic compounds, including, in some places, viruses and human shit."
Another factor is that even a small amount of sea level rise can have a profound effect. We call some of the flooding that has started to occur more frequently in the absence of massive storm events "nuisance flooding," but that term may be misleading when you think about the huge problems that even a small amount of sea level change can cause. There's increased erosion, corrosion of structures, and the risk that seawater could contaminate drinking water supplies.
Plus, places that have only seen a gradual amount of sea level rise so far shouldn't necessarily expect that rate to remain constant. Goodell said that researchers who have examined Earth's geologic history say that when sea levels are rising, there's often a "pulse" where there is a lot of rise in a short period of time. In geological terms, that may mean several decades or even several hundred years, but some experts think we could be entering one of those pulses now.
Can you keep the water out?
According to Goodell, we can't stop sea level rise at this point, so we have to figure out how we're going to deal with it.
We've already emitted enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that a certain amount of sea level rise is guaranteed. Stopping emissions as soon as possible would help prevent the problem from getting worse but wouldn't change the fact that much of the world is going to see between two and eight feet of sea level rise by the end of the century, depending on the model you look at.
It's not that no one working on this. Parts of Manhattan are going to be protected by a series of systems known as the Big U that will surround the lower part of the island. In sections of Miami Beach, roads are already being raised, pumps have been installed, and there's talk of raising buildings as necessary. Beaches all over the East Coast are being replenished with new sand as the ocean eats them away.
But no matter what, we can't keep the water out everywhere. In some cases, people will be forced to move — and lower-income residents will likely struggle the most due to lack of resources.
"I want places to start to take this seriously; the kind of planning to keep places like Miami alive is going to take some time," Goodell told Business Insider.
New cities might have floating infrastructure or come up with ways to keep critical infrastructure safe in extreme events. There's a lot of opportunity for creativity, Goodell said. But older cities could experience more of struggle trying to retrofit themselves for rising waters. Some neighborhoods and communities will have to move.
"I hope people take [from the book] that we have to live differently," Goodell said.
It can be tough keeping plants alive indoors, especially as the dry winter months approach.
But if you can keep them thriving, indoor plants are have all sorts of benefits. Plants can regulate indoor humidity. Norwegian office workers report that having plants at work helps them stay productive and healthy. In Japan, they fight crime: a Tokyo neighborhood dealing with a spate of break-ins planted flowers and saw burglary rates fall 80%.
Even rocket scientists agree: when NASA studied houseplants in the 1980s, the space agency found that they can remove dangerous organic chemicals from indoor air, like formaldehyde, benzene and the industrial solvent trichloroethylene.
Business Insider spoke to New York City plant expert Matthew Schechter, who's been in the family plant business since he was born.
Here are his top five "idiot-proof" plant picks that are perfect for anyone who lacks a green thumb. None of these plants need to be watered unless the dirt they're sitting in is dry to the touch. They are built to survive for up to a month without watering.
The Cast Iron Plant is originally native to Taiwan and Japan, but was brought to Victorian England in the 1800s, where it was a status symbol plant for the rich. Schechter said these low-lying bush plants have evolved to adapt to "basically any kind of climate."
The glossy leaves on this Janet Craig plant are super-hearty. Schechter said one tough Janet Craig plant once lived in a dark closet for two months and it survived to see the light of day.
Schechter says this one is known as a "workhorse plant" because "not all plants have that big, bushy look, but can tolerate low levels of light."
The Mexican Ponytail Palm is pet-friendly and used to dry, arid conditions. It can go for two to three weeks without water.
It's ASPCA approved as non-toxic for dogs, cats, and horses.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Yuan Longping, an 87-year-old Chinese scientist, has spent his life working to feed a world hungry for rice. Now he's wading into saltier territory.
Longping is developing a new high-yield strain of rice that can grow in saltwater paddies.
The traditional process of cultivating rice requires a field to be flooded with a supply of fresh water. Only a fraction of China's total land area can be farmed this way, since much of the soil has salt in it from coastal flooding and tides. In the region of Dongying on China's eastern coast, for example, nearly 40% of the land now has salt content above .5%, according to the World Bank. (China nonetheless produces more rice than any other country, however.)
Growing rice in swamps, bogs, and clay-like or salty coastal waters, which comprise about a third of the total arable land in China, has typically been impossible because salt stresses the plants. That makes photosynthesis and respiration a challenge for the stalks, causing them to stop growing and die. An increasing amount of land is expected to face this problem as sea levels rise.
If Chinese farmers can start planting rice in the vast salty swaths of their country, however, that could dramatically increase the country's food supply.
Longping's first test results look promising: A crop of 200 different saltwater-tolerant strains of rice that his research group grew this year yielded up to 8,030 pounds of rice per acre, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.
That's more rice than most commercial US growers harvest in their yields (which usually range between 7,200-7,600 pounds per acre.)
Growing rice in saltwater would also free up stretches of soil that's currently devoted to rice for other crops. Chinese diets are changing as more affluent consumers demand more meat and fewer grains, but space to raise livestock and vegetables is limited, since so much of China's arable land is reserved for rice.
“That could, of course, have a huge impact on the overall food security and supply in China,” Ren Wang, assistant director general for agriculture at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, told Business Insider.
Longping's initial success came just as the 2017 global rice production forecast has taken a downturn. South Korea and Sri Lanka are suffering from “abnormal dryness,” according to the UN FAO, while Bangladesh recently experienced some of the worst flooding to hit South Asia in a decade. India and Nepal were hit by both floods and droughts this year, so are also expecting rice prices to tick up.
Feeding 200 million people
But although Longping's experimental planting, which was conducted at the Qingdao Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center on the Yellow Sea, showed the rice was able to grow in sea-like water, the salt concentration was diluted.
“It’s still only maybe 10% the level of salt in sea water,” Wang said, cautioning that the rice is still “quite far” from any practical application for farmers.
The Chinese research team behind the new strain hopes that in three to five years, they’ll be able to produce enough of the saltwater-powered grain to feed 200 million Chinese people, and possibly hundreds of millions more around the world. Wang says the technique could also be adopted in other areas, including Bangladesh, Vietnam and parts of Africa.
The goal sounds lofty, but Longping knows a thing or two about how to grow new kinds of rice. The Chinese researcher won the 2004 World Food Prize for his work on some of the first high-yield hybrid rice varieties that were developed in the 1970s, which helped shift his country from food deficient to food secure.
Rice has been a staple crop for more than 7,000 years, and today, more than half of the world’s population relies on the fingernail-sized grain for sustenance, according to the United Nations. High-yield varieties like those Longping has developed feed more mouths than traditional techniques, but are also more energy-intensive and require more non-organic fertilizer.
With the saltwater technique, rice growers are hoping to cut back on energy use. One successful strain, called Green Super Rice, has been shown to grow in salty water and is already being cultivated with some success in the Philippines. It's more environmentally friendly than typical high-yield rice, and it fetches a higher price due to its high-quality, reddish grains, according to the International Rice Research Institute.
In addition to increasing the total volume of rice that can be produced, rice grown in saltwater may offer health benefits, since there’s more calcium and other micronutrients in alkaline waters.
But the scientists will have to make sure that consumers actually want to eat this new rice.
The saltwater-tolerant strains in China were developed with crosses from wild rice relatives, and Wang says he hasn't found any detailed report on the rice quality. That makes him skeptical about how the new breeds taste.
“I personally would imagine there’s still a long way to go,” he said.
The federal government just released its latest research on climate change, and the findings are conclusive:
"It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,'" it says.
The 15-chapter US Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report was released on Friday. The Trump Administration greenlit the document, which includes scientific findings from agencies across the federal government.
The National Climate Assessment report is required by law every four years, and is essentially a roundup of the latest federal findings on how the planet is doing. The news in the new report doesn't look good for the Earth. Since its last assessment, the team behind the report found that even "stronger evidence has emerged for continuing, rapid, human-caused warming of the global atmosphere and ocean."
Here are six of the key takeaways from the report:
The report stands in direct contrast to the statements of top officials in the Trump Administration, who continue to express doubts about the scientific consensus on the Earth's climate.
Just earlier this week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt moved to ban research scientists who have won EPA grants under previous administrations from serving on the EPA's independent advisory boards.
President Trump himself has called climate change an "expensive hoax". Earlier this year he moved to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, which was created to reduce global carbon emissions. In October, Nicaragua joined that global compact leaving the U.S. and Syria as the only two countries who do not plan to be permanent members of the treaty.
Federal law requires US government agencies to report to Congress on their current knowledge about the economic, environmental, health, and safety consequences of climate change. The new report is designed to give lawmakers and the president the most recent facts and figures in order to help them make informed decisions about how to address our changing climate.
Following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, wild boars descended from the surrounding forests to inhabit the cities. With the evacuation orders on several towns about to be lifted, animal control hunter groups are working to remove the boars from the area.
If you thought California’s water wars were bitter, just wait until you see our water data wars.
Digital tools have expanded the ability of governments, companies and nonprofits to measure the uses of California water in detail, and thus build more water-efficient products, boost water conservation, and replace expensive and inefficient infrastructure.
But the abundance of water data effectively makes every piece of land and every drop of water in California the subject of measurement—and conflict.
The data also exposes the fragmentation and deficiencies of California’s system of water management.
The state’s new conservation requirements add to the stakes of arguments over data. As Californians struggled to save every drop during the recent five-year drought, the state for the first time imposed mandatory restrictions on water use—requiring that 400 local water agencies figure out how to reduce usage by 25 percent in 2015.
That shift, following 2009 legislation setting a goal of reducing urban per capita water use by 20 percent by 2020, is changing the way Californians fight over water—away from historic battles over dams, and toward new contests over maximizing the water we already have.
Among the questions to which new data is being applied: What incentives will convince most people to remove their grass lawns and, if they do, how much water do those removals save?
How much water do efficient toilets and appliances really conserve? Exactly how much water are we losing to leaks—and where can we make the most efficient investments to stop them?
Then there’s a bigger-picture quandary: can data help integrate our water use with our electricity and gas use—making ourselves so efficient that we effectively mitigate the effects of climate change?
That promising thought is mixed with real questions about the accuracy of the data we do have.
How precisely are we measuring evapotranspiration—the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from soil and by transpiration from plants? And how accurately are we measuring our land use to determine how much landscaping could be replaced by more water-efficient plantings?
This is not easy work. When a state pilot project tried to measure landscape, it found that among 20 water agencies, there was no consensus on defining landscape areas or how to calculate them.
These issues are not petty—they are questions of justice.
How much water savings, for example, can we demand from farmworker housing that draws on groundwater in the fields?
In this context, the highly publicized controversy over the California Water Fix—Gov. Jerry’s Brown proposal to build tunnels under the Delta to convey water to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California —feels like an anachronistic repeat of decades-old dramas about dams and canals.
The more important fight today is over who controls the data and what it justifies.
This newer fight has lately involved legislation—SB 606 and AB 1668—that seeks to establish a management regime to realize the governor’s framework for “making water conservation a California way of life.”
The trouble—say younger, tech-savvy water warriors—is that data undergirding California water use is old or faulty.
In an open letter to Governor Brown this summer, Patrick Atwater of the L.A.-based nonprofit ARGO wrote that state water agencies don’t even have accurate land use information or accurate service area boundaries for local water retailers.
“There is an urgent need to modernize how California’s water agencies manage data,” he wrote. “Achieving the broader urban water efficiencies will require creativity and finesse, not simply command and control regulation.”
ARGO called for a one-year task force to focus on developing better-quality data and designing a 21st-century system of water governance.
Such a transformation would be welcome. But it may be a long way off. For now, more data means a wider water war.
The United States is now the only country not on board with the Paris agreement.
Syria, which has been engaged in a bloody civil war for six years and was the world's last holdout, announced it would sign up to the 2015 climate accord, delegates at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, said Tuesday.
The US signed the agreement under President Barack Obama in December 2015 alongside 194 other nations and remains part of it, but the Trump administration has pledged to withdraw the US from it.
The Paris agreement set a goal to keep the planet from warming by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, with 2 degrees Celsius as the upper limit for global temperature rise.
If the US does withdraw from the agreement, the earliest it could do so is November 4, 2020— one day after the next presidential election.
Trump has said the deal isn't "fair" to the US, even though the country has contributed more to climate change than any other nation. Just last week, federal scientists in the US sounded the alarm once again, releasing an exhaustive report cautioning that global warming was accelerating — with human activity to blame.
The Trump administration's plan to withdraw was unpopular globally. An official in France said Trump was "for the time being"not being invited to the climate-change summit in Paris next month.
It's been a dramatic fall across the United States.
But what's in store for the winter, which officially kicks off December 21?
Forecasters at the National Weather Service say they have seen some cooler-than-normal water swirling in the Pacific Ocean, coupled with stronger-than-usual winds above the water.
That has prompted an official La Niña watch. La Niña is a weather pattern that disrupts normal winter across North America. Typically, it causes the US to experience a wetter-than-usual winter across most of the top states and a drier-than-usual one across the bottom.
The "little girl" from the Pacific can also usher in unusual temperatures. Here's how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration thinks things may look across the continental US from December to March:
The model suggests that many Americans could get a balmy winter, with mild temperatures wafting across much of the South and the Northeast.
But it may get chillier than normal in other areas, including the Pacific Northeast, northern Wyoming, and North Dakota. Snow totals this year could be very high across the northern plains — from the Rockies to the Great Lakes — giving skiers a reason to rejoice. Hawaii and western Alaska are also expected to have a soggy, precipitous season ahead.
Of course, experts caution that this is only a model and that weather is still (always) up in the air.
And not every forecaster is expecting La Niña. The Old Farmer's Almanac, a controversial source the Houston meteorologist Matt Lanza says is "about as good as going to a psychic," bases its long-term predictions largely on the sun's output. The OFA is predicting a cold, wet, snowy year across almost the entire US (with one bright spot of mild temperatures around Lake Superior). That's because the sun has been going through a period of low activity lately called "solar minimum," with fewer sunspots and solar flares bursting out of the sun.
The OFA acknowledges, though, that "most scientists believe that the magnitude of changes in solar activity is insufficient to have a significant effect on Earth's weather."
Americans will have to wait until winter's official start on the shortest day of the year (Dec. 21) to see how this all shakes out on the ground.
NOW WATCH: How El Niño and La Niña affect weather
A new guard has moved in at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Administrator Scott Pruitt is shaking up the EPA's Scientific Advisory Board — a group of the agency’s top science experts who are tasked with reviewing the scientific information the EPA uses to make key policy decisions. Pruitt has moved in a roster of 18 new people who will now make up about half of the agency's 44-member committee.
The new chair of the board, Michael Honeycutt — the director of toxicology at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality — has been a vocal critic of the EPA in the past. The Texas Observer reports that he's suggested EPA air quality regulations and ozone limits are unnecessary, because Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, anyway.
Another Pruitt pick is Robert Phalen, a smog researcher who once famously said that modern air is “a little too clean for optimum health.” He claims children’s lungs need a few irritants to grow hearty, and that pollutants like coal are good for lung defenses.
Air pollution is killing one in six people around the world, and it's more deadly than smoking, wars, malnutrition or obesity.
Just this week, schools in New Delhi had to close because Indian officials said the city has become a “gas chamber” engulfed in thick smog. In the US, though, air pollution rates have droppedmore than 70% since 1970 — the year the EPA was founded.
Members of Congress are already voicing concern about the changes at the EPA. In a letter signed by dozens of Democrats and at least one Republican, lawmakers voiced concern that Pruitt's changes might compromise the agency's ability to seek out "objective, independent scientific expertise."
That’s a little different than what one newly-appointed SAB board member told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012.
“My most important role in science is causing trouble and controversy,” Phalen said.
Antarctica today takes a lot of heat from above, thanks to two hundred years of carbon-belching human activity and the warming this has caused.
An increasing number of researchers also think the frozen Southern Continent faces significant warming from below: Hot rock pluming upward through Earth's mantle, leaking heat through the crust, and melting the bottoms of Antarctic ice sheets.
The effect, first proposed 30 years ago, seems especially strong in West Antarctica, where ice sheets losses are most dramatic and contributing to sea-level rise. But few scientists believed this was happening, at least initially.
"I thought it was crazy,"Hélène Seroussi, a climatologist and ice researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a press release. "I didn't see how we could have that amount of heat and still have ice on top of it."
However, a new study by Seroussi and others now backs up the idea of a hot mantle plume — and the melting it causes — with advanced computer modeling.
The work was published September 1 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth.
Rising from the depths
Earth's internal heat is always warming up the ground, including rock under ice sheets all over the planet. While this partially melts them from below, snow and ice accumulation on top is usually enough to balance out these losses.
Over the years, however, researchers who study Antarctic ice melt have detailed an anomaly at West Antarctica. There, ice sheet thinning is more drastic than anywhere else on the continent, according to satellite data.
Since the industrial revolution, the North and South Poles have warmed at a rate many times faster than other locations on Earth. In Antarctica, this is melting ice sheets from above and pooling water on top of them — possibly helping carve off Delaware-size icebergs.
But a warming climate does not fully explain Antarctica's mounting ice loss. So in recent years, researchers have looked deeper for an answer.
Hiding under the ice
This water helps lubricate the movement of ice sheets from the snowy mountains to the sea — and certain parts of the Southern Continent, where there's a lot of sub-glacial water — are moving and melting faster than others.
Scientists have also dug into the mystery of a bulge in Earth's crust below West Antarctica, called the Marie Byrd Land Dome. At first, it was thought the crust was thicker there. But earthquake-like seismic measurements disproved that idea.
Something else is buoying the region, and recent seismic imaging — essentially 3D-radar for Earth's crust and mantle — suggests there's a warm plume of rock below West Antarctica. (Just as sound waves travel slower through liquids than solids, seismic waves slow down when encountering hotter, more gooey, and less-dense rock.)
Since this could just be an irregularity in the mantle, Seroussi and her colleagues borrowed from a computer model used to simulate the giant plume of hot rock below Yellowstone National Park.
Researchers plugged in all of the known physics about the mantle, Antarctica, and its ice sheets — including their changing altitude, movement, friction caused by that movement, melting rates, and more — and produced dozens of simulations, according to NASA JPL.
Those simulations showed that heat spilling from a hot mantle plume could be up to three times greater than it is for a normal, non-volcanic chunk of mantle below the US. And compared to mantle below Yellowstone, the heat output could be 75% that of the volcanically active region.
When the researchers compared that heat output to basal (or bottom) melt rates in Antarctica, no places matched — except for West Antarctica. At that location, a crack or rift in the crust may be allowing heat to rapidly escape upward, the researchers wrote in their study.
"Without a plume-like heating source," they said, "our simulations show that intrinsic heating and crustal sources do not provide enough energy to generate significant amounts of basal meltwater."
A photo of the world's last male northern white rhino, tweeted to show "what extinction looks like," has gone viral.
The biologist Daniel Schneider's photo of the rhino, named Sudan, lying on the ground with his eyes downcast has been retweeted more than 40,000 times on Twitter since Monday.
"Want to know what extinction looks like? This is the last male Northern White Rhino," Schneider tweeted. "The Last. Nevermore."
Want to know what extinction looks like? This is the last male Northern White Rhino. The Last. Nevermore pic.twitter.com/o4obIQUpaR— Daniel Schneider (@BiologistDan) November 6, 2017
Sudan, who was born in 1973, is the only male northern white rhino left in the world. He lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya with two females of his species — both of whom are incapable of natural reproduction, the conservancy's website said.
After the death of two northern white rhinos in the Czech Republic and San Diego in 2015, the trio became the last of their kind in the world.
Conservationists have been trying to find new ways, including in vitro fertilization and stem-cell technology, to preserve the lineage. Northern white rhinos usually live up to 40 years, the World Wide Fund said, meaning Sudan may have already lived past his expected life cycle.
The decline of the northern white rhino, which used to roam central Africa, is due to poaching and various civil wars in the region, Ol Pejeta said. The conservancy has armed security guards watching over the three rhinos at all times.
Sudan found fame earlier this year as conservationists created a Tinder profile for him.
"I don't mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me," his profile on the dating app said. Users who swiped right were directed to a website where they could donate to Ol Pejeta.
On November 7, the Sanctuary Asia conservation magazine announced the winners from the 2017 Sanctuary Wildlife Photography Awards contest.
Many of the winning photos depict the complex — and often dark — interaction between humans and other living creatures. Some images, like the shot above by Sitara A. Karthikeyan, highlight the effects of disappearing habitats. That photo, titled "Valpari Vagrant", shows how a combination of shrinking wild areas and tourists' habit of feeding wild monkeys have led macaques to hang around humans, trying to co-exist as best they can.
The photo that won the overall wildlife photographer of the year contest, however, is particularly disturbing.
In the image below, "Hell is Here" by Biplab Hazra, a mob pelts a mother elephant and her calf with burning balls of tar.
It's hard to look at. In the caption for the winning image, Hazra explained that this shocking scene is actually a common one.
"The heat from the fire scorches their delicate skin as mother and child attempt to flee the mob. In the lead, the cow’s expansive ears are angled forward as she stoically ignores the crowd of jeering men. Behind her, her calf screams in confusion and fear as the fire licks at her feet. Flaming tar balls and crackers fly through the air to a soundtrack of human laughter and shouts. In the Bankura district of West Bengal, this sort of humiliation of pachyderms is routine, as it is in the other elephant-range states of Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and more."
India is home to more than 70% of the global population of Asian elephants, but interactions between people and these animals are not always peaceful. According to Hazra:
"The ignorance and bloodlust of mobs that attack herds for fun is compounded by the plight of those that actually suffer damage to land, life and property by wandering elephants, and the utter indifference of the central and state government to recognize the crisis that is at hand. For these smart, gentle, social animals who have roamed the sub-continent for centuries, hell is now and here."
The conservation organization's photo contest is meant to highlight powerful photos that can evoke supportive human responses. But not every one is as dark as the contest winner.
The image below, "Between a Rock and Hard Place", shot by Anand Bora, won the conservation photography category.
The leopard in that well had fallen in and kept itself alive by swimming for 30 hours before it was discovered. After spotting the animal, villagers managed to help forest officials devise a way to get the big cat out of the well.
"All our inspiration springs from nature… music, dance, philosophies, religions, culture, arts… and photography," Bittu Sahgal, Founder and Editor at Sanctuary Asia said in a news release. "These awards are Sanctuary's way of acknowledging this reality and reminding us all to celebrate, revere and protect this source of life."
Some modern workplaces have gotten so efficiently air-tight and crowded that they could be making us less productive.
That's partly our colleagues' fault: Adults breathe out a continuous (yet tiny) stream of CO2, which adds up to around 2 pounds every day.
On the ground outside, carbon dioxide concentrations typically hover between 250 and 500 parts per million, depending on how much pollution is around. Indoors, CO2 concentrations can be a bit higher, though it varies from place to place.
But extra CO2 can have a measurable effect on how well people accomplish cognitively high-level tasks at work.
A recent study by researchers from Harvard, SUNY and Syracuse suggests that when people breathe in too much carbon dioxide at their desks, their performance suffers. That jives with what brain researchers know about carbon dioxide: more CO2 causes brain metabolism to plummet and neural activity to take a dive.
That study got the science team at Business Insider wondering how much CO2 is in the air we're breathing at work. So we conducted a test in our office to determine whether we, too, are being impacted by elevated carbon dioxide levels.
In the study, 24 workers spent six days working at different CO2 concentrations. The participants were plucked from a range of professions, including engineers, marketers and programmers. The results from the small group suggested that even a slightly elevated CO2 level can have an impact on how well people work.
The researchers tested the participants with a range of decision-making tests at the end of each day.
On some days, workers went about their business in rooms where CO2 was circulating at 550 parts per million. On others, the concentration hovered at 945 ppm, and on the rest, they subjected participants to a high-carbon dioxide condition, at 1400 ppm. (The Centers for Disease Control generally considers places with CO2 levels above 1200 ppm 'inadequately ventilated.')
Study participants working under the heaviest concentration of CO2 performed 50% worse on cognitive tasks than they did in the low 550 ppm scenario. And when the workers were working in rooms with the medium CO2 concentrations (945 ppm), their cognitive test scores were 15% lower.
In other words, the researchers found that a little extra CO2 can make you act a lot dumber.
Indoor carbon dioxide became a problem in the 1970s, when designers began making buildings more airtight. People started reporting feeling ill and less productive at work. The term 'sick building syndrome' was born.
Exposure to higher-than-average levels of carbon dioxide, concentrations upwards of 2%, can leave exposed individuals feeling faint, breathless, and dizzy.
In more serious cases, taking in too much carbon dioxide can put people in a coma or kill them.
Ultimately, designers and architects adopted new building ventilation standards to make sure that there's enough fresh air indoors.
We were desperate to know how our office fared.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Some 66 million years ago, a city-size asteroid slammed into Earth near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
The massive impact created the 180-kilometer-wide Chicxulub crater and triggered the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event that wiped out 75% of Earth's biodiversity, including almost all the dinosaurs that had dominated life on land for more than 130 million years.
But that event was so devastating only because of the location the asteroid hit, a study published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports found. If it had hit elsewhere on Earth, the dinosaurs might have survived, the authors say.
The authors attribute the extinction event to the aftereffects of the impact. When the 9-kilometer-wide asteroid slammed into the planet, it caused earthquakes, triggered firestorms and massive tsunamis, and filled the air with gas and soot that caused drastic global cooling.
Another recent study found that the cooling event saw surface temperatures plummet an average of about 47 degrees Fahrenheit overnight and remain that way for years.
The new study found that the cooling event was so severe because the asteroid struck a particularly hydrocarbon-rich region and flooded the sky with soot — but that only about 13% of the planet's surface has enough sedimentary organic material and sulfur to have caused such an extreme effect.
In other words, if the asteroid had struck anywhere on the 87% of the planet's surface that isn't as hydrocarbon-rich, the dinosaurs might have survived. As it happened, the only dinosaurs to make it through the event were avian dinosaurs — birds. The loss of the rest created a space for mammals to thrive.
Like all theories on the extinction of the dinosaurs, this one is controversial. Most researchers attribute the extinction event to the asteroid strike, but there are various interpretations of why it was so devastating.
The authors of the recent study on the global cooling that followed the event told The Washington Post that it was gases released by the impact that caused the dramatic climate change, not necessarily soot — though they said the specific region the asteroid struck was crucial. Firestorms, toxic chemicals, and acidified oceans may have also played a role.
Other researchers have said the impact triggered an intense period of volcanic activity on the other side of the world that also would have filled the skies with sulfur and soot for years.
An asteroid striking the planet in one of the places that could have triggered these effects is an extremely-low-probability event — but one that changed the history of life on Earth, the Scientific Reports study's authors say.
Don't walk. Don't go to school. Don't breathe too fast.
Last November, the city experienced some of its worst pollution in decades, and this year looks like it's going to be a repeat. Here's what it's like for people who live in the Indian capital right now:.
The air quality index, which measures the levels of five major pollutants in the air, is above 400 in Delhi. That's the highest pollution category. The air is called "hazardous" at this level.
Breathing is worse than inhaling two packs of cigarettes a day.
Just breathing the air is about as bad as smoking 44 cigarettes a day right now, CNN reports.
The levels of smog being recorded right now in Delhi are more than 20 times worse than in Beijing, a city that often deals with heavy pollution.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Photographer Tim Flach is renowned for his photos that show the emotional — or human — side of animals.
Flach's images often capture creatures' moods, expressions, and gestures in ways that make us rethink our relationship with the natural world.
His newest book, "Endangered", includes text by zoologist Jonathan Baillie and tries to make readers consider the impact they have on these animals — and consider what it would mean for them to disappear.
Along with the creatures themselves, Flach photographed the landscapes these animals live in.
He spent days in frozen snow to capture a shot of the rare Siaga antelope. He swam with sharks and hippos, and visited zoos for perspectives of wildlife in settings created by humans.
The ecosystems in which many of these creatures live have already been destroyed to make room for cities and farms. But by eliminating such habitats, we remove the only places some of the most unique creatures on Earth can live.
Check out a selection of some of our favorite photos from the book below.
Pangolins are one of the creatures most threatened by the illegal wildlife trade. This white-bellied pangolin can be seen hanging from its mother's tail.
Hippos are hunted for their meat and their ivory teeth.
Yellow-eyed tree frogs are affected by climate change — they're threatened by a fungus that's spreading through forests, and their eggs are hatching early or late because they're sensitive to temperature.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider